Something’s changed

I don’t know what’s different this year. Is it me? Is it the industry? I can’t say one way or the other. I’m just not into E3 this year.

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This whole blog kind of started with my excitement about E3 a few years ago. But this year something is different for me. Part of it, surely, is the lack of anything that was “to be announced” or leaked previous to the event that really caught my interest. Though without fail, something cool will rear its head eventually and probably change my mind to an extent. I mean, I’m not crazy. I’m still hoping for some big reveals and some new info on stuff like Insomniac’s Spider-Man and GoW4.

Though, like I said, I don’t think I can put my finger on any one specific cause – I think I can pick one biggie out. The proliferation of gaming media. Now we don’t have to wait for E3 for announcements and reveals. They’re happening all year long. Most of the stuff we see at E3 now, save for the occasional big reveal, surprise, etc – we already know about it months in advance. Take Assassin’s Creed: Origins, for example. We knew last year there wasn’t going to be a new entry in the Assassin’s Creed series. But I think we could say for certainty that Ubisoft wasn’t going to be holding off for more than a year. And, aside from that, the game had leaked images weeks ago. Far Cry 5 too. Hell, EB Games and Bestbuy both e-mailed me about how “Far Cry comes to America” last week.

Now, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that we get updates on great games and developers all of the time. But it’s kind of like how Christmas changes from when you’re a kid to an adult. All year you wait desperately for that day and then when it comes, you just tear through presents like it’s the last time you’ll get to do it. But as you get older, at least in my case, I tend to just buy the things I want when I want them. So when Christmas comes around, there may be a few cool things under that tree for me – but most of what I wanted, I already have.

It’s a weird transitional phase for me to go through – both personally and professionally (well, at least in terms of this blog because no one is paying me to do it…yet). I want to get jacked up. I want to do like I always did and go and tell the person next to me about how amazing the Bethesda conference was and how excited I am about the reveal of X game. And, of course, to take advantage of all of the amazing pre-order deals out there (though again, this may play into my lack of excitement as a part of my no pre-order pact I made with myself). I just can’t find anything within myself that’s telling me that I need to obsessively pour over everything that’s going on and dissect the minutia of every reveal.

Of course, I’m still going to follow stuff, and I think I’ve already shown that I am. Much like Christmas though, I’m afraid I’ve lost the vigor for it. That being said, it’s possible that this year is an outlier. It definitely didn’t help going into E3 that I knew I wouldn’t see a lot of what I hoped to see. Nothing big from Bethesda (Elder Scrolls, Fallout wise), no Kingdom Hearts release date, etc.

But I’m excited to see everyone’s offerings. So far I like what Bioware is doing with Anthem.

Who knows – as the conference goes on, I may change my tune. The hype train may just roll through this station after all. Forgive the tired cliché, I haven’t written in a while and I’m feeling a little rusty.

All I will say is: If this is what growing up is, I don’t like it.

– The Ego

 

No More Pre-Orders

My last thoughts, in what has turned out to be an impromptu three-part exposé on the release of unfinished games, turn my attention to the way that we shop for our games.

I am going to come off a bit hypocritical to some who have read this blog for a long time, and more so to those who know me personally. But I’ll say this in my defense: Over time, we all learn and either choose to adapt or continue in our own stasis. The reason for my hypocrisy is that I have been the biggest culprit of the pre-order. In the last few years I’ve been known to pre-order 20+ games during the E3 sales either to accrue extra points or receive steep discounts.

Now this is what I’ll say: I have learned, recently, that pre-ordering is just doing us a disservice. I mean, getting a game day 1 at a discount is great. In theory. In practice, what it means for us as gamers is that we’re adding to the companies bottom line and their brag-rights. Huge titles are almost always going to receive massive day one sales numbers. Why? Because most of us pre-order. Whether to get that discount, some knick-knack or some kind of digital chocolate chip cookie that they entice us with. In time, I have pre-ordered for every one of those reasons.

But what we’re seeing now is games coming out to repudiation of what should be consistent values among us gamers. Expectations of quality are not being met. Instead we’re getting games that become memes and that’s all they end up being known for. But the companies making these games are still seeing mass profits, ignoring user sentiment, and continuing with practices unchanged.

