Tag Archives: screw you ebert

Artificial Difficulty

Hello all! No, you’re not seeing things, you’ve actually just got a little message on twitter or whatever telling you your very favorite videogaming blog of all time has updated. Let’s get right to business and start talking about some videogames!

So chances are good that you’ve heard of the game Dark Souls which was made by From Software. It is the successor to Demon’s Souls, a game which wasn’t released outside Japan but thanks to having English-language options managed to become a cult hit thanks to importation. Sadly it’s only on the PS3 so nobody has actually played it because who owns one of those, but Dark Souls has been released on 360 and PC as well, and it’s on the latter of these that I’ve been playing the game.

Dark Souls is infamous for its difficulty and this is not a reputation it has gained without reason. This game is difficult in the old-school sense, in that it’s uncompromising and you’re going to have to learn things like enemy attack patterns, how to block and parry and dodge, and level layouts to progress.

Turns out they occasionally do make 'em like they used to
Turns out they occasionally do make ’em like they used to

So here’s the thing: Until you have done some of that and get a handle on what you’re doing, this game can be really unfun to new players. It takes time to get into it, to find what works for you, to get into the flow of it. For me I didn’t really ‘enjoy’ the game until a few hours in, in fact I put it aside for a few weeks before being convinced to go back to it. And I’m glad I did, because once I did pass that stumbling block I really got into it – it’s a game that really rewards your investment and is one of the quintessential examples of “What you get out depends on what you put in”.

Of course any game which takes that long to get into is a flawed game, and I won’t say Dark Souls is perfect by any stretch. I enjoy the exploration and learning immensely but I’m not a tremendous fan of just how obscure the game can be about some things. But if you’re looking for an amazing experience and something to really get your teeth into then what you’ve heard about Dark Souls is pretty much all true – it’s a seriously great piece of software which does a great many things right and very few things wrong, and of those things it does wrong much is a matter of taste.

Basically what I’m trying to say is Dark Souls is superb and if you’re not already on the bandwagon you need to join it.

Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead

Spawned originally from the comic book, then the TV show, Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead is set in the same universe and, indeed, the same state of Georgia as a zombie apocalypse strikes and overwhelms humanity. Lee Everett is a convicted murderer being driven to prison when all hell breaks loose, setting him free as the world goes completely to hell. Very soon you come across Clementine, a young girl who has survived through this without her parents, who were vacationing in Savannah when the outbreak began. So begins your quest to keep yourself and Clem safe, find other survivors, and to face the various and extreme threats that beset your little group every day.

TWD is a point-and-click game made by some of the masters of the genre, including people from back when LucasArts was making such paragons of gaming as Sam & Max Hit The Road, the Monkey Island series, and Grim Fandango. So they know what they’re doing – and it shows in the game. The Walking Dead is a tense, melancholic affair where even the best outcomes come at a cost, where you feel intensely protective of people even as they’re pissing you off, and where the gameplay is sensible, well-paced, and works excellently with the setting. Even when you know you are safe there is a tension to the gameplay and you rarely, if ever, feel as though you aren’t under pressure to get things sorted out quickly.

What really stands out is the characters, which is damned good news for a zombie game that doesn’t go the action route. Clementine is an example of perhaps the rarest thing in all media – a child who is not annoying. Indeed, she’s incredibly sweet, she’s believably smart but still naive, and she reacts to Lee’s choices in a believable way. Because TWD is episodic and Chapter 5 is not yet out we can’t judge how this all wraps up so far so it may be it all falls apart and TTG will screw up, but so far that seems pretty unlikely. She is the focus of the game, really, and the quest on the part of both Lee and the player to protect her and, as time passes, to raise her well in that hellish world, is the centerpiece of the entire experience. It’s about choices, from the mundane conversations with Clem to life-or-death decisions that have to be made in a snap, and all of them have repercussions.

The game’s major failing is that there is no Daryl Dixon being unbelievably hot.

