So here is a dumb thing I do: I make up my own stories in games.
No, I'm not just talking about RPGs like Fallout or Skyrim where the entire point is to go out and make your own mark on the world. I'm talking about just about every kind of game. Action titles that already have stories, multiplayer shooters where there shouldn't even be a narrative; hell in a darker moment in my life, I once tried to make a fictional justification for I.Q.: Intelligence Qube, a puzzle game where you rotate giant cubes floating in a void. HELP ME.
I like to be scared. I'm not some kind of dark-obsessed weirdo, though. I just really enjoy the feeling of being tense or terrified, so much so that I used to think that there was something wrong with me. Maybe there is.
A few years back, after a nearly year-long kick of reading freaky books, watching horror movies, and replaying some of my favorite survival horror videogames, I decided to do some digging into why I like to be scared. It turns out that the typical reasons are fairly tame; some folks like the huge pile of satisfaction feels they get from being able to work through tense or scary moments. It's a break. An escape. Something new and different.
Being armed with the knowledge behind these feelings out doesn't change that I'm still drawn to them. And I've found that survival horror games are still the best way to get that high. I regularly replay the classics. I chomp at the bit for new ones and devour them when they're finally released. I'm hooked.
But I'm starting to feel a bit old-fashioned in my love of these games.
I'm easy. And I think you are, too. Those debut game trailers get me every time. It usually goes like this:
Stirring, slow beds of strings and woodwinds underlay a dramatic shot; an extreme closeup of some unknown character. Or, maybe a well-known one. Just the eyeball, or just the face. Pan out. Wide, lush landscapes that take the breath away. Maybe sunny and bright. Maybe foggy and mysterious. The music increases in tempo and loudness. Quick cuts! Sword slashes. All-white flashes. Strings crescendo as they build via agiato. The heart rate quickens. Fast. Faster! Then, boom. Quiet. Black screen. Some sounds, or maybe some dialogue. Slow, slow text. Subwoofers do something. Fade...
It's bad enough dying a humiliating death at the hands of some random orc, but "Azdush the Dung Collector?" Really? He couldn't have been "Azdush the Shield Breaker" or "Azdush the Invincible?"
I could have taken a bit of consolation dying to someone with a straight-up badass name like that. But The Dung Collector? I knew I'd never live it down, and his constant taunting certainly made sure of that.
With both Driveclub and Forza Horizon 2 hitting the streets this month my mind is fully in racing game mode. We racing fans are spoiled this month with two very nice titles, and I'm racing my days away in them. As of late I am this close to getting a speeding ticket IRL.
I think about racing games a lot. While I'm Destructoid's resident JRPG guy, I've always loved racing games. I've been playing them regularly since Pole Position (yeah, I'm old), and I'm perfectly open to racers of all sorts, from casual kart games all the way up to full-on simulations.
But lately, after spending time with Driveclub and Forza Horizon 2, I'm hung up on what my ideal racing game would be. Both of them hit positive marks for me, but there are plenty of things I'd change or do differently. And I have some ideas of my own that no one has managed to work into a racer yet.
Earlier this morning I told my Twitter followers I was thinking of starting a post about why the term gamer might be "dying" or an article about positive representations of schizophrenia in videogames (like, all two of them). A couple of people wanted me to do the schizophrenia one... but mostly just because they didn't want me to do the gamer one. I got the feeling that they didn't want another ugly, negative post about videogame culture to exist.
That said to me that this "gamer" term has some inherent power to it. It makes people feel something, for better or worse. Compare it to terms like "golfer" or "golf journalism." Imagine if golf pros and commentators were to declare that the term "golfer" is dead. The collective golf community would likely raise an eyebrow, shrug, and get back to golfing. That's not what we're seeing in the "gamer" community right now.
Right now we're seeing groups of once-unified "gamers" look at each other with disappointment, anger, and frustration. The thought is "you're not what I wanted you to be." The gaming press is saying that to game consumers. Game consumers are saying that to game developers. Game developers saying it to the gaming press. It's a constant three-way of pure disdain.
