|ROOM 101 - THE ENTRIES
Judges - you have until 9pm tomorrow to sift through these entries and rate your top ten in order via private PM to myself following the criteria I said earlier. I shall PM you with which entries belong to your team - and I shall repeat that you CANNOT vote for anyone on your own squad. As far as I can see there are no clashes on entries. The player that recieves the highest aamount of votes will get 24pts, the lowest will now get 2pts (thanks to Suzz's non-submittal) and the team with the highest overall average will score the 5 team points. Happy reading and good luck!
In principle it’s annoying when just one retailer has an exclusive and you’re forced to buy from them. However I’m too lazy to actually
be annoyed by that, at least I still get the best version possible if I do. My main beef with retail exclusives these days is that everybody
has them. For the same game. At the same time. And, by nature of their ‘exclusivity’, they all have to have different ones.
This trend has risen recently and has ended up becoming some kind of bizarre marketing ploy. Companies are advertising these deals like it’s some kind of incredible ‘choice’ for the customer. Which DLC case/outfit/gun would you like for LA Noire? Simply choose your favourite and buy from the appropriate retailer! We’ve made deals with 46 retailers to give you the most choice, you lucky dog you.
The only choice not on the menu being the choice of simply having all your content in one place.
Batman: Arkham City decided to do something similar with its 27 different Batman skins including Old Batman, Sleepy Batman, Overtly Homosexual Batman and a bunch more. They also had extra maps and characters to choose from and some sleeves and steelbooks doing the rounds making this a minefield of so called ‘choice’ for Batfans everywhere. Even buying the Special Edition with a statue of Batman and the classic artbook/OST combo didn’t give you all this content. What is the point of an Ultimate edition if it leaves out a bunch of stuff casual gamer will get just for wondering into his local supermarket and picking up a copy for £27.43?Make sure you choose the coolest one or risk getting beaten up at school/work
It’s worth noting that this isn’t a rant aimed at DLC. I don’t actually mind DLC, even the stuff they leave on the disc and charge you for later. I mean yes, again, in principle it is annoying but, again, I am too lazy to care. So long as I can have that content I’ll never use seamlessly inserted into my game for about 4 quid then I’m fine.
Plus it’s not even just DLC that’s an issue.
I first got really annoyed with it when Bayonetta came out. I remember thinking the Australian ‘Climax’ Edition looked pretty awesome: the usual artbook/soundtrack affair in a sexy cardboard box and a replica of one of Bayonetta’s guns. I was glad to see this all come over to the UK. I was much, less glad when it turned out these items were split amongst 2 different retailers. Want the box, artbook and ost? Buy from Play.com. Want the replica gun? Just buy from gameplay. Oh, you want them both? Have you thought about a holiday in Australia...?
Marvel vs Capcom 3 did a similar campaign of splitting up the stuff from the US Special Edition for the UK. A free comic here, a steelbook there... and then there were over half a dozen tshirts distributed wildly amongst those merchants not willing to shell out for the actual good stuff.These aren’t for you fatty! Go buy a steelbook instead.
With Blockbuster recently thrilled at signing exclusive Wayne Rooney DLC for Tiger Woods 13 (no joke) things can only get worse
I wish I could rant more
Gaming, why don't you trust me anymore?
Look, this is hard for me to say and I'm sure it's hard for you to hear but, you've changed. Me? I haven't changed: I still like long winding narratives, challenging enemies, getting lost on alien planets and a nice hot chocolate with whipped cream before bed, but you? You've definitely changed.
You with your pestering waypoints and your 'forward is the only route' corridors. You used to let me get on with things, muddle my own way through a game at my own pace. What made you turn all nag central on me?
We used to be so carefree. Remember those long evenings spent poking around Zebes? Those afternoons finding trick jumps up King Bob-omb's mountain? That week we spent trying to outrun Hyrule's postman only finding out later it was impossible? The struggle against Psycho Mantis until that eventual, mind blowing eureka moment? Oh how we laughed after that one!
Now you're all 'go here', 'shoot that', 'pull this', why won't you let me work things out for myself? Oh sure, bring up Dark Souls, but that was a glimmer of how things were. Dark Souls alone doesn't make up for all your thigh flashing at the younger boys with those cheap, dirty, way-point fuelled, content thin first person shooters.
And then there's a particular Mr. B. F. Skinner...
I don't know when you started talking to him but if this relationship is going anywhere I need you to stop.
Your fixation with Skinner's Box theory is worse than your love affair with testing my reactions every two seconds, 'Quick Time Events' I think you call them? Those I can deal with, sometimes they're all right – I can't believe I just said that - but your Skinner Box obsession is effectively turning everyone you meet into a reward hungry rat, stuck in a virtual cage pulling a virtual lever until they get their next virtual treat.
In single player games it's the constant shoehorning of levelling up and powering up things. Then in multiplayer it's the never ending drip drip of meaningless visual titles and extra things. Is the game alone not enough anymore? Do you not trust that we can enjoy a game without constant encouragement? We spent years playing Goldeneye, Smash Bros and Mario Kart on the same levels, with the same items. There was no psychological grooming going on, they were just well made, innocent fun. Now? You've changed.
My point? Show me a little more trust and I'll pay you back in return. Believe I can beat a boss without your badgering; know I can find the route if you let me poke around; don't patronise me with pointless pats on the back every five seconds and be confident that your game is fun enough already, don't overload it with needless features.
When we went bowling you used to have me play with the barriers down, throwing a ball made of jelly to knock over antique ceramic pins. Now you make me use the stupid guide ramp and call a Mulligan whenever I fail to get a strike. Stop being so pushy and trust that I can work things out and enjoy you for what you are Gaming, the serious look doesn't suit you.
Many of the set pieces in the Uncharted series are cinematic in scale.
Characters in God of War most definitely have a theatrical presence, occupying the more extreme examples of any given emotion.
Both titles released by Team ICO can evoke many emotions, and are somewhat poetic in nature.
Tetris is a fine game, distinguished by its…… interactivity?
You see where I’m going with this. I’m bothered by the lack of effective terminology that can be used to adequately describe what the medium does best, what is quintessentially videogames. Even that last bit didn’t sound right. Championing the medium is not a difficult task, any one of us could cite game after game that have thrilled, shocked, scared or amazed us, but to try and do so in an intelligent and evocative way is increasingly troublesome. The above are things I have said in the past (bar the Tetris one, that one’s just for show), as I’ve found that in my attempts to emphasise something any given game excels at, I need to draw reference to the language used to describe separate mediums. Videogame language is uninspiring for the most part; whenever I’m enamoured by the gameplay of an RPG I find myself with few other options than to give a straight description of the multiple functions that define the battle system, and how it rewards creative thinking or blah blah blah. This is not evocative; it is cold, heartless talk that says nothing for how engaged on an emotional or personal level I may be. It reads like a textbook, and not a particularly good one.