The game is not without flaws, primarily technical ones that are easily overlooked, and it would be nice to have a broader array of possible paths than exist but that would be a lot more work and is likewise forgivable. Still you can go into Chapter 5 with a variety of setups and people who have your back and it is quite feasible that what happens in the end will open up the desire to replay the game more than once. The game also does some cool little things; at one point you fight a zombie and what occurs is essentially a QTE, but the icons keep popping up and in your panic you keep hitting the buttons, even though the zombie is long ended. It’s a nice touch that makes a lot of sense and is probably the best use of QTEs since they were invented.

I would recommend The Walking Dead for anyone who wants a story-led game that is well-written, well-acted, and has a lot of tension. It’s a superb point-and-click that does damned near everything right and very few things wrong, and TTG have confirmed that a “Season 2” will be on the way at some point when they finish Chapter 5. Just to clarify, buying TWD gives you all of the Season 1 stuff including the soon-to-be-released Chapter 5. You can get a hold of it on Steam for PC, and it’s out on 360 and PS3 as well!

Dishonored. Also a TV show.

Apologies for our lax updating lately, Pike and I have been completely engrossed in WoW’s Mists of Pandaria expansion. Contrary to our prior cynicism about WoW and Blizzard’s direction, and our nostalgic view of the Burning Crusade era, MoP is quite honestly the best WoW has ever been. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about, that’s just an excuse for being lazy.

In between long stints in Pandaria I’ve been putting some hours into some other games; XCOM I’ve already talked about, and I’m going to write something about The Walking Dead soon having just got it last week on the advice of my bro Barry Manilow, but today’s topic is Dishonored.

In Dishonored you are Corvo Attano, the strikingly handsome personal bodyguard of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin and her daughter Emily. Within a few minutes of starting the former is killed in front of you and the latter kidnapped, with Corvo arrested and thrown into prison for the foul deeds. So begins your career as a nightmarish magic assassin. Now, do you guys remember BioShock? Remember how it was hyped as a game with a huge variety of possible playstyles, but which really turned out to have only a tiny handful of situational options and tended to be very samey? Well, Dishonored is everything BioShock was promising to be; you truly do have a good array of tools and abilities to play with, and you can play in some dramatically different styles. Stealthy thieving pacifist, stealthy and precise assassin of your target and nobody else, stealthy murdered of everything, noisy murderer of everything, using or not using any of a half-dozen neat abilities. It’s a really neat mix.

What really sells it though is the world and level design. Both on the aesthetic level and in the literal “how things fit together” manner, Dishonored is a tour de force. The world works perfectly with your skills to let you explore in a way that never feels forced. When you use your skills in some creative manner you feel like you’re clever for figuring it out; routes are generally shown and/or hidden sensibly and you feel sneaky when you find them. The city of Dunwall, where the game takes place, recently underwent a whale-oil fueled Industrial Revolution, and is filled with all manner of devices relating thereto. It’s also beset by the “Rat Plague”, which is carried by the creatures and causes massive hemorrhaging. Upwards of half the city is dead of it, and when you see mounds of corpses disposed out, and entire districts abandoned, it’s a truly grim vision. All but the very wealthiest experience the troubles arising from this – you’ll see peeling paint and cracks in the walls of all but the most important buildings and those belonging to the very richest. It’s one of the most immersive and unsettling dystopian settings I’ve ever explored.

It’s also Asshole Simulator of the Year, for my money.

Now, to step away from Videogames for a moment, even thought Pike won’t give my head peace once she sees it. There is a TV show I would briefly like to mention. It is a show about superpowered people. But it is a show which is not about the powers, it is about the people. The powers are things to be dealt with, with realistic constraints that never seem like forced efforts to hamstring people but rather clever and logical downsides. The characters are amazing and you want to spend time with them, the show is witty and hilarious a lot of the time, but also dark as fuck at times. The show is called Alphas, and I would really quite like to see them make a Season 3 so if you like great TV go watch it and talk about it!

