If you’re reading this, then congratulations. I guess. There was a time where this was my refuge from a tunneled out VGF Blog web page with my plan being to shift onto a new website called Writscrib as Tumblr sucked and still does. WELL… Writscrib shut down and Tumblr would probably say I’m inappropriate for advertisers. So… this is pretty much my permanent residence barring some shiny new website showing up.
Toad has killed Tazy as well. It seems we’re heading for the desert soon. Watch out for the heat!
Man… I got nothing. Literally have nothing.
I mean, I really don’t want to do another heavy topic after The Frontier article, and I don’t have the time to do a list…
What’s relevent to me?
Okay, so Day’s Gone’s head writer got mad about people not buying games at launch- Oh, who am I kidding? It’s been a while since my Claymates take down article. Let’s do another!
So, it’s no big secret that I play legally shaky things like WADs and ROMhacks and that sort of thing can always be risky. Unlike a game you pay for, free games tend to be given a lot more leeway for the lack of investment and some could argue that free games can never be bad for that reason. But if MUGEN taught me anything, it’s that such a mindset is folly with no basis in reality. Inventment in far more than currency and giving that much rope to a game, while it can be justified, will cause you to eat far more garbage than you deserve. Another thing I’ve learned with WADS like Base Ganymede: Complete, and other games throughout the years is that good gameplay only takes a game so far to the point it can be completely irrelevant. How you interact with the world is absolutely dependent on everything on top of it. But I think I need to bring this around to our subject, before I get all preachy again.
*sniff sniff snorf* Ah yes, my dear. Such a fragrant aroma.
So, I’m pretty late to this party, and I haven’t experienced this game personally, even though I have the means to whenever I wish. However, this article is not about the game in question, and even then I’ve experienced enough by watching the game mod itself to know semi recently released mod for New Vegas Fallout: The Frontier is really really bad. However, I’m not entirely interested in the game, rather I am interested far more in the poor response to criticism that ultimately destroyed this mod for the foreseeable future. There’s an old tweet I can’t find so I’m going to rephrase it to be less humorous: Never do public relations while emotional. If that means you say nothing, then say nothing. Perhaps another lesson is to never sweep criticism under the rug if you want to really succeed but that’s jumping the gun and this is probably not something you’ve heard about with the amount of people likely to hear about this mod decreasing as time passes. So let’s get that out of the way.
This is like a birthday bash at Michael Bay’s mansion.
Before this month, I’d have told you that I’m not one to have a favorite genre in video games. Maybe I don’t gel with Strategy games that much, and I may like puzzles more than a lot of people, but I’ll play almost anything. Or at least I thought I didn’t have a favorite genre. Games where you jump from platform to platform were super prevalent in my childhood so it’s only natural that I have some expertise and understanding in how they work. However, it was not until I saw a few really bad examples in action on streams (and played a couple) that I realized platformers are probably my favorite genre. They better be because I got really really mad seeing how bad some of them were and not because they were awful to control because I can’t tell you how that is just by watching it. It’s small intrinsic things that in general create a worse experience by proxy. I’ve talked about this in the past, but small changes can completely alter a game that would otherwise be a copy of previous titles, sometimes for better but also for worst. Since I’m already starting off on a bad foot here, I’m going to be nice to those maybe not wanting me to call this game or that game bad. Instead, I’m going to just give general statements on three or so litle things that lessen what should be a fun time with the control method of your choice. Maybe you already have examples in your head, so use those! I’m not here to tell you what you like or dislike. Become a free thinking human being!
Okay, so I might be a bit unfair with this one. I watched someone stream Dragon Age and it got me thinking. Me, who played Dragon Age 2 only to give up on it, but is surrounded by people that love the series. Nowadays, in a world where Game of Thrones is a failure, The Witcher is a franchise that does dark and depressing worlds better, and Bioware has fallen from grace… Dragon Age as a franchise may not stand much in the face of time, especially if you don’t like stock lines where party members fight over how many venereal diseases they’ve collected. But it’s really mean to say Dragon Age is Bioware’s attempt at a Game of Thrones story because Dragon Age: Origins came out before A Song of Ice and Fire really got popular and while it’s an inspiration, the TV show obviously didn’t exist yet. No, instead Dragon Age is Bioware taking the races and ideas thrown about in Lord of the Rings and mixing them up a whole bunch. Dwarves are still mostly underground and you’re still fighting orcs (though they are called Darkspawn) but in this world the orcs are part of a mindless mass looking to kill everything. Elves are not in fabulous castles but are instead more comparable to Pavees or Irish Travelers when they’re not being enslaved by people. Mages aren’t treated much better as their powers connect them to a special realm for demons only. A place where a single yes can turn them into avatars for demon power. This gets them locked up in a tower watched over by the Templar on threat of being lobotomized if they say no too many times. Meanwhile, everyone hates each other and life’s a bit bollix. So it goes. As for the franchise itself, there’s three games of note: The first being Dragon Age Origins (with Awakening being an expansion pack centered on one area), Dragon Age 2, and Dragon Age Inquisition. Started in 2009, it became Bioware’s original IP away from their initial work with the Dungeons and Dragons world. They got massive success, but Bioware has been having a lot of trouble since then. Recent statements have come out that as early as Dragon Age 2, the company has had issues with crunch and making ample use of dev time. It has recently come to a head with Mass Effect Andromeda and Anthem coming out with about a year of actual work put to them and being so unfinished that they became an embarrassment of the industry for a while. Perhaps more worrysome is the reason this has gone on for so long is that in the minds of the team they believed in “Bioware Magic”. To explain this simply: Up until the last year of dev time for several games, nothing would work right or feel good but then suddenly they can scramble to put everything together and have it all work out before the game goes gold. But let’s gauge how that shook out eventually by gauging each games’ attempts at following current trends until we see it subsume the design document itself. It’s time to punch down on Thedas. STARTING WITH