This extends past describing the games themselves. What do we call fans? Gamer is a sweeping title that has no real meaning, a blanket term used to describe anyone who holds a joypad and/or uses a mouse and keyboard on a semi-consistent basis (in fact it’s not even restricted to the one medium, it can also be used for board games, card games among others). And while this is definitely true of other mediums too, they at least offer extensions of standard titles, recognition of specialist knowledge and appreciation. Videogaming has given us the gems that are casual and hardcore. Well done guys, give yourselves a round of applause and a complimentary pat on the bum, you deserve it. It does a disservice to the variety of players (does that term work?) that exist, and is another example of the empty language that’s prevalent in this medium. Mercifully you get the exceptions, I’m sure everyone knows of at least one outlet that offers constructive and meaningful discourse on the medium, but these prove to be the exception rather than the rule, the rule being heaps upon heaps of ‘Hottest Game Characters’, ‘Hardest Ever Boss Battles’, all kinds of other nonsense that occupy space without presenting anything of worth.
God, this is all so unbelievably pretentious as I’m a man who rarely writes anything of substance, but darn it, I want to be able to discuss this medium with all the other enthusiasts, aficionados, fans and supporters in a unique manner that doesn’t adopt their respective styles. Sue me.
Nintendo really grinds my gears.
No, that’s not quite right – I don’t actually hate them or their games; hell, I hold the 2D Metroids as some of the greatest games of all time! And enjoy Kirby’s Adventure an awful lot. Don’t judge me.
No, what really grinds my gears is the Nintendo Reality Distortion Field (NRDF).
This works in a variety of ways, but there are two in particular that I’m thinking of. I’ll go with the most obvious first, and save the best (worst) ‘til last.
The most obvious NRDF effect is that which makes all core Nintendo games brilliant. Or, rather, has all said games – every significant release in a core franchise – garner near-unanimous praise, even as legions of fans complain about harsh reviewing. “But Skopoletis,” I hear you say, “That’s because they are brilliant, important games!”. And I’ll concede that in many cases. I recognise that very many of their games combine inspiration and polish in such a way to deserve their reputations.
What I baulk at is the way in which other releases coast on the successes of their predecessors. Take the last two major Zelda games: Twilight Princess, released some four years after Wind Waker, widely acknowledged as little more than a rejigging of Ocarina of Time; Skyward Sword, released five years after that, again recognised as adding little to the Zelda formula. In both cases, legions of fans decried those cruel critics who dared point out that these games were offering nothing new. “Why is our beloved series so persecuted?” they cried.
Persecuted indeed. A quick look at Metacritic reveals Twilight Princess to have an average score of 95%; its younger sibling a measly 93%. Harshly judged indeed. And let us not forget the glowing editorial in EDGE magazine accompanying their review of the latter, declaring it one of the most important, significant releases of the year. Not bad for a game whose formula hadn’t changed in fourteen years.
However, annoying as this is aspect of the NRDF is, it is not as insidious and distressing as its ability to alter the past.
Do you remember the 80s? You know, that period when every child and teenager had a NES, and delighted in playing Mario? No? Neither do I. And that’s because, here in the UK at least, the average family had a home computer, not a console: we gamed on Spectrums and Commodores and BBCs and Amstrads and Ataris and Amigas and... well, some had consoles, but it wasn’t until the late 16-bit era that they really took over. But, somehow, that history has been lost, replaced by the NRDF with a period in which everybody played nicely in the land Nintendo created, where childhoods were spent staring at fat plumbers and boys with green hats.
This is doubtless to do with the NES’s assured dominance of the American market during that period, its rejuvenating of the console scene, presumed murdered at the hands of Atari. But that doesn’t make its full-scale transplant onto the collective British (and other European nationalities’) consciousness any less corrupting and unwelcome. We should be proud of our heritage, not substitute it with another, less diverse one – and that is what truly grinds my gears about the NRDF.
My bug-bear is, as is oft the case, not with the object but with the user. If there is one failure all games are burdened with, it's players who can't play. And when I say play I don't mean their ability to manipulate the virtual world through the mechanisms provided. For lack of co-ordination I can charitably quell my wrath, the twin joys of condescending pity and the security that they'll never challenge me being more than adequate temperance.
No, what I hate is players who have forgotten how to Play. How to lose themselves in a make believe world, who can only enjoy the single facet of mechanical excellence, check-boxing and racking up their 'cheevo's. Even then they could be spared, if only they would stick to their own games. No-one begrudges them the purity of Ikaruga or a nice generic fps. But once they dare interlope into the story-driven genre, it is then withering scorn must be heaped upon them.
For they bleat “Oh, all the characters sound the same!” or “The pathfinding is screwed!”. They don't read the in-game books! A bear ragdolls two hundred feet in the air and suddenly they aren't in Tamriel anymore, they're in their musky room with their ever-growing pile of pizza boxes and their neglected weight set. “That, like, totally blew the immersion!” they snivel, probably in their Valley accents. Did it? Then you weren't actually immersed. You weren't even in the shallow end with the beginners and floats. If you'd been immersed in the world, you wouldn't have sneered as the ursine missile hurtled to an uncertain fate. At the first glimpse of movement, an arcane nuke would have flown from your paranoid fingers, reducing all nearby life to ash. The only sound would've been a gentle pinging, as the molten earth slowly cooled to shimmering glass. There's no actual code to do this, but that's okay, because this part of the game requires a peripheral: Your imagination.
The hard truth is that if you aren't immersed, it's because you're dull. Given all these tools, you can't make up a story to tell yourself. If you can, then you're part of the world, and you can't be shaken out of it by the Uncanny Valley or atrocious voice-acting. The camera panning round to your armpit during combat makes you swing your blade wildly, because the enemy has blinded you with a handful of mud. That's not a puppet, dancing on the end of your trigger buttons, it's you. If you turn tail and run, hammering the button in vain hope that the door will open sooner, then you're immersed. If you're afraid to die, if you're upset an npc died (Don't reload! Suck it up and avenge them!), if you can't steal something because it would detract from the beauty of the scene, then you're playing. If you picked the biggest sword and best armour, if you read the strategy guide, and if (worst of all) you skip dialogue: you're just pushing buttons.
Even saying “immersion” is taking a step away from the real fun in these games. I don't “Immerse”. I pretend, I dream. Button pushers should try it.
Our hero soars through the air, propelling himself backwards off the chest of a foe who crashes over a railing to his certain doom. Mid-air he grabs the head of another attacker, bringing him crashing down into unconsciousness.
Startled, the first of the armed men charges. He crumples to the ground not six feet away thanks to a concealed knife and a good throw straight to the forehead. The remaining two aren’t so hasty and take cover as their target charges into cover.
“I should have brought MOAR KNIVES,” quips the agent as he gathers his bearings behind crates of undetermined origin. The masked assailants split behind cover but a fallen lamp reveals their shadows and intentions. The agent, with only two bullets left, knows what he has to do. He remembers the gas main on the wall as he entered the room, one of the goons is about to pass it.
Like a flash he reveals himself, delivers a bullet and conceals himself once more. The explosion would startle a mere mortal but our hero shakes it off, ready for the final opponent. Not as shaken or panicked as the agent had planned the final grunt charges and is closer than expected. The grunt’s trigger finger tightens too late and before he even knows what’s going on he’s on the floor, face bloodied, without a thought in his head.
