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10:36 PM on 06.15.2013  

Mike's Musings - E3 Week 2013

Welcome to the weekend. It's been a crazy E3 hype train hype overload week!† There has been such an incredible amount of things that happened this week that Iíve decided that instead of having a blog about one topic that really caught my attention this weekend I wanted to share the love and talk about a few things that had really been big talking points this week.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf



First thing I want to say is that this is the worst midnight launch game ever. EVER!† I know people want to have things as soon as possible and that is awesome, but Nintendo maybe when you launch the next Animal Crossing in a few years maybe you should do a mid-afternoon launch a few hours early instead of launching this series at midnight.† I refused to time travel so when I booted up my town and got it all set up to go I was greeted by darkness and the appearance of many cool things that I couldnít do.† Hey!† There is a hole that probably has a fossil in it!† Oh... I canít buy a shovel yet. †

Hey Isabelle, what can I do to make this town a better place?!

You should talk to Tia cause she is a cool villager elephant thing and would love to meet you.

Oh, sheís sleeping until morning...

That said the game is amazing.† It truly is the ultimate time waster.† I think the best part is that because of your mayoral abilities the game has given itself a lot more freedom for the player to play in a style that is more befitting to them and added a lot of longevity.† I honestly donít feel like after a week I have seen even a fraction of what this game has to offer beyond the special holiday events, which is something that had always bugged me in the previous Animal Crossing games.† There is still a ton to upgrade and unlock and I canít wait to see more of what my little village can offer!† Now I just need like 8 million more bells to completely upgrade my house.† Back to fishing and bug catching!

Sony's E3 Pleasure Presser:

Having watched the stream live all I have to say is that I donít think I have ever seen an E3 conference receive a reaction like this.† Sony pulled off an amazing feat during their presser and it was visible in the stream and with the people I watched it with.† They completely energized their fans, won the media and pulled in an entirely new audience that may had already been set in writing them off.† This presser will go down in history as one of the greatest E3 moments.† This is the true start to their competition with Microsoft.† It was pulled off brilliantly and was a major victory before the first system was even sold.† Microsoft: When is too soon to announce a price drop?† The next day?



Nintendo's Direct Approach:

I donít know why I woke up for this.† Since it was just a Nintendo Direct instead of a live presser I was set on waking up in the afternoon and watching it whenever I cared to.† In this instance I actually blame Sony for getting me so excited the night before for what was to come at E3.† So I rolled my hungover self out of bed minutes before the start of the conference to watch a streaming disaster that that was something very much like this:



The streaming issues coupled with the fact that Nintendoís showing included only one surprise left a sour taste in my mouth.† To be honest I am excited for and am going to buy the four major Wii U titles that they had shown off during the Nintendo direct, but if it was a complete surprise it would have been just that much more captivating. I also think I was a bit disappointed to see that Retro was dedicating their resources to another Donkey Kong Country game.† Yes, I loved Donkey Kong Country on the Wii and I know that this will be a fantastic game as well, but I just wanted something new.† I donít even need it to be Metroid.† I just think they are an extremely capable development studio and I would have rather they had taken a fresh look at a new franchise rather then a second revival of the one they just finished. †

To end on a good note though I am incredibly excited about the Smash Bros characters that have been announced thus far.† Being such an Animal Crossing addict these last few days the Villager seems like a perfect addition and one that I had imagined being in Brawlís launch a few years back.† Iím really happy to see Mega Man and itís strange for me to imagine a universe where Nintendo cares more about doing Mega Man right than Capcom.† Finally, the Wii Fit Trainer is an out of the blue, yet awesome choice.† I have always loved the off the beaten path characters in the Smash Bros games and this one fits the bill.† Also the memes have been amazing. †



Microsoft Shut Your Mouth:

To be honest their press conference was not too bad.† It definitely was a step up over the recent years.† As an aside, the choices that they have made with Killer Instinct, which to be upfront is a series that I cared for very little even before this week, are strange.† It seems weird to me that everyone was running around saying that a classic game from Rare is back to find out that it isnít made by Rare (which considering the company these days is honestly probably a smart thing, but it was about the wording). Also that it has one of the weirdest free to play or demo model that I have ever heard of from a fighting game. †



The important message for Microsoft this week though is to shut your mouths.† Seriously.† You should enact a rule that before responding to a question you need to wait for a few hours and talk it over maybe with some people who have professional public relations experience.† I know that this generation is far from over yet and the victors are no where near decided, but at this point you might as well be buying PlayStation 4ís for the people that were your Xbox 360 enthusiasts.† As Iíve said before I wouldnít describe myself as a fanboy of a certain platform or publisher.† I would consider myself a fan of the entire industry.† Microsoft failing right out of the industry may be a good laugh due to their terrible incompetence at launching this system, but it isnít good for the industry as a whole.† Letís be honest too, A LOT can happen over the next five to ten years, but every time Microsoft says something along the lines of, "Fortunately, we have a product for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity and it's called Xbox 360," Sonyís advantage grows.† Itís not over Microsoft.† I wonít buy an Xbox One, but I am rooting for you to get your shit together!† Good luck!



I also really want to talk about Cliff Bleszinkiís quote about used games ruining the game industry, but seriously Jim Sterlingís response is so good that I donít think I even need to talk about it.† Read it!

Till next week.

-Mike   read


10:52 PM on 06.07.2013  

Game Publishers and the Wrong Problem

Welcome to the weekend!† Judging by the outcry on the internet I would be amazed if there are many people that think that Microsoft is taking the Xbox One in the right direction. † From DRM to people calling their practices anti-consumer they have built themselves quite the PR nightmare these last few weeks.† Looking in from the outside it would seem to me that Microsoft is trying to build a box to make everyone happy (and by everyone I mean content producers and consumers), but that is like cats and dogs living under the same roof.† I would also go as far to say that to me it looks a lot like Microsoft is trying to take the right steps to solve the wrong problem. †



The problem that they are trying to take on is the resale of games that consumers have purchased. † Are used games really the villain though?† I guess that would depend on your point of view.† I feel as if most publishers take the stance that every used copy sold is less money in their pocket, which is true to a certain degree.† Itís an incredibly black and white view on how used games actually contribute to the market. In a bubble that view may be perfect, but in the real world it doesnít take into account the many factors why a customer wouldnít just buy a new one in the first place.†

The most obvious factor in this equation is the price.† Yes, I am sure that there are customers who are excited to see a used copy of a brand new game for five dollars off, but there are equally more who would rather just wait for the game to be even cheaper before its worth buying.† Let me be honest too, there are many games based on quality alone that shouldnít even be on a store shelf for sixty dollars at release and people wonder why they donít sell. The sales you are losing are from the people who think that a sixty dollar game is too expensive and would rather pay forty or even twenty dollars for a game.† In a lot of cases games donít hit that price until some time after release and considering how stingy the publishers seem to be at dropping prices that can often be after the game has already stopped printing. †

Which brings me into my next point: Letís not forget that there are customers who actually would prefer to buy a new copy of a game that no longer can.† To be fair, this current generation will likely be the last where that ever is a concern.† But as it has been clear to see there have been many titles throughout the last generation that could only be purchased second hand, because new copies were no longer made after a few months.† Now that we are at the end of the console cycle more of those titles have the ability to be digitally distributed.† Even still though the download sizes in a lot of cases can be catastrophic and depending on your internet provider completely unfeasible. †

I would also be remiss if I didnít talk about how game trades lead to sales of new games.† The customer isnít always out there trying to take money away from publishers. For many people used games are a currency to buy brand new games with the shrink wrap and publisher money included.† If I was going to make this message as black and white as their view on used games is I would say: Putting limits on how a consumer can pay for your games will cause you lost sales.



