***To note, this is a rant, not one of my normal articles, so I did very little proof reading. Sue me. 

I’m not sure if it could be considered ADD, but I spend a lot more time staring at my video game collection, wondering what I want to play than actually playing them. I usually fiddle around on my computer doing nothing of any sort of importance instead of playing one of the hundreds and hundreds of Steam games that are literally a couple of clicks away. And it got me thinking: what exactly is keeping me from actually playing those games? Well, the main reason is that maybe the game just isn’t interesting me. I bought a lot of those games I own on a whim, and if they ever get played, it’ll be a miracle. However, another thought came to mind.

But first, a story. Don’t worry, it’s important.

I am one that loves to keep track of time spent in games. Steam’s feature of counting every minute you spend in a game is very addicting to me, and I pride myself in not artificially enlarging my time spent; running through my Steam game list of the games I’ve actually played, the majority of games will have accurate times to how long it took me to beat the game. It’s just something I do. Probably a little OCD. And because of it, I never let games run in the background of my PC. I always close them out, even if I plan on returning in mere minutes.

However, I was unlucky enough to get Assassin’s Creed III on Ubisoft’s proprietary software, uPlay, which doesn’t keep track of playtime. So, as I slogged through the terribleness that was Assassin’s Creed III, whenever I went to dinner or needed to use the bathroom, I just alt-tabbed out of the game and brought it back up whenever I was ready to play again.

That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew why, or at least knew another reason why I don’t play games as much as I have time for. They won’t let me play them.

Let me explain.

When you turn on a game, you’re not instantly playing the game. There is a LOT of things that have to happen before you’re in control of the game that you’re wanting to play. You usually have to sit through at least two or three company names of those who developed and published the game, and it’s not unheard of for there to be five or six names that slowly fade in and out of your screen. I understand having the gamer “enjoy” sitting there and learning about who made the game and what engine it is on the first time they load up the game, but why in God’s green world do we have to watch it every single time? I know that Crytek made the game, I understand that EA published it, yeah, I figured out that it was running on the Cryengine 3, and YES, I know it uses Dolby Digital sound! Quit telling me! I’ve been playing your game for ten hours, you really think at this point that I either care or don’t know? Just let me go to the menu!

Then, you finally do get to the menu, which isn’t usually a problem in some games. Others, however, have painfully slow menus that load with every button press and lag when you switch options. Those are a hassle, and waste time. Menus should be the gateway to the game, not a [bad] game in itself. Just let us click once, twice, maybe three times and be on our way to the game.

So ok, we’ve gotten past forty minutes of learning all about who created the game and have loaded through the menus, and finally, the “game” is loading. Yay! But wait! Cut scene ahoy! Ok, totally nothing wrong with a cut scene. Games pride themselves in their story. I think that’s awesome. But you know, I’m not really in the mood to sit and watch a cutscene right now, let me just hit start and ski-

Oh. Oh, cool. Yeah, cool, you can’t skip the cutscenes in this game. Awesome. Super.

I honestly cannot think of a single good reason that a game won’t allow you to skip a cutscene. Look, I know the developers might have put a lot of time into creating this story, but I just spent however much money on this game because you showed me some sweet looking action scenes in the trailer, and darn it, I want to do those! Just let me skip them if I want to! And then there are the games that don’t let you skip the cutscenes even after you’ve beaten the game. How sick and twisted is that?

And finally, the biggest and probably the worst thing any developer can do to get me to not play their games.

Tutorials.

Tutorials are the spawn of Satan. They are what’s wrong with the majority of the gaming industry today. I haven’t played through a tutorial in recent memory and said “Yeah, that was fun! I’m glad they had me do that” after it was over. Believe it or not, there is a way to teach a player about your game without holding their freaking hand the entire time. It might take a little more work, a little more thought, but levels can teach through their design. It’s not fun to have giant dialogs every second telling you where to go, it’s not fun being on a guided path that is making you watch something that you need to learn and it certainly isn’t fun trying to learn the controls super quickly on a damned loading screen! Games are fun things! Tutorials are not! They have no place in games.

