My name is Alex. I'm 15 and I hide in my dark corner of the internet writing a so-called "blog" here on Destructoid. I think far too critically of myself which has reflected on my personality, as I'm cyncical and highly critical of...well a lot of stuff.
Anyway, games. It was all about the GameBoy Advance when I was young, and have grown up on an unhealthly diet of portable gaming (GBA,DS,PSP), a recent introduction of console gaming , lots of fictional media, and yummy food.
I'm lazy and very day-dreamy, non-committal and kind of temperamental. Plus I get distracted easily...I'm really painting a rosy picture here aren't I? Still, if you stick around, (I'm hoping) you may find something of quality here, and who knows, I don't think I'm THAT bad, right...right?
So yeah, vidjo games.
Deus Ex Human Revolution
Batman Arkham City
Total War:Shogun 2
Jurassic Park:Operation Genesis
Super Mario 64
House Of Dead III
Also, I have twitter now, even though I now feel like a complete sell out. Follow me and see how uninteresting I can be.
You know what's odd? The reasons people play video games. Some do it to relax, some do it to "activate" (a la fighting games improve reflexes etc), some do it to shut their kid/brother/sister/friend/kidnapped alien up for half an hour so they can do some work/play outside/work out what to do with a kidnapped alien without the kid pleading to play 2-player with them.
Me? I'm in it for the story.
I play games, because...well, in my opinion, games are the best medium at having the possibility of telling great stories. It combines the length and depth + detail of a book, but it uses pictorial form, which has a far greater effect on the human mind, since we rely on our eyes as our most important sense, things have a far greater effect when you see them, rather than reading about it.
That's for another time though. What I'm HERE (thanks Elect Nigma) to talk about is my time (or rather lack of) spent in what is now, just as important, if not more. I'm going to talk about multiplayer and online-iness in general.
I could not have spent in all my collective time on online video games, more than 25 hours in total. That covers all my games. EVER. I have barely ventured into the realm of solo multiplayer, and I don't really have any reasons why.
It's not so much that I must take a stand against the disgusting leech that is tacked-on multiplayer, or even good dedicated multiplayer, it probably falls down to two reasons. I have limited internet, and multiplayer almost always has no story value.
I need a reason to care. A reason to progress. A reason to waste my time in a virtual world instead of doing something worthwhile in the real world. Once I finish a story, I barely ever return to a game. Multiplayer basically offers me a burger, but without the meat. It's just bread, and some onions which you know are going to come out badly at the end. It's not interesting, I have no patience for level grinding, and I never have "great" connection. I generally have a predisposition to just avoid multiplayer, simple as.
That's not to say I detest multiplayer. I just like to do it with a friend who I can actually see. Many a school night was spent at my friends house, playing Guitar Hero, then Guitar Hero II, and then Halo 3. My God, the fun I had playing Halo 3 with my friends. Endless memories of awesome.
Maybe that's why I don't like multiplayer now, because it's solitary. Yes you play with other people, but even with friends, you can never shake the feeling that you're sitting alone, talking into a headset. When you play with people around you, it just feels better. It doesn't matter what generation, it's always better with a friend by your side. GoldenEye, Pokemon Stadium, Micro Machines, Battle Engine Aquila, Halo, Halo II, Halo 3, Guitar Hero, CoD. All contain memories, and all would have been far less interesting without having a friend right next to me to experience them.
It scares me to be honest. Like an invasion of my solitude. Now every game has multiplayer (almost all of the Alien's Colonial Marines coverage on the internet has been about its multiplayer., and Dead Space 2 had the most useless multiplayer ever, just because they thought it might appeal more) Every game now has day one patches. Sleeping Dogs required half of it to be downloaded, before I could play it. Total War Shogun 2 regularly requires massive, hard drive space eating, patches.
( It would be nice if I could play my games offline, without having to go online just to be allowed to play them).
I can't keep up. Steam requires you to go online to allow for offline play. Portal 2 had an 11GB patch (I have 30GB a month, and I can just about keep above water), so I had to delete it. I regularly have to visit friend's houses to get some serious downloading done, and it's getting worse. Almost unattainable.
