Posts filed under 'Gaming'
This post is kind of a mixed bag for me. It’s a strange phenomena to find the internet (i.e. the rest of the world) catching up with you for a change. Yesterday a friend of mine sends me a link to a game that I know all too well, and have been following all too closely myself. That game is currently my most-anticipated title… it is my desktop wallpaper, it’s been pre-ordered before even the clerks at the store had heard of it, and it’s none other than Brutal Legend. This should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me even slightly… in fact, if you’ve brushed past me at GDC, you may know this.
I don’t mean to jump the gun here, but (jumpgun)I’ll go ahead and say that Brutal Legend is the best game ever made(/jumpgun). Yep, I said it, and you can’t do anything about it. Brutal Legend is the game I’ve been looking forward to since before it was announced, it’s the game I’ve been waiting for moments after I destroyed my first orphanage in Lungfishopolis. If you don’t get that reference, please leave the website. Ok ok, come back… without you, this post serves no purpose, and therefore I am no one. The “moment” is from Psychonauts, a game critically acclaimed for being amazing, but infamous for lack luster sales. It was then that my cynicism began.
Before I get too deep into ‘it,’ let me just say that Brutal Legend has EVERYTHING going for it. I love Tim Schafer. The man is a genius and is absolutely hilarious. Everything he works on (Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island) has a personality that resonates through the game, and this has been quoted to be his dream project. I love Psychonauts. A brilliant game with some of the best writing and most creative level design to date. I love Double Fine. The studio that brought us Psychonauts. The studio that seems to be staffed by undercover super-stars. Like, you know that studio that has an amazing reputation for having great teams and so everyone’s always talking about how awesome they are? Well, they are like that, except only the cool people talk about them, and the average people don’t even know. I love Jack Black. I love Tenacious D. Jack Black, in my mind, is one of those guys that is just good at everything he does. Everything he touches has a slighly higher chance of turning to gold because he touched it. Sure a turd might still be a turd after all is said and done, but the probability of it being gold goes up when he touches it. And I love his band (hence the name of this post :D). So in conclusion, the only way this game could have more potential for me is if Joss Whedon was working on it too somehow.
Now, while I start getting too deep into ‘it,’ let me just address why I’m making this post and why it is something of a mixed bag. I feel like I need to make this post now, while it still counts for something. Brutal Legend was easily the breakout game of GDC this year I think, and it’s no surprise that game is rising quickly to stardom. I suppose this is exactly what I wanted with my years and years of “praising” Psychonauts, was for Brutal Legend to become popular… but the more popular it gets, the more my feelings get mixed. It’s not that I feel that my individuality is being questioned when something I identified with very much is becoming something everyone can identify with, no no, that would be selfish… and stupid. Ok maybe that’s it a little bit, but only a little bit. I suppose my fears boil down to a cautious optimism.
I want Brutal Legend to be popular because it is good, not good because it is popular. Obviously I can’t say that it is the best game ever made, because quite simply it isn’t done yet! It hasn’t yet been made! If it were any other game, right about here is where I would start getting pessimistic (as opposed to cautiously optimistic). Now that it is rising in popularity, all too easy is it to overlook small problems and pass along a amazing-but-just-slighly-less-than-as-amazing-as-envisioned product. Sure Psychonauts wasn’t perfect, and Brutal Legend probably wouldn’t have been perfect even if it was still as forgotten about as it was about a year ago when it almost got canceled, or maybe the year before that when it almost got canceled, or however much more forgotten about you can get. The difference is in motivation. The lack of a public “standard” or deadline or bar of quality can really motivate a team to deliver top notch quality. Why? Because they are working till they are satisfied with their own product, no other standard other than those set by themselves. No deadline other than “till it’s as good as I think it can be.” Now this isn’t realistic by any measure, but it’s certainly less so now that it is gained the public’s eye. Sure public expectations can result with positive outcomes as well, but I dunno, me personally, I think it’s easier to shine brightly when the spotlight isn’t on you. This begs the question of Psychonauts being as good if it was popular back then, and there’s no question that the game would have still been amazing. So maybe this isn’t a problem, and I’m thinking too much? Well I’m not done yet!
