Deluded illusions of mediocrity, my destiny is to become the ultimate amateur. Critiques no one asked for? I'll be there! Information no one cares about? I'll be there! Bias needing confirmation? I might be there if it's a Thursday afternoon and the traffic is clear.
For you see, Conan the Barbarian was wrong when he uttered what is best in life. The true answer is to play the vidija games, to discuss the vidija games, and to hear the lamentation of the women (while playing the vidija games).
I am frequently rambling in a rather inane manner on my site of web (www.gamertagged.net), so if you are bored and have nothing better to do while waiting for your white collar slave masters to crack the whip and demand you exit the premises, then do me a favor and give my stuff a read.
Because if you don't, I'll go on with life without knowing any better. And how terrible would THAT be?
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.
So Mr. Jim Sterling has already shared his thoughts on the Dead Space 3 demo, but I figured I may as well toss in my own two cents as well. At the very least so that I can organize my own thoughts on it.
I got a Roxio Game Capture HD for Christmas, and decided to make the Dead Space 3 demo my first published capture (I'm slowly working on Resident Evil 6...slowly...for good reason). No commentary at this stage. Basically only truly interesting if you haven't gotten your hands on the demo yet and are looking to see it yourself.
Honestly, the Dead Space 3 demo felt like it was missing... something. I can't really tell you what, though. Something just seemed off from the previous two games. When I played the Dead Space 2 demo it was familiar. The Necromorphs behaved as expected, as did the weapons. I didn't get that here.
Part of it may simply be the difference in setting. You're in more open environments in the demo rather than a confined ship, and the difference between these two environments is the same as your perception of speed in a three-lane highway or a one-way street crammed in a city.
It is also possible there is something different about the weapons. The game drops a default plasma cutter on you, but something about it just seems nerfed. Was it weaker? Or do I just remember things incorrectly? Perhaps the modifications on the plasma cutter provided in the demo are simply weaker than what they could be.
The work bench modifications themselves provide a new feel, as you can basically mix weapons together. Having the capability to fire off an assault rifle or a line gun based on the simple press of a button is a wonderful thing. Yet having each weapon use the same sort of ammunition suddenly makes the decision to use select weapons different than before. In fact, inventory seems much less of an issue altogether, as you can have groups of items in a single slot. Add to this the fact that the demo starts you off with more than enough resources and the ability to buy plenty more.
Will the retail version allow it to be so easy, or inventory to be so cluttered? Doubtful, which is only the more inconvenient that they'd release a demo that would give the wrong impression.
The monsters themselves feel completely changed from previous releases. The typical humanoid Necromorphs, the tentacle babies and the scorpions all follow the same general appearance and style, but their behavior has been recreated from scratch. As a result, that same sense of familiarity is gone.
The best way I can summarize it is that Dead Space 3 is to Dead Space 1 as Halo Reach is to Halo 2 or Halo 3. A lot of it feels the same, a lot of it feels familiar, but so many little things have been adjusted and modified that it's hard to really say what the final verdict should be.
But, here is what I can say. Being able to construct or modify weapons was fun. Shooting limbs is as fun as ever. I wasn't really bothered by the "normal shooty" bits. That first jump scare was a good one. All in all, I liked what I played.
Dead Space 3 will certainly be a good game. How it compares to the previous ones...well, too early to say. But there are enough changes that I wouldn't be surprised if there is a population of gamers that take to the Internet and shout "FUCKING BULLSHIT" and demand a boycott (that inevitably fails because gamers).
I remember graduating College in 2009 and being excited for VGXPO and GameX that year. What's that? Never heard of 'em? Yeah, not surprising. They were both in the Philadelphia region, which is evidently a place that hates video games despite a growing Indie scene. Just not as growthful (growthilicious?) as, say, Boston or North Carolina.
GameX's head guy was evidently not too spiffy a fellow either, and word is there was some financial fallout that really pissed sponsor NBC off. I don't really have much to go off of other than word of mouth, and it is extremely telling that you can't find the website anymore.
I enjoyed attending the events, but it was...depressing. No one wanted to give the Indie games a chance. Everyone wanted to find another E3 and was angry when it turned out to be, well, less. Or rather different, I'd say. I sighed, wishing the East Coast could just light up with more options for gaming conventions and expos.
Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, but it seems to all have come out of nowhere. First was PAX East, which I got to check out in 2011. It was amazing. I had been to a few anime conventions before, but while my love of the oriental animation has waxed and waned like the phases of the moon over time, video games have always remained my first true passion. So being in a community where you could strike up a conversation with anyone about damn near anything you love was just...
