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9:55 PM on 08.22.2009

I suck at games: When OCD turns to RQS

I want to play World of Goo. I want to enjoy World of Goo. I want to beat World of Goo. But I can't. Why? Let me tell you:

For those who haven't played this game, it involves connecting goo balls that stick to each other to create a bridge or tower to a tube that sucks them up.

But that dang OCD! OCD in this particular case is Obsessive Completion Disorder. It is a bonus that you get for meeting specific conditions. Conditions that are very hard; for me, at least. It often requires getting the maximum amount of goo balls to the tube. You have to use the minimum amount of goo balls for the tower or bridge. But I like how it says "Get x or more goo balls," as if it is possible to get more! You douchbag designers, giving us false hopes!

"Sure you can get more, but you only need this many! You can do it!"

And sometimes the goal is to "Complete the level in x turns or less." Arrrrrgh!

And I must get this bonus! I don't even know if it does anything except make flags appear over the level you completed. If it does anything beyond that (and yeah, even if it doesn't), than I may never be able to beat even the first world in World of Goo.

"You don't have to get the bonus, you can just beat the level normally."

Yes I do dammit! I have to! I have to! I...

Fuck this noise.

That's what happens. Whenever I try to play this game, I go for the OCD challenge every time. I act as if it is the only goal worth getting. I can't help it. I've already beaten the level. But I just do the same level over and over hoping and praying that this will be the time I get that god-forsaken bonus. But it is not to be. I eventually get fed up with the tedium of it all and I just quit. This is a phenomenon I call "Rage Quit Syndrome."

It is quite a contradiction. You'd think that the OCD would mean that I wouldn't stop until I got the bonus. Thank goodness that isn't the case, I'd be playing forever and die on the spot! But it seems that my body has come up with this defense mechanism against starvation that completely shuts off all the motivation that only moments ago consumed me.

But that's the problem! I still want to play the freaking game! I just don't want to be obsessed with getting this damn bonus! But it's either one or the other. Play until you get that bonus or don't play at all. I've gone with the latter for a while now.

"Why don't you just look up how to get the bonus on GameFAQs or something?"

Yes, that will solve the problem of completing those bonuses! But at what cost? Just following some other guy's instructions to the letter doesn't exactly give me much self-satisfaction. I'm supposed to be the one completing the game here. Not to mention it's just plain boring and tedious looking back and forth from my computer to my TV and following these instructions. And the tedium was what triggered my RQS in the first place!

The worst part is this problem has spilled over to other games. I was playing Advance Wars and I couldn't get the S Rank. I beat the mission quite handily, but I just can't move on the the next mission until I get that medal!

I think I should note that I can still play RPGs with all kinds of stuff I'll never find without worrying about this. This is probably because if I miss stuff in an RPG, I don't know that I missed it. My failure to get everything isn't all up in my face. Ignorance is bliss.

"Well, maybe these games just suck. Maybe it's not you..."

I want to believe this. I really do. But I have a problem believing it. I know that if I was playing these games without worrying about getting the best rank, I would still have fun.

My damn perfectionism has kept me from beating a game that my grandmother could probably beat. And it sits there on my Wii menu, mocking me. "Not only can you not get the OCD bonus, you can't even beat the first world! Hahahahaha! You suck!" You're right World of Goo, there is no denying it. I hope you're happy, 2d Boy. You've torn down a once proud gamer.

And I stand here a broken man, admitting to you all that I suck at games.   read

3:03 PM on 08.17.2009

Jim Sterling: Excellence in Blogging

Salutations, y'all!

This post is a tribute to arguably the best blogger on the Destructoid staff, Jim Sterling.

Now I could go on about how hilarious and awesome the (purposely) so-bad-it's-good Video Game Show What I've Done is, or I could muse about the Citizen Kane of games. But no, I want to discuss Jim's uncanny ability to, let's say, draw a crowd. I will focus on (and you probably saw this one coming) the article thoughtfully titled Nintendo of America needs to STFU (that's Shut The Fuck Up for those not in the know, hoho!).