Despite some rare instances where a story can carry a flawed game, usually it is unimportant to a game it’s paired with and can be dismissed nine times out of ten. It’s should not kill the game you’re playing, but it can enhance a work and make it more than it would be otherwise. I feel like I’ve said this before, however this time it’s different because it leads me to immersion in general. What a work does to put you into its world full of scenery, characters, and scenarios can make a creation feel more whole than something that spends most of its time referencing real world events and in-jokes. It’s not the only goal a game story should aim for, but depending on its tone, you can be invested in whatever story is being told. There are ways this immersion can be broken, though tolerance can differ from person to person and while you can’t adjust for the feelings of others, there are things that will take anyone out. In video games, however, it is hardest to immerse oneself in a world due to its interactive nature and, especially if the story starts to take point over the game. In cases like these, where what you see on screen isn’t what you did on screen, we have a word for it. Ludonarrative Dissonance.
Vice: Project Doom I feel like this one is… a discount Ninja Gaiden? It has more depth but less is really done with it by comparison. You’re… I forgot everyone’s names and I’m not looking it up. You’re a detective that is investigating a strange guy you shot down in a car chase and his connections to an evil corporation! You meet characters, they die, and you find you you’re the villain, the hero, and the next villain I guess. Run my company because, like me, I was you, and the next person will also be you. Run my companyyyyyy! Okay, so gameplay. There’s top down driving segments and first person target shooting segments but most of the game is 2d and about running across the screen avoiding damage. You have a laser sword but also a gun and grenades, the latter two relying on ammo to function and can be quite useful when needed but the game itself is not entirely memorable or interesting, if you couldn’t tell by me just spoiling it on the casual. It’s inoffensive but I really don’t think you’re missing out if you skip this one. Do as you wish. It’s your company.
water and water and water water, water and water and water water, water and water and water water, water and water and water water
So, I’m rushing to push an article out again. December reasons, as per the usual. However, this time I have something more than “what I’ve played recently” and “what’s popular right now”. I want to talk about the large supply of rereleases the game industry has been taking on for a while now. It’s not ALL ports to new consoles or graphic updates. Sometimes there is more content added, or gameplay is given a fine tuning. Either way, it’s still a big deal. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? A new generation gets to experience the game you liked so it’s all good. Maybe. Perhaps. Well, you know me don’t you? I’m a navel gazer. Time to see what’s good and what’s bad!
So quite a while ago, I made an article on video game villains and how they work. It was a positive article that used obscure examples to exemplify a point or two on good villain building. I like that article. I think I’ve sourced it a few times to other people. Villains are important and knowing the ins and outs of good villains makes appreciating good writing that much easier, but let’s not get it twisted. You can’t just talk about the good all the time. While it is nice, at some point you’re just “It’s good villains. They’re good. I’ve never seen a good villain before. So good.” YOU NEED STANDARDS
AND I’M GONNA GIVE YOU THOSE STANDARDS
Spoilers for Pokemon Black, Ratchet and Clank, Tales of Vesperia, Rival Schools, and I guess Metal Slug if you care that much.
You need a reason to engage with mechanics in any game. A lot of the time, the short term goal of story progression can be enough but long term you need real “meat” to keep someone’s attention or the longer the game goes the more effort will feel wasted, like you could have easily ignored most of a game and had more fun with it. Look at any basic flash game or something that is really cheap. Generally, you beat the challenge and that’s it. That’s fine, and sometimes you can just leave it there. But long games need you to inch towards a larger goal, and I don’t mean with story. I mean with a payoff that builds through most of the game itself. Getting stronger, or achieving a large goal over time tied to something you do constantly. In some ways experience bars, and skill points can do the job, but nothing is easier to understand than the hefty waft of currency. Ever since we realized that free is unfair to the creator of goods and asking to barter is too hard for those without cows to sell, currency has been the de facto way to get the goods and in games it becomes THE way to buy whatever you need be it weapons, armor, food, drink, crystals, essential oils, bleach, a funnel- Where am I going with this…?
Themes tend to play a lot in someone’s mind, and something I find myself going back to again and again is sincerity in media. A need to actually build your world to have people that care rather than a cast of goofballs afraid to do anything more than jokes for fear of being annoying, or because the people making it are annoying. But I do need an example of a game that knows what people want with it and is not afraid to give exactly that with no rolling eyes or snide comeback about it.