So maybe I just have to give up on games. After all, everything is all about inter connectivity and online-only (F2P games, they don't have offline modes at all) and huge patches for unfinished games, where they assume that everyone has unlimited usage. I've pretty much fallen behind, like a runner who has a stitch, and just can't keep up.
Gaming alone is over. My solitary space is gone now, replaced by Steam notifications and adverts to spend money on extra clothes (Sleeping Dogs). Fictional media requires suspension of disbelief, which is hard to do when people drop in and ask you to skip the cut scenes
I guess I've turned into the gaming equivalent of a dinosaur. And the meteor is coming, in the shape of my disconnection to the rapidly growing multiplayer market The gamers who play games for stories are no longer the majority. But to be honest, where they ever?
Also, I realize how ridiculously "first world problems" and middle class I sound.
Unrelated note: That Werewolf forum thread is actually amazing. It's such a cool idea.
The Walking Dead Episode 3 was crazy depressing. I mean, like horrifically miserably and soul-crushingly sad. Seriously, I've never seen such a low point reached, and honestly, if anything good came out of that episode, it was the fact that Lee made Clementine safer and more worldly, and not everyone died, but seriously, that was it.
I usually write these blogs when I reach a low point in my mindset, like after a particularly shitty day, or after something embarrassing happening to me or being lonely. It's not that I only want to blog when I'm miserable, it's just chances are if I'm happy, I'm usually in no position to be pensive and thoughtful, and just spam the blogs with 1 Million/10 Reviews over games (OH MY GOD FTL: Faster Than Light IS AMAZING!!!!!).
See, the thing is, I don't like being sad, it's just a horrible mindset. And playing sad games doesn't exactly boost spirit levels.
See, as Jim Sterling put it in the latest Jimquistion (paraphrasing) "Everybody is fucking miserable, and players don't like miserable protagonists, because they are miserable."
It seems strange that Maturity and Tragedy go hand in hand, where adult themes come tacked on with "epic sadness set pieces attached" (did Jackie really need to die in Sleeping Dogs ? It's not like it advanced the plot in anyway, or how about Dead Space 2? I swear if I was Issac, I would've put a Javelin between my eyes, because honestly, his life is so soul-suckingly awful that everybody would understand if he let himself fly out of the airlock.)
But then again, don't mature themes need to be dealt with if video games are ever to be taken seriously, you ask? Well, first, video games are already taken seriously, but like all art forms, they have their critics, their protestors, and their downright ignorant. I mean, did you see the "Modern Art" exhibition that was just white walls? What the fuck?)
But the argument does have a fair point. Honestly, if all games had the plot depth of Trine or BIT.TRIP RUNNER, then gaming itself could never be used as a medium for storytelling.
No not art, I honestly believe gaming's function now is to tell stories, because no matter how many multiplayer-only and F2P games come out, people will always buy games with great stories, because simply put, a game is the best way to tell a story. It combines the visuals of movie, and the length of a book, and can contain the metaphorical depth far outclassing any piece of artwork. But that's for another time.)
See the thing about leaving the innocence intact, and removing the mature themes is that gaming no longer caters to an child-like audience. Many people who grew up with this innocence of gaming, with nothing more than to jump over the blocks, or 8-bit violence which was so blocky you couldn't tell whether it was blood or the screen had broken, they are exactly that. Grown-ups.
It's easy for nostalgia to cloud your view. It's easy to say "Games are too violent, kids playing games now are playing games too mature, "back in the day, when we used to burn our socks for fire..." but honestly, it's hard not to imagine anything else.
Honestly, the market has changed. It's not kids who are the main buyers now, it's teenagers and adults. So the game industry has adapted, and it's provided us with nail-biting, intense, even sorrowful stories which some of us can remember for the rest of our lives.
But in turn, it has had to sacrifice some of the traits that made it boom in the first place. No longer could we have one dimensional storylines, running from exactly A to B, without a criticism on how linear and boring it is. They couldn't get away with making Tetris today, it would flop both commercially and critically. Why? Because it wasn't designed for this market, it was designed for the coin guzzling arcade and basic console market back then, when things were different. Honestly, when was the last game Destructoid gave a good review to of a basic puzzle game? Never, because they haven't reviewed one in forever.
