After a little over a year's hiatus I have returned to the Destructoid Blog fold. Despite how thinly-spread my writing efforts have become, I still sometimes feel the need for a canvas in which I can sloppily splash the paint of my thoughts upon in hopes to have something resembling a thing.
So who am I? Right now I'm a writer over at GamersWithJobs, a blogger, a YouTuber and a Podcaster. I specialize in games analysis and criticism, and would like to use the Destructoid blog to share in some of my experiences working on these projects.
Note that I will be linking things I've been working on, but I will do so with the intent of embellishing on thoughts unsaid or detailing some of the work for any interested in also being content providers. Perhaps some of my experiences can help you out along the way.
When I first came home from PAX East 2011, I described it as a taste of what Heaven must be like. If that was a mere taste, then this year was an entire spoon full.
The previous two years I tried to do and see as much as possible, darting between panels and the Expo Floor trying to miss as little as I could. This year I tried a different approach. I instead chose to focus on the Expo Hall, concerts, board games and social gatherings while ignoring the panels and some other activities.
As a result, I had the best PAX ever. I did not have a chance to meet with any members of the Destructoid community outside of a quick run-in with Hamza and whoever was wearing The Helmet(TM), but I did manage to spend much time with my friends over at GamersWithJobs (I'm sorry, Destructoid, you know I love you, but no one shall have my heart like GamersWithJobs).
Between games of The Wonderful 101, Mercenary Kings, The Last of Us, Remember Me and more, the Curse party where I discovered I like dance music as long as I'm shit-faced enough, and a variety of board and card games I got to try with friends, I also got to experience the concerts. Seeing Those Who Fight and The Protomen with old friends from College and new allies in meat space, head banging together, jumping and throwing the horns, it's a wonderful experience. Some might describe it as spiritual, as a collective group experiences the same chemical-flooded brain haze at the same time, bonding in a hot and sweaty chamber of hard rock and metal.
It is epic.
The GamersWithJobs 3DS Advocates at PAX East
I thought I was fortunate that The Protomen would be playing near my town a week later. Sadly, none of my friends were able to go that night, but I figured "what the Hell, it'll be like reliving PAX all over again". My Post-PAX Depression would be soothed ever so slightly while others continued to wallow in the reality that is the non-PAX world.
What a fool I was to believe that atmosphere would carry over. Throughout the night I approached people that looked fun, interesting, those who felt like they'd know the secret knock, a sort of password that could take the form of Live Long and Prosper, or the Wilhelm Scream, or some other small piece of nerd culture.
"Hey, have you heard the opening act before?" "You get to check out The Protomen at PAX?" "You get to see them play with Powerglove last year?"
I asked all of these questions to a variety of folks, hoping to get some sort of reaction. Some sort of response that would start a friendly conversation. The advantage here was that everyone would be reasonably local! Our friendship, our bond, didn't have to end after the concert, but could continue for weekends after. Theoretically.
In actuality, I was met with short, curt, "no" responses before they physically shifted their bodies in an effort to shut me out. A complete disinterest in speaking with me. After an hour of trying to speak to people, I finally settled onto the main floor, waiting the concert to begin. Alone.
Instantly my mind went to the week before, standing beside friends new and old, banging my head, throwing the horns, singing along (as best as I could hear myself) with the music. Now, I would be left to bang my head and throw the horns alone.
I left the concert and hung out with my other friends. Thirteen dollars spent be damned, I was not going to tarnish my more recent, joyful, exuberant memory of the concert with a lonely one.
PAX isn't about the games. It isn't about the panels. It isn't about the industry members you get to briefly shake hands with. It's about the conversations you get to have.
True, there are some total ass maggots at the Expo, too. As hard as we try we shall never recreate Eden on Earth. I overheard a guy discussing the first two Bioshock games, trying to recall who developed the second. "2K Marin," I pipe up. "A number of previous Irrational developers split off and formed a new studio." The guy shrugs, "Yeah whatevers", and continues to ignore me. Asshole. Other folks were willing to shove people in the Expo Hall, or to stand around obliviously blocking the path of others, or potentially even cut in line.
Yet these folks are not the majority. The majority of folks are willing to take part in a communal joke, tossing about beach balls while waiting for the expo to open up, willing to step up and ask "Hey, what board game is that?", willing to hold your camera to take a random photo, to get into an hour-long conversation about the entire Halo franchise.