Fade to black - A typical heavily choreographed cut scene that could be from any number of cookie cutter shooters. When the game returns the lead character picks up the attacker’s gun as the camera circles around and behind, the game is finally back.
Springing forward the player is caught briefly on a crate before ploughing into either side of a ladder on the opposite side of the room. Slowly repositioning his character, the player edges forward little by little until he hits the ladder at just the right angle to make him ascend.
Gone is the badass taker of names, replaced with little more than a puppet. Shoot, crouch, jump, punch, aim. These are the only tools of the so called super-spy. I’m looking at you Snake
Seeing my character in a cut scene doing something I can’t possibly replicate in the actual game has been a grievance of mine for years. The idea of being a character and inhabiting their world appeals to me as it does to most gamers. It’s the escapism we crave in a truer form than books or films can provide.
So when I see my character in a CG-rendered scene bouncing off the walls and doing the kind of things ninjas train years for, it’s always a little jarring when relative reality crashes back down and my on-screen avatar no longer knows how to get past a chest-high wall.
Creating a great video game character is immensely difficult, but things like this are crucial if a developer wants their audience to truly feel like they’re in the shoes of the protagonist. Such cut scenes only serve to distance the player from the character, and the playable character from the one in cut scenes.
People cry out for greater immersion in their games, and this problem does little to remedy that, which is why I want to send it to Room 101.
Red VS Blue...
Or in this case, red/orange avec
blue. Yes readers, red/orange (or for the purpose of this discussion, rorange) and blue are the target of my aggression in this gaming based Room 101. More specifically, my seething irritation is being hurled right in the face of unimaginative designers who masquerade as artists.
It used to be (and still is) the majority of box arts would consist solely of rough, tough, hard as nails action heroes looking brooding with moody eyebrows contorted in anger and smoking guns or bloodied swords in each hand. This was acceptable. I sympathise and understand why developers would want their finely crafted
protagonist plastered across their packaging in war torn glory. You've created a super cool butt kicker, you want to get that image out there and sell that shitake! But I will not tolerate this new breed of "rorange and blue" box art...
You must have noticed this. You can't have missed it. They're everywhere. So many games are releasing with rorange and blue covers. Why? Are these colours "in" this season? Have fashion and colour co-ordination found new homes away from high end cat walks and gossip mags? What is it about these simple colours keeping the industry mesmerised by their glow? The answer alludes me.Spot the difference... There is none. They are all the same!
It's bizarre I let this annoy me so much but I really can't help it. There are many more examples too which make designers look lazy and unmotivated. "Oh Gaz, designin' the cover for that new game today?"... "errr, yeah man, well I kinda wanna get a coffee in ten so let's just use that rorange template and get it over with". Well I say no! Forget your darn coffee in ten and get creative! I want to see some original, new, refreshing ideas! Some keep rorange and blue seperated across multiple titles. But they are still guilty of this vile act. Perhaps even more guilty.
Okay, let's try another angle. Rorange and blue have definite connotations befitting of game plots. I mean, the traditional good vs evil thing, light vs dark, hot vs cold. I get that and I guess it works. Mortal Kombat has the whole fire vs frost thing going on with Scorpion and Sub Zero; LA Noire has the danger of a crooked town and the coldness of death and deceit; Portal 2 has icy, sterile enviroments, brought to life by the warmth of a human voice and traces of forgotten humanity. All very lovely and poetic but my point still stands, it's become boring seeing this theme everywhere. Sure, they're strong colours with a lot to give but you could pull similar ideas from a green and yellow scheme. Let's try it... Mortal Kombat. Scorpion is
actually yellow and you could
replace Sub Zero with Reptile. LA Noire... green could represent envy people feel towards an honest cop, while yellow could portray Cole's past cowardice. (Hey, I'm good at this!) Portal 2? The grass and sun of the outside world, far out of reach, maybe?
Regardless, I believe I've proved my point. It wouldn't hurt to try something a little different. And that's why I'm putting rorange and blue in Room 101. Let's see something fresh!
Nintendo have an expansive cast of iconic and great characters. Which is why it angers me that they decided to just stick two generic, nameless Toads as playable characters in New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-stemitic. Hell, Yellow Toad and Blue Toad could be proper fun guys
(had to be done), but I just don't think there's mushroom
for them (last one) in this game.
To me it's just laziness on Nintendo's part. Like they were in a rush to get this game shipped out that instead of putting in better choice characters they just stuck these two nobodies in. So who could we have had instead of Mr Blue and Mr Yellow? The obvious answer would have been Wario and Waluigi. Makes sense really... though then again when Wario isn't busy with his WarioWare series he does have his own platforming games with a different style and game mechanics, so perhaps he wouldn't fit in with this game. And no one really knows what the deal with Waluigi is. Still they have more character and personality than the Toads.
Another option could have been proper Toad. You know the one. Red spots, blue jacket. I wouldn't have a problem with him being a playable character. He's been a constant in Mario games for years and hasn't had a proper outing in a platformer since Mario Bros 2. He deserves more than the supporting role handing out tips he was given. I wouldn't even have minded if he brought along his missus, Toadette, as playable character number four. At least she's more distinguished than the colour-swapping Toads we ended up with.
An outside choice could have been bringing Donkey Kong back to the Mario series. But he did have a Country returning to deal with. Plus he may have decided to bring one of the crappier Kongs along for the ride. Can't risk that, even Blue and Yellow are better than the likes of Lanky Kong.
Perhaps Nintendo could have resurrected some long forgotten characters from the past to take the players 3 and 4 slots. How about Stanley the Bugman. What's his story? Gets the starring role in Donkey Kong 3 and, albeit cameos in the Smash Bros and WarioWare games, is never heard from again. Who is this bloke? I for one am interested in learning more about him. Giving him a role in New Super Mario Bros. Wii would have giving Nintendo an opportunity to enlighten us. And who better to partner him than the mysterious (possible) third Mario brother as seen on the original Mario's Cement Factory boxart.Hey, maybe it is Stanley... and maybe this is Mario and Luigi about to drown him in the East River.
My inner Nintendo nerd needs to know who he is. He and Stanley, if they're not the same person, interest me. A lot more than those nondescript Toads we got. That is why I'm annoyed about Nintendo's decision to give us a Yellow Toad and a Blue Toad. They're just so bland and boring. The alternatives suggested here are much better. They're either already long established characters or forgotten oddities that'd be fun to see back in action.
Jack Thompson is a sixty year old, greying conservative on a mission to censor and ban violent media. Despite the abject failure of his moral crusade, the gaming community have been united by the vilification and loathing of this delusional man. I believe that this hatred is legitimate and necessary. However, it seems worth scrutinising the basis of our collective, focused anger.
Jack Thompson is harmless. His ideas are not. Undoubtedly, he is an educated man. Whilst studying Law at Denison University in Ohio, Thompson ran a far-right radio talk show that led to something of a localised furore. He has therefore been subject to criticism and opposition from a relatively young age.
