A lot of you may have noticed a few "video game journalists" (Adam Sessler being one of them) acting rather un-professional lately, by either constantly contradicting themselves, making ludicrous, biased statements and generally just being pretty crappy at their jobs, whilst at the same time making the whole profession look bad.
Not that this is anything new in the world of video game journalism, in truth the bar has been pretty low for some time now, due to petty console wars and fanboyism being rampant in the industry. Choosing to take one side and blindly defending it at the cost ones reputation and credibility, is a practice many video game journalists eventually seem to succumb to (To be fair though, the unwritten rule does seem to be to choose a side or take heat from both) This may be due to the fact that no matter which side of the fence you choose to stand on, you'll always have an army of fanboys eating out of the palm of your hand, so long as you're whispering sweet nothings to them about their beloved and chosen preference. Not only does this practice bolster a persons ranks, it also insights flame wars due to the anger and uproar coming from the other side.
There's usually two possibilities when a video game journalists starts talking nonsense, they are either a fanboy who wants only to look for the best in whatever they are defending or attempting to put on a pedestal. Or they have an agenda, and are willing to use misinformation and even lie through there teeth in order to further whatever goal they have in sight. There's always the third possibility that they've gone stark raving mad, but more often than not it's one of the other two.
Now obviously there are people with legitimate "non biased" personal opinions, right? Well, in reality it's simply impossible for anyone to truly draw their opinion from a well of pure thoughts, because "opinions" no matter what you may think will always be objective, containing personal and biased ideas, formulated through pre-conceived notions and preference. For example, I'm not a fan of sports games so my opinions about them will always be negative in comparison to those who enjoy them, even if I try to look at them objectively it's impossible for me to formulate an opinion with nothing to draw from, I could try to be subjective and look for what others may like about them, however it would still be a biased opinion based on personal assumptions and pre-conceived notions.
A person is not able to formulate an opinion without personal and biased viewpoints inevitably effecting their final conclusion. However the difference with fanboys and those with a personal agenda, is that fanboys tend to avoid even looking at what they like in anything but a positive light, where as those with an agenda choose to spread lies and misinformation knowing full well that what they say is nonsense. My point being? There are far too many fanboys and those looking to further their career at the cost of their credibility currently calling themselves "video game journalists"
Flame bait, I'm really not sure what should surprise me the most, how old the practice is or how painfully effective it continues to be.
Flame wars are the bane of genuine journalism, they make it incredibly difficult to talk openly and intelligently about current, pressing matters due to the close minded people who flock to them, in order to either troll, defend or denounce whatever the articles chosen topic happens to be. However they are incredibly handy at directing traffic toward particular websites especially those with an agenda, remember that many of these "video game websites" aren't interested in publishing facts, news or even intelligent opinion pieces, they simply want "hits" and flame-bait, in the form of reviews or articles is the perfect means to get them.
That being the case, is there really any wonder as to why there is so much blind, fanboy driven nonsense being posted on numerous video game news and information websites all over the Internet? With so much misinformation, blatant lies and biased opinions disguised as facts coming from supposed video game journalists, you'd think we'd all be more inclined to take what we hear with a pinch of salt. But no, gamers, or better yet people, are fickle, if we have a preference for something (which we all do) we naturally like hearing that it's doing well, we also like knowing when it's ahead of the competition. Further more, we like to imagine that the success of whatever we may happen to be a fan of is somehow also our own success, but in these delusions we allow ourselves to be lied to, all so that we can brag about being better than those who support "the losers" all while the exact same nonsense is happening on the other side of the fence.
The console war is not the sole problem, the console war provides competition, it also prevents any one company from gaining a monopoly and forces the console manufacturers to try to out-do one another. But it also breeds contempt, not solely due to people believing their chosen allegiance is superior, but because people begin to deliberately ignore where their favourite companies are going wrong, too preoccupied with hating on the competition and all too willing to lap up whatever nonsensical drivel people in the industry, or even video game journalists are spouting.
As The console war round 2 kicks off, it will yet again be up to gamers to decide whether or not they want a clean fight and real journalistic coverage. Or more sucker punches, fanboy drivel and flame-bait articles.
So what can be done? Well, my advice to all of of you is to stop fanning the flames. It's simple really, as soon as you stop paying attention to flame bait articles, journalists screaming for attention or just talking nonsense, then all the genuine video game journalism will be pushed to the front. I'm not saying everything will be fixed over night, but trying to fight fire with fire has proven time and time again to be futile. As for the fanboys, well there's always going to be fanboys, but the more legitimate journalism we have available to us the more easily we'll be able to call them out and put a stop to their misinformed claims or outright lies.
Like most everyone reading this blog, I enjoy playing video games and I honestly care about the video games industry. If this blog has opened anyone's eyes to the the many issues currently plaguing video game journalism, or even just made you think twice about clicking on a blatant flame bait article, then I consider that a small victory for us all.
You really can't beat a good ol' Survival Horror game, cautiously wandering the lonely, creepy, creaking corridors, pre-emptively cringing as you open a door or turn the corner, and conserving your health items and ammunition for whatever unspeakable horrors may lay waiting just ahead. Of course none of these moments match the sheer terror brought on by actually coming face to face with the stuff of nightmares.
The list that follows might not contain certain games that are widely regarded as the most "scary" available, but each one has offered (for me personally) some of the best tense moments, creepy atmosphere, and most legitimate scares around. So dim the lights, grab an extra pair of underwear, sit back and enjoy my list of the (The 5 best Horror games to play this Halloween)
From Japanese developer "Tecmo" Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly is a Survival Horror game in which you play as a young girl named Mio Amakura, accompanied by her twin sister Mayu Amakura, who at the start of the game both find themselves having accidentally wandered into the "The Lost Village" Now why exactly the village became "lost" to begin with will remain a secret due to spoiler related reasons, but I can tell you however that the villagers don't exactly take kindly to outsiders just wandering in, even more so now that they're all dead and vengeful. The basic setup is pretty standard for a survival horror game, you've got a creepy setting which is the village and the surrounding area, with lots of puzzles, locked rooms and keys to find. And a lot of mystery surrounding the villagers, and their strong affinity for "twins" an "endless ceremony" which prominently features their involvement, not to mention discovering the answer as to just why exactly everyone in the village is now dead and not quite loving it.
As you make progress the plot naturally starts to unfold, you'll also come across documents and journal entries that help better explain the events that transpired before whatever calamity fell upon the village. But the main appeal of any Project Zero game comes from how you actually fight with the ghostly inhabitants, you see your one and only weapon is a camera, known as the "Camera Obscura" capable of taking pictures of ghosts and other spiritual entities, and exorcising their souls. However simply taking pictures of ghosts does very little damage, the trick here is to allow them to get as close as possible while allowing your cameras spirit energy to build up, preferably waiting until the ghosts warped, distorted mug is face to face with your own and then in the split second as they are about to attack, you can perform what is known as a "Fatal Frame" dealing far greater damage. That's right, to effectively defeat the now damned villages inhabitants you need to get as up close and personal as you can with those ghostly goolies.
The game boasts many ghosts that could make for sufficient nightmare fuel, such as the Wanderer (Miyako Sudo) the Woman in the box, as well as (Akane Kiryu) & her twin Doll, but none are quite as visually imposing as "The Kusabi" Due to being tortured and broken in life The Kusabi returns as one of the most vengeful and scary ghosts in the entire game, if not the franchise. However even The Kusabi pails in comparison to "Sae Kurosawa" in life a young shrine maiden who lost her twin sister (Yae Kurosawa) and was then forced to perform the "endless ceremony" alone, but shortly after returns to the world of the living as the most hate filled and vengeful spirit the franchise has seen to date. The insane laugh Sae makes as she stands over the butchered remains of her fellow villagers wearing her white blood splattered Kimono, is one of the most legitimately terrifying things I've witnessed in a video game.
Check out this video of Sae's terrifying introduction, if you dare.
Brought to us in an age before Capcom sort of lost the plot a bit, Resident Evil 4 is a "Survival Horror" game with a slightly bigger focus on the action when compared to it's predecessors, it's an incredibly fun, well paced and, and well... OK OK, so maybe Resident Evil 4 isn't the "scariest" game in the franchise, but I'm sure we can all agree that it's still miles scarier than RE 5 or 6. Anyway, what a lot of people often forget is that Resident Evil 4 boasts one of the most legitimately terrifying enemies seen in the franchise thus far, the Regenerador. Damn these things were scary! Apparently they are experimental bioweapons created by implanting leech like Plaga into a human host. Slow moving and seemingly lacking in intellect, but capable of near-instantaneous regeneration, they are able to take incredible amounts of damage and even decapitation of their limbs! That's right, take out their legs from under them but don't get too close or they'll wriggle over and take a chunk out of you.
A Regenerador can be killed eventually by succumbing to their injuries but your best bet is to use a sniper rifle from a distance and equip the infrared scope to locate and destroy the Plagas inside the host. What? The Regenerador not scary enough for you, you say? Alright, how about the Iron Maiden? Basically a Regenerador with a multitude of spikes expanding and contracting out of its body, the image of one of these things awkwardly slumping itself your way is enough to give even the most hardened Survival Horror gamer the goosbumps. Honestly the only thing you'll find creepier than these two inhuman variants in RE-4 is their breathing you hear echoing throughout the research facility on "The Island" whenever one of them is lurking in the shadows.
This video shows exactly why going toe-to-toe with an Iron Maiden is a terrifyingly bad idea.
Outlast is a "psychological horror" video game developed and published by Red Barrels Games, a company founded by people previously involved with video games such as Prince of Persia, Assassin's Creed,Splinter Cell and Uncharted, it's also the scariest damn game likely to come out this year.
Outlast puts you in the shoes of "Miles Upshur" an independent journalist given a lead regarding some unusual goings on at Mount Massive Asylum, a "massive" asylum based in the remote mountains of Colorado, and long-abandoned home for the mentally ill, but now recently re-opened by the “research and charity” branch of the translational Murkoff Corporation. Miles breaks into the facility only to encounters an impaled SWAT officer and his decapitated crew, who before snuffing it tells the journalist to get the hell out of the asylum while he still can. Only whilst making his way to the exit Miles is attacked by a very large and powerful inmate named Chris Walker, who throws him through a window, and down onto the atrium floor below. It's upon regaining his consciousness that Miles then meets "Father Martin" who refers to miles as his "Witness" After passing out for a second time Miles wakes up to find himself trapped by the horrors within Mount Massive Asylum.