Now I'm sure there are pieces that Jim has written that have gotten more comments, but 267 comments (as of this writing) for a post on a Sunday evening is no mean feat!

Now this article is great not because it makes great points, but because it makes the right points to stir discussion! The main point of the article appears to be that Nintendo fails to appeal to its "core" base. The article compares the E3 08 showing with the E3 09 showing by Nintendo. In the E3 08 showing, they had little games for this "core" gamer. While in the E3 09 showing, they had several. Mr. Sterling criticizes Nintendo for both showings, saying that the latter is merely "throwing bones" to its fans. What may strike an eye for details such as mine is that this may be perceived as hypocritical on Sterling's part. Surely had Nintendo had a similar showing to E3 08, they would have been even more harshly condemned! When the choice is between showing less games or showing more games, there is little one can do to avoid the ire of Mr. Sterling! Not to mention the fact that he says that Nintendo can be arrogant without preaching its greatness at E3, when the truly arrogant would do so at as many venues as possible!

Is this hypocritical, you ask? To ask that is to ask the wrong question, my friend. That is a question for the "Games Journalists" perhaps, but not the Games Blogger. The correct question is: will this incite interest in Jim's blog and, by proxy, the whole of Destructoid. The answer to that is a resounding yes. The refutabilty of the point isn't the be all, end all determinant the value of the point. Arguably, having more refutable points will make for a larger and more thorough discussion. Why? Because this will cause more people to chime in to correct you. This will spark heated discussion.

I have previously commented: na´vely proclaiming that Jim's article was headed down the wrong track. I was well aware of the refutability of the main point in the article, and I believed that would be its downfall. One refutation in a comment and it would be over! I believed that he needed more points that are harder to refute, such as the Wii's lackluster online or add-on and upgrade (Wii Motion Plus and DSi, respectively) shenanigans.

What a damn fool I was! I could not see the obvious result of Jim's labor! Regardless of the strength of the arguments he makes, Nintendo fans and sticklers for details alike would come to strongly criticize his article (and sometimes him). Those who were in agreement with Mr. Sterling's article were not ones to be contested, however! And they came in full force with a fury arguably surpassing that of your average Wii supporter. As the two clashed at their keyboards in a battle of wit, the spectacle before me proved that my previous intuitions had been misleading me.

As for what exactly makes Mr. Sterling such a magnet for this sort of attention, I am not fully sure. I do not believe it to be simply insulting things that gets him the attention it does. "LOLZ TEH WII SUX" is not exactly a post that would compel many people to reply, is it? I believe he blends the right amount of competent writing with equal parts sarcasm and throws some personal attacks and swearing, to taste to brew the articles which bring commenters like flies to honey.

Before you dismiss Jim as merely a sadistic pyromaniac of some sort, remember that the heated debate that he brings to the table is what blogging, nay, the entire internet is all about! And for that I salute you, Jim Sterling, for your excellence in blogging. May they never ban your sick filth!   read

11:58 AM on 08.02.2009

Response to Rev Rant: Fun isn't enough

Hello dere.

Yes I know that this particular Rev Rant occurred a few days ago, but I have a few comments on it that I'd like to address. Keep in mind that I don't completely disagree with it. In addition to bringing forth disagreements, I'd like to expand on the parts I agree with. You'll probably want to watch the rant before you read this.

The main objection that I have heard to his rant is that fun and "naval gazing" are not mutually exclusive. That is, something can say deep meaningful things about the human condition and be fun, not in addition to, but because of the deep meaningful things it says. I'm inclined to agree. I probably wouldn't have listened to the rant or wrote this blog if I didn't think it was fun, and I'll tell ya why:

When I was in high school I read a book called Sophie's World. It is basically (Western) Philosophy 101 set to a story. A mysterious dude teaches your average girl all about the great Western Philosophers. At the end it gets weird and Matrix-like, but that's beside the point. The point is I had fun reading this book (even though it made my head hurt [sooo good!]). And guess what? If you took out all of the "naval-gazing" philosophy, it would probably be drop dead boring. It was fun because it had all this philosophy. The deepness made it fun! I think treating deep thoughts and fun as two separate things is a mistake.

