Massive Bioshock, God of War 1, Portal and Arkham Asylum spoilers imminent. You've been warned!
Take a good hard look at what the phrase "Game Over" means.
The "game" is whatever experience the player is immersed in at that moment in time. "Over" means finished. The word "over" implies a sense of finality; the game hasn't stopped temporarily, it's done with. A game over represents a halt to the game experience. It denounces your approach to the game and serves as an absolute denial to the player; you can't do that so do something else. And because of it's nature as a punishment, it's pretty much always a bad thing. The player gets nothing out of it other than being told "no".
This means, feasibly, that there's nothing good about a game over. It disconnects the player from the game experience. It is a robbery of the player's flights of fancy. In one fell swoop a game over can cut the head off the game experience. It is contradictory, largely ineffectual, and practically suicidal wherein the doctrine of player failure directly opposes the feelings the game tries to impose on the player. It is an oppressive skin that videogames don't need anymore, and it's high time for it to be shed.
Is it not the general consensus that the game aims to please the player? The was I see it, the goal of the creation of a game is to garner acclaim, in the form of player approbation or profits. In the case of profits, this means that money is either garnered for the finance of the design of new games or goes straight to the pockets of some buisnessman, in which case said buisnessman is convinced that game production is a profitable venture. In the case of player support, it means that more people provide feedback for the development of future games, and that whatever the developers tried to express with the creation of the game has been exposed to their target audience. Either way, A game should always try to create an environment that appeals to the player in some way. Conversely, a game over is a consequence, a punishment, and thus entirely opposes whatever fun is to be had by the player, unless the fear of or feeling of failure is an integral part of the experience. Why should the player have to prove their worth to the game in order to enjoy themselves? You catch flies with honey, not with vinegar, so why would the developer want the player to feel inadequate?
It is due in part to the homage game designers feel obliged to pay to the cherished games of an age gone by; those 8-bit classics or late 90's shooters or whathaveyou that defined the structure of games today as quests, as interactive stories and not futile fights against the machine. Failure is a well aquainted shackle of game structure, something that everyone has come to terms with since the dawn of videogames. The relationship between modern games and failure is feudalistic; homage is payed out of respect solely for time-honored traditions, because the presence of failure in those games made it seem that failure should be a staple component of all games. This is a misinterpretation.
One such idolized gaming paradigm is Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Super Mario Bros essentially gave birth to a videogame Renaissance; at a time where the novelty of the videogame medium was beginning to run it's course, Mario Bros. proved that a game could serve as a creative enterprise, a veritably expressive medium in much the same way as books or television. Because it defined the videogame as an adventure and not a struggle of desperation, Mario Bros. opened a creative floodgate; it was realized that games could use interactivity to tell a pathological story to the player. If Super Mario Bros is the ancestor of modern game structure and every game that exists today (that isn't directly spliced from the fight-the-machine regiment of old) adopts it's concepts, then of course it makes sense that player failure would be established as a staple component of videogames today. The game was a platformer, a fight against the environment, so in Super Mario Bros. the player was routinely chastised for losing said fight.
There is a multitude of games that borrow from Super Mario Bros and aren't platformers, and thus don't need to follow that practice, which is why it strikes me as odd that so many do so regardless. The failure mechanism has been entirely taken out of context; games that aren't fights against the environment punish the player for doing things that would cause you to lose the fight you would be fighting while playing Super Mario Bros, except oftentimes you aren't fighting that fight. Yeah.
The fact is this: the reason this failure existed in those games of old is because said games explicitly required them. A game certainly doesn't need to be a life or death battle with the environment like Super Mario Bros. was, and thus failure isn't something that can or should apply to all games. It applies solely to those games, but because those games are the bedrock of modern game design, the conception has been formed that failure must apply to all games. An action game like Contra isn't the same as an action game like God of War. God of War's game experience revolves around feelings of badassery. Kratos carves through his adversaries with ease, because God of War is a testosterone-injected machofest. As Kratos, you are supposed to feel like a beast surging with power, not a diminutive weakling. The game experience of Contra is supposed to be heartpoundingly frenetic, with the fear of death prevalent during every waking second. Both are action games, but both utilize distinct methods in order to establish the game experience: Contra summons the fear of death and God of War doesn't. God of War doesn't need for failure to be so substantial, and it would probably just be burdened if that were the case.
