Ok, let's see... Well, I am Brazilian, speak both portuguese and english(none of them properly ;) ), have 32 (Yes I am old, shut up) and work at a cable manufacturer. My first videogame system was an Atari 2600 when I was 8yo, then the Sega Master System at 11, a PC, then all the Playstation Family(PS1, 2 and 3 and the PSP).
Nowadays my primary gaming platform is the PS3 and my favorite game is Battlefield Bad Company 2, so if will wanna play or get some help with a trophie, my PSN ID is Man_w_no_name. Feel free to ask me to add you as a friend. My favorite game of all time is Final Fantasy VII and the worst I have ever saw is Danger Girl for PS1.
Aside gaming I love movies, books, anime and manga, Doctor Who and weirdness. So that is it. Hope to find good friends here at Destructoid.
Thanks to falsenipple for the header image! It is awesome as the creator.
I started to play Dead Space for the first time this weekend. And that the game isn't 'scary'. I haven't jumped of my seat because of the traditional scary tactics like monsters jumping from windows/vents or attacking you from behind. All is very expected from it. I have plenty of ammo, healing items and other things that make not fear to be outnumbered, wasting ammo or getting killed because of a camera angle or because the controls are too slow.
But I fear the setting and atmosphere in there.
Walking around the derelict ship is an exercise in awareness. While fighting the monsters haunting around is not really difficulty, you don't want to be get by surprise. A surprise attack will be costly, maybe deadly. I started to be always tense, always looking around and shooting anything that could turn into a monster later on. It is not that I would have an adrenalin rush of a monster jumping out of the vents. The monsters aren't what I fear in the game.
It is the insanity and the atmosphere.
As I walk by the ship, I found survivors. I already gave up in attempting to save anyone. They are all dead already, just waiting the inevitable, and that is an horrifying thought. That I cannot, even if I wanted, save anyone. While I have no special connection with any character yet, I would hate to develop one and than failing to save them. If there was a Clementine here and I see her dying in front of me, I would be destroyed.
And there all the others small touches. Finding the messages left from the dead describing their horrible last moments. Seeing the few survivors are now insane and either doing horrible stuff against each other or against themselves. How many of them become monsters even before the monsters arrived. This is a really fearsome idea.
The ship is not really dark, except in the moments where the lights fail or some corridors. And you don't need it to be taken by fear. The sounds you hear as you walk is way more terrifying than the dark. Listening to the panicked screams far away, the sound of sobbing, the people screaming for help or wondering why this nightmare is happening and if someone will come to save you.
A good horror story is not the ones who make you jump of the couch every now and them. A good horror story is one who make you fearful even after the end of it. It is the ones that make you question 'what if it was me?'
Dead Space is a great game. And it is a good horror story. It is not 'scary', if you believe that 'scary' means being frightened here and there. Its horror doesn't come from monsters jumping from the dark. Its horror comes from the setting, what is happening with the people and the fear of any of that happening to you.
It is said that what people fear in monster stories is not the monsters themselves, but what of human those monsters represents. In the case of Dead Space, what I fear is the insanity. The distorted monsters are made of human remains, they still have the resemblance of its origins, but now they are something so different, so terrifying. And you still have tom deal with the people who, while not changed physically, have their minds destroyed and are as, if not more, terrifying as the monsters.
I am officially old. I have being gaming since the days of the Atari 2600. I got into game in 1987, which is actually in the last century. I had a 8-bit system, skipped the 16-bits for a bit, got a PC, than start gaming in 16-bit, got a PSone, PS2, PSP, PS3, a PS Vita and finally a game capable PC (Pentium i5 3.2 GHZ, 8MB RAM, GTS450 video board). Thanks to community member and friend TH3MORROW, I received as a gift Half-Life 2, a game I haven't played before. And I must say, I am very mixed about this.
I do not evaluate the quality of a game based in its graphics. Graphics are the least important thing of all the important things in gaming. Gameplay design, story, sound are all more important to me. And something shocks me every time I play an old-time game. I just can't get the same enjoyment I got from new games. Again, I don't care about fancy graphics (and Half-Life 2 is far from being ugly, specially in maximum settings). It is the actual gameplay I discovered I can't enjoy anymore.
Despite enjoying them in the past, mind you.
