Thursday, August 30, 2012

MGS...The Movie. Queue the Collective Groan

Does no one read my rants? Ok yes. I rant quite a bit, but I was hoping that someone out there would get it.

Well be prepared for disappointment kids.

They’re trying to make a Metal Gear movie again.

It was attempted back in 2007 but never got off the ground. Seeing the results of other video game movie adaptations, I’m glad that it didn’t.

Avi Arad, who you all probably don’t know but he produced Spider-Man, is the one trying to get this rolling again. Avi goes off to say that video games are the comic books of our current gen. Followed by the need for the movie to “take [their] time and tell the story with all of the nuances, ideology, cautionary tales needed.”

They announced this, alongside a Columbia Pictures logo (Tomb Raider), at a special event in Japan for an anniversary of the series. And Kojima is completely on board. So maybe there is some hope for this mess after all.

To his credit. Arad was the chairman, CEO, and founder of the Marvel studios for the movies. He’s been a producer or exec producer on Blade, Iron Man, and the X-Men movie series.

But that was at Marvel. Since leaving he’s produced Man-Thing and The Bratz Movie.

No director has been announced yet, but Kojima made it perfect clear that Uwe Boll will have 0 involvement (Bloodrayne movie. That’s really all I need to say). Ok so another point for MGS.
Needless to say, I’m concerned. First off, no one can play Snake. No one. Kurt Russel “might” be able to pull off MGS4 Snake, but MGS Snake was inspired on Escape from LA/NY Snake. So there are obvious connections. It’s not just the look. Given enough make-up and skill, anyone could look like Snake. MGS Snake, that is. My biggest worry is the voice.

We know David Hayder as Snake. There is no question about it. He IS the voice. Highly inimitable. But not easily matched. Anyone else portraying Snake would be…wrong. I don’t know how else to put it. We want Snake to be the Snake that we know and love and that’s David. If we can’t transplant David’s voice into the actor, then it’s not worth going through with the project.

“What about the Japanese voice actor?” No disrespect to him. He is a fine man and does a fantastic job. But even people that I know that are outside of North America know David Hayder as Snake. He’s become synonymous with that role. It has to be his voice or no one at all.

And of course my other fear is that we’ll get a “known” actor in to the role like Markie Mark. Whalburg. You’re a good actor, but you’re not Snake. You never have been and you never will be.

I’m going to “try” and keep an open mind to this because Kojima will be heavily involved, and Kojima does not like to produce crap products. So to the all powerful master Kojima, please don’t let us down.

I wonder how they’re handing the Snake copyright issues. Video games were one thing, but movies would be another. The Escape from LA/NY guys are probably not going to be happy about this.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The path of video game movies. Where are we going?

5 Movies Later and Still Shooting "Infected".
Did you know that the Super Mario Bros. movie came out in 1993? Yeah. We’re just that old. Nearly 20 years ago did Hollywood grace us with the idea that video games could be movies and charm our hearts.

We’re still waiting on that magic to happen.

Video game movies just haven’t had the spark that people had anticipated. We look to our favorites as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat as shells of the games they were inspired from. But really, we know that they are fabulously crappy movies. That’s why we keep watching them and give them the cult status.

You could argue that Resident Evil has been doing quite well, that another movie is in pre-production before this most recent release is out (Resident Evil: Retribution). But what connection do the movies have to the games other then names? Stores are completely inconsistent and throw the entire RE universe out of whack. (Not to mention, have you seen how crappy Jill Valentine’s battle suit looks in the new movie? I did a better job at 1/500th of the budget.)

Gamers, for lack of a better phrase, are being cheated. So is the general movie-attending audience. The interpretation they’re being presented on screen doesn’t reflect what the game feels like.

Lizard People. Lizard People.
Look like lizards. Talk like people.
And maybe that’s the problem. There is no easy way to translate a video game into a movie. With books at least there is some wiggle room to determine a character’s look and voice. We can have general pictures in our head, sure, but we don’t know visually who they are. You can’t fudge it on a game movie. We all know what Mario and Luigi look like. When you alter their image to fit within the movie’s parameters, it doesn’t work. The actors in the Super Mario Bros. movie are great actors. They were put in a crappy script with a really bad setting. We wanted the Mushroom Kingdom and we got…lizard people.

I feel that it’s completely possible to have a video game movie exist that works within the context of “this is a movie” and still syncs up with the video game it’s trying to recreate.

And I have to go to the stand-by of the Ace Attorney movie. I realize I give this movie a lot of praise, but it’s done the video game “genre” justice. It stuck with its guns and kept the ridiculousness of the AA games alive and well while still throwing it its own flair for drama that is “the movies”. Some things were left out of course. They had to be else the movie would have dragged on for 3.5 hours. No one wants that. But in its absence we were able to see more of back story to some of the characters in the game. Yani Yogi is a perfect example of this. I felt so much sympathy for the character after the movie that I never experienced in the game. Those moments were powerful, gripping even, and made up for the loss of connection in the game.

Here is the problem that we keep running into: Hollywood.

The AA movie worked because Hollywood wasn’t allowed anywhere near it. Even Capcom was hands off, which was surprising to me considering how protective they are of their proper…ok I can’t type that with a straight face. The Resident Evil movies totally got away from their power and look what happened to them. Not to dismiss them entirely. They are entertaining films for what they are, but they have nothing to do with RE.

I think what made a difference with AA is that they brought together a group of people that actually gave a damn about the games. The director, the writers, the cast, all of the crew, everyone played the games. They knew the content and materials and wanted to bring life to these characters.

That’s probably why the RE movies continue to keep on going. It’s silly, but when you see Milla J. talk about her role and her preparation for the films, you can tell that she gives a damn. That’s kind of cool. Versus Doom or Double Dragon. Pretty sure none of those guys really cared. They did it for the money.

Hollywood is about making a profit. Plain and simple. You wonder why you get the same 10 movies every year and the handful of sequels? They don’t want to gamble on new ideas. They want to make sure they can get their money back 10 fold. People are guaranteed to go see this type of movie every year, so they are more than happy to oblige. As a result, those making the movies stop caring about the outcome. They get a paycheck one way or the other and they know they’ll have a job next year so why does it matter?

I know that sounds callous and very matter-of-fact, but it’s the sad truth. Talking to those that I know who work in the industry, this is how their world is. That’s pretty sucky. They love what they do, sure, they dislike the products that they’re making. But they know that’s what the studios want to produce, so they make it happen so there will be food on the table at the end of the day.

I think we’re overlooking the obvious. That people in Hollywood just don’t care about the outcome other then “will this make us money.”