Now of course I want Brutal Legend to be great and do great and have phenomenal sales, and light up the charts and leave way for Double Fine Productions, a studio I want to work at unequivocally, to make a hundred other great games like Brutal Legend… But now we come back to the cynicism I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago. Just because the game is popular now, doesn’t mean that it will do well. I’m always overwhelmed by the capacity for humanity to overlook the good and settle for the mediocre. This is probably the most depressing thing I’ve ever said on my blog, but it’s truly how I feel. There’s always that fear of disappointment. Though I’m sure that anyone that cares about the outcome of this game has similar fears.
So the short version of this article is that I CARE about this game. I don’t know why I care so much, and it’s probably only going to hurt me in the end. I probably really should get to know the game quite a bit more before committing so much to it, and I really really really should know better. I go against all of my better judgement when I write this, but maybe I love it? Anyway, this post seems kind of depressing. So let me just finish by saying that I am looking forward to this game a lot, and I think it will be awesome. I don’t really care what anyone else thinks, I’ll be playing this game by myself alone at midnight in a dark room and I won’t come out till I’m a Legend.
May 2nd, 2009
So, I’ve been playing a lot of Chrono Trigger for DS lately. I suppose it really took off during my flights to and from San Francisco last week for GDC, and then my 12 hour “layover” also helped in this department.
Anyway, the game is of course brilliant, but what is more nostalgic to me than anything else is how brilliantly the story is told. Sure back in those days, all the stories were told this way, but even still for some reason I think that most other games still didn’t do it as well. Earthbound did, but that’s another reason Earthbound was awesome. Anyway, as usual, I’ve talked a lot about something and started talking about related subjects without actually saying what I am referring to.
I’m referring to the short-burst storytelling as is common in RPGs, especially in those days… the kind of storytelling that is all but dead in today’s day. I’m referring to the story that is told while you talk to townsfolk and random NPCs while running around the world. Most RPGs today use town “banter” as a poorly taken advantage of tool of immersion, and then use cutscenes and “significant” character dialog as story progression. The last game that I truly felt proper short-burst story telling in was I think Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic… if you played it, you know what I’m talking about.
I suppose it’s not really the fault of modern games or writing or writers or any one particular group… well unless you classify ‘lazy assholes’ as one group, but who the hell hasn’t been guilty of something that may defunct them into that category? With so many games now being forced to focus on story and allow time and presence for cutscenes and character dialog, it’s no wonder that we as an audience look for these things and basically skip everything else and let our subconscious sort it out. Not to mention the otherwise difficulty in developing a unique or original story that might actually entangle the player’s interest even a little.
I think that’s one of the new revolutions that needs to take place in storytelling in games. Make it sort of ADD and just start skipping forward hours and hours and just forgetting about everything in between. It’s like when you watch those shows and you see the “Previously on…” and pretty much get the gist of everything you missed. Basically make a game like that… I think that’s kind of what it was like. Skipping from one significant story element to the next, as walking through a town talking to NPCs.
Additionally, I’ll mention that I’m crazy impressed with how ridiculous the combat system in Chrono Trigger is. I dunno if I was too young or ignorant or spoiled to really appreciate it back when I first played it, but after over a decade of games with only a few handful or so of RPGs that have had a similarly awesome combat system, it makes me appreciate it a whole lot more. I’ll say that I wish I could have some better means to interface with the game, or some better UI elements to do moves or know what I want to do, but alas, maybe in another game…
April 6th, 2009
There once was a time,
when no one came online,
people played their games,
without remembering any of their friends’ names.
A time when effort spent was nothing lost,
for there was nothing on our checklists that needed crossed.
Each objective had an appropriate reward, a fitting retribution,
as opposed to the next task at hand, requiring little or no intuition.
Though that time is gone, forever lost, forever mourned,
we will embrace our new tranquility,
with subconscious mind and obsessive ability.