The hardest part of God of War 1 is probably the final boss in which Kratos finally comes face to face with Ares, the curator of Kratos's woes, and that's where shit gets real. Ares is that entity which gives context to everything Kratos does in the entire game. Kratos posseses a predilection towards Ares that contrasts wildly with his attitude toward anything else he comes into contact with, whether it be a central character, generic mythological creature or whathaveyou. Because everything else was just a stepping stone for Kratos to get to Ares, it makes sense that the final boss is probably the most challenging portion of the entire game. Ares is the only thing that oppresses Kratos, perhaps the only thing that Kratos even fears. In many ways, the face off with Ares is the only thing Kratos can fail at. To Kratos and to the player, this fight is to be the consummation of everything they've done in the game. It is do or die.
This contextual signifigance wildly differs from something like a Guitar Hero or Rock Band game, in which a preposterous difficulty spike is shoehorned into the end of the game. The boss fight with Lou at the end of Guitar Hero 3 is at first exciting and memorable, but then diverts to a cumbersome process of trial and error. Replaying the same song five times just so you can proceed has a way of diluting the excitement. Do you really think the player wants to sit there for hours with the end of the game just out of their reach? Imagine how disheartening it would be to reach the end of a game and not be able to partake in the excitement of beating it just because the difficulty said otherwise. I mean, the end or climax of a game is an integral component of the experience as a whole; you're going to leave a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of players if you reject them like that.
The injection of a failure mechanic directly intercepts the context of a game and augments the game world at the same time. The cube's ability to kill the player in Portal strikes me as immensely stupid. The only reason you die from the cube falling on your head is because the Laws of Game Logic dictate that you must, because heavy object on head must mean die. Did I really fail at the puzzle?
The inclusion of the possibility for death in other portions of Portal is entirely justified, and works to enhance the game experience. Maneuvering through a turreted maelstrom is a life or death situation in order to incite a feeling that one false move is going to result in a violent and messy consequence. Being sent on a conveyer belt into a fire pit appropriately establishes a climate of tension and dread, an "oh shit I better do something fast" feeling. But a block falling on my head? How is that a contribution to the game experience at all?
Remember how in the Genesis Sonic games you would run into an obstacle and it would bring your speed to a screeching halt? It deftly squashes your adrenaline rush. It contradicts that intense feeling of blind speed that the game supposedly intends for the player to feel. The Game Over is a lot like that, except it's a lot more substantial. It can be almost pretentiously abrupt and overdramatic, a nuisance in and of itself.
A failure is a turnaround; it tells the player "wrong way"; away from the game world they hoped to explore their own way. Failure bars a player from playing a game the way they want and in some cases tells the player they can't absorb the game world in a certain matter. Different players have different ways of observing the game experience, and in many cases failure denies them of this.
Imagine if BioShock's iconic climax had something the player had to beat, not just observe. It would lose so much impact, because contending with failure would occupy a substantial portion of the player's mindset. Imagine if you actually failed; the scene's impact would be effectively halved, and would cease to be one momentous occasion.
In a lot of cases, failure exists to point the player in the right direction; or to prompt the player into behaving the way the developer wants them to. When you die from walking off the boundary edge of the level, did you actually fail to achieve something? Or does the game just want you to know that wandering off it's beaten path is a no-no?
If you want to steer the player in the right direction, failing them is not the way to go. A game design fault that really rubs me the wrong way is when the consequence of the player's mistake isn't proportional to the signifigance of said mistake. If you walk off a ledge and the game kills you, you'll have to sit through a death animation and a loading screen that you don't deserve, and for little purpose.
