Recently while visiting Another Site, some fool had put up a link to These Clio Award Winning Ads for 42 Below vodka or something. I'm assuming vodka because there's a million cute little ones but I still buy the cheap 10 dollar a handle plastic bottles that make fun of your stomach lining before tearing it right off.
These things are funny as hell, and super easy to make. I figured I'd share mine, since it's kind of relevant. This one illustrates my normal day as a game tester.
I have an awesome life. Share yours if you've got Photoshop handy.
I just tooled around in the Burnout Paradise demo now out there on Xbox Live for about half an hour. Short version: it's boring. Longer version: There's lots of things in the world but they don't really amount to much. Sure there are jumps and traffic and shortcuts and the crashes are the nicest I've seen to date in a Burnout game, but they serve no purpose.
Maybe it's just because it's a demo, but in that half hour I found 1 race and 1 stunt challenge. And it's a decent-sized area to drive around in, too.
I worry that this is going to start a rash of what I'm coining Altair's Syndrome. A big open playground with very little to do. The term of course comes from Assassin's Creed's big cities that are fun to run around in, but there's really not that much to accomplish. Saving a citizen in AC is like winning a race in Burnout. It takes 5 minutes to get to and the challenge is done in half that time.
Burnout 3 was and remains popular because it's very easy to get into the action. Pick an event, and Boom, you're off. Assassin's Creed could have worked in this fashion. Pick a challenge, get warped there, and play the game-within-a-game. All this mucking about in the world is fun for a little bit but after so many hours, it gets tedious.
The recent Spider-Man games have this issue as well. The developers take a lot of time building these fantastic places to run around in, but they seem somehow empty and without purpose. The game takes a backseat to the world.
GTA solved this problem very well. At any time you could start a taxi mission, play a mini-game, or just start shooting people up and seeing how long you can last against the military. There are many levels of game stacked upon each other ranging from tasks that can be accomplished in minutes along with the longer tasks such as the story.
Skate is a good example as well. It's a HUGE world, but at any moment you can start filming and try to crank out a good video to add to your score. Not to mention the large amount of obstacles and challenges in the form of spots, races, picture challenges, and other junk.
Developers should start to focus on balancing the creation of worlds and filling them with content. A big place should have lots of little challenges. Say in AC for instance, at any time you could start a mission to steal some money from vendors or people. Or maybe more random bits of violence where a robbery is taking place and Altair can quickly kill one foe instead of dueling a dozen at a time. Sprawling epics need to look at the small picture too. It helps the player move forward, rewards them for finishing challenges, and gives them a sense of accomplishment all throughout the game.
Also, those flags should really do something besides give achievement points. If collecting a hundred flags gave me limited flight powers or laser beam eyes, then I'd still be in the living room searching for them.
Hey guys, remember me? The guy who bitched and moaned about Assassin's Creed not having a proper producer? Well, it turns out I've been justified, because as a result of first-hand accounts, Assassin's Creed is BROKEN. Shamelessly, unabashedly, BROKEN. Broken beyond all compare of any game I've ever worked on, seen, or heard of.
Here we go.
I bought Assassin's Creed the day it came out because I liked the idea of killing fools. And I enjoyed doing so, regardless of the online critics telling me otherwise. And apparently it sold like gangbusters. It certainly didn't get any love at the VGAs, but I'm sure Ubisoft caught a couple bucks putting the game out.
My friends, this game is so embarrassingly broken nearing the end that I want to roll up on the QA staff and cockpunch them all in a row. Assuming, of course, the QA staff is to blame: usually it's the dirtbag asshole execs who pull a broken game out of QA to sell it, and in this case, cockpunches to them too.
Here's the meat: I got to the 95% ending of the game. I killed the 9 Evil Dudes, and was told to go to a new area and kill a new guy. So I went there. There were 3 archers guarding the area. I killed them and FELL OUT OF THE LEVEL AND DIED.
I reset my console, skipped pass those guys and FELL OUT OF THE LEVEL AND DIED.
I jumped off my horse, ran pass the enemies and FELL OUT OF THE LEVEL AND DIED.
I cannot restrain my detestment for the asshats who let this go! Did you not read through the 360 Technical Requirements? Did you not care that we might have a SECOND CONTROLLER ATTACHED?!
To the uninformed, each console company delivers a series of needs to the 3rd party developers. If said needs are not complied with, the game is refused and sent back into development. Not only do I blame the Ubisoft QA group, but I also blame the Microsoft group for missing this ridiculously obvious game-breaking flaw that at least 10% of the purchasers would find.
You know what? I bet the QA testers found this, but were ignored. So to MS and Ubi: FAIL FAIL FAIL. Treat your consumers like people, and treat your testers like consumers. We're not going to stand for this much longer. I'm not interested in your intricate workarounds. This kind of nonsense should have be found the first time through the game, reported with a big giant "A" bug MUST-FIX attached to it, and resolved by the programmers. "A" bugs are reported for a reason, because they completely break the game and impede in player progress. Shame on whoever let this flaw get through the pipe.
Okay, so at this point we've reached the end of the Really Good Games That Come Out This Year™ and now it's time to start nitpicking them to death so we can get that dreadful Game of the Year nonsense going.
The Contenders: Bioshock, Mass Effect, Ratchet and Clank, Mario Galaxy, Rock Band, Halo 3, Zelda DS, Assassin's Creed.