There definitely has been talk in the community that if publishers made money off of the used games then games in general would be cheaper. † Do you want to know why no one believes that this would happen?† Itís because every time a potential savings could be passed on to the consumer it is absorbed back into the corporate wallet.† Digitally released games require no production or middle man yet cost exactly the same as one bought in brick and mortar.† Games arenít getting any cheaper for the consumer and even from a physical standpoint most games now come with no booklet and are nothing more than a disk in a flimsy box with a picture on it.† Granted a lot of that has to do with the pull from retailers, but if you think that pull will magically disappear with this new console then you are sadly mistaken.

Oh!† Donít worry!† I hear you telling me how it is on Steam, but letís be honest in most cases over the last decade the PC market has been treated as the ugly redheaded step child who only seems to generate money as an after thought.† Ubisoft and EA have both shown incredible under sight and made disastrous missteps in this market that could have been easily avoided if it was treated as importantly as itís console brethren.† Things definitely have been getting much much better, but most of that has to do with the fact that Steam is far more open for publishers and developers to be independent and competitive then the closed system that has been run on the console marketplaces.†



My message to publishers: Instead of running around screaming from the top of the mountain that used game sales are the devil have you considered that maybe the key is opening up more alternate revenue streams?† Letís be honest, by the time used DVD sales actually become relevant movies have already had two or three opportunities at making money with nearly infinitely more opportunities after the fact.† There is nothing remotely approaching that with video games. With most games they only tend to be relevant for a few months after their release and even after less than a year they fade into obscurity. †

What about a digital only early release edition?† Do you want to be the first person to play the new hot game?† Well, it costs more, but you get it a month before it releases anywhere else and it comes with some early adopter bonuses.† If you want the physical copy too throw in another ten dollars and weíll ship one to your house.

Another place that video games could follow in the footsteps of movies is by setting up deals with distribution services for some extra revenue.† The first thing that comes to mind for me is PlayStation Plus.† Sony is trying to entice people to join PlayStation Plus work with them to offer your old games as part of the package.† It garners goodwill, you will get some cut of the profit and it could lead to a revenue stream or a franchise revitalization that you had never expected.

Paid betas.† Seriously can you imagine the amount of money that Activision or EA could bring in by offering paid betas for Call of Duty or Battlefield respectively? †

Those are just three ideas I thought of in a matter of minutes.† I am sure if I had an afternoon I could fill a novel full of new ways to generate money for game publishers, but the key thing with the ideas that I listed above are that none of them infringe on the end consumers right to enjoy the game.† They enable the consumer to be in a position to help support the games that they love in new ways and ultimately are being rewarded for it.

The last thing I want to say to the developers and publishers out there: You are rushing something that is inevitable anyway.† Maybe it wonít be in November like you would like, but consoles games are moving toward a downloadable or cloud based streaming future.† Rushing it along is what is causing more ill will when you could instead be constructively helping build the future direction of this industry.† Donít blame the customer for your problems.† Ultimately, it is your business model with the over inflated budgets and unrealistic sales projections along with a true lack of innovative money generating ideas that are causing these problems.† Not the people who are passionate about playing these games.†

-Mike   read


11:37 PM on 05.31.2013  

E3 Holiday

Welcome to the weekend!† For me this week has been about getting excited for E3.† The event has always been something special to me. I've always lovingly referred to it as second Christmas. Itís always been that few days in June where I get to sit back and enjoy the crazy news and over the top industry hype that is spewed in a few short day span. †

While Iíve never been able to go to the event (itís on the bucket list) Iíve gradually evolved my E3 traditions through the years to be able to best enjoy the time. †



As long as I can remember E3 being an event I remember being fascinated by the news that came out of it.† Back when I was a kid I remember waiting for the E3 issue blow out in the video game magazines.† I would study all of the articles and pictures for hours imagining how cool it would be to be able to go.† From there it evolved into hopping on the internet and catching the blogs as soon as they were posted.† Today it is all about the live streams!

Surprisingly Iíve found that my current E3 traditions started completely by accident. † I just happened to be taking some time off during the event and was looking for some new way to keep up with everything as it happened.† It was during a brief window of time where I had G4 and because I was bored I decided to pop it on and watch it.† Originally I had only planned on just watching Microsoftís conference, but much to my sisterís dismay I ended up staying on the channel the entire day and never relinquishing the television.† It was at that moment that I realized that reading about E3 is one thing, but actually getting to see the events unfold is an entirely new experience. †



From then on my E3 vacations became a planned event and as important as any birthday or holiday that I would take off work for.† At the time I had thought that I may be the only person crazy enough to do such a thing.† However one day while I was watching the Microsoft conference starting off the E3 events I had gotten a text message from a friend asking if I just saw what they did and how crazy it was.† Honestly, at this point in time I canít remember what they did or how crazy it was, but considering Microsoftís track record of E3 pressers I am sure it would live up to itís absurdity today.† When I responded back he invited himself over to watch it with me.† I hadnít planned on having company over, but I quickly put together a plan to stream the events from the Internet to my (now cable free) television.† We grabbed some beer and ended up having a great time living up the event from home.



Now my E3 events involve that friend, quite a few others and even more beer.† It has also now become the one day of the year where I donít mind drinking before noon.† The one thing that I have always loved about gaming as a hobby is that it is easy to share that passion with others who feel the same way and come together over that commonality. †

Despite all of the crazy E3 shenanigans I have at my house I still would love to attend the event one of these years.††I can only wonder how my traditions would evolve in actually being there to feel the atmosphere and excitement!



So anyone else out there have their own E3 traditions?

-Mike   read


11:40 PM on 05.24.2013  

Shadow of the Eternals

When I sit down to figure out what subject I am going to tackle on my weekly blog I try to find some video game news or event that has been relevant to me the most over the last week.† As I had thought about it this week though I realized that despite the media attention over the Xbox One there was one thing that had captivated me more then I could have imagined. †

That is Shadow of the Eternals.



