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4:55 PM on 06.15.2009  

Untapped potential: Making games about Social things

OK, I admit it. This isn't a good title for such a subject for a monthly musing but what can I put on that's somewhat relevant? Ah nevermind...

Video games are becoming something like the new "movie industry". It's a new medium that combines all that cinema includes, making it interactive by the help of Technology. But, unlike cinema, there aren't a lot of games about social problems or have some views or solutions or even show some shocking aspects of our society.



Sure, this kind of entertainment is somewhat for the wealthy people, but so did the cinematograph but it's not 1802 anymore and things get to mature a but quicker since the info spreads around more easily. That doesn't change the fact that video games lag behind in terms of the variety of subjects that will get them into our consience as another art.

Let's get started with some games that *maybe* have some social sense in them. Let's get an example at Mirror's Edge.
Dice's first person parcour title was all about opposing to some regime that tried to control completely the flow of information in the fictional society in the game. They were like the all-seeing Big Brother that know anything that happens anywhere.
There were a lot of social movements showing in this game. Protests, people clashing with the police and then, some secret organisations that exchange info via Runners.

This game had the ideal background to be something like the dystopia that a post-modern society may be. Just because there is a large flow of information, someone will try to put a limit to it blocking content and monitoring people.
Mirror's edge focused on the Faith's story. It's not that it's bad to have a protagonist, but the game never reveals who does all that stuff and why. The police department look like new clan of Nazi employees not revealing why they are so obsessed about capturing Faith. We never learned why the gonverment wanted to regulate every single bit of information in the city and from what social group did Faith and her family came from. Everything was so quickly and simply explained, it threw away so much potential of the story and all the sociological interest this game would have.

Another game that tends to comment over sociological matter is... yes, GTA IV. To be precise, every GTA except some few that came out just because the croud wanted to kill people and jack cars.
Immigrants looking for a better life in America - a fake paradise of chances- is a serious problem in a society due to the criminal stuff that float around in such big communities. Also, bullying and gangs that are products of sub-cultures are tapped by GTA in some degree. Woman discrimination is also there in the Liberty city, and, hopefully, in the newest episode of GTAIV, the discrimination towards homosexuality.
But also, GTA series fail to show a complete image of those matters, even if there is a lot of room in a freeroaming game like that. It mostly stays at the sarcasm of matter that happens in modern and post-modern societies rather than revealing causes and excuses. But, still it's pretty close in sociological interest.

But still, something's missing. Trying to make things look cool in games mostly spoils all the other dimentsions of things. For example, medieval times were hard as hell. There wasn't anything like "honour of a knight". There were just owners of fields and farmers that lived like slaves by the strict rules of christianism. There weren't any magical spells or wizards or dragons. Even the Kings were nothing but some people who have enough money to build large cathedral churches.

Wild West was also a time that, in fact, it was borring and hard as hell. Not to mention 2nd world war that there were real change in the gonverment form in european countries, large social movement throughout natzi regime over europe. None of the games really showed the starving orphans of the war, neither the dirty cabarets in Germany where drag queens (men dressed like women) tried hard to keep their sexual preferrement secret in fear of excecution. Those were really dark times that, for some reasons, through games (and movies but mostly games) look interesting times full of fun and pownage.

I'm not asking for games to stop being fun or try to be some kind of documentaries. That would be a total mess. But, there are games that are as fun, as they have some clear messages to deliver. For example, COD Modern Warfare, had some strong anti-war messages and socking scenes about the beastry of a modern war. Just show the nuclear blast that happened in the game to anyone and they will be overwhelmed by the degree of destruction and shocked by the dead silence of that scene. Bioshock's utopian community that went nuts is also a great example of having really strong and true messages without being sacrificed in terms of fun and gameplay.

But none of them are complete. Since there is room for more social understandment for making stories and goals in videogames I can't understand why the creators keep ignoring them so much. Maybe unpleasant stuff turns gamers down and that's the turning point.

