Quantcast
Community Discussion: Blog by Roberto Plankton | Roberto Plankton's ProfileDestructoid
Roberto Plankton's Profile - Destructoid

DestructoidJapanatorTomopopFlixist





click to hide banner header
About



Vienna, Austria






Badges
Following (15)  


I watch myself getting older and my backlog getting bigger and bigger. While this happens, the excitement about gaming in general dwindles at an alarming rate. Perhaps not that alarming a rate as I still burn a lot of time in front of the screen and waste whole nights with playing co-op games (wasted) – but that might be due to an addictive predisposition and my inability to break a habit.
So I still think that I caught the gaming ennui. Oh no!
Now I pondered a little about what exactly has fuelled my original excitement about the medium, what triggers the tingling sensation that makes you think about certain games even if you are not playing. What makes you plan your Terraria-mansion or your Final Fantasy Tactics setup while doing boring stuff, like work for instance. What makes you remember a boss-fight after years and decades of abstinence.
You all know that sweet pain. YES YOU DO!



It's my party and I cry if I want to


Since establishing categories is of the utter importance for whatever you do, I tried to establish categories for what makes a good game. Since establishing categories and sorting things accordingly is also one of the most boring activities imaginable the following might look like an incoherent mess. That's because it actually is an incoherent mess. Please forgive me. Let me indulge myself in self-referential reveries for once. I try to convey an idea, I just have a vague idea of. That's kind of difficult but it feels so good.
 
 
Categories:
 
- the novelty:
games and concepts which are new to you tend to leave a deeper impression…obviously. Even if it is just above excremental by today’s standards I have special place in my heart for Battle Arena Toshinden 2. And I always will call dibs on Chaos, don’t you dare.
The first 3d-arena-fighting game will be dear to you till Alzheimers finally erases the very memory of the good old Hidou Drill itself (B, DB, D, DF, F, Kick).
Part of the novelty effect is the light bulb moment.
I mentioned it before: press button B in order to run faster… is secret lore. During my formative years I had a lot of that aha-experiences. That might be due to the fact that I never bothered about reading manuals back than (except to prevent me from smashing the TV).
When you start playing videogames these moments are legion. You simply don’t know what a game wants from you. You painstakingly learn that you run from left to right and suddenly Battle of Olympus demands backtracking… that crazy world of videogames.
Bare-knuckle-pro-gamers like us crave these moments of  course (in remembrance of the first fix or something) and with the rise of indie-games there is still hope for those who can handle surprise and a challenge.
 
- elegance
Elegance both in aesthetics and narration are important factors, at least for me.
I never owned Totally Rad for the NES for example, I played it for about 15 hours in total but still I remember the strange graphics, especially the phenomenal bosses. The same applies to a more recent example, El Shaddai - never beat the second boss but the memories are vivid nonetheless
Because this game is covered in style. Because ART.
By default the human mind works a lot with story-based principles (as I take it) and is fond of external activation but also gets bored easily. So elegance in story/narration are important as well. I think I don’t have to elaborate on that.
And I won’t mention Journey.
My third point in establishing elegance as a category is elegance in execution. If a game is mediocre concerning every one of the aspects I mentioned above but delivers elegant gameplay I can live with it. Alien Zombie Megadeath for the PSP is a simpleton in every respect but delivers. Anyway.
 
So I've got two categories so far. Great. 
I warned you.
 
I would say a really good game draws its goodness from all of these categories. And of many others, which I am too lazy to list a/o can't think about in the moment.
When I am completely honest with myself a game could be really good in the sense that it more or less excels in all (two) categories mentioned above...and still...
It could be good according to general agreement and still be forgotten soon after it hits the shelves. Or it could turn out to be a real goldmine and I still won't care (aka The Last of Us).
A really really good game stays a really good game over a period of time, even if it isn’t played regularly anymore. It retains that special aura of relevance, becomes an “important” game. For me a really good as well as important game needs a final ingredient: the Other. Somebody you can share the excitement with – so that the game can build up something like emotional impact. Actually, a game can be really bad and shit on categories worldwide. If it somehow manages to create  a bond between yourself and the Other it might well just become such an important game. And by some kind of complicated osmotic process transform itself into a state which at least has the appearances of a good game (especially through the veils of nostalgia). I never actually played the Gremlin-game for the NES but I remember it vividly. Because some kid told me about it in great detail. Gremlins are lilac btw.

