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LONG BLOG

We Should Expect Better: Understanding and Communication

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This episode deals with the inherent problem with Blogging about games and the problems within my own post.

Games are an interesting culture to speak about. Even in its simplest form, it engenders discussion and argument which websites such a Destructoid facilitates through both its intelligent community and blog feature. However, this is the internet, which engenders many problems with communication and understanding.

First off, communication. With the internet, itís very rare that people actually know someone to a point in which they understand the intricacies of personal tone and meaning. The best example is the We Should Expect Better Articles. People look at me and say that my derogatory tone and singular accusation is too hard edged against people who work very hard at what they do. Maybe they are right. But what people commonly seem to associate with my posts is me screaming and beating my chest like a lunatic. In reality, if I were to speak with my own voice it would actually be quite depressed sounding and in a very matter of fact tone. Very rarely does any of my problems with gaming actually anger me (such exceptions being music games and social networking), but rather simply disappoints me. I feel that what I think are halfassed products getting paraded around at the expense of better titles as well as the fact that game design has been steadily going downhill since 2000 to be quite sad as a gamer.

Now about understanding. There are a lot of misconstrued opinions about my articles and I feel that I must explain myself for the sake of clarity.

The primary problem is my statements on stupidity. The word, stupidity, is merely a label I place over my feelings about developers. What I refer to as stupidity is in fact is a lack of knowledge coupled with an unwillingness to learn and a delusion that they do something well. A perfect example for this can be taken from my own family history. My father is a director of childrenís cartoons. Heís directed The magic School Bus, Braceface and is currently working on one of if not the highest rated cartoon on the Disney Channel, Handy Manny. There are animators and board artist out there that he knows. They are terrible. They have awful composition, timing, they are even terrible at drawing. They work at a professional level, but lack the talent to do it even remotely well. But they think theyíre the greatest thing since Walt Disney and when someone more talented calls them out and tries to help them improve, they are resistant to instruction and insulted that someone would even question their greatness. That is stupidity.

Through my familyís constant encounters with Ďstupidityí and my own personal experiences throughout my life, Iíve come to recognize and classify human behaviour quite well. I can see when someone is being Ďstupidí from a mile away. And if Iím incapable of succeeding anywhere else in my life, I can rest easy that Iím at least good at understanding human nature to a degree.

The next part of misunderstanding regarding my work deals with my preponderance towards zero tolerance. Well, yes, I have no tolerance towards something that can be done better quite easily. It shows a singular lack of effort and understanding of the profession you are in when you do something wrong. And my ultimate opinion is, if you canít do something right, donít do it at all. However, my concept of right is very different from what you may assume. I see Ďrightí as being neither perfect nor even good. Doing something right is an aspect which can be seen throughout your work. It insinuates itself into the character of the final product you turn in. Doing it right shows you have a fundamental understanding of the work that you are doing professionally. It can be boring, it can just be just not that great, But if you understand what your working on and actually understand how to implement it into a game in way that is significant and relevant to the player, then you have done it right. Look at Dead Space. Was it perfect? Far from it. But did it display a fairly competent understanding of horror, science fiction, space ship design, narrative progress and third person action adventure gameplay? Yes and it did it quite well.

Oh and for the record, when someone such as myself and others who have an admittedly limited experience with game development are able to point out blatant flaws in level, narrative and game design, there is something very wrong with the product you just released.

I also argue that games nowadays are awfully designed in comparison to products from 20-even 6 years ago. And my belief is that in this day of easy to use third party engines, normal mapping, advanced AI, real-time physics and photorealistic Graphics, if you canít beat a game like Quake 2 (1997), Half Life (1999) or System Shock 2 (2000), what in godís name are you doing? And what depresses me further is that none of these newer games make any effort to understand what made those games, with their limited technology, so great.

I donít expect you to agree with me. In fact I hope you donít as it allows discourse and debate to occur. What these articles are the accumulation of my personal opinions into a series of argumentative essays in order to raise questions about the nature of gaming. Hell Iím probably wrong concerning many aspects of my opinion, but itís just how I feel as a gamer whoís been screwed over too many times to count. I also donít think that Iím the smartest person on the planet, but I feel that Iím smart enough to point out something thatís simply inexcusable and voice my opinions.

EDIT - It was recently stated that I'm the 'glass half empty' type of guy. This statement is both true and false. I have no tolerance for bad ideas and stupid game design and will frequently call these games out for the stupidity they contain. But this doesn't mean I don't like or even love them. Some games are good, just despite some horrid design choices. Metal Gear Solid is one, Far Cry 2 is another. In fact the MGS series is my second favourite game series ever made. But there are some really awful design choices that someone should have taken notice of and fixed and there is no excuse for the stupidity displayed by not remedying the problem. However, I won't deny these games aren't fun to play or even great experiences. They just have serious problems that could have been fixed with a little basic reasoning applied.
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About Bugsportone of us since 12:52 PM on 11.08.2007