Half-Life 2 clearly show the evolution of gaming. He is a link between old shooters like Doom and new ones like Call of Duty. It have elements both old and new and I can clearly see why people love it. But I am, failing to get into it. Maybe it is because I am in the very beginning of it. But Half-Life 2 is not an isolated case.
Too much time doing nothing...
The PS3, through its Playstation Plus program, gave me several old-time games, specially beat-em-ups from Sega, like Streets of Rage II and Golden Axe. And I failed to enjoy them the same as I enjoyed them when they were new. Golden Axe was one of my favorite games of its time, but I just can't stand to it anymore. Even classics like Sonic make me cringe every time I die because of an unexpected enemy.
I may be weird. Because in theory, I am the guy that should enjoy old-time games more than new ones, yet I am one that defends that new games improved in so many things that going back to the old ways is in fact really hard. And that is not because of graphics. It is because of gameplay frustrations.
Dying in the level and returning to the very beginning of it. Dying because I can't find a healing item to help me or because I missed an enemy for pixels. Not finding my way around because of lack of auto-map. Not hearing the characters speak but having to read texts. All of those make me have less enjoyment now than I had in the past. Playing a game without many voice acting now feels weird. Getting lost is not as funny anymore. Having to memorize every enemy pattern and level tires me.
Shooting things with rocket launchers? Fun.
Maybe it is me, that I am old to admire those old designs. I don't feel like I have time to keep replaying the same levels again and again until I get it right. It is not that I don't want to spend time in game. I just feel that games now need to do more to keep me in them, to entice me in keep playing. I always preferred games with a deep story than games with none. New things happening all the time always made me go forward than long walks killing the same enemies over and over again.
Other things is because of old designs decisions. Many games have controls that would be classified as weird for today's standards. Levels and the way you transverse them would be considered bothersome and nonsensical by many.
Maybe that is why I couldn't felt so compelled into Half-Life 2. I have passed a time too long going too point a to point b without anything interesting happening. To the point of getting happy when enemies appear shooting at me. Again, I am in the very beginning of the game, so it may get better with time. Other games don't have the same chance. Playing them beginning to end was a chore full of frustrations that killed a bit of the nostalgic feeling I had for them.
I know a lot of gamers around my age become very happy when a game with the old school flavor appears. I don't condemn them or envy them. It is just that I can't go back. I know it. Every time I get a game with old school mechanics and designs I know that those old games were good at their time. Some are in fact good today. But all the changes that happened in gaming through my near three decades of gaming made games better for me. While a few games are still fun to play as they were when I was a little kid, many don't hold that fantasy, that pleasure anymore.
If you read my blog with certain regularity, you know that sometimes I talk about games from the past that seemingly are forgotten by the game community. Those are games that even today would hold themselves. There is games, true classics, that were not only the base for modern games, but they are so well done that they simple don't age. Other games, on the other hand, simple belong to their time and should be left for there, as a nice memory of great times.
Not all games can be timeless classics as this one.
In the end, this is a very personal thing. I know plenty of games that wish that the 'classic age' of gaming, an age that exist only to themselves, could make a return. But me? I am very happy with my brand new games right now. A return to old school would just drive me away from games.
So, I will try to finish Half-Life 2. I will always keep in my mind that it is a product of its time and be grateful that it paved the way for many modern games. But it is the modern games I will look for and left many old games were they belong. In my memories.
Those days, I have being playing a PSP JRPG called Fate/Extra, a spin-off of the famous visual novel-turned anime Fate/Stay Night. It is not a incredible good game, in fact, is average. It have its qualities in the characters, that are interesting, and intriguing story. But the main attraction in here is one element of gameplay mechanic rarely explored for most developers. Knowledge.
The main factor that determine your victory or defeat in the game is how much knowledge you was able do gather about your next opponent in the Holy Grail Tournament you are participating. The battle mechanic works as this: you choose a round of six actions, that can be Guard, Attack or Break and so do your adversary. If you have enough knowledge about him, you can see a few of his attacks, determine its patterns and counter effectively. If you know nothing about him, you will have to guess his moves and pray that your Servant, the one in fact attacking, is strong enough to use sheer force to win, which is way harder and time consuming than it should be.
