Sunday, September 30, 2012

Random Blog: And Now For Something Completely Different

I have WAY too many unfinished blogs and some of them have no real point while on others I was never able to fully flesh out the point. So instead of letting them rot in my backlog, here's what I have. Just splattered all over for you to read. My thoughts on things from reviewers to sports. I hate to use the word "rant" but that's what some of these are, so don't take them too seriously and don't throw bricks at me for anything I say.

With everything going 3D and motion control these days, it seems like video games are trying to become a different sort of medium. Going beyond games to become "interactive experiences." I don't think the original creators of Space Invaders ever thought that motion would be used to control a game.
I for one think makers are getting away from the point: GAMES. I don't want an experience, I just want a game. I don't want to become immersed in another world, I have too many problems in this world to ignore them. Gimmicks and flashy advertisement campaigns will not make me want to flail my arms around with a controller (or without). The problem with all the touchscreens, motions, and hand waving is that there's no pressure sensitivity. That's what a controller does best. Leave it at that. Until a touch screen can be pressure sensitive (and I'm sure it can) then let's just leave it to the controllers.

Half-Life Theorum:
Is it just me or does Freeman seem more like the cause of trouble in some things?
Was he placed at Black Mesa as a test subject or did he know what he was getting in to?
The opening text scroll of Half-Life states he's 27, with a P.h.d. in Theoretical Physics. The text seems to state that he's already been employed by whomever the G-man works for.
What are his "employers" really trying to get him to do?
G-Man isn't the bad guy since he's sent Freeman to liberate people. Or is he? Is there a hidden agenda behind the G-Man? Such as by destroying the Combine, does it give way to something greater?
And why did Freeman's "employers" wait so long to send him back?
What happened in the time between Black Mesa and City 17? Was Freeman sent to other places that we don't know about? And if he was, was the Combine there waiting for him, or another threat?
While we're on the subject, Cpl. Adrian Shephard was put in the same position by G-man but never released from his holding. How does he play into the story or was that just the dev team playing games with us?

Gaming Jockey:
(International readers, please note that when I say football, I don't mean futbol. I mean American Football. With the guys holding the brown egg-shaped object most of the time and running around with it.)
So Auburn Tigers won whatever championship just a few days ago. I don't know which one, I don't keep track of that crap. There will be another championship in a couple of months, I guess. I don't see the appeal in a bunch of guys running around a field chasing a ball. I have to hear it from almost everyone else, mindless droning. I live in a city where three or four college football teams converge and the amount of meat-headed fans grows each year.
Some football lover can say they don't see the appeal of playing games all the time.
     Because its me doing it.
Its me unlocking achievements, getting high scores, showing off what I've accomplished. Me going on the adventure as a character I control, meeting people, killing scores of enemies and me playing the game.
Not some guy on my favorite team who scores the goal. Who acts like a jerk off the field. Who trips and is out for three games because of hurt pride.
Gaming is personal for me. When someone bests me in a game, they're just better. With football, you can say whatever team you want and there will be a million fans behind you. When it comes to a championship you have to swallow your pride and root for some other team.
With gaming, we're all together. No matter what. Personal rivalries exist, yes, but regardless we are all gamers under the same banner.
I would much rather spend an hour playing a bad game than spend an hour sitting in a chair yelling at a TV while a football game is going on.
While we're on the subject, what is with football fans referring to their teams as "we?" You are not on the team just because you wear a hoodie or have a bumper sticker. You are not running on the field. You are sitting around watching jocks.

Reviewers Reviewing Reviewers: 
Ladies and Gentlemen, enough is enough.

We have come to the point that reviewers are themselves being reviewed (btw, you might be sick of the word by the time this blog ends).
I, unlike many, discovered the Angry Video Game Nerd just before he became the AVGN, back when he was the Angry Nintendo Nerd. His videos were hilarious and shed light on some bad games. It was something new: a man being frustrated by simple NES games and being tormented to the point of randomly cursing over losing a life. And who would argue with him? Some of the NES games he reviewed are just awful.
Of course, with success come imitators. Soon the Irate Gamer appeared and practically copied words from some of the Nerd's reviews. Following this, even more "angry reviewers" came along. (For purposes of keeping this gaming I'm excluding the Nostalgia Critic, even though he too has many clones and has very little in common.)
I thought the breaking point would finally occur once videos of the Angry Contra Kid  as well as some long-haired 13-year-old needlessly cursing out his viewers hit YouTube. Instead, this sparked more imitators. People sitting at home on their sofas, in front of webcams on their desks, copying hours of gameplay and (half the time) writing and rehearsing scripts. Most of them can't think of something more to come up with other than cursing a lot because they lose a life. I've said before: Don't curse the game, curse your lack of skills.