Needless to say, I respect Anthony's definition of the word "fun" as shallow entertainment. I'm not going to act like his definition makes him wrong and I don't want this to turn into a definition-o-thon. But he needs to realize that if he defines "fun" in this way, many are going to disagree.

I agree with his idea that games aren't really "supposed" to be any one particular thing. I would say that the thing that any given game is supposed to be is what its creator(s) wishes it to be. This purpose could be to convey an emotion, give a feeling of satisfaction, or to educate. But I would say that the main reason that most people create games for is for them to be played (for lack of a better word). How true it is that this does not necessarily imply shallow fun.

He is also dead on when he calls the notion that deep games will replace shallow ones "illogical and silly." A similar "sky-is-falling" mentality manifested when the Wii came out and casual games came to the forefront. "What will happen to our precious 'hardcore' games?!" the uninformed gamer asked. They'll still make them by the boatload, buddy. Just because there is a new market for casual (or deep) games does not mean that the market for hardcore (or shallow) games will go away! This sort of zero-sum game mentality reinforces my view that many people don't know a dang thing about economics or the market (and this is coming from someone who doesn't know much about that himself!).

Before this turns into a debate about supply and demand, let's move on the the next subject. I wish that Anthony would quit calling the more shallow games "juvenile," "pointless," and for "12-year-olds." If you don't want to look pretentious, mocking these games with such strong language in that tone isn't going to help. And I don't think that calling people who play God of War mentally on par with a child is helpful, especially if they also enjoy deeper experiences as well and would readily rally to your cause if not for that particular comment (not saying that all children are dumb here!).

Another error of omission I see is that Anthony seems to focus on only the violent games as the sole example of a shallow game. Obviously, most Mario games are just as shallow, but not as violent. Maybe I'm nit-picking here, and I'm almost certain that Anthony isn't trying to imply that only violent games are shallow. but I think this is still an important point. Shallow and violent aren't the same thing. Pretty much all "casual" games are shallow, but only a small fraction are violent. Anthony seems to act like the majority of games are violent, but I believe what he means is that the majority of games are shallow. The same can be said of movies, though.

But a more important point is that a game can make you think without being emotional at all! Philosophy is mostly logic puzzles, but it's mad deep, yo. There is nothing really emotional about ontology, the study of what exists. Spock is a deeper character than Captain Kirk and he doesn't even have emotions! In the comments of Anthony's post, barndawgie mentions Portal. Now, this is tricky because Portal has many an emotional moment. But a lot of the enjoyment (and deepness) comes out of stuff that is not emotional. That wacky Portal logic turns your world upside down as you try to think of where to put the portals. That particular part of the game isn't emotional or about the human condition per se, but it is still incredibly deep. I don't know if it was Anthony's intention to relate deepness to emotion, but it seemed to me like he did. Give the left brain some props, too, will ya!

Finally, I specifically reject the idea that Bioshock (or any game that has you killing people) is only about killing people. I already commented that it is like saying that The Matrix is only about Kung-Fu and gun fighting (with the occasional 'real-life' battle with the machines). Koholint responded that Anthony isn't saying that it is "only" about killing people, but most of the game that is what you're doing. I think my point still stands. In The Matrix most of it involves the battle to take out the machines and agents. An awful lot of killing goes on here, but that certainly does not make it shallow by any means because of all the metaphors and philosophy beyond the killing. It seems kind of odd to criticize people for being narrow minded for suggesting that games should only be fun, and then turn around and ignore the deep meaningful messages and only see the killing on the surface. I know that Anthony can see the hidden messages behind the killing in Bioshock and may just be looking from a critical point of view, but the same argument can be used against a critic of video games. Perhaps he is saying that developers could use to implement deep things into actual gameplay instead of just story and cut scenes. That I can agree with.