 
To me an indicator for an equally good and important game is its impact on RL. That magic moment when a meme comes into being. When you suddelny start to play Super Mortal Basketball (and your PE teacher invites your parents to visit him at the conference day) and language gets infiltrated by some strange new ideas.
True Pinball is a pinball simulator for the Psone which I hold dear for many reasons. And I am not even very much into pinball. The Vikings-table had so many memorable moments, I still quote them today when talking with friends who played it too.
"Let’s see how much you Vikings can drink" and the sound-effects of the multi-ball-pig-rally are both part of my everyday communication. Not to speak of "Hadouken" and "Finish him!"
Puzzle Quest is a nice little game too…in versus-mode I spat and cried because of the Mana-Burn ability (which a certain someone used to use all the time). Now I think back to it fondly and just throw a fit when a certain someone whispers “your hero is near death” into my ear.



MANA BURN. I HATE YOU.



The same applies to Super Puzzle Fighter, the best puzzle game mankind has seen up to this point.  I don't know what "Yohizee!", "Brotzeit" and "Karij Karij" actually mean but I yell these words nevertheless from time to time. Preferably unprovoked. In public space.
I know at least one person with an academic degree that also wants to be in a Parappa/Um Jammer Lammy cover-band.
I did a lot of father-son-bonding via Dr.Mario. The Dr.Mario-OST became synonymous with tedious tasks or repetitive actions. My father (who played it non-stop back in the days) still jokingly (I hope) accuses me of stealing  his only source of joy when I eventually packed the NES away. And sometimes he sings the well-known tunes in his “GnaGnaGna”-voice when he deems a chore to be beneath his dignity.
Gitaroo Man is hilarious but gets so much deeper if you can share your fear of Mister Yasuda and his band of costumed musicians.



BLAME MR.YASUDA

The Might&Magic-iteration for the SNES had a monster called “Horvath” in it. In school there was a girl going by the same name. She was infamous for various reasons. Until this day my attitude towards breasts is a strange mixture of horror and fascination (more fascination than horror, though). And I always think of Horvath when I see some.




I don't need therapy


Competition and cooperation with friends is influential of course: Doom 2, Rival Turf, Streets of Rage, Bloody Roar, Star Gladiators, Micro Machines, Bomberman, Gunstar Heroes. EDF… all gone, but not forgotten.  Alcohol and the ancient art of drunken gaming comes into mind here as well. The demon that is alcohol affects the capacity of reaction, which makes it the natural enemy of the dedicated player of games, yet it enhances the pleasure of playing in a group. Once we repeatedly tried to catch all stars in Mario 64 after reaching a certain level of intoxication. We never made it. But we have managed to get Mario's cap get snatched by one of those vultures in the desert world.  I think we will never see it again. We endured so much together. We had a lot of fun.
 
Online-modes and their social media-appendices perpetuate this idea of interaction with a RL-Other but still feel kind of anonymous and stale in comparison. Dealing with other human players naturally sweetens the competition and enriches the challenge a good bit. What I miss there is the talking part. Shooting COD-kids all night long and yelling obscenities at each other via mic gets old pretty soon. The experience gets so much richer when there is the possibility of all-embracive interaction, for example punching each other in the face.
It isn't necessarily all about immediate interaction though. Not for nothing next-gen-consoles focus on enabling gamers to put their videos online (and get them viral if possible). We all want to share our experiences with one another.
 
I guess that’s why most of us are here after all..
Not to punch each other in the face but to have a decent chat about games.
 
The game that you play all by yourself and tell no one about. Does it make a sound? I daresay it does but no one cares. And you won't get past that damned second boss anyway.




THE REST IS SILENCE


...








Last night my Utopia - heaven on earth - was destroyed. Terraria got an update. Normally I avoid short entries in the c-blog section. If I deem my contributions too short in quantity I even call them stubs. How humble a person I am. But I am in the mood for a swan song. And it might turn out to be a short-circuited rant.
 
Last night was a night of terror. And tears. So many tears.

Let me quote Commander Chris Carter:
"The Terraria team has just unleashed its 1.2 update for the PS3, Vita and 360 platforms, which basically tweaks every single aspect of the entire game. Everything looks better, and gameplay is overall smoother. There are a ton of bug fixes on tow on top of all this, as well as new content, enemies, friends, and tools."





Since Terraria was released for PS3 I wasted uncounted hours creating worlds, digging holes, sealing off corrupted parts of my maps, killing guides ( I miss you Gerry!) at a whim. Glorious.


