Hey guys and gals and transgendered people out there. I am a ghost from the mighty past of the here website. I used to roam these halls back in the heyday of the 2008-2009 era then disappeared for reasons which aren't clearly explained. I am back now.
I'm from Scotland which is that funny little country about England that is as obese as the US but with a heck of a lot more heart disease. I study. I play guitar, bass, mandolin and write songs. I take pictures but hasten to call myself a photographer.
So am I real or am I some figment of your deranged imagination? Well that's for you to decide if you so choose. I personally like the whole haunting business, it's almost like being an evil voyuer!
For many moons I wandered the harsh landscape of the internet, I've seen things that would make grown men cry - and trust me I'm a grown man who's shed a few tears - but here I stand in front of you the Dtoid community once again. Now years have past since I was last here and wrote anything of substance so I doubt anyone will remember but hey I'm still going to pretend!
Now some of you internet veterans (and some newbs) may remember a little internet tv series called PurePwnage. It followed the life of a "pro gamer" called the_ownerer, known to all and sundry as Jeremy. It was originally a one off idea of the most officious, anti-social gamer you could think of but evolved over about 4 years into a long-form show that mixed humour and drama with some success. For a show on the internet at the time it was revolutionary. It predates youtube and people were streaming a 30-40 minute show en masse.
The show grew and grew in popularity to a point where each new episode, which appeared sporadically due to the amateur nature of the show and actors, was shown for the first time in a theatre in originally Toronto but eventually over several countries. They never failed to sell out these showings which is pretty impressive considered the humble beginnings of the show.
The show was the brainchild of Jarret Cale and Geoff Lapaire - two self professed Canadians - Jarret playing the role of Jeremy and Geoff playing his brother Kyle who is often a source of derision for Jeremy and his compariots. They turned something most kids do nowadays in their backyards with their friends into a cottage industry of t shirt sales and episode showings. They made enough money to comfortably live off of, for the creators only the rest of the crew got paid but not as handsomely.
Most fans of the show will know that one of the later additions to the cast, a character called T-Bag who was a pro-Halo player, was sadly killed in a horrific car crash towards the end of 2008. This seemed to the breaking point for the show as after 19 episodes, the last of which was a two parter with a very teasing cliffhanger, was going on hiatus. Now obviously we can sympathise with the cast and crew as they had lost a close friend. People need time to grieve, but after a while the wait which had always been large between episodes seemed to turn into months and months. Suddenly on this very website I saw a video which I hoped was the announcement of a return to the web series but turned out to be the start of a Canadian TV series of the show. It starred for the most part the same core crew with some minor changes.
I watched the series in hopes that it would start at the beginning but with better writing and photography then hit the last web-episode and continue on the story as it was starting to build to a climax (the web series was planned as a three-season run once ROFLMAO Productions decided to make it into a series) and the loose ends were beginning to get answered. However it turned out to be a very different entity to the original series and changed things drastically in some areas and totally left out some stuff that made the show what it was. The TV show lasted 8 episodes and was never renewed.
With the TV show's future uncertain after the original run the fans of the show dwindled till the forums were only used by a hardy bunch of. well not sad people but people with little else to do with their time. People were frustrated that they heard nothing from the producers, actors or crew who were normally very involved with the fans up till the TV series started. Many hoped that because the TV show was probably dead in the water the web series would be started up again. However many, many moons passed with nary a word from anyone involved with the series.
Now I dropped by the site a few weeks ago as I do every few weeks in the hopes that something will be in the works again and find that the writer of the series - Jarret Cale - had dropped by the forums and told everyone that wanted to know what was going on with the series. Basically the TV show was not getting renewed because the station that ordered the series originally got taken over. The web series was dead because Geoff Lapaire no longer felt like it was worthwhile due to the death of T-Bag and another person close to the production team. Geoff Lapaire's departure seems to have been the nail in the coffin for the show as he did a lot of work other than the cinematography of the show. He helped write and direct the show and edited a lot of the footage which is time consuming on a part time basis. Geoff seems no longer to be in contact with anyone on the show which is a shame because for a good few years it was the best show on the internet.
