There was a time, back in my youth, when I worshiped you! You were a god descended before me with a magical touch and sparkling brilliance. I remember back to when it all began, when I first played Oblivion. I loved that game. It was filled with creativity and wonder, it still had your charm. But, when I look back now, I see that this is when it started. When the golden idol caught your eye and you fell under its mystifying gaze.
Oblivion, for all its faults, truly astounded me. Before then, I was a Quake junky. On occasion I would branch out and try new things. There was Doom and Hexen, Duke Nukem and Commander Keen. I had never really tried out other games beyond shooters and platformers. Sure, I owned my copy of Age of Empires and SimCity, but those were the exception. So when I risked it and blew my birthday money on a copy of Oblivion, I never saw the experience coming.
I was so blown away by this new experience of an RPG that I decided to branch out. I started with you of course. I fiddled around on my Windows 95 and got a copy of Daggerfall working. What a time I had. Even dated, your love for games shone through, your old touch of creating an immersive world that sucked you in and never let go. I moved onto Morrowind and, even though it never quite had the same effect, I could still see your love and creative heart in the work through the browns and grays.
I slowly ventured out further, trying out RPGs made by Bioware and Obsidion. I played Jade Empire, KotOR I & II, Balder's Gate, Dragon Age, Arcanum, Neverwinter Nights; so many that I can hardly even recall their names anymore. Hell, I even gave WoW a shot. I picked up as many RPGs as I could get my hands on in South Africa and never gave the habit up.
There was one in particular, though, that I truly fell in love with. Its name was Fallout. The choice-action-consequence dynamics of the game was so grand that it boggled my mind back then and still does today. It and its sequel, Fallout II, ranked up there as my favorite games of the time and still hold their place today.
So when I heard that you, the mighty Bethesda, had bought the franchise from the decrepit Interplay, my heart soared with joy. Nothing could be greater than Fallout reformed and created anew by the master gamesmiths of Bethesda. It seems almost naive now that I think back on it, but my hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams of so many, were riding on that game.
I don't know, maybe I'm just bitter. Fallout III was, by industry standards, a great game. But your games were, to me anyway, held to a higher grade, a finer ideal. It could have been your magnum opus, a testament to games as an art form. But you'd learnt your lesson of Oblivion well, hadn't you. No longer did you have to create games. No longer did you have to pour your heart and soul into the work. The glint of the golden idol was too strong and from it Fallout III was forged into a gilded cage. Pretty, sure, but confining and a damned shadow of its predecessors.
The years have tapered me down but maybe I still see things through a harsher lense. My vitriol and bile has hardened into a jaded state, but I just don't see you shattering that any time soon. Your disgusting management of New Vegas scorned me greatly. Denying Obsidion their just deserves for "mistakes" you make gladly was truly shameful. Your wanton lust for more money through DLC has faded into a joke to many but still burns strong in my memory. Skyrim only further proved my point to me that you care little for your franchises anymore, only for the money you can wring out of them.
I love you still, you know. I understand there's little hope, but the very least you can do is tell me why. Why did you do it Bethesda? Why did you shun everything you once stood for? Why did you gladly join the ranks of Bioware and Blizzard? Why did you give up your creative legacy for money? And, most importantly, is it too late? Has the cancer gone so far as to infect you entirely? Is there nothing left of what you were? Is there any hope that some day, you'll sit down again and create something visionary and beautiful, or am I just sitting here, to be left out in the cold?
PS: I HATE DESTRUCTOID'S BLOG CODE!
PPS: Yea, I'm probably still just bitter.
This one's a bit pretentious. Full of stuffy, thought heavy ideas and worse, no pictures!
Grand Theft Auto V is all in vogue but alas, as a stanch PC gamer, Rockstar hates me with a passion that cannot be understood. Years of late games, flat up refusal to release popular games and poorly optimized messes have left me jaded by the company. Still, they're a good publisher so I stick with them but I won't be the newest release in the series for quite some time. So I went back to number IV to try a playstyle that many might declare a touch crazy.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I love me some realism. In fact, they might say that I'm a bit insane when it comes to realism. I love its tedious and frustration inducing qualities. I love its immersion creating touch. I love going out of my way to place myself in a world with a sprinkling of the real. I modded Skyrim to the point that I was living a second life of waking, eating, working, and sleeping in Tamriel. I made it the same in Mafia II, going so far that bullets did the damage that they do in our world and you have to visit the mob doctor to get healed up. I took Fallout: New Vegas so far that I was spending more time bandaging up and sneaking around instead of actually fighting anyone.This may sound horrible to you, but I absolutely love it.