When I write reviews I try to give the good and bad points of the game regardless if I liked it or not. There are always some things about a great game that I don't like. I try to go for an air of professionalism in anything I write and mull over sentences in my head several times before I think about writing things, including this blog, including this sentence. My grammar and spelling might not be 100% accurate all the time but I pride myself on knowing what a paragraph is. Meanwhile, I've seen two-word reviews that get massive amounts of thumbs up by people because the game is popular.
It seems more gamers are turning to community sites where other gamers post their thoughts and are being driven away from professional sites. This can be attributed to some sites being bought out by major companies, or by some employees being fired, or by giving the Legend of Zelda an equivalent of a 'B.'

If you've seen the last few AVGN videos, you'll realize that they're not as good as they once were, like James Rolfe is becoming burned out. On the contrary, he has a lot going on for him and something must give slack. Thus the AVGN reviews have slowed and he's not as angry. He's a bit more informative and while that has deterred some fans, others have gone the opposite direction to the point of frothing madness, giving themselves online screen names similar to the "Angry Video Game Nerd" and cursing out anyone in a comments section who doesn't agree with them or didn't like the video. Rabid fanboys, if you will. They've lost sight of WHY games were created and only focus on the minor and bothersome details of some of them.

Things must change. Cursing up a storm about a video game, old or new, may get you a few hits on YouTube, but in the long run it is not a job. I'm not saying these established reviewers need to quit, quite the opposite: the rest of us need to quit. They have it covered, they're good at what they do.
Pat the NES Punk is informative, although his acting can be called cheesy, he's not a professional actor.
Angry Joe is opinionated but informative. Its those factors that make people trust what he says.
Spoony makes his frustration of games to be the humor in his reviews.
There are other reviewers that do things well. But you, sitting at home, thinking you're a hot shot, spouting off curse words because Cloud from Final Fantasy isn't in the next Smash Bros game isn't doing a whole lot for yourself or people who think about their reviews, much less helping the world of gaming.

Find a niche: be original or be professional. Do something that sets you apart from the cursing YouTube children or do reviews on par or better than the professional sites. You might get fans either way, whether doing videos or writing.

An Open Talk About Gaming Communities:
When I first started playing PC games back in 2001, I was behind on a lot of things. It wasn't until I installed Shogo: Mobile Armor Division that I was introduced to GameSpy Arcade, a shareware multiplayer game server browsing utility (thanks for clarifying that, Wikipedia). I went to check out what GameSpy was and was hooked. The news and reviews of games that I didn't even know existed were all right there. Fargo and shaithis were the two that made me stick around; their humor and back-and-forth banter was a weekly thing for me.
Later I discovered Gamespot and I loved all the information they had. I joined up and established myself as a gamer there. Not long after I saw an ad for 1up in a gaming magazine. I signed up but didn't take the community seriously. A few months later they announced they had been bought by UGO and I had left. I don't like UGO, they're more concerned with showing soft-core porn of video game heroines than the news I'd rather read about
Over the years several community websites were added to and deleted from my favorites list. Either they weren't the right communities for me or they went out of their way to insult me and not make me feel a part. Destructoid and Giantbomb being two of them. Communities for trolls and foul-mouths, I was even cursed out by one of the staff members on Destructoid for claiming I was Christian.

Opposite Ends of A Spectrum:
Another 360 controller broken.
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
Never before have I played a more glitchy, buggy, unenjoyable, slow-paced, wreck of a POS such as this. It somehow manages to make navigating your way around a chore. There's no clear sense of direction and I'm left with a wiki to tell me which way to go. The fighting system is the worst in a game that I have ever come across. 19 times out of 20 my strikes have me missing the enemy completely, even if I'm standing right in front of them. It can't be that hard to swing a sword and hit something.

"Whoa whoa whoa... Morrowind is an AWESOME game. You're crazy!"
-100 difficulty and I still died against a Clanfear. Does that tell you something? I'm level 3 and if leveling up were any more difficult I'd probably have to cancel all plans in one week to get to a level good enough to explore the map.
I understand the imagination behind it and how it could be a great game, but how people ignored all of these problems is a wonder to me. There are just too many.
At one point I looked at a cloth sign hanging on a wall and pressed the A button. "Your crime has been reported." WHAT?! How can the game penalize me for pressing a button at a sign? I'm not trying to steal it, its a sign on a wall. I'm not there to vandalize it or sell it, its a cloth sign on a freaking wall.
All of that fail and on the opposite end of this spectrum resides Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Quite possibly one of the better games I've ever played.
My character isn't treated like an animal, I can easily earn people's trust, the storyline deeply involves my character, the compass tells me where to go, the traveling is fast and easy, the environments make me want to explore, the combat is never too difficult and I can always land a hit, the magic system is open to all professions and races, leveling up is never a chore and feels rewarding, and its just FUN overall.
I spent about 8 hours one day playing Oblivion because its that good. So why is it some people have overlooked Oblivion in favor Morrowind when the sequel is a much better improvement overall?