Or perhaps the highlight, a discussion with a nineteen year old boy in line for a copy of Luigi's Mansion. Now, my recent interactions with this demographic have left me jaded. I have debated with those that would call Activision a good company, who expect more games to be like Call of Duty, who feel Treyarch did a much better job than Infinity Ward because of minute changes to the multiplayer. Those who dismissed innovative titles because they weren't familiar enough, and could care less for story or single-player campaigns. The sort of demographic that feels like it is ruining this industry, all aged sixteen to twenty-one.
Yet this nineteen year old heard I had a physical cartridge of Earthbound still and his enthusiastic jealousy made me smile. He missed Earthbound when it was new, and only heard of it when playing Super Smash Bros. at the age of six. Yet here he was, wishing they'd release Mother 3 in America, just like an old twenty-seven year old fogey like me.
It really hit home for me what PAX was about. It wasn't just about the games, the panels, or the "community". It's the celebration and passion. All the people that are there not only for the games, but to experience it with others. Willing to say hello to a stranger and strike up a conversation because, hey, why the Hell not?
It is this little slice of Heaven that I don't think I'll be able to recapture outside of an Expo.
Fortunately, TooManyGames and Escapist Expo are just around the corner. Who knows? Maybe I'll finally get a chance to meet some DToiders at those events.
(Sorry for the shoddy quality of this blog. I didn't get a chance to clean it up and just wanted to put something up here. Been feeling a bit of lack-of-contributing-guilt. Hopefully it makes for a decent read anyway).
Amongst the many problems both Aliens: Colonial Marines and Resident Evil 6 run into, remaining tied to some nebulous and evil corporation is the shared crime that I am so sick of being committed.
In terms of Colonial Marines, part of it is because I'm just not as much a fan of Aliens. As in, the second film. Don't get me wrong, I love all three. I watched James Cameron's influential take first like most my age, and I bought the trilogy on Blu-Ray even though I already owned them all on DVD. In truth, I only did as much for the uncensored Wreckage and Rage Alien 3 documentary.
For some reason they kept putting in this crappy fan film written by Joss Whedon, too.
Don't get me wrong, Aliens is good. But James Cameron is no David Fincher or Ridley Scott, who made films that are, to me at least, infinitely more interesting to watch. James Cameron is good when you want an action film that goes above and beyond the call of duty. James is actually trying to say something with how conceited the marines behave, how inept the armchair lieutenant is, and how easily they all get their asses kicked by the xenomorph threat. It's inspired by Vietnam and how we didn't know what we were getting into when we dropped our soldiers into that territory. There's the whole maternal instinct thing going on as well, but that's been analyzed to Hell and back. The thing is, this stuff is only so interesting each time you see it.
Contrast this to the original Alien, or for me, Alien 3. I know, I know, everyone hates Alien 3 because it was ORIGINALLY supposed to have Hicks fighting the xenomorphs on Earth, and instead they killed Hicks AND Newt which made the end of Aliens pointless! Alien 3 as a whole totally sucks now!
...only it doesn't. In fact, I'd argue that an Aliens flick that tries to be bigger and badder than James Cameron's Aliens is bound to be worse and less interesting, or at the very least not as fulfilling. People have these large expectations of these huge epics, but something is always going to have to give. Either you won't have interesting characters, or you won't have as many big, satisfying conflicts as you'd want to see. If you go back and rewatch Aliens, the xenomorphs themselves are hardly in the film at all. The movie is much more interested in Ripley, and the story that is told, while interesting, is only as deep as James Cameron is capable of.
In fact, I suppose I could make a joke about him searching for depth under water or something. He does love water.
You know what you get when you focus on things being bigger and badder? Resident Evil 6. In fact, you get the Resident Evil series as a whole. My favorite two games in the series are REmake and Resident Evil 4, and mostly because they have nothing to do with the rest of the series (aside from Leon S. Kennedy).
I don't know how much REmake added, but it was my very first experience with the franchise. I absolutely loved it. I loved the feel of the mansion. I loved the story behind it. I loved Umbrella's isolated, secret facility dedicated to developing a biological weapon that inevitably goes wrong. It also makes sense that a company doing dirty dealings would try to hide their activities, and it makes sense that an employee might decided to sabotage it and then sell all the materials they could muster on the black market.
