Casey Baker is passionate about all things video game, and has been this way since very young. His earliest memories involve trying to get E.T. out of a hole.
Casey plays nearly all genres of games, excluding most sports games (save Super Dodgeball for the NES), and pretty much any fitness games.
Casey has been partnered with his 'domestic partner' (will be husband soon!) Mike for 8 years, and though Mike doesn't share quite the same passion for games as he does, Mike can kick his ass at Mega Man 2 and Castle Crashers, and loves Journey and Rez.
Casey also plays several online games with his twin brother, and is always happy to find others to play online with.
While the rest of the internet has been creating a huge brouhaha over Mass Effect 3 and it's endings, I've decided to finally brave the fjords of another game and discover what dramatic secrets it holds.
...No, not Skyrim. I've played through as many possible narratives as I can in that game, and while I absolutely love the game and would willingly sink another 100 hours into it - as a whole, the game doesn't really have one cohesive narrative but a huge amalgamation of disjointed narratives that don't really add to your hero's story so much as enhance it (especially through loot, combat levelling, and learning a little more lore with every quest you discover your way through.)
Recently, after attending GDC, I posted a video of the latest 'prototype' of Quantic Dream's motion capture engine. Thinking I was being cheeky, I spent ten minutes doctoring one of the photos I took of David Cage and some random dude(tm) and used that as a header to poke fun at the "Press X to Jason" viral internet phenomenon that hit the web a few months after the game hit and everyone loved it, hated it, and generally laughed at it's awkward dialogue and hilariously scary looking children.
The dark truth I've hidden that puts my journalistic integrity into question is this: I've never actually played Heavy Rain before beyond that PSN demo, where I awkwardly walked into walls as Madison and then got killed by some creepy large dude in a broken down house.
So, while everyone else in the downtown Powell street Gamestop stood around eagerly checking out Kid Icarus for the 3DS, I walked in, proudly toting a recently acquired wooden sword (random GDC swag), and demanded to see the game for which empires have been won and lost.
Or uh, something.
"Uh, you're picking up just, uh...Heavy Rain?" The Gamestop employee - who I've probably known for years now yet still only vaguely recognizes me - asked me incredulously.
"Yep." I said, brandishing my wooden sword with a sneer so that the employee wouldn't remind me of other games I could pre-order or that trade-ins now included Ipods and Ipads for some reason. Of course, he still did.
Anyhow, after making so much fun of the game (often with my partner, who'd watch little clips of it and go, "Ugh, I see Uncanny Valley really hit that guy's face hard.") I finally decided to do at least one playthrough of Heavy Rain. I managed to keep all of my characters alive despite their insistence to pit themselves into the most dangerous situations possible, all up until the end - or I should say, my particular ending - where Scott Shelby was the serial killer because he had a shitty dad or something, and I pressed X to Shaun just enough to save him but that other idiot detective who is also a terrible voice actor failed to do anything except play with his little AR device and snort Triptocaine until his eyes bled, so that the psychopath cop ordered a swat hit on poor Ethan. Ah alas, the world is a cruel and unyielding mistress.
During my playthrough, I actually did get emotionally involved with the characters, barring the incredibly awkward and mannequin-like Ethan and Madison "Press X to vigorously hump and use thumb pad to massage off clothing" sex scene. Overall, I found the narrative to be relatively interesting and the plot twists, while not always totally feasible, at least tied in coherently with the overall storyline.
Which got me thinking - if a game that can be criticized as nothing more than a glorified series of QTE's can actually involve me so deeply into it's storyline - does that really give the angered fans of the Mass Effect series a fair leg to stand on when it comes to arguments involving the game's ending?
How important is a narrative to a game, and how important is it that the narrative is tied up neatly and offers an optimistic ending?
You see, I'm also a huge fan of the Mass Effect series, all the way from the very beginning. I have two Shepards - a male paragon Shepard - who, (spoilers ahead!) after having a fling with Liara in the first ME and then 'unmasking' Tali in the second one - decided he was actually really into guys all along and dated Cortez, and then sort of accidentally caused Tali to suicide herself because well, Casey Shepard was sorta responsible for the death of her people and the rebellion uprising of the Geth.
And a female Shepard - Queruluzz Shepard (my partner tells me she borders on racist, but I tell him that she borders on awesome), who is the greatest Shepard ever and managed to save nearly all of her crew in ME2 by simply being a bad-ass bitch. Her story is still not over.