The best way I could describe it when I came home was I got a taste of what Heaven must be like, and it was the Utopia that was PAX East.
Internet famous people! Yay! (PAX East 2011)
Now, I should note that all this time MAGFest had been going on in the D.C. area. I had heard about it when I visited VGXPO, actually, as they had a booth there. However, I'll get into that later as I was never able to visit MAGFest before. The timing was always at an odd time of year for me (first weekend after New Years) and I wasn't very familiar with the D.C. area.
In any event, to me, PAX East seemed like all the East Coast would be getting. Then The Escapist announced their very own Expo down in North Carolina. I gathered what friends I could manage (enough for a hotel room, sweet!) and we made the drive this past September to Durham, what is one of my favorite cities. This is, of course, because it is pretty empty, yet still has all the compact awesomeness of a regular city. Durham is the perfect city for people that don't like other people.
Escapist Expo was, all things told, a completely different experience for me. I wrote about it on my blog, describing it as a "Small Town Expo". This is because it was in a smaller venue than most events I have attended with a rather small population compared to previous years, but that only made it a much stronger social event. Before the Expo even began I made good friends in The D&D Sluggers (check out She's Got a Job, it's an awesome song) and got to frequently hang out with Cory Rydell, artist of Critical Miss. I got a brief moment to even speak to Jim Sterling in the hallway of the hotel, though I was drunk enough that I am not sure I made an ass of myself to a man that was tired and needed a nap. Either way, despite the persona he puts on for The Jimquisition and other such things, he's a nice chap (for all of five or ten minutes I met him). Without even trying I found myself stumbling upon other folks I had met several times before during the show having small snippets of conversation.
It was, on the whole, easier to make friends at Escapist Expo than anywhere else simply due to the confined space and smaller attendance, and that was fantastic to me.
So I left feeling pretty good about two events on the East Coast. Two chances a year to go out, make new friends and to speak again with old ones.
Then I spontaneously took a trip down to MAGFest last weekend as an old College friend of mine was going to be there. He lives in Washington state, which means the chances to see him are rare indeed. I was expecting a smaller Expo like Escapist, a place that would be fine to visit for just a day.
Holy SHIT was I wrong.
MAGFest is absolutely huge and amazing. They really do combine two different loves in a fantastic way, mixing a passion for games with the emotional adrenaline provided only by your favorite genre of music. Chiptune? Metal? Synthpop? Rap? They pretty much have you covered from what I can tell. Some of it covers, some of it original, MAGFest is completely loaded with stuff to see and do. A Leliana (from Dragon Age) cosplayer managed to aggro my drunken ass over to her friends where I got to spend a bunch of time talking about Game of Thrones, fantasy novels, Assassin's Creed and a whole bunch of other stuff, making new friends once more.
People be sellin' shiz all up 'n' down the block. (MAGFest 2013)
This is what the gaming expos are about, and thanks to a few e-mails I barely paid attention to, a streetpass tag and a Google search, I've found that Philadelphia has been getting a second chance with Too Many Games.
It blows my mind. Just a few years ago I felt as if the East Coast had zero gaming presence and looked to the West Coast in envy. Over there they had stuff like E3, CES and San Diego Comic-Con. What did we have over here?
Well, I'd say right now, the East Coast has it better. Even the largest event, PAX East (and man, is it huge) is an emphasis on the experience of the attendee rather than being a trade show. It's not about press releases and trailers and marketing, it's about a love of games and bringing gamers together as a family. Escapist Expo takes this a different direction, focusing more on the press and critic side of things while still offering content for the culture. MAGFest is about combining mediums into a wonderful weekend-long concert. And now, TooManyGames, which looks to be of a similar scope as Escapist Expo.
I officially have an Expo for every season. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter can be packed with events to go to and meet new people or make new friends.
I get to experience Heaven four times a year, and that is awesome.
I am usually no good at making predictions for the year. Usually the best things to happen are joyful, or the most noteworthy are depressing and sad. Look at what happened in the industry this year as an example. 38 Studios and Big Huge Games had to close after making a successful game (partly due to politicians opening their mouths at the wrong time and causing a closing business deal to go south), the constant argument of how women are portrayed in games, and then everyone's temper tantrum over the ending of Mass Effect 3, which is hardly the best game franchise ever to begin with, and then still shoving it all over their Game of the Year lists.
