Hey all, I just started a video series called "Video Game Deathbed", where I basically bitch about silly and unfriendly practices in video games and in the industry. It's a lo-fi affair, and probably not incredibly entertaining yet, but I thought I'd share it here and rely on the powers of the internet to make me stupid famous and wealthy beyond my wildest imagination (note: sarcasm). Anyway the first episode, ironically, is about the Xbox One and how terrible it is. Enjoy!
This year, two brand new consoles have been announced, packed with new features aiming to "bring us together" and revolutionize "entertainment". But for some reason, it still feels like 2006 to me, and I think I know why. It's not that these consoles are rehashes on the past, by any means. I think it's because the core gamer has been forgotten, yet again.
I watched the Xbox One presentation yesterday. My position going into it was "cautiously optimistic". Out of the four platforms I play on (PS3, 3DS, PC, and 360), Xbox was a solid number two. All my friends played on Xbox, an excuse I hear from a lot of different people on the fence during the console wars. But not only that, I felt the Xbox brand was different. I mean, sure they had Halo, but they also brought a lot of different experiences to us. Alan Wake was one of my favorite new IP's this generation. Before going multiplat years later, the first Mass Effect blew me away. The first Gears was a solid experience that was rather innovative at the time. I could go on and on, but the point is, it seemed like Xbox was dedicated to investing in new IP's, and were willing to take chances on gamers. The past few years have been pretty rough for Xbox, but maybe this new announcement would revitalize this brand that was so dedicated to bringing new experiences to core gamers.
And then we got TV, sports, and Skype. We got mandatory Kinect, online checks, and DRM. We got 3 games with no gameplay footage. We got "Wait till E3".
We got screwed.
Flashback to February, the PS4 announcement. Again, I was cautiously optimistic. I think Sony had a rough gen this time around, and almost for no reason. I had a PS3, and besides a handful of exclusives, it was mostly ignored. I can't tell you why. Maybe it was the Dualshock 3. I felt, for shooters, it was inadequate. The sticks felt too sensitive, and the triggers felt just....weird. But regardless, I still had hope Sony could turn this around. The PS4 announcement didn't leave me in disgust like the Xbox One did, but I did feel....underwhelmed. I mean, they showed off video games, and even the "social" features all felt tied into my games, but it just didn't set right with me. It all felt like pandering to a group of gamers that we're brought in during the Wii era, the Era of "Grandpa can play". I'm not an elitist that believes that games shouldn't be for everyone, but core gamers will be around forever. This isn't a fleeting hobby for us, it's here to stay. Casual gamers will come and go, but we'll still be here when the dust settles. So why is it that gaming's most dedicated and loyal groups have been ignored?
This is why this gen is the perfect time for PC to step into the limelight. PC gaming is generally seen as an enthusiast level platform, but really, it's as open as you want it to be. People seem to think it's too expensive to build a decent gaming PC, but it's about the same as consoles (if you're shooting for a mid-tier PC, that is). Yeah, there's DRM and no used games on PC, but unlike Xbox, it's an open platform. PC gaming is filled with more unique experiences AND at lower prices.
I think this is the gen that the core gamer will migrate to PC, because it's apparent that these consoles aren't made for us. They're made for Mom and Dad. I don't need to watch tv while I play games while I skype my friends while I masturbate. I just want to play games and masturbate.
Let me something straight before we begin: I like guns. Yes, the real ones. I'm not a huge gun nut, but I appreciate firearms to an extent some do not. This interest in firearms led me to purchase a wonderful new indie game called Receiver (check it out if you haven't). In Receiver, the main draw is, without a doubt the realistic mechanics of the firearms.
Turning your safety off and pulling the hammer back are concepts not seen in any other game that I've played, and it's a really unique experience. As a fan of firearms, this really impressed me. It also got me thinking about the most unique feature of the game: manualing loading your magazines, and keeping track of them. More importantly, it got me thinking about how a small feature like that would be magnificent in these mundane, modern shooters we get shoveled out every year.
no but seriously how is he holding that gun
Imagine, if you will, you're in a firefight. Four enemies have you pinned down. Two of them have to reload, so you pop out of cover and take the shots. The first two go down no problem, but as you move to the third, you realize you're dry. You scramble back behind cover, tossing the empty mag to the side. You search one magazine, three rounds. You search a second, four. As the two enemies are closing in on your position, you frantically fill the magazine up to eight. As you see them rounding the corner to your position, you slam the magazine in and unload. Both are down, with three rounds to spare.
Now I'm aware that might turn some people off, and you might even think it sounds silly, but to me, a more realistic approach to these bland shooters could be what turns these games from silly fluff to solid games. Don't get me wrong, I like military shooters, but I feel like the current path they are headed on is neither new or original, and I feel like most people are getting fatigued. These franchises need a new hook, an innovative element to keep them fresh and relevant. That's why I think ammo responsibility could be a key feature that would make these games more immersive and fun. It could add a much needed layer of difficulty to these games. More importantly, I feel like it could lend itself rather well to a more narrative driven game like Spec Ops: The Line.
Imagine how well that could translate the stress and anxiety of war and combat? Put the stress not on the character, but also the player THEMSELVES as you make them responsible for having their magazines loaded properly? I think it would work, and I think it would be more fun, to be honest.
Now some of the other mechanics from Receiver would translate poorly, in my opinion. The safety would be redundant, and manually reloading would simply take too long and bog down the gunplay (which my idea is in danger of honestly, if not done correctly). i believe though, that even as an optional difficulty mode, ammo responsibility could bring alot to this stale genre. I realize the chances are slim, simply because the CEO's won't want to risk alienating their "core" audience of these games, but a man can dream, can't he?
Hey all. This is my first blog. Incidentally, no idea on how to start one of these without sounding awkward.
Anyways, I'm pretty excited about Bioshock Infinite. I've played the original 4 or 5 times through, and loved it. The second one? Ehhhhh. But I digress, I'm excited about this game. My girlfriend doesn't really play games that much. She likes watching me play games like Deus Ex and MGS, but only recently decided to give one of my games a go. That game? Bioshock.
She's seen the trailers for Infinite and thinks the world looks pretty cool (plus she likes shooting things, so there's that), so I told her about the original and suggested she give it a go. I explain to her about the world of Rapture and Andrew Ryan and the powers and she stopped me right there. "Powers, you say? You mean I can shoot people AND set them on fire?" Well, yeah, but I mean the real draw of the game is the rich atm- "I'm in. Boot it up."
I'm just going to cut to the chase: She played the game wrong. Now, I know, I get it and I feel bad for saying so, but she ignored the story! The audiologs! She YAWNED during the Andrew Ryan confrontation and was disappointed she didn't get a boss fight! I tried to explain the story to her and she didn't really care. But, strangely enough, she loved the game! And that's when I realized why they chose the boxart that they went with. I get it now. That box art was to lure people in like my girlfriend. People that just want a game where you can shoot shit and set people on fire. I still don't condone this by any means, but I guess I just couldn't believe that people play games and ignore the story because they just don't care and want to blow up some shit for 30 minutes.
I told her she played the game wrong, but she didn't seem to care, and I guess neither should I, really. I hope Infinite sells well, and I hope it's as amazing as I think it will be (dat 1999 mode), but I just hope that one day people like Mr. Levine won't HAVE to pander to frat boys with generic box art. Maybe ordinary people will start taking this medium seriously, because I do, and I know plenty of others do too. I just hope that gaming doesn't have to pander too much to these people to get them interested.