The achievement blip at the helm,
now ruling our gaming realm;
with the majesty with which you are adorned,
I only wish that we were warned.
Oh peaceful and serene achievement blip,
your every visit makes my heart flip…
except when it’s just my friends coming online,
which is actually what’s happening 90% of the time.
Despite that however, my heart races and leaps and flies and soars,
but then I see my friend’s name and I’m just left wanting more.
In that moment I trip and fall and crash into depression,
and once again crawl back into my obsession.
I’ll never know why your visits I desire…
what I think I’d really like, is for you to retire.
What is it that you fulfill, for me to seek you so aggressively,
keeping me from living happily.
I feel like I don’t even play a game anymore,
unless it’ll improve my gamerscore.
At least I haven’t played things like King Kong, and Cars, and Avatar,
because then I might feel like a complete retard.
But unfortunately it’s probably only a matter of time,
till I commit that heinous crime.
As those little numbers increase by five and ten,
my dedication grows by a similar token.
I knew it was getting out of hand,
when I started counting the numbers like grains of sand,
till I reached the lofty ten thousand.
Alas, this was a burden with which I was born,
despite any and all of my scorn.
We may no longer be free,
but achievement blip I admire thee:
your evaluation had been something I’ve always wanted…
be it cold and cruel to leave me haunted.
Be careful what you wish for,
to open such a bitter sweet door,
for we are only mortal,
now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go play more Portal.
February 10th, 2009
I know saying “My NXE Experience” is redundant because NXE stands for Next Xbox Experience, but whatever, it would have been dumb to say “My NXE,” no one would know what I was talking about!
Well, I doubt I have very much original to say here. Yeah, it’s different, it’s new, it still needs a lot of work, but there are plenty of improvements that definitely make it a positive change. I love the Party system, I hate all onslaught of ads they have thrown at us. More customization options would be nice too. But overall, this is a good thing.
Anyway, here’s my current Avatar.
I have to wonder, they had 3 of the 4 letters already going for them, and it was like a whole new next-generation sort of thing/advertising for them (which was very smart btw, and probably worked out really well for them), but why not just go the extra mile and come up with a ‘T’ word, and then call it the NEXT Experience. Or even cooler, the NXET Experience. There’s some scientific study out there where as long as the first and last letter are right, the middle letters, despite being jumbled, will read correctly. That would have been cool… well ok it would have been silly as hell, but I would have liked it.
November 20th, 2008
I don’t think I’ve really mentioned this yet, but I work at EA Mythic Entertainment. Mythic is best known for the still-popular MMO classic, Dark Age of Camelot. Anyway, I’ve had the privilege of working on Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, which just launched today! So you should all go play it, and tell me what you think!
September 18th, 2008
So, the last two months have been incredibly crazy for me. To say that they haven’t been life changing would, quite simply, be profoundly incorrect. Alas, I wish I could tell you all about it right now, but I can’t. I don’t have the time for it, the chapter in my life isn’t complete yet, the story isn’t yet ready to be told, and quite simply, I don’t want to talk about it all just yet. So what the hell am I writing about?
Well, this! AllisBrawl.com
This has been a project I’ve been working on for the past six months or so. On and off for most of it, but pretty hardcore the last couple months. I’m very proud of my work on it and I think it’s phenomenal. It’s a new site dedicated to Smash Bros., particularly for Smash Bros. Brawl. Quite simply, it is the most full-featured and dedicated site for any one game made completely and entirely by less than a handful of fans.
There is nothing I can say here that can’t be accomplished by simply going to the site and checking it out, so please do so. It is the fruit of a lot of my effort the past few months, and will be the portal of a lot of my other efforts in the coming months. It uses some of the latest and cutting-edge technology available for web developers, and not only was it exciting, but it was fun! The site went live Monday, February 18th, 2008, a day that will go down in infamy. In only a week it has had over 400 unique visitors, and almost 60,000 pageviews. We hope you enjoy this, and look forward to your feedback! Welcome to the new face of Smash fandom.