That’s why we’re not seeing the content that we want in video games, and I want Hollywood to have 0 involvement in Halo or Assassin’s Creed or whatever they choose to make next. There’s too much worry about property rights and how to make money, what stays and what goes. We need to see movies that are by fans, for fans. That’s when we’ll start to see the shift towards quality video game movies.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

You Are How You Play

Playnomics has created fundamental archetypes for gamers as a means of research and studying what and why gamers play the games they do. How do they figure it out? It works like this.

You sign up on their website and download a program and play the game provided. Your actions will determine your scoring in their system and develop your chart. Now this is currently suppose to be reserved to game developers only, but I’m sure a number of people have tested it since the Kotaku article was posted.
Basically the chart they have created is based on three axis (or axes, get it?) One line representing pursing pleasure in playing a game, one in problem solving, and one in social tendencies. Where you fall on the graph determines your archetype.

Now the breakdown of each category is limited to a really short blurb, so we don’t know for certain what the details are. But what a nifty little conclusion derived from playing a game. This isn’t us coming up with our own conclusions, but science working a hypothesis.

I’d imagine I’m a habitualist or socialites.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why Shoudn't We Get Spoilers?

I find it absolutely hilarious and awesome that Forbes is finally getting into reporting about the video game business. We’re finally “worthy” of your presence now, eh?

As a lovely counter to my post earlier this month, one journalist at Forbes thinks that RockStar is doing it right by keeping extra-quiet about GTA5.

How right? Well right enough to write an article in Forbes about it.

Since the announcement of GTA5 we’ve received one trailer (that had 0 information on what the game would focus on) and 12 screenshots. 10 released within the past week. Yep. That’s it! A year later and we know squat! XD As fans, we seem to be ok with it. We know that with RockStar and TakeTwo we’re going to get a quality product that’s worthy of shelling out $59.99 plus tax. Even the “bad” games are still pretty damn good in comparison. Part of RockStar’s shtick is to be in the shadows and the cool kids only club. You have to be a member to get the info, and even then, you swear on your soul never to speak of it. Fight Club rules apply here. But it works! Come release date, we’ll all be lining up to get our copy of the next installment.

Which is an interesting flip from what I posted earlier this month, or rather linked to from an article on Kotaku.

If we knew everyone there is to know about GTA5, would there be as many people interested in buying the game?

My vote is yes.

Here’s the hypothesis: We know the general set-up for GTA games. It’s going to be an expansive city of some sort with its own lore, but plays off of a real-world equivalent. There will be driving, and weapons, and missions, and possibly flying and boats. There will also probably be some really stupid achievements (200 pigeons!) and hidden gems that only GTA can provide us. We know the jist of how these games play out. From GTA 3 to present (that includes Vice City and San Andreas) it’s been the same format in terms of gameplay and expectations. What’s made each game stand out from the rest are the characters and the stories being told.

If we were told some bits and pieces about the story got GTA5, would it ruin your interaction with the game? Probably not. You’re still going to run out and play the game. I knew the ending to San Andreas long before I finished the game. It didn’t change my experience, as far as I am concerned. I still enjoyed it and feel like it would have felt the same regardless of when information was presented to me.

I know that there is some satisfaction in testing the unknown waters and going into a game blind. Let the experience speak for itself! But in the case of GTA where we know the basic style and game-play, would it really ruin anything if we had a few more pieces of information?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hey look. Another Gaming Bar!

This one in British Columbia. Cool. You Canadian’s are getting some love too.

But not really. Apparently according to the province’s strict liquor laws, you can’t game and drink at the bar at the same time. You can do one or the other, but not both. I know. What? Doesn’t the defeat the purpose of the bar?

Yes. Yes it does. According to the licensing, the primary focus on establishments that can serve alcohol has to be food.

It sounds like there is a type of license that he can get so booze and games can be served at the same time, but it’s so ridiculously expensive that it’s not worth it in the long run. So for now, they’re going to comply and have booze and video game themed food, without the games.

This is how strict that rule is: You can’t serve alcohol at movie theaters. What? I know right? That seems a little too strict. They recently gave in to a case at a theater, but wow. That’s a little too much there guys.

I’m bringing this up because the bar/game scene has been growing. I’m sure a lot of us thought of it as a fad, but it has been gaining momentum recently. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think it has a lot of potential, as long as it doesn’t look like the bar in Minneapolis. So boring! As gamers are growing up, so are the businesses.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

FF2 NA. It Exists?

Note: This is from FF4, back when it was
released as FF2 in North America.

I’m having a really difficult time believing that this is legitimate.

Ebay seller fefea claims to have the one and only copy of Final Fantasy II for the NES localized for North America. Not FF4. FF2. The real FF2.
But wait! FF2 was never released in the U.S. on the NES. You are correct!

The seller is claiming that this was a sample providing to the WCES back in 1991 with plans to release the game a year from then. However this was scrapped when Nintendo began shifting more focus to the Super Nintendo.

Why am I calling shenanigans? The time frame isn’t syncing up. CES from 1978-1994 was broken into 2 trade-shows a year. A winter show WCES in January, and a summer show June called SCES.

Here’s the problem. FF4was released in 1991. The original, original NES version of Final Fantasy (the first!) was released July 12, 1990. FF4, localized as FF2, was released November 23, 1991.

This bugs me because the turn-around time for localization and conversion took way longer than a year back in the day. Not to mention the fact that titles were also changed in the game to reflect FF2 for North America. So it’s not just dialogue updates, but additional graphical changes within the game.

To drop FF2 in favor of FF4 at such a critical juncture in development is…really hard to swallow. We’re looking at least an 18 month turn-around for the changes that happened in FF4.

The fact that FF4 was released in North America in the manner that it was, a few months after its Japanese release date, it had to have been pre-planned over a year in advance and intentional. Now when technology upgraded, we were starting to see more consistent release cycles with the SNES instead of that one-two year delay. It still took upwards of a year, but early SNES games were the testing dummies.

As you can imagine, all of their manpower went into developing that one game including localization. SquareSoft, now SquareEnix, was not the power-house that we think of today. Everyone on the team worked on one game and one game only. Branching to do an English translation during the same time was unheard of.

I just can’t fathom that Square would spend so much time working on FF4, FF4 NA, AND FF2 NA at the same time. Epically with the changes made to FF4 to become FF2 NA.

I’m also suspicious due to lack of documentation. All that we know about the cartridge is that it’s blank, broken into, and has notes stuck on it indicating it’s a sample of FF2. There’s no way to verify if anything that this seller is saying is true.

I realize that’s a stretch is this really is a “sample” copy and the only one left, but there has to be some way to certify it with SE or someone to let us know it’s legit.