Ever been in XBL playing HALO3? You sure have been and hear all kinds of offensive stuff like "nigger fucker", "homo nigger", "go die u gay noob" and such. How is it even possible for people who are mostly young, to accept a video game that makes them think over some stuff in their society? How is it ever possible to make the majority of people think outside gamerscore, achievements and multiplayer deathmatches? It's a freaking circle. Things like today's games tend to sell because the croud asks for it. Be different, and your games sink in the hell of "games nobody played"

So what needs change? First of all, us. We need to be a bit of thinkers of what the media (not only videogames) transmit to us. IT's not all that hard if you give it some thought instead of leaving your braind in a couch next you when playing. Besides, games can be a way to make the brain actually work, not only in terms of memory and awareness, but also learn new things, receive and process messages about the world around us.

Besides, TV is the main braincell killer, right?

(next time I will refer to stereotypes, games favorite form of human.)   read


5:45 PM on 06.12.2009  

Analyzing the industry's marketing shit: Percentage of console power usage

Yeah, pretty shitty subject for 1.46AM local time.

I have recently joined Playfire. It's a place where gamers gather, show off their game collection (aka. E-peens) and kinda resembles Myspace, in terms of social connection.

In a nutshell, it's another social networking site with gaming orientation, infested with annoying fanboys with their groups and forum wars. Even though I have encountered some great guys and some cool girls of gaming, I admit that this site is a fanboy lair.

I talked to some guys about the console wars, some where right on the spot with facts and logical claims that actually made sense about the consoles they love and support, while some ps3 fanboys annoyed me saying that no game actually reached ps3's full horsepower just because Kojima said it.

It's one of the latest industry's marketing fads. Some important person says that "we reached the 70% of the console" and the fanboys shit their pants. But, looking it at the actual impact this has to the games...

WHO THE FUCK CARES?

Since not every person who owns a current gen console is a programmer or a computer engeneer, how the fuck they supposed to know that he/she has a console with more power than Chuck Norris?
Why the all-important game creator (I'm looking at you Kojima) has to appear in the public to state a percentage of a console's horsepower usage of a game?

The hardware's potential is something that it's known to the programers at the time they get their first debug units and dev kits. It's not that the hardware will give them the power, or the potential to make a better program or, in our case, a game. It's the ways the developers find to get the best of their routines, making the program require less horsepower for each needed procedure.

So, look at the High Voltage's miracle with the Wii. They really had some good coders to nail those graphics to the weak - compared to the other consoles - Nintendo's wagglebox. Did you hear any of them stating that they reached the end? The answer is: No. Because here will be someone, who will try and find something even better.



So, stating that someone "reached the top" or "did this only by using the #% of the console" is like saying that either the programmers are slow in the top and made a needlessly heavy game, or they are not even trying to understand what the harware can do.

Besides, looking and playing a game won't reveal you how much of the console's CPU/GPU uses. Nor the games as they are today can show something different in all terms just because the console has a bazillion CPU's and they used "just the 20% of it"

So, the next time that someone from the industry states bullshit like that, have in mind that it's mostly a marketing trick. Even if it is true, it won't matter to you because besides some nifty textures and particles, you won't find anything groundbreaking into your game.



If there is to be a change in the videogame industry, it won't happen with bulky hardware (or motion controls). It needs something more: refreshing ideas, brighter minds and consumers who give a second critic thought to what the guys at the gaming industry say.   read


11:07 AM on 06.06.2009  

Another Happy Birthday Tetris blogpost

I woke up today and as a normal human being, the first thing to do before washing my teeth was to fire up my pc to see what emails and shit I received from the random sites I participate. My brother was screaming on MSN as soon I loged in: OMFGDARWPDSLDFS! LOOK AT GOOGLE!

Yeah. Google homepage looked like this



and a simple mouse over was explaining WHY all this tetris/pixel galore: It was the 25th birthday of Tetris

Yeah, Tetris turns 25 today with all it's glorious communistic blockyness. Alexey Pajitnov, its creator, was at E3 and made some retrospective at some point that nobody listened.

And, boy, what a shitty day for an old game to have its birthday. It's just at the end of the annual E3 that makes too much noise about new titles, innovative technologies of super consoles with dreamy hardware. We completely fotget the true revolutioneers of the past that shaped the game industry to what it is today.