It is not that determining what is the true identity of your opponent, neither that gathering information is overly complicated or challenging. The only way to mess up is if you just ignore the game's interactions with the NPCs and just rush to battle. What is interesting, is that very few games works challenging the player to gather information and use it to determine the best way to act.
Also, tell me you don't want that glasses.
Four other games comes to my mind where investigation and knowledge plays a role. You can only achieve the best endings in Heavy Rain if you use all the knowledge you gather in the game to determine the identity of the Origami Killer. In Harvey Birdman for the PSP, gathering clues is important to use in the trials, and how and when you use those clues is key to have a favorable outcome. In the first Assassin's Creed, Altair had to search for information about his target so he can know when it will be the best moment to strike (albeit you need to do this and cannot progress in the game without this information) and in Persona 4, the main theme in the game is about reaching the truth (despite it being very hard to figure the guilty party by yourself, all resuming in eliminating the suspects from a list Naoto shows you near the end of the game).
Of course, asking for the player to think for him/herself is not an easy task. People are all different and it is hard to ask all of them to have the deduction abilities of a Sherlock Holmes. Therefore, if you make your mystery too hard to uncover, most people will feel cheated and if you make it too easy, many will feel unchallenged. And that is why feel games have you solving mysteries for yourself.
But that aside, it does not means that games cannot use the quest for knowledge as a theme in them. Most games is all about fighting your way to the end. Few are about learning your way to the end. Knowledge, in real life, is a very important tool to use to achieve your objectives. In fact, achieving anything through knowledge is way easier and effective than by force. Yet most games just let you brute force your way, with the most basic knowledge they ask of you is if the enemy is weak against fire or not, and even in those cases, you can always compensate by sheer force alone. In the case of Fate/Extra, even sheer force will hardly help you, specially when you can barely touch your enemy.
I wonder if we will ever seem many games that asks the player to use his own head to progress, aside from knowing that ice monsters are weak against fire. If games will one day asks you to solve a crime by yourself or to defeat an enemy by collecting information against him and finding ways to use it against him.
Not that HIM is a good example of intelligence...
As games mature, and specially gamers get older, many just can get satisfied with mindless challenges. Many start asking for challenges more than just pressing the right buttons on the right time or managing its inventories correctly. Of course, 'mindless' games will never lost its space, because they have a place and a time for them. But I wonder if games who asks to you to think first and act later instead of acting all the time will grown.
Knowledge is an important tool, one that can surpass every challenge if used correctly. I am honestly interested in seeing more games made around this premise. After all, we are thinking creatures (or at least, we should be) and there is no bigger challenge than thinking by yourself.
If you let others think for you, this may be you in the future. Just saying.
Valkyrie Profile is a role-playing video game developed by tri-Ace, same developer of Star Ocean, and published by Enix, before it made a wrong fusion with Square fucking up both comapnies, for the PlayStation One. An enhanced port of the game was later released for the PlayStation Portable under the name Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. unfortunatelly, neither versions are up as digital downloads, meaning you need either an original PS1 disc to run it on the PS3 and PS2 or a UMD for the PSP. A sequel, subtitled Silmeria, was released for the PS2, but it is not as good as the original version. A DS sequel, Covenant of the Plume, was also released in 2009, but I haven't played this one.
Although called a JRPG, it mixed a platformer element. All the dungeons are showed in a 2D perspective, with you jumping around to transverse it. Enemies are visible in the dungeons, instead of the traditional random fights, and when you touch or attack it, you are transported to the fighting screen. Fights are done with the four face buttons, each controlling one character, allowing you to make combos. If enough combos are made, you can use powerful special attacks.
The fun gameplay is just one of the highlights of this gem. The story is one of the best ones ever made from its time. You assume the role of Lenneth, one of the valkyries, whose job is to gather the souls of fallen warriors and turn them into Einherjar, strenghten them and send them to fight alongside the Aesir, the race of the gods against the Vanir and avoid the end of the world.
So, Lenneth travels around the world, recruiting dead warriors whose tragic deaths are told to us in cutscenes, highlighting the usually tragic lives they lead and their sacrifices in order to help others. many of those are heavily emotional ones, painting most characters in shades of gray instead of easy black and white, while showing that anyone can have the necessary qualities to be a hero.