These moments are inhibitors to what the game is otherwise trying to show to the player. The feeling of failing at a game, or the feeling of trying to avoid failing doesn't jive well with what the game is trying to say. But there is a salvagable function for failure. If failure is incorporated into a game's motif, it can be utilized as an apparatus to incite a pathological reaction.
Do you remember the chainsaw guy from RE4? Of course you do. You remember him because of how shit-your-pants scared his very presence made you feel. Resident Evil 4 gives the player ample motivation to not get killed by Dr. Salvador. He`s going to do bad shit to you if you fail, so you make damn sure it doesn`t happen. Games like Resident Evil 4 use failure (or the player`s fear of or response to it) in order to heighten immersion. Dead Space doesn't do this quite as effectively, because, well, the consequence for failure isn't as horrifying in Dead Space as it is in RE4 (it's just not as scary). If getting killed by the chainsaw guy wasn`t a cause for fear, it would serve less of a function and feel superfluous.
In Demon's Souls, it is acknowledged right out of the gate that you are going to fail. You're going to fail hard, and the player is told through experience that a stample component of Demon's Souls as a whole is to contend with failure. In Demon's Souls, you're not being robbed of anything if you die because there isn't much else to be robbed from. The definition of Demon's Souls is to deal with the immense challenge, so when you die, you're just involving yourself with the game experience in a certain way. Failure is the game, and you always have access to it. If a game doesn't do that, if strikes me as odd that failure would even be a part of the game. Does it then exist to punish you? For what, taking your own approach to the game? Why should the player have to prove themselves worthy of the game experience?
Batman: Arkham Asylum in particular ultilizes one instance of failure in the most resonatingly manipulative form I've ever seen. It entirely complements pathos, existing only to coerce the player's experience.
That very last moment where the Joker shoots you is brilliant because it makes you feel like you've actually done something wrong, that you've failed. The first time I played through this sequence, I scanned my surroundings and tried every button press, thinking the game was going to try and deceive me. Regardless of whether or not you scanned the area for a way out or just went with the flow and walked down the hallway, the gunshot has the same effect on the player. The sequence uses failure as a tool and not a liability, and really, if failure isn't used in such a manner it shouldn't exist.
You are likely to experience death very infrequently while playing through Arkham Asylum. Why? Because you're Batman, and you're intended to feel like Batman. Would Batman honestly die in a fight against generic cronies? No, which is why it's nearly impossible to die while fighting the Joker's minions; the purpose of combat in Arkham Asylum is to evoke a feeling of uninhibited badassery. Failure hardly makes you feel like a badass, and thus has no place in the game experience. What would challenge Batman, on the other hand, are the Joker's life-or-death situational conundrums. These challenge the player's resourcefulness, something synonymous with a Batman experience. If you weren't running out of time and the game didn't make you feel panicked, the experience wouldn't come across the same way to the player. The fear of death/failure complements the game experience, as it always should.
But what's really irritating is the challenge maps, those supplementary missions that are dissected from Arkham Asylum's campaign. The player doesn't take the same approach to combat during a challenge map as they would while playing through the campaign; the objective is radically altered, and so is the way the player takes the consequences of their actions into consideration. For the unitiated, the entire point of the combat challenge maps is to flawlessly maintain an attack combo without getting hit once in order to accumulate points and thus earn medals. Suddenly, actually winning the fight makes no difference; it's an uncomfortable fluxation to say the least. In this way, the game spontaneously materializes a reason to fail you. It takes the game experience completely out of context and serve as a radical departure from the experience that encompasses the rest of the game. In what backwards wonderland does a room full of unconscious goons equate to my failure? Why is Batman standing around in places he's already been, seeing if he can beat down fools absolutely perfectly? Doesn't he have somewhere better to be? If Batman got punched in the chest once by Joker cronie #352 would he pack his bags and head home? No he fucking wouldn't, he would shove his damn fist down their throat! For these reasons, the player doesn't feel like they've actually failed when they come short of the score requirement for a medal; they've only failed because the game said they did.