You may remember, although I think it is unlikely I have weekly readers of this blog, but a few weeks ago I talked about the project and at the time I was skeptical.† I think most people would say that was justified stance to take.† However after I had posted that original blog, being such an incredible fan of Eternal Darkness, I ended up finding myself in a conundrum.† I was incredibly excited for the potential of the project, but the circumstances around Silicon Knights had me concerned.† At the end of the day I realized that all issues aside I really wanted to see the project come to life and that if I didnít contribute to it I felt like I wasnít doing my part, however small that contribution may be.† I was a bit nervous about it all but I made the plunge.

What an amazing surprise it ended up being.



The first thing that surprised me though is how much I have enjoyed the community that formed around this project!† I have participated in a quite a few different online communities through the years, but I have never experienced something like this.† Iím sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that community is focused on a very specific game.† It really boils down to fans of Eternal Darkness who are energized to see what Precursor can do with this spiritual successor.† When you are getting into the discussions you are ultimately participating with people who share a passion over the same specific experience as you and as such grants a common bond before you even reach any conversation. †It is also possible that the overwhelmingly positive discussions are because the project is based in Canada and Canadians are stereotypically well known to be a kind and sharing people. Regardless itís refreshing to see a community that prides itself in promoting creativity, positivity and a shared passion of this game. †



Once you are in the mix of things one of the next things you will notice is how communicative the Precursor team is.† They are in the forums and greeting people, answering questions and blowing my mind.† Did you know that the actor that played Jek Porkins in Star Wars was also the voice actor of Maximilian Roivas?† With the Precursor team now sharing the limelight with Dyack it is easy to see the incredibly creative and enthusiastic people that are the backbone of this project.† Ken McCulloch especially, whom they title the lore keeper, world builder and dream merchant, is an easy stand out of the bunch.† He comes off as an incredibly brilliant and inspired personality.† I can see him as one of those people who can captivate an audience for hours just by talking lore and design philosophy.† Together they are fostering creative projects from the community that could help shape the game, like offering up gameplay suggestions, ideas for lore and, of course, sanity effects.† They have been consistent at making daily updates for those interested and really bringing the community into a side of game development that I had never experienced before.† I find it to be entirely fascinating.

On the side they also have some really entertaining ARG stuff having to do with the mythos of the game.† This week, for example, they posted up this picture of a rosetta with some unknown writing on it.† Further down in the message I found a picture that had some interesting lore written in it, but it was written in the form of what looked like a word search.† As I tried to solve the puzzle and figure out the meaning of the way different letters were highlighted I realized that I had found a QR code.† I then whipped out the picture editor that I have and started blackening in boxes.† Once I finally got it so that my phone could scan it I was directed to a website that, amongst other content, contained a picture of a cipher, (which I soon found out was the final part of a cipher that had been discovered earlier in the project).† Now that I had completed the cipher I was able to start deciphering the rosetta. †I printed it out and started writing on it with a pencil and blocking out words like I was back in my childhood mapping out an NES game.† I know that an ARG is nothing new, but wow!† It was a super exhilarating feeling to feel part of a bigger project and story!† If this is the type of experiences that they are setting out to create with this community and game then we are in for a special adventure.



There are a couple of final things to point out since I feel they are key items that I have seen that people are not aware of yet.† First, they do have a Kickstarter now.† The way Kickstarter works is they donít take your money unless it meets itís funding goal.† If the project doesnít make it then there is absolutely no risk to you.† For those that have already contributed via PayPal that money WILL be refunded if the project does not make itís goal.† Second, if you are a person that is concerned about Denis Dyackís involvement with the project, especially in light of the Kotaku article I urge you to check out his rebuttal.† The brief recap is that he realizes that mistakes were made in the past, but makes a very compelling argument regarding falsities in the article and why there should be trust put into Precursor Games. † †



If despite all of my words you are still on the fence I highly recommend you check out what Shadow of the Eternals has to offer.† For someone who was just sitting there a short time ago I can say that the only thing I regret was waiting so long.

-Mike

P.S. If any of you out here did support the project you would be my hero for reading and voting on my contest entry: Nothing Happens By Coincidence.† Mark it as Codex Worthy in the first post!   read


10:23 PM on 05.17.2013  

EA's New Leaf?



Honestly I always like to give EA the benefit of the doubt these days. Yes, they can do some things that can irk gamers, but I've never considered them the worst company in America.† Yeah, they may not be the best, but considering some of the other trouble that more prominent companies have stirred up they arenít the worst.

It makes me wonder what their angle on ending the online pass is though. Let's be real, there is no way that the online pass system wasn't making them money. By hitting second hand purchases with a ten dollar fee to access the online portion of their games absolutely helped generate money.† At the end of the day they are a company that is expected to generate a profit.†

So what does this mean?

There are a couple of ways to look at this. This first is a genuine attempt to garner favor with customers. We all know that they have had it rough lately. They were named the worst company in America again. Granted, that prestigious award is a bit skewed in how it reaches that conclusion, but itís the internet.† Not to forget, last year they faced the massive outcry over the Mass Effect ending, a lack luster amount of users and content for Star Wars: The Old Republic and a few months ago they had botched the anticipated Sim City launch despite recently seeing other products fail for the exact same reasons.† At the end of the day brand loyalty goes a long way to improving sales. This could be a good will gesture that intrigues customers to come back and ultimately sweetens their bottom line.†




But like I said they are a company thatís ultimate goal is to generate money.† What then if there are more nefarious suggestions as to the reason of the move?†

Well, one reason could be DLC.† Some gamers may view online multiplayer as an essential feature, but that doesnít mean you canít get people to pay in other ways.† First up they have shown a lot of interest in driving micro-transactions into their games.† As Dead Space 3 has shown recently you can offer impulse purchases of items to help a struggling player for a few dollars.† It is a quick and easy way to garner more than that measly ten dollars that they are passing up without a player thinking too much about it.† Then on the other extreme end of DLC is the season pass.† The season pass does pose more of a risk and reward type scenario to replace the online pass.† However, because they can generally run $20 to $50 in price they are bound to bring in substantially more money if done right.† As Call of Duty and Battlefield have shown there is a huge portion of online gamers that would prefer to pay upfront for their downloadable content and it ultimately provides them money to help finance the development of said content before it is all released. †



There is one last super evil possibility to consider though... What if those rumors about Microsoft putting measures into place to limit used sales is true?† EA announces just before the next Xbox unveiling that the online pass system is out.† This in turn garners them some good will from the gaming community.† Then we find out that next generation games will be one time use essentially netting the point of online passes moot.† Microsoft takes a lot of flack and EA can sit back and say that they didnít want this and that is why they stopped it.† If this is the case I think both companies would be shooting themselves in the foot because used game sales/trades do help generate more money to buy new games.† The math is easy!† Less money equals less game purchases which leads to less money for game developers. †

At the end of the day I do think it is nice to see EA trying to shake things up a bit as they start to come under new management.† It will be interesting to see where they end up in a years time with all of the news that they have been drumming up these last few weeks.† In the last two weeks alone they have Star Wars, ditched online passes and threw the Wii U to the curb. †I can only imagine what is next.