I've beaten the game with the Male Shepard, and after watching the ending, I felt a mix of emotions. (Spoilers ahead, again)
In a weird way, I was glad that the ending was as hokey as it was. I was glad that some Starchild came out of left field and gave me such a simplified option that led to everything being pretty much ruined for everyone.
You see, what I love about storyline and narrative in games is the actual 'getting there' that it involves, the travel from where your character starts to what eventually alters and changes your character. The actual cut-scene ending created by the developers is almost always an after-thought. The various endings for the various characters in Heavy Rain went from "miserable pile of secrets" to "straight up retarded" - and really, the ending of that game for me came when Ethan finally saves Shaun and then gets brutally shot down. Roll credits.
In much the same way, Mass Effect 3 really ended for me the moment that Shepard made it into that weird part of the Citadel with all of the harvested bodies, pretty much nearly burnt to death and crawling ever so slowly towards the light. This is the apex of everything Shepard has fought for, and he's arrived at his destination. Whatever happens afterward doesn't really matter - it's no longer the part of the story that you're directly engaged in.
In fact, as hokey as the story was in the Gears of War series, I still managed to get a little emotionally involved throughout - and at the end of Gears 3, when Marcus finally takes off his stupid headband and actually looks almost like a normal human being for once - I had pretty much already stopped caring about the storyline.
Like a lot of things in life, I'd compare it to Total Recall. How many people really care to remember the really terrible ending where Arnie and that weird chick are standing on some martian landscape and they kiss and it might all be a dream and - oh, who the f**k really gives a shit, that was such a terrible cop-out?
And who remembers the alien chick with three boobs, or "I got fiiii' kids to feed!" or "TWWWOOO WEEKS!"
I think I rest my case.
Any storyline of any medium can still succeed greatly even without a nice ending that wraps everything up, where Hermione marries Ron and Harry marries Ron's little sister and everyone plays a round of Quidditch in the park or whatever.
Art is supposed to be an imitation of life (or perhaps life imitates art, whichever) - and as such, it can't - and shouldn't - always be neatly tied up with a pretty bow.
For the Mass Effect series, the developers couldn't possibly please every single fan with any ending whatsoever. A happy ending where Shepard saves the universe would seem like a cop-out to a great number of fans. Furthermore, what did fans expect to see of their beloved characters?
Here, let me give fans the ending to all of the characters of Mass Effect in a perfect world:
Shepard: Becomes a has-been hero who still goes onto late night shows like Craig Ferguson and runs that same tired joke, "I am Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite mouthwash on the Citadel."
Liara: Becomes a f***Ing space librarian, guys. Seriously. She gets older and decides she likes acquiring information more than having sex and basically creates a giant library on the Citadel that always vaguely smells like the pee of those stupid monkey creatures that you find f***ing everywhere in ME2.
Tali: Goes on to take many more stock photos of herself unmasked. Gets a short gig on that stupid sitcom that people seem to love and constantly plays at Gamestop. The one with the nerds, you know which one I'm talking about.
Garrus: Retires to a space rock in the Outer Rim, shoots debris from his trailer.
Thane: Dies. I mean... seriously?
Prothy the Prothean: Kills self, like he said he would. Has a sparsely populated funeral.
Samara: Finally Kills Bill.
Miranda: Starts a reality TV show, "Lovin' the Lawson's" where she and her sister do stupid daily shit and get drunk a lot and then she gyrates her ridiculously perfect body for the next 45 minutes.
Kaiden: Dies tragically, if not already dead.
Ashley: Becomes a Libertarian, votes Ron Paul.
Mordin: Replaces Masuka's role on Dexter.
That other Salarian, the Intelligent Design One: Joins Kirk Cameron on a very special talk show about bananas.
Jacob: Probably does bro stuff with James Vega, like go to bars and watch football games together.
James Vega: See above.
Jack: Gets fired from teaching for going off on rebellious student, inadvertently killing whole class. Marries Garrus and meths out in his trailer.
Cortez: Loves Shepard 4EVER. BFF. Also loves his sweet ride. Has to decide between the two at some point, goes with ride since Shepard is a has-been.
Urdnot Wrex: Repopulates the Krogan homeworld with babies, babies everywhere. Or doesn't. Either way, he goes mental one day and kills everyone, including himself.
Grunt: Oh, maybe I mixed the two up.
Legion: Starts a galactic 4chan. Trolls every known universe.
The Reapers: Start a band. Become a huge hit (people really love the blaring horns), go through the ol' sex, drugs and rock'n'roll standards, have a biopic made about their illustrious career.
All right, now that you've seen the true ending of the series, was it really worth it?