And 50k for an open game that’s been physically cracked into? Really? Not even the mint condition rarest of the rare NES games are worth a fifth of that.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Geek Is On

Yesterday I stopped at Barnes & Noble to get something new to read.

I realize that it’s not the 1960’s, but I’m cheap and budget conscious. I’m not buying a Nook or Kindle or any tablet yet. I like my hard copies.

I went in knowing exactly what I wanted and, gasp! Everything was in alphabetical order by author. You don’t know how rare that really is at Barnes & Noble. Trust me. Sometimes it’s like a scavenger hunt without any clues.

Since I now had 20 minutes to kill by not having to play the game with them, I decided to peruse the other books in photography and current media.

I was hoping to find some new cinema theory books. It’s a long shot at a book store, I know. But sometimes you get lucky over the other 99% of the time you don’t. As I was browsing, something caught my eye. A paperback in a purple cover with fake ink stains and large black rimmed glasses. Geek Girls Unite.
What the hell is this? Of course I was curious and had to pick it up. As I always do, I flip to the first page before anything else.

What do Amy Poehler, Bjork, Felicia Day, Martha Stewart, Miranda July, and Zooey Deschanel have in common? They’re just a few of the amazing women proving that “geek” is no longer a four-letter word.

Uhoh. We’re going downhill already. They mentioned Day and Martha Stewart in one sentence. Wait. Stewart is a geek? Culinary home geek? Is that even an option?
That logo is way too cute to be geeky.

I flipped to the front cover. The tagline reads like the book is about ‘how fangirls are taking over the world’. In fact, those words are included. When you get inside however, it becomes more like a companion guide to the geek world. This is what Star Wars is. This is who Joss Wheaton is. This is why you’re a goth geek.

Some of it was mildly amusing. The definition for their cinema geek girl hit me spot on. I’m so pasty white because I’m into French new wave existentialism. Suck it!

As a whole, however, I felt a bit belittled. Not just geek girls (women! Can we start calling us women please?) but geeks in general are whittled down to a few words and still being placed in the “special losers” corner.

I pulled up a few more books from the author Leslie Simon, and apparently this is her niché. She’s written these comprehensive guides on music genres, as if to explain it to the non-Emo, non-Indie crowd that ‘there are these people, and they exist, and they fall into these sub-categories.’ Harsh. That’s a wonderful open invitation to laugh at them.

There is some truth in humor, but a lot of this felt silly. Not all people that are into Emo and Indie music act and dress like those stereotypes. I like some Emo music and I love Indie. I don’t fit those molds at all. One look at me and you’d think I were into classical music or something. I actually rock out to Led Zepplin thank you very much.

I sh*t you not.
This is a real book. Sad, right?
Seeing this book about geek girls has made it official. We’ve become a fad. Just look at the selection available.
I know a number of those are fiction books directed at teens, but what kind of messages are they sending out? I don’t really know. I haven’t read them nor do I want to nor do I have the time. I just hope that it’s positive, being yourself is cool, and all that. But what better proof of what’s trending now then to write books geared towards teenagers. I smell a vampire repeat!

I don’t know what to do with this. If this were a legit academic book about the development of the female geek culture, current issues, and interviews, I would be much more open to it. (I smell a kickstarter project. MINE!) But this is going for capitalization on a growing trend. I know it happens to a lot of fads, hobbies, and cultures (before people start prepping their pitchforks) but there’s nothing out there currently to balance things out. We’re only seeing one side: the fad/trend/commercialization. Where’s the other?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Video Game Series We're Tired Of

Assassin Dog, Ready For Boredom!
Now this is a good topic. One that I’m going to share and repeat. Video game series that gamers no longer like!

This was less about the “audience/reader” participation as it was the writer saying “well I don’t play this anymore, I play this.” But on the grand scale of things, there are a few series out there that have been dying off and a number of us have lost interest in.

Sonic the Hedgehog, for example. He was king during my childhood. The Sega Genesis was always thought of as the cool system when compared to the NES and SNES. Only the awesome kids got one. It had 32 bit graphics. Holy crap! There was always this war between Sonic and Mario. Honestly I think it was all made up by the gaming magazines at that time. “Who’s going to win this holiday cycle? Sega or Nintendo?”

Even Papery, we love Mario.
Ultimately, Sega faltered after trying to keep up with the change in audience. Now it’s a small shell of it’s former self, licensing out everything that it can to other publishers. Sonic’s image has tried to stick with “I’m cool and fast and blue!” Which was fine for the early 90’s but it hasn’t held. And when they tried to remake him to be more “hip” it was just…sad. At least Mario and Nintendo stuck to their image. It’s the same Mario. He hasn’t changed a bit. And that’s probably why we still love the plumber. With a Mario game you know what you’re going to get.

So many this shouldn’t be an article about what’s died out because of the change in times, but what’s popular now but a lot of us are sick of. Because I still hold a soft spot for Sonic, even if the new games suck. A lot. When I pull down the Genesis, I’m always popping in Sonic 3 first. So for me, I still find enjoyment in the series.

You know what I feel gamers are starting to turn against? Call of Duty.

I know. It’s another series I rag on quite a bit.

But I’m not alone on this! Dave LeClair equates it to Guitar Hero, where it was on top of its game as the best music series ever, and then died out because of its repetitive nature. CoD is no different. It’s been the same game for the last 4 ‘titles’, with very small scenic changes. Maybe you got a new gun, but really, what’s there to brag about?

“But the games keep selling out.” I’m not saying everyone is bored with the series, but a number of people are at that point, or are on their way. Most people are still buying because that’s all that’s being offered. The options are limited and when given a choice, they’re going to go with a series that has proven to work. Eventually though, they’ll stop playing because it gets really boring. Like Guitar Hero and Rock Band have been. You know what to expect. There’s nothing new.

At least with Mario it’s changed up some. He has new powers, he goes on different adventures and new stories. Same plumber but with new content.

Or how about the Halo series? I know a number of people are looking forward to #4, but the spin-offs have held some mixed reactions. A Command and Conquer rip-off and a dummed down FPS were not exactly the titles fans were wanting to tie them over. There are a few fans that have been turned off from the franchise because of it.

Let’s try a non-FPS. Civilization. I think for a number of us that series has ran its course. The concept of building up your empire, reliving moments in history or creating your own, was fun. The recent variations and expansions really haven’t offered much else other then re-washing the first few games and giving it a shinier package. There are some die-hard Civ fans who still play to this day. But when was the last time you remember actually caring about the game to go out and buy it? I have Civ 3 and it’s been years since I last played it. It was fun, sure, but the appeal is long gone.