So when I installed GTA IV again, I was determined to bring the real world into Liberty City. I stop at red lights, drive on the right side of the road and "exchange" insurance details in the rare bumps and scratches. I walk when I don't have the car, even if it takes ten minutes to get to my location. I eat every morning and evening. I sleep at least once a day. All in all, I play the game as if Nico Bellic was a normal, everyday, human being. It may sound terribly tedious, and it is mind you, but it opens up a world that, I believe anyway, Rockstar originally envisioned.
They wanted the game to be played this way. It's why there are so many little touches of the real world in the game. They never intended for the player to go on a sociopathic, rampaging murder spree right off the bat, or ever for that matter. They wanted you to take your time, get to know who Nico is and understand his plight. Its the main motivation behind splitting the GTA III - San Andreas universe and the new universe into two. Unfortunately, Rockstar overestimated their fan base's desire to join them down the greyscale brick road.
No one else wanted what Rockstar wanted. They wanted guns, bombs, jetpacks and masturbation jokes and I don't blame them. Every GTA before IV had taken its sincerity with a pound of salt. They told serious stories of revenge, greed and loss with a side of levity so that the player never felt overwhelmed. But Rockstar, apparently, was ashamed of this legacy of silliness. They wanted to mature from their past and that is a fair motivation. It's just a shame that they did it so fast as to lose most of their audience standing in the dust.
I, however, am willing to play IV the way I believe Rockstar wanted it to be played and, I must say, it's damn fun. Sure, it can get really boring, but that's life. Nico rapidly becomes a human being with struggles and hopes. The basic monotony of life grounds him so that he never ascends to the mythic levels that CJ, Speed and Tommy got to. He's not a god of crime. He's just a guy who wants a better life. He doesn't get to run around, 24/7, blowing away cops. He has to go home and sleep, eat and shit like the rest of us.
It's truly a surreal experience when you're sitting a stop light, blowing away the time, when you see a car that you want. You don't jump out your car and go steal it. No, you dream about it and hope that the side jobs that you do will get you the money to afford it some day. This is just one example too. There are many little things like this, that really put you into the head of the character and how they'd approach situations.
I won't say that this is a style of play is for everyone, it's really not. It can get really boring sometimes. However, if you can pull through, the level of immersion you will feel is beyond what I can explain. To watch Nico go about his life and care about his dreams as if they were yours is an experience I won't forget any time soon. I suggest it to everyone, to just give it a shot some day. Worst comes to worst, you lose an hour or two of your life. At its best, you'll get a life changing experience that will leave you thinking.
Who doesn't want to understand that sexy mug? Wait... did I say no pictures?
I was playing Bioshock recently when I something suddenly stuck out to me. Rapture has not a single black resident. Now, this sort of thing can be hand waved. Ayn Rand.. COUGH.. sorry, Andrew Ryan, was racist and didn't want to include black people in his “free for all” land. Segregation of the times would have intrinsically kept them out right off the bat. It's in water. There are a variety of in-universe reasons for them not to be down there, but the question kept nagging me so I thought about it a bit more. What if, just maybe, 2K forgot to add black people?
It's understandable from a certain point of view. Not saying they're racist but a, I assume, majority white dev team probably would forget to put black people in their game. After all, I barely just noticed it. I'm sure hundreds of thousands of white people played the game with nary a thought on the issue. But that idea, of the dev just flat up forgeting about black people stuck with me. It made me open up my memory banks to think about black people in games in general. The more I thought about it, the more I kept coming back to the same question. It's a question that I imagine not many white people ask all that often. Where the are all the black people?
More relatable than Claude and Tommy combined.
I don't mean to soap box and it's probably not even my place to go banging down doors about the issue. It's just something that struck me as odd and out of place. I could barely even finish a list of fifteen games that have primary black protagonists with their own story and arc. Even as side characters, black people are rare. It's not like they're not represented at all, they're there, but they're rare. There are more aliens in video games than black people. Now I'm not demanding that more black people be put in video games, but I figure that having a black protagonist every now and again would be nice.
If anything, having a black protagonist could really impact the story. For example, playing as Lee in The Walking Dead, gave me a new perspective on what it's like to be black. The innocuous comments people made that ended up offending me. The worry that people didn't trust me due to race. I'm not saying that I now truly comprehend the entirety of the black experience, but it's a fresh outlook on life that had me thinking after the fact.
Definitely didn't cry at the end. Nope. Not a single tear.
In the end, all I really want is an answer from publishers and devs. Why aren't there more black people in video games? Why aren't there more black protagonists? I'll probably get the, “Most people don't want to play as a black person because they can't relate to them” response. But you know what? If devs can have me relate to characters that aren't even of my own species, then they sure as shit can have me relate to people of another race.
PS: Interestingly, R* is one of the better companies when it comes to diversity. But I've got a torrent of shit I'm going to throw in their direction for my next blog, so lets just void that for now.
PPS: I'd get rid of that annoying "(left)(/left)" thing if I could see it, but I can't. Sorry.