I am a Brazilian student in Norway. I also happen to really, really like games! I'm a huge RPG fan, especially JRPGs and party-based WRPGs, but I also enjoy nearly every genre, from Mario Kart to Limbo to Bulletstorm.
Ar Tonelico trilogy
Record of Agarest War series
Devil May Cry series
Ni No Kuni
KOTOR 1,2 (replay)
I Am Alive
Monkey Island 2
Back to the future: The Game
Tales of Monkey Island
Ghost Recon Future Soldier
Siren Blood Curse
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
Sonic Racing Transformed
The Walking Dead
Plus a bunch of older DS and PS2 games that I may or may not play eventually. Perhaps I should file them in the "sort-of-but-not-exactly-backlog" category.
Currently playing: Ar Tonelico Qoga
My 3DS code: 3995-6846-8256. For some reason it doesn't appear in the player profile.
Destructoid has, like everyone else, fully embraced the Kickstarter craze, and for good reason. The brave, exciting new world of crowd-funding offers a world of opportunities and possibilities unthinkable just two years ago. However,this brave new world is also fraught with new risks, and Destructoid doesn't seem to be paying them the proper attention.
Three weeks ago, Dtoid, riding the women-are-oppressed wave, enthusiastically endorsed the Susan Wilson Kickstarter. Destructoid called it "awesome", and just in case anyone was too dense to see the connection they wanted to make, the story linked to Sarkeesian. They didn't stop to ask even the most obvious questions, like why a millionaire was turning to Kickstarter for a paltry $829 for her daughter's education, if it's appropriate for a mother to exploit her 2 sons and paint them as bullies to the entire world to make money she doesn't need, or if this kind of thing, while not illegal, really should get a platform on the Destructoid front page. It fell to the community to ask all the questions Destructoid should have asked in the first place.
Two days ago, Destructoid advertised the Chloe Sagal Kickstarter (yes, I know it's on Indiegogo, but "Kickstarter" is much easier to write than "crowd-funding initiative"). This time someone's life was potentially on the line, so the stakes were even higher, and as usual, Destructoid didn't pull any punches. The subheadline read "You've funded games that may suck. So help fund someone's life who may continue to make games that may not suck". The message couldn't be clearer: only a monster would fund a game and not a life, and you're not a monster, dear reader. Are you?
Again, Destructoid didn't ask any questions, even though the whole thing seemed off. Sagal chose not to display any evidence of her medical condition, the story itself didn't sound right, and many readers expressed their doubts in the comments and asked the questions Destructoid didn't.
As it turns out, Indiegogo also shared their skepticism. Earlier today, the Indiegogo campaign simply vanished without a trace. So far the only explanation Indiegogo provided is this: "Indiegogo has a proprietary and effective fraud algorithm and when suspicious activity is detected the campaign is immediately suspended and all contributors are refunded. Indiegogo's proprietary trust and security algorithms, and our community of credible, conscious participants help to make Indiegogo the world's largest, most trusted global crowdfunding platform."
Pressed by Eurogamer, they pretty much repeated the answer: "When suspicious activity is detected, the campaign is immediately suspended and all contributions are refunded."
It is not clear what happened, and there's no proof yet we're dealing with a scam. Whatever "suspicious activity" Indiegogo detected, maybe there's an explanation for it, maybe their algorithm made a mistake, maybe Chloe really does need help. But the point is that they were concerned enough to, apparently, pull the plug on the campaign and refund all contributions. Destructoid, while quick to advertise it in the first, has been strangely silent on the cancellation.
This is the second time in nearly as many weeks that Destructoid endorses a suspicious Kickstarter without any sort of due diligence, and that is a disservice to its readers. Despite the "vidjagames lol" persona Destructoid cultivates, it is a professional, specialized press website, and as such has a trust-based relationship with its readers. When Destructoid stamps a Kickstarter on the front page, it's effectively awarding it the "Destructoid Seal of Quality", leading many readers to implicitly believe that, at the very least, Destructoid verified the legitimacy of the Kickstarter, something it doesn't seem to be doing.