Ok, not quite true. Some games are incredibly complicated, on purpose, and I can see something like that needing a tutorial. Fine. Whatever. But there are still ways to create a tutorial that doesn’t make the user feel like they are a retarded child trying to figure out why the square block won’t go into the round hole. It’s bloody possible, yet developers just assume that their general audience is daft!

Fine, fine, maybe you like the tutorials. Maybe you’re a bit slower when it comes to games and the tutorials help you get into what you need to do better. I suppose I can understand that, especially looking through the glass as a non-gamer. But, there is no reason in Hell that tutorials shouldn’t be skippable. And don’t you dare integrate the tutorial into your story because not only are players not even going to be paying attention to the story because they’ll be too busy trying to mash the button that’s flashing in front of their face, but they’re more likely to dislike the story because they’ll already be grumpy with having to deal with a freaking stupid tutorial. So if the tutorial isn’t integrated with the story, MAKE THEM SKIPPABLE. Just do it. Please, for the love of the great and mighty Smooze, make them skippable.

If you are a game, or happen to know a game, that doesn’t have any of these problems, bravo! I applaude you. However, my main point here is that I don’t play games nearly as much because they just don’t let me. There are so many things between putting the game into the disc drive and me having full control of my character on screen, and that saddens me. I dream of a world where I press play on Steam and after a breif loading screen, I’m brought back right where I left off the last time I left the game.

Alas, I’m just going to go watch this stupid video of a cat on the internet.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

I just recently got myself a shiny new Playstation Vita. The machine is a real looker, and I find myself just holding it in my hands and gawking at the device. Sony really got the look of the thing down really well. However, no gaming machine can get away with looking pretty if there are no games to play, and the Vita is no exception; I spent the first two weeks of owning the device just looking at it because there were just no interesting retail games to pick up. I started out with Katamari, and while that was a nice distraction, it seriously did no favors to prove that the Vita was any sort of a capable gaming machine. But then I remembered that they had released the Metal Gear Solid HD collection on the device.

Now, I’m a huge Metal Gear Solid fan. I’ve played through the entirety of the Solid series many times, and find myself completely enamored by how good almost every aspect of the games are. So thinking that I could own Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 to play in the palm of my hand made me very excited, and I picked the games up as soon as I could.

Like any self respecting gamer should, I started with the earlier game, Son’s of Liberty. I was in awe of how much fun I was having, even though I’ve beaten the game probably close to five times before. Maybe it was just the shock of playing this fantastic game on a portable device that had me so excited, but I played through the entire thing in about three nights.

Then it was time to move on to Snake Eater.

Before I start, a bit of back story. I was never a huge fan of Snake Eater. Yes, I did beat it back on my PS2, but I never really liked a lot of things about it. However, I was younger back then, a lot less wise than I am today, so I decided to go into the Vita version with completely blank expectations: I was going to give Snake Eater a completely new opinion.

As it turns out, younger me wasn’t as dumb as I had thought. 

The game, while a perfectly fine game in itself, is easily the worst of the Metal Gear Solid series, and I intend to, as fairly as I can, compare Snake Eater to Son’s of Liberty, Gun’s of the Patriots and the game that started it all, Metal Gear Solid.

Let’s start, shall we?

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been playing games for a very long time. I’ve seen many different types of games come and go, become popular and lose their popularity. I’ve seen genres die, and genres come alive. Currently, in this day and age of video games, the popular thing to do is make games as cinematic as possible; to try and mimic a movie. Game after game I play I notice that I’m watching more cut scene than I am playing and even when I’m playing, the developers make it seem like I’m still watching a movie by taking the gameplay and adding dynamic camera angles or cinematic quick time events; all of it working towards a more movie like experience. And to me, this couldn’t be farther off from what I expect from a video game.