On its own, REmake works as well as such a story could work. Unfortunately, things had to keep getting bigger... and bigger... and bigger.
It turns out Umbrella owned half of Raccoon City, or close enough. They have even MORE laboratories under the city and are making strains of a virus that they hadn't even perfected yet. I mean, think about it. This company didn't even sell any of these biological weapons before paying big bucks to stick a lab under a city to make more. What's the payoff? What sort of company would pay so much into something that evidently had incidents when they first built the lab, and ran into another one later?
Then it turns out there was some secret base located in what, Antarctica? I never got to play Code Veronica, but I remember it was yet another location. Then there was evidently research going on in Africa. That's an awful lot of bioweapons to be making for...who? Who exactly was buying all of these bioweapons? They never even showed up until 1998 in Raccoon City.
Now there's a whole Neo-Umbrella, and they're...what? A terrorist group? Wasn't Umbrella supposed to be a pharmaceutical company that also expanded into military technology and a variety of other markets? Weren't they supposed to be one giant company that screwed up big and was dismantled after Raccoon City?
By Resident Evil 2, Umbrella was a stupid company. By Resident Evil 6, they were impossibly moronic and it is amazing they even remained in business as long as they did. Capcom forgot they were creating a company that got into some nefarious business and instead made them some nebulously evil thing without any purpose but to create monsters with no return on investments. Talk about a money sink. I'm sure the board of shareholders would have had a lot of faith in that.
The same could easily happen to Weyland-Yutani, and in terms of the video game universe it already has. In the films, the Alien is a curiosity to the company. It seems like something that could be researched and weaponized. It also seems like this is a future where no one has ever encountered alien life, meaning their goals may not be to weaponize the creature. In the first film Ash expresses fascination with it, stating he "admires its purity". However, they didn't spend a lot of money in terms of trying to get it. Crew was expendable, and I'm certain the plan was for Ash to kill the crew and bring the creature back to the Company. It was a minor footnote in the story as a whole to emphasize the "space truckers" concept. These people were expendable. Their only purpose was to carry materials from one location to the next.
"You have my sympathies."
In Aliens, Weyland-Yutani happened to be Terraforming this world. Was the terraforming intentional? Did they know LV-426 was the planet Ripley and company had explored and intentionally set up a colony there? Perhaps, but a colony could work in terms of long-term profit and could have personnel much more fitting for researching xenomorphs than a crew of space truckers. If a colony on LV-426 was just coincidental, then Burke going down with the Colonial Marines could make sense. He's there to assess whether the terraforming facility can be recovered and to make sure it can. As he states, it has a substantial dollar value attached.
We can still believe Weyland Yutani would have Burke ferry the aliens any way he could. The facehuggers were there. He could have two people impregnated and carried home. Then Weyland Yutani could research the creatures.
This theme is still carried through in Alien 3, where they want to get that damn Alien. "Ripley, think of all we can learn from it!" Evil Bishop exclaims. The assumption is that Weyland Yutani is an evil corporation, but it is more that the ends justify the means. Especially since LV-426 was destroyed. For all they know, this is their last chance at studying this creature, learning about its physiology, its evolution. They're desperate to keep this thing alive, which is why Ripley becomes such a high priority.
Weyland Yutani is a sort of evil you can believe. They clearly have operations beyond just trying to get this Alien, and their efforts to retrieve it are rather minor in comparison.
Until Aliens: Colonial Marines. All of a sudden Weyland Yutani has their own army to send down in addition to scientists, all of which have no problem killing other humans in order to study these dangerous creatures. If Ripley and Newt had been impregnated, or the crew of the Nostromo had been killed by an android, then there would be a handful of people with knowledge of the truth. Only a handful, and you could keep everything else a secret.
This? This is an operation bound to result in conflict. There's no way Weyland-Yutani has that many loyal employees, especially when the Colonial Marines are shooting them up and Xenomorphs are loose all over the place. It makes absolutely no sense.
Weyland Yutani has become Umbrella.
Now, there are a lot more issues with both games than just the stupidity of these corporations, but they both could be improved if writers could just learn to give up certain iconic elements. You don't need Weyland-Yutani to make an Aliens story, and they shouldn't be as largely emphasized as they continue to be. Umbrella should have been done with after Resident Evil 3. Abandon these elements, and create something new with the base necessary elements. Xenomorphs, monsters, and isolation.
