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8:56 PM on 08.13.2012

Let's All Just Take a Deep Breath . . . OK

I love video games. I visit Destructoid regularly to participate in a community that also likes video games. We blog about them, we play them online together, Dtoid is a hub for folks all around the world to share their love for a common hobby. We all participate with a combination of information, humor, passion, snark and cynicism. And there is plenty of gleeful enthusiasm to balance out the cynicism and frustration.

But lately things have been getting a little . . . off-balance. And quite frankly, it's getting tiresome.

Video games are no stranger to controversy and ridicule. I won't bother going into details but we've been called everything from nerds to social outcasts, to potential serial killers. But recently other "hot-button" issues such as sexism and homophobia have reared their ugly heads into the world of video games. Do these issues exist in video games? Of course. Should they be addressed? Absolutely! But do we really need to be bludgeoned to death with them until literally everyone has a black eye, only to assaulted with the next "Argument of the week" immediately afterwards? No!

There's a time and place for this kind of debate, but for Christ's sake let the bruises heal before the next round, okay?

Much of my mental exhaustion comes from the constant complaining among the gaming press/community. And I'm going to focus on a few key elements that I'm constantly blasted with.

1: Entitlement

This still pisses me off to no fucking end, the notion that people are "owed" something whether because of their loyalty, fandom or other delusions of grandeur makes my blood boil. I understand that games are expensive and we all want the most value for our money. And I do think that many big game publishers are doing really shitty things with their games, like DRM, false advertising, and being lock out of content despite that fact that we pay full price for the game. and sometimes it feels like we're being ripped off as customers. We definitely shouldn't stand for that kind of treatment.

But the degree that the gaming community takes it to is mind-blowing.

Valve is revered as one of the best game developers out there. This is mostly due to the awesome catalog of games, on top of their amazing support for these games, despite some of them being more than 5 years old. Plus their game distribution platform Steam is incredible for both gamers with not a lot of money (all the amazing sales they have over the course of the year) as well as developers with not a lot of money (They can put out their game without huge manufacturing or marketing costs). It's an incredible platform that all but maybe a few gamers go to for their PC gaming needs.

But despite all this wonderfulness, there are still many on the internet that insist on spitting out piss and vinegar at the company . . . Why? Because they want something they haven't got.

Almost everything I read that has to do with Valve, it's always met with the same whiny little snots bitching about how it's not about Half-Life 3.

Valve: We've added a bunch of stuff to TF2 for free.

Valve: We've added more content to L4D2 on 360. Now you can play both games' campaigns on one game, and then some all for a discounted price.

These are paraphrased of course, but still quite accurate, and is just one example of the stupidly heightened sense of entitlement. And I'm not even gonna bother with Mass Effect 3 or any of the other entitlement issues.

2: Self-indulgent Cynicism

Super Mario Brothers, more like Super Mario "Who Bothers". This one has gotten much worse recently. Like many things on the internet, video game sites tend to have a hint of sarcasm with their content. It can add a healthy dose of playfulness to a dry news article, or a laugh or two when someone within the industry is called out for something stupid they said/did. But there is a fine line between cynicism within commentary and cynicism for the sake of cynicism.

I'm not going to name names of course, but there are certain editors on this site who have very jaded perspectives toward video games and the video game industry. I'm not going to say their opinions are wrong, because opinions are obviously subjective. But they tend to insist on telling us their cynical opinion on things despite that A.) We all know they're opinions before they even write them because they hit us over the head with them, and B.) They tend to write with a very jaded, negative attitude that becomes exhausting even when I see it on the news feed.

Whenever I see a headline that reads very cynically, I shouldn't be thinking "Great, I'll bet I know who wrote THIS." So if any of the editors are reading this (I'm not sure if they even read the C-blogs), I'd like to off this as constructive criticism and ask that you try to balance out the negative with some positive. Hopefully you'll know who you are that I'm referring to.

And then there's the self-indulgent commentary about DLC and sequels. A new map pack is announced for a popular game: "Great . . . way to milk more money out of your fans! Assholes!" Despite most DLC not being required to keep playing the game (apparently this is an issue with many fighting games, and that you can be pissed about). Another Call of Duty is announced: "Fuck these games, they're all the same bullshit designed by lazy developers to milk more money out of their fanbase."

Again I'm just paraphrasing, and I know not all of you like Call of Duty, but do you really feel it's important to comment about how much you hate the game whenever something is written about it? No one needs to be reminded about how much you hate the game, when someone writes about something they love, they want to share that love and can be infectious for anyone who read it. It's the same for someone who writes about something they hated, it's toxic and will just leave readers frustrated because they either disagree or are now in a funk from just reading it. So for this problem I'd like to challenge the community to simply exercise a little restraint and to just think happy thoughts instead.