I'm not, of course, saying Destructoid should ignore Kickstarters altogether. These days they are big news, and very much a part of the game world. I'm only asking that they show some respect for their readers and do a minimum of verification before running sensational headlines and guilting readers into donating.
Or: AAA game companies have officially become batshit crazy. It's now well known Square Enix is disappointed with games that sell 3.5 million in 4 weeks, but we didn't know just how disappointed. As it turns out, EXTREMELY disappointed.
Squenix has revealed in a financial statement that they expected Sleeping Dogs to sell at least 2-2.25 million (hey, at least they weren't aiming for 5 million with a brand new IP), Hitman 4.5-5 million and Tomb Raider at least 5-6 million.
BUT! Since Square Enix has very reasonable goals, those were conservative estimates. In order to "hedge their bets", they weren't aiming for the full sales potential of those titles. No sir, the numbers above are just 80-90% of what they REALLY thought the games would sell.
Most amusingly, they share this lovely quote with us: "we put a considerable amount of effort in polishing and perfecting the game content for these titles, receiving extremely high Metacritic scores"
"However, we were very disappointed to see that the high scores did not translate to actual sales performance, which is where we see the substantial variance in operation profit/loss against the forecast."
In other words they put a lot of effort in making good games (and by most accounts they were all very good games), but they feel that 3.4 million copies in 4 weeks is not "actual sales performance"!
Even more puzzling than those ridiculous targets is the question of where Square could have possibly gotten them from. The last Tomb Raider game, 2008's Underworld, has reported lifetime sales of 2.5 million, while 2006's Hitman: Blood Money moved 2.1 million. They succeeded handsomely in significantly growing those franchises, yet they somehow expected them to sell, in a few weeks, twice or thrice as much as their predecessors ever did.
Which leaves me with just one question: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?
As any Nintendo fan knows, having a relationship with Nintendo can be really trying at times. Or often! It's like dating a super hot girl who knows she's super hot and thinks she can get away with anything. And she's mostly right...until one day she isn't, you dump her and she never even sees it coming.
Nintendo, as is well known, is, well, Nintendo. It does its own thing, it ignores conventional wisdom, bucks trends and forgoes the seemingly obvious choices every "expert" swears is the best for them. Stop making hardware! Make Angry Marios for iphones! Make high-end consoles to compete on horsepower!
Nintendo is gleefully oblivious to all that nonsense, with no signs of changing any time soon. Sometimes the Nintendo way fails spectacularly (N64 cartridges), sometimes it succeeds spectacularly (Wii), and Nintendo just keeps moving along. And thank god for that. A Nintendo that is the odd-man out, that tries to find its own way instead of making a carbon copy of the Playstation or leaping sight unseen at the latest gold rush, is a Nintendo that enriches the industry as a whole and makes our lives as gamers better, even for those who hate it with the fanaticism of a suicide bomber. It's easy to forget now, but many, if not most things we gamers now take for granted were either created or inspired (and I say "inspired" in the loosest sense of the word when it comes to Sony!) by Nintendo.
Still, Nintendo could use some listening skills. It doesn't have to drastically change it's business model or whatever it is quarter-obsessed analysts and investors want it to, but it can give gamers what they want without ceasing to be who they are. Or Nintendo risks being dumped by many more.
The Wii U is a fantastic console, but I'm constantly taken aback by how Nintendo seems to go out of its way to make it less interesting or clunkier at every turn. Yesterday my friend came back from the United States with a Wii U and a boatload of games, and we excitedly rushed to play Black Ops together. And it was going great... until his gamepad battery died in less than 3 hours. You know, that battery, the one that only occupies about a third of the battery slot. Fortunately, he had a power socket nearby, but it's still annoying. Some people may not have that option.