I simmered with excitement while waiting for Terraria to finally get released for my system. A feeling I haven't experienced since Zelda - Occarina of Time for the N64. I even checked the corresponding tweets for news. They took their time.
I love the concept. It is like a condensed version of everything I love about gaming:
a simple yet elegant system of explorating, fighting and building. Delivered in delicious 2D-pixel-animation. You got to love those pixels.
I love this mixture so much I even put up with the terrible controls for placing tiles and other materials (which gets even worse when your controller has issues and moves the cursor by itself, only slightly and ever so slow but with rage-inducing effect).


Yesterday I allowed my self a nocturnal trip to one of my smaller maps where I wanted to collect snow. Yes, snow. I was informed of an update but didn't care much. I was delighted about new, exciting drops, umbrella wielding slimes and soon lost myself in the game. New content - Yay!
During that time I also experienced some serious hiccups, some ugly looking blocks, maybe.

Shadow of a Doubt.

After much longer than I originally wanted to immerse myself in the game, I just had to check my favourite hard-mode-map, perhaps just fooling around a bit with my newly acquired snow-blocks. Just another five minutes, because what the heck.
 
The 1.2 update for the PS3 which "basically tweaks every single aspect of the entire game"  basically tweaked every single aspect of my entire map.
The whole thing looks like a distorted glitchy nightmare version of its former self.
Talk about Corruption. Half of my base is mirrored vertically into the air. Block-material has changed its nature randomly. Pits of lava are forming a funny looking maze throughout the mutilated corpse of my former manor.
I have never seen something quite like this, it is so extremely bizarre I am not even mad.
Hours of collecting and looting - all in vain. It is like a giant, evil-minded child has been destroying the ultimate Lego-utopia.
 




At least I am not alone in my pain:
 
"Yep world's torn in half. All items list. Hundreds of hours of collecting gone. We lost heart and shut it off. Terrible job I've ever seen updating game. (...) why don't yo u just delete everything you do, every day, that's fun, right.. " (slapshotsaint)
 
"Same problem on xbox my world was cut in half and I lost everything in my chests."
(Ian Carbo)
 
"Same here. Lost months of gathering and storing in my chests.
Alex... You seem to have it worse than me. Basically the right hand side of my map has shifted down about 40 blocks. All the chests on that side are empty." (MogDuff)
 
(Source: http://www.terrariaonline.com/threads/map-distortion-bug-after-april-17-2014-update.139776/)
 


So...thats that I guess.
But wait! A tingling sensation!
Now the anger kicks in.









I have played "Animal Crossing" on the Wii. And I traded it in. Now it came back. Via my 2DS it is sucking and tugging at my soul. I completely forgot about all that sucking and tugging. The great Animal Crossing Angst.



"Animal Crossing" is a game about imprinting its players on socially as well as economically conformist behaviour.
 
You are getting trained in the predatory exploitation of nature and abundant consumerism. An Astro TV is equal in value to ten crucian carps and two sea stars. An Astro TV gives you personal satisfaction and ensures admiration by the so called community, temporarily at least. Hence it is okay to kill twelve living beings and destroy the ecological balance.
Hey, it is an ASTRO-TV.
You learn that personal property is equivalent to personal value. You learn that self-abandonment and being an emotional wastebin for everybody else is the only way to friendship. You learn that friendship is a superficial, inconsistant thing.
L'enfer, c'est les autres.



You are getting used to live a life in debt, in order to finance your emotional and material well-being. You accept that you will die alone in your two-story Xanadu, surrounded only by your exotic furniture set and a flickering Asto-TV.
The fact that "Animal Crossing" is essentially all about conditioning the player to become well adjusted for neoliberal reality is generally accepted.
 
Yet, my current Animal Crossing Angst is following a different tack nowadays. Yesterday i saw Robin Hardy's "Wicker Man" (1973 UK) again. And i noticed things.
 
In "Wicker Man" the police sergeant Howie is sent to the obscure Scottish island "Summerisle" in search for a missing girl. "Summerisle" is famous for its crops, which can be harvested all-year due to certain climatic conditions (Gulf stream or whatever). The community is led by shady Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee)

Howie soon realizes that the locals are pagans, practicing arcane rituals, in one of which he will partake (he is burnt in the eponymic Wicker Man). Christopher Lee (as Lord Summerisle) wears a wig at some point. And there is a remake. With bees and Nicolas Cage.




So:

You arrive in small, tight-knit community, filling in for a formerly vacant  public office. As poor Howie performed the executive function in Wickerman, you are legislative as well as judicative agent in "Animal Crossing" - a pseudo-authoritarian figure who is not democratically appointed but seemingly chosen by fate (by arrival).