3: Flaming the Fires of Controversy

I've stated earlier that there is a time and place for "hot topics" to be discussed and some of those involve video games. I also stated that they should indeed be addressed and fixed. But the problem, on top of being compounded with the previous two issues, is that most of it is either redundant or argumentative for the sake of being argumentative.

We all know about Anita Sarkeesian's Kickstarter project. It's a video series examining how women as a whole are portrayed in video games. I'm not going to focus on the controversy surrounding it, but I'm going to tell you why I don't support it.

A.) It points out a problem we already know exists. The games industry has a problem with sexism. We all know this, whether we as gamers are okay with it is a different matter entirely. But my issue is that it won't add anything or help win the fight for the treatment of women in video games.

B.) Pointing out a problem is NOT the same as finding a solution for it. Let me be hypothetical for a bit:

You have a problem finding a house, everyone else has a house but you, you complain to everyone about not having a house. So you starting raising money for one. But rather than buying a house with that money, you instead buy ad space in various newspapers and billboards saying "I NEED A HOUSE!!!". Anita's project is, more or less, the same problem.

Instead of using all the money for a useless video series, she should use it to fund the development of a game that has a well developed female lead, or maybe a scholarship for aspiring female programmers/writers to get into making video games. Rather than passive-aggressively point out a problem, then imply it's someone else's problem to fix.


Essentially I'm complaining about there being too much complaining going on. And I'm not saying to stop it altogether, I'm suggesting that we scale down our cynicism a bit, and balance it out with some of that love and enthusiasm we all have for video games. In fact I'll be writing another C-blog soon about how I let video games encourage communication within my relationship with my fiance. We all love video games and have the power to change what is wrong with them as well as share what we love about them.

Whatdayasay we give it a try huh?   read

9:25 PM on 05.02.2012

It's Been a While: 10 Things About Arch649

It's been slightly over a year since my last C-blog and I'd like to get back into the community in some way. I've been really busy with work, among other stuff. I saw a few folks post these "10 things about [insert name here]" blog about a month ago. I'm sure that was something going on for a brief period but fuck it, I'm gonna post one about myself. Since I haven't been here in a while, I thought it would be appropriate, if a bit late to the party.

1: I do web design and internet marketing for a living.

I do web designer and internet marketing for a living. I'm usually knee-deep in some markup or server-side scripts on any given day. And I love my job. I enjoy (no really) the programming part, and before I get burnt out on that, I can do graphic design to flex my creative side. I blog about web design related stuff (on of course) periodically and keep up on all the latest Google related news.

2: I'm an anarchist.

Okay, maybe not in the strictest sense, I won't blow up anything, but I am very anti-government and anti-politics. The more regulation our government tried to push, the worse off we get, FDA, TSA, Prop 8, SOPA, ok maybe not that last one, but it was fairly close. Politics to me are an absolute waste of time and do nothing but pay lip service to special interests of those campaigning. Politics will tear family and friends apart, and destroy businesses since politics tends to get in the way of productivity.

3: I have major social anxiety issues.

I'm actually kind of terrified of people. I'm not the best speaker, so talking on the phone is really nerve-wracking for me. I'm very quiet in social situations, since I don't think I'll have anything worth-while to contribute. Overall I freak when trying to reach out to people, too many things go through my head and I constantly doubt myself over stuff. Hell, even writing this is kind of scary to me.

I've always been very insecure, all my life. I was bullied in school and at home. So maybe that's where it stems from, but I've been going to a therapist for this kind of thing for only a few months. And I've learned a thing or two.

4: I have a degree in Theatre Arts.

And it was a huge waste of time. I will not be using it for any reason than for it to be a cautionary tale for those who are considering pursuing one. Please don't. I was kinda interested in it, I thought it could help me get over my anxiety problems. But think it may have been the buckets of alcohol during the after parties that helped me more with that. It was fun for a while, and I shouldn't even say it was a complete waste of time, I did meet my future wife there (We're living together right now and be married next April) and I've got my share of stories, but only as an excuse to party, not an actual career goal.

5: I was in a Ramones cover band called Chainsaw.

It was only for a few gigs. I took the role of DeeDee (the bassist) and it was a blast. We probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere if we were to pursue it seriously since none of us were that great. But we had a lot of fun while it lasted.

6: I was a Nintendo fanboy during the N64 period.

And it was frustrating to say the least. I had a lot of cool games, but a lot of my friends had Playstations and I wouldn't ever have been able to have any of those games until my brother bought one . . . in 2000.

7: I once got a bloody nose from thinking too hard.

