I'm a floundering writer who would love nothing more than to actually be paid one day for something I create. I know, it sounds incredibly brutal and honest, but I'm getting old and tired. I love video games and sleeping.
Sometimes I stare into the abyss of youtube videos and weep internally as a smile creeps its way into my face, a hollow mimicry of what happiness is.
To Rift or Not To Rift †
There's only one way to prevent a rift from occurring in the people who enjoy video games in the coming years: companies need to present their product as distinctive. It's no longer a game of whose object is shinier. Showing off a cool robot spider that smashes up cop cars as your playable character goes on a cybertrip is not enough. It's about explaining why a person needs to buy the game. Why this game is a Pandoraís box of necessity and invention. Products and concepts survive only if they're presented as essential or meteor sized snowflakes with a fiery stream of uniqueness behind it. Did you know the vast majority of people didnít give a flying fuck on a penny farthing about brushing teeth until some asshole starting assertively marketing toothpaste?
And did you know how toothpaste was marketed? As something that was necessary to maintain a greater sense of being; as something unique to use in your daily grooming regimen. They hammered that point home until the masses accepted a new reality. Right now, trailers are all about dangling a key in front of your face and cooing, "Isn't it shiny? Isn't it shiny? Immersive detail! Countless options! Feature packed! It's an experience! It won all these worthless awards!" An experience isn't a necessity. An experience isnít unique. What's necessary is explaining how this product will enhance your life. How it will make it better. How without it, you're less of a human being and more akin to a wandering brute still trying to figure out how to work these strange new opposable thumbs.
†If marketing departments kick it into high gear, they'll up the ante by giving you a trailer that not only showcases explosions alongside quotes about how mind-blowing something is, but they'll give you a reason for needing that explosion. Theyíll add the substance that necessitated something blowing up. As an added bonus, unlike movies and music, which are only capable of relying on such things due to a lack of interactivity, video games can break free of that convention and evolve their message. It's already started, but in a mewling, pathetic way.
Kinect utilizing the broken concept that your body can be the controller in an era when it's simply too expensive or technologically infeasible to use it in a way the developer envisions. Hype videos detailing ease of life concepts regarding more polished UI, the way we quest in an RPG, or the way we traverse the playground we've paid for. In the future, these companies need to pay greater attention to such details in order to distinguish themselves. They need to clamber to the highest peak and shout why their product is superior, because even the flashiest trailer no longer interests certain gamers.
Every single thing they release needs substance behind it to truly catch the eyes of the populous. Iím looking at you, Far Cry 4. Iím not in the mood to pre-order some fucking box art. Thus, a rift is formed. People who have been gaming for decades with an attention span greater than a goldfish have seen it all by now. Guns, sex, and pass the controller dear developer, thanks. A universe needs to be saved. Insurmountable odds need to be surpassed. A broken heart must be mended on the road to revenge. Tragedy strikes as fireworks dazzle the eye. Fast edits. Pounding music. Audio enthusiasm pumped in to the visual rollercoaster.
Well, rollercoasters get old if you're on them all the time. Now, a rift won't be terrible. Video games are at heart, something for the young to enjoy, and as the current generations of gamers age, they may find themselves left behind and forgotten, on the other side of the fissure, yawning at the latest trailer and thinking back with a content sigh at the products they relished yesteryear. However, if publishers pay more attention to the ease of life side of gaming, if they focus on the things that really get the mind thinking about whether or not it needs something, that's when you can get everyone on board while continuing to mature your brand. So whatís the Holy Grail to introduce new life to the tired old concept of a video game trailer?
Lies, Lies, Lies †
Itís simple. Marketing departments need to create a lie. Now, it canít be something hideous and apt to garner controversy, like the disastrous Aliens: Colonial Marines vertical slice trailers, or Steel Battalionís Kinect controls. Currently, the go-to method to wrap a video game up in gleaming gloss is the venerable bullshot, a gussied up version of a regular screenshot not unlike airbrushing or presenting a Big Mac as something other than a deflated and bastardized version of its desired image. However, trailers and the concepts behind the product need to be exploited in such a fashion more often. When properly done, a company can make it appear as though Dead Island or Gears of War has hidden depth and emotional story arcs.†
No one will ever remember how deceitful those trailers were because the final product was polished and competently created, or at the very least offered much amusement. Hereís another example: preview videos for Bioshock Infinite made it seem that using Elizabethís powers would harm her and change the way the ending played out. That concept was so resonant with me that I used her power only when absolutely necessary, only finding out after I had beaten the game that I had made everything harder for myself. In addition, they released a trailer showcasing an event that never happens in any portion of the game.