The death of such a milestone of the internet is a sad thing but this was especially sad for me. It reminded me of the times I spent watching the show and enjoying it. It also reminded me of the day I found out about the show through this very website and someone's BOOM HEADSHOT! gif. These are days to which we cannot return but without these memories we would not be the people we are today. So thanks Destructoid and thanks PurePwnage for making the internet a more awesome place!
PS. If you are looking for a similar show The Guild, while not to my tastes for the most part, is about as good a modern analogue as you will find. It also features Felicia Day so it wins pretty hard.
One of the "dirty" words in our society is "shovelware". It inspires fear in even the lead hardcore of us. For many however it is a great source of fun, but if all our games are to become the same, wouldn't that ruin the industry? We constantly complain about how the PS1/PS2/Wii has too much shovelware but do we really not notice the amount of terrible games that end up on the pc? All I know is publishers have a lot to answer for.
Many people complain that when the latest film/girl band/sports event happens there is always a tie in game, and to be perfectly honest I can't blame them as nine times out of ten these games are worth less than the plastic onto which they are printed. However there do exist a few exceptions. I do recall one of the Spiderman games being less than terrible, but on the whole these games are rushed out onto the market to coincide with the events release so that gullible fans will rush out after spending £7 on a ticket for a film then buy the game that can cost up to £50 which is going to be terrible but because it lets them "play" the film they bend over and take it. Most of these games come out as either fighting games or platformers because these games are easy to churn out and most developers have templates for tie-in games lying about and all they really need to do is take that framework and add in new content.
We in the "hardcore" (for want of a better word) community often deride these games as being below us, or off our radar because they are not really games. It has occurred to me recently that we are not without fault. You see there was a little film called "The Watchmen" that came out recently, you may have heard of it. Now, you are thinking, what is wrong with that? Well since in the Venn diagram of graphic novel readers and gamers there is huge overlap, a great number of you have been fans of the fine novel since it came out or some people later on. Since Hollywood has had a crack at an IP that is very dear to your heart you thought that you would give it a chance. Not long after the film is announced we find out that there will be a tie-in game. Wow, the collective mind thinks, a chance to play as our favourite characters. Herein lies the rub. We have been essentially hoodwinked by the evil publishers! The best part about this excellent stratagem is that we didn't just become enticed by this game, but gave it fair chance as a game when in our heart of hearts we knew it would blow. Guess what it did, like a $2 hooker.
As far as I have strayed on this tangent I do have a point. The market is getting to the point where it is being homogenised by the big publishers. Even managing to lure in gamers that should know better into the same cash cow demographic as the Madden fans and the 10 year old kids. This homogenisation is becoming almost epidemic. Rarely does a day go by where some journalist doesn't mention the fact that today's games have become to brown and grey, lacking in colour and vibrancy like in the good old days. FPS's have become ten-a-penny, with basically nothing other than special features being their USPs. So many FPS's look the same, have the same basic story, have the same 'roid pumping space-marine-GI-Joe-esque one man army lead character. Racing games are the same, it is becoming difficult to tell apart pictures of PGR, Forza, Gran Turismo these days.
We as gamers are to blame really. When an honest to goodness great, unique game comes out, who honestly buys that niche title? Who can stand up and claim to own the Viewtiful Joe games? Braid? Ico? Shadow of the Colossus? Valkyria Chronicles? Okami? The list is endless yet these all failed commercially. This means that as much as we love creativity gaming is a business and to run a business you have a RESPONSIBILITY to your shareholders to produce a profit at the end of the year. Without solid numbers then smaller publishers will be less enamoured with your quirky adventure game and instead choose your colleague's sequel to last year's best seller.
