I've played video games ever since I can remember. My fondest memories are playing Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time on the SNES with my brother, but that's all negligible stuff next to my love for music. If it's music, chances are I find some way to love it, and I take in anything I can. I play multiple instruments, and I guarantee you I have better music taste than anyone you know. Oh, and I'm also pretty opinionated.
I see it more and more lately. Pre-order bonuses will be announced and there are people, and generally not even a lot of them, that go from highly anticipating a game as a day one purchase to saying they will now wait until a later date or just not purchase the game at all; presumably because of the pre-order bonuses. Frankly, I just don't quite understand the attitude behind this.
As a "protest" (more like a temper tantrum in my opinion) it's ineffectual because they have no way of knowing that you dislike the idea of pre-order bonuses being store exclusive, or even pre-order bonuses at all. All they see is less purchasing. Granted one could say they see less "day one purchases" and equate that somehow to pre-order bonuses being the reason but I have a strong feeling they just take that as "well people don't want to pay as much" and that's when games just get reduced in price. Halo 4 pre-order bonuses were announced, and they are armor patterns and badge designs. Two completely unnecessary items that only marginally affect your gameplay experience, and that is assuming you actually care about customization that much, yet people bash the game and its publisher/developer for it like they are going to end the world on launch day with their pre-order bonuses.
Is this just typical "gamer hedonism", and by that I mean you have be complaining about SOMETHING or you just aren't gamer enough or do people honestly think that posting a comment on these announcements about how they disapprove of the pre-order bonuses is really going to make in impact?
Like a lot of people, I play games to enjoy myself. I typically do not partake in actions or activities that I do not enjoy because that's the sure sign of a miserable life. If I can avoid making myself miserable, I do so in the fastest way possible. With that said, games are not always the most relaxing or pleasurable things in the world. Whether it is having to deal with incompetence in an online game where teamwork is key to victory or a game is just downright frustrating due to intentional or unintentional spikes in difficult from various contributing factors, gaming can be downright infuriating. To weigh my thoughts in on this I'm going to bring in a few examples of games I find hard, games I don't find hard, and then why I enjoy and/or do not enjoy that given game.
To begin with, we have a notoriously difficult game for most people, Demon's Souls/Dark Souls. This game has such a stigma about it's difficulty that it became a marketing campaign for Dark Souls with the tagline "Prepare to Die", and die you will. This game is brutally difficult, but only to a point. The game and it's difficulty are very symbiotic in that it typically isn't the games fault for being difficult, it is the players. It's entirely possible to get through this massive game in the span of a few hour and no deaths if you know what you are doing and how to defeat enemies. Your first time through the game is going to be littered with deaths, but in my experience, none of them pissed me off. I had plenty of opportunity to realize what mistake I made, realize it was actually my mistake, and then be able to fix it. This is either accomplished by myself, or by using the knowledge of the incredible community this game has fostered. Personally, for this reason I never felt the game was too extreme, and I never felt that I "raged" about dying as I have in other games because the reasons and solutions were so easily accessible to me. For this reason, the supposed difficulty is one that makes the game challenging and enjoyable, it is so wholly a part of the game that the game would be itself without it.
Now we get to Super Meat Boy, another notoriously difficult game, albeit a different monster completely. A very simplistic platformer built as an homage to everything that made classic gaming what it was. Simple, constant design and purely gameplay driven. There are no whistles in this game, maybe a few bells, but you're a wad of meat...that jumps. In my eyes this simplicity is what makes this game so maddening. There are no "other ways" around a certain thing you can't seem to do, or often times what seems like the game just isn't letting you do. You jump, that's it, and a lot of times there's only one way to jump to progress. If you mess up, you have to start the level over again. Giving the game the benefit of fairly short levels is it's only saving grace in my opinion. In a game like Dark Souls I was able to out-think my problems. If my approach didn't work, I'd try a new one until I succeeded. In Super Meat Boy, you monotonously jump into death and repeat the same sections until God smiles on you and you pass through those sawblades or whatever abysmal obstacle has been keeping you held back the last 100 deaths. On top of this the game seemingly taunts you for your failures with a replay of every death you had (while a cool feature) all in on the same screen making your errors all the more obvious. Does this give a sense of satisfaction when you finally succeed? Hell yes, but not because you actually did it. Most of the time I was only happy because I didn't have to see that level again, not because I accomplished something because chances are it was only a lucky jump to begin with.