So I made another video for your enjoyment. At least, I hope for your enjoyment. It is a thing I would like for you to enjoy.
I didn't come around here just to spam and run, though. Life has been a busy thing, and the time to come around and check out blogs has been...well, there has been no such time. I've finally moved and am living on my own. I'm a Pennsylvania resident, and naturally on the day I signed my lease I got into an accident. Fortunately it wasn't severe. For me at least. No one injured, no ticket or court summons issued, and the damage is superficial to my bumper. Still, I look at this as a sign from God that it is Pennsylvania drivers that suck, seeing as I've been driving in and out of the state everyday for over a year now as a New Jersey resident, but once I switch over BAM! First accident of my life.
A lot of spare time is being used for developing these videos, though. I was worried once I got into the nitty gritty I wouldn't enjoy putting them together, but this is not true at all. I really like making these, and when I finished this one I immediately wanted to dive into the next. Unfortunately, writing a script takes time.
Especially when you're busy.
The next one will be focused on Aliens: Colonial Marines, and while I know everyone is sick of hearing about that game by now, I can hopefully approach it from a different angle than most of the complaints being leveled against it.
As for Destructoid, I have a blog in mind and just need the time to sit down and put it together. Rambling is one thing. Rambling is easy. Trying to write something that's supposed to be interesting and including pictures? Very different.
To speed this up and provide something a bit more substantial, some quick impressions of various things.
- I was expecting to want Monster Hunter 3 for 3DS and to wait on Fire Emblem, but after playing both demos I've come to realize Monster Hunter won't be my style of game. Fire Emblem, on the other hand, tempts me.
- It will have to wait, as I just got 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors for the DS. That will also have to wait, though, as I'm playing Crimson Shroud. It makes me want to play D&D again. Also, I want to see ladies cosplay as Frea, because damn.
- Assassin's Creed 4? I haven't even unwrapped Assassin's Creed 3. I think I'm done with this series for a while. I'm just so burnt out on it by this point. Too much of a good thing...
- I'll inevitably get a Playstation 4. The backwards compatibility is upsetting, but not surprising. I'd just like to hear more info on the Cloud Gaming. However, there's nothing special being shown off. We're literally getting prettier versions of games that can already exist on current hardware. Even so, I'll get a PS4 for a new inFamous game.
- I want to be excited for Destiny. I saw them march out four guys from Bungie and was like "Oh man, they're going to show four player co-op gameplay!" But no. They walked on, stood around awkwardly, and walked off. Fucking lame ass shit muddah fuggah.
- That reminds me, Jonathon Blow certainly earns his last name. I don't know what the quality of his games are as I didn't play Braid and have no clue what else to expect, but for someone so "imaginative, original, and better than AAA", he did a great job developing Myst: Aperture Science Edition. I mean, sure, The Witness will probably be fun, but I want to hate it because the creator is clearly a dick.
- March is going to be Indie Month for me. Once I'm done replaying Catherine I'm going to finally get around to stuff like Penny Arcade Ep. 3, Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgment, Outland, and possibly grabbing Dishwasher Vampire Smile and a couple others. This is all in preparation for PAX East, where it's all about discovering new interesting titles. That's how I heard about, and became excited for, Mark of the Ninja.
- Speaking of PAX East, what's the news on Destructoid gatherings?
- I do hope Capcom has Remember Me in playable format at PAX East. I'll line up first thing Friday for that. Or Saturday. Or even Sunday. Diablo 3 can choke on cock.
Why do you all start out this way? And Jesus Christ, is that girl even in High School yet?
Dreams are weird, man. They're supposed to communicate all of these ideas of the subconscious, our deepest desires and fears visualized into some crazy experience. There are books on how to interpret your dreams, hyperbolic references to Sigmund Freud translating your dream as a desire to have intercourse with your mother, and people that believe they are communications from God.
Which makes it all the more curious that the only dreams I can remember for the past ten or fifteen years are all tied to video games. A couple months after the E3 demonstration of Halo 2's single player, I had a dream I had played it. Freshman year of College I had a dream I got to playtest a new 2-D Zelda game where Link wore chain mail and a kilt, and the sprite set resembled the original Wild Arms but with larger and more detailed characters.
So, this, only with bigger and better sprites.