A lot of games attempt to incorporate failure into the game experience, doing so outright badly; the desire of the player not to fail is foreboding and overcasts the other feelings the game attempts to incite within the player. Adhering to failure squanders the impact of the motif. If the developer doesn't trust that you will carry out an action to their intent, they have no faith in their own game. Failure is a pathological opportunity seldom taken advantage of at best; a copout a worst.
[I realize Anthony posted this, but I didn't even see it until very recently and I've already spent a bit of time on this response. Also, you should take what I say about Citizen Kane with a pinch of salt considering I've only seen half of the movie.]
I am at odds with the approach Anthony Burch took towards this week's Rev Rant. What irks me is that the implication associated with said response has the potential to be misinterpreted by his audience. The intended critique most probably pertains to the incessant faltering of the webcast itself, but Anthony's approach to it can bring about two potential misinterpretations on part of the viewer: that he means to say that Metroid Prime is the one at fault and that the topic discussed in the webcast is entirely without merit. It is highly probable (and to me, highly concerning) that the latter is his intended viewpoint. Perhaps it alludes to the former, but if that is the case, then the Rev Rant doesn't make it entirely clear.
Regardless of what Anthony's intendment is, the subjected webcast justifies criticism; this is completely undebatable. There are distinguishable falsities associated with Michael Thompson's interpretation of Metroid Prime's motif as a result of a contrived, hackneyed attempt to find similarities between the allegories of it and Citizen Kane (combat doesn't take a backseat to environmental exploration in Metroid Prime. Nothing takes a backseat to anything in Metroid Prime, and that's one of the things about Prime I have a fondness for; it doesn't compromise anything in order to excel in any sole aspect. Additionally, the feelings of human connection that are apparent in Metroid Prime aren't remotely as pervasive as and can't hold a candle to those of Citizen Kane) The newscast scavenges arbitrary examples pertaining to how Citizen Kane's themes of loss and loneliness pertrain to Metroid Prime and then shoehorns them into a poorly developed interpretation. The comparison of the two faces at the end is particularly insulting; one is a cool easter egg and one PINCHOFSALT is a deep portrayal of death, but it's not like that's going to stop that misguided IGN prat from issuing an association between those two meanings. By daring to use such choice of words as "in the same way as Citizen Kane", the webcaster gravely portrays Metroid Prime and Citizen Kane as having a synonymous artistic message. The webcast does absolutely nothing other than extrapolating upon how Metroid Prime's themes are "the same" as those of Citizen Kane.
Let me say that the topic of comparing Metroid Prime and Citizen Kane is not meritless. To compare doesn't mean only to expose similarities; it means to differentiate. That webcast wasn't a comparison; it was Prime and Kane's artistic likenesses mashed together in an ugly, slipshod, inarticulate mess. If the webcast was left in better interpretive hands, it could have contrasted Metroid Prime's atmospheric poise with Citizen Kane's PINCHOFSALTALERT humanity and cultural indictments, and discussed how both meant something different for their respective mediums. The webcast could have been a representation of how expressive methods vary between mediums or discussed the respective milestones of the two works and then drew similarities between what those meant for movies and video games respectively. Indeed, the representation of Metroid Prime as a development of interactivity in portraying tone and atmosphere in games and Citizens Kane's [insert whatever the hell Citizen Kane did here] would be justifiable; moreso than a dumb comparison of what the two are trying to say. The Rev Rant doesn't touch on the fact that this justification exists.