Unlike your typical monsters, mutants and ghouls seen in many other video games, Miles enemies are the now escaped inmates, known as "The Variants" tortured, mutilated and driven beyond madness and beyond recognition, these unfortunate souls now stand between you and your escape. Armed with only a video camera and it's night-vision function, Miles must make his way through Massive Asylum doing his best to avoid The Variants, by creeping, crawling, and hiding in the shadows as well as lockers and under beds, Miles can also use his video camera to record events, as well as find confidential files that offer a deeper glimpse into the events that led Mount Massive Asylum into ruin.
Throughout the game you will hear talk of a seemingly supernatural entity known as the "Walrider" and even bare witness to footage of the asylum's security forces being brutally slaughtered by it. As if being locked up with a bunch of crazed inmates, a murderous doctor and a less than helpful Priest wasn't bad enough, Miles now has to worry about coming face to face with a ruthlessly violent supernatural entity. I must say that the atmosphere and pacing in Outlast comes together perfectly, offering some truly tense and creepy moments, as well as some terrifying jump scares.
Whatch the Outlast Official Trailer (Full Version) to get a taste for the terror within.
No.4) Dead Space. Platforms: (Microsoft Windows), (PlayStation 3), (Xbox 360)
Dead Space was developed by Visceral Games and published by EA. Now while the latest release in the franchise is widely regarded as a disappointment by most, due to its departure from Survival Horror elements such as a creepy atmosphere, a need for ammo conservation, and you know, being scary, in favour of action, large set pieces and Hollywood-esque story telling. But the original Dead Space still holds up well even by today's standards.
Stepping into the space-boots of Isaac Clarke, a ship systems engineer, players must fight for survival against an Alien horde that has infested the mining starship "The Ishimura" (aka Stone Village) along with slaughtering the entirety of the crew, and then reanimating every corps via bio-recombination transforming them into "Necromorphs" In order for Isaac to effectively battle the Alien threat he must decapitate them limb from limb using a wide array of guns, engineering tools used as make shift weapons, as well as using his powers of telekinesis and a Stasis module for temporarily slowing down time.
Dead Space boasts a myriad of cringe worthy Necromorph monstrosities, but none are more terrifying or relentless than "The Hunter" biologically engineered by Doctor Challus Mercer on board the USG Ishimura. It was created by inserting a piece of necrotic tissue, obtained from the flesh-like growths covering some sections of the Ishimura directly into the cranium of a live, unknown crew member. Yikes! As if regular Necromorphs weren't difficult enough to kill, The Hunter due to it's ability to quickly regenerate any and all limbs is pretty much invincible, the only sure fire way to survive an encounter with one is to blast of its limbs and use you "Stasis Module" to produce a temporary time dilation, basically slowing down time in order for you to make a strategic retreat.
This short trailer for Dead Space conveys perfectly the loneliness,despair and terror felt whilst actually playing the game.
Silent Hill 2 was brought to us by Japanese video game publisher and developer Konami. Ask any Survival Horror buff what their favourite Survival Horror game is and chances are they'll reply with "Silent Hill 2" and with good reason, the game offers one of the best "Physiological" Survival Horror experiences you could hope to find, not to mention boasting some of the most creepy, chill inducing and just plain terrifying monsters to be found in the genre.
In Silent Hill 2 players take control of mild mannered James Sunderland, who is on his way to an old holiday resort called "Silent Hill" after receiving a letter from his wife asking for him to meet her there. The thing is though, James's wife has been a bit dead for a while now so naturally he's a little perplexed as to what's going on. But not really having anything better to do James continues on his way and upon reaching the town of Silent Hill, begins his gradual decent into despair.
Just about any monster in Silent Hill 2 can act as sufficient nightmare fuel, but one monstrosity in particular has gained a cult following all of his own "Pyramid Head" If you're even remotely familiar with the Survival Horror genre then chances are you've already heard of this pyramid shaped helmet sporting, broadsword wielding behemoth. What many people may not be aware of however, is the significance of Pyramid Heads design. You see Silent Hill likes to get under the skin of its victims by creating monsters based on their fears, regrets and repressed emotions. Pyramid Head being no exception, represents James's repressed sexual desires that are not being met now due to his wife being dead, amongst other things... But I won't spoil the mystery for those looking to experience the game themselves. What I will say though is that James Sunderland has been a very naughty boy and Silent Hill has crafted the perfect vessel, Pyramid Head, in order to bring down the towns own special brand of punishment on poor ol' Jimmie boy.
Here's a video showing the numerous terrifying encounters James Sunderland has with Pyramid Head. (Warning! there are spoilers contained in this video)
So, do you agree with my list of The 5 best Horror games to play this Halloween? Or is there a game you would swap out to replace with another? Let me know what your favourite Horror game is and why in the comments section.
Thanks for reading my blog and I hope you all have a Happy Halloween!.
Today I want to talk about the cultural phenomenon that is the "Let's Play" and how important I feel it is not only for gaming as a culture but also for the industry.
First of all, what is a "Let's Play"? Well for those of you not already in the know, basically a Let's Play in regards to "video games" is a video in which you watch another person play through a video game, usually whilst offering commentary for the viewers during the play through. Now the basic definition alone may not sound very entertaining, but the fact that Let's Plays have taken the Internet by storm these past few years, becoming some of the most popular and viewed videos available on YouTube and other such video hosting websites says otherwise.
So, just exactly why are Let's Plays so popular? I mean video games are by and large a interactive form of entertainment, and for the most part are best enjoyed by actually playing them yourself, right? However as I'm sure is the case for many gamers out there, there are or have often been times when watching others play a video game, be they friends, siblings, parents or guardians, can be just as enjoyable and entertaining as playing yourself. Now the reasons as to why this is the case are varied and many, but it is often either because watching a person play who is exceptionally good at a game, seeing how someone responds while playing, or if they simply have an entertaining personality, can be entertainment in and of itself. The same rings true with Let's Plays, only instead of sitting in the same room watching someone play you can now watch and follow their progress online.
Putting it simply, the advent of YouTube and other similar video hosting websites, has allowed the makers of Let's Plays to offer their viewers an experience similar to that which many have had whilst watching friends and family play video games, allowing for them to make that very experience a form of entertainment itself.
The very fact that Pro video gaming has rose to such prevalence as a spectator sport serves to further prove the entertainment value found in watching others play video games.
There are a great many YouTubers who have gained popularity and recognition through making Let's Play videos (as well as offering news, reviews and opinions) such as Angry Joe, the cast of Smosh Games and ClevverGames, "Cryaotic" (aka Cry, aka ChaoticMonki) as well as "Michelle" (aka Mynx, aka TheRPGMinx) But few are quite as popular or as well known as the Swedish born YouTube personality "Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg" (aka "PewDiePie") First gaining popularity and recognition through playing Horror games such as Amnesia: The Dark Decent and it's various custom stories, the majority of entertainment and appeal of Felix's early videos came not solely from watching him play whilst doing commentary, cracking jokes and referencing pop culture, but from watching him run back and forth screaming uncontrollably whenever a monster would appear, befriending various pieces of furniture like "Mr. Chair" and the golden statue "Stephano" and yelling out his popular catchphrase "BARRELS!!!" whenever he comes across his self proclaimed nemesis "the barrels" all while attempting to progress through the game. Also Felix always makes sure to keep his audience feeling involved (or as he calls them, his "Bro's") and at the end of each video will "Bro fist" to the camera as a thanks for watching.
Felix, whilst slowly building up his fanbase began to diversify his videos, incorporating more story driven games and showing his fans Let's Plays of many lesser known but incredibly good Flash and indie games such as Ib, Two the moon and Mad Father. Now boasting a YouTube subscriber count of over 14,000,000 and counting (earning him the guinness world record for most subscribed YouTube channel) along with world wide recognition. "PewDiePie" has also found himself mentioned and/or referenced in one way or another in various indie and Flash based video games. Also, his recent Let's Play videos of popular titles such as The Last Of Us, Outlast and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs have been some of the most highly viewed videos regarding those games, and at the time of writing his current Let's Play of Beyond: Two Souls looks to be no exception.
Whether or not you're a fan of PewDiePie in particular, you really can't deny the entertainment value and appeal that Let's Plays offer.
Let's Plays have become such a popular form of entertainment that even companies like Rooster Teeth (Creators of popular Internet shows such as Halo spoof "Red VS Blue" and "RWBY") have created their own Let's Play channel on YouTube, aptly named "LetsPlay" Not to mention popular video game journalists and reviewers such as Zero Punctuation's Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, reviews editor for Destructoid.com and host of Jimquisition "Jim Sterling" as well as YouTube personality, PC game critic and self titled "Cynical Brit" TotalBiscuit, have each taken to making Let's Play videos.
Now some may argue that Let's Plays actually decrease the potential sales of a game due to potential consumers having already seen a play through, but there is just as much evidence to suggest otherwise. Where as many video game demos are known to be designed to paint a game in a positive light by showing the most appealing parts, Let's Plays offer a way to actually see how a game plays from start to finish enabling the viewer to see as much or as little of a game as they desire, also allowing a potential consumer to make a far more educated decision as whether or not to make a purchase. Now in no way am suggesting that Let's Plays should be used to base all of our video game purchases off of, but they certainly give you much more well rounded view of a games pros and cons, and the fact of the matter is that if a popular Let's Play personality enjoyed playing a game and/or their viewers found the Let's Play enjoyable, then there is every likelihood their fans would want to purchase said game, therefore leading to a potential increase in sales.
Believing the above statement to be the case, it does strike me as very odd seeing as just how many companies there are in the industry, that have gone out there way to censor Let's Play videos. Surely they must realise the potential for free publicity, right? Well apparently not. Nintendo have had numerous videos (Let's Plays or otherwise) removed from YouTube under the pretence that the uploaders are "infringing on their copyright" while this accusation may be the case when it comes to a full Let's Play showing of the entirety of a game and/or key moments in it, it does not explain why they have felt the need to have had numerous cutscenes and even trailers for their games removed under the same pretence.
While Nintendo have every right to defend their copyrighted products and material from misuse, censoring and removing videos on YouTube and then stating that they want a cut of whatever profits the uploader may have earned, or may go on to earn through further uploads of Nintendo licensed games, sends a very poor message to their fans and potential consumers.