Or can you agree that the strong narrative of a good video game, the actual playthrough - is really what makes that game so awesome?
Today while doing some research for a different game preview, I stumbled across a free flash game called A Closed World that takes on lesbian and gay issues in a way that I've not really seen before.
The game, as an actual "game" is pretty easy, has repetitive dialogue, is a little narrow in focus, and gets a little hokey in times in both voice-narration and music.
The game as an experience, however - is something I strongly appreciate from Gambit Game Lab in Singapore. In the game, you play as a young gay male or lesbian female - although none of that is overt or totally obvious, just something you pick up from dialogue and context clues. Your character ventures into a forest and faces demons, and you do a sort of turn-based battle with said demons until you 'vanquish' them.
The demons, however, are all representative of the people you are closest to. Your weapons for battle include logic, ethics, and passion. To battle your demons, you choose one of these as an appeal of sorts. Your health bar is indicated by your composure, which you lose steadily through the battle and regain by taking a breath every now and then.
You face enemies such as your sibling, your father, and the parents of the person of your affection. Every time you defeat an enemy, you get a cut scene of sorts that hints into the storyline of your character and the interactions he or she has had with family members regarding who you are as a person.
The game is pretty short, I beat it in maybe ten to fifteen minutes - but it left me feeling a definite sense of appreciation for the developers to approach such a topic in a surprisingly mature and emotionally appealing manner.
If I were to change something about this game, it'd be some of the responses my character uses in defense of the attacks from the so-called 'demons' - though I suppose this is more because I'd wish to tailor it more to my own personal experience as they seem incomplete and sometimes a little too weak of a response. I definitely generally agree with the common attitudes shown in the attacks by these 'demons' - whether it's simple bigoted attacks by a sibling or more "ashamed for one's own personal reputation" attacks made by a father or mother.
I don't normally have much interest in LGBT topics in video games and I generally think they're mishandled by backwards stereotypes that just perpetuate this notion that all gay men and lesbian women are a certain way and should be expected to act as such - but this one caught me a bit off-guard and I played it primarily to see just how wrong they'd get it.
I was surprised to find myself accepting that in general, they got it pretty right. I hope this game finds it's way to LGBT youth who are still struggling to figure themselves out.
More information about this project can be found here:
Much like Jim Sterling, I too got the Ocarina of Time 3DS soundtrack in the mail!
I have chronicled my excitement with this image:
However, I don't plan to actually ever open it or listen to it, because it is a COLLECTER'S ITEM AND YOU CANNOT EVER GET YOUR GREASY, SMALL AND WRINKLED HANDS ON IT.
Unfortunately, the nice people who work at my local post office don't know how to treat such priceless artifacts and upon opening I was dismayed to find a small crack in the the cheap plastic of the front of the cd case.
Oh well, someone still buy it off me from Ebay for a bazillion dollars some day.
On that note, if you really want a good remastering of the Ocarina of Time soundtrack (and many other Zelda games), I would highly recommend not bothering with building that time machine to go back to when you could register the game to get the soundtrack by jumping through the dumb online survey hoops that NOA requires of you, but instead just downloading the awesome Zelda Reorchestrated project instead. I have listened to the songs on nearly every album from this project and highly recommend them.
That's all. Have a good day, fellow nerds and psychopaths!
Hi! I'm new here guys! How do I shot web? How babby get formed? I am 12 and what is this?
And a host of other classic internet memes, brought to you by your host, Troy McClure.
Terrible Intros aside, I'm new as an intern editor but I'm certainly no stranger to the Destructoid community.
DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?
Probably not. But if you've been lurking around the comments, chat, and community forums you may have seen my old avatar/username pop up quite often and sometimes quite annoyingly.
Some phrases you may have uttered upon seeing me include (but are not limited to:)
"Oh that guy again, what's his deal?" and "Oh, here comes that a**hole" and even "LOL COCKS!"
So who am I, exactly? Read on and find out!
I. Games I Play
Why have I chosen to write for Destructoid about videogames? This may surprise you. Did you know that 1 in 5 video game bloggers actually play videogames?
I too play videogames! Yes, this may be pretty shocking, I know. I also like writing about them!
The best part? I live in San Francisco! Awesome!
Now I am an expert on video games and all of my opinions are actually fact. YES.
Here are some more FACTS:
My favorite video game ever is Dark Cloud 2. Yeah, I said it. The one with the anime kids and the easy world-building and some fishing and golf minigame sidequests that are for babies and stupid people.
However, I also love Fallout 3! Which may also include babies, though they are probably of the more dead variety.
