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12:17 AM on 10.10.2011

Dark Souls is the most fun Iíve had playing a video game in a long time.

Dark Souls is a fantastic game. It's most certainly not for everyone, but for those of you who can get into the mindset will certainly appreciate and enjoy it for what it's got to offer. A Gothic fantasy action/roleplaying game (of which is already a fairly unique premise nowadays), the world of Dark Souls is one where everything in the world can ó and most likely will ó kill you. Every single enemy in the world comes back when you die, or heal up and save. When you die, you lose your money and experience (souls), and get put right back as if the entire time you went without saving had never happened ó sometimes hours of work. You just keep working at an area until youíve mastered it. Itís immensely rewarding once you actually make progress.

It seems like the kind of game you'd think you would hate yourself for playing, but somehow Iím drawn to it. Itís really great. The atmosphere is incredible, and permeates a dark, twisted, unsafe world where there is no hope for anyone. Ruined castles, towns, dungeons and such structures litter the cliffs of the land. To survive in the world of Dark Souls you engross yourself in the world; taking a closer look at your surroundings, learning how they benefit you or your enemies, exploring every nook and cranny hoping to find some small trinket worth your while. Vicious enemies lie around nearly every corner, ready to kill any and all who try to pass. The people who are left have little to live for and stand by the wayside watching the world crumble. This world is not meant for outsiders to enter, but you do so anyway. You are an anomaly; you are the chosen one. You're not going to sit there and watch the world crumble around you, helpless. With enough persistence you can make it through anything, no matter what the odds.

PICTURED: In most games: Cannon fodder. In Dark Souls: Your demise.

The difficulty is intense, but at the same time feels fair and realistic ó it literally feels as if youíre one man taking on an army, one by one. There is something so satisfying about taking out dozens of undead soldiers, all in one life, and living to tell the tale; shooting off a dragonís tail with mere arrows to acquire a powerful sword; exploring the heavily guarded ruins of a castle to find that one guy who's just crazy enough to set up shop by the wayside. That's what makes Dark Souls such a fantastic experience. The feeling of discovering, solving, and eventually conquering the unknown. This kind of game has no place being in the modern game world where difficulty is frowned upon as something unfair, and where exploration is rare, and where a close look at the world usually shows the underbelly of a machine not meant to be seen by the player. And yet it survives, an anomaly that, against all odds, is pretty awesome.   read

9:30 PM on 04.28.2011

Nintendo and Project Cafe

It's no surprise Nintendo is in a tough situation right now. For over a decade, they've been losing their grip on the market through a series of strange hardware and marketing decisions. The rest of the gaming world moved on to more 'mature' and 'hardcore' brands like PlayStation and Xbox, leaving Nintendo behind with little third party support and a relatively niche audience. Even though the Wii and the DS brought much success with the advent of the casual audience, we've realized that most casual gamers look at things like the Wii as a toy and treat it as such. So many of these Wii owners own Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and some terrible shovelware game as the extent of their library - and now Nintendo is feeling the hit. Support from developers and actual gamers is miniscule due to lackluster online support and outdated hardware. And Nintendo knows that they can't have another Wii-style success with a casual console. So what should they do? Release a core console.

If Nintendo does this right, they could have the entire next generation in the bag. They're in a make-it-or-break-it situation. They're spearheading the next generation, and whatever they do will influence everyone. Cafe will release right in the middle of the PS3's 'ten-year cycle', and as the current consoles are showing their age compared to PCs. If Nintendo gets hardware above the 360 and PS3 (which would is hardware from about 5 years ago - ) with a more standard controller design and a competent online service, they can snap up a large portion of the hardcore market. Ports from PC, 360 and PS3 would be clearly better on this system. Putting out Cafe in direct competition with similarly priced but inferior consoles is the best decision they could make. Nintendo needs to return to how they were in the '90s - a popular, go-to brand with a huge library of first and third party games and an easily accessible, similar console.

In my opinion, the next generation has a good chance of being a repeat of the PS1 era. Sony has a chance to regain their support with the population at large and become the lead again - especially if Microsoft continues in this direction. Nintendo could regain the same status as the N64 or even better because of their preemptive strike into the market. And Microsoft will probably head into a downward spiral of avatars, social integration, and 'cloud technology'.

On another note, if Nintendo does decide to do something different with their design, they have the freedom to do so, because they're the first of the generation. Unlike before, they have the potential to set new trends and new ideas for the rest to follow. Maybe if Nintendo consoles would have come out earlier in the past, they would have had a stronger impact on the market and a larger install base, and they're trying to pull that off now. Whatever the case, I sincerely hope that Nintendo can put out a quality product that will introduce us to the next generation in a big way.   read

4:21 PM on 12.02.2010

Our Obsession with Graphics (second attempt)

This is my second attempt uploading this, for some reason it didn't upload last time I tried this.

For my not-so-triumphant return to C-Blogging after a couple months' absence, I've decided to write about graphics.

Graphics. The visual representation of thousands of lines of code, neatly displayed in rows of colours on our TVs or monitors. Many gamers' first impressions of games come from them. But have they become an obsession?

It's no surprise that video games this generation have excellent, near-realistic (emphasis on the "near") graphics. We have high polygon counts, advanced lighting, and incredible texture resolutions. But are these great graphics really necessary?