Sega also has a history of removing user uploaded content from YouTube under the pretence of "copyright infringement". Most notably back In 2012 when Sega went "nuclear" on YouTube taking down everything and anything related to their Shining Force franchise (fan made content, trailers you name it) in a apparent attempt to put their upcoming release of Shining Force for the PSP at the top of the search list. Why exactly Sega felt the need to go to such extreme measures is anybodies guess, but the fact that user uploaded content can be so easily removed like that without there being any genuine legal issues or concerns is very disconcerting, especially for those who heavily rely on being able to freely upload such content.
The censoring of content on YouTube goes further than simple copyright concerns and petty marketing tactics. Recently, Day One: Garry's Incident developers "Wild Games Studio" had a rather critical review of their game (uploaded by PC game reviewer and critic, TotalBiscuit) taken down under accusations of copyright infringement. However TotalBiscuit himself commented back saying that he had received his copy of the game from the indie developers under the understanding that he would be uploading a video review for it, going on to further state that since Wild Games Studio had not seen fit to also remove the many other less popular videos of the game under the same claim of copyright infringement, that they were merely using the pretence of copyright infringement as a means to censor criticism of their game.
The censoring of content on YouTube goes further than simple copyright concerns and petty marketing tactics. Recently, Day One: Garry's Incident developers "Wild Games Studio" had a rather critical review of their game (uploaded by PC game reviewer and critic, TotalBiscuit) taken down under accusations of copyright infringement. However TotalBiscuit himselfcommented back saying that he had received his copy of the game from the indie developers under the understanding that he would be uploading a video review for it, going on to further state that since Wild Games Studio had not seen fit to also remove the many other less popular videos of the game under the same claim of copyright infringement, that they were merely using the pretence of copyright infringement as a means to censor criticism of their game.
Wild Games Studio's accusations against TotalBiscuit for his apparent infringement on their copyright, has got to be one of the worst, most deplorable misuses of the copyright act to have occurred on YouTube.
Video game companies should not, must not, be allowed to have criticism of their game pulled from the net under the false pretence of copyright infringement. This is blatant censorship and further highlights the gaping hole copyright law currently presents for those companies who wish to undermine freedom of speech in order to censor negativity regarding their products.
Marketing is a costly process that can often end up costing video game companies more than the price required to develop a game. One would think then that due to the sheer amount of subscribers many popular makers of Let's Play videos have, that more video games companies would be reaching out to them in order gain free publicity. There certainly aren't many who would pass up the chance to be the first to Let's Play the opening section of Assassins Creed 4 or Killzone: Shadow Fall, in order to help spread word of the game while potentially increasing their viewer base.
While it is true that some Let's Plays actually do infringe on current copyright laws, the fact of the matter is that such user generated content is only going to increase in popularity. Just maybe instead of content being censored or removed due to outdated modes of thinking, maybe more should be being done to make the copyright act more applicable to modern day society.
So there you have it, Let's Plays are important because they offer us entertainment while also potentially educating us on our future purchases, not to mention helping spread the word for games that may have otherwise gone under the radar, and for offering another avenue to help further popularise big budget AAA titles as well as smaller indie games.
If I've gotten any of you interested in Let's Plays then I highly recommend checking out the LP uploaders I mentioned earlier.
Thanks for reading my blog, if you'd like to add anything or disagree with any of my points, please feel free to leave a comment.
What is a "video game"? When you hear the term what do you personally expect? And to what extent of your own pre-conceived notion of what a video game is would you allow to be challenged?
These questions and more are the main topic for this blog.
Being able to simply define something like say a book or a movie makes explaining what they are easier, but it can often lead to conservative thinking. A book for a long time was basically defined solely as "a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers" but with the advent of E-Readers and other similar electrical devices the definition has expanded.
A "video game" is basically defined as "a game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a monitor or other display" So basically a video game is anything played through an electrical device that requires player interaction in order to manipulate what is being displayed on screen. That sound about right? So can you think of any game that really challenges this definition? There have been a great many games that altered how we interact or manipulate what is being displayed on screen, but the vast majority of them still require player input in order to do so, and for good reason, any video game that doesn't require player input to manipulate what's being displayed isn't really a video game at all, that's what we define as a "movie" or "TV show" etc. It's simply impossible for something non-interactive to be considered a "video game" because one of the main defining aspects of a video game is player interactivity.
It is funny though, how the more advanced video games have become, the more non-interactive cutscenes have been used as a means to advance the plot/story between play, a lot of criticism has been brought down upon games such as Metal Gear Solid for it's heavy use of non-interactive story telling, although arguably these cutsceenes were often necessary to help better explain the sheer amount of plot and story contained in the MGS universe, but at the very least the actual gameplay holds up well, offering some of the best stealth based gameplay found in the genre.
As much as many non-interactive video game cutscenes may drag on, they can be very effective in helping better explain the plot/story and can offer some entertaining respite for the player between gameplay sections.
This brings me us another debate that's often brought up between gamers. "What is most important, gameplay" or story? Of course it would be best if both were done well but for a game what is the most important of the two? For me it has to be gameplay, now this doesn't mean a game has to be gameplay heavy, but it does mean that the way the player interacts with a game is very important, especially for a game that is lacking in gameplay mechanics.
This leads us to a rather controversial topic, Beyond: Two Souls. Consider what you will of this, but what follows is me giving my personal opinion and being absolutely honest regarding my feelings on the game.
Beyond: Two Souls is not the masterpiece some have come to claim, it is an interesting idea unfortunately executed very poorly. At best Beyond: Two Souls is a mediocre but entertaining enough romp with impressive visuals and boasting a talented cast, at worst it's an incredibly stupid, cliche filled interactive movie in the guise of a video game. The over reliance on bland, emotionless voice acting, tired, tried and true movie tropes and emotion driven story telling, fails miserably to make up for a severe lack of gameplay mechanics and player interactivity, leaving the player often feeling disconnected from the events that transpire, this feeling is made amplified by the repetitive use of QTE's (quick time events), and minigames that apparently if worth performing once, are worth performing the same task three or four more times in order to advance the story. The disjointed way the plot and story play out is another interesting idea, but very rarely do the "choices" you make effect much of the actual plot during play. Beyond: Two Souls is a video game but it attempts to be a movie first, the main issue I take with this is that it's not even a very good movie.
Now I know the point of Beyond: Two Souls was to focus more on the emotional connection players have with the characters, rather than gameplay which can often interfere with the story, but if the player simply doesn't care about the characters or their situation then the whole point of the game is lost to them. In the case of Beyond I honestly feel that this can hardly be the fault of the player, as it is up to the developers to create characters and situations that can be empathised with.
Beyond: Two Souls attempts to be an emotion driven, character focused story. But due to the cliche filled plot and narrative, uninteresting characters and passive gameplay mechanics, the experience often left me feeling beyond bored.
Games like Telltale's: The Walking Dead, Shenmue, To the moon and Broken Sword are all, emotional, story driven games, obviously with some having more gameplay mechanics than others, but I honestly believe each one of them to offer a better story, gameplay mechanics and experience than Beyond: Two Souls offers.
Nobody likes being told their milkshake is made out of potatoes, but well, you get what I'm saying.
If you liked Beyond: Two Souls then good for you, my dislike of it should in no way effect you still liking it, in fact I'd be very happy to see more developers attempt what David Cage is doing, one reason is because I feel that it would be a worth while endeavour but mostly because I think if done well games like Beyond: Two Souls could be fantastic experiences.
Gaming being as young as it is and being as open to interpretation as any other art form, is going to lead to a great many other attempts to either reinvent, redefine or simply just challenge pre-conceptions as to what a video game is. And personally I can't wait to see what comes next, I might not like it but at least it's something new, now that doesn't mean we should all go out and support something that attempts to different purely because it is different, but we certainly could do with more originality in the mainstream at least and that's what Beyond: Two Souls is, something new, something a different.
The same can be said for motion sensor gaming, now not everyone likes motion sensor controllers but they certainly have their place. Metroid Prime: Corruption is a great example of how the Wiimote and nunchuk actually helped improve the gameplay experience. Anyway without innovations in how we play we never would have got the analogue stick or trigger buttons, two additions that are indispensable in order to play many video games today (par the mouse and keyboard of course) and often innovations to how we play leads to innovations in the games we play.
Since how we play can often effect what we play, it's reasonable to assume that new innovations in motion sensor controllers and VR (Virtual reality) may effect the types of games we play in the future.
But regardless of what innovations come about that may change how we play, we as the player are always required. Because much like I stated above, video games are primarily an interactive medium for entertainment, as soon as you remove the need for player interaction the videogame stops being a game and becomes something more akin to a movie.
So, what is a video game? And to what extent of how we define what a video game is, should be allowed to be challenged or changed before it becomes something else entirely?
Thanks for reading my blog, if you'd like to add anything or disagree with any of my points, please feel free to leave a comment.
There's a debate that often arises amongst gamers as to whether or not console exclusive games are such a good idea anymore, seeing as how many who purchase only one console will inevitably miss out on the exclusive games only available on another. It's also reasonable to argue that (in theory) many developers may be receiving only a fraction of the profits they might have earned had their game been a multiplat title, then again, without console exclusivity what purpose do multiple platforms like the PS4, Xbox One or Wii U hold other than being three consoles that perform slightly differently? The whole point of having a console exclusive game or franchise in the first place was to entice consumers by offering content that isn't available elsewhere, so if one console were capable of playing each and every game available then what function would the existence of multiple consoles serve?
There are certainly pros to having only one console, for one thing it would put an end to this ridiculous "console war" and may even bring gamers as a community closer together. Then again if console exclusivity were to become a thing of the past, and each and every console were capable of playing any game regardless of the publisher or developer, then consoles would become less about "content" and more about "features". In fact this is already happening to an extent due to multiplat AAA titles being the "driving force" of the industry right now, now more than ever we're seeing console developers attempting to differentiate their platform from the competitions by offering unique features, such as content sharing, access to social/media networks, the implementation of Skype and TV functionality. Eventually though one console would become the dominant force, most likely through becoming a "all-in-one entertainment system" if that were to happen then there would be very little reason for other consoles to exist since they'd effectively be inferior products, thus the dominant console developer would gain complete and total monopoly over the distribution of any and all videogames released on console. But is that really healthy for the industry? Remember when Microsoft tried to implement draconian DRM, attempting to block the sales of used games and dictate when and how we play our games? Well if a console company were to have complete control over what content is available and how we access it then what stops such disastrous policies from actually being forced upon us? I'm in no way trying to demonize Microsoft, it's just that most gamers know about the Xbox One policy debacle so that helps better illustrate my point.