Not to say that there is anything wrong with video games being cinematic. One of my favorite series of all time is the Metal Gear Solid series, and those games pride themselves in being incredibly cinematic, with hours after hours of movie like cut scenes. So no, there is nothing wrong with a video game trying to imitate older forms of media. But sometimes, I just want to play a game. And that’s when a game like Lollipop Chainsaw becomes my saving grace, because it’s the most video game like video game I’ve played in a long time.

Read the rest of this entry »

Since we talked last, a lot has happened on the still untitled game (if you don’t know what I’m referring to, click here), and a lot has gone backwards as well (though, in a good way, interestingly enough). The premise that I wanted to use for the game wasn’t working out the way I wanted, so even though it meant probably a dozen hours of work flushed down the drain, I decided to go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and begin anew with a different premise to start with. That premise is: open world, à la Metriod. It’s not going to be quite as open world as, say, Castlevania 2 (which was a mess of an open world), but exploration will be encouraged. Also, my feature that I was wanting to include will work much better in a more open world setting.

Thanks to my friend, Bryan, who, though didn’t give me the idea of starting over (I was about to go back and drastically change things), gave me the idea of trying open world. I think the game will be better because of it.

Here is a screen shot of the character with a new enemy.

Hi there!

Yes, it’s my very first post in a LONG time. Believe, I understand that. These are the first words I’ve written specifically for this blog in months, and that saddens me. However, yesterday I started in a new adventure, and it deserved documentation. I figured, perfect time to make a glorious comeback to my blog, after so many missed words. So, here’s what’s going on: I’m making a video game.

Yup, you heard that right. I’m in the very beginning processes of making myself a video game. I’ve got the premise, I’ve got the gameplay styling, and I’ve even designed a few levels. I have a main character and I have one enemy. The game is very rough and will certainly change a lot in the future, however, the game is started, and it can be played, and it does exist. And I will be updating this blog with news and information about how the progress is going as I add more levels and more features. So continue to check back often, as I’ll be working on it quite a bit. It’s my new years resolution to have this game finished and published somewhere before the year’s end. I will make it happen.

In the mean time, here is a screen shot of the most recent build:

Happy New Years!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 31,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I hadn’t played a Mario game in nearly a year and a half. Super Mario Galaxy 2 came out in the summer of 2010, and that was the last I saw of the Italian plumber until this winter in 2011, with the arrival of Super Mario 3D Land. Yes, you read that right. Not Super Mario 3D. Nintendo decided to get a little more creative with their names this year, opting out of simply adding a 3D to the end of all their games, instead giving them a little more personality, and in the case of Super Mario 3D Land, the title describes the game perfectly. The 3DS iteration of classic Mario combines multiple games, from the amazing 2D platforming of Super Mario World on the SNES, to the more modern 3D worlds of Super Mario GalaxySuper Mario 3D Land has it all. And it was good timing too: Nintendo’s newest handheld console, the 3DS, hasn’t exactly had the brightest history so far. From delayed and canceled games, to a drastic price drop not three months after launch, nothing seemed to be looking good for the newborn handheld. But despite Nintendo pushing remake after remake into our faces, early adopters have been looking forward to the promise of a brand new Mario game since day one. And let me be not the first to say that Super Mario 3D Land was well worth the wait. The game gives life to the console and gives meaning to its existence. Without Super Mario 3D Land, my 3DS would still be sitting under a pile of clothes in the corner. The game is the first “must own” title for the 3DS.

Read the rest of the review here, on Guide2Games. 

Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have already given their press conferences at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) this year, and, as any self-respecting gamer should do, I’m going to reflect on all three of them.

Microsoft 

Microsoft was the first to take the stage, early Monday morning. Well, early in California; I had time to hit the snooze button seven times, roll out of bed, make some coffee, browse the internet and leisurely mosey over to the IGN streaming site before noon hit, Eastern time.

Microsoft started out with an epic, ten minute demo of Modern Warfare 3 running on the Xbox 360 console (not without “proving” that it was in game due to a controller connection interruption). It showed some pretty cool cinematic, though it did seem that the game was reusing quite a few assets used in Modern Warfare 2. Regardless, the game is sure to be the same, action packed romp that it always is.