However, as long as the time spent playing the product is enjoyable enough, indiscretions can be forgiven. Hereís one last go-to: the Deus Ex HR trailer. Sure the narration and dialogue is on the nose, but the action they zip through is stylized and just inaccurate enough to add that extra zest of enticement. At around the halfway point through that game, one is certain to realize that theyíll never fight all those bosses together during a massive riot in Detroit. Itís water under the bridge as long as the product meets its majority of expectations.
Look forward to more trailers lying to the consumer-base. Those publishers that walk the tightrope and make it to the other side will be remembered fondly. Those that drop will find no safety net for themselves.
Whitewash and Carpet Sweeps †
It's no surprise major developers and the strongest armed publishers are getting better at denying horrible mistakes and utilizing a political methodology to their wording in order to make the worst possible scenario seem trite and forgettable. They're throwing around excuses and offering little peace trinkets to placate any anger, but as the video game industry grows, you can expect more aggressive tactics such as outright denial, stonewalling, and blame games to create distance from unsavory creations.
There's some examples of that floating around, like with Aliens: Colonial Marines, a game which apparently had its funding shifted around, developers swapping materials, vertical slices being outright fabricated, and the product still managing to continue deceiving wherever it was allowed in order to maximize profit. You will see more of this in the coming years, so be prepared. Remember, the industry is still growing. There's going to be a hideous mishmash of this, and it'll be tasty for those who make their living off of criticizing. A profit oriented, veteran company with a competent staff will try to fix whatever issue they're having only if it doesn't cut into the bottom line too much. If it does, they'll sweep it under the rug and whistle as they walk away.
A while ago, it was revealed that Batman Arkham Origins would not have its existing bugs fixed. You know what? Lots of people played through that game with minimal issues. The percentage of people that can't get through it can go fuck themselves, because it's not profitable to help them, and veteran companies with a competent staff can survive little jolts like that. This is the way the game is played. If a corporation gets too hot to trot, you can also expect them to occasionally blame the customer. Think different. Think Apple. Think about the time they blamed the customer for their faulty iPhone 4 antennas. Think about how NBA Live 14 was a calamity and the remedy for that was showing people how to use the product via twitch streams and instructional blogs. You'll see more of this.
Thus ends my foray into what I consider some of the inner workings of the game industry in its current form. This was the blog I had promised you all a few weeks ago, and I hope you enjoyed. Until next time.
Gaming publishers need a basic lesson in proper promotion. Let's get one thing straight: the current model for selling copies of an overblown money-laden video game is downright barbaric. The industry is still using fire to warm their caves and rather than bludgeon their prey (the consumer) over the head like a true venture company viking would, they showcase shiny trinkets and ask, "Isn't this pretty?" Well fuck that, there's plenty of pretty things in this world and the market is over-saturated with bullshit advertisements explaining to me how wonderful merchandise is. How unique this artistic little snowflake in the blue marble we live in is. Let's all step back and take a deep breath so you'll be able to take this journey with me properly.
Breathe in. Art is a product.
Breathe out. Products are meant to be sold.
That's the reality of the situation. It doesn't matter whether something is creative, full of passion and soul, whether it's something only a few people are meant to enjoy, the bottom line is: it's for consumption. That is all human beings do to fill their time on this earth. They consume. Creation is the byproduct of the need to consume. And if the game industry wishes to survive the inevitable asteroid of drudgery that will hit every miserable techdino within a universal radius, they need to change their tone, their messaging, and their salvo.
Now I'm not here to tell you to embrace the future, I'm simply going to give you some background and a possible scenario we may all have to deal with in the event marketing executives get their heads out of their asses and do some proper work. This is how the sputtering, liver spotted marketing behemoth of the gaming industry currently works.
Our Product is An Experience †
Trailers, press releases, and information gaming websites make their livelihood from are presented like any other form of media, in that it's an experience you can purchase to take your mind off things. However, as humanity continues to advance, we have an incredible multitude of media to appreciate. Shit, there's sects of people all over the world that prefer to watch someone play an entire video game on YouTube rather than play it, so what the fuck do they care how transcendent experiencing something is if they can get a close approximation and be done with it? There's a reason you have spots on the shelf for fake caviar and imitation crab, because some people are satisfied enough with "close enough" and no amount of horsey sauce multiplayer features will help retain a large following if the game isn't presented appropriately.