But wait! There's more! Influential game designer David Jaffe responded to the Rev Rant. I agree with Anthony that his original rant had nothing to do with calling game makers fat cats who have no interest in games as art. I think that Jaffe thought of this because Anthony said that people need to make deep games profitable and marketable or else only indy guys are gonna make them. Nor did Anthony suggest that mainstream devs have never tried to make deeper games. The rant seemed to be more directed at gamers than devs. But although Jaffe seems to miss the mark, he makes the excellent point that making a mainstream game which is deep and still worth playing for "more than five fuckin' minutes" and worth the 50 or 60 bucks is really, really hard. And I think it is a very good idea to encourage people to brainstorm ideas, although I don't think they should necessarily shut the fuck up if they don't have any. Especially if they are calling for more interest in these sorts of games and not really attacking devs.

If you've got any ideas for a game like this, blog about it! And if Anthony reads this, I hope it is enough paragraphs (it's probably too many). No pictures, though. Took me long enough without them! And not to impose, but I think it would be a good idea to make a Monthly Musing about how to make a deep game or how to bring such a game to the mainstream (if you haven't already). Think about it, guys!

Peace, y'all!   read

12:36 AM on 07.12.2009

Okay, hello and stuff.

Hello to the one person who stumbled here looking for information on TMNT: Smash Up (Get it? Cause one of the creators of TMNT is named Peter Laird! The best jokes require explanations like this!).

Anywho this is my intro, and it only took me about a month since signing up. I'm what's called a gamer. I don't know if I've played enough games with graphic violence and sexuality to be considered a hardcore gamer, but it's under review as we speak. I've only got a Wii here, it keeps putting pictures of a Shigeru Miyamoto Mii scolding me whenever I try to play No More Heroes. Damn... uh I mean darn (he's watching me!!).

Yeah, I started with Super Mario Bros on the NES and pretty much went from there. I can't believe I never realized how confusing it was having a guy named Toad and a girl named Princess Toadstool.

"Hey, is Toadstool here?"

"Naw, I'm Toad. But I think I crapped myself when Bowser threw me in here, so if you're looking for Toad stool..."

Wait, they were called Mushroom Retainers back then. Maybe Dr. Mario's brother is Orthodontist Luigi?

I had a Genesis, a Sega CD and a 32X after that. Then I usually stuck with Nintendo systems (N64, Gamecube, Wii). Got nothin' against the other systems out there, it's just how I roll. They may have less good games than the other guys, but since I don't buy a gazillion games, it works for me.

I've got a DS, too. It's great. I can't think of anything else to say about it... But maybe it has too many good games, I don't wanna spend all my money on them!

Are you wondering about those guys up there at the top of the blog? Those guys are Kunio and Riki. You may know them as Alex and Ryan (if my memory serves right). And you may also know Alex as Crash. Look up Nekketsu on Wikipedia or something. It's interesting stuff.

That guy in my avatar is Ebisumaru. Yeah, it's a guy. Naruto may have perfected that technique, but Ebisumaru was doing that kind of stuff back in the Edo period of Japan. Still on Wikipedia? Look up Ganbare Goemon.

As for my screen name, it's Laird cause I'm fat. "Laird" is "Lard" if you subtract the "i." People called me that and I stuck with it. Well, I say Mario's fat and look what he can do! Wide Power!

Well, I'm rambling now. Let's wrap this up. I like the video games. I know a thing or two about a lot of the video games. I have opinions pertaining to the video games. I will share these opinions with you.

So yeah, that's it. I look forward to being called a Wii fanboy and having my sexuality questioned.

Laird away!!!   read

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