My other issue is that the Rev Rant can be perceived as a direct affront to Metroid Prime. This is most prevalent with the direct quotation of "Are you fucking kidding me?", but is compounded by the webcaster's aforementioned focus on Prime rather than Kane. Michael Thompson obviously doesn't PINCHOFSALT have a comprehensive grasp of Citizen Kane, which is why Metroid is given substantially more attention. He then proceeds to fail even harder at interpreting the motif of something that he has more acquaintance with, which really puts Metroid Prime in an awkward "wrong place at the wrong time" situation. Prime serves in this case as a borderline scapegoat for the webcast's wrongdoings. There's also the matter of Anthony's one and only segment of dialogue throughout the entire Rev Rant. The very tone associated with his one rhetorical question creates an implication to the opinion that Metroid Prime should be barred from attaining an artistic milestone in the same way as Citizen Kane. It's almost as if Rev believes Metroid Prime in particular doesn't deserve to be respected in the same way as Citizen Kane just because of Prime's subject matter, because it's a video game and because Citizen Kane is to forever float upon the clouds in an impenetrable artistic citadel, as if Rev believes there's something about Metroid Prime that makes it common knowledge that it could never achieve the same thing for video games as Citizen Kane achieved for movies. Because this is the only comment made by Anthony throughout the entirety of the Rev Rant, it almost seems as if this potential interpretation is the result of every fallacy associated with the webcast. As someone who considers the first Metroid Prime to be the greatest game they've ever played, I take serious offense to that kind of mindset, although that's my personal gripe. Nevertheless, that interpretation is rather unsettling, and I wouldn't be comfortable with it even if a game like Super Mario 64 or Metal Gear Solid took Prime's place in a situation like this.
My concern is that it isn't the faults of the webcast that are being directly addressed by the Rev Rant and that it is interpretable that alternate criticisms are being made. It is difficult to determine if Rev is criticizing the newscast itself or denouncing it's subject matter.
Why are all three Metroid Prime games mentioned when only footage from MP1 is shown? Pretty shitty advertising.
For one thing, it's stupid. Yes, that happened on top of the Apple Corps building. Go art!
It's not even bad in a funny or noteworthy way. It's completely unremarkable. There's no buildup to speak of, nothing to denote that this is an ending and not just another one of the segue* scenes that bridge chapters. The opening cinematic of the game is more climatic than this; as a matter of fact, it contains most of the goingson of this ending in itself. There's not even a real final song, save for a song called The End (icwutudidthar) that comes after the credit roll(?).
I can't really dissect it further without trespassing into a discussion of pacing problems that the game as a whole has, so I'll come to a close with this: there has never been a more profound "are you kidding me, that's it?" moment that I have ever experienced while playing a video game than that of TBRB's ending. Be forewarned.
*EDIT: A bad ending is a bad ending no matter how you slice it. I remember the end of Guitar Hero 2, where Free Bird was essentially an ending in it's own right, and the words written in the stars were just a nice bonus. TBRB barely attempts anything like this and I'm surprised you're all so forgiving of that.
And a game doesn't have to have a plot to have an ending. Or at least, it doesn't have to have a culmination that's plot-centric in order for it to be compelling. I can think of a few instances of this (Punch-Out Wii, most recently). Again, TBRB doesn't even approach this.
When was the last time you saw a company logo like this? A company logo which immediately inspired a thoughtful reaction of you? When was the last time a logo made you think about what a company does, rather than the name of the company?
A logo serves as a universal representation of a product or brand. A logo exists to give the logo/brand that posseses it an instantly recognizable identity. Valve Software's logo is no exception. What it is the exception to, however, is being only a representation of the name "Valve Software" itself. Using very intelligent atmospheric and artistic design elements that are present in a wide variety of the company's products, Valve has established their logo as a veritable mission statement, symbolizing everything they set out to achieve as a game developer.
With this logo, Valve means to siginify that they are the stimulus for a revolution of how video game players perceive games. The valve is a lever which makes the flow of ideas readily accessible; Valve Software's existence provokes thoughtful interpretations using interactive medium. The valve is present and the flow of innovative ideas will commence when the player begins to move through Half-Life 1. So why is the Valve placed on the man's eye?