With all of that said where do you stand on EA? †Genuine or Evil?

-Mike   read


8:45 PM on 05.09.2013  

Tier Pargon Dyack Ulyaoth Pargon

Hey guys itís Thursday and guess what Eternal Darkness is getting a sequel!† Oh wait... You arenít that excited for it?† Oh, itís only a spiritual successor.† Well, I guess Nintendo does own the IP for the series so that makes sense. At least Denis Dyack is involved right?† Summoned back from the dead and back into the internet spotlight!† Oh that is a problem too?† Well then.



Eternal Darkness is probably one of my favorite games. † Iíve played it more times than I can count.† It was the first M-Rated game release that I was old enough to purchase on my own.† Iíll admit right here that I know it is not the greatest game ever made, but it has always held special memories for me.† It definitely had some innovative elements to it, but the gameplay was lacking in some areas.† Regardless, those less than perfect moments never tarnished my love for this game.† To this day I still get giddy every time I see a clockís hands showing the thirty-third minute of the third hour. †

For those that missed out on the game it is a third person action game with a definite focus on psychological horror.† The story weaves a rather unique narrative as well.† You play as a woman named Alexandra Roivas whose grandfather was recently murdered.† In trying to figure out how he died you discover that the answer is somehow tied to the Tome of Eternal Darkness. † Every chapter Alex reads puts her into the shoes of another person that has fallen into the path of the ancients over the course of the last two-thousand years.† Their recounted experiences allow her to learn from their attempts to stop the darkness. † As each chapter progresses she will learn spells or maybe encounter a story element that will be tied to one of the puzzles her grandfather left behind, each ultimately is a step in progressing through the mansion and gaining the knowledge and experience to stop the world from falling into eternal darkness.



One of the really unique things that this game attempted to do at the time was to introduce sanity effects.† The idea from a mechanical standpoint was simple, the game has a meter for sanity, just like you would normally see for health and magick.† As the sanity meter decreased the game would react to it in different ways depending on how depleted the meter was.† If you had lost a little sanity maybe you would see a statueís head following your movement in the game or get phone calls from your dead grandfather.† If your meter was completely depleted you could spontaneously explode while casting a spell.† The best sanity effects were the ones that attempted to break the fourth wall.† It could have you walk into a room with zombies starting to come towards you and as you go to attack the game flashes that the controller had become unplugged.† One of my personal favorites is triggered when you attempted to go and save your game it would instead prompt you to delete your saves.† As the delete bar comes up and you feel your pants moisten slightly the screen flashes white and you realize that this canít be really happening. †



Flash forward to this week: With the announcement of the spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness, Shadow of the Eternals, you could not contain my excitement.† I had been waiting for this game for ten years.† Normally the idea of a spiritual successor isnít really that exciting to me, but it had two things working for it at a glance.† First, the studio that was working on it was a team made up of former Silicon Knights developers.† Second, and most critical in my mind, is that the story, while not being able to directly connect to the original, could still tie easily into the universe of Eternal Darkness.† It is mentioned in the original game that there are other people in other universes fighting the same fight for survival against the ancients.† New people and new ancients? Great!

Another thing that I had gotten really excited about with Shadow of the Eternals is the return of Denis Dyack.† Love him or hate him it is easy to agree that he is a very smart, very vocal man with some interesting and sometimes controversial opinions. † He is a believer in the industry and the future potential of video games as a medium.† He definitely has had some interesting interviews in the past, but honestly I always have felt comfortable with Denis Dyackís influence in my world.† His thoughts on the industry shaped a paper I wrote in college about the growth and maturity of the video game industry.† While he may come off as eccentric sometimes I always love that he is a developer who is passionate about what he believes in and I love hearing his opinions, unconventionalities and all.



With that being said though there are some real concerns about this project.† The goal of 1.5 million is incredibly lofty and is only to cover the first episode and initial production costs.† They mention that future episodes would be cheaper to produce, but I couldnít imagine going through another fundraising event every time an episode is released.† With twelve episodes planned for release the amount of money, faith and patience that would be asked for from the gaming population is unfathomable and each attempt surely resulting in more uncertainty of the future of the project. How long would you have to wait for twelve episodes of one game to be produced and released? Even Telltale who has been the most successful developer recently with episodic games seems to struggle with keeping the releases consistent and quick enough to keep momentum. † Factor all of that in with the question as to what happened to Silicon Knights and you have brewed the perfect cup of uncertainty. †



Despite my initial excitement, a few days later I still find myself staring at the Shadow of the Eternals page.† Iím still hitting refresh a few times a day and watching that dollar amount climb up.† Iím still staring down the rewards list debating on which one I would be willing to pay for.† I want this game badly, but Iím not ready to commit to it yet.† Part of me thinks itís a fear of losing my crowd funding virginity, but my mind keeps drifting towards legitimate concerns over the future of this project. †

At the moment I donít think my thoughts could be summed up better than those of Edgar Allen Poe.††

"Deep Into That Darkness Peering,
† † † † †Long I Stood There,
† † † † † † † † Wondering...
† † † † † † † † † † †Fearing...
† † † † † † † † † † † † Doubting..."

-Mike   read


9:53 PM on 05.02.2013  

Nintendo Paradise

Itís Thursday!† This week in the blog is the idea of the Wii U as a destination for Nintendo Paradise.

Sound familiar?† You may have seen it mentioned in various places around the internet as a few writers have made some commentary on the subject.† Having said that, the notion originally stemmed from the most recent 8-4 Play podcast when the question about how to save the Wii U came up.† Ryan Payton, of Metal Gear and Republique fame, was asked directly about how he would approach saving the floundering system and his response was to turn the console into a Nintendo Paradise.† The premise of the idea being to take the console and turn it into the one stop for the entire history of Nintendo. †

Is this necessarily a bad idea?