Then came the new Tomb Raider reboot, which had the new, less-but-also-somehow-more sexually attractive Laura Croft getting stabbed, beaten, bruised, punched, and battered all to hell as she made her way out of what looked like a sacrificial cave. It looked quite exciting, and this will be the first Tomb Raider game that I’m actually looking forward to, let alone feel excited for.

Cliff Bleszinski, later, came on stage, and, together with the help of Ice-T, beat a enthralling single player mission on Gears of War 3, taking place on a ship that was actively being eaten by a giant squid-octopus hybrid thing. Looks to be pretty fun and over the top, as is expected out of Gears of War games.

Then Microsoft started shoving Kinect shit games down our throats. 85% of the entire press conference was glitchy, buggy, boring and unintuitive Kinect games that didn’t interest me in the slightest. Come on, Microsoft, Kinect doesn’t work; quit trying to sell it like it does.

Of course, they also announced the Halo 1 remake, which is a completely remade and high-definition of the original game, single player and all. It will have online co-op and online multiplayer with the original maps and some new, updated ones. I didn’t get super excited about that, but hey, Halo is fun, and fun is good.

At the very end of the conference, Microsoft showed us a Halo 4 trailer that left of right where Halo 3 did; with Master Chief floating away in a space ship. It looks like it could be cool, but I worry about the series without Bungie behind the helm.

Overall, Microsoft showed off some cool, multiplatform games that were interesting, but the majority of the gamers were flat, cardboard Kinect games, and that just doesn’t interest me.

Grade: C-

Sony

Sony started off with something they really needed to do: an apology. And while that was a nice enough gesture, they didn’t really phrase it in a way that made much sense. Instead of “Hey, look, we’re sorry about everything”, the phrasing made it seem like “We’re sorry you couldn’t enjoy everything that we know you love and is awesome on the PSN”, which is sorta the same, but it comes off like an advertisement more than an apology.

Then we got to the real stuff. Uncharted 3, duh, looks awesome. And by awesome, I mean FUUUUUUUU insane. This is a series that gets worlds better every iteration, and considering the first one was a very good game, that speaks wonders about the quality of the stuff Naughty Dog puts out.

Resistance 3… is another Resistance, which is to say, “yawn”.

Then Sony went into something that I hold very dear to my heart; HD remakes of older games. I’m oh-so pumped for the Shadow of the Colossus and ICO remakes, but ovbiously I’m going to buy the Metal Gear Solid remakes as well.

The press conference was littered with games that supported the Move controller. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the Move shows so much more promise than Kinect, but so far, I still haven’t seen anything that makes it a must own peripheral (which is why I don’t have one), and E3 didn’t do much to rectify that. Try again, Sony.

The new Sly Cooper game looks very nice. Having never played his games before, I’m tempted to go back and explore the older games to get ready for the new one.

But easily the biggest surprise of all of E3 (surprise, and nothing more) was the Playstation Vita. Weird, new age-y name aside, Sony showed quite a bit of games running on the console, all of which looked like console ports. I guess that’s not a bad thing, but at some point, you have to ask yourself “Wouldn’t I rather be playing this on my actual PS3 and my HDTV?” I think that is the main problem that the Vita is going to come across, but I digress, that is not the exciting news I was referring to. No, the biggest surprise out of E3 2011 was that the PS Vita would retail in America for 250$. 250$!!! People had been guestimating at over 300$ and into the 400$ range, and for Sony to pull a “Yeah, we’re the same price as Nintendo” just blew me away. I’m still having problems believing it. Nintendo has got some work cut out for them.

Overall, Sony was interesting, if not terribly exciting. The PS Vita was easily the best part of the show, but still, it just wasn’t all that fun.

Grade: B-

Nintendo

Nintendo started off their press conference with a real orchestra playing Zelda music at Miyamoto’s request. I mean really, how can anything top that? They can’t… they just can’t.