This first logo, the one that appears at the start of Half-Life 1, was first revealed in 1998; a time when the N64 and the PSOne were still alive, where the most basic of 3d environments were created. Developers put a focus on managing the existence of these environments, not utilizing their full potential. Using 3d games to communicate an artistic vision a la BioShock, as a three-dimensional painting if you will, would not occur until years later. Half-Life 1 doesn't count because what contributed to the atmosphere was the way the player navigates through the game world, not the game world itself. The story and characters were extraordinary; the environment, Black Mesa, was not. Half-Life 1 was groundbreaking because of the way it influenced perception, not necessarily insight.
It was not until 2007 (when The Orange Box was released) that Valve stopped using this logo. Why? After all, Half-Life 2 and the Source engine had existed for years by the time The Orange Box was released. [EDIT: I've noticed an inconsistency. The old Valve logo was used in Episode One, which was released in 2006. The 360 was already out at that time. I still stand by my analysis, however.]
Because the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, or rather, the current generation of interactive media technologies did not exist when the old logo was in effect. Games are no longer just places now. They are living, breathing environments with mass and depth, and Valve has changed the representation of their position as a developer (their logo) in accordance with this change.
This man's facial features, while obviously present, are not immediately distinguishable. Instead of a system which involves only the components of the man's skin-deep sensory reactions, this valve allows thought to flow through the system of the mind, which accumulates and contrasts the senses gathered by the components of the man's face. While perception plays a role, it is secondary to the processes of the mind. Valve has again made creative use of texture and detail as to instil a thought provoking atmosphere, as is done with games such as Half-Life 2. The difference is that this time the system occurs in a different sector, and the way insight circulates throughout the mentality of those who play Valve's games has been subjected to variations. Another point of reference is that the scalp of the man reflects light into the eyes of others, not the eyes of the man himself. This reflection is recieved by our eyes and helps the flow of insight continue without inhibition, as our eyes are part of the system of the mind. In this second logo, the beginning of the system is not located at a facial feature, so the system can not be self-contained and we as gamers are forced to contrast our views with other gamers. In the case of modern gaming culture, there is a greater interdependence amongst the ideas of all gamers than ever before. Through the creation of the second logo and the establishment of Steam, Valve has taken note of this.
Am I completely bullshitting myself? Does Valve Software just like using plumbing terminology to give itself a name? Perhaps. Even so, there is an aspect of these two logos with undeniably segregates them from the crop and and they deserve recognition thereof.
[This was supposed to be my Playing With Others article but I forgot to unlock it. If you still care, enjoy.]
On PC, Left 4 Dead is a cornucopia of decisive thinking paired with frenetic gunplay.
The burgeoning enthusiasm of the Steam community coupled with mod support have rooted Left 4 Dead as one of the most distinguished multiplayer shooters in years. The 360 version, however, is a whole new ball game. Thinking as any human being without brain damage would is not worth your effort. You can see the words “Halo 4” written clearly above that dead hand! Eternal glory awaits morons, and I think we all know how glorious Xbox Live is.
Your decision to purchase L4D should boil down to one inquiry; do you like dead mutilated hands?
If so, feel obliged to slap down $60 on that motherfucker. The artwork on the game’s case communicates every aspect of Left 4 Dead. Every strategic element, every combat situation, and (most importantly) the game’s tight focus on cooperation is embodied by that image. After all, you commit to any product because if its label. Remember the Maple Leaf product recall? To hell with that, you bought those hot dogs in droves! Why not apply the same tactile purchasing methods to a $60 piece of software?
The first step to playing L4D on 360 is to never let yourself forget you can shoot stuff, a trade skill of immaculate worth that serves as an immunity totem from misfortune. Zoey get snagged by a smoker? Cool deal, you can just keep emptying clips and all your problems will evaporate. Exploit your niche and blow up the gas station as soon as you are given the opportunity to, even if nothing is damaged except your teammates. Absolutely no one else in the world knows you can do that, and your stunning ingenuity will justify every misstep you perform from then onward.