In the 1970s, Thompson married and began a successful legal career as a prosecutor. Since becoming a born-again Christian in the 1980s, the flavour of his practice turned rather more sour. Thompson’s impressive legal record drew the attention of local Presbyterian Ministers, who worked with him to promulgate a fierce anti-Rap message during a period when the Afro-American community were beginning to find a voice in mid-Western America. Since this time, Jack has been a loyal mouthpiece for all Christian fanaticism. His focus on videogames began with a legal case in 1997, where Thompson argued that violent videogames could be used as ‘murder simulators’, and in fact held direct correlation to a series of high-profile school shootings.
Following a series of trials on this subject, Thompson’s arguments gained a great deal of media exposure. His ideas spread into the public consciousness. In these early years of mainstream gaming, Jack Thompson helped to create the damaging stereotype of gamers as angst-ridden teenagers, alone in their rooms. Equally, his crusade led to a reductive public perception of videogames as all under one category. If videogame appeal exclusively to one demographic, then these are the only types of games that are made. I would go so far as to say that Jack Thompson delayed the evolution of video gaming by over a decade.
The gaming community struggles to respond to Jack. On one level, his arguments cannot be disproven, and we are bound to recognise his rights to free speech and accept his vigilante exploitation of the American legal system. His ideas are toxic to us not because of their moral content, but because of his ignorance. Thompson has repeatedly admitted to not playing videogames. His information and sources come second hand. The nature of Jack’s attitude has not helped him in areas where gamers might have agreed with his suggestions, such as the clear labelling of age certificates. Instead, his communications and interactions with the community have been belligerent and spiteful. In one publicised case, Thompson threw down a gauntlet to the industry with his ‘Modest Videogame Proposal’, suggesting that he would donate $10,000 to Paul Eibeler’s video gaming charity if a simulation were to be made that saw the player as an ‘Industry Expert’ on a killing spree at E3. On the completion of multiple versions of this project, Thompson went back on his offer.
Thompson needs to be hated. He is a totem for ignorance and censorship. As a community, we need to stay vigilant in the active promotion of freedom of creation in gaming.
PC gaming is great. The lack of a company controlling all of its aspects allows games to be made not just by big studios, but by people like you or me, that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed on consoles without large companies sticking their fingers in and inevitably screwing them up. However, PC gaming is not perfect, and one of the major bugbears I have with it is “redistributables”, the most important of which are graphic card drivers. For the benefit of people who aren’t PC gamers, a graphic card is the bit that does the heavy lifting in video games: it creates the scene you see in the monitor. The driver is the program that tells the card what to do.
However, despite being vital, every time a graphics card is updated, it winds up being a massive disappointment. There are a few reasons for this. First, the developers of the biggest and best releases get access to beta drivers from the graphics card manufacturers. In theory this means that the game runs perfectly out of the box. This never happens, and forums are inevitably filled with complaints of odd performance and crashes from people who use a certain brand of graphics card (usually AMD, although in some games such as RAGE most users were affected), and then people has to wait a few weeks for the graphics card manufacturers and game developers to get their act together and fix the mess. This happens with vast majority of major releases, and it’s an annoyance (especially if you’re affected).
Second, every driver update is billed so that it looks like the PC gaming equivalent of the messiah, until you look closely and realise it’s just a very naughty boy. A 10% increase in the frame rate doesn’t mean much when you’re running the game at 10 frames per second, and if you’re running the game at 100 FPS then you probably won’t notice. And, as ever with patches, things get broken, particularly older, unsupported games.
In addition, there’s an increasing quantity of other junk that joins in. A blur of DirectX, PhysX and Virtual Studio redistributables always pop up when you’re installing a game for no apparent reason. DirectX 9 was introduced nearly ten years ago and has since been succeeded twice (seven times if you counter the smaller iterations): why on earth does it demand to be updated now? PhysX is disabled if it detects an AMD graphics card (thanks, Nvidia!), why the hell does it install anyway? Why Virtual Studio is required for people who don’t intend to program is simply beyond me.
I realise that it’s a consequence of both the openness of the PC platform and its subsequent ability to gradually progress in technology (unlike consoles, which advances in technology in sudden bursts); however it is still a mess. I could shave a good couple of gigabytes from my hard drive from all the redistributables Steam is required by licence agreements to download and then fails to do anything with them. For the average PC gamer, most redistributables have an air of complete and utter pointlessness as they pop up during the install process, yet another box between you and your game.
I Hate the Umbrella Corporation: The Diary of an Evil Scientist (Aged 33 ½)
I’m always nervous on my first day. As a professional evil scientist it is part of the job (along with an infrequent sex life and excellent pension schemes). Friends urged me to reconsider: “Get a job at Boots”, they cried, “they don’t have secret underground laboratories and a questionable human rights record”. But Mr Birkin convinced me his plans for world domination would look good on my CV. I was concerned how decimating 99% of the world’s population is a Great Evil Plan, but was persuaded by a top-notch Powerpoint presentation and quality refreshments.
Late on only my second day. I pleaded innocence, but “it takes ten seconds for doors in this place to open” is NOT a valid excuse for Mr Birkin. He’s a real jobsworth. My colleagues say he’s a bit of a tyrant and then laugh amongst themselves. I hate them.
Working in dank conditions underground is having serious side-effects on my co-workers. They have developed a muscular condition where they cannot walk in another direction without standing still and rotating. It is most peculiar.
Noticed a tenner on the floor today (it was shining, admittedly). Tried to pick it up, but I couldn’t due to holding six other items. One of which is a crank. Why do I need to have a crank at hand constantly?! And a lighter. I don’t even smoke!
I am not one for work romances, but my lab partner knows a cutie to set me up with. Her name is Lisa, and she’s quite the animal in the bedroom apparently.
Drug culture is rife at Umbrella. The amount of herbs around this place is ridiculous, and everyone takes them for “medicinal purposes”. Thinking about writing an exposé to my local newspaper.
Tested the virus AGAIN. Not sure why as it CLEARLY works. We’ve tested it on dogs, frogs, plants, snakes, sharks and even cockroaches. Now they need to test it on monkeys, just to make sure that turning into an undead maniac isn’t purely limited to those species. PETA would have a field day with this lot.
There was a small outbreak. Nothing to worry about, they said. All the staff had vaccinations as a precaution. Felt very... itchy afterwards. Made a lovely Bolognese sauce for lunch.
Desperate for the loo earlier – everything has gone to pot “down there” recently – and rushed to the staff room. To my dismay, I needed the “Armour Key” to access it. What the frick is up with these guys?!
My lab partner was off sick. He’s been really weird lately. He keeps licking his lips and saying he fancies a “Jill sandwich”, whatever that means.
Sally from HR was all over me today. I know she’s been going through a tough divorce, but she literally tried to snog my face off. Luckily, I had a battery at hand, so I just shoved it her mouth and went to finish the spreadsheet I was working on.
Got a sudden urge for human flesh. One of my eyes fell out earlier. Going to put a claim in.
Handed in my resignation letter. Sod it, I’ll become a teacher.[/spoiler]
Sob, not completely happy with it, having come back after a few hours to read it. But it will have to do.
It looks really... bare due to the layout. Curse your foolish word count!
Right, here we go:
AI Characters in video games.