The Wii U has not been making waves since itís release period in the holidays.† That isnít just with sales, but in game releases and game announcements as well.† Soon after the consoleís initial onslaught of software the well very quickly dried up leaving Wii U owners with little to keep them occupied. †

Initially Nintendo took flack by extending their game launch window a period of five months placing it into March of 2013.† However the sad reality is that even with the massive window they gave themselves to get launch software out there were key titles from that period that are still nowhere to be seen.† The most notable game being Pikmin 3 which was to be one of their first large titles. It now has slipped out to August 2013, a staggering nine months after the system launched. †



With even Nintendoís notoriously strong first party titles slipping it is easy to see the system starting to falter.† Third party games are allegedly being dumped.† Even this yearís Madden installment is skipping the Wii U.† If Nintendo canít make a compelling offer to keep new third party games on their platform along with the new console offerings it wonít be long until the notion of a third party game on the Wii U without any incentive from Nintendo would be far fetched.†

It is easy to look at this and fall into the chicken and the egg scenario.† Nintendo cannot sell systems if there are no games for it.† On the other hand developers wonít make games for the system if the console isnít selling.† The one advantage that Nintendo has is itís ability to churn out great first party software, but without that injection the console has nowhere to go. †

There are two things that Nintendo needs at this moment, software and momentum.† Both of these can be achieved by leveraging the system into the idea of a Nintendo paradise. †

They have a healthy catalog of games from the past few decades that people would be willing to pay for that could easily fill the void of proper new releases for the floundering console.† The announcement of Earthbound and the outpouring of joy from that is more than evidence to this claim.† You can already see the potential of the system based off of the offerings already available on the original Wii system and GameBoy Advance games have been announced to be on the way.† Even further it isnít out of the realm of possibility for Nintendo to extend itís Virtual Console to include GameCube essentially making the Wii U that one stop shop for Nintendo nostalgia. †



Going into E3 Nintendo could use as much positivity towards the system that it can muster.† We already know that they arenít going to have a proper conference like in the past, but there will be Nintendo Direct to keep everyone up to date on the announcements.† It is hard to tell at this point whether that will be a mistake, but itís safe to assume that letting momentum completely dry up with the next generation hardware from Microsoft and Sony on the way is. †

So at the end of the day is there anything wrong with Nintendo secluding themselves to their paradise?† Honestly, their software has proven over and again that it can stand up to the test of time.† If there is anything else to offer here it would be to ask Nintendo to open the flood gates on the Virtual Console.† The slim pickings at itís launch and trickling out one or two new additions a week will not cut it.† However, the notion of having a Nintendo system that can play the backlog from NES through the GameCube along with Nintendoís new Wii U offerings is compelling on its own, even if it takes the role of a companion system. †


-Mike   read


5:51 PM on 04.25.2013  

3DS PRIME - TOP FIVE GAMES!

The 3DS and itís library of stellar titles are quickly leading to the platform becoming worthy of the Nintendo handheld legacy. With that in mind, on the eve of itís eighteenth anniversary, now is absolutely time to talk about the big daddy of 3D game consoles, the big brother of the 3DS (the Mario to itís Luigi if you will) the 3DS Prime.

You know...

VIRTUAL BOY!


It came from the third dimension. With its own brain. Itís own voice. Itís own legs. Thereís only one problem.... It needs games. Also a shit ton of batteries.

Whenever I read about the people that have taken the painstaking measures to collect every game for a system like the NES or PlayStation 2 I know how proud they feel. It is quite an accomplishment to be able to financially afford, acquire and store all of that equipment and games. I can say that I stand proud among them with my collection of all the Virtual Boy games released in North America. It was super hard because there were fourteen of them released!

I have to say growing up this was a really popular system with my friends and I. We loved to go camping with it in my backyard, which was perfect because unlike that lousy Game Boy brick which ainít got no time for no backlights we could play all night long. Although seriously Nintendo where was that link cable? We called you incessantly about it for like a year! Clearly the developers were behind it too with the massive support of games for the system! Now that all of that unhappiness is behind us it is time for the happiest, most joyful, cheeriest and bestest moment of them all: the top five list!


I thought about doing a top ten list, but that would be unfair to the other four games!

Top five Virtual Boy 3-D games for a 3-D world in the hizzle:

#5 - Galactic Pinball: I have never been a huge fan of pinball games. Quite frankly I am horrible at them. If I were playing a pinball machine at an arcade I might as well give my money to that homeless guy because at least I would feel good about that. However there was always something endearing about this game. The crazy pinball tables, Samusí ship randomly showing up, random asteroids raining down and never once coming close to topping my friend's high score on my copy of the game.


Best Quote: ďGrab your portable Virtual Boy and enter the virtual realm of three dimensional pinball in outer space!!

#4 - Mario Clash: Probably the best way to describe this is classic Mario Bros. arcade game in 3D. There was a front and back area that you could be in on every stage with varying verticality and you would have to jump back and forth trying to eliminate all the enemies by using the enemies. Itís the Mario game that everyone wanted on the system except for the lack of side scrolling levels, Princess saving and power ups! But at least with the 3D effect you can throw a turtle shell at your own face!



#3 - Marioís Tennis: Itís Tennis. With Mario! Seriously itís Marioís FIRST Tennis game! Sick of Mario appearing in every sports games? Please hop in your DeLorian and head back to 1995. Now that you are there send in your picture personalized envelope to Nintendo Power warning about the dangerous precedent that this game will send. Seriously though this tennis game was always a blast to play. This should have been the game that would use the two player link cable that never released.



#2 - Vertical Force: I rarely if ever hear anyone mention this game when talking about the system. I feel like I may be the only person that liked this game. Although realistically considering the platform it is on it is more likely I am the only person who has ever played it. Itís an on rails shooter in the vein of Gradius developed by Hudson Soft and published by Nintendo. It had two different planes (pun intended) where your ship could fly, collect power ups, shoot enemies and be rad. Come on, Mav, do some of that pilot shit!



#1 - Wario Land: ďI didnít see that coming!Ē - Said no one ever.



This game has made every list of best Virtual Boy games ever made and is probably the only game on the platform that has ever occasionally appeared on any overall top list for anything else. This should have been the Nintendo showcase game for the Virtual Boy from the get go. Itís excellent. It mashes the traditional Wario Land gameplay and adds a second level in the background to take advantage of the 3D. If you need any other reason to play this game you can always pretend that all the gold and treasure that Wario accumulates through the game will somehow fund the purchase of the batteries needed to actually play and complete it!



So are you upset that I left Red Alarm off this list? Tough. Game sucks.

So with all of these great games I am sure you just finished reading this list and thought to yourself what could have possibly gone wrong with this system? Well, let me set the record straight once and for all. It wasnít because it was expensive. It wasnít because people were afraid of their eyes rotting inside out from playing. It wasnít even because you needed a days worth of power output from a nuclear power plant inside a multitude of AA batteries to play it.

It was because Nintendo loved it too much.

So Nintendo will you please release these on the Virtual Boy 2ís Virtual Console?

-Mike   read


6:16 PM on 04.11.2013  

Do You Need to Have It Spelled Out?

Why it is important to let the player forge their own opinions.

Warning: While this blog does not directly discuss the ultimate outcome of BioShock Infinite plot points from the game are mentioned. I do not recommend reading until after you have finished the game.



Over the last few days some major pieces criticizing BioShock Infinite have come out. Iím not here to criticize the criticism. I think it is fantastic that so many different opinions and viewpoints on this game are coming out and being shared. However there is one point that really resonated with me while I was reading Daniel Goldingís piece.

