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Archive for June, 2010

Thoughts on E3 2010

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Now I didn’t go or anything, but much like I’m sure most of you I’ve been tracking some E3 Activity over the internet.  I’ll not bore you by rehashing the news items that I’m sure Kotaku or other gaming news sites have already covered for you, but I’ll just add my two cents.

First, while I am a fan of the name “Kinect” for Xbox’s motion control system, I am currently incredibly underwhelmed by what both it and Playstation Move have to offer.  Most of what I’m seeing feels like off-brand Wii titles, and I’m already bored with those kinds of games on the Wii.  What I want to see out of motion controls on those platforms is motion controls applied to “Triple A” HD games.  Anything else is just being a Wii knock off and frankly, as of right now, I’d rather play these kinds of things on my Wii, if for no other reason than I have a Wii and the investment is already there for me.

The Xbox360 slim is an interesting product, though not one I am in a hurry to get.  I will doubtlessly get one once my 360Pro bites the bullet, but no sooner.   I see nothing compelling enough about it otherwise to get it sooner.

I’m really thrilled at the titles announced by Nintendo this year, which is the exact opposite of last.  I can’t wait to buy a 3DS and will probably try to get one as close to launch as possible.  I’m still using a classic DS, yes I don’t even have a DSlite, so this strikes me as the time to enjoy that Nintendo portable upgrade I’ve been waiting for.   Zelda: Skyward Sword looks fun, I’ll buy it and play it without a doubt, and Kirby’s Epic Yarn looks fun enough for me to consider buying it, though probably not as a day 1 title.

Some of the games I’m most looking forward to from E3 are coming out this summer on XBL Arcade.  Castlevania: Harmony of Despair looks like it could be a ton of fun for someone like me who absolutely loves the 2D “Metroidvania” games. I’m also really looking forward to seeing if Uber Entertainment’s fusion of Third Person shooter and DotA works out in “Monday Night Combat.”

Outside of the XBL Arcade view of things, my interest is piqued on Vanquish.  So far Platinum doesn’t seem to be able to make a game I don’t at least enjoy, as I found MadWorld fun and Bayonetta incredible, so perhaps with Vanquish they can impress me again.   I’ve also seen some pretty interesting gameplay footage of T.E.R.A Online which promotes that game from “oh another pretty Korean MMO” to “OOooo that looks interesting.”  I will probably have to check it and Blade and Soul out when they each come out.

The most painful moment of E3 for me had to be the news that they were re-making Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday to PSP.  I was a huge fan of the Parasite Eve games on PS1, and would normally revel in the opportunity to enjoy the ongoing adventures of Aya Brea and her struggle against the soft-science Neo-Mitochondria.   Unfortunately, as much as I love Aya, I don’t love her enough to get a PSP, I really don’t.   So sadly, just like the first publish of this game on Japanese cell phones in the early 2000’s, I’ll have to pass.

Finally, Vigil Entertainment’s WH40K: Dark Millennium Online and Relic’s WH40K: Space Marine both look like they could do a solid job of keeping me into the 40k Universe while GW’s tabletop product continues to do a fantastic job of keeping me out of it.  Both games strike me as very risky as this is both Vigil’s first MMO and Relic’s first not-RTS, but based solely off trailers both games look very pretty and fun and epic.  Of the two I’d say Space Marine has the greater chance of success since whenever I play Gears of War I always feel like a Space Marine, and now that feeling doesn’t have to be in my head only.  That being said, I look forward to this PC-tweaked version of Darksider’s gorgeous engine on for 40K:DMO and seeing how the game play for it will actually work.

2011 and on has some pretty solid games on the horizon, and these games only add to the list of titles I’m looking forward to which include Guild Wars 2 and to a lesser extent SW:TOR.  No fear for this gamer, I have plenty of titles to look forward to by end of this year and looking into the next!

Reach an Understanding

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

I have an obsession with understanding things.  The previous statement requires clarification.  What I am trying to say is that I recognize that I cannot know everything, but I have a desire to have an at least fundamental understanding of many things.  I feel that even if you fail, the effort of understanding something can grant you sufficient knowledge to find peace with its existence, and allow you to more effectively deal with the subject matter in the future.