Or more specifically, mission-critical
AI characters in games. Let's be honest, most of the time it's hard enough keeping yourself alive without having to worry about the cretinous lemming following you who doesn't quite understand that in order to survive, it's probably best to avoid all the bullets hurtling through the air.
Case in point, there's a mission towards the start of the original Halo where you've got to rescue Captain Keyes, the annoyingly square-faced Commander of the Pillar of Autumn, who's only gone and got himself kidnapped by the Covenant. Now, you'd think that with 35 years of combat experience under his belt, he'd know how to handle himself in a brawl when left to his own devices. But no, upon rescuing him, he decides that the best thing to do is grab a needler and head straight to give the nearest Elite a cuddle.Pew pew! This Needler is great! What's over he- *dies*
And it's not just Halo that's stricken with frustrating AI buddies. Who could forget Resident Evil 5, where Capcom decided "Hey, an ally that enjoys running into bullets isn't annoying enough, let's have her waste all the ammo, too, for the entire game!". And you can't just leave her with no ammo, because then she'll just end up being slaughtered, and if she dies, you die. It's the perfect way to convince everyone to either play the game in co-op, or not buy it at all.
Having thought about it for around 30 seconds, the easiest way of eliminating the problem of annoying mission-critical AI characters is to remove the whole "mission-critical" part. Either don't penalise you
for their stupidity, or make them relatively invincible.
The Saints Row games tend to have this kind of thing spot on - If one of your buddies happens to go down you can just run over their corpse, mash the Y button, and pour what looks like a bottle of wine over their face. This… Jesus Wine then seems to heal all their wounds (including the whole death situation), and within seconds they're back up and fighting fit.
With one exception: You know what I hate? You. You dozy pillock.
Yeah, it's from the wrong game, leave me alone
For some inexplicable reason during the Reunion Tour
mission of Saints Row 2 (where you have to go blow up a load of Brotherhood vehicles), the Jesus Wine doesn't work on the one mission-critical character you really needed it to work on. The one mission in the game that features lots of cars, lots of explosions, and an unbelievable number of
chances for accidental friendly fire, and you don't have the ability to revive the important bloke when your rocket goes slightly astray or you trust your co-op partner to drive. If Donnie dies, that's it - It's game over.
The absolute ponce.
It doesn't help that he's an incredibly annoying, whiny man child at the best of times, so him being the main reason one of the harder missions in the game is even harder makes him quite possibly, the worst AI buddy (and I use the term 'buddy' very loosely) of any game ever.
So, to conclude: AI buddies = bad. Donnie = prat.
Ocelot. Ganon. Arthas. Three of the most memorable bad guys in the history of gaming. Compelling and difficult to beat, they were what made the time you spent on a game worthwhile. However these days, I hate that the art of the great villain is a lost one, with some of the best games of recent times failing to provide us with a great bad guy to get our teeth into- for example, when I recently finished Mass Effect 2 by defeating the giant Human-Reaper under Harbinger's control, I felt empty and unfulfilled.
Because I couldn’t care less about the Collectors, Harbinger or the Reapers. They were never interesting.
The strange thing is that Mass Effect’s universe is diverse and well crafted, but when it comes to it's villains, they're bland and unexciting- the generic “powerful alien race that wants to destroy everything.” What's to get excited about there? We've seen it all before and it just doesn't cause me any excitement. The Reapers are just another in the long list of generic antagonists we get in our games today. What happened to the Sephiroth’s of the gaming world? A fantastic bad guy can turn a good game in to a great one, because finally defeating a well-created bad guy felt satisfying- but these days bad guys are one-dimensional and forgettable, seeming more like objectives than characters.
The gaming world isn't delivering on it's villains, not only in terms of personality, but in terms of giving us great final boss battles- once the true cause célèbre of games. How can some of the biggest games of the past year, Mass Effect 2 and Gears of War 3, produce such bland final boss fights, when the likes of Metal Gear Solid provided several memorable ones in each game? Great boss fights are some of our most cherished moments in gaming and I still have vivid memories of taking on Psycho Mantis for the first time and being blown away. It was on a new level to anything I'd ever experienced, because it didn't feel like Mantis was attacking Snake- he was attacking you
personally and getting in your
I'm sick and tired of beating boring bosses in the first couple of attempts. It's completely forgettable, unlike some of the greats from the past- for example, Sephiroth is still remembered fondly fifteen years later because he felt like a true challenge that took the combined efforts of your team and your enemies to kill him. Even then it took three gruelling battles to defeat him. Combined with the fact he felt inhumane and extremely powerful as he destroyed villages and killed your closest friends. In a way, he made Final Fantasy 7 the great game it was. The likes of Saren pale in comparison.
The industry is capable of doing better, yet it constantly disappoints. I want bad guys I can hate and get excited about defeating, because I swear to god that the next game that has the enemy being AI that’s gone wrong or an evil terrorist, is going to get a slap in the mouth for being dull and lacking in any amount of effort. There's a serious lack of well-created villains in gaming at the moment- and it needs to change.
And while I'm here, a quick question: is there anything during the remainder of the teams section which requires a captain?
I was a huge fan of the first inFamous, and was rabidly looking forward to the second. But a certain realisation dawned on me while I was playing it. The game, as per its predecessor, sets out a moral choice system, anthropomorphising the decisions you can make by pitting two ally characters against each other; Agent Kuo is a fairly straight, by-the-book government agent, and signifies the good choices. Nix is a Bayou dweller who does what she wants when she wants, and dresses like Jack Sparrow’s sister. She represents the bad choices. One good, one bad, naturally they don’t get on, OK. But the game takes that idea of black versus white to a more literal extreme. Nix is black. Kuo is white.
This questionable decision seemingly wasn’t enough. Kuo begins the game identifiably Asian. In fact, she looks like a stereotype of a successful Asian businesswoman. At one point in the story, she gets captured by the game’s primary antagonist and is turned into a super-powered “Conduit”. The transformation gives her the power to utilise ice. From here on, she’s covered in frost, and her irises have been turned light blue. She also finds the time to get a funky pixie hairdo, along with a sleeveless black top and black trousers. To clarify; she started looking Asian, then she was changed into a white skinned Goth girl. And that brand new white chick is the good alternative to the bad black girl.
I can kind of see why that’s the case. You can tease out a certain thought process that led to it; the first game identified good and bad actions with a blue and red karma meter. What two elements are best represented by blue and red, while also perfectly opposing each other? Ice and fire. We have a story where a character is changed, given super powers. The easiest way to illustrate change to an audience is with a visual difference. How do you show a character has ice powers? Make the eyes blue, make her skin frosty. On a white character those elements wouldn’t look different enough, and whitening a black character is a whole other barrel of racist fish. So that leaves Kuo having to start either Hispanic, Desi, or Asian.
Further supporting the game’s apparent “white = good, black = bad” stance is that the Beast, a walking font of chaos and destruction, is also black.