I was in 10th grade. I was cramming for both a biology and world history mid-term. After studying for a few hours straight, my nose started feeling runny. I just wiped it on my shirt only to realize that it was blood, and my nose was raging. I was the very first spontaneous bloody nose I ever had. It was also the only time I ever studied so rigorously. I'm still convinced the two are related.

8: I am a type 1 diabetic.

I've been one since I was 13 (I'm 26 as of this writing). It was an incredibly awkward time for me, which may have had some influence on my anxiety issues. Having my family watch over me and try to "support" me constantly, all the while going through puberty was a terrible experience. I've been more open to talk about it recently, but only if someone asks about it.

9: I've lived in Southern California my whole life.

And not even the interesting part of SoCal. So no, I don't know any movie stars. I reside in the Inland Empire. San Bernardino County to be a little more precise. It's the largest county geographically in the US, too bad about 70% of it is desert.

10: I'm not interesting enough to have a real 10th entry.

Seriously, I can't think of anything else to write about. So there's 9 things about me that you may not have known about before plus 1 conclusion.   read

9:04 PM on 04.29.2011

Aaamaazing!: To Crush at Your Will, My Emperor.

People have argued over the years over the validity of PC games. Supporters of PC gaming champion the technical proficiency and mod support while detractors will complain about the price of entry and the numerous bugs associated with the PC version of many games. Regardless of what camp your in, there are some games that transcend both argument and creates an interactive experience unlike any other. In this article, I will discuss one game (the one that happens to be my #1 favorite game) that continues to blow my mind to this day. That game is TIE-Fighter.

And it came out in 1994.

There are so many things that make TIE-Fighter such an incredible experience. So I'll start with the most important aspect, the gameplay. TIE-Fighter is the definitive PC game. TIE-Fighter is a space flight simulator along the lines of Microsoft's Flight Simulator series. But instead of dull real-world scenarios for you to do, This is set in the Star Wars universe (obviously). and not only that, you are the bad guys (or are you? I'll get into that later). This game is equally complex and rewarding and here are the reasons why.

TIE-Fighter doesn't streamline anything. You don't simply hit "enter" and start playing. You are a rookie in the Imperial Navy and you need training. Instead of tutorials, there were numerous training simulators that you would use to learn how to play the game. None of this is required, but you will want to do these first.

Each training module with teach some basic function required to play the game. There is an officer that guides you through the session with instructions. The choice is your however, to either follow the training bit by bit, for just blow through it by just completing the objectives. You'll be rewarded with a medallion either way, but you are encouraged to take the instructions seriously. Since you are rewarded with a higher score.

After you start to get the hang of your fighter it's time to go into battle for real. You (Alpha 2) patrol around your base and it's all quiet right now. Suddenly several cargo freighters come out of lightspeed. You are now tasked with inspecting the fleets cargo. You set your CMD (Combat Multiview Display) to each of the freighters and identify their contents. But wait, one of them is smuggling illegal cargo. Base then dispatches a squad of Assault Gunboats to disable the freighter to be seized. Suddenly another squad of unidentified ships come in. They are hostile and they have set they're sights on the Gunboats. Now it's your turn to fight. Alpha squad has set it's sights on these enemy craft. you are caught in a dogfight. You cycle through the ships in this sector on your targeting computer, and notice your leader (Alpha 1) has been hit. You also noticed one of the transport ships is aiming for the gunboats.

What do you do?

Do you stay loyal to your flight leader, or do you protect the gunboats? You have to make a choice now. When suddenly . . . "Alpha 1 has been destroyed" is displayed on the message bar at the bottom of the screen. You are now Alpha leader, you order your squadmate to cover you while you protect the gunboats. Suddenly you're hit. your sensors are busted out and your fighter is on the verge of collapse (you are a TIE-Fighter after all). Do you fight blind or do you return to base? You decide to return to the outpost. Your Primary Objectives are complete (which is all you need to progress to the next mission). and you manage to return home.

That is the very first mission in the very first (of 13) Battle in TIE-Fighter. There are no cutscenes during the mission. You have absolute control; You control your CMD (the 'T' or 'Y' keys). You order your squadmate to cover you ('Shift-C') and you enter the hangar of the platform (get within 0.8km of the base and hit 'SPACEBAR'). This is just a small sample of just how complex and rewarding this game is.

While the gameplay is certainly great, it doesn't mean much without the proper context. And this game provides that as well as insight and scope within the Star Wars universe. Each Battle (a series of missions. Usually around 6-7) has its own background. In Battle 2. You are tasked with ending a civil war between two warring factions. The Dimok and Ripoblus. You intervene, protecting one or the other and eventually capture both Dimok and Ripoblus leader to negotiate a peace treaty. Peace? Weren't the Empire the bad guys. They end a civil war and with the empires aid, become prosperous. Were the rebels exaggerating the evil deeds of the Galactic Empire. Are the rebels actually terrorists? These are questions that are explored in more depth since TIE-Fighter's story is told solely from the perspective of the Empire. It's a fresh point-of-view that allows the game to feel unique and familiar at the same time.