Recently I found myself having a dream where it was a bunch of my friends in a real life Capture-the-Flag game on a theme-park style pirate ship against a group of cosplay girls I met at Escapist Expo. The next day I had a dream where I was in an Assault (from Unreal Tournament) game, again in real life, taking place at the bank near my house.
All I dare to interpret from these dreams is that I really, really love video games. What everything else means in my most recent dreams I don't care to interpret, because it doesn't matter to me. I just know that even in my sleep, my mind is on my favorite artistic medium.
Yet there is one dream that still lingers in my mind as a curiosity. Towards the end of my Freshman year in College I had dreamt that I was tasked with leading the design and development of a dating and hentai game. I don't recall who had tasked me with this project. All I know is that, at the time, I was an active member of the College's gaming club and I was sure (in that stupid, naive sense that all Freshman are sure) that I wanted to be a game designer. So when I was given this task in my dream, I took it as a test of my abilities. Anyone can say "I want to make a shooter" or "I want to make an epic RPG like Final Fantasy".
Do you have the mettle to design a dating/hentai game that doesn't suck, though?
Now, my only exposure to this genre was a playthrough in High School of a game called True Love. I found it laughably bad and tedious at first, though after using a FAQ I discovered there was a surprising amount going on behind the scenes of the game. There had been perfect strategies developed in order to romance every girl in the game, and that focusing on building certain statistics early on pays off later. I imagine most players discovered this sort of thing after replaying the game multiple times, kind of like learning the correct pattern to fight the Robot Masters of a Mega Man game in.
There's no way the artist sketched this, said "yeah, that looks good" and started inking. They just don't care anymore.
Even so, the story was still poorly written with unbelievable fantasy archetypes. Not only that, but the sex scenes were rather ridiculous looking. At times it made me cringe, other times it made me laugh, and on occasion it made me raise an eyebrow.
Aside from True Love, the only exposure I had to hentai games was a series of reviews on SomethingAwful.com. Y'know, back when people thought the writing on Something Awful was good. Oh, high school and freshman year at College. What blissfully stupid times.
In any event, this was all the knowledge I had to go off of when I was tasked with making a dating/hentai game. There were two major requirements, though. The first was that, yes, there had to be sex in the game. The second was that it had to take place at the College. In fact, now that I think on it, I believe I was assigned this game design duty by the College itself, which made it all the more confusing.
I always found Final Oxymoron VII to be a tad over-rated in the story department. Final Oxymoron IX is where that franchise really hit its stride in oxidizing morons.
Now, because of the nature of dreams, I remember segments of a false reality, but not a continuous story. Nonetheless, I am surprised at how many ideas I not only had while in the dream, but was able to retain when I had woken up. The first priority on my mind was who the female characters would be (because I was young and couldn't fathom a woman wanting to play a dating/hentai game at the time to provide love interests for). I wanted them to have personality. Sure, I wanted to build off of an archetype, such as what you'd expect a female film major to act like, or a girl in your programming class, or one of the girls that worked for the school magazine. Yet I wanted them to have believable aspirations. I wanted you to believe that you could actually meet that girl on campus.
I also thought of having girls that weren't actual romantic interests. I know I considered having more than one girl that would lead to sexual encounters, potentially multiple, because College is a place where people express their sexuality more freely. I also wanted to make sure more than one girl was willing to have no strings attached sex because I didn't want any of the characters to be viewed as a slut.
I also wanted the possibility of sex with all the characters to be present multiple times depending on personality. It seemed weird to me in True Love that sex was often a pay-off, and interactions with that character reduced once you completed that encounter. I still have this problem with the Bioware method of interactive dating, where it seems like sex is treated as a virtual reward to the player. I don't remember why I felt this way when I was designing a game in my dreams, however. At the time my thoughts on sex were a lot more immature than they are now. It could have been as simple as "hey, why not reward the player multiple times?" as opposed to "in a relationship, sex is not a 'one-and-done' thing".
Whatever my motivations, that was certainly a goal. That meant the game would also have to be long if I was going to give the options that other dating and hentai games provided. For some reason I felt like the player should be given a way to date as many characters as they want, just like in True Love. Looking back, I feel it would have been better to design the game so that, as time progressed, your interactions early on began to lock you out of later options, and if you tried to be a player with the wrong girls then you'd get nothing at all. If you interacted with the girls with a more sexually open personality, on the other hand, you'd remain rewarded. It all depends on what you want, and thus who you approach and how.