The Xbox One debacle taught us that a console made with a focus on restrictive policies and paywalls will never succeed while consumers still have a choice in what console they purchase
The quality of multiplat titles is also something that needs to taken into consideration because they are often held back from being quite as good as they could have been in order to perform well on each console. We know that certain exclusives like Uncharted or The Last Of Us wouldn't have been possible on a console with architecture inferior to that of the PS3, if these games were developed as multplat titles it's reasonable to assume they wouldn't have looked quite so good or played quite so well. It's the games that are developed with a single consoles architecture in mind that often perform better than those created to be multiplat titles.
When Sega first set about challenging Nintendo it was through their exclusive Sonic franchise that they were able to compete, but had Nintendo also had access to Sonic there would have been little reason if any for consumers to purchase a Sega genesis console. Games like The Last Of Us, Halo and Mario exist as proof that exclusive games are still viable in the current industry and can be incredibly successful if done well, but are these so called "system sellers" as necessary as they once were? for games like Mario or The Legend of Zelda is it even possible for them to remain unchanged if they were to appear on a non Nintendo system? Given the current industries obsession with mass appeal it's very likely that these franchises and many like them would undergo a drastic overhauls in order to make them more "appealing" and "accessible" this would probably be enough to bring a few newcomers to the franchise, but it would inevitably alienate many long time fans.
With the announcement of Valve'sSteam Machine, and it's ability to play any and all games available on the Steam service through (SOS) aka the "Steam Operating System" many believe it has the potential to change the videogame console landscape, whether or not the Steam Machine will make a significant splash in the mainstream is debatable but in my opinion, due to it's PC like nature and digital content focus it's certainly worth taking notice of.
Will the Steam Machine succeed? and if so what effect would that have on the videogame console landscape?
To paraphrase a comment made by Ben (Yahtzee) Croshaw, of Zero Punctuation fame "having a game exist to support a console is akin to having the words on a page exist solely to support the pages they were printed on"
I agree with the statement above, and I'm pretty sure that if you really take the time to think about it mostly everyone would come to agree. But it is worth remembering why exclusive games became a thing in the first place. You see books and videogames do have some similarities, printed words much like games on a disc require a platform which they can be experienced through before they can be enjoyed, the pages in a book are as much a platform as a console. Although the key difference being that books are capable of displaying any text and any story, where as games require a console with compatible architecture before they can be played, the main difference being is there's no need for separate companies to develop multiple versions of books as a platform because printed text is compatible with every kind of book, where as certain games can't be played on certain consoles due to incompatibility architecture.
Personally I'm not completely apposed to having a single console that can play any game, there really isn't so much need for exclusionary exclusivity anymore, but is the industry really ready for that yet? I mean if there was such a console would there be any need for competitors to release their own seeing as how their console would perform practically the same with the only real differences being the features they offer? Also if there was to be only one console then who would the developer be? Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Valve? Heck it could even be from a completely new developer. But then who's to stop the company that develops the only console required to play games from implementing restrictive policies due to there being no direct competition?
Would a "one console to rule them all" approach actually work, or would such power inevitably lead to corruption?
So after all that being said, I'm honestly no closer to deciding whether not console exclusivity is so necessary any more. But what do you think? do we still need multiple consoles with exclusive content? or is it time now to do away with all that and just have one console capable of playing all games regardless of the publisher or developer?
"Innovation", innovation is a word you hear thrown around quite a lot in the videogames industry, either coming from publishers and developers who claim to be striving for it, or from gamers who complain about the growing lack of it. But what exactly do we mean when we talk about innovation in regards to videogames? The fact of the matter is, the term itself is capable of covering a broad spectrum of possibilities so it's meaning can vary drastically from one persons usage of it to another.
It's a difficult term to contextualise, but what I think most gamers expect when we hear the term "innovation" is either new methods of play, be that either how we interact within the virtual world as the player character or how we control the player character by way of the UI (user interface) which may even offer us new ways to play besides the classic controller/keyboard & mouse approach. Or even a new genre, maybe one that either expands upon the foundation of a pre-existing genre, or focuses more heavily on a specific element of another and builds a game around that, these examples are only few amongst many others of course. Where as from a publisher or developer standpoint, innovation could be anything from a new and/or improved game engine to integrating social media aps. Needless to say, not all innovations in gaming come about in order to actually improve gaming as a whole, as we've already seen with many services such as DLC, DRM and online subscriptions, these "innovations" can exist sometimes as more of a barrier to additional content, imposed more in order to help line publisher pockets instead of offering consumers a service which actually improves their gaming experience without holding content to ransom, or attaching other needless strings. This of course may not have been the case when such services were first implemented but I wouldn't blame any of you for assuming that was the case.
As I've said before I'm not against DLC, the option to purchase additional content to help extend one's enjoyment of a game is a welcome feature. My problem is when the content being sold to us as DLC was originally meant to be released on the disc, but is instead deliberately being held back to then be sold to is in piece meals.
Most of us don't expect to get any additional content for free, we understand that people need to to get paid for the work they do after all, but what upsets many gamers is the feeling as if we are being charged for content that should have been made available on the disc at retail. These optional features can often feel as if they are simply ways for companies to piece meal their content instead of making it available on disc at launch, obviously no one would argue about additional content being made available later down the line, but the practice of holding back content to sell as DLC later must stop.
The problem is that the current system in place for the purchase of content via online is one that seems tailor made for such "services" to become more lucrative than the games we've purchased. For example, the fact that many games we buy today offer microtransactions in the form of day one DLC. Now I'm not personally against the option to purchase additional content but too often it feels as if certain parts of a game were held back to then be fed to us piece meal style after the games official release. Monthly subscriptions are of course are an option but sadly more often than not much of the DLC you receive is hardly ever worth the cost of subscribing.
Xbox live, still a paid service... Something that baffles me to this day, but more so now that the many advertisements present on the Xbox dashboard should create more than enough revenue to cover server fees, an issue made worse by the fact that many game servers have a hard time maintaining the heavy load placed on them, one would think that given the sheer amount of profits made by these companies that they would invest in additional servers to help meet the inevitable demand made by many popular games, especially with such a heavy focus being made to online gaming.
Microsoft should implement a free online feature, if they want to create their own version of PS+ then fair enough but basic access to online gaming should be free. Now I don't expect everyone to agree with me here, but at the very least think about this. You pay for Xbox Live in order to use the Internet, the same Internet service that you already pay your Internet provider for, to then access a feature in a game you paid full price for that is freely available on the PS3, Wii and Wii U.
The trouble with innovation in any industry is that it's not guaranteed to improve a product or service, in fact it can often lead to the detriment of a product if implemented solely for the benefit of a company and without the intended consumer demographic being taken into consideration. For example look at the sorry state of the current Resident Evil franchise, all the innovations (changes if you will) were made so as to increase the overall appeal of the IP, not in order to make the franchise "better" but purely so that Capcom could increase their profits. In this games industry, why is it that lately the term "innovation" seems so synonymous with words like generic, cookie-cutter and accessible? Is it because from a company standpoint, innovation is considered to be whatever helps to increases a companies profits? Although to be fair, if you look at a lot of innovations to come about in the games industry as of late, they are often game mechanics and elements taken from other, more popular games and/or franchises, and re-worked into a pre-existing game/franchise such as Resident Evil or Final Fantasy in hopes that these companies will see similar profits being made.
The issue we as gamers are faced with today is, what innovations are required in order to actually further advance gaming as a whole? And what innovations are purely being put in place as an additional avenue for companies to further profit off of us the consumers? The alteration of pre-existing game genres or gameplay mechanics, making the experience more streamlined and/or offering the player a deeper level of interactivity and/or control are innovations I feel are worth striving for. But too often now we see companies trying to replicate the success of another by trying to force certain gameplay mechanics in where they do not belong. Some would call the current Final Fantasy series the evolution of the JRPG, but to me it seems more like a glorified mishmash of gameplay mechanics that simply do not gel, once again it is this apparent need for "mass appeal" brought about due to bloated development budgets that has invited such a needless change to a franchise that was once the epitome of the JRPG genre. Even the new focus on social media aps and sharing feels more like a way for companies to control how their games are viewed instead of a way for consumers to freely share and enjoy each others content.
There are few innovations in gameplay to come about in recent years that equal those made 10 years ago, but innovations in the way we play games are still being made, whether or not motion sensor gaming or VR (virtual reality) is the future of play is yet be seen but the odds are good we'll be seeing more of it.
How, I ask you, in such an industry that seems totally focused on pleasing everyone, is it possible to see such genre defining IPs come about like we did in the past? Games like GTA-III, Resident Evil 4, Shenmue and Assassins Creed, these games all broke the mold and earned critical acclaim because of it. But because of the current business model employed by most big name publishers today the next big industry defining change will most likely come about from either the mobile or indie scene, were innovation and originality are still vital in order to succeed. If that is to be the case where does this leave console gaming? It may well still be at the forefront of the games industry but due to the the current industries structure it seems as if there is simply no room for such innovations to equal those seen in the past. Many of the innovations in the console gaming scene being made today are mostly companies just playing catch up with one another, trying to replicate the success of the competition or altering their games to increase accessibility and appeal, It may even be the case that the industry is at the point where technology needs to advance further before the next "industry defining" innovations can come about.
Personally, I feel that if the current business model for AAA game development were to remain in place, then even the advent of new game changing technology would mean very little, in an industry seemingly content to constantly try to replicate the success of the competition or rehash whatever IPs have brought them success in the past.
Thanks for reading my blog, if you'd like to add anything or disagree with any of my points, please feel free to leave a comment.
Way back in the late 80's early 90, when videogames were first becoming popular as a entertainment medium, who would ever have guessed that the videogames industry would come as far as it has today? It is after all arguably the greatest, most popular and profitable entertainment medium around right now.
My reason for writing this blog is in order to discuss the high points of the videogame industry's history, and why I personally believe videogames to be the best form of entertainment available to us today. I'll start by saying that I am primarily a console gamer, so I'll be focusing more on that aspect of gaming, mostly due to the fact that I'm more familiar with home consoles and console games and also because I don't wish to spread any misinformation.
Pong. Widely regarded as the precursor to modern gaming, how odd to think that our gaming hobby started out as two oblong shapes bouncing a square ball back and forth against a barren background.