After some quick footage of Skyward sword and some announcements about more Zelda games coming to the Wii, 3DS and DSi, Nintendo moved right onto their newest console, the Wii U. And this is where things started moving downhill.

They announced the name. Then they showed us a controller with a screen. Then, as the audience scratched their heads, they started showing games using this new controller. There was no announcement of a new console, no pictures of any sort of new hardware. It was just this controller. No one could figure out what exactly it was. Was it an extension of the Wii? Was it a portal gaming console that connected with the Wii? It wasn’t until minutes passed that it finally clicked for a lot of people: There was a new console, but Nintendo wanted to focus on the controller as the new expereince. Well, cool, Nintendo, except you confused everyone watching and I’m sure there are still some people confused as to what the crap was going on.

So yeah. Wii 2. HD graphics. About as powerful as the current generation (2006 technology. Woo) with another gimmicky controller that no one will take full advantage of. Sure sounds like Nintendo!

Then they moved onto 3DS stuff, and as a game deprived 3DS owner, was a good change of pace. The showed us some gameplay of the new Mario game, the new Mario Kart, the remake of Star Fox 64 and some Ocarina of Time 3D footage. The coolest surprise was the return of Luigi’s Mansion, and boy did it look nice! That’s easily become my most anticipated 3DS game (aside from Ocarina, which comes out soon!).

And… that’s about it for Nintendo. Their 3DS showing was all nice and dandy, but I just had a problem with the way they presented the Wii U (WEEEEUUUUU). But still, they put on a much better show than Sony and Microsoft.

Grade: B

Nintendo is going to release their console before 2012; confirmed, E3 2011. It looks like new device, called the Wii U, will be more powerful than the 360 and PS3, which is pretty obvious, considering the 360 and PS3 aren’t getting any younger. This is a pretty exciting thought; having a new console in a little more than a year. But it also puts all three companies in a sticky situation. 

Obviously, by releasing the Wii U a year or two earlier than when Sony and Microsoft are expected to release their new consoles (both who have repeatedly said they’re waiting until 2014), Nintendo will have a rather large head start in the next console wars. Nintendo will have the stronger console for nearly two years, and that means that 3rd party developers will (hopefully) develop 3rd party games that can only run on the new tech in the Wii U, and that will lower the sales of both the 360 and the PS3.

Because of this bold move, it seems unlikely that Sony and Microsoft will sit idly by and watch Nintendo suck in profit. Two years is a LONG time, and during that time, Nintendo will move millions of units and make billions of dollars in software sales, and all the while, they’ll be stealing possible sales from both Sony and Microsoft. Seems like the first logical thing for them to do would get that new Xbox and Playstation out as early as possible, but it’s  unlikely that either Microsoft or Sony are anywhere close to being ready to release their console next year (both of them, Microsoft mostly, are focused on Kinect and Move, so it’s unlikely that they have their full force working on a new console). That would put a hurried console release sometime in the later part of 2013, with a E3 2013 announcement, which would only put them a year behind the Wii U, and, as we’ve seen from the past, that’s an acceptable amount of time for consoles to be released apart without some serious backlash to either company.

This one year gap would also help Nintendo. As it stands, if the Wii U is released in 2012 and the new Sony and Microsoft consoles in 2014, that leaves a two year gap in technology that Sony and Microsoft will CERTAINLY fill. When 2014 rolls around, the PS4 and Xbox 1080 will be nearly double the power of the Wii U, and the consumers and developers will all have the same problem that we have in this generation: Nintendo is stuck with an underpowered machine. However, if Microsoft and Sony move their conoles up by a year, that only puts Nintendo one year behind in terms of technology, and there will be a lesser chance that the gap will be quite as big.

It’s hard to play so many guessing games right now when we have no solid dates on anything. But, drawing from the past, and how much companies like to make money, it only makes sense that Microsoft and Sony won’t like it when Nintendo profits for two extra years, and will want to prevent that from happening by moving their console launches to 2013.

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