Now last week, I said: what can we do? And I didn’t have an answer then. But I have the semblance of one now. We need to stop pre-ordering games. This isn’t the only thing we can do, and it may not even be the best thing we can do, but I think it’s a good start.

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Look at the boast here. Now, CD Projekt Red and The Witcher are examples to the contrary of what I’ve been discussing lately, but I use the image to make a point. If games are getting a million pre-orders, then it doesn’t really matter what they end up releasing. Because even if it’s bad – if even half of those pre-orders go through as full sales – the company has already made back (a substantial portion at least) it’s initial investment. Meaning, they only see black in the books and whether or not it’s a good game is irrelevant. Companies like Ubisoft seem to be ignoring their user base on titles like For Honor, despite massive boycotts and protests like the one on April 3rd. For a company, I’m sure the comfort of seeing the numbers in the black is huge. And the concerns of fans can be brought up during the PR and marketing campaign for the (pretty much inevitable) sequel.

By avoiding pre-orders and trying to have a wait and see attitude towards all new releases, companies putting out games that are unfinished or inferior will have to take a step back and look at those red numbers for a while longer. And this can only serve to benefit us as the end users. A) We will (hopefully) start to see a change in the way games are released and B) by the time we get around to buying the games they will end up being around the price (in some cases and in others possibly lower) than what the discount we would have seen from a pre-order anyway.

If this post tickled you in all the right places, I fully recommend checking out this article I read on Polygon, that struck me as relevant to the discussion.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments below, or check me out and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

From my time

As a sort of indirect follow up to my last posting regarding unfinished games, I wanted to give a bit of professional perspective to things.

Now, one of the big complaints about a lot of games these days is the lack of QA. Now, for those of you not in the know, QA is Quality Assurance. Every game goes through different levels of QA testing. Be it compliance (making sure that the release meets the standards of the specific platform Sony, Microsoft, etc), localisation (compliant with language standards of the region it’s being released in) and functionality (making sure, you know, that the game works and all).

I used to do QA testing for a living. And before people start getting all “wow playing video games for a living? AWESOME!” It’s not as cushy as it sounds. Don’t get me wrong, the company I worked for is definitely my favourite that I’ve worked for to date, but there is a lot to be said for the actual job. I’m not going to get into this now. If you want to know more, I’m happy to answer questions in comments or you can e-mail (theegogames@gmail.com) or tweet me.

What I want to focus on is how some of the issues we’re seeing become predominant in gaming arise.

The biggest issue, at least in my opinion: not enough time. The last big project I worked on was a AAA title for the PS3. Now, this game was a sequel and what I can tell you is that the original time from from start to release was approximately two years. The development cycle for the game I worked on: Nine months…Now, there are some things to take for granted like the fact that an engine doesn’t need to be developed for the game the second time around. But, where as the first game had a little over a year for testing/development, this one didn’t have anywhere near that kind of time. This one had about six months. Now, as a tester, you’re expected to find tens of thousands of bugs over the course of the project. Which, given how many builds a game goes through, isn’t really a challenge. But it is a challenge for the devs to be able to fix everything. There comes a time in a project, especially when they are rushed, that choices have to be made to decide whether or not it’s worth the time to fix said issue. Now, there are going to be a lot of small things that your average player won’t run into, the issue is when those things you don’t have time for, end up in the forefront. Like it did in AC: Unity, ME: Andromeda, etc.

The other big issue I ran into was devs butting heads with testers. Like any time you’re dealing with other people, you’re going to have clashes over decisions. For me, I can remember a series of what I considered extremely obvious bugs (one being a game breaker if you play like me) just being flat out denied (ignored too, but consciously) by the devs. I had to watch one of them play out during an E3 demo. There seems to be some level of animosity between the two stations, with the devs often feeling superior due to their more “prestigious” placement in the scheme of things. Sometimes the end result of a bug going un-dealt with is simply a matter of opinion or (sometimes) pig-headedness. One such instance I faced, having a background in writing/editing, I pointed out and corrected a number of text issues (grammar, spelling, etc) where rather than just copy/pasting my corrections (as emphasised by my supervisor and the functionality manager of the company) they chose instead to leave the mistakes in place.