You know what? Shiny trailers and special features are starting to factor into these products less and less as technology inexorably marches on. This generation especially has very little to show for itself, with nothing more than parlor trick particle enhancements and resolution so "immersive" you could see the warts on an ant's ass and then think to yourself whether or not you needed to, before eventually settling on the concept that it was always necessary to stare at those warts in full detail, because fuck the savages that lived a few decades before us.
Industry is Religion, Criticism is the Cross, Games are Nailed
This is a no win situation. There's a clear need for a hive mind to echo off a general idea of what an artistic product is so everyone has a chance of steering clear or enjoying it on whatever level they determine is necessary for pleasure. However, it's a fucking madhouse. I'm tired of journalists moaning about a problem they helped germinate throughout society. Right now the popular go to rope to tug on is how the video game industry isn't taking as many risks as it used to. That's because it takes time to cultivate an art form, and unfortunately criticism doesn't give a single shit about the concept of patience because that doesn't get eyes on the sentences that have been written and that means there's no food on the plate.
So in the case of a product taking a risk and not being able to deliver, rather than the same people getting a second chance, they're thrown to the wolves to be torn apart, and innovation becomes a mythical tale about legendary warriors fighting a terrifying beast inside a dark cave, only for one many years later to finally return, victorious. Of course, now that victor has to replicate the success or the bards will stop singing the high praise it deserves. Our brave warrior was taught to fish, needs to keep reeling them in, or he'll starve. Funny thing about that proverb.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Bullshit. Ponds dry up and ecosystems suffer from decay, that man will be fucking lucky if he feeds himself for a few decades. You grokking this, Mike? Companies live on the edge, and a lot of them end up tripping into the abyss, regardless of success, and that's because the masses must continue to consume this hot new meal we all like to call video games. So now we've got whatever developers and publishers are left playing it safe, doing all the greatest hits over and over again, because a few years ago when they struck it big, the critics were on their side, and now they're pumping out the same jams because it helps keep the bills paid.
This in turn fuels more criticism and everyone can have themselves a regular old jamboree. It's not going to change. After reading this though, you'd better smirk the next time someone bitches about games going in a certain direction, because that's the way we like it guys 'n gals. Chaotic and short-lived, just like the fleshy vessel we call home for a couple dozen years. If any industry had its shit together it would cease to exist. Without drama, there's fuck all. Remember, Industry is Religion, Criticism is the Cross, Games are Nailed. We have a few messiahs wandering the deserts of our minds, but biblical figures are rare.
In a way, Randy Pitchford hit the nail a few inches short of the head when he said that some people prefer having a greasy cheeseburger instead of a fine meal when he tried to justify the existence of the industry's first ever resuscitated abortion. The truth is this: the industry is an immeasurable amount of greasy cheeseburgers and we'd all love to chow down on some filet mignon, but we have to settle for those god damn cheeseburgers whether we like it or not because the only other option with regards to this speck of media is a fantasy sandwich with crocodile wish salad.
Hype Train Burning in the Mainstream †
The video game industry is becoming mainstream in order to survive. I'm sure you've noticed that. You read articles on gaming sites. You read blogs. You put two and two together and rub those sexy brain cells together. You're an educated purveyor. This is a sign of maturity in a capitalistic society. You're not seeing major companies piggybacking on another media empire and asking it to run up the hill where Sisyphus is counting all that gold every CEO can share with each other while circle jerking so they can finally free a landlocked yacht and sail off into the sunset. This is the childishness that sank the original incarnation of the games industry.
ET was a pretty big movie in the 80's. So Atari decided they could just pump out any kind of garbage they wanted and stamp a big 'ol ET logo on it, and then head to the printing presses to get all that fresh green. They put all their Rolex watches in one basket and the fucker cratered into a New Mexico landfill. Sure, you'll still see shovelware products like this propped up on shelves and digital playgrounds near you, but the budget for these titles is deflated and kept to a minimum now. Mainstream titles are loud, stupid, pumped with enough cash to stay afloat, and marketed aggressively in that movie tailored "this is shiny and/or artistic" foghorn that everyone has come to appreciate like a domesticated animal.