When you look at something like SimCity, that’s something I will always go back to when I need a retro-game. Why? I’m not entirely certain. Maybe it’s the ease of use and you can choose to make it challenging at your own leisure. Or it could be the silliness of the options available, from destroying your city with aliens to making it fit in the hole of a volcano. There’s a timeless feel to SimCity that keeps drawing us back that we’ll never get bored with it.

What else are gamers tired of?

Well not necessarily a series but a developer. BioWare has been hit hard lately. A number of people that I’ve spoken with have been really unhappy with the way things have been handled on their last set of releases, Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3, and The Old Republic. While they’re retroactively going through and fixing things and providing the ‘real’ content, fans have been leaving in droves. People are sick of BioWare.

I still blame EA. Even since they bought the team, their policies have taken over.

Obviously there is no one right answer to this question. I name a series and someone will pop up and say “hey, I still play that!” Clearly there will never be one series that everyone on the world is tired of playing. But it’s obvious that some things are needing to change or face the bellows of death like Guitar Hero.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gaming and The Brain #2

I don’t know if I want someone following me while I play a video game and examine what it says about me. That might be creepy.

Having said that, I do believe that there are some parallels that we can draw from our reality with fantasy realms. I have also found that it’s a good way to determine whether or not a game sucks.

Example: I suck at making money in video games. Which apparently translates into the real world because I can’t seem to progress past a certain point in a job. Having a Masters degree is awesome! Now I’m fantastic at savings and finding good deals. I remember when people spazzed out in FF11 when they announced that changes would be made to the magical resist system. It caused all of the black mages to dump their high end gear, completely flooding the market. When all was said and done, I nabbed 5.8 million gil gear for under 30k. And then a week later the patch came out and people realized they were stupid, so they went and bought their gear back, drove prices back up, and now they were scrambling for gils.

You could look at that as exploiting the market. I see it as an opportunity to pre-pimp out my black mage before it reached 75.

But it’s also one hell of a game when it comes to making money. There is no easy route. You have to work your ass off just to get to and save a million gil.

Now flip over to World of Warcraft. I was making money half asleep. I didn’t have to put any effort into it and I was able to get everything I needed, wanted, and had plenty of funds left over. I lasted a month in the game before I left. It was too easy!

I guess someone analyzing me would say that I enjoy a challenge. Which is true. But I don’t like things being too simple. I like to have some complexity to a system. WoW didn’t give me that. Which is probably why I like Final Fantasy games as much as I do; they challenge me in ways I’m not use to experiencing in reality and it’s a nice break from the mundane world.

I mean let’s face it. A lot of us play to escape from reality. You’re lying to yourself if you’re saying otherwise. And there’s nothing wrong with it. We need to express ourselves and let our imaginations out once in a while, else we become lifeless souls…like almost everyone in the U.S. Senate, Congress, and hell most of D.C. We don’t want to be like them, right? :D

It’d be interesting to get more psychologists, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists to study people in their normal habitat playing video games and how they reflect their reality. Shooting zombies is deeper then what it appears.

I’ll use that as another example. Take a FPS group game like Team Fortress. Inevitably you have people falling into particular roles: medic, engineer, etc. etc. As you play through, you’ll find certain people do best when they are protecting others, or they are good at being decoy, or they like to sit from behind and act as the sniper. You could see how they relate to their real-world counterparts. The protective player is probably one of those people that helps others in need and has a ton of friends, nicest person in the world type. The decoy is always taking the fall for their friends and co-workers; something of this effect.

I’d be curious to see research on this. But I don’t want to be a test subject. I’ve analyzed myself enough to know that I’m crazy gamer in my own way.

Friday, August 17, 2012

GameStop Top 10 of Crappy Companies to Work For

Ok. I think I’m at the point now where I can safely talk about some things without GameStop coming after me.

Have fun trying to sue me GameStop. I live paycheck to paycheck. I have over $60 grand in student loan debt (it use to be $90) so I can’t file for bankruptcy and get protection. I have to live with my parents because my monthly loan payments are just THAT high. I thought mine were bad until I looked at my brothers. Yeash! How do people expect us to pay off our loans in this sh*tty ass economy when bills are $1200+ a month? Oh right. That requires them to care.

So GameStop, I have nothing of value to you. Enjoy!

I was sent this article from a friend and I could not stop laughing. GameStop is #10 on the list of Worse Companies to Work For. Hah! Here's the Fox Business article for extra lol's.
I say the following while acknowledging that there are at least 8 people in the company that this doesn’t apply to. Working for GameStop will make you want to kill yourself.

The biggest issue is that it really is a company all about profits. They keep “trying” to get store employees and customer service to believe that they are the heart of the company. Ok. If that’s the case, pay them more. Getting the sub-par hourly wages (at least $3-5 less then what customer service averages in the U.S.) They try to portray this image of “we’re about the customers” when it’s anything but. You know who’s privileged in the company? Janitorial service gets more praise then the little hole in the wall that customer service and store help desk is shoved into. They also get paid more. A lot more. If it weren’t for the hours, I would have gladly transferred into that department.
I didn't make this edit. Thank you google images!

Clearly the biggest issue I have was the money. Of course. It’s always about money. But on a national average GameStop store employees and customer service are well below the average. You know what the pay raise difference is between a store sales associate and a store manager? 25 cents an hour. For a measly 25 cents you get a hundred more responsibilities. Yeah. They wonder why the turn-over rate is so high. We’re already underpaid, and you only want to promote me for 25 cents? Ouch. Thanks for caring!

Marketing material presented to stores is always focused on the sale. And guess what? Store employees are judged based on how many pre-orders they can stock into the system. Yep. Your performance review is all about selling. It doesn’t matter if you’re the most liked person in the store by every customer. If you sell the least amount of pre-orders of anyone there, you’re out.

That wonderful combo of low pay and push for sales results in a high turn-over rate. The employees that GameStop needs (not Wants but Needs) won’t work for them because of this. All of the quality employees are going to their competitors where they’ll be treated as, for lack of a better term, humans.
It applies to GameStop too.
One of the articles does mention EA!

Here’s the reality of it all: if you want good, quality employees, you have to pay them appropriately. Minimum wage with a chance of a 25 cent raise at promotion is pretty craptastical. So of course you’re going to get employees that don’t care. They need a job and you’re willing to pay, so they’ll take it. That’s not exactly the culture you want to instill in the company. Now their major issue is that this has been the system for so long, it’s been deeply ingrained into the company that it’ll take years, if not decades to clean it up.