Well, that’s a small glimpse behind the curtain and a bit of my experience. It definitely doesn’t answer all of the questions, but I hope it sheds a little light on things.

– The Ego

So, this is it then?

Say what you will about old games and the improvements in technology that the gaming industry has made over the last decade or so, but one thing seems to be turning into a constant: we are waiting for months after release for “finished games”.

Now, I don’t mean episodic games. I’m talking about release a full priced, AAA (often) game that comes out and is either missing a chunk of the story that was pulled to be included as DLC or games that just didn’t get the polish they deserved.

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As an aside, I don’t have a problem with DLC as a concept. Because, I’m sure most of you have been gaming long enough to remember, DLC used to be something to extend the life of a game. When fans were clamouring for more after the ending, sometimes they’d get a smaller nugget as DLC, like Bioshock’s Burial At Sea. Now, DLC is used to fill in purposely created gaps in a lot of narratives to be able to get a little extra on top of the title price.

I could probably fill up a Simpsons/Family Guy rolling credits list of games that would make a list of the kind of games I would describe, but for the sake of your eyes and my fingers, I’ll pass for now.

But let’s look at some of the major offenders here:

No Man’s Sky: This game is going to forever live in infamy. Released actually unfinished. The game lacked the lion’s share of features that the developers had touted. It received a recent update, seven months (approximately) after initial release and we’re just starting to get (what I feel) is close to what the game’s original concept was meant to include.

Mass Effect Andromeda: Can’t say I made the wrong choice in cancelling my pre-order here. The thing that makes this a real debacle is that BioWare is one of those studios who I feel (and I’m sure many would agree) was great because they showed serious attention to detail in their games. And then this happened. Now they’re releasing updates (granted in a timely manner) that are meant to fix and “tweak” the animation issues and increase customisation options. Good for you BioWare. Too bad you didn’t think about this, I don’t know, before selling it?

Destiny: I won’t over scrutinize Destiny. If you read me regularly, you know how I feel about the lackluster release that Destiny received.

So, now we ask: Why?

Well, the simple answer is money. The companies that own these studios want to see results in their quarterly profit reports, and sometimes that means shoehorning in a game to a release date it isn’t in any way prepared to meet. I know this is a business. I’m in no way naive. But when the companies do this, when they release unfinished, terrible looking games – it isn’t just the companies at fault. There is a level of complicity among us as well.

In some cases, like ME: A, how could we know? People take for granted that BioWare produces excellent games, especially for a series that is more or less beyond reproach. And then it ends up having serious issues. But in cases of games like Destiny, we know. We know what the first game was. We know it came out unfinished and missing a lot. But I guarantee, even for a lot of people who complained about it, they will be on the front lines to pre-order and pick it up day one same as the last. And in that, we show our complicity in this crime against the medium.

So what’s the answer? I’m not sure. I know that we need to find some way to make it clear to companies that we won’t be apart of the cycle any more. Whether it means boycotts or at least turning every game into a “wait and see”, something has to change and hurting the profit margin is all they understand.

– The Ego

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hype

So I’m trolling through the various gaming media outlets and creators I follow on Twitter and I came across this article on Gamesradar. The best upcoming games of 2017 and beyond (for those of you who don’t want to read the link).

Now, in principle, I don’t have an issue with talking about the upcoming games. But best upcoming games? I mean, come on. First off, this is total speculation. More than half of the games on the list are still TBA release dates. Which, in and of itself isn’t a big deal. You know, if the games had a substantial amount of info already released to the press or public, then one could at least make an informed decision on what’s available. But with the majority of these games, there is so little announced that one could barely interpret what to expect out of a tutorial…

I’m going to pick on Destiny 2 for the majority of this post. Why? Well, because it’s the easiest target.