Do not use a mic, because you can‘t. 360 headsets are rare assets that value at thousands of dollars. Judging you for not using one is unreasonable considering every single 360 Left 4 Dead player ever bought a Core console that didn’t come with a mic.
Showcase your testosterone and shoot the witch point blank. The fact that this works about 2% of the time is negligible.
As we all know, fire does not burn. It will burn inhuman monstrosities hellbent on ripping you to pieces, but not you, for you are the master of everything!
Scurrying like frenzied lemmings is a sure-fire anti-tank strategy. Since the tank will always attack the loathsome cur who defiled his childhood (just wait, I’m getting to it), he will swat Louis like a fly and return to his home to finish that episode of Desperate Housewives he left unfinished.
And run god damn it, run like monkey fuck to the safe house of virtue! There’s candy and jewellery and kittens at the safe house! It doesn’t matter that you’ll have thrown away any significant point value into a pit. You’ll be too busy petting those damned adorable non-existant kittens. Complete ignorance is so cuddly!
Your primary mindset as a Hunter should always be to pounce at the survivors head on, in plain sight. One second of the attack animation will grant you an astounding 10 damage. Only 40 spawns and you’ll down each of the survivors!
Always crouch as a hunter. It makes you look all intelligibible and strategical! While playing, people may tell you to jump from far away for bonus damage, but just ignore them. The game didn’t go out of it’s to tell you you can do it, meaning it is impossible to do.
Your goal is to vomit on one survivor. Boomer vomit penetrates human skull and prevents the gears of the mind from functioning. Your enemies will fall to your knees!
Your explosion spans across the far reaches of the universe. You pay no price at all for being shot by the survivors.
Attempting to ensnare someone while below the survivors is a waste of time. In the mystical world of L4D, gravity is nonexistent and survivors you drag upward will wander aimlessly in the sky.
Attacking from the front is a viable tactic. Francis is incapable of walking five feet to shoot you square between the eyes.
As soon as you take control of the tank, cast out all preconceived strategic logic and concentrate your attention on your newfound ultimatum; smashing Louis’ face into tapioca pudding.
As a child, Louis set your house on fire, raped your mother, and decapitated your father in front of your very eyes. The meaning of your existence is to seize vengeance! Let no form of intelligence come between your goal!
Once you have exacted your revenge, feel free to bask in the gentle massage of the other survivors’ gunfire. You’ve earned it kiddo!
Should these tactics be explored to their fullest (due to my observations its definitely been going smoothly so far!) Left 4 Dead will thrive on the 360 for half a decade, undoubtedly due to the stimulating competition offered by Xbox Lives’ population.
What is it, the 28th? Fuck, I hope I’m not too late for this.
There’s been a lot of buzz going on lately about how Media Molecule is deleting copyright-infringing LittleBigPlanet levels (re: removing them from existence, so that you can’t even keep them to yourself after they’ve been removed). This basically means that LBP has effectively shot its potential in the foot. Without nostalgia to hearken to, the incentive to apply ideas in a creative atmosphere is made void, right?
Without someone else’s design to take advantage of and rehash, user-made levels are pointless, right?