As an example, many men feel they cannot understand women.  For most, it is sufficient to leave it at “Women make no sense,” and base their dealings with the other gender with that mentality forefront in their mind.  For me, I seek to understand why I have problems understanding some members of the opposite gender by befriending women and conversing with them.  What I’ve come to learn over the years is that in most cases it is not that “Women make no sense,” as much as “the particular human being you are dealing with, whom in this case happens to be a woman, is behaving in a way that is illogical to you.”  That is not to say that there are not somethings that despite my best efforts I still do not grasp, or that I’m some sort of saint of gender equality because I’m sure I’m just as bad as the next man about being insensitive to the other gender when I don’t even realize I am doing it.  The point is, rather than give up, I am still trying, and will continue to try because for some reason I can’t just leave it at “I can’t understand them.”

Okay enough about gender equality, I’m hardly an expert in that field.

When I posted last about developing an irrational hatred of World of Warcraft, I continued to explore what it was that was causing it.  While I’m not going to rehash what I wrote already, I will mention my process for this was to indulge myself in the community once again, pretending for a moment I hadn’t frozen my account out of frustration.  I watched some machinima, read and watched some guides on the latest Raid encounters, and read about some of the latest news regarding the game.   Exposing myself to this material did start to remind me why I played the game for so many years: that the game itself has some sort of, for lack of a better word, “magic” that draws a very dedicated community around it, one that is hard to find in any other game.  WoW players share a vocabulary, a list of in-game and social skills that the game fosters in them, and as such WoW players have a kinship for each other.  Many WoW players carry marks of membership to this community with them, using their terminology in other games.

That’s not to say that all WoW players are “nice” to each other – they aren’t. There are in fact deep rivalries within the community, the most obvious of which between the game’s two factions (which is a hilarious and fascinating topic of discussion in and of itself), but also between certain character classes, pvpers vs raiders, hardcore vs casuals, etc etc.   Still once you ‘belong’ to one of these communities, you can find entertaining social experiences through the game that are hard to find elsewhere.  Being part of a weekly raid group is a unique experience and it’s hard to imagine anything I’ve done that was like it.

In realizing this I think I have come to understand why I had developed such hatred for the game.  The mechanical underlying game of World of Warcraft has become a barrier between me and this community to which I once belonged.   I had grown so fed up with the game itself I could no longer belong to this community which I used to enjoy.  So now, when I sit on the other side of the fence, as a non-player, and watch members of the community revel in Arthas’ defeat or their shiny new epics, and wax poetic about the next expansion (which still sounds overall stupid to me), I grow angry at the game that is keeping this community I miss enthralled when I’ve grown so very done with it.

To put it another way, World of Warcraft gave me new friends, and then took them away, and that is why I hate the game.

In coming to this understanding, my hatred for it has cooled.  Irrational emotional reactions to news from the game has stopped, and I’m able to objectively consume such information like a normal human being again.

I still have no desire the to play the game short of finding some way to pretend I’d never played it before and start over from scratch: new server, new characters, possibly different faction, and make new friends so I don’t have to deal with the old ones, and even that idea isn’t that appealing (I’d rather go back to Aion at this point and see how patch 1.9 turned out).  Still my efforts to understand the people who still play the game and still enjoy it despite its growing number of flaws has allowed me to come to terms with what was an irrational behavior and put a stop to it.

My next project is to figure out why on Earth someone would play DotA or HoN over LoL.  I get that LoL is “dumbed down” lacking such things as ‘creep denial,’ and uses a far simpilier item shop mechanic, but to me these systems are improvements over obstuse and hard to understand implimentations from before.  It’s kind of like how at first EQ fans said WoW was too easy, when in fact much of about WoW that made it “easier” (like removing exp penalties for player death) made it a vastly superior (as in “more fun”) game.

Anyway, I’m hoping reading some articles and watching some videos or replays from either game can clue me in on what I’m missing, and if not, I’m sure the exercise will help me appreciate LoL more if nothing else.  After all, it’s just something I do, even without thinking about it.  The quest for understanding must go on.