Crunch. My iron clad feet made the tundra speak as I sprinted through the night to my destination. It was almost impossible not to stop and stare as I ran by streams alight with torchbugs, but the Jarl needed his dragonslayer. I spotted Irileth near the tower that was my destination; her torch revealing the position of many guards under her command. They seemed prepared as they could be given the situation. There was a roar and a beating of wings. I have never seen or heard a dragon, bu there is only one creature that can command that much respect through sound alone.
We searched the skies, but the night hid him well. The guards were taking blind shots at short glimpses of the creature, but to no avail; it was more agile than it's size would have you believe. Arrows whistled through the air just behind the creature, as if it was cutting it close to taunt it's enemies. As if it was a sign the heaven's cracked and rain poured forth, seemingly caused by the immense power of the creature goading us.
"Are you a coward, dragon? Why do you not face us?"
My reply was quick and final as the dragon landed and sent a stream of flame battering against me. I leapt from my perch on the ruins, he was fast so I needed to be faster. I could not find him without the vantage of height, but I could hear him raging around the tower. The scream of a guard was shortlived as I rounded that corner and watched the beast devour him. I took the opening and swung battleaxe with a strength only a Nord could wield. If you invade these lands dragon, you will have me to contend with.
My axe connected and the impact cause the dragon to shudder. It feels pain, and I am able to draw it's blood. I will kill this beast. The dragon took to the skies after sensing the threat I now posed. I nocked an arrow and followed it through the air, waiting for my opportunity. The dragon began to dive, it's maw widened to pour forth flame. The swift twang of my bowstring echoed in the ruins as my arrow pierced the dragons hide and sent it colliding with the ground. Now was my chance.
I sank my axe into the beast repeatedly and it was growing weak; writhing from my blows upon it's skull. Taking advantage of it's anguish, I mounted it's head. It tried to throw me but I held. This dragon was a threat, and the land of Skyrim need be rid of it, so I held. I sank the blade of the axe into the dragon as it let out it's last breath, and collapsed on the ground beneath me. In the light of the torches of the guards I began to see the creature deteriorate.
"What is this?"
Power poured from the dragon, circling around me. This phenomenon had me perplexed, and the guards stood with hushed faces.
"You must be dragonborn!" exclaimed a guard.
"What is this...dragonborn?" I asked.
I was told the tale of powerful men able to learn the language of dragons, and to use them.
"Shout, use your voice, it is the only true way to know"
I belted the word, not knowing the meaning or the power it held, but the effects were noticeable. The guard stood in amazement.
"You are, you truly are dragonborn!"
Irileth was quick to dismiss the talk and discuss the reality of the situation. Whether I was this dragonborn or not, I just killed a dragon, and that was all we needed. I was to return to the Jarl and notify him immediately.
I made my way to Whiterun, my head racing with thoughts of the Dragonborn.
"Hrogdolf, the Dragonborn"
It sounded silly, but there was no denying the fact that I was able to speak power...whatever it meant. I reached the gates of Whiterun to the sound of thunder, but it wasn't a natural thunder. I looked to the mountains, expecting another dragon, but instead I heard a single word. Echoing off the ridge, it held destiny in it's grasp as it reached my ears.
As per usual on days I don't have class, I tend to float about in the Xbox Live marketplace seeing if there are any new videos to download and watch or anything else I might be interested. Lo and behold I stumble upon this little gem, DLC Quest. The "cover art" caught my eye in the XBLIG tab so I quickly downloaded the demo for what is a hilarious satire of the industry's obsession with downloadable content.