No. That’s never been the case. Never has, never will be. Clones, copycats and derivative genre wannabes label the parameters for what has been achieved to date, but creative properties wield the unknown and move the industry forward. This is why I am so supportive of third-party developers, and why Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is a step in the right direction rather than a hit-or-miss proposal. Third parties apply their creativity to the hardware console makers have provided. Banjo-Kazooie for N64 revolves around poking fun at and mimicking a single game: Super Mario 64. Without this, BK is nothing. Banjo 64 is the ultimate representation of the aforementioned genre clones. In terms of quality, Banjo ranks among the best N64 games, but is never remembered in quite the same way as Ocarina of Time or Goldeneye. It didn’t introduce revolutionary design elements as those games did. Being an emulation of one game severely damaged the franchises potential and Banjo-Kazooie was forgotten for eight years until someone came up with the idea for Nuts & Bolts. With this game, Rare has broken the endless cycle of a new entry in a series simply repackaging retired concepts from a previous entry (well, there was RE4, but RE4 was still a game of the exact same type of its predecessors, just from a different perspective). Will other developers make use of the ideas Rare has introduced? Maybe. Will they merge the gameplay of N&B with other creative elements? (See where I’m getting at here?)
Influential games are never designed with a “me too” approach. Metal Gear Solid, Super Mario 64 and GTAIII have all made strides forward. They do not trot in place like games such as Saints Row. They will be remembered forever as the result of their labors.
Lets look at what is arguably the most critically and commercially successful video games to ever exist; Super Mario Bros.
Take a good hard look at Super Mario Bros; it’s one of the most retarded concepts for a game ever conceived.
“Hey guys, here’s an idea!”
“We have this Italian guy, he’s got a grotesquely massive nose, a pair of blue suspenders with big yellow buttons, and a red cap with his first initial on it. He’s going to run from left to right through a magical land were turtles fly through the air and walk in exactly the same direction at exactly the same speed, and some of them can throw hammers at him. A certain turtle can fly around in a smiling clowdmobile throwing spiky turtles at you. The Italian guy can grow real big when he touches mushrooms that are half his height (which glide on the floor on their own!) and smash brick blocks with his head, suffering no brain damage in the process! Coins that are the same size as this man can be acquired to give him an extra life on earth, and should he die, he will rotate sideways, stick his hands and feet in the air, and fall through the ground to his doom without colliding with anything!”
“Hot damn! Anything else, kiddo?”
“You bet, sir! The man’s archenemy is a turtle-dragon-lizard-dog hybrid that can shoot hammers out of his chest, but can only breath a second of fire at a time at two different heights!”
“FUCK YES! Hop to it, ladies and gentlemen, we have a blockbuster to develop! Prosperity, thy name is Mario Brothers!”
Super Mario Bros. works so well because it’s a stupid idea executed perfectly. Concepts that would be ridiculous and confusing work wonderfully in SMB. Super Mario Bros built upon the foundation of other games (a something that could apply to our reality moving through a gameworld) and, through creativity, experimented with foreign conceptions to create something unforgettable. Any game that is not a fight against a machine draws influences from Super Mario Bros. They all create their own environment and expanse for the player to traverse through.
Another really good example of what creativity means for the evolution of the craft is Half-Life 2. City 17 (next to Tallon IV) is the most atmospheric, fully realized game world I have ever experienced. Half-Life 2 feels original without making the player seem out of place or uncomfortable. It sets the standard for itself. The gameplay is by no means an awe-inspiring revelation; you run from point A to point B and shoot stuff, but the storyline encourages you to ponder Gordon Freeman’s reasoning for running from point A to point B. You are given insight into the way the character(s) interacts with the environment. Through creativity Valve has made use of preexisting foundations and fashioned something new out of it, and others have taken notice.
In my opinion, the most revolutionary innovation this year is not Gears 2 or Fallout 3 or MGS4. It’s the community games feature of the fall dashboard update for the 360. Had it not been for NXE I would not have even entertained the thought of coding a game. Microsoft has capitalized on Live’s accessibility and introduced an inspirational design directly integrated into a medium the average Joe is comfortable with. Every member of the core gaming audience will likely be exposed to XNA. All of them will carefully consider what they can make using their own creativity. Behold the influence of an original concept.
If LittleBigPlanet really will not be the genre-defining spectacle it was hoped to be, that’s your fault. Creation is the future and if the gaming public will not embrace it, fine, but it’s going to happen. The legacy will see the light of day.