Later on in the game, A high ranking officer, Admiral Zarrin goes rogue. Several campaigns are dedicated to fighting Zarrin and his fleet. While in between taking care of unaffiliated worlds and dealing with the Rebel Alliance. The game really conveys a sense of scope in that the empire has more on it's plate than fighting Luke and his gang of misfits.

Then there are the hidden objectives throughout the course of the game. Before each mission you can speak with a member of the Secret Order of the Emperor. He'll give you a secondary set of mission objectives if you want to move up with the Secret Order. Here's another example of a game that doesn't streamline itself to be more accessible. There is no arrow pointing to where you need to go, there is no highlighted area. In order to complete the extra objectives. Simply heed the Envoy's advice beforehand and pay attention to your surroundings. It's simply another layer of depth to an already dense game that is equally rewarding which aren't half bad either, aside from a higher score, completing these additional goals with gives you notches for the medals you obtain after each battle. and a badass tattoo that grows and becomes more elaborate the higher you reach within the Order.

This was only mark for the third order. They got even cooler than this the higher you ranked. The internet, for some reason, didn't have any of the others.

TIE-Fighter is the definitive PC game. It's extremely dense and requires a lot of time in order to learn to play well. But it's in that great investment that makes the game so incredibly rewarding. It tell a story from the universe we all know and love, and puts a twist on it by giving you another perspective on it. All this accumulates to an timeless experience that will blow your mind even today, 17 years after its release.   read

5:40 PM on 03.03.2011

Technical Difficulties: Luck should never be a factor (and other stuff)

There is nothing inherently wrong with a game being too hard (or too easy for that matter). Some people like to breeze through a game casually to experience all the content and other gamers like a brutal challenge. There are many ways to adjust a game's difficulty to suit a player's particular needs. But there are certain things that should and shouldn't be factored when determining difficulty. I'll got into detail as to what is proper challenge and what is just bad design.

#1: Luck should never be a factor in game difficulty

Good example: Bayonetta

Anyone who has played Bayonetta will tell you that the game is balls hard. Your reflexes have to be quick, you have to know when your enemies are going to strike, and you have to take advantage of what you have at your disposal. If you don't know what you're doing, or if you're new to this kind of game, the enemies will tear you limb from limb, but with a little patience and and some quick reflexes you can (and will) conquer the game.

With all the chaos you'd think that this game would be a bad example of game difficulty design, but this game works because of one single factor. YOU ARE ALWAYS IN CONTROL. The enemies always have a pre-attack animation that queues you when to dodge. Bosses have a predictable pattern. As long as you stay aware of your surroundings, you can dodge their attacks. And if you can dodge their attacks, you have a crapload of ways to attack them too: Short range, long range, circular, aerial, the list goes on and on. Meaning you can adapt your offense to whatever the situation needs.

It requires you to think on your feet constantly. But regardless of whether you beat it, or get your ass kicked, you are always in control. All it takes is a little practice.

Bad example: Call of Duty

I'm referring to the single-player's veteran difficulty. Some of it can be determined by skill, but a lot of the of difficult spots are simply cases of bad luck. Enemies continuously respawn at certain points until you somehow squeeze close enough to trigger a checkpoint. No matter how many time you practice this segment, there will be a freshly respawned enemy ready to pop out of the corner and take you out in less time it takes to say FUCK! There is no pattern in which they appear, there is no "trick" to beat it. Just keep going into the meat grinder until you somehow come out the other side intact.

Another example of this is a little more specific. In Modern Warfare 2 towards the end, you have to bunker down into a mansion, while you download data from a computer. After ward you have to sprint down toward the bottom of a hill while tons of enemy troops are firing at you. Well, on veteran, the enemies are more accurate and as you sprint toward the "finish line" they will hit you. 90% of the time they will kill you. The only thing you CAN do at the part is to sprint and hope they miss you enough time to where you can escape. You can't bob and weave, it's impossible to dodge that many bullets coming at you at once and fighting back you always get you killed. This is terrible game design. Constantly running forward until, by a blind stroke of luck, you make it is not my idea of fun. And I'm sure it's not anyone else's either.

#2: Make the difficulty scale more precise.