Tetris is the statement of simplicity and innovation. It's simple, yet engaging. Difficult to master and everybody knows how to play it!

Yeah everybody. Including moms, dads, grandparents and children. It's a simple game about putting falling blocks in the line to clear them out. Everybody can get into it and have fun.Thinkin that at first it was an experimental algorithm about random falling blocks.

Since its initial release, Tetris was a real multiplatform game. It's almost in every device that has a processor and use screen, Including MP3 players, PHotocopy machines, Scientific calculators, consoles, DVD players and recorders etc.

To complete the trivia of this tribute, the most selling version of tetris is that Original Game Boy cartridge that sold 33 million copies. That's really wow thinking that back then, videogames were a lot less mainstream entertainment option. Tetris also inspired a wide variety of other games like Lumines, Columns and Pyo-pop.

And that's that. It's the first post for a long time on destructoid and I believe that the birthday of Tetris is a proper opportunity to make it back to our beloved Dtoid.

Let's forget our super fantastic Xboxes and pee ess threez and weez and play some fucking TETRIS!   read


3:49 PM on 11.25.2008  

Touch your girlfriend/boyfriend hero

Did this caption confused you? I don't know if this has been posted before. Apparently some developers -maybe the ones who invented the curious REZ vibrator- made a game that resembles a lot Guitar hero or DDR but instead of plastic guitars, plastic dancing mats and fake DJ decks, it uses a real, live girl (if you are a boy) or a real live boy (if you are a girl).

It is a bit hard to describe the whole game and the game controllers. instead I give you this video. I repeat, I don't know if this has been already on DTOID.

[embed]112695:16039[/embed]

I really wonder. Is TWISTER that outdated already? Another question is; what would the homosexual couples do if in any chance want the game? would be there any gay and lesbian versions?
One thing is certain. The highest levels will be named "rape"

What do you think? Would you be buying this game for you and your non gaming girlfriend/boyfriend?

And one last thing. You want this game online or offline?   read


6:46 PM on 09.16.2008  

Long cat is long and now has a song (NVGR)

long cat is long and now has a song.
[embed]103962:14510[/embed]

Flash version @ newgrounds.   read


9:15 AM on 09.04.2008  

Microsoft Points Trouble: Microsoft doesn't like money.

pursuing MS points. That's how my day has passed.

As well known, I finally got my own 360 and I am over the top happy about it. So, the next step is to connect to Xbox Live and enjoy all the content that MS offers.
It is well known that, despite the rest of the Europe, Greece does not have official support of XBL. Even tough its sales are great, Microsoft decided that we have to cheat the system, saying that we are in UK.
Not only that, but also the debit and credit card assigned to Greek Banks can not buy anything.

Frustrating to say the least, is the purchase of MS points. Since I can't add points through the marketplace at the Dashboard, I have to go through the Internet and try to find someone who sells prepaid cards so I can finally buy Braid and other goodies.

I first tried Google. It was amazing how many frauds there are. 2 out of 3 results were about "free MS points and how to get them". It looks like there are a lot of stupid guys that believe in this crap.

I Found www.gamepointsnow.com. It looked promising and I gave it a try, but it was out of stock.

I just couldn't buy anything on Ebay because my paypal account is a mess

Other online stores sell only US codes.


How am i supposed to get those fucking MS points? Any recommendations?
I got so dizzy that i'll go to get some sleep after i finish this post.

oh btw Here's a petition on bringing XBL in Greece. I am not an activist junkie or sth but someone has to do something about it...   read


6:36 AM on 09.02.2008  

New console on the blog. Plus glorious SD my gaming setup

It's official. I am a proud 360 owner. I never got to take in my hands a real 360 unit before. Only the controller, so i was really excited. Used to the minimal cable jacks of the Wii, i found the power jack at the back of the console enormously big. Anyways now I can proudly present to you my glorious standard definition gaming setup



I know it's an unlikely furniture for holding gaming systems and a television but believe me it's sooo practical.