Didn’t we learn anything from Destiny 1’s pre-release hype and subsequent launch? I mean, I would hope that the media at least would have the sense to treat everything about Destiny 2 with a grain of salt. But, nope. Here we are with this game already making the list of best upcoming games for 2017…

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Now, I don’t hate Destiny. I bought it. Hell, I even bought it for both platforms because my friends insisted I play with them on X-Box, and they paid the lion’s share. But what Bungie promised on Destiny 1 and what they delivered were worlds apart from each other.

Now here we are again: Bungie is making some big promises. So far I’ve seen promises of bigger, more diverse worlds that will feel substantial and different from each other. I’ve seen richer story with developed characters.

A lot of that sounds really familiar. I remember when Destiny promised to bring us total exploration. The ability to go anywhere you can see on the planet. How’d that work out? I also remember hearing about a big universe full of stories. Well, we did sort of get that, but definitely not in the game. And all Destiny really added was a bunch of really expensive expansions that didn’t change the overall play space.

So why are people getting themselves all revved up already? Why is the media leading people by the nose again? Fool me one, shame on me and all that.

Is the hype, the possibility of that sequel or that new game being exactly what we all want it to be worth the eventual disappointment? Because let’s all be real for a moment: Nothing is ever as good as what we build it up to be. I look at games like Insomniac’s Spider-Man and the new God of War game – and I know that those games are being made by studios who I have a lot of faith in. And I have yet to be disappointed by a God of War game. But the truth is: speculating and talking about how great they’re going to be without a shred of tangible evidence – well, that’s just begging for a let down.

Now, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe part of being a fan is buying into the hype. I don’t know. But what I can say for myself is that there is only so much I’m willing to buy into. I can anticipate and look forward to a new game. But what I won’t do is start telling the world that it’s going to be the best game of 20XX. From time to time, I’ll even buy into the hype. I will get more excited than I should. But there is still a vast difference from personally buying into the hype and selling it to the masses.

As always, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter. Let me know what you think in the comments. Is the hype worth the risk? Am I just being too hard on Destiny?

– The Ego

The Age of Quality

Or is it?

In a time where the prices are rising, DLC is proliferating the market at a staggering rate and the quality of games is seemingly going down.

Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t great games coming out. I would be wrong in saying that. With new IPs like Horizon: Zero Dawn coming out and selling millions of copies and of course perennial favourites like Zelda, one would say my argument falls flat on its face. But, let’s look at things in a little more general light.

There are tons of games coming out from the big studios: EA, Ubisoft, etc that are coming out to infamy, rather than renown.

For example: Mass Effect: Andromeda. Granted, ME3 did leave a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths due to the poorly thought out ending. But it was a series that, for the most part, was beyond reproach. It’s one of those series, like Uncharted, that no one would dare question the quality and notoriety of. But here comes the latest installment and man, I haven’t seen anyone turn on a series so quickly or thoroughly in all of my life. It would be like if all of a sudden someone tried to tell you that Mario sucks. It seemed as likely as that.

Halo 5 is another one of those AAA entries that just bombed. It’s rare to see an big titles that go on sale as fast as it did (save for the big Ubisoft titles…but I’ll get to that). They were practically giving away the Halo 5 limited edition after a while.

Then there’s Ubisoft…Oh how the mighty have fallen! I remember when AC2 was rocketing in sales and everyone was looking at Ubi like it was the company of the future. And now? Now we get games like Unity, Wildlands, For Honor which get big sales numbers because people want to believe that the series has the potential for greatness. But they just flop. And then when they come out with new IPs, people want to buy into the possibility of how great it’s going to be. Then games like For Honor have their fan base setting a day of protest so that the company will listen to them. I mean, really Ubisoft? Is this what you’ve become? Is it only a matter of time before we end up with landfills like this:

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Only, piled high with Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy games.

With that said – Is this the age of the decline?

I worry that the great games coming out now are just the diamonds in the rough. The few and far between. I can say for myself that I was very excited for all of the Tom Clancy games coming out this year. Each one of them ended up more disappointing than the last. And then I had high hopes for the new ME, and I can say I’m glad I cancelled my pre-order.