On to customer service! Well GameStop was rated badly on the Consumer Report’s annual in 2011. A lot of it has to stem from my previous statements. Employees don’t care about the company because they are not paid enough to care (and they’re not getting quality employees in the first place). That’s not to say ALL employees because there are a few gems.

GameStop has a “no” culture when it comes to customer service. If it’s not clearly outlined in the rules, you say no. They tried this “just say yes” campaign and I think that lasted a week. Why? Because customer service and store employees would get written up by their supervisors for helping the customer. Shock! You get berated for being nice to a customer. You get hammered for trying to assist them. You get written up for taking a customer call that lasts longer than 5 minutes. There’s no way to win. It’s a lot of corporate bs, making you feel like an animal.
EV Games. Heroin Hero Anyone?

Truthfully, I don’t know how I managed to last as long as I did. Working for GameStop made me physically ill. No seriously, it did. I had the worse abdominal pain for nearly a year before I had to quit. My very last time leaving the building, that pain vanished and I’ve been feeling fantastic ever since.

I don’t blame the stores or the supervisors in the departments I worked in. It all came from people above them, their bosses, and their bosses boss, and so on! They try to make things work, but when you have a company that keeps pushing you down, you give up and succumb to their sales pitches. It sucks.

For all the bad I do have to say one thing…insurance was pretty good and affordable. Hard to believe, right? They’ll pay you nothing, but want to keep you healthy enough so you can continue to be paid nothing. Not that it mattered. You were guilt tripped every single time you were sick. I don’t remember using the insurance because I couldn’t take time off to go to a doctor. Counter-intuitive there. Yea for money wasted!
McKayla is not impressed GameStop.

And knowing what I know about the other departments, things are not much better. You get a little more leeway, but the climate is negative. It’s the same scenario over and over again. Sell, sell, sell. No one cares about the employee or the customers.

If I ever own a business (HAH) I’m going to do everything the exact opposite of GameStop. Even if it keeps me from billions in profits, I’d rather work be a place of enjoyment then one of torture.

Though I do find it equally as amusing that non-GS employees are not surprised that people hate working for GameStop!

Wow I rambled. Ok so the real tie-in to this article was suppose to be this piece from Gamasutra about the potential for GameStop to be taken over. It’s a large independent retailer and it would take one hell of a sale for the company to give that up. We’re talking about Walmart size retail would need to buy it. BestBuy is a joke of an option.

I can’t imagine that GameStop would be willing to give up their power. It’ll be a long time down the road before a buy-out ever happens. If anything, it’ll probably be an overseas company or someone like Fox who has no connections to the business, but has a ton of money to make up for it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

NBA2K13...Hell You Already Know The Deal

Ok. You know what I hate about hunting down news sometimes? When everyone, everywhere, posts the exact same story. There has to be more going on today, but nope! It’s all about the 1992 Dream Team vs. the 2012 Redeem Team.

If you really care, this is all you need to know: NBA2K13 will allow players to re-create the 1992 USA Men’s Olympic Basketball Team and the 2012 Team. You can pit them against each other. Why is this a big deal? Well all-throughout the broadcast by NBC this summer Olympics, commentators kept asking which team would be better. Well now you can play them out in a video game.

There you go. Thank you mainstream media.

At least they’re not poking the dead horse about video games causing violence with the recent string of shootings.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pay or Shame on Facebook

This seems to be a trend that’s catching on. Shaming people into paying up for late fees and past-due fines. NTTA, the North Texas Transit Authority has a list on their website of the top offenders for unpaid tollway fees. They won’t post your address, but they will publish your name and zip code (as if the power of Google is so little that you couldn’t figure out where they live from there).

A video store in North Carolina is trying the same tactic to get them to pay up. And so far it’s working!

"It's hard to replace an $80 video game if the first time you rented it, they don't bring it back,” Christie Ross, owner.

And it makes sense. That’s not something easy to replace when you’ve made 0 profit from it.

Of course people are complaining that they were never notified and all that. It might help if you stopped giving incorrect or disconnected phone numbers and invalid addresses. That’s part of NTTA’s problem right now. People that owe money are no longer at their place of residence so they’re not receiving the notices.

No one has filed a lawsuit yet, but assume it’ll happen. Retailers getting back at the customers! How much longer until your think EA starts doing this with Origin and TOR subs from bounced credit cards?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Can (Should) We Make More Book Games?

If you get bored with my ramblings today, go read this interview/article on Nolan Bushnell, the absentee father of gaming. I am bemused by that title. It completely fits him. I bet you all didn’t know that Bushnell assisted with the creation of TomTom. I did but I’m a dork; I know a lot of random things. I could win WWTBAM (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire) half asleep, but I’m not “tv friendly.”

Let's be honest. We like the Lego version more.
I stumbled upon this article where the writer suggests 3 books that would make for good video games. Silly me. I never thought about going this route. Usually it’s movies to games and vice-versa. Or we get the book to movie to game combo (go LOTR go). There are a number of books out there that deserve the same treatment, but they might prove to be successful.

Books are another one of those tricky niches of art. Movies typically suck at reimaging them. You’re taking a 500 page book that might take someone months to read and squishing it down into 2 hours. At least with a video game you could potentially have a word-by-word retelling of the story without losing the details.

It almost seems obvious that we should be making books into video games. The author wouldn’t have to compromise with Hollywood, and we’d be getting a more faithful recreation of the story-worlds.

Example! The Da Vinci Code, which I’m re-reading for the third time. It’s an interesting story. The movie sucked. Why I forced myself to watch it I’m still uncertain of, but wow. They dropped soooo many of the key features that made the book enjoyable. And the context of the book where everything has multiple meanings, symbolism, and the pace of the action requires the reader to be able to sit back and think. Couldn’t do that with the film.

Also, really crappy casting choices. I’m sorry Tom Hanks. I heart you for the actor that you are, but you are not Robert Langdon and don’t fit his description at all. *bonks Ron Howard on the head.* You are a smart man and a creative director, but not your best idea.
If they retooled the book into a game, it has a lot of possibil…

*listens to the murmors*


They already did that?
Look! So obvious! Man even for 2007 that's some pretty crappy graphics.
Oh…wow. That’s a pretty crappy game.

More proof that taking a pre-made idea and re-working it doesn’t always, well, work.

Now that I’ve had a chance to look at the game, it reminds me nothing of the book. There are key plot points here and there, but really, it doesn’t feel like the book. Even worse is they added elements into the game that were in neither the book nor the movie. And a really weird combat system. I don’t know what to make of it.