I loved the story (not so much a sequel, more part two of the same tale). The writing was solid, funny, humanising the characters well. The relationship between Cole and Zeke felt real, lived in. The voice acting was strong, the visuals colourful, the powers were fun and exciting, combat fast-paced and off-the-cuff. New Marais is a colourful, ramshackle playground. But that set-up, that racist bent... It makes me doubt the game. It makes me wonder about the intentions of those behind it. The gorgeous girl you’ve been seeing is smart, funny, she’s a demon in the sack. But it turns out that she also thinks Hitler was right. And she has a swastika tattoo to prove it. It makes me very uncomfortable, and given how much I love about inFamous 2, I hate the game for doing that to me.
Imagine All The People
Imagine all the people who spend money on one of Ubisoft’s favourite franchises: The Imagine range. With such titles as Imagine: Champion Rider (where you get to tame wild horses!) and Imagine: Party Planner (where you get to – unsurprisingly – plan parties) your children will never thank you enough for introducing them to these AAA titles.
As reported by Kotaku in early 2009, the Imagine range had sold over 1 million units. Compared to franchises like FIFA and Call of Duty these aren’t ground-breaking numbers, but when you consider the quality of the software itself and what little effort must go into it, I’d say that’s a pretty good return. I understand that “kids” games will always be made, but when I grew up playing games like Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and Bart vs. The Space Mutants on my Mega Drive I can’t help but think that kids are missing out these days.
Take, for example: Imagine: Detective Adventures… the small description of the game states that players can “Become a detective and solve the mystery of the missing ring.” Am I wrong to be annoyed at the utter lack of effort that has gone into that? With fantastic games such as Level 5’s tremendous Professor Layton series, I wish parents would make that little bit more effort for their children and do some research before buying games.
Imagine: Detective Adventuressource: ign
Professor Laytonsource: total film
From the same Kotaku article, it was noted than in December 2008, the series sold 300,000 units alone. This must be the time where parents realise they haven’t bought anything for their 6 year old and must pick them up a copy of Imagine: Teacher School Trip where you can take up the role of a “young, fun teacher” and take your class on a trip for a whole month! Cringe.
Then we come to the real cream of the crop: Imagine Babies. Jesus Christ Almighty. In this beautiful piece of software, your kids assume the role of Babysitter and can partake in lots of activities such as “minigame 1” and “minigame 2” which look no better than games you’d find on Newgrounds Circa 2001.
It really irks me that parents with no interest in games choose to buy games like these for their kids. I’m not taking a shot at people who don’t play games or are just into playing a round or two of Wii Sports tennis once a month; I just wish they’d do – at least – a little bit of research before spending £20 on a game. The game also allows players to wash dishes and do regular household chores. I’m willing to bet that at least 90% of children don’t enjoy these activities for real, so why on earth would they want to do them in a videogame?
Without going too heavily into rant-mode, it’s time games like these were taken off the shop shelves. God forbid the parent of today looks at a games website or magazine and makes an informed decision on what game their 6 or 7 year old might like BEFORE buying. But then, maybe the likes of us in our 20s or 30s were just spoilt in the 1990s with our Mega Drives and SNESs.
Oh Choice, Where Art Thou?
The gaming market in itself is flooded with games from many different genres. It's a never ending list. As a big gamer myself I like a wide variety of genres/games. However, one thing I've noticed especially is there doesn't seem to be enough choice while playing games, which leads to a serious lack of multiple endings. Without multiple endings, I personally feel there isn't enough reason to go back and play them again.
Outside of the visual novel genre, the choices you make in games seem to barely make any difference to the outcome. You can look at a more modern game such as Fallout 3. While the game shows the facade of you making "moral" choices, it seems to have very little effect on the final outcome of the game. There are a few different endings, but they can be classed as the good and bad ending. This in itself isn't so much of a problem, but no matter how you play, the ending is based off of the one final choice leaving all your others redundant. Is that really good enough? Don't get me started on FPS/TPS games that offer choice. Designers, the choice of either taking the left or right route is not going to make me want to play your game through again.
As I've mentioned, the best example of choice used in games are visual novels. Although cliched, dating sims/visual novels have a relatively large roster of characters (of course this depends on the game). In tow, these characters will all have their own endings and most likely a good (love), neutral (friend) and bad (varying from character death to just plain hating you) ending for you to reach. Due to the sheer amount of choices you can make in most visual novels, finding these endings is not easy. If you want to see them all you'll do multiple playthroughs of the game and due to the way the choice system works, it's rare that you'll ever get the same dialogue again depending on the route/character you take.
I've already mentioned Fallout 3 as a bad example of the use of choice/multiple endings, but it's not all bad. In New Vegas they seemed to look into their awful "morality" system and improve it greatly. Throughout the game you see the choices you make are leaving lasting impressions on not only the world, but the characters inhabiting it. There is overall a larger and wider "end" of the game, but throughout the game there are many different endings for each ark (quest) of the story and depending on your choices the outcome varies widely. As a player, this feels great. As it's not tied to an awful karma system, you don't feel like your stuck going for certain endings depending on your character or playstyle. It feels like once again you finally have the choice to set your own path without being tunneled straight to an ending based on one choice.
Is there really any way you can't put the lack of choice into Room 101? Could you live with yourself knowing that games are getting slowly more and more one route focused? I know I couldn't and I hope you feel the same.
Facebook, eh? Lovely website. It lets us catch up with friends, or enjoy our downtime on the internet by looking at pictures or playing simple flash games, right? Wrong. Facebook is the devil. A horrifying, duplicitous juggernaut of a website created by a terrible man with the express intent of stealing your time and money.
And how is he accomplishing this feat? Facebook’s dazzling array of games. Sorry, did I say dazzling? I meant disgusting. Everything about them makes me die a little bit inside when I power up the website. For a start, there’s the million and one app requests that pop up. Look! Someone you barely know desperately wants to play poker with you! Wait, wrong website. But the point stands. When I log on to send a message or perv on some randomer’s pictures I do not want to be bombarded with requests to play Cityville. Or Farmville. Or any other ridiculously named clone of a popular template.This man is the devil. Look at those cold, dead eyes.
And that brings me to my next point. They’re all the same! There are maybe fifteen games represented on Facebook, most of which have been tried and tested on millions of home consoles and computers for countless years. Solitaire, Bubble Bobble, Tetris, all the stuff we like to have to hand when we need to waste a bit of time. That’s fine. But then there is Farmville. Cityville. Gardenville. Fishville. Notice that they all have similar names? How are people fooled by this? It’s not even like they’ve tried to hide the fact that they’re clogging up Facebook with variations on the same concept. But you know, I could accept that. I could go with it, because people do tend to go for items specifically tailored to their own tastes. Don’t like cities but like the idea of agriculture? Fine, play Farmville over Cityville, I guess that’s the point. But for God’s sake don’t advertise your game as being free when you’re only giving away a taster of it!The most addictive piece of trash you will ever play.
The third and final major issue in the Facebook gaming triumvirate of crap is microtransactions. I know that they’re everywhere; 79p for a song on iTunes, horse armour in Oblivion for a couple of hundred points, but nowhere is it so tremendously blatant as in a Facebook game. Fancy recharging your energy in Mafia? Pay 3 dollars and you’re back in the game! Or alternatively, wait for three hours until it comes back on its own. Don’t have the time to wait that long? Deal with it. Want the best hoe in Farmville? You gotta pay, bro! Would you perhaps like to play more than five games of Tetris at a time, my procrastinating buddy? Stump up the cash, mayne. I saw a Facebook gift card in Tesco the other day and briefly wondered what you would need one for, and then I remembered all of this crap.