Good example(s): Rock Band 3 and Forza 3

Both of these games have accomplished the seemingly impossible task of being more difficult and more accessible at the same time than their predecessors. First I'll start with Rock Band. Rock Band 1's setlist was mild in difficulty compared the Guitar Hero 3. That turned off many players at the time, so for Rock Band 2, Harmonix make a setlist that would appeal to more hardcore players (Painkiller, Visions, etc) and added a "no fail mode". With this on you can suck at a song royally at a song but never be booted off stage for it. This made the game far more accessible to beginners and non-players while the tougher setlist gave music game vets a real challenge. Rock Band 3 expanded even further bu adding Pro mode, where you had to hit actual notes from the song. But even Pro mode had its own set of difficulty levels. So if you can't quite handle playing the guitar part of a song note-for-note, you can start on Pro Easy, and move on to Pro Medium and so on and so forth. And the No Fail option made it so you won't be booed offstage.

Now onto Forza Motorsport 3. Forza has a customizable difficulty system where you can add and subtract difficulty features individually. You like using an automatic transmission, but harder opponent AI? you can tweak it like that. You like to use a manual transmission with the clutch, no anti-lock brakes, and no cruise control, but want the accel/brake guides on? The game fully supports it. You can make it as easy as having an autobrake function to where all you have to do to drive and steer. or you can make it as complex and technical as driving a real car. Beginners can start with everything on and slowly switch things off as they see fit and eventually become an expert all by precisely adjusting their difficulty level bit by bit, instead of having some abstract easy/medium/hard setting.

Bad example: Street Fighter (and pretty much every other fighting game)

I know I'm going to get a lot of shit for this but just listen. Most games have a simple easy/medium/hard difficulty setting in them. Most fighting games however, have a 10 point system to adjusting difficulty and they all have some fundamental flaws. 1) Normal mode is always a different number on different games. Some games it's 3/10 while others it's 5/10 there is no set standard of difficulty for this kind of scale and it get incredibly frustrating. 2) It never scales linearly. 3/10 will be too easy while 4/10 will have your opponent use reversals/counters. That kind of difficulty spike should be gradually climbing instead of a huge spike like that.

These are just 2 examples for making difficulty more accessible. Games should make the player work for his/her victories and not just fire a few cheap tricks and call it challenge. Players should have to step their game up gradually and slowly implement all the new skills they've acquired. holding their hand while letting go at the edge of a cliff is NOT a good game design philosophy and these few example will hopefully influence they way we see difficulty in the future.   read

2:35 AM on 02.26.2011

Groundhog Day: The same ol' journey (and why I love taking it)

Many folks believe a game's value is based on its length. In many ways I agree with them, the amount of time you invest in a game should be worth the price you paid for it. I however, only agree with this sentiment on the most basic level. Sure I'll play a game like Dead Space 2, see all the twists throughout the story and finish it. I'll play it again, knowing all the major plot points and I still enjoy it just as much as I did the first time.

Because for me, playing a game is more about the journey than it is about the destination.

The header image (as most of you I'm sure know) is from The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. This was my favorite game of 2003, it had incredible graphics, a brash, immature but instantly likable lead character, a nicely paced story and great gameplay. My biggest gripe with it though was its length. On my first playthrough I finished the game in about 9 1/2 hours, the second time about 2/3rd that time, and so on. Judging the game on an analytical level will tell you that the game is short, linear, and possesses little to no replay value. But I have played through the game hundreds of times, "But why? that's not logical" you ask. Well let me explain.

I don't play through a game just to beat it, then tell everyone on the internet that I've beaten the game. For me it's about the journey. It's about playing and enjoying the game and the experience it provides. It's about the fun, light-hearted banter between the Prince and Farah. It's about the subtle details that bring this magical world to life. It's about starting at the beginning watching this young, ambitious Prince go from lusting for power, to trying to asses what exactly he has unleashed upon the world, to developing a friendship with Farah that eventually turns into something more, and to ultimately, hold himself accountable for what he has done and learn about what it takes to be a man. And for me, the player, it is about the ability to interact with this experience through the power of video games.

Imagine when you were a child and your mother/father was telling the same bedtime story over and over again. You knew how the story started and how it ended, but was it really about the story itself? Of course not, it was about the experience of your mother/father sharing this little tale together. And in a way, playing this game over and over is like that, one day I'd like to show my son/daughter (If I ever have one) how to play it.

Another example, for different reasons, is Epic's Gears of War. I'm not playing to immerse myself in the universe (though that helps), but the reason I play this game over and over again is simply the fact that the game is fun. Is the story simplistic? Yeah. Are the characters shallow and dumb? Mostly yeah. But I ask you this: So what? I like to interact with this experience simply because it's a fun experience to interact with. The gameplay is smooth and easy to learn, the story is easy to follow and full of exciting moments, and the weapons are visceral and satisfying (That chainsaw bayonet never gets old, I'm sorry but it doesn't).