As "Summerisle" is economically dependant on the export of crops, so is your standard Animal Crossing village.
You are confronted by people impersonating animal avatars, displaying peculiar social, cultural and sexual behaviour. These people are celebrating strange holidays in order to honour nature (Earth Day, Weeding Day, Burn-A-Cop Day) and constantly singing songs (Kapp'n, K.K. Slider) to praise their gods and focus their exuberant sexual energies. Archaic fetishes are everywhere, you cannot move without falling over Gyroids, which are buried in the ground for some reason...

 




....
um.
Other than that I am very dissapointed with my copy of "Silent Bomber" for the Psone.
At a certain point in the game everything goes black, which makes it impossible for me to finish it. Somebody should do something about this. It makes me sad and ruins an otherwise very enjoyable game.

Photo Photo Photo








I went to a gaming convention. The last time I made this kind of experience, the event took place in a concrete monstrosity somewhere in the outskirts of Vienna. Videogames had to compete with hifi-systems and tv-sets. The only hand-helds there were actually blenders. The only game worth playing was Raystorm for the PSone.


memories

In 2013 I went to Game City Vienna.
I have to say in advance, that I am not made for this. I get all excited for the games the day before but freeze at the sight of all those people lining up in front of the screens.
I ended up wandering around, somewhat aimlessly. I guess there is something like being too informed - makes everything kind of stale.


As I mentioned in the preceding blog-entry this whole event takes place in the townhall of Vienna, which is amazing in itself and contrastive considering the nature of the event.
I guess that the building comes with a lot of restrictions concerning the architecture of any convention taking place there (monument protection and regulatory requirements and stuff) - so the stands look a little lost within the huge halls.


                              I'd like to think the two of us had a moment there

When I got there late in the morning, hordes of pupils had already infested the building – pestering older visitors with uncharming attempts of trading these little strings of plastic you had to wear if you wanted to gain entrance to the 16- or 18-plus-section.


                                                   going in for the kill


Supposedly cosplayers had been hidden somewhere on the premise. I have not seen any trace of these flamboyent creatures -just this one guy, dressed up as a Disney-slave-labourer.


                     "We've been outside! There's another world outside! We've seen it!

I really wanted to try out Wonderful 101, but the booth-guy was like really far into the game and I did not want to disrupt the flow. I hope he felt the hate.



                                            no chance

So instead I played a litte Mario 3D World, some kind of  mini-game, which looked pretty enough but left a stale taste. I had to team up with another guest. I think she had some kind of personality disorder. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze was fun. I played it solo...thank God.



                            Don't try and play this game with crazy people

You also had the chance to compete in Killer Instinct. Because there was almost no waiting in front of the two screens. And the slots didn't have to be rationised. People tended to stop playing in between matches. Muttering or even laughing.
Leaving prematurly - by instinct.

The big herding of the nerds took place elsewhere, in front of the Battlefield 4-Box of course.



                                                nom nom nom

(I passed that one). And went right to the Bungie-cube outdoors: a lot of  people waiting in a queue, wondering about how to fit so many screens in this cleverly designed but also really small box. Oh boy, were they surprised to find out that they were going to watch a pseudo-gameplay-video in there, telling you how to have a really good time with the game. I wish I could forget the unnatural bits of dialogue I heard.
The game looks interesting though.

Indie-developers had to huddle up against a staircase. I only remember Senoi, a kind of outdoor-role-playing game for your cell-phone, utilising GPS and geographical data of Vienna. One of the very friendly developers showed me his golden box.


                                 As always Panza is thinking outside the box

The F.R.O.G. (no idea) -symposium's lectures would have been interesting too. Jasper Juul and people were speaking. But you would have had to dish out 125€ for 3 days in order to participate. I wonder how many people did actually do this. Strange.

Beyond Two Souls' could be played inside a truck. I don't know exactly why.



                                              wroooom. wroom

You could also play it in a more comfortable position in the official Sony lounge. I wondered a bit about the huge presence the console-version of Diablo 3. I went home and started my nightmare-playthrough. No, before that I had a coffee.


Photo Photo Photo








Game City Vienna is an annual event, dedicated to electronic games. It is taking place in the beautiful townhall of Austria's capital. This year I am going to attack like the giant, knife-wielding robot that I am.

Another stub.
 
Is it already that time of the year?
 

Roaaaar?


Game City is going to happen this weekend. The one and only game-related event in a country lying beyond the seven mountains and deep down in the forest in that respect.
Happy Happy! Joy! Joy!
 