The preceding list was decided by two important factors. 1. They're popular and lots of people bought them, and B. I played some of them.
Bioshock:Having played System Shock 2 and BioForge (which, upon recollection sucked horse balls), I'm biased towards the game. The controls are great, the story is strong, and the gameplay elements like killing Big Daddies are great fun. On the other hand, Yahtzee already covered the bad, so let's leave it there.
Mass Effect:I'm about 5 hours in but I'm pretty unimpressed. The design is great, the characters are interesting, and the gunfights remind me of Gears of War which is always good. However, the random trolling through planets is dull, the Mako control reminds me of the Puma, er, Warthog from Halo (it still looks like a Puma), and I haven't gotten to the sex scene yet. So let's leave it there.
Ratchet and Clank: I don't own a PS3, and I only know about 3 people who do, but those that own one got Ratchet and Clank. From the demo at Fry's I found it was a blast to play with incredible graphics and a supposedly funny storyline. But having played previous Ratchet games I assume it's more of the same shooting and platforming like Jak and Daxter with a chaingun that shoots smaller chainguns that shoot tiny chainsaws. So let's leave it there.
Super Mario Galaxy:I'm not getting this until Christmas because I thought it would be heartwarming to get a new Mario game from my parents because they last one they got me was nearly 20 years ago and God I'm old. But from demos and opinions from friends, it will apparently bring me to a new form of self-actualization, and after playing it I will find my perfect job, my true love, and live happily ever having naughty, naughty sex until my head is placed in a jar and stuck in a museum in the 31st century. So let's leave it there.
Rock Band:Having mastered Guitar Hero a couple years ago the guitar sections are no longer a problem. But the drum peripheral is a treat to the nth degree and until I can beat the hardest song on expert I will keep my roommates up all night. The ability to create your own avatar is great too and I will not rest until I achieve the maximum amount of boobage on my hot anime rock chick. On the other hand, the guitar sections are pretty run-of-the-mill, the song list repeats a few GHIII songs and includes both Fallout Boy AND Coheed and Cambria, which takes it down a notch. So let's leave it there.
Halo 3: This game was pretty boring and I can't remember why I bought it since I don't do multiplayer outside of the office, but in the office my buddy Josh always wins so it's a moot point. So let's leave it there.
Zelda DS:I included this not because I played it for more than 30 minutes waiting for my plane to get to the terminal, but because it's where I get to puff out my chest and complain that Phoenix Wright never gets the coverage or the respect it deserves. The Phoenix Wright series is the pinnacle of funny, smart, entertaining portable fun and if you haven't bought any of these games then you should be locked up in a small box filled with horny weasels. So let's leave it there.
And the Winner of Game of the Year: Kane and Lynch: Dead Men! I have nothing bad to say about this game because Eidos has lined my pockets with some weird form of nonsense money they call Euros. The piles of cash have warmed my cynical little heart to their crappy game and anyone who says otherwise should be fired.
Subnote: That last bit was an ironic musing. I actually think Okami should be game of the year even though it came out in 2006 but goddamn that was a good game.
I'm incredibly bipolar with Fry's Electronics. From one moment to the next, I either love them or hate them. Currently my hate-o-meter is spiked. It's gone to 11. I had to scrape an 11 in the side of the meter so it made sense.
This whole thing revolves around getting Assassin's Creed. Tuesday rolls around and we go over to the Fry's at 1 o'clock (lunch break) to pick it up. Nope, says the guy who looks and speaks like he had gotten off the boat that morning and was hired at the docks by the company, they're not getting it in until Wednesday at 5. That sucks. And it took up our whole lunch hour looking for help. Complete bust.
Wednesday comes around and I open up the newspaper. Hey, there's an ad that says I can get Assassin's Creed for 40 bucks on Thursday! Sweet, I can wait a day.
So Thursday we all pile back in the van and head back over at lunchtime, 1 o'clock. Nope, says the chick who lacked both a clue and any shred of self-esteem, we don't get any in until 5 PM, a fact we confirmed with two nearby supervisors. Another bust. And we can't have any set aside or get rainchecks on the price.
So it's nearing 6 o'clock, time to get off work. I call up Fry's and ask if they've got their shipment in yet. Dude hangs the phone up on me. I try again, steam pouring off my forehead like I'm about to go Super-Saiyan. Nope, dude says, it sold out. They had 40 copies and they're all gone.
"Well when did you get that shipment in today?" I ask.
"A little after 1 o'clock," he says.
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. My hair turns bright yellow.
I yell at the guy. He hands me to a supervisor. I yell at him. He can't speak English. I tell the supervisor to transfer me to the general manager immediately. So he hangs up the phone.
Mr. John Fry, CEO of Fry's Electronics, will be getting a nice letter explaining how bait-and-switch is illegal, how his employees are all ignorant dolts, and that the letter has been forwarded to the BBB.
I'm telling you this so you can basically avoid Fry's for any recent games forever. Oh sure, they have hundreds of copies of Gun and Trigger Man and Hannah Montana and X-Men United, but instead they order a small shipment of a game people might actually want, cut the price down, and when people are in the store asking for it, they can pull the rug out and say they sold out.
Supplies limited my achin' ass. Fry's can eat a dick.