Or the voice chat. Hey, cool, the gamepad has a microphone, we don't have to talk via skype. Except... it can't be used for voice chat, for whatever boneheaded reason. Maybe it's to force people to buy licensed headsets, but it seems any headset works, so that kind of kills the purpose. I used an iPod touch headphone, and he used an old headset he'd bought for the 3DS and never used. So again, we got around the artificial limitations just fine, but it didn't have to be that way. And if one of us had to switch to the pro controller while the gamepad charged, well, no voice chat for us.
Or the Eshop. Okay, so Nintendo doesn't see digital games as "having less value". Fine, but does it see them as more value? In Europe, games are €5-10 more expensive in the Eshop than at retail, at least the MSRP is the same in the Americas.
Or online. I really like Mario. So does my friend. Hey, cool let's play Super Mario Bros U, yaaay! Hum... sorry, no online. 90% of my gaming time is spent playing single player offline, and Nintendo still manages to frustrate me with its online neglect, I can only imagine how many online-centric gamers won't go near it with a 10-foot pole. So okay, Mario has never been about online. It's a bummer for me, but online play is probably not a priority for most people when buying a Mario game, or indeed even a consideration at all. But Pikmin? Strategy games have been synonymous with online for at least 15 years, and it might actually hurt them. I hope Pikmin succeeds, naturally, but if it bombs, hopefully it will be made very clear the lack of online had a lot to do with it, and maybe, just maybe, it will bring Nintendo a step closer to getting the message.
Or achievements. I actually share Nintendo's position on this one, I feel they are largely pointless. With the sole exception of Demon's Souls, a game I played so much a got a freaking Platinum, I tend to solemnly ignore them. And yet.. getting that pop up can feel strangely satisfying. Maybe our brains are just that easy to manipulate.
But it doesn't matter what I think. What matter is that achievements are a very big deal to a great number of people. IGN once wrote about the guy with the world's highest gamerscore, and getting achievements was effectively his full time job. The lack of achievements may, and probably does, single-handedly drive away gamers who would potentially be interested in playing multiplatform releases on the Wii U thanks to the gamepad. So why not just give them what they freaking want?
Heck, Nintendo could leverage achievements to make people WANT to play multiplats on the Wii U. Imagine what they could do if they put club Nintendo and their IPs to good use. How about unlocking exclusive Nintendo costumes for your Miis through achievements? Or promotions where the first X number of people to earn Y achievement points or unlock a specific achievement get a cool club Nintendo item? Just as the lack of achievements may drive people away, such carrots could easily draw them back. And they might even bring their friends.
Or... you get the idea. Nintendo is still the beautiful girl with lots of admirers, because she's just too damn beautiful despite being a bitch, but there are now plenty of beautiful girls around, and they all want YOU! Being beautiful is no longer enough, you have to be beautiful AND nice.
Nintendo's independence and originality are truly impressive, just imagine what they could do if only they combined all that expertise with common sense!
Or: 10 hours of my life I'll never get back. It seems my DSi just died. Lovely!
Yesterday, I saved my Dragon Quest V game and went to bed. The clock stood at 09:44. So now I try to go back to it, and I'm greeted by the delightful error message above. Out of the blue, nothing works. Booting a game, options, system settings, everything runs into a black screen with those dreadful words.
That could have happened in the first couple hours, when the game was slow and I could have walked away no problem. But no, it has to wait until I start really liking the game. I'd just gotten out of slavery, for god's sake!
This is my first system ever to stop working, so now I know the feeling. Not cool. Not cool at all.
Now please join me in a moment of silence while I mourn the lost 10 hours of my life. DAMMIT!!!!!!!
Max Payne 3, as some of you may know, is set in São Paulo, Brazil's richest and biggest city. As a Brazilian myself, it was interesting to finally get to play a game set in my country. The target audience for western AAA games are largely North America and Europe, so there there is very little mention of Brazil in the game world. In fact, the only Brazilian character I can recall off the top of my head is Blanka, who of course is a green mutant.