When the characters are leveled up enough and have their moral flaws fixed, Lenneth can send them to Freya and Odin, making them soldiers in the Aesir army to fight against the Vanir. Time is limited in the game, so events, dungeon exploration and recruiting Einherjar will consume time, getting you closer to Ragnarok and the end of the word. Managing time and deciding who to send to Odin is crucial. the game also have multiple endings, meaning your choices also influence the final outcome of the game.
All that made Valkyrie Profile one of the most memorable game I have ever played. It is one of the few games to have a less cliche, more emotional story in its time. The gameplay and aesthetics was great, and the overall story have many cool twists and moments to give you dozens of hours of fun.
Lenneth, the main character, was one of the few main heroines in games to be not only badass, but also to have a personality and character development. It is weird that with so many people complaining about how bad female characters are portrayed in games, many forgot about her. But again, it seems people are so busy getting angry instead of looking for the good examples as her.
All the secondary characters and their personal stories are deep, albeit short and dealt with themes like slavery, loyalty, honor and war. There was clearly a lot of dedication over their development, and to make their stories meaningful.
The sprites are colorful, the scenarios, albeit a bit repetitive at times, were all well crafted. Some of the monsters, specially the big bosses, are incredible well done. It is one of the few JRPGs were battling never become a chore. And with limited time to advance in the game, grinding was never one of the things that would bother you.
It is funny how this game have no option to download, neither as a PSOne classic or the PSP version digitally. Maybe because nobody ever mentions this game anymore, there is no interest from Square-Enix in re-releasing it. A shame. This is one of the greatest JRPGs and one of the best games ever made. If you are a fun of the genre and cross over a copy of it for a reasonable price, I can't state how worth playing this game is.
Deep, engrossing story, likable and meaningful characters combined with fun gameplay. I don't know how what more you can ask for a game, but Valkyrie Profile is the closest game can get to be perfect. And Squenix, I would pay for a chance to play it again.
One reason why games attract me is the possibility to do things that would be incredible difficulty to do in real life by lack of money, proper time and zombie outbreaks or that would be in fact impossible, like powerful magic, fighting huge monsters and zombie outbreaks. The fact that games allow me to do things otherwise I couldn't do is one of the best things unique to games. It is one of the things that no other form of media can give you.
The feeling of power.
Maybe because of my background, I always feel one of the coolest things is when a character do something incredible, even if not realistic. I grew up with lots of Japanese shows, like Super Sentai, Kamen Rider and anime. One of my favorite shows had a ship the size of a city punching another ship almost the same size, then firing thousands of missiles inside it. You may have heard of it. It is called Macross/Robotech.
Because fuck you.
Therefore, every time I can make the on-screen character do something incredible awesome, I have all those nice feelings inside me. Take Final Fantasy and their summons. I know they are just fancy magic, but the sensation of summoning a huge dragon who blow up your enemies with incredible explosions is unparalleled. Plenty of games still give you this incredible sense of power, despite many trying to do some pseudo-realistic settings. One of the coolest things to do in games like Bioshock is to zap a bolt of electricity in your enemies and then blow then up with an overpowered steam punk rocket launcher. Or to take a car in Burnout Paradise, do a barrel roll, take out some other car and then make a mile long jump. This is something that only games can give you.
Making the player feel like he is awesome isn't an easy task. After all, games have their limitations. It is not easy to take in count all the player may want to do. Also, you cannot give full power to the player or you risk taking away the challenge of the game. And if you can use the superpowers easily, you cheapen the reward of doing something really amazing. A special attack, powerful magic or really fucking big gun must be a reward in itself, making you feel like there is nothing you can't do.
Doing this was awesome every fucking time. DIVINE ASSAULT!
The combination of factors to make the player feel powerful is simple and difficulty to accomplish. It must require skill, it must be flashy, and it must result in awesome and significative consequences. A power that is just smoke and mirrors and cause no real effect on the game will feel time lost and that is ripping off the player. Meanwhile, a visually unimpressive but useful and powerful move will not feel as satisfying when you pull it off.
Being able to do something really impressive is some of the greatest rewards I can have playing a game. A mile-long sniper shot. Taking down an enemy fighter jet doing a cool maneuver. Exploding an enemy in a great ball of fire. All of that are reasons to make you smile when playing a game and something that only games can give you.