We think of "shovelware" as being a toxic grow on the face of gaming, but we lap up the latest games like CoD5 and NFS:IDon'tEvenCareAnymore as if they were the last games on earth. The truly great games often slip through our fingers. Now there are rare cases where sequels can be great games (CoD4: MW being a prime example as well as GTA3) but these really are few and far between. Sometimes I wish we could just boycott these crappy sequels until EA or Activision wake up and only put out quality games, but the mainstream gamers would never agree with this, because without their yearly Madden/FIFA fix they would surely die in a foetal position. There isn't an easy way to stem the flow of crap in the gaming world, especially now that the financial climate has taken a violent downturn, but if we stop buying terrible sequels and just buy the quality games, the quality games, heck even just the fun games then maybe we can chip away at this problem and create a brighter gaming future for our offspring.
My it’s been a long time. Some of you may know me, others may not (hi there, nice to meet you =]) but I’ve been a member of this fine community for over a year now and as of late due to a horrendous schedule, crappy university internet and various band/photography projects I’ve been absent for matters of weeks at a time. I think it’s about time for a partial return as my schedule has lightened slightly and my tolerance for the universities internet has grown significantly.
Anyway enough with the boring introductions and onwards with the meat of this cblog. My daily schedule involves waking up, going to university, coming back, looking at some web sites, doing some work and sleeping. I tend to read the same websites so surprises are very rare. Destructoid gives me informative, funny and regular news, Kotaku has Brian Crescente, Engadget is pretty straight news barring one or two contributors etc. What I am getting at is the fact that most days are the same, predictable styles of conveying the same styles of stories. Every once in a while, however, I stumble across great articles and one that really intrigued me lately was one on Kotaku.
Now before you kick me off the intertubes for such heresy, hear me out. This article was an original by the ex-toider Leigh Alexander. It was about how we as “hardcore gamers” think that everyone that plays “core games” is as informed as us. She then compares us to the cultural elitists that obsessively follow the underground music or film scenes. Reading every possible morsel of information that they can grab, talk with each other in forums about the merits of their favourite artist’s new album. To be frank with you I have never realised this gulf between us, gamers and non-gamers.
There are many people I know who play games a lot, many of them WoW players, yet never know anything about the latest games, the latest PC hardware or anything. It even frustrates me at times where I have to sit and explain things that I think should be second nature to gamers. They don’t know who developed the latest indie title; they haven’t played some of the best games on their hardware of choice. It is scary to realise you are in a different sub culture to the people you thought were on the same level as you.
The one case that worries me though is one person, who will remain nameless, who plays Rock Band every night for many hours, to the point of breaking his drum’s pad sensors. He has no idea about the new selection of band games coming out and was about to splash all his money on the new Guitar Hero: World Tour game, new instruments and all. I told him about the compatibility chart that is available for these games and he seemed totally clueless about it. There he was about to spend £160 on a whole new set where he could potentially save himself some money. I then inquired about the reviews of these games that he was considering purchasing and he said he had read none. The best part was that he was totally unaware about Rock Band 2 coming out, even though it has been out here for a few weeks. This scared me a lot, the thought of people blindly handing over cash at the counter to receive a game that is quite blatantly not for them. In my own experience I have found game store staff lacking in more areas than just personal hygiene. Some of them clearly don’t want to be there, there are others who know some things about their chosen platform but precious little else so I doubt they would suggest to a customer all the available options so that they get the right game.
Reviews I know are a very contentious area; however I find them to be pretty useful in many ways. They point out to me the general idea of the game, the basic setting, the good points and the bad points. Sure they still attach an arbitrary number on the end in most cases, basically boiling a game down to a number, which can be compared with other games on an arbitrary scale. Good reviewers give you a lot of information on the game as opposed to how they enjoyed it. Sure they will point out if they liked the game or thought it was less worthy of being in their presence than a used tissue but theses are secondary things to the technical aspects. If a game is broken on any level I want to know about it, for instance last year's Pro Evolution Soccer was broken on the PS3 so i stuck with the PS2 version whereas my friend went with the PS3 version and was deeply disappointed. I would only have figured this out after I had bought the game without reading the review.