Of course, with the advent of video games hitting the mainstream, the indie crowd arose from the leftover piles of money and ambition, much like what the film and music industries enjoy today. In the coming years, you'll see more and more indie companies taking full advantage of marketing opportunities to present their product in that friendly, passive manner that indie movies are thriving in. Right now the ďcarefree hand waving in the windĒ for the games industry is retro graphics and straight-shooting, to the point trailers that ape the big boys without breaking the bank. Welcome to the norm. This is the game industry stretching its legs and settling down in a comfy chair.
So I spent the majority of my time writing today. This blog isn't a fruit of that labor because it ended up being a 2,500 word provocative piece that needs to be read over, edited, and conveyed in a presentable manner. It's very passionate and fiery. Now I'm running short on time. I really wanted to post it today, but I'm unable to. Therefore, I decided to write this blog, in order to show you what I could have been doing today instead. In proper self-serving fashion, I'm also mentioning the upcoming feature to motivate myself into continuing my work later.
Maybe you'll never read it because I don't post it. Maybe Y4k will hit the internet with such a fierce resolustorm that every computer explodes. Anyway, this is supposed to be a quick blog so here's every game I mention crammed into one picture. Fuck it.
This mortal coil isn't kind to anything that belongs to said coil. It's bad enough that an organism has to die, but frequent disease helps remind people that everything sucks and it gets worse as one gets closer to the spectre of death. I received a wonderful pat on the back from a cold and then it throttled my tonsils so hard that I couldn't swallow without my nerves stabbing me in the fucking neck. I get it. They're swollen. Thank you pain. My attention span is very short, so I'm glad you're constant. Long story short, I hadn't been able to play any video games for a while. Which is fine. I'm getting older, and ever more apathetic. Sometimes I just stare at my collection, sigh, and just transfer my gaze to a YouTube video trying not to drool.
There's also a lot of anxiety in dealing with competitive games. So there's that hurdle I'm becoming too tired to jump over as time goes on. Despite that, I decided to play a few games of StarCraft II a couple of days ago. For those of you who remember, I wrote a blog about how my goal in that game was to reach the gold league in 1vs1. To my shock and horror, I reached that league with my first battle in weeks after having settled into a silver league routine. I have an APM averaging below 60. This is not a tenable situation. I closed the game after that solitary match. If I hadn't written all day, I may have poked my head into multiplayer again to try my luck with my new placement. I'm not sure how I'll do against this pool of opponents, but I've got to bite the bullet eventually.
2. It's GEH-RALT!
I'm looking at you IGN and Gametrailers. The Witcher is not a series of games about "Jehralt". I get it. You read shit off a teleprompter or script. Playing the game or learning a little about it would offend your sensibilities because RPG's aren't in your personal wheelhouse. It's just a shame whoever actually played the game didn't mention the fucking dwarf who always greets you by shouting out the main character's name. Or the countless NPC's bumbling around town going, "Ooo, GEH-RALT of Rivia!" Or the character himself saying, "Hey, I'm GEH-RALT of Rivia, I lost my memory, but I still fucking know how to pronounce my name." Ahem. At any rate, I've been playing through the Witcher series in anticipation of the Witcher 3. I've played these games before but I thought I'd freshen up. I could have continued my slog through the swamps of chapter II in the first chronicle, but I guess GEH-RALT will have to wait.
3. Screaming Simulator †
I still have Company of Heroes 2 installed in my library. There's an expansion coming, and if I can swing the cash for that, I'll probably continue playing with renewed vigor, especially if my war buddy continues to back me up. However, I haven't touched much of it in the past few weeks, and I suppose I could have popped in for a match or two today. I have to admit though; I'm getting tired of hearing Russians and Germans screaming at the top of their lungs. Maybe a good old American accent will be more refreshing. Remember the original Company of Heroes? The engineers had a good, take no shit, Brooklyn style of talking.
4. Jackboots are made for Wallrunning
I could have played some Titanfall instead. I haven't really touched this game much in recent weeks either. As fun as the game can be, it gets long in the tooth after a while. There just isn't enough to keep me invested aside from the entertainment factor. I feel like Titanfall is the video game equivalent to a fireworks show. Maybe I'll let a few more rockets fizz off into the sky later.
Hello there! I know I don't write often enough to be remembered, but don't worry my dear reader. I've got your back when it comes to video games. After exploring the jungles of Cambodia and the scuzziest lower east-side dive bars, I ran into none other than Hideo Kojima, who not only confirmed that he's an imaginary creature powered by our thoughts, but also handed me a copy of his most sacred document: The Metal Gear Creation Papers.