This disdain is born from the budding awareness of how different the goals, perspectives, and priorities of those three groups are. The illusion that we're "all just gamers" has been shattered. That said, the term "gamer" will likely never die. It's just not working as an applicable catch all for everyone who is passionate about videogames. Not anymore. Not after all of the misuse it's seen. That doesn't mean we have to give up on it though.
I was playing Final Fantasy XIV the other day, engaging in my weekly static raid group (we just beat Turn 7!) when I realized something -- I refer to most of them by their callsigns and not their real names. In fact, I stopped calling a few friends that I've known for years (and went to college with) by their given names, just to uniformly refer to everyone as their in-game character.
It got me thinking on the etiquette for asking for players' real names online, and the reasons why someone may not want to divulge that information.
[Update: Some of you are pretty upset about the article! Sorry about that.
Also, a few people pointed out a couple of mistakes I made. First, I wrote that you can block in the air in Smash Bros. Looks like I "tripped" up! I meant to say "dodge." Sometimes when you type too fast, you put down the wrong word, and it may not get caught in the proofread. My apologies.
Also, there is some dispute over if "L-canceling" is an "unintended abuse" of the game's system, or something intended by the developers. My guess is that it's both -- that "L-canceling" was intended by the developers, but players learned to exploit it to a degree that Sakurai and the gang didn't intend, which could be why it was removed from Brawl entirely. It's hard to say for sure though, as Sakurai hasn't made any comment on the subject that I know of. Either way, you should know that "L-canceling" may be an intended mechanic in Melee and Smash Bros on the N64. Hope that helps, and if you find any other mistakes, you can let me know on twitter- @tronknotts. Thanks everybody!]
There's a Smash Bros. tournament going on tonight at a local comic book store. The creator of Catlateral Damage and I were planning on attending, but they changed the game from Brawl to Melee at the last minute. We both backed out, resigned to the reality of the situation, but still disappointed. It's totally understandable that the majority of competitive Smash players prefer the increased level of fast and precise character control that Melee offers over Brawl, but as diehard Lucas, Olimar, and Squirtle fans, Melee isn't worth the $15 entry fee.
I figured I'd get over it by watching some Melee at EVO, and I quickly found myself feeling frowny. It seems like the longer the game is played, the less high level competitors try new things. Most of the matches were just a high-speed poke and fake contest. The only times things got really interesting was when a character is in the clutch, trying to recover from being knocked off the edge, but those mechanics are just as fun to watch in Brawl or even the original N64 Smash Bros.
I wondered how much more interesting it would be to watch some aggressive play in Brawl. Yes, even though it has tripping. Especially because it has tripping.
Whether it's a humid summer day or just an unpleasantly hot one, there's nothing quite like hiding from the sun in your small dark apartment. Here are x number of videogames to help you stay pale this season.
Everybody's blah blah blah World Cup blah blah blah to celebrate top five blah blah blah soccer videogames blah blah blah. Blah blah blah piggybacking off Google search result algorithms blah blah blah pandering to the interests of those who are more interested in thing other than videogames? Blah blah blah everyone's talking about it blah blah blah you don't want to be left out blah blah blah popular because it is popular blah blah blah Hamza's gotta eat blah blah blah Sup Holmes starts at 4pm blah.
So with out further blah blah blah, lets blah blah blah do blah blah blah this blah blah blah.
E3 2014 begins next week. Destructoid has its bags packed, ready to attack the press conferences and show floor. This year should bring us what we really wanted last year: games for our next-gen consoles. Sony and Microsoft have had time to work up some new things for us since their respective console launches, and Nintendo is running at full steam for its systems. Some of big third-party publishers have had enough time to finally show off what they've been working on.
And this is not counting all of the PC games, indie games, portable offerings, VR dueling (Oculus vs. Project Morpheus), and other new announcements coming. It should be good.
But we hope E3 2014 isn't a huge tease. While we're sure to get some new games for fall 2014, who's to say that the rest of them won't be hanging back to 2015? With all of the recently delayed titles that were supposed to launch this year moving to next, anything is possible.