February 26th, 2008
Smash got delayed. Oh yes oh yes oh yes oh thank you god. Ok, so I’m probably one of probably three people saying this in the world, but I have a lot of reasons to say so. Some of which I can’t say, some of which I don’t want to say, but I’m glad. There are some reasons I can say though. Like one, it was coming out at an inconvenient time. Two, I was going to be out of town and so I would be missing launch. Three, there are other games coming out around the same time that I want to play that I’ll now have time for relatively close to launch. And also, I wanted an excuse to post this video.
I guess I could talk about my trip out of town a bit more. Well, I’ll be going to India for a family wedding. I’d be leaving Friday Night Feb. 25th and returning Sunday Night Feb. 10th. It should be an amazing trip and I’m looking forward to it. To be honest, the time bracket in which it falls couldn’t be more inconvenient, but what are you gonna do. It’s all fun and good stuff. I remember about 6 months ago where for about 3 months straight I had something or another going on every weekend and it was all fun stuff, but I was getting exhausted not being able to just sit down and relax and play some video games. I guess we’ll have something like this going again… but I’ll definitely make time for video games.
January 15th, 2008
I found this great new game that I think everyone would find interest in if they are into this kind of thing. It’s called the simExchange and it’s like play-stock market for gamers… well more specifically for gamers that are interested in the “politics” of games. In essence it tracks NPD data for most games in the current generation on a monthly and a lifetime setting. It also tracks the Metacritic score a game will get.
So in essence you are buying stock in a game and investing in it. You play with play money called DKP where 1DKP = 10,000 sales of a game or 1 Metacritic score. If you think a game will do well, you buy buy buy! If you think it will do worse than it is projected at the moment, you sell sell sell! And like the stock market, it’s all based on “investor” interactions where the current “price” is based on their selling and buying tendencies; take a look at how Super Smash Bros. Brawl is doing right now! Anyway, it is a little complicated, and particularly more complicated than I just described, but it’s very addicting and a lot of fun! It’s something you can spend minutes a day with or hours with, much like the stock market! I recommend you all at least check it out. Also when you do create an account, feel free to friend me: AnujSuper9.
December 7th, 2007
So last night I noticed a dashboard update to the Xbox360 dashboard, which I thought was mostly pretty cool! Most of the changes seemed kinda pointless, but it did add efficiency and I’m always a fan of efficiency.
I guess they also took this time to unveil the new and highly talked about feature, which would be the “Xbox Originals,” which seems to be the ability to pay $15 for classic favorites on the Xbox and then be able to emulate their play from your hard drive instead of from your disk. If you ask me, this is a ripoff… you could find most of these games on shelves for under $15 bucks anyways, and you get no added features or support by downloading it, no 360 menus or dashboard options, no achievements, no content addtions or things via the 360Live system, not really anything new. I don’t really expect a whole new game with features that didn’t exist when the game was first released, but I expect some reason to pay for this.
Also, comparisons to the Wii VC are undeniable, but I think the comparison would be more fitting if you saw GameCube games on the VC for $15, and furthermore, it seems to me that Wii VC titles are a lot harder to come by, the prices are much more reasonable, and you’d actually have to connect another console to your TV to play these games, which, depending on the game, is reason enough (IMO).
Oh hey also, I got the Psychonauts theme which was awesome, and that’s probably the coolest thing about the new Xbox Originals update is that they are giving away themes for those things free instead of charging the dollar or two they normally might to especially rip you off. I’m sure it won’t be long before they add price tags to those things. But anyway, I did get the Psychonauts theme because Psychonauts is awesome. You can see it in the pictures I took with my cell phone above. But hey, you know what’s also weird, for some reason I’m getting my messages from other people in Spanish!
December 5th, 2007
You might see the title attached to this post and initially think that I must not have liked Portal, because pretty much everyone liked this game, and so for everyone to be wrong, the game must in fact in my opinion not be good. Well, that’s not what I am saying. Quite the contrary to that in fact, I am saying that Portal is fantastic, it’s great and it’s brilliant, and quite simply, Portal is just way better than you think it is.