To me it is second nature to get as much information on up-coming games as is possible, so that I can buy a game that I know will be good, or at the very least interesting. To others it seems this is an alien practise. I am currently looking at the impending releases of various music games, trying to figure out which is the best course of action and even for me it is a tough decision. There is a lot of choice in song lists, the way you play the game, the quality of peripherals, the amount of songs available through DLC, the deals they have in place etc, and it is truly a daunting task but hopefully one that will bring me many months of pleasure. I suppose the old saying is true, ignorance is bliss. This lifestyle is a burden, one of constantly trying to find out the most you can about games you want, trying to find latest screenshots and even the art of broken street dates.
Being a game aficionado, if you will, is a poison chalice in many ways yet at the same time is defines who I am and how I go about researching new games. I would never for a second trade my burden of knowledge for an ignorant gaming lifestyle as it would totally change the way in which I choose games, how I arrange my day, how I entertain myself amongst other things. I love being a game aficionado and I hope never to change, it’s the best way for me to be, plus it brought me to Destructoid!
Motorstorm was a solid, if incomplete launch game. It was pretty much my favourite launch game, with Resistance coming a very close second. Although I loved the online matches in Resistance the game itself just wasnâ€™t fun enough. Motorstorm on the other hand was balls-out awesome. I played it for countless hours over my other games for about 4 months then the second wave of ps3 games emerged. I still pop it in now and again for a quick blast but with my increasingly large cache of PS3 games (21 disc games at last count) these precious moments for me and my beloved are a rare thing. A few weeks ago I heard about the team behind Motorstorm were coding the sequel: pacific rift. This news was exciting as it would be more Motorstorm but with the many flaws fixed.
Anyways today I received the usual PlayStation Network newsletter which I generally browse through then delete, as it is usually rubbish. This issue however came with a code to download the demo for Motorstorm: Pacific Rift. I rushed into my room and downloaded it right away and have been happily playing away at it for an hour or so.
My first impression was that the interface has been significantly redesigned, or should I say designed. The first game was just a looping movie with the main options written on the top, nothing particularly interesting but the demo has managed to improve on this. It has a very modern graffit/urban look to it and even the vehicle select screen is in a similar vein. This is a much needed improvement as the vehicle select screen before was a rendering of the bike/car/van on top of a large rock...thing which took an unacceptable amount of time to load and even stuttered at points, hopefully this new design will address that issue.
The racing part of the game is as solid as it ever has been with the lovely addition of rumble for those of you who have DualShock 3 controllers. The vibration, as is the case with most of the rumble enabled PS3 games is never too harsh. It is enough to let you know youâ€™ve hit something but never painful in your hand like the 360 controller is. The controls on the whole are basically the same as the originals with the addition of bunny hops and other little trick combos for the bikes. The vehicles always seem to respond well to my input which really helps the feeling your going faster than man should ever travel, which is damn exhilarating. The camera does the usual 'pan out when going fast' routine, which is done in a subtle manner so it actually does give an impression of going really fast.
There seems to be a lot of good fixes in this title over the old game. The biggest fix, one the community at large wanted, is the inclusion of split screen racing. I rarely if ever use split screen in my games, opting more for the LAN connection of consoles when my mates are round so I havenâ€™t had chance to put this mode through itâ€™s paces but if the rest of the demo is anything to go by it should be fairly solid.
Once again the Evolutions Studios team have delievered a demo for a game which is just amazing fun, something that modern games seem to forget is necessary. I for one will definitely pick this bad boy up when it is released on October 28th.
On a side note I did not get access to this early demo of the game through subscription to Qore or by reseving the game at Gamestop, this was just through my email newsletter. If you are thinking of plunking down some cold hard cash for a chance of playing this demo early and you normally recieve the PSN newsletter by email I suggest you wait a day or two cause you may be able to save your self some money.
For many years we skateboard loving gamers amused ourselves with the great-yet-arcadey antics in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. Sure they were fun, really fun, but the skateboarding itself and the physics just felt...wrong. There was definitely something missing from the experience that annoyed me, it probably affected me worse than most non-skateboarding gamers because of the amount of time I used to pour into the sport. Then the Tony Hawk’s games took a turn for the worse and transformed into the hideous beasts of Tony Hawk’s Underground 1, 2 and Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland. These games offended me so much that I didn’t even bother to buy them. Sure they sold well but that was due to the fact that no other half decent skateboarding games around at that time. Neversoft seemed to realise their vile mistakes and aborted the American Wasteland series in favour of the back-to-basics Project 8. I picked this one up and liked it quite a bit, it wasn’t as good as the original games but it was definitely a step in the right direction. Then one warm day in spring I saw a post on the internet about EA’s new skateboarding game...