If I were to list every game that I play obsessively or have ever played obsessively, I'd pretty much just give up actually writing any more of this post.
BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM GUYS, THAT'S THE JOKE!
II. Games as "Art" Debate
This has been a debate that has raged on ever since Custer's Revenge for the Atari 2600 came to the market and consumers were shocked, surprised, and perhaps even a little stimulated at the amazingly true portrayal of the awful hardships that Native American women had to endure by the White man.
Encompassing in scope, lurid in visual design, and impactful in expressing it's strong message to an audience of young and impressionable children, Custer's Revenge paved the way for the newest form of art, VIDEO GAMES!
Soon to follow were other such artful games as Night Trap for the Sega CD, Zelda's Adventure for Phillip's CD-i, and Boong-Ga Boong, seen in Japanese arcades.
These games are the shining beacon on the hill, they are the archetype of artistic video games for all others to follow and look up to. If you're not in agreement, I may argue that you have no taste and should never step foot into a Museum of Modern Art.
However, if you are with me, I would even go further to say that Video Games are to Digital Art just as Jackson Pollock is to Canvas Art and Marcel Duchamp is to Urinal Art!
Truly, many things are considered art.
III. Personal Agendas (lol)
Now, we've come to the most important part of this introductory post. Who the hell am I, seriously?
Well, if you've been keeping score - I used to go by the Destructoid username "Rigby"...
(Long and Awkward Pause)
Oh...oh wait. You mean that gay dude? Who got all bitchy and ranty whenever anyone challenged assumptions about "teh gays lol"
Yeah, yeah. Gay agenda. Degradation of Christianity and Modern Society. Etc, etc etc...
I only post this part because it happens to tangentially relate to who I've lurked as in the Destructoid forums. This way, when the huge scandal erupts about the real 'Casey Baker', it'll pretty much be old news.
Most likely, you don't care and wonder why I bring it up! That's great! Either do I. :)
How does this relate to video games and any discussions I may have about video games?
IT DOESN'T!! :D
The only way it may relate is to Mass Effect 3 or other games that do have a same sex option - that is, if I bother writing an actual article about them and about that option and about how realistically gays are portrayed in context, blah blah blah...
However - do I personally care about whether games should have gay characters as much as straight characters?
Not really! I happen to love Alyx Vance and would have babies with her because she is an awesome video game character, and she also loves me even though I'm a violent deaf mute! <3<3<3
That's the great thing about video games. You can place yourself in the existence of entirely different characters with backgrounds all of their own. Have I characteristically tried to only get the gay option in a video game if I've had the choice? Nope! Usually through the second playthrough I'll try it, though options as a gay character are pretty limited and often pretty absurdly stereotypical.
But the point isn't about sexual orientations of video game characters! It's about the games!
What I will most often write about is this:
Is this game fun, or is it not fun?
So stand confident in the knowledge that as I am writing, this is pretty much ALWAYS generally what is going through my head:
OMG, Should I write about how there aren't enough PONIES in the Elder Scrolls series? I mean seriously, also that costume design of the furrykin or whatever those tigers (rawrr) are called is just ATROCIOUS, EWWW. Can't they just have FABULOUS colors and maybe a rainbow paw badge on their shirts? And let's talk about those muscle-bound Nordic warriors! Rarrr!
...Or you know, probably not.
I just like games. :3
IV. My First Review!
Here is my review of a video game called "Haunting Starring Polterguy" for the Sega Genesis:
Haunting Starring Polterguy is a game for the genesis. It is a game where you play a poltergeist who is called Polterguy. In the game, you are haunting the house of a family called the Sardinis. I think that is a racist reference to Sicilians and I am offended because I get offended pretty easily! Anyhow, the Sardinis are rich and snobby and they suck. So as Polterguy you wander around and make everyday furniture HaUnTeD...OoOoOooo. Also sometimes you make the Sardinis pee their pants and it is funny!
According to The Internet, "The Haunting Starring Polterguy" is made by EA games, who are most notable for also making "One on One: Dr. J vs. Larry Bird." which is a game about basketball.
The goal of the game "The Haunting Starring Polterguy" is to keep scaring the Sardinis away. They are really annoying though because they don't get scared easily when they move to new houses. I got to the third house and then I threw my controller because they were not scared by ANYTHING! My favorite animation happens when you go in the toilet and then a HAND comes out of the toilet, who would have thought that would happen! Ha ha ha ha.
I like this game because you are a zombie ghost and they are cool!
Final Verdict: 9.5/10 Superb: 9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage to what is a supreme example of its genre.