Of course I still have high hopes for the industry as a whole. I know it doesn’t seem like it. I just worry that if the big companies let the quality slide, and they continue to buy up all of the small studios, it creates a dark cloud over the industry for me. One would assume that things should only be getting better with improvements in technology and people more willing to take chances on creating different styles of games, and the consumer willing to go along with them on an adventure.

But then why do we have so many bad games? Is it because the large studios are so set in their ways that they just produce garbage and assume people will buy it? There is definitely a symptom of complicity among the fans. Obviously, to some extent, to problem is that this has simply become a business. I don’t know that there’s one answer. I guess only time will tell whether or not things will get better, or crash.

– The Ego

 

Trophies, why do I even?

The title sort of speaks for itself. In other aspects of life, like when I used to play hockey, I never cared for trophies. I actually loathed going to the ceremonies. And it didn’t matter to me that I didn’t win MVP, or most goals scored, etc. I didn’t even play hockey like the rest of the team. I was in it for the contact, not the goals (what a shocking stereotype – a Canadian who plays hockey *gasp*). Even when my team won 1st place, or I made All-Star and we won that game – I didn’t care about a hunk of plastic or a cheap medal that said I accomplished something that others hadn’t. And yet, when I game, man do I love that ding!

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So, if I don’t care about the accomplishment per say, why am I level 21 and constantly struggling to get the platinum?

Let me preface the next 500 words by saying, I’m not one of those gamers who buys the easy platinum games just to get the trophies. You won’t find Hanna Montana on my trophy list…I generally will only go through the (often painstaking) effort to collect them all on a game I really enjoy playing.

Right now, for example, I’m playing through Dishonored: Definitive Edition. I played the original on PS3, loved it, decided to play it again on my PS4. Now, I already got the platinum the first time, and this time is proving to be just/if not more difficult because I made a couple of mistakes on my playthroughs that meant my two playthrough situation is now a four playthrough situation.

Now for the reason why. Why I do it, even when it turns out to be way more effort than it’s worth (case above).

Well the obvious answer is it definitely promotes a sense of accomplishment. In a time where most aspects of life don’t offer that, seeing that complete list, knowing that you put in the time and dedication to complete something (and complete it well) is a really fulfilling thing. The simplest thing I can juxtapose it to would be the futility of trying to keep the gaming section in order when I used to work for Bestbuy. Even if I got it to the point where I thought it was perfect – all it took was a day or two before it was torn asunder. And constantly working on it was Einstein’s definition of insanity.

Part of it may be that I have some OCD tendencies. There is just something really satisfying about seeing a completed list of trophies for a game. That 100%. That nice platinum. All of the (intended to be seen) artwork the developers produced for the trophy images. Mmmmmmmmmm. Seeing the games completed, knowing that I’ve done it all and never have to look back, and to some extent – more importantly, I can look at that list and not have to say “Oh, I just need that last trophy to finish” and have it eat away at me while I do other things. Yes, I have admitted I have a problem when it comes to gaming. If you read this regularly, you already know this.

Finally, I’ll say this: It can be really fun. Some trophies, I know I’ll never get. Games that requires 100 hours of online play (especially fighting games…I’m looking at you MK9!) will almost certainly remain blank. But those trophies that require you to learn the skills the game has to offer and then use them in an application that isn’t fundamental to the core game itself – fun. I also really like the trophies that reward you for exploring the game beyond the linear path. Because nearly 30 years of gaming has taught me there is always something around that corner or on that floor that you could otherwise skip.

So there you have it. A peak behind the curtain of The Ego and his eccentricities. Let me know why you do or not, in the comments.

– The Ego

 

You don’t know me!

Yea, I talk about Overwatch a lot. And, I’m going to again today.

I was thinking about the new hero announced, Orsia. Another robot added to the roster, for those of you who don’t play – the majority of the human’s were involved in a war against cybernetic beings called “The Omnic”. That’s all the backstory I’m going into (frankly, there isn’t much more). But they’ve done something, that I don’t quite know how to put my finger on it.

They engedered the robot. This is what she looks like:

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Now, I don’t particularly care one way or another whether the voice is masculine or feminine sounding, but I find it particularly odd that they chose to give this bovine machine a gender.