As many of you may already know, videogames have been around for well over 25 years and have offered us many old-school PC and arcade classics such as Pong, Tetris, Space-Invaders and Pacman, and although the advent of console gaming and modern day innovations have helped push the medium further, allowing it to gain mainstream acclaim, the roots of our hobby are still deeply intertwined in the games we play even today. Gaming has come so far as to reach the point where films are now not only being adapted into videogames to help further popularise a movie, but videogames are being adapted into movies to help popularise a game!. Think about that for a second, videogames have gained such a huge following in the mainstream that they are now actively affecting another medium of entertainment, one that has been around for centuries before hand. Who would have thought that games like Tomb Raider, Resident Evil and Prince of Persia would ever get movie adaptations? (I am aware of the live action Super Mario Bro's movie and Mortal Kombat but it's undeniable that game to movie adaptations are a much more common occurrence today) It just goes to show how far gaming as an entertainment medium has come after a relatively short amount of time.
There are of course many reasons as to why I feel videogames are a better form of entertainment than any other, but one such reason is because videogames have the unique ability to combine the cinematic and story telling elements seen in movies, along with music which enables us to feel a myriad of emotions beyond those conveyable through words, all while offering us unprecedented interactivity with a virtual world for us to loose ourselves in. It is this combination of cinema, music and interactivity that I believe contributes greatly to giving videogames the edge over the competition. This isn't to say however that all videogames are required to incorporate cinema style story telling in order to be considered "good games" there are still many popular games and franchises today that do very well by sticking with the old-school non cinematic model of videogame storytelling, such as Super Mario. Speaking of Mario where would videogaming be today without our mushroom loving moustachioed hero? It's honestly hard to imagine gaming ever having become quite so popular as it is today without the involvement of Nintendo and the Mario franchise
Super Mario Bros. Mario has been a core Nintendo franchise way back since his first outing in the 1985 classic Super Mario Bros, the moustachioed hero has continued to gain in popularity with young and old gamers alike for generations
But long before Nintendo laid the foundation for console gaming with the NES, and went about setting the standard for console videogames everywhere with their "Nintendo gold seal of quality" there were quite a number of home consoles that came about such as the Magnavox Odysse, Atari 2600 and the Commodore 64 Games System, but most failed largely due to either insane pricing or the extreme difference in quality between many of the games available on their respective platforms (amongst a variety of other reasons of course) It is arguably due largely to Nintendo's strict quality control that they were able to to rise above the competition, although taking into consideration the fact that Nintendo also had such talent on board the likes of Shigeru Miyamoto, Eiji Aonuma and Yoshio Sakamoto, the developers responsible for such Nintendo classics as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid, is it really any wonder how Nintendo found such worldwide success in the videogames industry?
Nintendo eventually found a worthy rival in Sega and for a long time they did battle (I suppose you could even call this the very first console war) there were a great many fantastic games to be released by both parties but it wasn't until the release of the Super Nes and Sega Saturn that we'd see the console videogame landscape transform with the advent of 3D gaming. Now PC gamers naturally had the privilege of experiencing 3D gaming for a number of years beforehand thanks to popular PC games such as Wolfenstein 3D, and the more popular and widely known Doom (although console gamers were later treated to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, highly disputed by many as one of single greatest console games ever created) The ability to now control your character on a 3D plain gave rise to a previously unprecedented freedom of exploration, as well as new types of genres and gameplay elements, although some early 3D character models looked reminiscent of paper mache rejects there really aren't many who would disagree that the advent of 3D gaming was truly a landmark moment for the videogames industry.
The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. This N-64 classic is praised by many as one of the greatest adventure games ever created, the games continued popularity earned it a 3D rebuild (as seen above) for the Nintendo 3DS in June 2011.
But who was to know that the next landmark moment for videogaming would come about thanks to a completely new challenger? (That's right I'm talking about Sony) Sony'sfirst foray into console gaming with their "Playstation" ushered in with it a focus on the mainstream, you see before the Playstation, videogaming was still considered by the vast majority of society as a children's past time, but thankfully Sony was having none of that and heavily promoted the Playstation as the console for "cool kids" It paid off too, the Sony Playstation was a monumental success and helped to further popularise gaming as a entertainment pass-time. However Sony's smart decision making wasn't the only reason the Playstation became a success, for those of you not in the know Nintendo actually approached Sony asking them to create a disc based console, I'm not entirely aware of the specifics myself, but it seems that the deal fell through and Nintendo instead went on to develop the Nintendo 64, another cartridge based system like the Snes and NES before it, leaving Sony with a disc based console and scratching their heads. Sony eventually decided to put the console out on the market as direct competition to Nintendo's N-64 and called it the "Playstation" and with what I'd arguably call "Poetic justice" Sony went on to gain many exclusives such as Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Ridge Racer-Type 4 and Tekken, including some titles that once belonged to Nintendo, this of course was primarily due to the Playstation being a disc based system, discs being a newer, superior format in comparison to the aging cartridge system. Where as Nintendo went on to loose many of their exclusive IP's such as Final Fantasy and missed out on many exclusives, primarily due to the N-64 only supporting cartridge based games, which do allow for games to be saved directly on the cartridge eliminating the need for memory cards but are otherwise a very limited format when compared to discs.
The Sony Playstation (aka the PSX) Sony's Playstation opened up gaming to the masses, it is the consel that defined a generation and made gaming populer in the mainstream.
Sony have gone from strength to strength after the release of the Playstation, where as many believe the Nintendo 64 to be the beginning of Nintendo's gradual decline in the industry.
Of course no list about landmark videogame achievements would be complete without mentioning GTA-III (aka Grand Theft auto 3) the originator of the "sandbox genre" Long before the British, Edinburgh based developer DMA Design Ltd were taken on by Rockstar Games, GTA was still around upsetting parents and causing controversy, but instead in a 2D, top down view setting. It wasn't until GTA-III was released in all it's 3D, open-world glory that the franchise really hit it big. There are a great many reasons as to why GTA-III is truly a landmark in gaming history, it offered a previously unprecedented level of freedom and exploration, mature content and story telling, as well as the ability to cause absolute mayhem, but honestly there are far too many reasons for GTA-III's success for me to list here. Though fortunately if you are interested you needn't look much further than the games recent successor GTA-V, to help you understand exactly why the move into a 3D open-world setting caused such a stir way back in the early 2000's.
GTA-III (aka Grand Thenf Auto 3) The game that single handedly popularised the "sandbox genre" whlile setting a new precident for videogames everywhere.
So, we've covered a little on how the early popularity of console gaming came about, the advent of 3D gaming, the industry's gradual move into the mainstream, and it's acceptance as a entertainment pass-time for the young as well as the mature, next I'm going to discuss online gaming.
Now not many people may know this, but there were a few early consoles that actually did offer online functionality in one form or another, such as the Japanese NES (aka the Famicom) by way of the Famicom Modem, as well as the Super-NES and Sega Genesis which offered online gaming by way of the XBANDmodem in the USA. But these early attempts at online connectivity were extremely lacking, even archaic in comparison to more well known and modern attempts. It wasn't until the Sega Dreamcast was released however that online console gaming began to truly take form. Unknown by many today primarily due to it's short time in the sun, the Sega Dreamcast was quite revolutionary and far ahead of it's time (making it's early bow out of the industry all the more of a shame) as well as offering VMU's (Visual memory card Units) unique portable memory cards that let you save and store game data as well play mini games, it was also in fact the first home console to include a built-in modem and Internet support for online play, a feature that would become the standard for pretty much all consoles to follow.
The Sega Dreamcast. Both forgotten and mourned by many, the Sega Dreamcast holds a special place in many gamers hearts as the last true "arcade console".
The next milestone to come about for console gaming was arguably thanks to Microsoft's "Xbox" and it's contribution to the further advancement of online gaming "Halo: Combat Evolved" was a fantastic FPS (First person shooter) but it wasn't until it's sequel "Halo 2" that Microsoft really began to push online gaming forward, for many Halo 2 was "the game to play" if you had an Xbox and an online connection, and in many ways it was responsible for laying the foundation that many future console online FPS's set about building their success upon, games such as Call of Duty for example. The next generation of consoles to follow, the PS3, Xbox 360 (even the Wii but to a lesser extent) respectively, were each built with online gaming in mind, the majority of core titles and AAA games to be released almost always came with a online mode such as online multiplayer which usually offered competitive and/or cooperative play. Due to the growing complexity of many modern day videogames, certain bugs or errors are naturally accepted as a given now since they are more likely to be overlooked before a game hits store shelve, however standardised online connectivity has brought with it the ability fix broken/buggy games via online patches (another thing PC gamers have been enjoying for a number of years before hand) also companies were now able to offer consumers additional content long after they had purchased the game by way of DLC (Downloadable content. As much as many companies may get a bad rep for their misuse of DLC, it's undeniable that the ability to offer additional content to consumers via online download in order to help prolong the enjoyment of a particular game, is a feature that has gone on to define (for better or worse) the current generation of videogames.
As the old generation begins to bow out, let us remember the innovations brought about by the PS3, Xbox 360 and the Wii, such as motion sensor gaming, standardised online connectivity enabling for online patches, DLC and the mass popularity of online gaming.
So, what new generation defining features can we expect to see next gen? will new features such as the integration of social media websites and content sharing spark a new trend in the industry? Personally I can't wait to see what the "next big thing" will be. But if there's one thing that intarests me most of all, it's what brand new gaming experiance lay waiting around the corner.
Thanks for sticking with me to the end and I hope you enjoyed reading about some of the history and high points of the videogames industry, as always if you have anything to add or disagree with any of my points made then please feel free to leave a comment.
Mighty No.9: a new breed of Japanese sidescrolling action shooter!
Mighty No.9 (touted as the spiritual successor to Megaman) is the first project currently in development by indie videogame company "Comcept" founded by the legendary and highly influential videogame developer "Keiji Inafune" best known for having created such popular titles as Megaman, Megaman X, Onimusha, Dead Rising and has also had his hand in many other popular games to come out of Capcom.
Following Inafune-san's break away from Capcom in October 2010, shortly after the cancellation of Megaman Legends 3 which led to a great many fans being disappointed, he set about founding his own videogame development company in order to make sure that his future projects would not suffer the same fate. Eventually gaining support from the likes of "Naoya Tomita" who helped in the development of the original Megaman game as well as Megaman 2, 5, 6 and Megaman Legends, "Kimo.Kimo" a talented character designer known for his unique and memorable characters in such popular titles as Street Fighter Alpha 3, Darkstalkers, Red Earth and The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap, as well as Manami Matsui, who was responsible for bringing us the entire original Megaman soundtrack, and has contributed to other popular games such as Megaman 10, shovel knight and many more. These are just a small handful of the talent that has assembled together to help contribute to the development of Mighty No.9.