Another reason I love playing this game is because of its emphasis on co-op gameplay. They say everything is better with a friend, especially games. And the Gears of War experience is simply that much better with a friend playing with you on your couch. You organize plans of attack on the fly, you help each other out, you both laugh maniacally as one of you saws a "grub" in half. Even if your friend isn't that good at videogames, Gears of War is easy enough to figure out. And you can keep him covered as he/she learns the ropes. I'm not in a rush to finish the game because I'm enjoying the game with my friend. Sure I won't chainsaw as many locusts this time around, but it's not about that, it's about going through this journey with a friend. I'll play it on Casual, Normal, Hardcore, and even Insane because I know I'll have a blast playing through the same ol' story no matter how I play it. And experiencing the story with a friend just makes it that much better.

On a personal note. My brother and I don't spend a lot of time together, we just have different schedules and different priorities. In late 2006 he bought an Xbox 360 with Gears of War. He had a tiny, 17" standard def TV. nowadays it's hard to imagine playing a 360 game without a big 42" plus HDTV, but back then that was what we had, and we had a blast playing the game. We would eventually beat it on Hardcore, we had everything down pat, he used the Lancer and the Longshot sniper rifle, and I had the Lancer and the Torque Bow (whenever I could find it), we started the game on Insane and had our strategy down perfectly. Toward the end we really started getting our asses kicked. We just said "dammit . . . okay let's do it this way" and we tried it again. We restarted many a checkpoint, laughing and having fun the whole time. Because for us, it wasn't about winning. It was about coordination, teamwork, and just plain fun.

We all have our favorite movies, songs, and books. We watch them, listen to them and read them many times. We hold these favorites dear to our hearts regardless of the fact that we know them front and back. Because it's really not about the content in and of itself, but rather the joy we get when we experience them. This also holds true to videogames, maybe more so because we interact with them firsthand. And to anyone who says that a game "is good but not $60 good", here's a challenge for you: Play through it again and I promise you, you'll get your money's worth.   read

2:18 PM on 02.07.2011

Top 10 most influential games of this generation. (#1)


Whether you love it or hate it. You can't deny that Wii Sports, not only, opened the industry to a whole new demographic, but also showed a revolutionary way to play video games. The motion controls worked and made for a fun night around the TV. Everyone could play it, and just about everyone did. It even beat the coveted record held by Super Mario Bros as the 1# best-selling game ever. And this is why it's the #1 Most influential game of this generation.

Finally my list if complete. Now I can move on to other stuff I wanted to write about. I will never do another countdown series like this ever again, since I couldn't keep a consistent schedule and my list changed midway through (my original list didn't have Mega Man 9 : / ). So stay tuned for more interesting stuff by me.   read

12:03 PM on 01.13.2011

Top 10 most influential games of this generation. (#2)

I has been a while since I've started this. But I've got two left and goddammit I'm gonna finish them. I apologize for it taking so long.

Every generation has THAT game. The one where all the standards of game design are measured, there are games that set the standard for their respective genre. But there are a few games out there that transcend their genre and influence how EVERY game is. And in 2006, we got that game in the form of Gears of War.

There are several big things that make Gears of War one of the most influential game of this generation. the largest one being its role in making cooperative gameplay relevant again. From the PS1/N64 era up to PS2/Xbox/GCN era, coop was a luxury, most games that featured a multiplayer mode only had some kind of competitive thing. And you can tell me"Halo had coop durp!!" and yes I'm aware of that, but Halo main focus was always their competitive multiplayer. Nowadays any action game that doesn't include a coop mode feels stripped down.

The second biggest thing that makes Gears of War so influential is its use of cover. In every firefight you are required to take cover. And now SO many action games since then has had some form of a cover system. And this new gold standard is why I've made Gears of War as the #2 most influential game of this generation.

This was written in a hurry and I'm not going to go into any more detail since I simply wanted to finish this list. Thank you for your patience.   read

1:24 PM on 11.17.2010

Top 10 most influential games of this generation. (#3)

Video games have come a long way since the early days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Graphics, sound, game design, controllers have all evolved significantly. With that natural evolution comes the warm fuzzy nostalgic feeling of yesteryear. Most of us look back to the "good ol' days" where games were about challenge, and platformers reigned supreme. There has always been a niche for the old school games and that scene exploded in 2008 with the release of Mega Man 9.