This generation of gaming has brought a huge improvement to graphics - the Xbox 360 and PS3 brought high-end HD visuals to the masses. Higher polygon counts and texture resolutions meant greater graphical quality. More explosions, animations and lighting effects. But, really, how does that help the game anyway? Sure, it improves the cinematic quality of the game. But, take away the graphical improvements: we're still jumping from platform (metaphorically) to platform, shooting things in the face, role-playing, and playing through action scenarios and/or adventuring. I honestly think that the last generation of graphics were just fine and needed no upgrade to provide a good gaming experience.

"Next generation" gaming you say?

That's not to say that the actual gameplay hasn't improved from last generation. Far from it. But my point is that most of it could be accomplished on and Xbox or console of similar power with enough effort.

I'm no computer genius, but if we took away some of those (in my opinion) unnecessary lighting effects and ridiculous polygon counts, could we have an improved gaming experience? Maybe we could have more units on screen. Maybe we could play through maps on a greater scale with more things actually going on in the game. PC gaming, (which is unfortunately a very expensive choice for the average consumer - impractical for most) at least usually has support to turn down the graphics settings to make the games run smoother. Imagine if we could do that with mainstream consoles like the 360 - giving the option for people who don't care about visual fidelity to sacrifice graphics for a better gameplay experience.

I'm getting off topic.

The main problem with our obsession with graphics is the consumer. If they see a game with terrible graphics, chances are that they'll sh*t all over it before they've even played it. It leaves a bad public impression if the game doesn't look up to standard with all of the other AAA titles out there. It's pressure like this that causes the graphics to become such a high priority, and that brings up another point of mine.

Would it really be so bad?

Imagine if no one upgraded their graphics from the move to this generation. Just look at Call of Duty: Black Ops on the Wii and tell me that next-gen games couldn't function with limited graphics. With all of those spare resources of the newer systems, what kind of games could be made? The actual quality of games would improve tremendously, and games that previously pushed systems like the PS2 to the limit could now function with lots of room for improvement.

Or maybe I'm just a crazy lunatic.   read

11:11 PM on 09.08.2010

Why Move and Kinect are Doing it Wrong pt 1

Note: Even though I'm not personally a fan of the Wii, this series explains why Microsoft and Sony could learn a little from Nintendo.

On November 19th, 2006, Nintendo launched their next foray into the console market. It did away with complicated controllers, and instead opted for a motion-tracking controller that looked like a TV remote - an attempt at subconsciously attracting people who would rather watch TV than play video
games. It would "change the definition of video games".

Along with its pack-in game, a simple sports game, Nintendo hoped it would encourage people of all demographics, to try playing a video game that didn't need complicated, button-restricted controls. Or, in Nintendo's eyes, buy the console.

I am, of course, talking about the Wii.

When the Wii launched, it quickly gained much attention. Not as a video game console, per se, but as a fad. Soccer moms all over just had to get one of those Wii things. Mom might have let Grandma and Grandpa play Wii with their kids. As a result of people like them, the Wii has outsold both of its considerably more powerful competitors, due to its sheer mass market appeal.

Fast forward a few years, and both Microsoft and Sony have come up with their own motion control systems to compete with the Wii. Seeing the success Nintendo had with motion control, Microsoft and Sony needed some way to get a slice - or, preferably, a large chunk - of the seemingly ripe motion control market. The two companies eventually spat out Kinect and Playstation Move, each their own attempt at beating the Wii at motion control.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what they are doing wrong.

Both Microsoft and Sony think that by emulating the Wii's idea of motion control, they think that they will have similar success to Nintendo, and bring in "casual" gamers who don't want to play complicated games with a confusing controller. But they have a few key problems in their way that one or both of them fail to realize - chief of them being:

The Wii simpler, cheaper, and easier to use than Kinect or Move.

One of the biggest problems reaching out to non-gamers and casual gamers, is that many of them don't understand the process of buying a video game console and investing in it.

The inexpensive Wii comes bundled with everything the consumer will need to play games on it,other than a second controller set. It is because of this simplicity that helps lead the Wii to success.

On the other hand, here are the options for the PS3: Customers have two options - (depending on the game,) buy up to three different accessories for their PS3 for Move to work, with a high price tag - or buy a bundle pack, also with a high price tag. The effect of buying a simple, cheap, self-contained product is then lost on the consumer.

Even Kinect, which will presumably come in bundle packs and standalone, will most likely lead to lower sales simply because of this simple problem.

A customer can simply go to the store and "buy a Wii". An average, uneducated consumer can't just go and "buy Kinect" or "buy Move".

I could go on, but I'll probably save the rest for a part 2 so I can collect my thoughts.

To be continued!   read

9:18 PM on 09.07.2010

Welcome to My Blog (An Introduction)

Hi, everyone, I'm AvianFlame and this is my blog.

I've been reading Destructoid stuff since late last year. Lately I've realized what a great community this is so I decided to join about a month ago. I completely forgot about doing C-Blogs, but here I am now, with that trusty memory of mine.

I grew up on the NES and the SNES and owned every Nintendo system exept the Virtual Boy and the Famicom. Despite this, I am currently an Xbox 360 gamer (because I can't afford a PS3, my PC is sh*t, and my Wii... well... it's the Wii).

Not much else I can think of at the moment, but I plan to have a blog up soon about my thoughts on motion control.

I look forward to blogging

See you later

Crap. I thought I could come up with a good closer there. Oh well.   read

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