What every 30 year old Professor fucking her student aspires to be.
Of course, this is aside from the point. The most interesting thing about this dream is that I remember very little of the actual gameplay. I know I wanted to include a lot of mini-games in there, such as representing certain competitions in clubs or exams with a small little video game challenge. I wanted the player to have more to do than read and click, and those results would have a real effect on the outcome of the game. I wanted to take influence from Harvest Moon, a franchise that works as either a farming simulation with dating gameplay or vice versa.
Yet in the end, I do not recall if there was ever a finalized product. I awoke, I wrote the dream down, and I pondered it curiously for a time. Then, I stopped thinking about it altogether.
Now that I am older and have learned a lot more about sex and sexuality, more than my eighteen year old conservatively raised brain could handle at the time, I find myself pondering the challenges of making a game about dating and sex. I know there are independent games out there designed to explore things like love, but is there anything that is designed to fulfill some level of eroticism without being cheap virtual porn? Even in Japan these dating games don't have much of a budget, suggesting that even in their society there is something degrading about working on a sex oriented product.
Okay, seriously, there cannot be so many busty bosoms in such a small population of characters. This is Japan. People there are tiny, tiny things.
I know games represent sex in an immature manner. This is true of all media. Yet I do ponder what it would mean to create a game focused on dating and sex, allowing for a level of eroticism while still bringing with it a quality of writing and design. Can a game be fun and have meaningful characters while allowing you to get your rocks off, too? Why not have an option to turn such eroticism off, or have a separate version that takes those scenes out? Allow the game to stand on its own, so that people could have fun even if sex wasn't a part of it.
The question is, would our society and culture be ready to accept such a thing as an artistic endeavor? My guess is no, and as a result we probably won't know what it is like to play a dating/hentai game with good writing, design and structure, and as a result won't know what more can be learned from the experience.
Today started out so well. The Nintendo Direct video actually had me feeling eager for the Wii U's upcoming year and has secured my interest in purchasing one. Nintendo is making games! And as usual, the games they are making look tempting and delightful.
Then the THQ fire sale happened. Everything must go! Only, it didn't. One studio was left abandoned, ignored, deserted.
The fact that Vigil Games was not purchased has just...it has made me hate this industry for the time being. Everything. Everything about video games that does not involve playing them. I hate the people that play video games. I hate the people that write about them. Most of all, I hate the men who control the money and decide what is "best" for video games.
See, funny thing. When the Oscars roll around you typically hear from film buffs or Internet film critics about how the Academy really is a bunch of old white guys (hence why the only person to get an acting nomination in Django Unchained was a white guy (I mean, did no one else see Samuel L. Jackson? He reminded everyone that, yes, he can play more than just the Bad Ass Mother Fucker!)). However, even Hollywood seems to understand talent.
Take Christopher Nolan for example. Before he made his mark with Batman Begins he made smaller movies like Memento, Insomnia and Following, which hardly sold a ton of tickets (I'm not even sure when/where Following was released, as I never heard of it until Netflix (by the way, if you dug Memento, check it out). None of his movies suggested he'd be good at your typical Blockbuster shlock.
Yet they allowed him reigns with Batman Begins, and he did so well that he was basically given free reign to make a film like Inception. A film that made summer blockbuster dollars even though it is a "smart" movie.
Or let's take a director like Edgar Wright. He made cult films like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but again, no big splash. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World failed to meet expectations. In the video game world, that one failure would cause your studio to collapse. In film, it gets you another movie and then you can direct Marvel's Ant Man. Oh, and writing credits on The Adventures of Tintin as directed by Steven fucking Spielberg.
Then there is Neil Blomkamp, chosen to direct the Halo film even though he had done nothing more than short films before that (and even though Halo fell apart, he was still given a good budget and marketing push for District 9). Same could possibly be said for Guillermo del Toro, where Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth never lit any fires and yet now he's been given free reign and a big budget to put out Pacific Rim, a movie about giant monsters fighting giant robots. That's as risky as risky gets, and in the summer at that.