In the hope of making the companies first project a success they have turned to the popular crowdfunding website Kickstarter, and as of today they are mere hours away from successfully kickstarting their project into the full on development stage with a whopping Kickstarter backing of $3,412,319 and rising. They have also plowed through the majority of their stretch goals leading to a multitude of extra content being added to the final product, including new stages, a bonus: Boss rush mode and a making of documentary to name a few, Mighty No.9 will also be getting current gen console ports, next gen ports to the PS4 and Xbox One and Wii U, and to the delight of many (including myself) Mighty No.9 will now also be getting ported to the PS-Vita and Nintendo 3DS!. Congratulations everyone who contributed to the push.
I bring this news to your attention not only in hopes of helping the project gain further backing, but also because I believe the glowing success of Comcept's Mighty No.9 kickstarter project is testament to the popularity and appeal of a genre that frankly many in the mainstream (Capcom most notably) have seemingly decided is no longer worth developing for. So I urge you, fans of Megaman, fans of Keiji Inafune, heck even those of you who have yet to experience or appreciate the talent that any of these videogame veterans have to offer, back this project not only so that Mighty No.9 may be a success but also to support a new talented development company, one which is aiming to not only offer us a new take on a popular genre many of us know and love, but who are devoted to innovation, and who are striving to bring us the best game they can with the help of fan input.
Let's all do our best to help make Mighty No.9 a success!
Thanks for reading my blog, if you are interested in backing Mighty No.9 then click on this link to head over to the Mighty No.9 Kickstarter page http://www.kickstarter.com/... Also you can check out the vid below to see the Mighty No.9 Kickstarter pitch.
Every one of us has our preferences when it comes to certain videogame genres, sub genres and artistic styles, but it seems these days many gamers out there are under the mistaken delusion, that certain games (especially games that they dislike) are somehow inferior to popular AAA releases and/or games that they happen to find enjoyment in playing. This mistaken perception can end up causing many gamers to miss out on a great many fantastic but lesser known titles, the attitude many have towards videogames developed with a lower budget only helps lend to further stagnate the industry. Far too many gamers are narrow minded and unwilling to try out new and different types of videogame genres, leading to the the publishers themselves not being prepared to risk development on games that they feel consumers aren't interested in.
In the age of huge western AAA franchises that offer us Hollywood style storytelling, giant set-pieces, earth shattering explosions and the like, it's easy to see why more humble videogames end up getting over looked or ignored, but are these seemingly "lesser games" actually inferior? or is the only thing that's really holding them back simply that they are lacking in all that glitz and glimmer, that many seem to think is a prerequisite in order for game to be considered "worth playing"? Take a look at your videogame library for a moment, now ask yourself this; How many of those games aren't big budget, AAA releases that have received huge ad campaigns and/or scored over 8/10 from mainstream reviewers? And how many of them have gone on to spawn two or three sequels or a couple of spin offs? Chances are the majority of games you find yourself playing regularly are from big "dependable" publishers, who have spent a huge amount of time and money moulding their major IPs into AAA franchise material. The thing is, there are some games out there that have the potential to be just as good, if not better than any current AAA developed game, but they simply don't have a chance due to gamers passing them over for their more pretty, big budget counter-parts.
Now sticking with a genre or franchise you enjoy is a smart move, especially if you lack the funds to do otherwise, but what about all the great lesser known games you may be missing out on? Believe me when I tell you that there are a great many games that may even have the potential to rival current AAA franchises, even games that you consider to be the best of the best this gen, but are being held back, because gamers today refuse to step outside of their comfort zone by playing a game that looks to be below their standards.
These days too many gamers tend to play a handful of choice franchises all year round, completely ignoring anything else unless it causes a big enough stir in the mainstream to be considered a "must play" title. Personally I just couldn't do that, first of all I don't believe that many current mainstream videogame journalist and reviewers have a better idea than actual gamers as to what's worth playing, and secondly there are far too many fantastic games from big companies and small companies alike, that sticking to just one franchise, heck just one genre for that matter, would mean that I'd have missed out on a great many of my all time favourite games, games I still own today and refuse to sell or trade in because they are simply too good to let go.
Take for example Japanese developed games, many Japanese games (especially JRPG's) are often over looked or out right avoided, by the majority of mainstream gamers due to them having certain recurring tropes and themes that some people find off putting, such as the representation of female characters, the story being too convoluted, the sometimes overly used childish, idealistic notion that love, friendship and hope will see the protagonists through safely to the end, even the anime-esque art style is enough to put some people off almost immediately. Personally I happen to find most of these predictable tropes and themes quite charming, if implemented well and not just used to follow a tired, predictable, tried and true formula.
Atelier Rorona, a wonderful turn based JRPG that I'm sure has been passed over by many
due primarily to it's anime themed art style and female protagonist.
Of course this is not to say that only Japanese games rely on a tried and true formula, in fact many western games have a formulaic structure to them , AAA games especially. The formulaic brand of Hollywood-esque story telling, style over substance gameplay, the childish gratuitous use of explosive cutscenes, profanity, gore, sex, violence and a black and white approach to good and evil to name a few. That's not to say this is a bad thing though, many of these themes are recurring purely because they have significant entertainment value. Obviously it's not the case for all western AAA videogames, but I'm sure you can understand where I'm coming from when I say that western games have their own tried and true formulas, which appeal to most of us because they are developed with a western audience in mind, there's no culture barrier needed to be overcome unlike with certain Japanese games.
The Call Of Duty franchise relies heavaly on high octane shoot-outs, huge set pieces, explosive cutscenes and fast paced gameplay. You may not be a fan but it's easy to see where the appeal stems from.
Unfortunately it's not just gamers who seem to refuse to acknowledge certain "lesser" genres and sub genres, it seems the videogames industry itself refuses to develop for less popular genres these days. This gen many big publishers severely limited their output (apart from sequels to their already popular IP's) to focus primarily on FPS's, TPS's and open world games. Sure those are some fun genres which have brought us many popular games/franchises, such as COD, Gears of War and GTA to name just a few, but don't we already have more than enough games currently covering these genres? I mean aren't we always hearing how the market is "over oversaturated" with shooters and open world games right now? Sadly, as it stands now next gen seems like it may be more of the same... I suppose it wouldn't really be such an issue if a great many games from these genres weren't severely lacking in comparison to those they are trying to replicate. It's just that, well to me anyway, many of them feel as if they've been pushed out the door half backed in an attempt to capitalise on the past success of the games that helped popularise these genres to begin with.
Honestly, if I've learnt anything from purchasing both AAA games and lesser known games, it's that the AAA label is certainly no longer a mark of a games quality, in fact it's really just a reminder to us all of the insane amount of cash that's gone into developing a AAA game, making the fact that so many of them tend to lead to flop or lead to disappointment, or perform poorly in regards to sales (if you consider a game earning a company upwards of $7,million, performing poorly) that much more depressing.
The Tomb Raider reboot was a fantastic game selling far better than many other reboots (Team Ninja's DmC: Devil May Cry for example) but according to Square Enix the company suffered an "extraordinary loss" due to lower than expected sales.
There's another thing I hear a lot of gamers say these days, and that's "I don't buy second hand games" well that's all well and good I suppose, I mean if you want to support a company, then the best way to do so is to purchase their games new if you can afford to. But refusing to buy "any" game second hand means you've very likely missed out on some truly great gems, games that probably got over shadowed during the release of more popular AAA games, and seeing as most "less popular" games tend to get a smaller number of units sent out compared to their popular AAA counterparts, it means that the chances of finding any great lesser known games on the shelf brand new, is highly unlikely. So, if you consider yourself a "gamer" then you really owe it to yourself to purchase a lesser known game second hand, there's probably some game you've heard about, either from a friend or reliable reviewer, that you've considered picking up, so if you happen to see that game second hand somewhere, why not pick it up there? It'll probably be pretty cheap too, and if you enjoy it then you may go on to purchase it's sequel new if the game sold well enough for it to be sequalised.
It's safe to say that many of us have grown increasingly weary of the constant slew of generic, cookie-cuter, made for the masses releases that have saturated this current console generation. How fortunate for us then, that Indie gaming have taken the industry by storm, and have proven what many, many gamers have been saying for years now, and that is; A game needn't have a bloated AAA budget, fancy graphics and mass appeal behind it, to be entertaining and sell well. In fact a smaller budget often means that indie games are required to be innovative and original in order to stick out from the competition.
Journey proved that offering consumers immersive gameplay and gorgeous graphics
needn't cost the developers an arm and a leg.
We can only hope now, given the success of Indie games, that more original and innovative IPs will be announced from mainstream developers and publishers in the near future. But the thing I feel must be mentioned here is, there have already been plenty of original and innovative IPs to released throughout this gen, but sadly a lot of then have been ignored in favour of the more popular AAA franchises many of us have become accustomed too, but continue to complain about. It does the industry no good if we continue to support companies we feel are only further stagnating the industry, and go about ignoring those companies who are trying to make the next step forward. However I can't say that we gamers are entirely to blame for this, the mainstream media and videogame journalist play a part in this too, by constantly shoving popular AAA franchises in our faces and announcing how "mind blowing" and "must have" they are, without ever mentioning smaller more modest IPs that are also worth checking out.
If we ever want the videogames industry to get out of it's current rut, then we as consumers we need to be more vigilant in regards to our purchases. Obviously we need to support the companies we know and trust, but we should also make the effort to support innovative lesser know titles. The more consumer focus is turned away from games that are stagnating the industry by creating generic, made for the masses, cookie cutter content, and turned towards those games that offer originality and innovation, then naturally the industry will have to change it's approach in order to keep in line with consumer demand.
Gamers have a lot more pull than I honestly think we realise, but our continued ignorance has only helped maintane the status quo, helping line publisher pockets while depriving the industry of growth and diversity. It's not the publishers or the mainstream media who dictate industry trends, it's all of us, and right now we need to be putting this pull to a positive use by supporting companies who place the further advancement and betterment of videogaming in general, above that of personal gain, satisfying their investors and maintaining the publisher imposed status quo.
Thanks for reading my blog, if you'd like to add anything or disagree with any of my points, please feel free to leave a comment.