Mostly because the contrasting robot is this:

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And all it’s capable is beeps and boops and wooos.

I’ll say this: I have nothing but the utmost respect for Blizzard and their goal for equalising the male/female character ratio and their dedication to diversity. In fact, it’s one of my favourite things about the characters. It’s not just a selection of stereotypical videogame character tropes. I mean, of course there is a bit of that, but I feel like it’s more of a subtle nod or satirical punchline rather than sticking to the “norm”.

But is the ideology so locked in that even the robots have to fall within those lines? Is gender politics too entrenched in the minds of the developers. The fear that someone would consider Bastion to be “male” and, by that action, tip the scales in a way that may offend? My concern is that because art is a liberal medium (generally) that it tends to be too apologetic, too concerned with political correctness that things have to be a certain way or else there will be a falling out with a certain demographic.

And gender in gaming has been a hot button topic for some time know. I’ve seen petitions and criticism over games like GTA not including female protagonists. I do agree that there needs to be better representation of gender/ethnicity/etc in gaming. Especially in the area of not making all females sex objects. That being said – I wonder when I see things like this because I feel like people are taking that too far.

Of course, as I stated at the beginning – I think Overwatch has done a wonderful job in terms of representation – and I think the culture of developers is moving in that direction. Games like Mass Effect allowing the end user to decide sexual proclivity of their characters is fantastic. So I hope that when making decisions in terms of building a character, that the concern isn’t to meet standards or expectations. However, to make the best possible character in terms of the vision.

In this case – it almost would have been cooler/more fitting to have the robot be a little more animalistic – and given Blizzard’s experience with WoW – something closer to a Tauren is exactly what I’m picturing. Especially since the canon has a brilliant African 11 year old as the creator of Orisa. I think that part of the story fits the game perfectly.

Then again, in some ways I prefer the fact that the robot has some personality. Even if it feels a bit shoehorned in. Mostly because the idea of another robot that just makes a bunch of beeping and whirring sounds would probably make me want to pound my head against the wall. So, maybe this is a good thing. I would take a gendered robot over a Bastion clone any day of the week. Nothing more annoying than his sounds.

Maybe I’m just reading into this too much. Maybe they really just didn’t want another bland character who is incapable of actual speech. Who knows? I’m just another gamer with too much time on his hands. Let me know what you think in the comments below, or you can tweet to me or post on the Facebook group.

– The Ego

My name is The Ego…

And yes, I have a problem. And yes, I know I’ve said it before. But this time, I’m doing something about it!

This has come up in my blog time and time again – backlog issues. What’s the issue? Well, I buy too many games apparently. At least this is one of those problems I can kind of track back to it’s source. When I used to work retail, I was really good at my job. And being good at my job led to me getting a lot of gift cards/free things. So I bought pretty much anything I had any inclination towards playing for about a year, and on top of that, I also picked up anything that looked even remotely interesting when it was on clearance, so I got it dirt cheap.

Oh, and fixating on one game for long periods of time. Like Overwatch and my incessant need to get those holiday event legendary skins. Takes up a lot.

Now, factor that in to a healthy attitude towards buying the good/must have releases of any given year, and you end up with nearly 30 games that have barely/have not seen the light of day yet.

So with that in mind, I’m (for the first time) making a reasonable plan to combat the issue. One of the first “adult” decisions regarding my gaming: I’m just not buying anything new until I can clear out my backlog. Or…you know, find something that is a must play day one game.

I even took it one further. Any of the games that I had coming out with an actual release date that I had pre-ordered at a discount – cancelled. Yes, I have given up on new games and good deals (though, cancelling the new Ghost Recon game came as a sigh of relief after I played the open beta…)And for anyone who knows me, this is huge. I’ve even written about the desire to buy games that might be interesting just because it’s a good deal. But I’ve given it some serious thought. Even if I manage to snag some new release at a “steal of a price” which often means at least half off, if I don’t get around to playing it till a year later, or longer in some cases, then – was it really a deal? I mean, good chance is it went cheaper at some point, so I didn’t win there, and I didn’t play it right away, so I lose there too.