These pages contain all the information the grandmaster himself has used to make countless Metal Gear Solid games, and I thought I'd share some of it with all of you. MGS V has yet to release, and this has left a gaping hole in all our hearts, a ghostly ache that only this document can provide relief from. Indulge yourselves and feel free to share your results.
1. We're sorry we had to bring you out of:
c. Aging gracefully.
d. The investor meeting you were having with shareholders of Konami.
2. Your mission is to:
a. Infiltrate a secret base.
b. Rescue the President.
c. Infiltrate a secret facility hidden inside a secret base.
d. Botch every rescue attempt we've assigned you and uncover a massive conspiracy.
e. Create your own elite fighting force of bored and eclectic mercenaries who are perfectly alright joining an insane plan that has a tenuous grip on reality at best.
f. Infiltrate a flagrantly placed base while procuring all weapons, food, clothing, and living expenses on sight. We're counting on you, because this organization is bankrupt.
3. For this mission, we've decided your codename is:
a. Solid Snake
c. Big Boss
e. Solid Boss
f. Snake Boss
g. Cake Boss
4. "[Main Character], I'm afraid I've got some bad news. It's...Metal Gearô"
a. A mysterious high ranking military archetype that goes by the instruction manual.
b. A military colonel who ends up becoming a villain, downright insane, or a windows vista program.
c. The same colonel as previously mentioned but he's totally okay again because he had time to think about what'd he'd done.
d. Another colonel with the exact same name but he grew a mustache.
2. Your intelligence gatherer is:
a. Someone who always pisses themselves every time you call.
b. Someone who is emotionally unstable and constantly asks your opinion regarding life, love, and happiness while men are hunting you down with automatic assault rifles.
c. Someone who has no idea what a codec is and never responds to your calls.
d. Someone who will tell you to press x to open a door and then never say anything else the entire game.
3. Your save file manager is:
a. A woman who wants to delete everything you've ever saved.
b. A woman who tells you that everything you've ever done was horrible and you should be ashamed.
c. A man wearing sunglasses who at the end of the game removes the sunglasses to reveal that he was the man saving your game all along. Then he puts the sunglasses back on.
4: Your sidekick is:
a. A slender young man with flowing blonde hair who is constantly crouching down to ask his superiors how to climb ladders, aim a gun, run through hallways, hide upon being detected, what his weapons do, and how to remove pigeon shit from a multimillion dollar stealth suit.
b. A slender young man who also happens to be a quadruple amputee.
c. A slender young man who gets cybernetic implants and really wishes the torture would stop.
d. A slender young man who didn't ask for this.
e. Nanomachines in the vague shape of a man.
1. Your codec additions include, but are not limited to:
a. A man giving you the worst possible combat advice and becoming audibly irritated the longer you survive.
b. A man who sacrifices himself for the greater good that was in his own head, because his sacrifice was pointless.
c. An annoying little girl who is really good at computers and later falls down a flight of stairs.
d. Someone who is adept at being vague and moody.
e. A circus bear with advanced knowledge of interrogation and CQC tactics.
f. A pack of floating cigarettes smoking a cigarette.
g. A disapproving pacifist.
2. The female protagonist: How naked should she be?
a. Very naked.
b. Partially naked.
c. Mostly naked.
d. Completely naked.
3. What theme should her backstory contain?
d. Systematic abuse
e. All of the above.
1. Revolver Ocelot does the following:
a. Double-crosses the main character.
b. Triple-crosses the main character.
c. Triple-crosses the organization he was working for.
d. Loses an appendage.
e. Learns how to be proficient with firearms.
f. Learns all about gun safety from the main character.
2. Revolver Ocelot's final words to the main character are:
a. "You're pretty adequate."
b. "The only way you can defeat me is if you press the corresponding key prompts that flash on your screen."
c. "I'm really glad that ninja didn't cut anything below the waistline."
2. Each villain must have a unique characteristic:
a. No pants.
b. Too many pants.
c. Ineffectual aim.
d. On their last leg, both physically and mentally. Also they have one leg.
e. Easily telegraphed attacks that were taught to them by the world's worst special ops trainer.
f. The inability to stop shouting and/or whispering.