As most of you are likely already well aware, recently news has come about that Capcom are in a bit of trouble financially, it's nothing too desperate right now but the news of their less than desirable situation was enough to cause many to question the companies future in the games industry. So how did Capcom, a company with a great many IPs under it's belt get into such a mess? Well hopefully by the end of this I'll have helped to answer that question.
It's public knowledge that Capcom for a while now, have been struggling to say the least. Earlier this year it was reported that Capcom's profits dropped 37%, that's rather hefty loss, apparently they stated the cause for this was the competition posed by the sheer amount of AAA games released from other companies around the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, that were supposedly over shadowing their seemingly less appealing games. As well as Capcom themselves openly admitting that their attempts at "outsourcing" popular IPs to the West (such as Resident Evil and Devil May Cry) had yielded less than satisfactory results.
But honestly, what kind of excuse is that for a company like Capcom? With all their blatant miss use of DLC, on disk DLC, microinstructions, and the milking of their popular franchises, not to mention a company that owns many, many popular games and franchises, but chooses only to either cancel them, outsource them, or just sit on them while they drive their most popular franchises like Resident Evil into the ground while nickel and diming consumers by piecemealing their content. With all this penny pinching how can Capcom honestly be doing bad financially? Or is all this penny pinching purely due to their desperate circumstances?
As far as I'm concerned part of Capcoms reason for it's current financial situation is easily explainable, and it's something that's led to the gradual degradation of many popular Japanese videogame developers, and that is this obsession with appealing to the West. Capcom was at their best back when they were developing fun, innovative and enjoyable games, instead of trying to replicate western games in order to appeal to a wider audience. Appealing to the west isn't a bad thing in and of itself, heck eastern and western video game developers could probably learn a lot from one another going by the different ways they each approach certain genres, but the problem we see all too often is that many Japanese games lose the originality that made them appealing to begin with, casting off their charm purely in order to appeal to a demographic they were never meant to appeal too.
Look at the state of Resident Evil today for example, RE was always supposed to be a survival horror game, but now it's a pure action game with Zombies (if you can even call them "Zombies" anymore) void of any genuine chills, scares or the tense atmosphere that made the franchise the huge success it once was, and what for? To appeal to a wider demographic. Well maybe that might have been worth selling the franchise out if Capcom had realistic sales expectations, instead a ridiculous figure for units sold like "7 million" Resident Evil 6 apparently sold around 4.9 million copies around may of this year, leading Capcom to believe the game was a failure... 4.9 million copies sold is a failure now? And why? Because Call of Duty sold $1 billion copies suddenly every other company expects to make similar sales?... It's madness, COD wouldn't be the best selling franchise if every company could pull of similar figures.
Now I've already done a review for DmC: Devil May Cry where I gave it an over all decent score, so I'm not about to go back on that here, but this needs to be said. It may have sounded like a smart move on paper to outsource Devil May Cry to a western studio, but honestly could Capcom have handled the decision much worse than when they decided on choosing Ninja Theory... Now look, I like Ninja Theory, I'm a huge fan of Heavenly Sword, but everything they've done since then have both been pretty average... I'm not sure if Capcom had this planned out from the start in hopes of gaining more publicity for their now Western developed game, but the controversy that came about during the early teaser trailer for DmC: Devil May Cry, and plagued the game all the way through it's extended development, due to Ninja Theory's rather outspoken and negative attitude to core fans of the original franchise, did little good for what was a niche franchise to begin with, if anything the game gained a lot of publicity due to fans voicing their anger at what Ninja Theory had done to their beloved franchise, while many argued back defending Ninja Theory and their new approach to the franchise. in the end what we ended up with was a half decent hack 'n slash which probably would have done better sales wise had it not carried the title of "Devil may Cry" What needs to be learnt from this is that outsourcing very rarely ever works out well, but if you're going to attempt it make sure the company you're outsourcing to respects the core fans and doesn't add any unnecessary weight to the inevitable controversy. But I digress.
As I stated above, one issue is that Capcom keeps attempting to appeal to the west by copying popular western games, while ignoring the fact that it was their originality that made them such a success to begin with. Another problem is the wasted potential posed by many, many IPs Capcom have chosen to just sit on for oh, over 10 years or so now collecting dust, while they continue to butcher their most popular franchise with each new iteration. How about a new Ghouls and Ghosts, Or Power Stone, Dino Crisis, Mega Man, Breath of Fire, Rival Schools or Darkstalkers? the list goes on and on... But no, instead of Capcom developing new iterations for these popular IPs (well popular at the one time) IPs that many have been asking for, for quite some time and putting them out there to make some cash, they choose instead to sit on them letting their potential waste away. I honestly can't stress this enough, if you actually look at all the great games Capcom own and could be developing on right now, it seems utterly absurd for them to be doing absolutely nothing with them.
Capcom has so many great IPs, they're why they were such a great company after all, but now it almost seems as if they're a shadow of their former selves... Capcom's brand new IP, Deep Down, while looking interesting is anything but original, seeming to blend both Assassin Creed's virtual reality story element with Dark Souls gameplay mechanics, it's certainly an interesting premise and without a doubt I'll be checking the games out ASAP, but unless Capcom can pull it off, and offer an IP that can rival both Assassins Creed and Dark Souls, then what future is there for a game that appears to be only a carbon copy of the best of both popular IPs? Saying that though, being an online only game with randomly generated dungeons and enemies, and offering cooperative play is certainly cause for intrigue, but for now we'll jut have to wait and see how it all comes together, especially considering how lackluster Capcoms recent projects have turned out to be.
I am Sorry if I'm coming off a little critical of Capcom, but understand this, the only reason I'm am being critical of them is because I know what they are capable of. Some of my favourite franchises have come from Capcom, like Resident Evil, Ace Combat, Onimusha Warlords, Rival Schools, Street Fighter, and Power Stone to name a few, and believe me I could go on and on. This is why it pains me so to see Capcom become such a mess, I don't know if it's because they've lost much of the original talent behind their games and franchises, or are just struggling to keep up in the age of AAA franchises, and everything or nothing game development, but something needs to change at Capcom or else they may well find themselves being brought out in the not so distant future.
Of course this doesn't just go for Capcom, Square Enix have been responsible for a great many similar activities. The latest Tomb Raider reboot apparently failed to meet predicted sales made evident when the company announced they had made a “extraordinary loss” on the project, leading to major reforms and restructuring efforts for the company. The Final Fantasy IIIX series of games continues to divide fans due to Square Enix's continued attempts to appeal to the West, Sleeping Dogs, (essentially GTA in a eastern setting) seemed to have come and gone without so much as a whimper. So, is this what is to be expected when eastern videogame companies try to replicate western videogames in hopes of finding similar success? I don't think so.
Attempting to replicate the success of another without fully understanding how that success came about in the first place, obviously leads to ruin eventually. To say that Japanese
companies that attempt to appeal to the west are destined to fail from the start, is overlooking the real issue. Many of these games being developed to appeal to the west are just an attempt at cashing in on the success of another. It's those who understand where the success comes from, or better yet, it's the companies who understand exactly why a consumer enjoys a game, and then develops their game to cater to the consumers interests, who will succeed in the end.
Really it's no secret as to why big companies like Activision, EA, Ubisoft, and Naughty Dog find success in the west while many big Japanese developers struggle. Western companies are just more in tune with what western consumers want, if western developers were to attempt to appeal to Japanese consumers I imagine they would have just as much of an issue appealing to them, as many Japanese developers have appealing to western consumers. Japanese devs have it a lot tougher now than they did in the past, that's why I admire any Japanese company who continues staying true to themselves and their ideals, instead of attempting to appeal to western consumers purely for financial gain. That's not to say Japanese devs shouldn't develop western styled games, not at all, what I mean is that any developer, (eastern or western) needs to create content they understand instead of trying to replicate the success of others without understanding exactly where that success came from.
Anyway, I think I'll end it here before I ramble on any further.
Thanks for reading my blog and as always if you want to add anything or disagree with any of the points I've made, please feel free to leave a comment
Enemy obstacles and player progression. Throughout videogame history, the player being required to kill enemies in order to make progress has been a popular and recurring gameplay mechanic, since videogames were first popularised sometime in the late 80's, and is still being used in the vast majority of modern day videogames till this day. Throughout this blog I will be referring to this gameplay mechanic as the (Killing in the name of progression gameplay mechanic) Basically, this a term I've created in order to reference a recurring gameplay mechanic that's purpose is to offer an obstacle between the player and their goal, in the form of an "enemy" or "boss" which must be killed/defeated before the player can progress.
Even though the morality of killing in videogames has been called into question quite a bit in recent years, and many games have come about lately that avoid having the player directly kill an enemy at all, I still believe it to be a very important and necessary gameplay mechanic for certain games/genres, so important in fact that many games we know and love would simply not have existed, or would have been vastly different without it.
Unfortunately I haven't been able to narrow down precisely which was the first videogame to require players to "kill" enemies in order to make progress, although I assume the practice first came about with the advent of early PC games and especially at videogame arcades, where the idea was to use enemies as a means to kill the player over and over again in order to extract as much of their pocket money as possible. If in fact this is the case, then it's likely that popular videogames such as Pacman and Space Invaders were the originators of the this gameplay mechanicwe see used so often throughout gaming history. "The stakes are never higher than when a life is on the line" after all (even if it's only a virtual life) so to allow the player to kill or be killed by enemies, made progressing more entertaining, tense and challenging. The increased difficulty after each level or enemy wave also lent to making progressing later levels extremely challenging and made getting that "high score" more rewarding.
PC games such as Wolfenstain and Doom, as well as arcade games such as Pacman and Space invaders, all used this "Killing in the name of progression gameplay mechanic" (which as I stated above is still in popular use well over 20 years after it was first implemented) this very simple but fun, addictive and challenging gameplay mechanic, kept gamers coming back for more. Those oldchool PC and arcade games that used enemies as a means to impede player progress by killing them off (in order siphon as much cash as they could from their player base at the arcades) all while offering unparalleled interactive entertainment for the time, laid the foundation for many games that would follow on the next popular platform, console gaming.
During the late 80's early 90's, the platformer (arguably the bread and butter of early console gaming) was the next popular stage to host the this perticuler gameplay mechanic. Platformer games typically required the player to progress from one side of the level to the other avoiding such hazards as pitfalls and/or enemies, with the enemies soul purpose being to impede player progress by moving back and forth, up and down or by remaining stationary. Even though the enemies at the time had very basic AI (if any at all) the level structure, their placements on the map and/or their numbers helped make up for their lack of tactical options and intelligence, creating some truly challenging platform games. The NES classic Super Mario Bro's happens to be the very first game that I played which utilised this "Killing in the name of progression gameplay mechanic" This simple platform popularised the platforming genre leading to the creation of Mario's direct competition (and rival at the time) Sonic the hedgehog (as well as many others) which unsurprisingly made use of very similar gameplay mechanics but was of course a much more fast paced game.