One of the few good things to have come out of the Soviet Union
Why? Because we opened ourselves up to 3 dimensional game making, and 3 dimensional storytelling. But most importantly, we opened ourselves up to realism. To stop holding our heads above the clouds, and to drag us down to earth, to pummel us with tales of misery and depression. Or did it? After all, gaming is about immersion...right? And what's more immersive than something already familiar to us?
Man I don't know, I never really had a point to make with this blog post, it was just some random thoughts snowballling into this. What do you guys think? Do more innocent and simplistic games lay in your favour? Or are you the one who craves emotional power from these games?
If Sleeping Dogs has taught me anything, besides how a pork bun can cure severe amounts of torture, it's that you don't have to be original to be awesome.
If you think this was never seen before...
You've obviously never played Pursuit Force on PSP.
Every single gameplay mechanic from Sleeping Dogs, I've seen from somewhere before. The action hijack system is from Pursuit Force. The melee combat is Arkham City esque, and the open world mechanics, are used in every open world game really. The story takes it's roots from rags to riches tropes, asian cinema etc. I felt the penthouse level jumped right out of the Mafia II Construction Site Scene. I could go on. But the thing is...
This is a good thing.
I think we all read the reviews of the game where it's creativity couldn't make up for it's poorness. It relied so heavily on something original, that it totally ignored the fact that it was a miserable, buggy excuse for a game.
This is what made Sleeping Dogs so good. It took these parts, and perfected them. Yes the audio lagging and screen tearing is there, and it's not perfect, but it took many already used gameplay mechanics and created "2.0 Versions" of them.
Like how it created a living city. Mafia II was lovely looking, but it was empty and lifeless. Red Dead Redemption was a living frontier, but it seemed quite static, unless you were a whore, if you were, it was your job to be kidnapped by a drunk moron. L.A Noire (see Mafia II). So Sleeping Dogs went for both. It created a dense cityscape where it felt like life was actually happening.
Are how in Mafia II they thought they were being authentic by including one word of Italian in a cutscene now and again. Sleeping Dogs went the extra mile in having about 1-2 fifths of it being spoken in Cantonese, without the subtitling (dialogue outside of cut scenes). Cue Deus Ex Human Revolution Hengsha as an inspiration.
It doesn't matter that Sleeping Dogs is bursting to the brim with originality, there is already a thriving indie market for that type of game player. What Sleeping Dogs did, was pick and choose from the best bits of recent media, and slam them together to create something special. It removed most of the flaws, and presented a more polished version of specific mechanics which have been praised.
Sleeping Dogs showed me something. It showed me you can't run on an idea. You need to shape it properly, refine it, execute it. If you don't put the work into your idea, well then that's all it remains. A good idea.
(Apologies for the shortness of this blog, but I'm not really feeling the inspiration right now. It will probably come to me at 2AM. I'll try to develop something more substantial soon. Sorry - PK.)
Corduroy Turtle asked for desperation, so I'm giving him desperation. I will bitchslap his desperation need so much it will turn from a needy girlfriend to a shallow seductress. That's right. SEDUCTRESS.
-My avatar is my actual face. With a plushie Yoshi's face creeping in aswell. And although it is too small to see, there is a lady's purse in the background (my sisters).
-I have lost the original photo, so seeing it again (slightly) bigger all over a gaming convention will make me watch re-runs of Fraiser and actually laugh and understand the jokes.
*I'd love to insert a picture here, but the free wi-fi I'm using has blocked me from uploading pictures. Because SCIENCE*
But seriously, that show's subtext makes my brain want to drink bleach because it feels so stupid. If my brain had a mouth, and internal digestion system...and a Kao-Ken X4 Attack.
Anyway, digression occured.
Considering I live in the UK, America is far away. Seeing half of my english mug would be gracing American soil before I even get there in reality, would make me feel pretty awesome.
If you took me along with you, producing a poor cockney accent to go along with me would be allowed, considering my Londoner status. I could be like a victorian chimney sweep...with a green dinosaur.
You could take me to the Assassin's Creed III's booth and photoshop a middle finger in, because you know, you could showcase all my beautiful British ignorance :D.