Skirt flail!
Ok. So let’s assume that they didn’t make a game for The Da Vinci Code. It’s a puzzle junkies dream. I’d rather they go for an accurate retelling of the book versus dropping and adding in random things that don’t equate to the story. In that sense, maybe the book is best suited for one really long ass cut scene. Because if you’ve read it, you already know the end result. You know the codes and how to break into the secrets.

Alright. So maybe not the best example.

How about Treasure Island or Gulliver’s Travels? Now those could be interesting. Action/adventure/platformer where you can put your survival skills to the test. Maybe part Sim City with part Adventure Quest. That could be a challenge for gamers and developers alike.

The trap that devs could easily fall into is the same one movie studios are fully aware of: how to make the world of the book real. Descriptions in books range from being overly detailed to very vague. Again using The Da Vinci Code, the details are pretty miniscule. You get a broad stroke of the setting. Characters of importance will be give a description, even then the protagonist Langdon is given a general idea to the reader with the rest left to their imagination. So how can a movie or game replicate that without pissing off the readers?

That’s a tricky question to tackle with no real answer. Even if we were to go straight to the source of the writer and had everything spelled out, there will still be bits and pieces that don’t quite fit with the reader’s vision. This is why we have dozens of movies about Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. Everyone gets the same basic idea, but the nuances are different in every single movie: all fitting in with each persons unique view of the story.

You know that there are people out there that dislike, even hate the Harry Potter movies because they don’t stick with the story? Go Google “Hate Harry Potter” and you’ll get a slew of websites about it. Even with the writer involved, there was no way the movies would be able to give 100% of the story from the books. Even still, some key things were removed that outraged Potterheads.

There’s no real one answer to any of these questions, or that video games are even a good outlet for books. We just know that triple filtering it down from book to movie to game is just a horrible, horrible idea. Don’t do it.

Or if all else fails, Lego!

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Makes A Good Villain?

Robuttnik? When did you get all cool?
While reeling in the massive suckage that was the NBC Olympics broadcast, it brought up a good idea for a blog posting. “What does it take to make a good villain?” So there’s one good thing that came out of that mess.

For any story to progress, there needs to be some form of antagonist, physically another person/thing or internally. The video games that we remember are the ones where the bad guy is as memorable as the hero(s). Case in point: Final Fantasy 7. No one would have given a crap if Sephiroth weren’t so badass. Except for me, the worshipper of all things SquareEnix.

Before someone starts yelling about FPS, there is still this good guy/bad guy mentality. Even if there isn’t a central figure you’re going after, there is a goal of defeating the bad guys that progresses you in the story.
Not to worry Wesker.
You get to look way cooler soon enough!

With so many varied stories and concepts it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact specifications on what makes a good villain. Wesker works in Resident Evil as the fallen hero and his progression into batsh*t crazy-too cool for school villain land; however if you placed him in a Disney game (removing the gore and all that business), it wouldn’t work. Disney’s villains are much more black and white. You know who’s good and you know who’s bad from the get-go. Wesker doesn’t fit in that paradigm.

The villains that work are the ones where you can hate, even despise, their actions but you feel some form of empathy towards them. You know why we love The Joker from Batman? Because we have a connection to his past that helps us to understand why he’s crazy. Certainly he’s nuts and his antics give us a range of emotions from humor to terror, but he was crafted with the intent to get us to connect with him at a level we don’t see with other Batman villains. Think about duality with this one: he’s the counterpart of Batman. All the things that Batman isn’t, The Joker is and vice-versa. It’s another level of connection that allows us to see The Joker on a level of villainy that we don’t typically observe.

Wesker falls into this category as well because we were able to see his progression into villain-hood. We saw him as a hero and he descends into the darkness. Like Anakin Skywalker. Enjoy that image.

Clothes: 90% evil.
Pose: -15% evil.
Here’s a good key feature of this villain creation: you become way cooler when you turn evil. The clothes, the hair, the walk, the talk, all of it immediately upgrades when the good guys turn bad. I have to use another Batman reference, but how about RedX from Teen Titans aka Robin? Way cooler as RedX.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the villains that are so f*cking crazy that our understanding is 0. They are nuts just to be nuts. The best example of this is Kefka from FF6. I know, another FF reference. Deal with it. Kefka is a psychopath for no logical reason then he’s just crazy. And people LOVE him. It’s not just an insane fashion statement when people dress up as the clown. They have reasons for it. Kefka was a crazy ass character, and it worked for the setting he was in. Again, not Disney friendly. Imagine Kefka in Kingdom Hearts. *falls over*

Sometimes the extremes work. Sometimes they don’t. Mother Brain from Metroid was a little weird for my taste.

And then you have the “evil for the sake of evil” concept that just doesn’t work. Example: Command Sheppard from CoD Modern Warfare 2. He really did nothing to expand the story. He’s just there. That doesn’t make for a good villain or even a decent character in general. These are the villains that make us scratch our head and wonder why. Villains need to exist with a purpose. To say “he’s the bad guy” isn’t enough. Why is he the bad guy? What did s/he do that will make me want to destroy her/him? What is s/he about to do? Motivation to go after the bad guy is part of the process.

There are a number of paths we can take to developing a good villain. What’s important is that they fit the situation and help develop the story. Beyond that, it’s your call on what you do with them.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lowered Expectations

I hope you all had that voice over from MadTV playing in your head when you read the title. If you didn’t, you’re not old enough to be here. :)

It’s obvious that the gaming world is changing. Not just because of a slump in sales, even the NASDAQ blog is talking about it. These guys don’t understand that the big titles of the year have yet to release. Watch November. It’ll explode. But as a whole, our climate has been shifting. We’re not the gamers that we once were 5 years ago. Even 2 years ago we’re expecting more out of our games and developers aren’t delivering the goods. Why pay $59.99-$79.99 on a product that isn’t finished.

BioWare has been the brunt of the blows lately. Backlash from DragonAge 2, Mass Effect 3, and The Old Republic has been brutal. The games sold well initially because BioWare is BioWare. People are going to buy their products no matter what at this point. The same with EA games. Oh wait. EA owns BW now. Damn. Well the point still stands. While we keep asking for change, we’re not making a statement as gamers to not support the products. I.E. We keep buying their stuff!

In the case of TOR having been the first group into beta and the last one out, our community knew that the game was not ready to be released. We kept on that fact with the devs and on the forums. It wasn’t just technical glitches but lack of content that we knew would hamper the game. And here we are 8 months later and TOR is looking into a free-to-play model. Subscriptions are way down. The hype didn’t live up to the expectations. Honestly…I still blame EA. Though I blame them for a lot of things.
We’re not getting the games that we want. Our tastes and expectations are changing.

But we’re still buying these products.