As I stated earlier, this gameplay mechanic can be found not only in early Arcade games, PC games and console platformers, but in just about every videogame genre. Such as the incredibly popular side scrolling beat 'em up & shoot 'em up genres, which brought us such classics as, Black Manta, Streets of rage, Contra, Parodius, R-Type, Gunstar Heroes, TMNT: Turtles in time, Guardian Heroes, Metal Slug and many, many more, they all utilised the "Killing in the name of progression gameplay mechanic" Of course the gameplay mechanic itself exists purely to create an enemy obstacle between the player and their goal, which must be defeated in order to progress. So the way in which this gameply mechanic is utilised can vary greatly from game to game and genre to genre. The Fighting game genre for example, which brought us some incredible games and franchises such as, Street fighter, Mortal Kombat, King of fighters, Samurai shodown, Tekken and Guilty Gear, amongst many others, all offered one on one fights and also utilised the "Killing in the name of progression gameply mechanic" requiring players to "KO" and sometimes Kill their opponent in order to progress to the next stage. The RPG Genre, which offered such classics as Chrono trigger, Final Fantasy, Grandia, Breath of fire and Secret of Mana, also all utilised this it, but instead placed you in a turn based battle system, sure you could choose to run from battles but chances are you'll need to fight in order gain Levels and defeat bosses. As you can see, the vast majority of retro games utilised the this gameply mechanic by creating enemy obstacles to impede player progress. Regardless of what the enemy was intended for, purely placing the enemy in the game for the player to defeat, creates an obstacle for the player to overcome in order to progress.
It wasn't until later on, as videogames began entering the mainstream and new genres and sub genres began appearing, that we started seeing the "Killing in the name of progression gameplay mechanic" undergoing a few changes. This is partly because technology had gotten to the point where videogames were capable of allowing for new mechanics to be implemented, but mostly because the pursuit for realism in gaming had created an unforeseen problem. You see as videogames become more representative of reality then arguably so too should the portrayal of killing and death, however as you are all most likely aware, the portrayal of violence in videogames has been cause for many heated debates for generations, with many in the mainstream media arguing that videogames are a contributing factor to violence in the real world. I'm not about to debate that here, but I will say that videogame violence on its own doesn't contribute to real world violence, or at least no more so than violence in movies and television.
So, instead of portraying violence realistically many games are forced to show a more "fantastical" side of violence, leading to videogame violence appearing to be over "glorified" this too led many to question whether or not killing in videogames should be removed from certain games completely. Eventually the ability to perform non lethal takedowns on enemies was introduced, this inclusion avoids the real issue of how videogame violence should be portrayed somewhat, but arguably it does enough to allow gamers to continue playing how they have been while offering another method for progressing when faced with enemy obstacles.
As it stands today, the "Killing in the name of progression gameplay mechanic" that helped popularise videogaming in the early days, is still very much in popular use. Just look at games like Assassins creed, Killzone, Devil May Cry, God of War, COD, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil and The Last of Us, you can see that just like the games of old, many modern videogames still use enemies as obstacles that must be defeated by the player in order to progress, the difference being now is that there are many more gameplay mechanics that allow for the player to use either non lethal takedowns, or stealth to avoid the enemy all together, at least until a boss shows up.
Personally, I find it very interesting to see how a gameplay mechanic, such as the "Killing in the name of progression gameplay mechanic" that has been in use since gaming first became popular, is still very much in popular use today. Even though the industry has been through a great many changes and offered us a myriad of additional gameplay mechanics and tactical choices, how enemies are used as obstacles for the player to overcome in order to progress, is still as popular a gameplay mechanic as ever. It really just goes to show that with all the progress videogames have made over the years, that the basic foundation for fun, engaging and most importantly, entertaining gameplay, is still present.
Anyway, I think I'll rap up here.
Thanks for reading my blog and as always if you want to add anything or disagree with any of the points I've made, please feel free to leave a comment.
So here we are again, another "next gen". I'll apologise right now if I don't seem very excited at the prospect of another decade of pointless bickering between varios factions over which is the most technologically advanced plastic box, or whose faceless company they've pledged their alleigance to is the least out of touch, monopolative and money hungry.
The thing is I guess, is that I can still remember when the videogames industry was about just that, "videogames" and not all about trying to appeal to the masses, creating cookie-cutter content that's guaranteed to sell well but further stagnates the industry, incorporating social-media applications, providing TV and other popular media services, all for the sake of having an "all in one multimedia entertainment device". So while Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have each now presented to us all their brand new "next gen consoles" the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U respectively, the devices with which we will be experiencing a brand new generation of "gaming" amongst other things I'm sure. I'm left asking the question. What's so next gen about them? Or better yet. Other than the fact I won't be able experience the next generation of watered down, casualised, made for the masses videogame entertainment, why exactly should I purchase a next gen console?
This isn't to say that I don't like videogames anymore, on the contrary, it's precisely because I like videogames so much that I'm a little disappointed with what "next gen" is offering this time around.
Maybe I should back up a little and explain exactly where I'm coming from. You see last gen saw some incredible games, there's no denying that, but each console suffered, they suffered either due to poor design resulting in a higher than acceptable failure rate, complex architecture which resulted in shoddy ports, a blatant lack of creativity and the rise cookie-cutter game design due to needlessly bloated budgets, yearly sequelisation which offered little variation and improvements over the originals, a lack of 3rd party support due to inferior architecture, shodilly implemented motion sensor gaming, and the further disconnect between the player and the game by way of hand holding and/or movie-esque cinematic gameplay. So what concerns me here is, will these issues rise up again in the 8th generation? Even though each company has aknoweldged certain issues they had last gen and rectified one or two of them for the new generation, the fact is that there is nothing to say that this new generation won't be plagued by more of the same that ailed the previous. For example, instead of acknowledging how they intend to get gaming out of it's current rut, it almost seems as if they would all rather ignore the fact that their even is a problem, and instead are carrying on as they have been into next gen.
These new features such as access to social-media websites, TV and content sharing, aren't going to make gaming any better that's for sure, and if you ask me it almost seems as if these companies are very well aware of this, and have brought about these new features purely in order to take our attention away from those issues that really do need our attention. The cost of game development for this new generation is only going to increase, with development budgets already being as blotted as they are, and with publishers being more interested in style over substance and the spectacle over palatability, things are only going to get worse before the get better. Let me be frank, many publishers and developers haven't realised yet, that constantly trying to create a cutting edge game by throwing tons of money at it is the wrong way to go about game design, at least in the sense where games function relatively bug free, they may look great but pretty much everything does these days, I'd be happy to see a game with inferior graphics if it functioned properly from day one and felt like a full game. But no, apparently these companies feel that the next obvious step forward, instead of creating content that functions properly, is to complicate matters further by implementing such features as sharing content, accessing your TV and social-media aps, along with the rest I mentioned above.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against these additional features, Im just not convinced that gaming is ready for them. The PS4 share button, Kinect 2, watching TV and accessing social-media sites through my console. None of them interest me personally because none of them are what I buy a console for, now I don't intend to speak for everyone but who here was asking for such features to begin with? Because none of them are anything that I feel gamers have been asking for, they might be nice little features, and heck nobody dislikes convenient aps, but what about the games? What improvements are being made to gaming that aren't just a continuation of the narrow the minded, everything for everyone, design by committee mentality that plagued all of last gen?
Asking myself this question it eventually occurred to me just why the actual "games" side of the videogames industry, doesn't appear to be undergoing any new, generation defining changes. You see videogame development as it stands now is extremely expensive, or better yet, insanely expensive, but also extremely lucrative, so when we consider the fact that videogames have been around for well over 25 years and still suffer from very similar issues faced from around 10 years ago, it leads one to wonder whether or not that's all just a coincidence. The reason I feel that the approach to videogames hasn't changed much going into this new generation is because it's still very profitable in it's current form, now Microsoft did try to implement new policies in order to increase profitability going into this new and inevitably more costly next gen, but had their new policies shot down due to how damaging they would have been if they were to have become the industry norm. While both Sony and Nintendo appear to be carrying on the "status quo" so to speak, obviously they have implemented a few positive changes here and there, but nothing that I believe will greatly contribute to the betterment of gaming.
However this is not to say that there are no positive reasons to buy a next gen console, like I mentioned above the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U are going to be taking on board many well established franchises and brand new IP's, so with popular games and franchises like Assassins creed, Infamous, Metal Gear Solid, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and interesting new IP's like Watch_Dog, Titan Fall and Deep Down, each console has something going for it in terms of videogame content. The thing that concerns me though is whether or not these new games won't just be prettier looking but hollow versions of games we've played before.
Few developers took chances last gen and it showed, never in a generation before have I seen so much wasted opportunity, we had some great games I'll give you that, but far too many companies were afraid to try something new due to just how costly game development has become, instead choosing to milk the one franchise that had offered them success for all that it's worth, I've got nothing against sequalisation, but last gen more than any other, sequels became more about creating a game that sells rather than creating a game worth playing.
So I ask to you Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and any other Triple-A publishers and developers who are reliant on such business models and practices. What will you be doing in this new generation that will address the needlessly bloated budgets that are apparently required in order to develop Triple A titles? the ever increasing cost of videogames brought on due to the insane cost of development, the continued misuse of DLC due to greedy money hungry publishers, or the industry stagnation that's occurred due to cookie-cutter game design and mass-market appeal? Are these issues really something that can be allowed to continue whilst we're all distracted with social-media aps, TV and sharing content? or are we to assume that all these issues are just going to disappear in a new generation that seems tailor made to depend on them?
Before I rap up I just want to say one last thing, to all those who are announcing why they think a particular console has won next gen already, let me just remind you all that companies change, their policies change, the content they provide changes. Basically, it's far too early in the game (pardon the pun) for anyone to decide who'll be "wearing the crown" so to speak, this coming gen. As always you're far better off getting the next gen console that you feel you will get the most enjoyment from rather than relying on others to make decisions for you
Thanks for reading my blog and as always if you want to add anything or disagree with any of the points I've made, please feel free to leave a comment.