As you can see the television set is a freaky old one. At least it can do 60Hz pal without flickering and all.
I also have my Wii with yesterday's unread messages causing it going blue, my wii fit sitting on old poofs and a Sega Saturn just for the retro feeling. (i have a Mega Drive too but I hide it away from the bad people that want to steal it from me)

There is a big couch right across the room. specifically placed for gaming sessions.

So to the 360. here's the awesome photo of my awesome console


bundled with Forza 2 and Viva Piniata.

Let's wish that RROD won't come over me anytime soon....   read


11:30 AM on 08.16.2008  

Gaming summer and gadgets galore

This summer is just awesome. And it hasn't really ended yet.
Besides my relations with the people around me getting better and better, I received and bought a lot of stuff, either gaming related or not.

Let's start with the non gaming or partially gaming related. The Highlight is that i got a new monitor for my pc. I really hated the old one. It was a 15' CRT made by philips that I had it for 8 years. It was like... yuk. I couldn't see shit, the internal lamp became weak over the years and the screen was just dying.
Thankfully, at my birthday (8 August) my parents bought me and sent me a brand new 19' LCD made by LG. It's like a miracle! My tortured eyes really appreciated the difference! oh did i mentioned that it's WIDESCREEN! HECK YEAH!
Now i have plenty of space on my desk and I don't need that ugly old Made-for-pc-only extra table. It also has the same colour scheme with my Keyboard, speakers and mouse which is neat.
The other stuff I picked was a Wacom Bamboo pen tablet (For doing wacky stuff on painting programs) which I picked up for just 45 Euros!
I also received as a present from my bro, a slim DVD-Recorder LG again, which can do Lightscribe and it only gets power from 2 usb ports. It's supposed to be a companion to my Asus EEEpc since it has no Optical Media but it ended up to my Main PC serving as a full duty DVD writer.

Onwards to my gaming stuff.

It's not a 360 yet. So it's all Wii... I got Zack and Wiki; a game that I wanted for so long. I really enjoy it now and I wish for a freaking sequel someday. I downloaded Defend your Castle which is funny as hell! I really liked the feeling of... u know... everyday items turned into barbarians that fiercely want to get into your cardboard castle for no reason...
I also got from the circle of my closest friends a Wii Fit. They all pitched in and they bought it for me. Well... I can't decide if their gesture is moving or they are trying to tell me that i am FAT (and I partially am)
It's something I couldn't buy by myself so it was a great present. The given software is Nothing special besides the exercises and the balance board itself. Overall enjoyable. For rhythm game freaks: this can be the Step Step revolution of your dreams....

I'm gonna get payed by the end of August. I hope this time is a 360. Oh yeah....   read


6:36 PM on 06.17.2008  

Sonic Unleashed: I don't know what to think.

It's not a secret that I am a huge Sonic fan. I have the original Sega Genesis Trilogy in every device imaginable (including Wii)
Having played the latest Sega attempts, I stand disgusted. Sonic The Hedgehog was an unnecessary half baked and overly atrocious attempt of Sega to renew the franchise. Whilst Sonic and the Secret Rigs seemed like a ray of light in the darkness of mediocrity, Sega failed in their own safe bet.

I was so ashamed of Sonic And the Secret Rings that I sold it after I finished it. I know I'm gonna regret it later, when it become collectible but, it felt so bad... I just couldn't stand keeping it in my library.

And then there was the attempt to revive Nights. For the ones who told me to play it before I judge, I did. And I was absolutely right. It sucked so bad that i couldn't finish it and I turned it off almost at 70% progress.

And then there is Sonic Unleashed. I Saw the Europe gameplay video at IGN.
The game looks fast. Just like a Sonic game should be. It also looks like a blended version of Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic Rush in uber 3D.
While the whole thing was good on the eye, i've been wondering...

The game goes too fast. Will it be one of the Sonic games that you hold constantly the analog stick on the right while you occasionally press the jump button? I don't remember that on the older Sonic Games...
I also thought when I saw action commands... Is that game some kind of action interactive movie? Especially these didn't felt right at all.