E3 is a testament to how much we need the industry to change. It sucked this year by everyone’s account. It sucked a lot. But what’s going to happen? People are still going to buy these games.

“Well that’s all that’s out there.”

No it’s not. And you don’t “have” to buy a game just because it’s available. Consumers have a voice. We can collectively stand up and say no, we will not buy your products until you give us quality games. It works all the time! People are too lazy to do it or have no will power. All you’re doing is not buying a game. Enough of us don’t buy it and explain why, they’ll listen. They are a business afterall.

Look I want to support game companies as much as I can. I value original thought and creativity. But what we’re getting in return is a corporate mess, similar to the one that has dominated film and television. When was the last time you saw something “new” at the movies? Good luck naming it. It’s probably a re-make or a book or a play that’s been redone for a film format.

What developers need to do is get back to their roots and re-examine the current trends. So many of us are moving away from boxed games, not because we want digital but because of lack of content. Lack of creativity. And mostly lack of freedom. We all clamor over Minecraft for it’s uniqueness. It’s a simple game with pixtacular graphics. But at its core the element of player freedom to create and explore is something we all want in our games. It’s why I spazzed out over LPB2 (which I still love). Some of the best games I have played in years were generated through the LBP2 engine.

We also need to let devs make mistakes…so long as they’re willing to correct them. Because this is a business, people don’t want to put up money for things that will fail. Which is why we have so many Call of Duty clones. They know people will buy those products, so they keep making them. We may cause a rabble afterwards, but it doesn’t prevent us from buying the next game from the same publisher and the circle continues.

2 things to help reinvigorate the market:

1. Dev’s need to be allowed creative freedom.

2. Consumers need to stop spending their money on names/devs if they’re disappointed.

Simple as that.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

You Know…

Even NPR is getting in on the action! Tom Gjelten of Talk of the Nation held a discussion with Amy O’Leary from the NYTimes to come on and discuss her article as well as issues concerning the video game culture for women.

O’Leary doesn’t stray too far from her piece, but gets the main points across. Gaming has grown in the last decade and has become much more social. A lot of those social aspects put women at risk for unsolicited sexual advances, harassment, and verbal violence.

O’Leary’s response is to report them and that Microsoft really does pay attention to that area of Xbox Live. It doesn’t feel like it, but they do. Apparently. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get a banned, let alone a warning, when I’ve reported them for verbal harassment.

But it’s another piece to the conversation that’s making it’s rounds online and IRL. We’re seeing more people get involved. That’s a good thing!

Oh. The meaning of the title. That “phrase” if you wish to call it that was mentioned 31 times during the broadcast! I don’t remember it being a Northern thing, but wow. Let’s add that to the wall of words people overuse such as “like” “um” and “totally.” I feel like a mall girl from the 1980’s. >.>

Example from the captioned version of the discussion:

O'LEARY: Well, you know, it's interesting because, you know, these are really the actions of individuals. And I don't think, you know, any of the corporate entities that, you know, are involved in gaming, you know, are quick to defend that. You know, we know that Microsoft is taking a serious look at this issue based on a series of - these series of recent incidents and that they're looking at ways to improve their tools right now. We know that there is, you know, an increasing presence of gaming conventions where this is being discussed.

No! We don’t know! That’s why we’re talking about it! Gjelten was just as guilty of this as O’Leary.

Second Aside: I’d like to be able to Google “Women Playing Video Games” and not get slammed with promo images from Nintendo or women in their underwear playing. How about a real photo guys?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Do Horror Games Scare You?

This popped into my head recently, reminiscing about all of the games I’ve played. And I’ve been prodding Left 4 Dead. There was a deal on Steam and it was gifted to me. I’m not turning down a free game.

I know I ragged on it in my last post for having pointless achievements (which it does), but that doesn’t detract from the inherit fun in the game, particularly with multiplayer. L4D does zombie shoot-em-up multiplayer right, where Resident Evil sometimes fails.

But that’s neither here nor there. What I want to talk about is how scary this game is.

Or rather, the lack of scary.

I remember when this first released people at work (GameStop back in the old days mind you) were talking about how freaked out they would get when they see a Witch, or the sounds of the Boomers and Spitters. And these were men who didn’t seem like the type to get easily jarred.

You know what? Sorry guys. I heart you as friends and we'll be BFB (Best Facebook Buds) for as long as the website is up, but I wasn't scared. I may have dropped a few F-bombs but only because we were getting swarmed by multiple zombies that I couldn't shoot them all effectively with the weapon I had in hand. It wasnt "F! I'm so scared!" It was "F! I just got belched on and we're already in a swarm!"    (massive apologies for the Blogger fail on the previous editing of that one. Apparently it doesn't like emoticons.)
More of an "ew" and less of an "ahhhhhh!"

I laughed and cursed my way through the game. I didn’t feel afraid in the way the game was probably intending.

Horror games are a tricky niche. Much like horror movies, their evolution has been one from “scary” to “gross out”. Resident Evil is a great example of this. The first 3 games focused on making you jump out of your seat. The unexpected happened and you maybe wet your pants in fear. By the 4th game, it became more about strategy and nastier looking enemies. That fear factor wasn’t as dominate. Still fun games that I enjoy playing, but trying to scare me wasn’t happening anymore.

The exception being the RE5 add-on with Chris and Jill where you go through the Mansion and tap into the history of RE. You didn’t get swarmed by zombies. Music didn’t queue you when one was hiding around the corner. A bird flew through a window and that made us jump a little. It was very unexpected. That add-on was way more scarier than the game.

The first Silent Hill and Fatal Frame did the scary thing too. Fatal Frame is one of the few that still holds on to its roots, but Silent Hill has focused more on the gross out factor. Kind of like the movies. You know what some awesome Horror movies are? The original Nightmare on Elm Street, Poltergeist, Halloween, even The Thing. Anything Hitchcock! Those were about making you jump out of your seat and scream. I refuse to watch Poltergeist ever again. Once was enough.
Again. Not scary.  But sure as hell nasty.

Today’s movies are all about grossing you out. Saw? Not scary. Disgusting and disturbing, sure. But not scary. Chop off your leg and I’ll let you go, or sit here and die. Is the choice suppose to be the scary part? Otherwise you’re just making me not want to buy popcorn while this guy cuts away at his leg. The myriad of “horror” movies these days are about blood, guts, and making you sick to your stomach.

Video games are starting to follow that path. You know what’s fun about L4D and L4D2? Finding new ways to make Zombie’s heads explode. I ran head-first into a swarm with a chainsaw just to see if I could lop off a few heads. Scary wasn’t a word. It was about dismembering the enemy in as violent and humorous of a manner as possible.
Damn dogs! I didn't know you were coming!
There wasn't any music!