So it was with great anticipation that I took Max through another slow-motion murderous romp. For the most part, I loved every minute of it. Max's monologues are as entertaining as ever, the game is gorgeous and the story and gun fights are (mostly) very good.
The Portuguese dialog, though, is ludicrously bad. As in, written in English, run through Google translate and voiced by foreigners bad, complete with gender mistakes. Still, there is a lot of background dialogue, which was fun to hear, and some of it was even entertaining in the right way.
Sadly, Rockstar's megalomania could mean this is the last we'll see of Payne.
Welcome to the slums.
Anyways, I'd like to share my impressions of Rockstar's São Paulo, and maybe let you guys know a little more about what Brazil is really like. I'm curious to hear what impressions, if any, did you folks get from the city or the country from the game. Even though it's a game and obviously no one expects a realistic representation of anything in a Max Payne game, pop media still influences us to some degree, especially when we are not familiar with the subject matter.
Max Payne's Brazil is marked by 3 main themes: giant social inequality, violence and corruption. The bad news is that this is, unfortunately, grounded in reality. The good news is that it is not nearly that bad, and there have been significant improvements in the past decade.
Ironically, the city Rockstar chose to depict as a lawless warzone has, in fact, one of the lowest murder rates in the country: around 10 per 100.000 inhabitants, which compares favorably to many U.S cities. It is also down a whopping 75% from its 1999 peak. Even Rio de Janeiro, probably the Brazilian city most infamous abroad for its drug violence, has managed to decrease the killings by 45%.
That's not to say the city isn't dangerous: it is. Other types of violent crime, like armed robberies and "express kidnappings", remain common, but it's far from a hellhole where the only people left are those too poor to flee or rich enough to buy armored cars and hire private security. In fact, in recent years there has been a considerable increase in immigration to Brazil, as well as in the number of Brazilians returning home.
A nation of extremes
Where Max Payne hits closest to home is regarding social inequality. The opening scene, a party for the city's elite at a fancy high-rise overlooking the slums, remains a shameful staple of our country, even though things have improved a lot in the past decade. Poverty has halved, and the number of people belonging to the upper income brackets increased nearly fivefold. Despite this impressive progress, we remain one of the most unequal countries in the world, which just goes to show how desperate our starting point was.
This contrast goes beyond individual income levels, and permeates several aspects of Brazilian society. We have one of the world's best AIDS programs, widely praised by international health organizations, while basic public health care is in shambles. The living standards in some places are not far behind Europe's, while others are closer to Somalia's. We are capable of producing airplanes, while some kids are virtually illiterate when they graduate from high school, to give just a few examples.
Lastly, corruption. The game touches on political corruption, but largely showcases police corruption. Fortunately, while police corruption is pretty bad, it's nothing like Max Payne's version.
For one thing, we're not lawless. Police simply cannot go around executing people by the dozen in front of everyone with impunity. When they execute criminals (and they do), they have to do what police all over the world do: stage the scene to make it look like self defense, and if they get caught, they are prosecuted, though rarely convicted.
Which brings us to, perhaps, one of the biggest problems in our struggle against crime and corruption: the justice system is an utter, complete and total mess. It's so screwed up that, even without foul play involved, it is not difficult for a wealthy criminal to beat most charges short of murder. It is commonly said that "the police arrests, the judges set free".
Interestingly, when we start killing police in the last third of the game, for the first time ever I felt slightly uncomfortable shooting someone in a videogame. Most officers are just regular people trying to survive very difficult circumstances and doing their job the best they can, they are not sadistic psychopaths in uniform. If there was a way to advance the game without killing them, I would have.
Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, the "good cops" are not helpless like mr. Da Silva, nor would they need to rely on a foreign bodyguard to take on the bad guys for them!
All in all, playing Max Payne in São Paulo was a blast, and I hope I don't have to wait twenty years to do it again. What did you guys think? Was it just like playing in New Jersey, or did the change in setting change your game experience?