While I personally enjoy DLC for games I'd like to play more of, I can really see how it can go south, and this just takes it to the extreme and satirizes it's balls off. From the beginning of the game your character can only move right, can't jump, can't go left, has no animations, there's no game sound...well...until you buy the DLC. In classic platforming fashion, you jump around to get coins and once you have enough...you buy the DLC. Outside of the manner it approaches DLC, it has a lot of nods to gaming's stereotypical pitfalls with lots of "inside jokes" pertaining to the industry and game design.
All that aside, it's extremely charming for what it is, and the gameplay really is quite good considering the backseat it could have taken to the humor. At 80 MS points, I'd say it's more than worthy of a purchase for some quick entertainment at the sake of gaming and it's modern woes.
The rumor bug seems to have gotten everyone talking about the next big thing in consoles, whether the PS4 or the Xbox 720 (if they name it that I will die a little inside). However, in a generation where content is built upon consistently through downloading, and frankly one where the games already look phenomenal, what will this mean for backwards compatibility.
The 360 and PS3 both severely dropped the ball when it came to this. The 360 having fairly shoddy software emulation for an extremely selective, and often-times questionable list of games (Barbie games and not Stranger's Wrath?) and the PS3 just ended up dropping it completely to shave costs. The question I want answered the most, which while it's still even early to ask it with no tangible information out about the next consoles from Sony and Microsoft, what will you do with all these games I own, both downloaded and hard-copy, and all the subsequent downloaded content I have for them?
Will both companies implement some sort of "cloud" service for these old games, will we be able to transfer and play them on the new machines as-is? I can easily see this subject making or breaking these consoles if it isn't addressed logically, and responsibly. While I can't say I have any intention to get rid of my 360 the day the next one hits, there's something to be said about your console being able to play the previous ones library and still support what has been an extremely long console generation of added content.
In the recent year or so, anti-used gaming schemes have become a big contention point in a seemingly activist attitude towards video games. Whether from the extremely ridiculous "single save" scheme from Capcom to the more common "online pass", publishers are trying harder and harder to stick their fingers into the pie of used game sales. In this little write-up I'm going to pay my two-cents and throw my thoughts into the arena.
Coming from a purely logical standpoint, it more than makes sense that publishers (developers too probably, but the publishers are the ones lighting up the room) would like to see some more money back from their investments. A potential 120 dollars from two NEW buyers would be just 60 dollars from a NEW/USED duo, can be disconcerting from a purely business of money view. While there are many ways other than these passes to increase new sales or get money out of used purchasers (here's looking at you DLC), the online pass seems to be becoming the de facto method by the industry, but herein lie(s) the problem(s).
For starters, there wouldn't be so many outspoken individuals if this was a completely logical idea. The publishers making such a fuss are already the ones that make the most money, which in turn paints them in the fat, greedy oil baron archetype and we all just LOVE those guys don't we? Their defense is that online servers cost money, but not only is this arbitrary with all the DLC they release, not all games have dedicated servers. Even the ones that do wouldn't suffer, as Destructoid's own Jim Sterling has pointed out, "two can't be made from one". A person who buys new then trades his game in also gives away his "slot" to play online, which is then purchased by the new buyer regardless of if he plays online or not, and if he doesn't that's essentially making things cheaper for the publisher anyways.
Online passes also have the potential of crippling the online community in the long-run and ripping people off if they don't have the knowledge of its current status. Who is to say that a year from now people will still be playing the game that the publisher just gladly forced an unknowing user into buying? That's money that did nothing. Could this be fixed? Sure, remove online passes when the population is dwindling. That poses even more issues though. When is it time to remove it? Would publishers even care? Wouldn't this just further hinder the longevity of these games?
As a whole, I think publishers and/or developers wanting more capital for their projects is a completely logical thing, but I also think online passes are the wrong way to do it. Make your games "untradeable"; if people like your games enough they won't throw them at Gamestop for store credit (which brings up the used market allowing new purchases but that's another story). Give more incentives to buy new than just "oh, well, if I buy used I'll have to pay for this completely stupid thing to get all the content the game was shipped with". While this argument seems to be completely polarizing, with people wanting to burn down these big publishers and people defending their right to make money of their own games, I think most people can agree that almost forcing people into this new policy of blocking content and all its potential repercussions is NOT the way to do it.