The Plight of the Rural Gamer
I live in a town in southern, central Texas (go ahead, get the jokes out of the way) and I like it here. Sure, our governor is an idiot, I'm surrounded by more idiots, and the education system isn't the best. But I live out on some awesome land and needed to move back home. Money's tight after going to college and I'm helping the folks out. That, and I'm trying to get a job in the video game industry. So things are moving a bit slowly in that ground. How can you argue with a view like this though?
Now for the down and dirty: How does 60kb/s for an average download speed sound to you? Does it fill you with hatred and memories of the sounds of dial-up? Well, it's a sight that plagues me every day when I try to download games on Steam.
Welcome to the great world of a piss poor Internet infrastructure for the outskirts of a medium-sized town. As such, I'm unable to play many of my games that feature online multiplayer modes, and even “Minecraft” chugs unbearably when I try to connect to a friend's server. It's been a recent trend that many developers are looking to put more focus into online modes, and it kind of disheartens me.
I read Jim's review about “Battlefield 3” and was pretty appalled. It wasn't because of the review score (I figured it would be something like that) or the actual review. It was that the singe player campaign was just “meh”, if not worse. It really chafes my taint that developers are devaluing the solo experience in games, or that publishers are pushing this so they can try to meet the numbers made by “Call of Duty.” I wasn't too committed to getting BF3, because of Origin (just didn't see the point in having it for BF3 only), but the campaign having too much of a “meh” factor sealed the deal. I can't pay $60 for a game where most of the enjoyment is found in the online experience. Maybe when I am able to move and afford faster Internet, I can purchase it. There's a growing sense that more videogames are going to start including online modes to either justify online passes, or that they're just thrown in to make a bit more money, with Bioshock 2 being a nice example for this. It just feels like Lisa is tearing our single-player campaigns AH-PART.
Not pictured: The reference I just made
I know that the single player element in videogames is here to stay (and Battlefield isn't exactly the series to express my views about single player experience, I know), more and more resources that could be used to build interesting worlds and tighten the experience are being used to make modes that I and probably a good number of other gamers can't use. Don't get me wrong, I love multiplayer. When I've been able to play online, I've enjoyed my time and I think multiplayer should still be around. However, it shouldn't be the bulk of the game, nor should it be an after-thought. If a game is going to have a single-player element, make it worthwhile.
As for what makes a single-player campaign worthwhile, that's tough to say, since each genre (and brand by comparison) has their own take on that question. If you want to gauge my interests in single player campaigns, I thought “Portal 2” and “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” did a great job (as far as this year goes, I'm not even going to include the classic examples, such as “Half-Life 2” and others). It needs to be well-written, whether it is a sandbox game or not. As far as hours go, if it's going to be less than 10 hours, it needs to be pretty damn good. That seems like another topic for another blog though.
I could hold the videogame industry accountable for this, just as I could (and probably should) hold the telecomm industry for making me use “wireless” DSL that couldn't get slower if it approached an event horizon. The point that I hope came across in this poorly written rant is that single player campaigns are still the focal point of most games, and developers need to cut the crap of throwing online modes in every chance they get.
Please developers, from a guy who plays games after playing the SimFarm LARP and lives out in the country, show a little more interest in telling a story or making a fun world without resorting to online features. Or put back in the option to battle bots. That's always fun.
Thanks and Gig'em.