3. Choose a memorable villain quote:
a. "Is it true? I can hear you now...this blood I see must be mine, for I finally feel the weight of a thousand sins lifting off into the heavens as my weary soul enters the respite I so richly deserve. I'm coming home. Please heat up the leftovers."
b. "My penis burns with the vengeance of passionate hatred!"
c. "Hi, my name's Randy Pitchford, and I'm the CEO of Gearbox."
d. "[Main character]! You need to be gentle with me! With each action I take my bones break! I must seek sanctuary! WITH YOUR DEA--OOWW! NO, STOP! I'M SORRY, I'M SORRY!"
4. One villain must engage the player with a strange, innovative feature:
a. Throw your controller into the Kinect.
b. Place the Xbox One vertically.
c. Lick the PS4 controller until it changes colors.
d. Touch the PS4 and then maybe get a finger or two in a USB port for good measure.
e. Log on to www.MGSV.com and vote on how you should win this fight!
5. Metal Gear is destroyed by:
a. A stinger missile.
b. Several miscellaneous missiles.
c. A few bursts from a P90.
d. A deep realization that it is a machination of hubris.
e. It trips into a ravine.
1. Revolver Ocelot says this after the end credits:
a. "Everything is going according to plan...Mr. President."
b. "Of course he doesnít know anythingÖ[Main Character] helped us beyond any doubt.Ē
c. "I'd like five large pizzas...with pepperoni."
2. The ending lesson is:
a. Maybe nuclear weapons ARE the answer.
b. Building Metal Gears is a terrible business decision during an economy in a downturn.
c. Konami needs to keep making money.
d. With the power of Youtube and patience, a lot of people could have saved $30.
3. This is Hideo Kojima's:
a. Most highly rated production yet.
b. Last game.
c. Final cry for help.
Congratulations! You've just finished the plot to an MGS game!
Alright fellas and felines, I gotta be Spongebob Square with you. I really wanted to write this amazing blog that explained in detail what I thought of StarCraft II, which I recently acquired after Amazon betrayed Blizzardís profit masters and allowed it to go on sale for 20 bucks per campaign and I just couldnít do it. I wanted to start off by calling all of you voracious velociraptors. I wanted to go into detail and end with some truly ghastly jokes that would have you waking up in the middle of the night screaming as you look down at your palms and realize youíve been eating giant globs of Laffy Taffy and your hands have become riddled with cryptic jokes with no solution.
Why did the rodent bite off its own tail? Why did the Blistering Banshee swoon when she saw Christís Wounds? Who did the Crane Operator steal in the night? Are these really printed on Laffy Taffy wrappers? What have you done? Do you realize how many people might have been hurt while you were blissfully unaware of your sleep eating rampage? What if itís already on YouTube?
Instead of writing such a detailed blog, Iím just going to go all over the place with little aim, lazy writing capability that a mongoose with a human thumb mutation could hammer out, and only a vague idea of when I want it to end, with the subject being loosely based on (cough, Warhammer 40k, ahem) StarCraft II. I know Iím incredibly late on the zergling train to terran sticker yum yum town, but I had been deeply embroiled in the sweet siren song of MMOís and the rocky crags of other, more distant and mysterious games when Wings of Liberty landed in the industryís mineral line, ready to be harvested by consumer units.
Letís be honest with each other, StarCraft II is about as different from the original as a middle-aged suburban wife who decided to get a tit job: itís the same chassis with greater emphasis in an area that people tend to look at most. So I decided to hold off on it until now. The graphics have improved, there are a few new units, and (cough, Commander Shepard, cough) Jim Raynor is on the (hhrmm, Normandy, ech) Hyperion sulking around and asking people about upgrades while he stares into oblivion and punishes his liver for living in his body.
Iím not really a StarCraft veteran since the last time I played the game was over a decade ago and I probably stepped on the ladder once, shrugged, and put it away so I could play on more custom maps and over a 56K connection with my friend. To those of you who donít know, the 56K modem was an electrisitcal device that bled out your phone line until you ripped it out of the jack, where it would begin screaming in awful, prehistoric tones because you interrupted its feasting. Sometimes it was too difficult to remove the 56k modem from its grip on the phone line, and entire companies went bankrupt as data was sucked up by the megabytes. You also had to move. That was the 56k modemís house now.