I was intrigued it has to be said, I’m not the biggest EA fan out there but their subsidiaries tend to put out interesting new IPs from time to time, so I thought I would read a bit more about it. I had just finished Project 8 so I thought this could tide me over till the next TH game. It seemed like a solid concept, an open world to skate about in and more realistic physics looked to be a great combination for a great realistic skateboarding game. The one thing that worried me actually was the new control scheme, they pegged it as revolutionary but I had serious doubts about it. When I read about it, it seemed nothing short of awkward and clunky compared to the precision of the THPS scheme. Then the game came out and I bought it, I fell in love. It was the closest that a game has ever came to re-creating the realism of skateboarding. The physics were incredible; the tricks were realistic but most importantly of all the control scheme I had worried about so much was simply amazing.
However this month’s “Monthly Musings” theme isn’t “Talk about how your favourite game is amazing” it is “If you love it, change it”, so I will now point out the flaws that this most brilliant of games unfortunately has. First of all the game was extremely buggy, to the point of annoyance. I think this flaw existed because skate was the first game by EA Black Box on the “next-gen” consoles. They did a great job with the mechanics, design and art but ultimately it has been the only game to ever freeze my PS3. One of my friends had the 360 version and it froze his console too, so I think it was bugs in the engine and not specific to the difficult coding environment of the PS3. It wasn’t just the game freezing, sometimes the textures themselves would pop up and the cars would sometimes appear out of nowhere. There were times were I got stuck in walls as well which really annoyed me.
The game is technically a sandbox game and has inherited the flaws of the genre, most prevalent of all the jumps in the difficulty curve that happens due to not having a linear path for the missions. Some of the missions would be ridicolously easy and at the same point in time you could have a stupidly hard mission to do. In fact there is still 1 or 2 of the video missions I haven’t completed because I got so frustrated at their difficulty and/or my incompetence. There were times where the instructions themselves were unclear and it was a case of trial and error to find out exactly what parameters needed to be met before you could complete the task. There was one particular mission where you had to nollie 360 flip over a stair set but it was worded so badly it took me 5 tries before i figured out what to aim for and suffice to say that was not my idea of fun.
Although a minor gripe, I felt that the game’s storyline itself was a bit on the short side. It could be run through in about 6-8 hours. Generally in sandbox games the storyline is at least 15 hours long and opens up the world as you complete various missions but skate had the entire city of San Vanelona open from the very beginning which took away the sense of linearity that sandbox games have and in some ways the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies this progression. The game could have used some more interesting challenges to buff up the story line, although this would probably end up with either a lot of repetitive challenges (see pro skate missions) or the horrible route of Jackass-esque challenges that the Tony Hawk’s games took.
The traffic was apparently super dangerous in this game as if you even brushed a car you would bail (fall over) and the car would be unscathed. I wouldn’t have been annoyed by this if it only happened when you hit the cars at speed but it happened each and every time, mostly in the middle of a very high scoring combo. The cars also had no damage which would have been a nice touch to add to the realism of the world, but then again not every racing game has damage (see Gran Turismo and Mario Kart). Somehow hitting a car at speed on your board and leaving a person sized dent in the bumper would have made this game so much more satisfying but that is probably the sadistic murder-training game player in me getting out.
The final flaw I found with this game is the “skate.reel” function that the game used. EA made a huge deal of this pre- and post-launch but I could never seem to get it to work. The idea behind it was do an amazing trick in game, edit the replay, upload it to the skate.reel servers and view it online at any point in time. However in practise I have not once got this to work, I can upload it fine but as soon as I go to look for the video on their website it goes through the same three pages, asks me to register or login then back to the original page and it annoys me because I uploaded some impressive and just plain cool tricks. If the service had been a bit simpler then I would have enjoyed using it but it got me so frustrated that I just gave up on it.