Besides the usual suspects there will be a presentation of BEYOND: Two Souls.
And if I am not hugely mistaken by Guillaume de Fondaumičr himself.
Definitely looking forward to that, I have to admit.
 
Anyone's avatar in dire need of vacation?

To the birthplace of Mozart (uuum...?) and myself?
Tell me, I’ll give you a lift.
Also PM me a quote you deem quoteworthy of yourself or any other honored member of C-Blogs. I will use it as caption for whatever I am coming across at Game City.
 


Best Regards,
Plankton








I think I mentioned it before - this problem I have. I don't finish my games. I can't claim that I never do, because sometimes I do. But mostly I don't. It is not a matter of increasingly limited time, it's more of a general attitude. During an extremely painful process of self-analysis I established three categories: the Good the Bad and the Ugly.
You need categories.


That moment I dread

 
The Good
Whenever I really like a game, especially if it has an elaborated narrative structure I reach a point in that game (usually towards its grand finale) at which I quit playing it. As if I was afraid of all the good things to come to a sudden end. Which they do, since I stop playing the game. I am afraid it is not a very logical approach. When I was just a sapling I used to get me every JRPG there was. I only finished Suikoden. The first one. Until this day (and Breath of Fire 3 to be honest). At a certain point people actually started to make fun of me.
My last Fallout 3 save file is embarrassingly old and it took me about 4 years to finish Red Dead Redemption. I just picked up Metal Gear Solid 4 again. After several years of hibernation I eventually started to miss Snake's steel-buns, forged in heaven.
 

Buns

It's not because I grow bored with these games or due to the constant stream of exciting new entries into an increasingly intimidating backlog-queue. Far from it. I was really into Demon's Souls for example but after beating up a GIANT CRYSTAL DRAGON I danced this little dance of joy, turned off my system and never took it up again since then.
What is wrong with me?
 
 
The Bad
Skyrim is a good game, no doubt about it. But if you have to reckon with your system to freeze the moment you leave a town or jump into water or attack a dryad or open your inventory...you know what I mean. I also had a lot of fun with Legasista which turns my screen into a black void after I complete a certain dungeon. Game-breaking-bugs!
Ha Ha!
As mentioned before I regularly take breaks from my games - long breaks. These breaks in combination with complex design or convoluted control schemes usually mean the death-blow for games in my library. Bayonetta, which I really admire, makes it difficult for me to pick it up again. I gave up the recent Batman-series entirely for that matter. Who can remember all that gimmickry? I depend on calendars and notebooks for survival in RL - if I need one of those for playing a game I thinks it is time to run for the hills.

Insert Triple-Baterangs here

I also notice very soon if I like a game or not. The time-slot for that decision-making process is a veeery narrow one. Enslaved lasted about an hour until I got sick with the game's fighting system. The last iteration of Tomb Raider left my PS3 after approximately 10 minutes. I can't stand that spoiled brat.

 
The Ugly
I also stop playing whenever I lose myself in a more or less secondary aspect of a game. So very often this aspect involves excessive looting and/or grinding. I like to follow the yellow brick road. Preparing for the next major encounter with the ultimate fiend I get stuck with all the preparing - mistaking repetitious labor for a big fun-time - often to an extent where I am appalled by the game that tricks me in such a devious way and by my obsession with it.
At a time when I still used to smoke and play games with a stoned grin on my face, I had a moment of clarity and disenchantment once  - with Dynasty Warriors 3 for the PS2.
After having spent days and weeks with leveling up my favourite officers I noticed the game's messages to me for what seemed to be the first time ever: the constant affirmative background noise, computer voices telling me how well I am doing and what a swell warrior I was. I felt brainwashed that moment and abjured the ghastly time vampire (until Warriors Orochi came along that is).

Pang Tong told me to do it

 
Monster Hunter for the WiiU is a textbook example of course. After 120 hours I just can't cope with the treadmill again. I feel a physical resistance within me to pick up the gamepad. I might never hunt again.

Follow the yellow brick road


The same happened with Ni No Kuni. Not such a revelation to begin with, I spent hour after hour with hunting the infamous Toko for the massive amount of experience points they shed when getting killed. These battle-critters don't evolve by themselves, you know. And I got to see those final transformations.
It was a massacre. I felt dirty.

Kawai this, Kawai that

I was about 50 hours in the game when I finally quit. It rests on my "play-it-again-some-time-soon-pile" though, slowly gathering dust. All in all I still don't know why I turn around and leave just before the finishing line but I definitely feel much better now.