If nothing else, we'll at least get some exciting software announcements next week. You were heard last year, gamers -- loud and clear. The big three know for sure that you don't want to hear about hardware and entertainment features during your press conferences. It's going to be all about games. Lots of games.
Our guide will set you up for Destructoid's E3 Unfiltered coverage next week. First, we'll lay out what you should know to catch you up. Then we'll list out times for press conferences and other events. Finally, we'll run down the list of top companies and tell you what you should expect.
A lot of folks seem pretty confused about what's going on with Harvest Moon. And that's perfectly understandable, because it's a tad complicated. Please allow me to try to explain the situation.
XSEED recently announced a farming simulation RPG called Story of Seasons. The title is a localization of Bokujō Monogatari: Tsunagaru Shin Tenchi, which released for Nintendo 3DS in Japan earlier this year.
You might not recognize the name Bokujō Monogatari, which directly translates as "Farm Story," because we westerners have learned to call the series Harvest Moon. And here is where the confusion arises. That name, Harvest Moon, isn't owned by the makers of Bokujō Monogatari, Marvelous AQL, but rather the company that localized and published them for nearly the past two decades.
That company is Natsume, who just this week revealed a 3DS title called Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, which, despite its name, is not an actual Bokujō Monogatari title. Though the brand is familiar and the product may seem very similar in appearance, The Lost Valley is made by an entirely different group than all Harvest Moon games before it.
It's official. Mortal Kombat X is coming, and though we just got an extremely vague look at what it might showcase when it hits the scene, that's just not enough for me. I grew up on fatalities and the thrill of combat, and with a brand new entry into the series, there's plenty of room for change on the horizon.
I'm not talking a whole host of DLC fighters or any of that other nonsense. I'm talking real change -- the kind that can only come from surveying a loyal fanbase and implementing the changes that are being clamored for day in and day out. I can't speak for everyone as far as my own ideas for improvement go, but here are five things I want from a brand new Mortal Kombat.
Natural Selection began life in 2002 as a mod that successfully married the first-person shooter and real-time strategy genres. It's since gone on to eat up the last 12 years of developer Unknown Worlds' time as they created a sequel, and even an eSports tournament around it. Now, development of Natural Selection IIis being handed over to the dedicated community around the game as the studio focuses on their next project, Subnautica.
Subnautica, a vast departure for Unknown, is an underwater exploration and survival game that doesn't have an emphasis on combat. It made its worldwide debut at PAX East and, despite hiding the game inside a little booth on the showfloor, I saw people lining up every day of the show just to see what this new title was all about.
I visited the team at Unknown Worlds and talked to co-founder Charlie Cleveland to see what the public reception was like, and got some new details on what they hope to achieve with Subnautica.
With a new Amplitude on the horizon and a post-Guitar Hero world having left much to be desired by way of rhythm games, we must look to the past to drink our fill from the fount of the world of music. And even before Guitar Hero spoon-fed the bitter taste of recording artists' dignity to the videogame-playing masses (have you heard Band Hero’s reworking of Filter’s “Take A Picture?”), rhythm and music game aficionados had it way better.
The future is always promising, but if you backed the Amplitude Kickstarter because you felt starved for a musical revolution, take a trip down memory lane with these greats. Now, now -- if your favorite isn't on this list, I might just revisit the idea later. You never know.
When I was a little girl, purchasing a new game often meant thumbing through the pages of a mammoth tome detailing impending gameplay down to the letter. If I were stuck on a long car trip with a recently-purchased title, digging into that precious parcel and retrieving the manual was the first thing on my mind. Sometimes, starting a fresh new game was only the icing on top of the delicious packaging sundae, and I was decidedly more interested in getting at the extras than actually tearing into Diablo II or Creatures.
It was a way to game vicariously through a few simple, innocent pages, and one of the first ties I established to any game I had my heart set on playing through. Unfortunately, it’s also a familiar constant that gamers new and old can kiss goodbye with the decision a majority of companies employ to downsize the distribution of manuals entirely.