I wonder what Sonic team is up to now... I hope this effort is at least better than the last ones. but I have lost faith in them...

Also, a LULZ video.

[embed]91078:12339[/embed]   read


5:30 PM on 06.11.2008  

The Start of the Affair: Sega Mega Drive (Genesis)


I remember myself like a dream back then. When me and my brother were at our family's half-finished summer house playing Atari and Sega Master System.
Looking at the closest mirror i can see why the other kids picked on me. I had enormous eyes for my head, curly hair and an overall innocent look. It was back then when i was 10 that my brother got frustrated from a game I can hardly remember. He threw the controller against the screen and he broke it internally.
I cried a lot. I felt pretty angry with my brother but watching my parents school him I also felt a bit sad about him.
So I gave him my hand and I said "Let's collect money and buy a better console"

We were not that rich back then. We also had to finish this summer house and both my parents were working like crazy all day until late in the night. The upgrade wouldn't be possible if we asked them directly. They'll probably say no or a half baked lie.
But the scenery was far too touching for them to refuse. Besides, it was the end of summer.

By the Christmas we had the whole amount of money for the console, and with the christmas carol treat combined we were able to buy 2 cartridges.

The first one was a Combo Cartridge. It had two Disney Interactive games: The Castle of Illusion and Quack Shot. The second one, which was my favorite of the two, was Sonic the Hedgehog.

The console we had though was the Sega Mega Drive 2. A lot smaller than the original Sega Mega drive. I thought that it was cool. It was entirely black with two red buttons and red led indicator. I also liked the way that the RF box it had turned automatically into Console mode when the console switched on out of it when the console switched off.

The first cartridge we jacked in was Sonic The Hedgehog. Hearing voices chanting "Seee-gaaaa" made all my curly hair raise in surprise and joy. The game seemed in my childish eyes so FANTASTIC. I had the corresponding Sonic The Hedgehog on Master System but i never imagined that Sonic would be THAT fluid. Even my mother was watching on surprise the little dude that sped up in colorful worlds. We spend almost the half of the night playing sonic stage by stage with my brother.

For the other two games, I wasn't so enthusiastic about them but i loved them a lot. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse was childish-dreamy and it's controls were very good. It also had some very atmospheric moments like the last battle with the Mirzabel - the bad Witch who summoned ghost to protect her and use them as projectiles, she also zapped herself between the arena's platforms. Mini mouse was imprisoned in a bubble and shouted for help. It was good.

Quack Shot was a Platform game too but it had some shooting elements. You could fire different types of ammo like, plums, popcorn and acidic bubbles that can dissolve certain walls. The game had some very unique levels like the Maharaja's castle that was an enormous labyrinth. Also the Incas pyramid had some really intimidating coffins of dead duck emperors. The game constantly forces you to use different types of ammo.

We had it as our primary console for 2 years. We bought games like Ristar, Donald duck in Maui Mallard, all the Sonic trilogy, Streets of Rage, The revenge of shinobi, Mortal combat 3 Ultimate, Garfield caught in the act and more. I missed Vectorman though.

This console with the croissant-like controllers made me love all the type of games- From childish ones with no storyline and great gameplay to the bloody violent games with deep story. I still remember the Revenge of the Shinobi that was dark and violent. Also, this console made me love Sonic. Even the Sonic Spinball was better than today's crappy Sonic games. Now i have these games downloaded on emulator (i still have the cartridges so i am Legal) and i also downloaded on VC just to have them on the Wii.

After those 2 years, my uncle gave me my cousins old SNES console while they got a brand new playstation. I couldn't give a shit. I had the best 16 bit consoles on my hands and i only got a PSX when those two died.

My SNES got lost while moving on our new house. Probably mistaken as a box filled with garbage by my mother. Too good I have my Sega Mega Drive on my student home.   read


12:26 PM on 05.20.2008  

Wii Ware on Europe. First impressions on Lost Winds and Star Soldier

Ok American fellow gamers, Wii Ware arrived on european Wiis and it rocks. Even though Nintendo didn't sent the usual message on message board to inform that the service is online.
Immediately I added 3000 points and downloaded Lost Winds and Star Soldier R.