Rather than continuing to evolve past Mega Man 8, which had a 32-bit facelift courtesy of the Sony Playstation & Sega Saturn, Mega Man 9 literally went back to its roots. The charge-up Mega Buster, the slide, all the upgraded you could buy were all gone. Visually, it was downgraded to 8-bit, and flickered when there were too many enemies on-screen. All the only had brutal difficulty going for it. And in an era of streamlined game design, and for many gamers, this was a welcome return to form.

notable games influenced by Mega Man 9

Rocket Knight
Shadow Complex
Lode Runner
Sonic The Hedgehog 4
Mega Man 10
Yar's Revenge
Earthworm Jim HD
and just about every other "old school" game since Sep 2008

There has been a massive retro revival since Mega Man 9, numerous long-lost games have been re-released/updated. Rocket Knight hasn't seen a new game since Sparkster on the SNES in 1994. Earthworm Jim had an HD remake earlier this year, and after many failed 3D attempts, SEGA finally released Sonic 4. Mega Man 9 sparked a revolution where everything old is new again and that is why I've given it the #3 slot in my Top 10 most influential games of this generation.   read

1:43 PM on 11.11.2010

Top 10 most influential games of this generation. (#4)

Over the years Call of Duty has been known for a few things. Epic single-player, brutally tough difficulty, and authentic World War 2 battles, and a sharp multiplayer. But in the end of 2007, Infinity Ward made some big changes that not only changed the CoD series, but in the way we all play online.

Before Modern Warfare, Call of Duty's multiplayer was merely good. Solid, but fairly derivative. Call of Duty 4's multiplayer added an experience system that proved to a game in-and-of-itself. You gain experience and level up through kills and completing objectives, as you level up you unlock new weapons and perks that you can mix and match these to create your own custom classes. But what makes this system so addictive are the challenges.

As you unlock items, you are given challenges for these specific weapons/gadgets/perks etc. for example one basic challenge would be to get 25 headshots with a P90 and if you meet this challenge you'll gain a large xp bonus and level up quicker. Another feature introduced in CoD4 is Prestige. once you reach the level cap (level 70) you have a choice to enter Prestige mode. Entering Prestige mode will give you a special badge on you playercard. But you'll reset back down to level 1 and all your unlocks are reset. having nothing but titles, a rank badge and your dignity. Forcing you to play with this addictive system all over again. So just because you reach the level cap doesn't mean you've got nothing more to do.

notable games influenced by Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Just about every game with a multiplayer worth its salt, including
Killzone 2
Transformers: War for Cybertron

Since Modern Warfare, multiplayer as a whole has implemented some form of an experience system. Even Blur, an arcade racing game has its own xp system. The need to level up and outperform your friends on the online leaderboards is what make it all worthwhile. And that is what makes Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare #4 on the 10 most influential games of this generation.   read

2:57 PM on 11.10.2010

Top 10 most influential games of this generation. (#5)

[NOTE] Finally another entry into this series. I made a #6 entry a few weeks ago but was lost when Dtoid went back to the old motif. I'd like to get that back please kthnxbai. BTW #6 was The Orange Box.

There is an "indie" scene in every form of media. Indie music, indie movies and indie video games. Prior to 2008, indie games were hidden among the annals of cyberspace. Indie developers had to distribute their games directly from their website for no money, or make conversion mods for popular PC games like Half-Life or Unreal Tournament. And if they were lucky, their mods would be bought by a publisher and made into a full retail game, again, if they were lucky.

With the advent of digital distribution platforms like Steam, Wiiware and Xbox LIVE Arcade, smaller independent developers would be able to get their game out for far less money. However at the time indie games were still seen as stopgap diversion in between the release of "real" games. Braid was the game that changed everything by not only putting the spotlight on the little guy, but making him a game-of-the-year candidate.

notable games influenced by Braid

Every indie game to come out since AUG 2008.

Braid tells the story of Tim, a young man out the save a princess. That is the superficial story, but Braid asked questions about Tim and the Princess that no other game had asked before. What was Tim motivation for saving the Princess? What was Tim saving the Princess from? Does the princess even WANT to be saved? The princess isn't even a real princess but rather it's a metaphor for an ultimate goal used within the context of a video game.

For all the cryptic story element there are, Braid also has some compelling gameplay mechanics that revolve around time manipulation. Each world had a unique theme in relation to the story from introspection, to progress. From the context of the game these various themes are used to solve puzzles in a 2D platformer environment.

When you think "indie", you think low-budget and pretentious. Braid is the definitive indie game. Perfectly weaving story and gameplay, and showing indie developers that you can succeed with a modest design and that is why I've placed this as #5 on mt Top 10 most influential game of this generation.   read

3:33 PM on 10.08.2010

Top 10 most influential games of this generation. (#7)

I'm sorry about the long wait. I've been rearranging this list because I've replaced one game with another and refined the actual countdown itself. I apologize.

