News We Care About Wrapup – 7.25.08

David Cage insults MMOs
Cage, the creator of Indigo Prophecy (or if you prefer, Fahrenheit) questions the emotional significance of grinding. His points look very similar to what some of us were saying during the long comment war after this videolamer article. He goes further than we did, though, and into territory I asked one writer to avoid despite his wanting to write on it:

“I think that’s fine for people when they need to build self esteem.”

Excellent fighting words. I agree with most of Cage’s positions but remain skeptical about his talent. Indigo Prophecy had about the best first few hours of any game I’ve played but is betrayed by Cage’s (or someone at Quantic Dreams) inability to write a good story. Once the plot starts falling apart it becomes clear that the actual gameplay of IP was mundane and boring because the simple controller inputs it demands are all at the service of the story.

Grinding may be anathema to narrative but if all the game mechanics are so tightly tied to the plot that any slip in the story destroys the entire game then it’s probably a safer bet to allow your game to contain some grinding. Especially when the characters we are expected to relate to look like zombies.

Pleash give me a kish.

If Cage overcame the uncanny valley as his company claims AND can write a gripping story from beginning to end, Heavy Rain just may be absolutely awesome. And without a second of grinding.

Ubisoft makes money on bad casual games
Somewhere in becoming a Nintendo fan I lost an important part of me – absolute cynicism. In my fight against the fight against casual games I came to actually believe in consumers and believe they weren’t mostly retarded. It seemed a natural leap that in order to defend the most popular game systems I would defend public opinion as a whole.

Alas, the public is mostly retarded. There is no reason to believe that the same masses who buy NSYNC albums, watch Bill O’Reilley, and fund the latest summer blockbuster have any fucking clue when it comes to games. Case in point: Ubisoft, perpetrator of terrible games everywhere, is making money from their My(insert boring crap)Coach series and presumably the hundreds of games in the Petz line.

The market will not work itself out and bad products will continue to sell. It was foolish of me to align myself with the peasantry of the world because having an IQ over 100 automatically makes me some sort of elite. So I will now refine my position – There are good casual games. They are good not because people buy them like I’d previously thought, but because they are actually good. Seems obvious in retrospect, doesn’t it?

Many hardcore gamers are against new and different things because there is an assumption that anything aimed anywhere other than directly at them is terrible. This is kind of the opposite mistake I made. I assumed other people had opinions worth listening to and they assumed only things made for them could be good. Complete opposites, see? The point is, neither side was focused on actually seeing if the product in question was worth their time. You can hate casual games all you want and Wii Sports will still be good, and I can defend casual games until I am a Nintendo E3 press conference and Babies Party will still be bad.

Everybody’s super sonic sword fighting
Sonic has been the corporate symbol for mediocrity for a long time now and Sega seems stumped. They lack the talent to bring Sonic into the third dimension in a way that mimics his former glory days so they desperately throw him into once Sonic-less designs. He has been in a team adventure game, his rival has popped caps in many an ass and he will soon become both a brawling werehedgehog (which, unlike werewolves, don’t exist in real life) and a knight.

The real problem is not that Sega doesn’t know what to do with Sonic. Mario can drive go karts, fight in RPGs, platform in 2D and 3D, play golf, and even stand in for a doctor successfully. This is because Nintendo is talented. Sega is not. If they showed us, years ago with Sonic Adventure, that Sonic was worth caring about in his native platforming environment perhaps we could debate if Sega is just confused. They are not confused, they are talentless.

“Maybe Shadow the Hedgehog sucked because we added a gun instead of a sword.”

Sonic could become a proctologist and if the game played well the majority of gamers would stop complaining about plotline inaccuracies and lapses in consistent characterization. If you believe a standard 3D platformer with Sonic has a significantly higher chance of being great than any random crap they throw him into, you simply haven’t been paying attention since 1995.

E3 needs more spectacle
Webush-Morgan video games sales-guesser Michael Pachter believes that E3 as it is now, toned down and with nary a silicone breast, is doomed. The event was toned down because of publisher complaints but publishers such as Ubisoft have joined with Pachter in calling for change. It seems like some sort of halfway point could be reached. Publishers could be assigned a generic space instead of decorating their area with gigantic statues. Also, I would be invited. Retailers could once again attend but there could remain tighter security in place to keep friends of friends of publishers from getting in. Plus I’d get an invitation. The show could return to the old convention center, minus the babes and deafening music. And finally, I would be allowed in.

6 thoughts on “News We Care About Wrapup – 7.25.08”

  1. Cage’s comment about grinding is, I think, more poignant than it looks. It tries to explain a lot of gamer behavior rather quaintly. He seems to feel that people enjoy the more mundane tasks of some games because the accomplishment makes them feel better. No matter how insignificant it may be in the grand scope of the world, it is something to the community they have chosen. This is a better, or at least different way of saying what I’ve been trying to write about in current and future articles, that gamers are lazy. They don’t like putting real effort into almost anything. This is why there are some (many?) people that can beat Reock Band’s drums on Expert and begin to spew off incomprehensible lingo about actual drum playing as if they know what they are talking about, and why none of them seem to have any real argument about anyone who says a mean word about gaming. They’d rather blow people off and be content with whatever expertise the virtual world can give them, and be done with it.

    To get overly deep, perhaps it has something to do with today’s crisis in male identity, where nothing a young man does seems to garner respect and acceptance. When a college degree and a mortgage before the age of 25 is nothing because it lacks, say, a wedding ring, then it is much easier to switch earning achievements.

  2. Christian, your thoughts on male identity crisis intrigue me. Are you planning on writing an article on that?

  3. If you do that hopefully it briefly touches on other dimensions that support your male identity theory. Focusing solely on its relationship with videogaming would be a misstep that makes your arguements all too easily to dismiss.

  4. Perhaps the somewhat higher relative percentage of female players grinding their way through Guild Wars and WOW means respect is hard to come by these days regardless of gender. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the article, if indeed it comes about.

    Also, according to my niece, Imagine Babyz IS worth playing. I have it on good authority that it’s almost as good as Dolphinz πŸ˜›

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