It's been a crazy ass year, and I have no clue where the next one could lead.
But there's always room for wishful thinking.
I'm not a PC Gamer and I do not claim to have some special insight into the inner workings of Valve (usually). However, something tells me this is going to be a big year for them, and Sony.
I believe Half-Life 3 will finally be announced this year. Not released, I doubt that would happen. But I do believe it will be announced. In fact, it may have been ready to be announced for some time, but there is just one thing holding it back.
New consoles. Everyone is predicting that the new Xbox and Playstation will at least be announced this year, though I personally find it too early for them to be released in time for the holidays. That little detail doesn't really matter, though. All that matters is that those systems are announced. In particular, the next Playstation.
Half-Life 3 will have a trailer as part of the new Playstation's announcement. I dare not call it a launch game, and would not be surprised if consoles get it after the PC does. However, it will be part of a whole new initiative to the Playstation store.
The next Playstation's store will be powered by Steam. Sony has been trying to create a much larger digital presence and, until the recent store update to unify the UI with that of the Vita (or so I'm assuming), has been doing a much better job than Microsoft really has. We already saw the beginnings of Steam integration with Portal 2. We know it works. We also know Steam has been building the Big Picture mode to work on TV's, a mode that looks a bit like the new Playstation store combined with the Xbox Marketplace (and better than both).
Valve and Sony will team up to have the PSN Store steam powered, allowing friends to see what their PS3 AND PC friends are doing, what achievements they've earned, and possibly to even use the same chat features across platforms (this last part is very wishful thinking). Steam sales and humble bundles will extend to the Playstation. Choose to download an item on one platform, and it'll automatically unlock on the other (similarly to how purchasing Playstation All-Stars on PS3 gets you a code to download for Vita, or how you can buy an Xbox game from the Marketplace website and your account will automatically download it when you next power your system on).
What's that? What reason is there to believe Sony would outsource their store in such a manner? Looking towards the future, I'd say. Why compete when you can work together? Sony is clearly planning on some big things, especially after acquiring cloud-gaming company Gaikai (easy backwards compatibility with your Playstation Plus subscription? Perhaps).
I'm going to start my 2013 participation in the Destructoid community with a confession (that I'm pretty sure I haven't already confested).
I came around here in 2009 cross-posting an Examiner.com article.
Wait, hey! Stop throwing things!
2009 was a rough year for me. I graduated College with a realization I didn't really like what I majored in as a lifelong career choice and was trying to figure out what I really wanted. I figured writing about games was a thing I liked doing and should try for that. In order to try and gain more exposure I figured cross-posting articles I thought were really good would be a great idea.
Look, I hadn't been at this thing for too long, okay? So sue me.
I didn't really stick around, though. I wrote two pieces exclusive to the Destructoid blogs and then, well, vanished. A lot of stuff has happened since then. I've done a lot of growing and soul searching and yatta yatta blah blah.
The point is that if I want to be a games writer, I don't want to do it by copying and pasting stuff all over the place. There are better ways to gain exposure. More than that, though, and this is the important thing, I don't want to treat the Community Blogs as a place to try and gain exposure. I want to blog here because I feel like I have something interesting to say that fits a community space. If I want to write something "professional" then I'll put it on my blog or try pitching it someplace (the latter of which rarely happens due to severe self-esteem issues. YAY!)
However, it doesn't feel right just coming around every so often, putting up a blog, and then walking away. That's not being a part of the community, right? That's just being a random guy that walks into your house, drops off a pizza, then walks out. I mean, hey, free pizza. Cool, right? But seriously, who the fuck IS that guy and why does he keep coming around?
I don't think I'll ever be as involved in the community as a lot of you folks. I've become deeply entrenched in another one already, and I have a tendency to stretch myself thin. Life gets busy and then it is hard to find time to be a part of all the wonderful little places I want to.
I want to try, though. I want to keep reading some of your blogs, and I want to toss stuff up that I hope is entertaining to read or cultivates discussion.
You guys are a great community. A surprisingly great community, truth told. Granted I've mostly just seen the blogs, but you guys have something special here. To use a quote I love so much I toss it about whenever possible:
"I know half of you half as well as I should like, and half of you half as well as you deserve."
I won't be one of the regulars, but I'd like to be that guy that every once in a while comes to your parties or some other gathering, is always a good time, and then heads off to return at the next friendly gathering.
I look forward to reading some of these "best of 2012" blogs, by the way.