Where would the music game genre be without Rock Band? Since it's debut in late 2007, just about every music game has mimicked it one more ways than one.

The biggest way obviously is the peripherals. Before Rock Band, music games focused on a single discipline. Dance Dance Revolution focused on dancing, Guitar Hero focused on the guitar and Karaoke Revolution was all about singing. Rock Band took all these elements and combined them into a complete package. Each player contributed their part, and it felt like everyone was a part of a band. And it was a bigger hit at parties than DDR or Guitar Hero ever were.

That's the obvious point, another reason why Rock Band is so influential is its use of downloadable content. Every week Harmonix puts out a few packs of music for you to download and play, essentially making Rock Band an interactive iTunes. Since Rock Band, music games have been practically required to include after-market content. Guitar Hero tried a different approach to counter Rock Band's structure by releasing droves of games in a short period of time with disastrous results. Harmonix has treated Rock Band like a platform for players to build their personal library from, and it works. Other games like DJ Hero, Rock Revolution, Lips and Def Jam Rapstar have released DLC to expand their shelf life.

Notable games influenced by Rock Band

Every Guitar Hero game since Guitar Hero: World Tour (several dozens)
Numerous "off-brand" imitators (Rock Revolution)
DJ Hero

Just about every music game since Rock Band bears its influence. Even Guitar Hero, which was around a few years before Rock Band and had a larger following, followed in its footsteps by expanding into a fell-band game. There have been many "off-brand" (off-band?) games that tried, and failed, to cash-in on Rock Band's success. There are too many for me to list above, but they have all followed the full band formula debuted by Rock Band. DJ Hero was successful because Activision knew that there was 1) a market for peripheral-based music games and 2) an untapped mainstream market in electronica/house music since Rock Band already had Rock 'n' Roll games cornered. And Lips has a steady stream of DLC much like RB's model.

Many people are burned-out on music games right now (Thanks Activision). But with Rock Band 3 coming out the end of this month and all the new stuff Harmonix is doing with it (keyboards, pro-mode etc.), they may just re-ignite people's interest. Guitar Hero may have paved the way last-gen, but Rock Band was the pinnacle of the genre and that is why I've made it #7 in the 10 most influential games this generation.   read

10:04 PM on 09.23.2010

Top 10 most influential games of this generation. (#8)

Video games evolve quickly (all technology does actually). We've seen genres branch off and mesh together hundreds of times before. As much as games designs evolve and expand, there are plenty of older design philosophies that have aged gracefully (Super Mario Bros. is STILL fun after 25 years). And contrary what our own retro-goggles show us, some simply have not. One of those was an action subgenre known as stealth-action.

last generation we saw an explosion of stealth action games where you had to sneak around the enemy rather than simply kill them. It was challenging and always intense. Now that games have more streamlined gameplay, stealth is seen as a hindrance. The trial-and-error design, the slow pace, and the fact that you just can't kill dudes make stealth frustrating and simply not fun. But in August 2009 there was a new standard by which all stealth games would now utilize, and that standard was set by Batman: Arkham Asylum. And That's why I've chosen it as number 8.

Before Arkham Asylum. Stealth games mostly consisted of infiltration. You had to sneak into a base undetected, you weren't equipped to take on an army of baddies. You were weak. And being silent was the only way to complete your mission. Batman took a different take on stealth. Instead of being a weakling trying to sneak past those big scary guards, you used stealth as a weapon. You were a predator, and those big scary guards you feared before were now just prey for you to toy with. This new predatory version of stealth makes you feel like a complete badass hunting instead of trying NOT to pick a fight. You weren't hiding from the enemy anymore, you were stalking the enemy.

Arkham Asylum also set a good precedent for licensed games as well. Most games based on movies/comic books/etc. tend to be of low quality. Publishers will rush them out in time for the accompanying film's theatrical release. As a result, these games are rushed and are being marketed solely on the strength of their license. If there were ever a licensed game that had legitimate effort put into its development, it tended not to sell very well (Escape from Butcher Bay, and the Bourne Conspiracy come to mind). Arkham Asylum proved that you can make not only a good, but Game-of-the-year caliber licensed game not tied to a big blockbuster film. And have it be successful.

Notable games influenced by Batman: Arkham Asylum

Splinter Cell: Conviction
Spider Man: Shattered Dimensions
Transformers: War for Cybertron

Arkham Asylum has been out for barely a year, but its influence is already growing. Conviction and Shattered Dimensions took cues from Arkham's predatory stealth gameplay. While Transformers (and also Shattered Dimensions) further proves the case of a solid licensed game doing well despite not being tied to a film. And I'm sure there is plenty more to come, and That's why Batman: Arkham Asylum is the 8th most influential game of this generation.   read

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