As you can see although I love this game there are many things about it which I would have wanted changed before it was released. Hopefully EA Black Box has seen the problems that people had with this game and fix it before the inevitable annual update. If they do fix the problems then I think they will have created the best skateboarding game ever which will then cause a rip in the space time continuum as a game will have to actually get 11/10 and reviewers will be sucked off into the black abyss.
Hot off the press this week was the news of a film adaption of the highly acclaimed “Bioshock”. This game was very well received by both critics and players the world over, and was lauded for its superb narrative and the way it was revealed to the player. It was set in the underwater utopia of Rapture, set up by the illustrious Andrew Ryan. The player enters the game after a plane crash in the middle of the ocean to find Rapture decimated and is left to fend for himself and find out what exactly happened to the place. The film is being handled by the Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski and is being aided by the game’s creator, Ken Levine.
Now I haven’t personally played Bioshock, partly because the atmosphere of the game world freaked me the hell out, but I can tell from a mile away that this film is going to fail hard. I don’t mean that it will be a bad film; I mean it will fail at being a good game film. To adapt a game of this calibre and style to celluloid will take massive compromises and obviously the removal of interactivity, arguably what makes a game a “game”. Generally when adaptations of other sources are done the film makers add something to the medium, i.e. books have visuals added to them and sound, radio has visuals etc. When film makers adapt games they take away the interactivity and are often left with a mediocre story that’s only purpose is to push the player into new tasks. Bioshock from what I have heard has a pretty good story (eh give me moral choices and doesn’t afraid of anything), but still compromises will have to be made for the “mainstream” audience to swallow before they put down cash to see what will probably be a big budget film.
Film makers have the choice of one of three routes (or four if you count Uwe Boll’s film making as a route) when adapting a game to the big screen. The first of these routes is the literal translation of the game’s story; this can give the film a very real sense of being the game as it clings as close as is possible to the game’s world. It can however cause major headaches as the core audience of these films have already played the game and know what to expect as the story progresses. This can sometimes work for other mediums (such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy) but I think that is only because of the strength of their narratives and the lack of tangible visual information. If a literal adaptation is created then the broader appeal of the work is often diluted because they don’t know what Bioshock is, or even worse they may be turned off by the fact that it is based on a game.
The second route is the oft-used “we have the rights to the IP and we will do whatever the hell we want to do with it” (see the Resident Evil films). They often bare only a passing resemblance to the original titles and have been severely re-written into something non-canon so that the dreaded mainstream audience will want to see it. These films tend to come out as action films although Silent Hill was borderline horror. These films can often turn off the core audience of the games because they bastardise the original story and place characters in unfamiliar territory which they know shouldn’t be happening which makes the whole film hard to swallow. Amazingly these types of adaptations generally gross well in the box office and so spur production companies to create more mindless drivel to shovel to the masses.
The third and final route is something that I personally would like to see happen a lot more. This route I feel is the best compromise between games and films, one that works for both parties. An adaptation of a game IP that is handled in tandem with the film makers and the game makers but one that is totally separate from the actual storyline. This kind of adaption can have the trademark writing of the games creators in a whole new storyline that can appeal to both the core and mainstream audience with help from the film makers to point out what could be changed and what is feasible with current technology. A game-to-film of this kind would work well in a franchise that has a well established and well rounded universe of many threads. The best game I can think of to suit this brief has to be the Metal Gear Solid series. The game has so much back-story left untouched, scenarios that are awesome but never explored in any of the games, or better yet a new tale based in the same universe. Imagine how amazing a Metal Gear Solid film would be that is set in Outer Heaven. Unfortunately these kinds of films have yet to truly happen even though they could achieve such critical acclaim given the right team behind it.
Until such a time as a successful game-to-film adaptation happens I really will not have any solid faith in game films, the last once I watched was Doom and that really put me off the whole experience. Hopefully movie executives will see the light one day and realise that gamers don’t want mindless crap but something more meaty, more meaningful than Resident Evil 23: Zombies Gone Wild Party Edition. We can but dream.