Also, considering I don't spend enough time hanging out with the Dtoid Community, I would love for me to at least a few memories of Dtoid besides writing blogs, and spending every 5 mins refreshing to see what people's responses to it are. I can never got involved in playdates because it would require me to stay up to 5-6 AM and considering I'm about to start college, that's simply not feesible.
I lost my Yoshi. Give him something which I can place on his imaginary grave. A pic of him with awesome people might cheer him up in Mario Heaven.
I am baffled. By many things, but one thing seems to be itching the back of my mind right now.
I can't seem to grasp why nobody seems interested in Sleeping Dogs.
When I saw the "Sleeping Dogs Voice Talent Trailer" uploaded, the general response seemed to be "Emma Stone is so hot, might take an interest in this game now" and "LOL thought this was about Watch Dogs" and I felt the confusion levels in my head rising.
I couldn't (and still can't) see why people aren't getting excited about this game. It seems to have all the ingredients for a behemoth of a video game IP.
It has Hollywood (and Hong Kong) Top class voice acting .Seriously, Lucy Liu and Emma Stone, and even Tom Wilkinson from The Kennedys and Batman Begins? Saints Row The Third had a pornstar, a washed out wrestler and a dude from "Lost". Not even the fat one.
It has impressive gameplay. The combat looks incredibly visceral and brutal, and adding the environment as a weapon (and actually utilising it properly, I didn't bother at one time in Spec Ops : The Line to shoot out the windows and drop sand on them.) The driving and general feel of the game looks incredible and really engaging.
It also has built an incredibly authentic experience. It features a very authentic soundtrack from asian music (as well as some "Western" tracks thrown in aswell) and,the look of the city is how you would expect it to look and it is not a static city. It appears to have many distractions to help create a living breathing city (when GTA V has cock-fighting, I'll eat my words).
Although I'm not exactly versed in Asian cinema, i believe that it also utilises the acting of people from both sides of the spectrum, so they haven't exactly gone in to this half-cocked (haha...chicken pun).
I'm sure it will have it's faults, but nobody seems interested. There's no hype, no editorials on it's significance (or possible significance), no endless streams of trailers and interviews. There's no build up to what looks like what could be one of my favourite games of the year. But why?
Is it because of it's troubled roots? It spawned from the reboot of the "True Crime" series, but Activision gave it up because it was so expensive and delays. I had never actually heard of the True Crime Series until Sleeping Dogs started to surface, so maybe that could be it.
Maybe because it's origins are in a relatively small franchise and it being a game which is not a sequel, so therefore it is untested by the masses, so it could be that Square Enix aren't focusing particularly on driving the game into everybody's heads. Maybe they know that consumers will lack the confidence to invest full price into a brand new IP, especially since "sequelitis" seems to be eating everyone's money. So maybe they are advertising it as a sleeper hit so they can build a dediicated fanbase first.
Maybe it's because of the cost. If Activision, one of the biggest publishers, decides it's too costly, then maybe Square Enix are just trying to save some cash. It certainly looks like a game that cost a pretty penny. Considering it's summer, spending a lot of time marketing would be risky since everyone is meant to be out enjoying the sun.
Maybe it's because of the press, who seem to have very little interest. In fact, I'll dare say they'd rather cover a story about a "BRAND NEW SCREENSHOT FROM GTA V" rather than an editorial about Sleeping Dogs. It seems that a name means a lot more now, and things are judged on first glance since there are limitless options. That's why directors put their names on things, to help promote them. I'm sure if Sleeping Dogs had "John Woo's" name tattooed above it, it would be getting far more coverage.
Maybe because it is not a clear cut game. Is it a sandbox? Open world? Racing game? RPG? Third Person Shooter? What part takes prevelence? How important is each aspect? Even the media can't seem to focus on what it is. I see statements such as "Open world crime shooter with racing elements" or "Third person shooter with RPG aspects" and even "An action and adventure crime story". Confusion does not help in the least.
Honestly, the arguments and theories are endless. I'm just worried that this game might be forgotten, and left to rot in a case inside Square Enix HQ. I really hope this game does well. It could be like The Witcher 2, incredible, but somehow not incredibly commercially popular (e.g Skyrim).