ď[Letting] the player decide how they feel,Ē is not respecting your audienceís intelligence in these situations; it is a cop-out of the highest order.Ē In that quote Golding was referring specifically about the subjects of racism and Wounded Knee present in BioShock Infinite.
Iíve had time to think about it over the past few days. It was so heavily on my mind that when I would briefly wake up during sleep it was the first thing that I thought of. Where is the point where the game developer should step in and directly influence the emotional narrative by telling you how you should feel? Or should they?

Itís an incredibly important question that I am sure many developers face when crafting a rich narrative. I think that much will ultimately depend on the game and the end goal of the story. The reason that this statement resonated so much for me with this game is the fact that when I finished it and had time to reflect on it ultimately it was the fact that I was left to decide how I should feel that was what I appreciated the most.

A few weeks ago I had mentioned how one of the most striking things about the opening hour of BioShock Infinite is how I felt like a sinner nearly immediately. The fact that I consider myself more of an agnostic as opposed to tied to a religion is one such reason that had struck me. The other more prominent reason is that this world is so developed and rich that I had little problem letting myself become immersed in the world of Columbia. From first setting foot inside the lighthouse at the outset and even more so with my first footsteps inside of the church in Columbia you are bombarded by religious messaging and even partake in a baptism. When I was reborn inside the city and free to start pursuing Elizabeth I felt like the denizens of Columbia had appropriately relayed their expectations of me. There was a point early on where I found an honor shop and accidentally took money. I felt bad for it, but not because the game told me I was wrong. I wasnít arrested and there wasnít a Linkís Awakening type of scolding where I would be called THEIF for the remainder of my play time. The game toyed with my morality and pitted it against me.



It was soon after that where my morality is questioned again and itís also the first major introduction to racism in the game. Early in the introduction to Columbia you stumble upon a lottery. The prize for winning ends up being a shocking moment and ultimately unmasks Columbiaís darker side. You are asked to throw a ball at an interracial couple. The choice itself may seem a bit simplistic as it is presented: throw the ball at the couple, the announcer or as a few people have come to realize you can let the timer run out and do nothing. It is here where the first major instance of letting a player feel what they want kicks in. When the choice presented itself to me I was stunned. I donít know if it was because this beautiful and idyllic city was crushed by the weight of the impending choice or if it was because I hadnít really been presented a choice in a game that ultimately questioned MY morality. The world of Columbia wanted me to throw the ball at the couple but my gut was sickened at the thought. One point to consider is that regardless of your choice the outcome ultimately will always be the same. You will always be stopped and discovered as the false prophet. Realistically this all could have been rendered as a cutscene showing Booker ready to throw the ball and left unsure to the player what his was intentions were. However it is through the power of choice and forcing the player to be a participant in the act that intensifies the emotional impact of how the events play out. Racism is woven into the fabric of this world as much as patriotism, religion and quantum physics. The developers donít and shouldnít feel the need to tell me how I should feel. I was given enough background to make my own choices and feel the emotional impact of them.



Another point of ire in the conversations being built about BioShock Infinite is the subject of Wounded Knee. If you were like me, which I wouldnít be surprised if there was a good portion of the gaming community that was, I had very little idea of what it was when I started playing the game. I had heard of it before, but knew very little beyond that. What it refers to is a massacre that took place where US Calvary opened fire and killed at least 150 Native Americans (some estimates as high as 300) some of them women and children and many of them are unarmed. It is an absolute tragedy.

Yes, the Hall of Heroes is a jingoist mess of an interpretation of what happened at Wounded Knee, but you are in Columbia. As they say the winners write history and you are seeing Comstockís rewritten history page. I donít know if there was a better way that they could have relayed the real world ramifications of what happened without shattering the looking glass into the world of Columbia. However, as is the case in many places in Columbia, finding anything depicted in an extreme fashion is a nod to the player that commentary is being made. When I was presented with this area I paused the game and read up on the subject and reflected on it.

The ramifications of what happened at Wounded Knee ripple through the entire game. From the start on the boat Booker is handed a box with his name on it that calls out that he was part of the Calvary during the battle. The fact that he was part of what took place at Wounded Knee shapes this entire game and world. He is a man trying to cope with what he had done. He is looking for forgiveness. He tore his world and family apart with the gambling and alcohol because of it. Itís this aftermath and guilt of this battle that ultimately leads to the idea of baptism and being forgiven and reborn. The story is there, but it isnít spelled out for players. It isnít Irrational Gamesí place or intention to tell you how you should feel about the Wounded Knee Massacre. It is in the hands of the gamer to piece together the real world moral consequences that Booker had suffered and ultimately how you, the player, feel about them.



At the end of the day and game I am glad that Ken Levine didnít hold my hand through this process. It is one thing for a narrative to be written that tells you how you should feel, but it is a skillful narrative that allows you to feel through the world provided to you. I honestly feel a mutual level of respect with the developers that they feel I am intelligent enough to see their intentions without stopping to constantly remind me how I should feel at any given moment like is commonplace in some games.


I think itís that level of trust that made a moment like this more impactful

-Mike   read


10:34 PM on 04.04.2013  

The Pile of Shame

Do you have a pile of games next to your television? Have you ever experienced buying a new video game before finishing the one you are currently playing? Have you created a list of games you are playing or own and havenít played in order to help you decide what you should play next? If any of these statements apply to you it is possible that you suffer from something scientists are calling a pile of shame.

The first step in correcting the problem is by acknowledging it. A lot of gamers arenít willing to admit that they have a problem.

ďMy name is Mike and I have a pile of shame.Ē



Once you admit the problem the best recommended treatment is to stop buying new games until you have finished the ones that are waiting for you. If you canít do that maybe sharing your story can help others.

Here is my story:

Metal Gear Solid 3: I never owned a PlayStation 2, but having owned a GameCube I became a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid games introduced through Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. I was dying to see where the series went after Shadow Moses. At one point Metal Gear Solid 2 seriously had me walk into a store with the intent of buying a PS2 just to play it, but second thoughts snuck in and I walked away. Nearly 10 years later I purchased the Metal Gear Solid HD collection. I knew what to expect going into Metal Gear Solid 2, but not how much finishing it would crush my ambition to carry right on into the next game. The further surprising detail is before the HD collection I owned zero copies of Metal Gear Solid 3, but within a few months I owned three (PS3, Vita and 3DS). Considering the fact that I quite literally could play this anywhere now I really donít have any reason to avoid this.



Last Story: So Operation Rainfall happened. I bought Xenoblade on the day of itís release and coincidentally had a week of vacation just after it came out. I played that game for hours. It is easily the longest game I have ever played and despite a few issues I enjoyed it quite a lot. When the events all played out and XSeed announced that they were publishing Last Story I was overjoyed. I preordered my copy, picked it up on launch day and put it on my shelf. I havenít even opened it yet. Next up: Pandoraís Tower.