In short, and long, horror games aren’t what they use to be. I miss that “jumping from your seat” factor. I don’t like music guiding me along to let me know that there’s an enemy from behind the door. It’s fine from a tactical stand point, but in the real world no music would be playing if zombies were attacking.

If anyone has a new game out there that might scare me, bring it on.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Wreck It Ralph and Licensing

Chock full of gaming greats!
I didn’t realize just how many “real” (and I use that term figuratively) video game characters would be involved in the project. Just take a look at this still image and it’s kind of staggering. This seems like the type of movie that will pull a Toy Story by tugging at the memories of us big kids, while still being enjoyable for the little ones.

The producer, Clark Spencer, was honest about some of the troubles they faced when importing these characters into their movie, but as a whole gaming companies were receptive to the idea.

“We went out and met with people in person, which I think is the key. When people came in for E3, we would actually meet with all of the companies and talk about the movie. From the very beginning we said, 'We want to be authentic to your character. What we would like to do is put in an approval process.”

And that seemed to really help the movie take shape. The fact that Capcom, Nintendo, and others said “ok,” and were involved in the process gives this movie a nice little touch that now I want to see it and see how well these characters were interpreted.
Poor Q*Bert. I know no one plays your game anymore, but
panhandling for FPS games is not the way to go.

Of course the story is still going to focus on Wreck It Ralph and his desire to no longer be the villain (bah! Being the bad guy is more fun!), but to see these other characters makes it feel like we’re part of the video game.

This might be the ‘other’ video game movie that we’ve been waiting for.
If it helps any, a lot of the voices from the video games are also in the movie. Kyle Herbert (the DBZ voice announcer) has been playing Ryu from Street Fighter for years and voices him in the movie. So is Roger Craig Smith, the voice of Sonic. Oh, and Mortal Kombat characters. We just made this movie rated M!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Trophies Designed To Distract

Not real, but sometimes, it feels
like this is all Achievements are these days.
I can’t be the only one who has ever wondered why you need to shoot 200 pigeons in GTAIV, or kill a Manjini with a rotten egg by throwing it down his throat as he’s jumping in RE5. Amusing, sure. But what’s the point to it?

I’m sure some of you would argue that it adds more depth to the game. Or that it improves on the replay factor. Maybe it’s a quirk to the game that gives it its charm. GTA is full of those. But why the need to kill all 200 pigeons? It’s a social notification to all that visit your profile that you have spent X amount of time running around a game to kill pigeons. It’s an achievement to be worthy of amongst the 4chan elite.

While we’re out collecting 999 rubies, or playing through Extreme mode with only our fists, we miss out on the game that the developers were trying to provide us.

Or are we?

It’s hard to deny that some of the achievements in a game are pretty stupid, and it’s obvious some of them are there to keep us playing. Left 4 Dead has a lot of these achievements. A few you can get through normal game-play such as Protecting a Survivor 50 times. You can easily pull that off within the first 2 levels. But what about head-shotting a Witch or killing 100 zombies with a headshot while using a pistol while they are in midair? Those are the type of goals that require multiple plays for hours on end, and if there’s one aspect we as gamers have been harping on for years is replay-ability.

Just shoot the damn pigeon already!
I won’t deny that achievements and trophies have their place in video games. There are a number of us that enjoy exploring the game’s environment and we like to get rewarded for our efforts with a little signal of “congrats! You took the time to do this!” even if it’s for prestige points that contain no value.

It’s those trophies of pointlessness that I’m referring to that detract from the game. They force us to not play by distracting us at the task at hand. Why? We’re not really sure. You can argue for the points I”ve made earlier, but really isn’t it just a way to keep us from noticing how crappy the game is?

I’ll use Left 4 Dead again (can you tell I was playing it this weekend?). As a whole, L4D is nothing special. 4 people trapped in an area infested with zombies, and you have to get out before you get eaten. The characters have snappy lines, and campaigns only take an hour of your time at most-good for online multiplayer. But really…that’s about it. It’s no different than any other survival horror or first person shooter. Don’t get me started on L4D2. Did these people not play Dead Rising or watch Zombieland? No sane person in a zombie apocalypse would hide out in a mall or go to an amusement park. We all know those are a recipe for death.

Do those achievements keep you playing long after you’ve finished the story? Sure. But they detract from what the game is presenting to you, the gamer. And in many ways, it’s hiding up what isn’t really there to begin with: a good game. We can argue this point up and down, but try playing any game without focusing on the trophies and achievements? I’m trying to not harp on FPS because they would be the main target. Think about all of the things the game is trying to hide by you, the gamer, not going after the achievements? You might be surprised at how little content is being provided to us these days because the trophy systems for useless prestige points have taken over.

I’d love to see more achievements that enhanced the gaming experience or provided us with additional stories that we wouldn’t originally go after. There are a number of games that offer additional stories within the main game (this isn’t DLC) that you go after, spend 10 hours on, and you’re rarely rewarded for it. But shoot 200 pigeons and you get a trophy? Where’s the logic in that?

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Gaming Bar

Boasting thousands of
console and arcade games.
I’m sure we have all mused about it at some time or another. A bar for us adults and video games. No kids allowed in our arcade!

They have one in Las Vegas called Insert Coin(s). Considering it’s in Vegas, major use of the double entendre. A surgeon in Minneapolis, MN wants to expand on that success by bringing the bar to their city. They’ll be renovating an old nightclub to mimic the style of the Vegas version, and will boast a gaming library of thousands of gaming titles. The surgeon is co-founder/owner.

This isn’t like the Dave and Busters model. The revenue generated focuses more on drinks and tips and less on the machines.

I like this quote he makes about it being a “stimulation” experience versus having a drink and playing games at home. Oh so many double entendres. So many…
I'm not feeling the "hip" vibe.
And this is modeled off the
Vegas version.

I just want to point out the pictures they used for the Vegas club, it looks really dull doesn’t it? I mean, I’m not saying they should deck it out in Xbox 360 or PS3 colors, but man. It looks like a boring club and more like a bland dining hall that just happens to have a lot of video screens all over the place. I don't think the concept is a bad idea, and it seems to be successful in Vegas. I'm not a fan of the decor.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Why The Secrets?

I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Partially because the server here has been horrific and I can't type in more then a paragraph without things crashing.

The other part is because this artile on Kotaku says everything that I would have said. Good job guys!

The industry's biggest problem is trying way too hard to keep secrets, even on things that don't need to be a secret. People are still going to buy your game, so why bother holding it back? If you build it, they will come.