So step 1 accomplished. Nothing new coming in.

(As an aside, I picked a devastating time to do that too, as Horizon: Zero Dawn, my most anticipated game of some time, is due out tomorrow)

On to step 2: Clear it out!

I will say that I am working diligently to hack my way through the library like so many vines in the jungle. So far, so good. Over the last week and a half I managed to finish Farcry 4 and Littlebigplanet 3. And I got a number of the trophies as well. So there’s that. But what I don’t is just brazenly dispense with the games in some consumerist driven frenzy. I still want to play and enjoy them, so I am.

How fast will I finish the other 28+ games? Who knows. Hopefully in time for some of the bigger releases of this year to still make their way to me within a reasonable time frame.

All that being said: I feel good about my decision. Liberated even. Frankly, aside from just picking out games I don’t foresee myself playing in a relative time frame, and just unloading them online, etc – this is really the only option. And, as a gamer, it’s nice to finally get to all of the things that had my interest – fleeting or not.

I don’t know how other people manage this. Life and gaming. Especially to the level with which I’ve become accustomed. But, I’m striving for balance. Let me know if you have any tips.

– The Ego

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

This last year has seen a lot in the way of end of life consoles and features. The Wii U is dead (finally), though frankly it was stillborn to begin with. PS3 will no longer support PS Now.

But this year also saw the release of the NES Classic console and a bevy of retro games (specifically on the E-Shop). And in the last couple of years, the “retro” 8 and 16 bit games have become increasingly popular.

But, how does this all stand up?

Don’t get me wrong – I grew up on the NES/SNES. Games like Contra, Zelda and of course, the titular Mario Bros games. And I do still love them. In fact, I recently got myself an SNES. But with the sophistication of current games – is simple nostalgia enough to keep us engaged?

I think of games like Mega Man. An absolute classic. I don’t think anyone could dispute that Mega Man 2 is easily one of the best games of the generations. That being said – how does it stack up next to say, Fallout 4 or The Witcher 3?

Obviously the older stuff isn’t as technically proficient. And, things like the controls are considerably more simplistic. But are those the deciding factors? Is there a way to say “X is better than Y”? Is that the question we should even be asking?

All I can say, from personal experience, is a lot of those games just don’t hold up like I (and I’ll say we and speak for some of you) would like them to.

I think of picking up the NES Classic, but then I look at those games and think: Do I really want to spend 80$ to play Bubble Bobble? Or, is the real fun of Bubble Bobble, in my mind – I mean, the memory of playing it side by side with my friends (and in my case, my grand mother) as a kid?

bub-2

And I know, for whatever reason, nostalgia is a huge part of this generation (age group). So I, by default, should be in love with all of the retro stuff coming out. And part of me is. But it’s just nostalgia for nostalgia’s purpose.

I think I’m more interested in where we are, and where we will be potentially over the course of the next few years. The potential in the gaming industry right now seems virtually limitless. VR, despite it being an early incarnation, has some very interesting possibilities. Games, in general, have gotten more complex in terms of actual gameplay, graphics, stories, etc. Even games that I thought there was no hope for the series – like Resident Evil – have surprised me and put out some super high quality games. Which is especially amazing, given the proclivity towards the retro, since Resident Evil 1 was easily one of my favourite PS1 games. In that sense, this nostalgic indulgence is definitely a positive for the future of the industry.

Ok, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that indie developers are reaching back to our roots and showing us where we came from – and are doing some things to make them new and innovative. I also think it’s great that consoles like NES Classic exist for those who never had the opportunity to play through Zelda when it came out.

But this focus (read: cashing in) on the nostalgia of our generation isn’t something I can really get on board with. As far as my consumer dollar goes – I will be laying it down for the new and truly innovative. That is to say, there is nothing wrong with working on something new with a nostalgic twist to it. Every new Zelda has been as good or better than the last – with a few exceptions.

What do you think? Are we better off looking to the past for inspiration and fun, or keep our eyes on the horizon and wait to see what breakthroughs are sure to develop – some in the near future. Let me know in the comments.

– The Ego