Call my approach to sharing my opinion cocky, incredibly confrontational, or all too agressive, but alas, I was recently inspired by an occurence at Penny Arcade and the flak they were getting for sharing their opinions in a similar way, but I found myself not only agreeing with what they said, but moreso and more importantly, being really satisfied by the way in which they conveyed their opinions, so I would like to do no less. I’m starting this with Portal, which is sort of ironic because, amidst the plethora of situations in which I find myself having an opinion far different from the general consensus, bordering on opinions that are simply the polar opposite of each other, I choose to discuss a game that is roughly unanimously appreciated for quality. Alas, I generally find myself in the minority in thought, whether I do it to myself accidentally, or whether I really do just go against the grain instinctively, I do not know, but it really does happen to me all of the time, and Portal, an enjoyment I share with most people, is no different.
To elaborate though, people do enjoy Portal, but I hear many complaints from people, albeit minor, I do not agree with them, and furthermore, often times I feel that people missed the point and beauty and purpose of the game being done in this way, and thus found a point of complaint, when instead it should have been a new and inspirational look at game creation. I’m sure you’ve heard most of the same positive things I have, and as well as most of the same complaints I have, so I will quickly try to outline some of these.
First the mutually agreeable positive things about Portal. The technology is cool, the puzzles are fun and interesting, great replay value, amazing atmosphere and story, incredibly quirky concepts to give a life-long lasting appeal. And of course, the cake is a lie, and the ending credits theme, which really and truly tied the theme for the whole game together to give a deeper understanding to the development than most of what existed in the game to begin with.
Now, the complaints. Too short, not enough puzzles, no fighting enemy soldiers and AI and stuff, no other weapons, no “real story,” etc. Like I said, people enjoy the game, but they list these as reasons that keep the game from being an incredible game, or a “perfect” game, generally minor in complaint, but even still these should not be so. All of the complaints above pretty much translate to the same two things, too short and expecting a generic FPS game not Portal. Alas, for the gamer looking for the generic FPS and not Portal, they can thankfully appease their feeble mind by the Orange Box package as opposed to Portal alone, but that is an irrelevant point. On the other hand though, for the gamer looking for variety of gameplay options as well as a game with which they could spend a lot of time with, Portal alone is not the game for them, because I think it was simply designed to be the length that it is, and from beginning to end made with no intention to be more than what is given.
Portal gives you a technology, a system, a new and incredible gun. It gives you a fast learning curve into “thinking with portals,” and causes you to completely experience the phenomena. The game could have created another 100 levels introducing one new concept per stage, but that would add such an artificial length to the game, and would in essence kill the majesty that the story and length gives you otherwise. It gives you the Source Engine, and an idea on how to create good puzzles. Anyone can create a good puzzle for you if you want one, and you can try to create one for others as well, creating more puzzles on their end can truly be an unending process that conceptually would add no value other than more time to play, and would instead destroy so many other things. Why do you think you have so many people who have in fact completed the game, and so many people on the inside of the joke and able to snicker when referring to the popular line “The cake is a lie!” Would the mechanic not get boring and too tiresome and tedious for your average player? How much time do you think the average player interested in Portal will really have to spend thinking outside of the box?
Portal’s length allows it create a funny and entertaining story, and a game that can be enjoyed by anyone. It introduces and gets you familiar with the concept, it gives you the tools and means for anyone to create new levels, and it does it all in a movie-like single session play of a mere two to three hours. I remember back when I thought it was just going to be a trial of levels with no cohesive story whatsoever. Who in their right minds would have preferred that? Portal is a truly unique experience, and it’s something that can be experienced only in games and honestly would be a different experience if done any other way.
Call it personal preference if you disagree with me, and I’m sure there are actually a lot of you that agree even with me, and so saying “everyone,” is somewhat absurd, but alas, I think ‘everyone’ is far closer to being appropriate than ‘no one.’
November 29th, 2007