Shadow of the Colossus: So when the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus HD collection came out I was really excited. I had been hearing a lot of love for these two games for such a long time that I couldnít have been more excited. Then I played ICO and was slightly disappointed. The gameplay wasnít great, but artistically and emotionally you could see the evolution this game introduced to the medium. Then I started Shadow completely unsure of what to expect considering how much ICO hype was levied at me. It was... AMAZING! There was so much detail and adventure. I always felt bad when I killed a Colossus! Then I finished the eighth boss, still high on the game, set down the controller and for a reason unbeknownst to me still havenít put it back in again.



PaRappa The Rapper: Soon after I had gotten my Vita I was browsing through the store for fun new things to download and there I saw PaRappa The Rapper! Iíve had a fondness and passing familiarity with the game and never forgot when Retronauts taught me about about the connection with Turtles Have Short Legs. So I downloaded it. I believed. Little did I know the PSP version was broken because the timing was off. So this sadly will stay in the pile of shame until I can play a version that doesnít frustrate me to tears.



Zero Escape: Virtueís Last Reward: By the time I had heard about 999 it was nearly impossible to find. It took a lot of effort to track down a copy so when I finally had secured one I sat down and immediately got stuck on the first puzzle... BUT after that when I started getting things going I had a blast. I ended up with a really crappy first ending (probably the worst one in my estimation) but I fell in love and preceded to get every ending one by one. Not much longer after that itís sequel was announced and I was excited. Couldnít wait to pick it up on day one and play the crap out of it. Current Status: Still Sealed.



Assassinís Creed: So hereís the story. Assassinís Creed 3 was announced. It looked AWESOME. It took place in the US during the Revolutionary War, which seemed like something that really was interesting to me. I really wanted to play the new one, but there is a part of me that wonít jump into a connected sequel without finishing the previous entries first. Many people told me that this game was repetitive, the story connection is thin overall and that I should catch up on Wikipedia. I found myself falling asleep while I was playing just after the second assassination. It has sat on the shelf since.



Dishonored: When it was announced I was skeptical. When it was released I was intrigued. When it went on sale I was sold. When I was sold I havenít thought about it since.



Final Fantasy VII: NO! I swear itís not as bad as you think. I never owned the original PlayStation and I picked this up when it was on sale for 5$ this year. Seriously! February 2013!




Yeah, I admit I definitely have some major gaming ghosts in my closet. If it needs to be said though this pile definitely didnít appear because of a lack of playing games. Iíve already finished more games this year than are on this entire list. I just need more time! And MAYYYBBBEEE to stop buying games faster than I can catch up. Easy solution though, anyone have a time machine or that device in that episode of Doug that added an entirely new day to the week? That would be great.



So how about you? Are you willing to admit your gaming ghosts?

-Mike

PS. Totally worth skipping pile of shame games to play BioShock Infinite   read


6:28 PM on 03.28.2013  

Texts From Bioshock Infinite

Not from characters in the game, but between a friend and myself. The beginning of this game had me thinking about how we discuss games and Bioshock Infinite especially has some serious conversation to be had. I do want to be upfront though and say that there isn't anything in this article that I would consider to be spoilers as no plot specifics are mentioned and discussion is limited to the events that occur within the first hour, mainly the actual introduction to Columbia and is in line with what little I had seen and heard in trailers or previews prior to release. However if you are a purist and do not want to know anything about the game before going in then this is your warning!



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

March 26th 2:47AM
Note: Spelling and grammatical issues kept intact from the original conversation.

Me: There is already something very curious about this game world.

Me: Whoa fucked up.

Friend: Yeah, I am still taking it all in. So immersing.

Me: It is. Definitely a religious overtone. Just wait till you see what just happened. Itís fucked.

Friend: Hahaha I have heard there is a lot of fucked up social issues present considering the time this is during.

Me: I had too. Didnít hear specifics. Did not expect it to be this.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I had heard about racism being present in Bioshock Infinite months earlier, but honestly was not prepared for the moment when it hit. There was a prompt on the screen essentially asking for me to react to what I saw and I froze. I sat there for what felt like an eternity grasping with my choices and holding my breath in contemplation. Do I do what I need to do to blend in with the crowd? I have a mission to accomplish after all. Or do I do what I feel and know is the right choice. There is a countdown slowly taking away my chance to react so I make it, pause the game and regain my composure.

As I settled myself I felt the need to talk to someone about it right away. I texted my friend who picked up the game at the same time with me and I could see he was playing the game from my friends list. I knew we had to be around the same point in the game, but the tricky thing is while there are of a lot of good moments in the narrative for commentary on serious issues to be made I am trying to walk on eggshells to not ruin the experience for anyone else, which resulted in the vague fishing conversation above.



From the perspective of mainstream games there have been many other games that have brought about conversations about real issues that people face from Lara Croftís sexualization, Star Wars: The Old Republicís attempt at introducing gay characters or Resident Evil 5ís racism. In most instances though the conversation that is brought up here is from an accidental oversight by the developer or because the issue was planned to be a discussion point but handled poorly or taken too lightly. The major difference with how Bioshock Infinite addresses these issues is the world. It isnít trying to be realistic version of our world or one that we are familiar with, but it is going for a world that is realistic, full of atmosphere and fully fleshed out including itís social issues. This is what makes it so believable and discussable.


Trying to checkbox all of the -isms it should be noted that Bioshock Infinite is also full of jingoism

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Friend: Iím literally just sitting here listening to ďColombias gayest quartetí perform God only Knows on a flying blimp. This game is amazing and Iím barely playing it yet.

Me: I was too. You are not that far behind me. The world is great but I feel like a sinner.

Friend: LMFAO I have stolen so much money Ahahaha

Me: I KNOW!!! Did you go in the honor shop?

Friend: AHAHAHAHA pillaged that shit HARD

Me: Haha not only did I take the food I took the money in the basket on accident!! Fuuccckk. I feel like the ending is going to ream me.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



I felt bad about what I was doing at that point in the game. That is another thing that I truly admire about this game even now. I didnít even have a weapon, nobody was dead by my hand and no where in the game did it imply I was bad, but I felt like a sinner. The word sinner is weird to me and I honestly have never used it once outside of describing this game. I am not a religious person, but this game had that impact on me. This wasnít like Spec Ops: The Line where you murder hundreds of people, gray areas of right and wrong and your squad mates upfront telling you that you are wrong. This is me in a clean, beautiful world that has itís own religious and patriotic order. I was applying those rules to myself without any direct reference from the game and coming to those conclusions. Itís truly a testament to the amazingly deep world that Irrational Games built.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Friend: Ok, Iím coming clean here... I took all that money on purpose. That being said, I feel like after what Booker said, thatís what he would have done anyway.

Me: Probably. But does he even know who the fuck he is??

Friend: Booker? I think so!? At least more so than the other bioshock main characters.

Me: Yeah but the intro quote?

Friend: Maybe so. He seems to know who he is though. Somebody in debt with the wrong men.

Me: But you only know that because you read it.