Maybe I’m just ashamed that I was tempted to pay for Tetris. That game got me through my student years. Maybe I should have fired up a console and played a proper game instead.
Don't get me wrong, I love gaming, and I've been at it since before I got my first PlayStation – I used to play this game with my dad where you had a gorilla and you had to throw explosive bananas at the other person's gorilla in order to 'splode them. That was probably between '95 and '99. We didn't even have Windows 95 at that point. We were still rocking Windows 3.1, backed up with DOS for gaming. Since then I've had a PlayStation (GTA2 <3), Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum (however briefly), Megadrive, PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, Xbox 360 and even a Wii, and the amount of games I've played must be approaching the mid-hundreds.
So why then, pray tell, am I so distinctly average at gaming? I can probably count on two hands the amount of games I've finished the story of, let alone the number I've finished 100%. You would think that after over sixteen years of gaming I would be somewhere close to an above average gamer, right?
My ex-girlfriend managed to finish Crash Bandicoot: Warped to 105%. I could barely manage 80%. Now, I don't know whether this is because she was a gaming machine or whether the game was easy for everybody except me, but I slaved for MONTHS over that game, and she borrowed it off me for a couple of weeks and finished it in its entirety! I'd love to be able to say that I withheld certain privileges from her for that, but I just didn't have the self control back then.
So what does this mean for me these days? Well, I've mostly accepted the fact that I'll never win any gaming contests in which more than one contestant has two working hands, but in a more real, day-to-day sense, it does mean that certain avenues of gaming pleasure will forever be closed off to me. I bought Dark Souls on a whim the other day. I knew that it was considered a slightly more difficult game than average, but I felt sure that I could get a little bit of fun out of it. Maybe if I just put my mind to it and didn't rush in with the slicing and the dicing and the not blocking the enemy's attacks I could maybe get a few weeks worth of decent gaming. HAHA NO. I can't even get past the damn tutorial. This is a new low. And yeah, I'm aware that “tutorial” should be in inverted commas, but really.AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN
I'm sure that this trend is likely to continue through the rest of my life. Sure, there have been a few games I've been pretty good at (Rock Band and The Orange Box spring to mind), but on the whole I'll remain a distinctly average gamer for as long as I have thumbs.
Packaging makes my blood boil...
Packaging in gaming has never been much good. Special Editions
tend to come in the standard case, along with an outer sleave and sometimes more. Then we have the Points Cards
which have become really popular this generation. They usually come in DVD sized cases and all that is contained within is a 20-25 digit number, printed on a small slip of cardboard!
What I would really like to single out however are the Hermetically Sealed
products, that air tight plastic packaging which is virtually an impenetrable skin for whatever it is that's inside. Originally designed for food storage (the air vacumn inside is ideal for perishable goods), it has somehow made it's way into gaming, more specifically gaming periphials. The worst offender that I've ever encountered is the Xbox 360 controller. Good luck getting that out without accidently cutting your wrists!
The most frustating thing being that this is something which you really would like to use, not a sandwich. It's a gadget crying to be played with, you can virtually touch those curves beneath the packaging. If this was a salad then you would give up after 10 seconds of wrestling and grab a bowl of cereal instead.
So the only thing stopping you is the millimeter thickness of plastic allowing you to look but not touch. How hard can it be? Well you probably know the answer for yourself...
Do you go at it with a knife? That's not really an option unless you are a sugeon. The cutting points are right up against whatever it is that is inside and you would likely end up damaging it.
So you grab a pair of scissors and carefully cut the edges of the package. At this point of the operation you find that the package is sealed further at certain points inside and now you have razor sharp edges to contend with. You plug on and after many cuts and incisions (likely as many on your body as the packaging itself), you are finally able to open it enough and pull the item free.
The world has many materials more suitable, so why do they torture customers with this kind of packaging? I like to keep boxes and manuals in the event that I might sell them on eBay, that's not going to happen with these things. What if the product that you've just bought develops a fault at somepoint? Just imagine trying to return it to some everything by the book
store member! “Everything is there, but you can kind of tell that I have opened the box
...”Impossible to open without it looking like you have used a grenade.
Just opening the packaging can take onwards of 30 minutes. I guess that we could always open these impenetrable products at the same time as we are installing these new fangled game updates, but please... don't get me started on those...
It's a crazy premise really. Any rage in this game is juxtaposed with all the wonder and happiness that the game delivers by the bucket load. But it's there, nonetheless.
The game – legend of Zelda Ocarina of time.
The rage - Aha you say.
The one bugbear.
The one source of consternation – the accursed Water Temple. Nope. It's tough, unbearably so at times but you know that it's not insurmountable – you know you'll get to the denoument ( a showdown with a curiously contrived monster).
No, the source of my rage is a little side quest, a distraction to keep you from rescuing the girl - one of the aspects of the game that everyone truly loved.
Aha you say – the hunt for Skulltullas or the quest for the giant sword which has you running round Hyrule like Skull kid on Ju Ju jelly?
No and No. The source of my rage is a little race with a certain postman.
It starts off all nice you sell him a bunny mask as a kid and he gives you a truckload of rupees. 'Solid bloke' you think - “hope I meet him again.”
Well you do. As an Adult you're passing through Gerudo valley and there he is in the tent. “Fancy a little race ?” he says.
Why not, right? It's only to the Kokiri entrance and I have a horse!
So we race – easy I think. Then I get there and he's already there. Hmm.
Six or seven attempts later (involving varied implementing of the carrot incentive) and I find that this guy is a tough Deku nut to crack.
So the next race I try shooting him with arrows. Nope.
Ok time to get creative i'll warp to the lost woods and then race through. He's still there first!
The cheating strawberry floating banana split is impervious to any of that.
Always by one second, too.
One strawberry floating second!
If it was Termina and the moon was about to hit he'd still manage to outrun it by one sec – the sneak!
Eventually – after a myriad of failed attempts, one broken controller and language not befitting a man in Psychiatry - I admitted defeat. Such was my dismay and primal rage that I couldn't play the game again for several days! Online FAQs confirmed his supremacy – he was unbeatable!
During my research I found that all sorts of things have been attempted. The most outlandish and apparently successful was to travel back in time and head for the finish line as young link. Then (and I can't believe someone thought this up let alone tried it) you play the song of sun until seven Hyrulian years have passed (approx 2556 times) and wait for him to arrive and be aghast!
To be that consumed with desire for victory takes something special. To be that crazy takes one thing – burning anger at the injustice of it. Scary thing is hat if I had thought of that – I would have done it - That's rage for you!