For as much as people hate on film, good talent is at least acknowledged and given a chance. It's true that Guillermo del Toro hasn't built up enough good will to get At the Mountains of Madness greenlit, but it is still amazing to see him making a live action Kaiju film, especially after films like Skyline failed (and, quite frankly, were crap). It shows that talent means a lot, even if what you create doesn't generate a lot of money.
So now we go to the games industry, and today Vigil Games was passed over. No one bought them. No one. At all.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't merely about Darksiders. I'm used to seeing good games fail to get sequels, such as Star Wars: Republic Commando and Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. But those studios managed to keep their jobs. I could accept the Darksiders IP dying today. It would make me sad, but I can accept it. The problem is that Vigil was clearly a good studio.
Think about it. Darksiders managed to blend excellent ideas from a variety of games into a great package. The first Darksiders was like Zelda, but it also had too great an emphasis on combat. Yet the combat wasn't too much like God of War. Then you had the Prince of Persia explorations, which only became stronger in the sequel. While all of this gameplay was familiar, putting it all together made Darksiders a wholly unique and fresh experience.
More than that, however, the game was incredibly polished. Both of them, in fact. Darksiders 2 wasn't quite as polished as the first, but for as large as the games were there was very little in the way of bugs or glitches. Compare this to the broken state Bethesda and Rockstar get away with and I'd say Vigil has a near perfect record.
Yet Darksiders isn't a high-selling IP. As such, no one is interested. Warhammer 40K, Saint's Row, Metro: Last Light, even Homefront 2. We know these games all have a market, or at least a potential market. That is what sets them apart, and that is also why those studios were sold. After all, it would just cost more to try and teach the code to a new team (you'd end up repeating Starcraft: Ghost all over again). No one was after the studios, though. If they were, Vigil would have been purchased.
No, they were merely looking for IP, and the studios came along as necessity.
I had to drink tonight. I had to get some whiskey in me so I could be less depressed. It didn't work, as I never got drunk and I remain depressed. But I am just so upset to see so many good, talented people lose their jobs.
It is the implication of it all. Good games didn't sell well, and as a result a bunch of talented people that worked well together are now separate and out of a job. That, friends, is a tragedy.
Good-bye, Vigil. I can only hope you all come together some day, somehow.
It's been two months in the making, but I finally got it. Ladies and gentlemen, my very own web series, RamblePak64.
Creating this video has been an interesting experience. I didn't expect it to take as long as it has, and actually has me a bit intimidated for my future projects. It has also opened my eyes to just how many shortcuts I took in this project, and yet it still took me two months to put together. Capturing the game footage, writing the script, recording it, editing the audio and then cutting it all together into a sixteen minute video.
The most amazing aspect of it all is just how flawed it is despite all of that hard work. I had already learned this lesson long ago, but it seems to be a good idea to remind yourself just how much effort it takes to make something, even if it is terrible. It's so easy to look at less-than-perfect games and call the developers lazy, or speak as if they half-assed the project, but the truth of the matter is the people working on those games, or even movies, could have been working their asses off.
Fortunately, all of my flaws can be solved "easily". The technical side especially. I should have had my headset around my head instead of my neck while recording, for example. Or the footage looks sped up because I captured it at 24 FPS and yet rendered it at 30. While Windows Movie Maker has a lot of options, I'll probably create the title cards in Photoshop since the customization for that in Movie Maker is severely lacking.
What bugs me aren't the technical issues, though. It's the fact that you can tell I only wrote one draft of the script. As a result the "RamblePak64" title is appropriate. I have a thesis, but the structure of my argument is cluttered and all over the place. I try to be funny when, more often than not, the jokes fall flat or are poorly executed.
Most of all, however, I just can't stand the conclusion. I can't believe I allowed myself to finish with "those are some delightful feeling hooks". Gah! What the Hell? Was I just sick of recording by then? Did I not think "Man, that sounds awful, let's think of something different"?
Yet worst of all is the statement that "games aren't supposed to be immersive". This is the sort of quote that can easily destroy any credibility. However, it also allowed me to add a new episode idea to the list of ideas I have.
I already have several other episodes I plan on working on. The second one will likely be Silent Tutorials, but I also have Resident Evil 6, a Halo Retrospective, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and, well, Immersion vs. Engagement coming down the pipes.
This was a good experience. A lot of hard work, and because I cut a few corners I've opened myself up to the criticisms of the Internet even more than usual, but I still can't help but feel proud of the final product.