Friend: Truth

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One of the most promising things I see coming out of the next generation conosles is how it could revolutionize the way we talk about games. Even in the text messages with my friend I had to be careful about what I texted to him. I couldnít ruin that moment for him. But with the different ways that people play games the good commentary that could evolve from a game like Bioshock Infinite could take weeks of waiting or finding a like minded group of people from the internet. Social media features of the new systems likely can evolve these conversations and New Super Mario Bros U is a prime example of this. While it is not a platform to discuss any serious issues (unless you want to tackle the fact that every time he breaks a block he is killing a denizen of the Mushroom Kingdom) it really breaks ground in what could be a revolutionary aspect of how we socialize in games. Itís built in functionality to let players leave each other messages at the end of completing an area is ground breaking.



Imagine if this feature was integrated into a game like Bioshock Infinite. If I am playing and get to that insane moment that I need to talk about I could press a button, open up a text bubble and type in a message. My friends who are behind me could see that message when they reach that point or friends who are ahead of me could go back and view messages regarding events that they have already seen. The conversation could take place immediately when it is most relevant to what is happening in the narrative of the game.



Though we donít have that level of social integration built into our games yet I hope that everyone takes the time with Bioshock Infinite to discuss all of the intricate detail that has gone into building that world, Columbia, its denizens and definitely itís real world problems. From nearly the beginning of the video game industryís inception there has been discussion over maturity in games and whether or not they can be considered art. I can tell you two things assuredly. Bioshock Infinite is absolutely art from top to bottom and pixel to polygon. Second, it is truly a game that is mature, but not solely because of violent material, but because of the adult issues that it so skillfully addresses.

As for me the next day when I saw my friend we had a chance to elaborate on the text messages from that night and have a serious discussion about the issues that were at hand in Bioshock Infinite. That is what is important.

-Mike

...Back to playing Bioshock Infinite...   read


12:11 PM on 03.21.2013  

Game Over

When do you consider your games finished? So how challenging do you like your games? In the last generation of consoles I loved a high level of challenge and completion. At that time for me to consider a game beaten it wasnít just about seeing the end credits, but I had to experience every aspect of that game. In games like Wind Waker, Metroid Prime and even Smash Bros. Melee all of the scans, trophies and collectibles had to all be had. I played Resident Evil Remake and Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes on every difficulty and strove to open up every unlockable. Even F-Zero GX couldnít slow me down. I poured hours upon hours into that game unlocking everything even finishing the brutal single player on every difficulty level. I remember the sense of accomplishment I had from just those six games alone, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. I owned more than 50 games on the GameCube.



Today I look back at the younger me and give him a thumbs up, but given the same set of games today I donít know if I could fathom going through it again to that same degree. I mean my ego would love the kind of stroking that only a platinum trophy could provide, but today I donít even know if that is enough.



Let me juxtapose past me with present me. Today beating a game is seeing the credits. If I am enjoying a game, but donít see a reason to push on at the current difficulty I have no problems turning it down. I always start a new game at normal difficulty.

So whatís changed? Well the obvious one is where I am in my life. During the GameCube era I was in high school and college with only a part time job to contend with my time. In this generation of consoles I have a full time job, which easily sucks away time I would have spent playing games instead of doing homework. That really only effects the amount of time I have though... I mean I suppose I could still invest the time into one game just over a longer period of time. Right?

Yes, definitely, but if you are putting all of that time into one game do you wait when a new game comes out? Errr... No. Well I canít at least. Another sad side effect of the way I play games now is that I have slowly built a pile of shame. That is not to say that I am leaving that pile neglected, but when a new game comes out that I need to have or a little gem goes on sale I donít feel bad picking it up and saving it for my next open opportunity. Side note: let me tell you that these HD collections will be the death of me. Buying one game is now really like buying three! I guess I would have to admit that these days I am more about quantity of completion over quality. To be fair though there are still some games that will get me to sink the time in to see everything, but it just isnít an every game deal anymore.


Thankfully my pile doesnít even come close to resembling something like this...

The way I play games now is for the experience AND the enjoyment. There are just some things that I never enjoyed. Scanning everything in Metroid Prime? Boring. Worse? Finding out you beat the game and because you missed a scan at the beginning of the game you would have to play through the entire game again just to scan everything... again. To be clear I loved what scanning added, but I wasnít scanning everything because I loved doing it... I was scanning everything because I felt like I had to. Every game I mentioned has examples like this that make doing fun aspects of a game mundane. That isnít to say that I wonít trudge through some boredom just to be tempted by a sweet reward though. A recent example of this is that Super Mario 3D Land offered up some great levels for doing everything. On the other hand in the same franchise New Super Mario Bros. 2 barely enticed me to collect 20,000 coins let alone a million.



Another point to bring up, that I touched on earlier, is difficulty in games. Challenge isnít a reason for me to avoid a game. I am still a huge fan of Fire Emblem and have been since the Game Boy Advance days. For the record, in case you havenít been on the internet in the last month, the latest release on the 3DS is excellent. Even more I just picked up Monster Hunter and am preparing to dump a lot of time into that. If a game is challenging in its nature I am fine with it, but if it is challenging due to a poor design that is where I start to weigh the options. In that regard I have no qualms changing the difficulty anymore. Most will admit that Uncharted: Drakeís Fortune was a good game with flaws. One of those flaws for me was in the shooting mechanics. At one point in the game I was in a kill room where enemies would come out of every hole they could fit themselves through. That room ended up frustrating me so much I walked away from the game for days. I was in the middle of other games that I was really enjoying and wasnít really in any hurry to finish it. I had debated just believing that the game wasnít a match for me and being done with it, but then a light bulb appeared over my head and I brilliantly decided to change the difficulty to get through the section. For me that did the trick. I still was able to experience the game and it balanced the amount of effort I wanted to put into the game versus the return on enjoyment.

On the flip side I have a friend who never finishes games. Never is probably a little harsh, but when I ask him to tell me what games he has finished its like one hand low. One of his gaming problems that he has is that he is obsessed with trophies. Every time when he starts a game he looks at the trophy list, sees what difficulty level rewards the best trophy and starts the game there. Unsurprisingly whenever I ask him why he hasnít finished a game yet his response always ends up coming back to the difficulty. Either it takes him too long to get through a level or he dies too much. He always has a lot of excuses and in the end he has so many great games that he hasnít been able to enjoy the core experience of what they offer because of this. For me that is the point where you let the experience hinder the enjoyment.



Just want to throw in here too that he hasnít finished Journey yet because he doesnít like the fact that he canít get a stranger to get the trophies with him. A great game never completed because of a fear of being unable to complete some arbitrary accomplishment. That isnít the kind of gamer that I am satisfied being anymore. Maybe to me Journey is the best way to sum up my thoughts on this. What you should take away from a game should be itís journey and the experience it offers and everything else is a bonus.

-Mike

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