Give me power, so I can feel like the most awesome human being on the planet.
After 3 decades of gaming, my body count is probably higher than many wars. I have killed soldiers of all countries (specially Nazis and Russians), mercenaries, terrorists, criminals, police officers, hookers, pedestrians, my own character own purpose and my annoying AI partners, on purpose. And that is just the human count-down, without counting robots, aliens, animals and inanimate objects that for some reason are alive.
And I never felt regret for any of those deaths.
It makes sense. They are all just lines of codes that compose an image in my screen. I don't kill them, I just input a line of code through the controller and the program generates lines of code that will be transcript in an image of a virtual character being killed. It is not real; it is most of the times unrealistic, even. In my brain, they aren't nothing more than targets that resemble human beings.
And that makes me Death.
Death doesn't care who you are, how you live your life, your background, your social status, your race, your ideologies and faith. Death just doesn’t care. Good people die horrible deaths everyday. Bad people die from old age, peaceful in their bads everyday. Death doesn’t care about your life. Death just takes your life away. Therefore, I am Death.
But of course, this doesn't mean you shouldn't feel bad for a death of a fictional character. Take Bambi's mother or Simba's father deaths. Many cried in those scenes, despite being just fiction. Many cried when Dumbledore died in Harry Potter. Or the most famous death in videogames, Aerith's death. The death of a fictional character can have a weight on someone.
But what makes you feel sad by the death of someone that isn't real?
It is feeling a connection with the characters. To feel like they are old friends that you knew for long and that have an importance in your life. It is to have any form of connection with them. It is starting to care about what happens with the characters in the next scene. To feel that their death will have consequences, and above all that, that their absence would have an impact on the audience.
But of course, those deaths aren't brought upon the characters by the audience. They aren't Death. They have no saying in those deaths. It is not them the ones that finished that virtual life. Therefore, while there is sadness, there is no regret. When the ones responsible for that death is finally brought to their ends, the audience will feel satisfied. Or if they escape punishment for such crime, they will feel enraged.
Games, on the other hand, have a different bringer of death. The character the players control is the one bringing death. If you let your controller aside, death will not happen. But when you move, it is you bringing death. It is you pulling the trigger or slashing someone with a blade. And you probably, like me, don't care.
Those are faceless enemies, or when their face is visible, they are just one of a hundred enemies who look exactly like each other that you killed. They don't have any backstory, no family, no dreams or hopes. They are there to kill you. And you are Death; therefore you end their existence without thinking twice. You don't care, because you don't know them.
They don't have a family, because you never knew they had. They don't have a wife waiting for them in their homes, a dream of seeing their children graduate and be successful. You don't know why they are trying to kill you. You just know why you must kill them, but not why they must kill you. What sequence of events led them to the moment they must kill you to see their objectives come true.
Maybe you have an insight in the biggest villain plot, probably the only enemy you know the name and a bit about who he is and why he is doing what he do. Everyone else is just random soldier #4 and shotgun wielder #2. They are not different than that series of platforms will need to jump to reach the one enemy you know the name. The one enemy you may know some of his past. The others are just obstacles to be surpassed.
Would you feel the same way if, after killing a faceless AK-47 user, his family all appear and start crying for the dead? If they told you how they were drove off their lands by the same people you are working with and that the man you just merciless killed was trying to feed them and maybe recover their home? Probably it would have a different impact.
What if, after walking side by side with one of the supporting characters, after starting to really like that virtual person, you two are forced to fight each other because of a difference in ideology, in what must be done? If all of sudden, this person that have being fighting by your side, that shared his story and his dreams with you, due circumstances, is forced to fight against you? Would you be as merciless as you was with that nameless enemy back then?
Would you be more shocked if instead of seeing Aerith's dying by the hand of Sephiroth, it was you the one who should kill her? And I not talking about being mind-controlled here, but knowing you should be the one killing her, because otherwise you would fail to achieve your objectives?
The fact is that taking the virtual enemies' lives in games has no real impact. They are just lines of codes. They aren't different than ants. You have no connection with them. You are Death, and as such you don't care. They are just obstacles, just objectives that you need to accomplish.
I am Death. Because Death don't care about the dead.