So despite not really having played StarCraft like a hardcore gamehound who just took an APM increasing vigor, I still decided to play the WoL campaign on hard. I have already watched a lionís share worth of streams and I can wall in and do the creep spread all the way to expansionville, so I thought I had a handle on the game. For the most part I was right, and the sections aboard the Hyperion were entertaining and helped expand the universe in a positive direction. However, I wasnít prepared for half of the missions being on a timer, so I began to stress out as the game progressed.
For instance, thereís one part where a solar systemís sun decides to supernova and itís up to Raynorís Raiders to capture a fragment of (brrpp, the Scion, cough) a Protoss artifact as a giant wall of flame begins to burn up the planet. Iím sure if you would look at a pie chart of the writing regarding this particular chunk of WoL, the largest wedge would be fiction and the person eating the science portion would starve, but hey; video games. Another has you escorting Metal Gear Odin around a gauntlet of enemy bases in a ďready or not, here I comeĒ style scenario. So naturally, combining stuff like this with a ramped up difficulty means a lot of swearing and disbelief in game design choices.
Iím an adult now, and Iím not going to spend an entire weekend doing one mission and counting my progress by microseconds and sweat gland inflammation. I could be getting angry at a veritable mťlange of video games these days, so Iím not ashamed to admit that out of the 25 WoL missions I did, I must have looked at Youtube 3-5 times.† I just started the Heart of the Swarm petri dish of delight and while itís engrossing enough, I canít help but notice Blizzardís continued fascination with cannibalism, as one of the earlier missions has you fighting a WoW style raid encounter. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed my experience with the single-player, and I donít regret spending time and money on it.
Multiplayeóyou have been defeated
When I was still awaiting the shipment of StarCraft II, I thought about what league I might get placed in. I decided that my goal would be to make it to Gold, and that I wouldnít be able to go any higher. I thought Iíd be able to eventually escape Bronze and languish a little in Silver before everything came to its conclusion. However, as I continued to watch streams, I realized that there was a lot to keep track of. I started reading up on the game. For instance, did you know that if you have an APM of 50, you might as well take up a position ringing the bells at Notre Dame? With one mission in WoL to go, I decided to do my first 5 placement matches to get into a ranked position. I had also done a few challenges and did my placement with AI opponents, so I thought I was ready.
The matchmaking then proceeded to put so many boots in my ass that by the time I was done, my chair had a perfect imprint of South Korea on it. I managed to lose 10 games in a row, and I had become so amused and forlorn at my poor performance that on my 11th game I managed to scramble together a win. You should see me in action. This is literally my first legitimate win. I canít undo this.
Iím currently 3-10 in the top 50 of my division in Bronze League. I am amongst the cadre of people who have been lied to. Chances are we will never end up winning 50% of our games like Blizzard stated. Chances are weíll never be able to pull off a multi-pronged attack while simultaneously expanding and eating lunch. Iíll keep you all updated if it bears mentioning.
The Sheen of Development
I would like to say that the polish on the game is incredible. Yes, the graphics arenít anything to write to Nvidia about, but Blizzard has always been more interested in making sure their games are accessible to the widest range of PCís available. Plus, thereís enough color and vibrancy to the art direction that itís easy to see past the first layer and plunge into the other details. Since an entire country has added this series into its mainstream culture, Blizzard took care to make StarCraft II into a font of improvement over the years. There are a lot of features to discuss, and Iím not going to. I still have bad jokes to share with you.
Iíll just mention my favorite one: all that wonderful information. They keep track of everything, even over the length of an entire season. I enjoy seeing whether or not Iíve improved in my APM or workers constructed, and the replay tool is fantastic as always. Iíve trusted Blizzard in that arena ever since I saw the constant updates to WarCraft IIIís replay utility. So all in all, Iím glad I finally got to experience StarCraft II. Now the question remains: how long will it hold my interest?
StarCraft II Joke Addendum
Why did the Ultralisk learn to love Marines? Because they helped remove a Thor from its side.
What do you call a thirsty zerg? A Dehydralisk.
Why did the Catholic Church excommunicate all the zerg? Because they believed in evolution.
Why did Jim Raynor gasp when he saw Sarah Kerrigan? Because he thought he saw a ghost.
What do you call a zealot who rips the wings off a probe? A psicopath.
Why did the marine cross the road? To try and get out of his chickenshit outfit.
Why do Stalkers lose staring contests? They always Blink first.
Who is the best Protoss singer? Billy Void Ray Cyrus.
Why did the drone leave its Hatchery? It wanted to Expand its horizons.