Grinding those Gaming Gears
With the 3DS Nintendo have given us a bridge, a connection with our games. A genuine cross over from virtual to reality and back again. I speak not of AR games, Face Raiders or even Mii’s. I refer to Play Coins. The virtual currency we earn, not by playing or paying, but for being active. For the uninitiated, the 3DS acts as a pedometer when in Sleep Mode. For every 100 steps you take you earn a Play Coin. Play Coins can be used on StreetPass Mii Plaza to hire heroes in StreetPass Plaza Quest, or purchase random puzzle pieces for the Puzzle Swap section. These aided and boosted mini-games based around the concept of StreetPass - the almost physical meetings of virtual profiles, Nintendo’s answer to social networking. Recently StreetPass Plaza Quest 2 and Nintendo Letterbox utilise the Play Coins to greater effect, the latter demanding coins to use more complex messaging functions like sending sound clips or prettier stationary. The second Quest is more substantial and its new RPG like additions require Play Coins in large numbers.
So we come to what really grinds my gears... Play Coins are dealt out too easily and used at an alarming rate. But Nintendo in all of their glorious wisdom limit them too much. You, dear StreetPasser are restricted to a mere ten Play Coins a day, and three hundred in total. Ten... Ten a day. A thousand steps worth, one thousand steps on a pedometer so accurate that it senses a step just by being stared at hard. By comparison, hiring a low level random hero in StreetPass Quest requires two play coins. That’s five heroes a day, bear in mind you can build a team of ten. As a result progress can be slow. A puzzle piece in Puzzle Swap wants another two of your coins. Capcom seem to be the only developer who uses Play Coins in their games, and understandably they charge you more play coins for stuff than you’d like to spend. Strangely I can semi-justify the thought of ten coins, a days worth of earnings, on a Level 17 Python Magnum in Resident Evil’s Raid Mode to kick B.O.W butt with. Don’t even get me started on the extortionate charges for new stationary in Nintendo Letterbox.
My anger really is with the limitations of how much you earn them. I walk an average of 2000-3000 steps a day but so long as I can spam the first 1000 there’s no virtual reward to finish my real life journey by foot. I refuse to shake my 3DS like a maraca to trick the 3DS into paying out Play Coins. Change the system Nintendo! More coins per day, more steps to earn coins, new methods of earning them. Is it really outside the realms of possibility that when I do get a Mario Kart 7 StreetPass hit, when I beat that person in a Grand Prix, I get a wedge of coins? No I don’t think it is, it makes more sense to allow this virtual currency to be earned virtually as well but only in connection to a reality such as a StreetPass hit of meeting someone new.
The fairy sidekicks of the Zelda games are your cheerful travelling companions. They function as a walking tutorial and guide when Link is inevitably thrown out into the big, wide world, always available to nudge a lost player in the right direction.
But there is one I hate.
No, not that one- although the constant interruptions of “Hey, listen!” will haunt us all to our graves.
I speak of Fi.
(SKYWARD SWORD SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY.)
Gaze into those eyes and you gaze into the black heart of modern games.
“But Fuller”, I hear you cry,” Fi is lovely and her relentless talk of “calculations” and “analysis” are charming and not nonsense ripped straight from How to Write Robot Characters 101, how can you hate her so much?”.
I hate Fi because she -and it is a she, if the hentai I saw (even on moderate safesearch!) while finding the image above is accurate- represents the dark side of accessibility in games- because it’s hard not to feel a bit insulted when a cutscene clearly shows a door opening, only for this to be followed by Fi flipping into view to announce that ”Master, a door appears to have opened in this room.” before continuing with, because she’s a computer program and has to constantly remind us of this, a few more extraneous text bubbles about “by my calculations” this and “90% probability that this door will lead somewhere.”that (simultaneously compounding my dislike for her as well as Japanese games and their aversion to brevity).
Now, accessibility is a big thing for Nintendo, and being one of their flagship games it is all over Skyward Sword, but if i don’t want to view the in-game help videos I can completely ignore them, and if I don’t want the onscreen controller help cluttering my view I can turn it off (Pro Mode 4 lyfe). And yet, I cannot turn off Fi, or even tone down her endless jabbering about what her data is suggesting. It’s not being treated like an idiot that annoys me, it’s that I don’t have a choice about it. Instead I’m being held back with the imaginary people that Nintendo think can’t even walk through a door without a dancing, cerulean Sat-Nav telling them what to do.
Fi is a symbol of something in modern gaming that we all hate, and should reflect badly on the game. Everyone knows that this kind of oppressive hand-holding is a bad thing, but dress it up as a pirouetting sidekick and they lap it up, going on about how they were “welling up” when the master sword was finally laid to rest- which is the point where all the character development that was missing from Fi for the whole game is dumped out into a final speech about how she “now understands this feeling you humans call “happiness””. I could say I cried tears of joy to know that I could put the game aside and never have to read her text bubbles again, but after forty-odd hours of unending commentary on the blindingly obvious I’d been reduced to stony-faced apathy.
but what am I saying, this is a Zelda game. Instant Classic! Ten out of Ten!
And it wasn’t even well-drawn hentai.
Online gaming has come a long way since the internet revolution of the nineties, both conceptually and in execution. Gamers worldwide are now able to access a plethora of game modes, interacting with other like-minded souls from around the globe. One of the resulting sub-cultures in particular has has risen to prominence in the gaming kingdom over the last decade, spreading quicker than copies of the latest Call of Duty.
Known as “no lifing”, it centralises on players spending their days playing the latest releases to death, in order to become the king of their online playground, eventually defeating lesser or casual players with ease, and often ruining the experience for their fellow pad warriors. Its roots can be traced back to the emergence of Doom, the game which pioneered network gaming and inspired many developers to follow in its footsteps. With the advance of technology, the simple push of a button grants players access to the online landscape, enabling us to take part in our favourite game modes – where we are at the mercy of the no lifing predators within.
If you have ever been killed just seconds after spawning in a game, the chances are that you have a no lifer in your party, and he will be picking off his opposition, namely you, from out of nowhere, one by one. Depending on your patience levels, you may not experience game rage to a high degree. After the tenth game in a row, however, be thankful if you still have a controller left to play with, as they have a tendency to smash against walls. The no lifers have the ability to take a truly brilliant game and sap every last ounce of enjoyment out of it for their victims, reducing it to an otherwise tedious activity, devoid of all fun.
No lifing is not only restricted to the world of online gaming, however, as many websites exist offering leaderboards for insular games which do not possess online functionality. Pages that provide dedicated gamers the opportunity to submit scores for their favourite level in a wide range of games. For example, the popular website 'Cyberscore', is not, as one might think, a dating site. It is a site on which thousands of players upload their gaming records to see where they rank up against the competition. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the player at the top of the overall table, with over 4500 gold medals, or in this case world records, is the gaming phenom known as “packattack”. A quick search on YouTube quickly illustrates how this player epitomises the no life culture. He is, however, just one of many.
The no life culture appears to be here to stay for the immediate future, and is growing as a result of the increased accessibility of the online gaming world. Whilst there is not an obvious way of policing this issue, there is hope. The number of smaller, tight-knit, dedicated gaming communities is also rising, which seek to detach themselves from these intensely irritating individuals, and are succeeding in bringing the fun back into online gaming.
Last edited by DML on Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:38 am, edited 2 times in total.