I observed a bit the changes that made on Wii shop channel. Finally it looks like there is content in there. So, the initial games are: Lost Winds, Doctor Mario, Star Soldier R, Toki Tori and Final Fantasy crystal chronicles: My life as a king. I chose to download Star Soldier R and the anticipated Lost Winds.

I played about 2 hours of each game. Well, Star Soldier can't be bigger than 5 minutes, and i guess it was neither bad nor good choice, since there are plenty of classic scroller shooters, this can be skipped since it doesn't have any length or any replayability except the score.

Lost winds is an other story. I can't believe that Jenga, GeoWars, mercury meltdown and others came out on retail and this one is on a download service. It looks and it plays great. I liked how lots of pieces of the scenery interacts with the wind you create, and sometimes the game feels so Okami...
It has it's frustrating moments. Sometimes it seems like your character does not float the way you want and you may end up falling free. The music is soothing and a bit repetitive. I like how the main character eats the fruits and then acts like a total douche and jumps on the fruit and destroys it. The puzzles are awesome and the whole game feels so polished. This game is the best 10 Euros best spend ever.

I plan to download the Oh-so-many-memories Doctor Mario. Even i didn't really liked it back in the days i was young, I'll be glad to play it again.   read


7:49 PM on 05.14.2008  

Top 10 LOLs I had in games recently

Yes another countdown you have to deal with. Top 10 memorable moments of laughter i had with games In recent memory.

10 Mario & Luigi: Partners in time

Mario and Luigi series are funny as hell. No doubt about it. But the moment that Mario had to do with two crying babies and a Luigi at total nerve breakdown was priceless.

9. Super Paper Mario

Just who the hell wrote the part that a nerdy chameleon is trying to date Princess Peach through a dating patch. The moment was too stupid and yet so clever that made me laugh for days.

8.Portal

I know I shouldn't laugh with a girl that's imprisoned and forced to participate in an experiment by a crazy supercomputer. If gladOS was a real woman, I'd gladly marry her for her sense of humor. Also, turrets made me laugh a lot.

7.Call of duty 4 multiplayer
I know that it's not the game that's fun itself but also the guys who play with. Call of duty's ragdolls gave birth to a variety of jokes from toilet humor to sexistic Shocking stories.

6. Sam and Max
All the seasons made me laugh so hard that the guy who lives next to me thought that i had some kind of neurotic shock. The people who wrote this are totally crazy.

5. Lost Oddysey

The game was allright but some details in the game are, in a hilariously way, tribute to old Final Fantasy graphic and physics (what physics) engines. Cars that stop at once and lifts that instead of going down, they fall free. Also, the character walks and runs funny anyway...

[b]T4.Mario Kart Wii/b]

Just play 4 player and try to be a douche. You will not stop laughing. Even though the whole gameplay was built on luck, there are some moments that you can beat the crap out of the other players and watch them get furious.

3.Crysis

Despite I didn't quite like this Visual Whore that is already forgotten, I had a lot of fun with the physics of the game. The moment that you get a vehicle and drive is plainly fun. The most LOL moment was when i jumped on a cottage and left the car on the roof. Another stupidly laughable moment is when after a fight, you realize that you have casualties on birds, trees, and hens.

2.Sing Star

I always wanted to play Sing Star and I had the opportunity once an old friend threw a party. Knowing how much I suppress the showman deep inside me because I am so timid, they got me drunk and made me sing Maddona's Like a Virgin and dance in front of everyone. It was fun.. for them. The video still exist.

1.GTA4

The game is full of little weird things that look like they are totally deliberate.
Having a Coffe cup on hand and pointing at people, everyone shouts and runs. A hot-dog is enough to cause Death to everyone you may hit with it, Police-men retreat when you eat and some civilians act like douches. The possibilities of stupid deaths of you or other NPC's are endless and they always cause a lot of laughter. Some stunts are fun too. Too bad there isn't any achievement for being severely stupid in this game.   read







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