Gamer? Hardcore? Enthusiast? Buff?

Today’s topic is about how we see ourselves, in terms of being gamers. Obviously (really REALLY obviously) everybody’s identity is a unique and complex thing, and the things important to one person might be incidental to another. To some extent this is, I suspect, where the hostility of “in-groups” like hardcore gamers or early adopters of new bands to newcomers stems from, but that’s a tangential topic so we’ll put it aside for now.

Pike and I both identify as “Gamers”, in the sense that we play a lot of videogames, think about them a lot, talk about them, and read about them both on and offline. Oh and I guess we write about them too! We’re at the far end of the spectrum, where it’s not just another thing we do for fun but an important, perhaps even central aspect of our identity. Just as a lover of books like my mom spends a huge amount of time reading, collects books, and has filled every room in her house with stuffed shelves and numerous stacks of books on the floor, Pike and myself are the same with games. But the terms surrounding this identity are strange and nebulous things with some very different connotations to different people. It would be absurd for someone to call themselves a “reader”, but we would accept a “connoisseur” of books much more readily. Everyone watches movies, but a “movie buff” is a different creature.

Pinkie Pie is a connoisseur. Of you.

So does “Gamer” really work as a label? Sure we play games, but so do enormous numbers of other people. “Hardcore”? It’s probably a bit closer, and we are indeed both tremendous neckbeards and deeply cynical of the direction the industry is going in, but it’s not like I don’t love a good round of Plants vs. Zombies and Pike does little else besides play Angry Birds these days. [Editor’s Note: I DO NOT I PLAYED IT LIKE ONCE IN MY LIFE. ~Pike] “Connoisseur”? Perhaps that fits a bit better in that we are, after all, interested in gaming as a whole medium and are fascinated with it beyond just playing the things. It was easier when we could just insult the people playing the other side’s console because SEGA was far better than Nintendon’t.

So, time to open up the comments! What sorts of terms do you readers use in this regard?

Mass Effect 3 to get ending DLC

You’ve most likely already heard about this, but I thought I would share some of our thoughts about the situation anyway. As you may recall I’ve written at some length about the endings as they stand, so I won’t retread that here. And it wouldn’t be a revelation on the scale of Saint John’s to say I hope they do it well, though I am somewhat skeptical as it sounds like they are just adding to the cinematics rather than doing the work that I suspect needs to really be done in order to fix this up properly.

Still, there is something about this all that is very heartening. There has been a lot of talk about “artistic integrity” and whatnot in relation to the ending – that BioWare shouldn’t change the ending because of fan dissatisfaction. To some extent this is a fair point, as otherwise we would no doubt have all kinds of nonsense like Square trying to make games more like FFIX instead of, you know, good FFs. Nonetheless the attitude that fans are ‘entitled’ is bizarre, for a great number of reasons. First, yes we are. We’re entitled to getting our money’s worth and if a product, for whatever reason, doesn’t deliver that then we are perfectly within our rights to demand improvement. Maybe not to expect it, but to want it, certainly. If I buy a car and some aspect of it doesn’t function properly it’s not unreasonable to want that to be fixed, whether it’s something trivial or vital to the car’s functioning. Second, and our dear Pike can elaborate on this with far greater insight and expertise than I can, it is a pretty well-established notion when you create a creative work and put it out for people to consume, it becomes the property of the consumers. I’m a writer. I dread the idea of someone taking my work and finding it so thoroughly flawed that they want big changes made. But if that does happen, I sincerely hope I have the humility and integrity to sit down and consider the complaints on their own merits – and if they do indeed have merit, to see how a solution can be incorporated. When Pike first explained that to me I was somewhat horrified. “It’s mine!” I cried, “I can do what I want with it!” Well, yes. I can. That doesn’t make it wise to do so, and it may demonstrate great disrespect for the people who are sharing this work with me.

This has nothing to do with anything, but tell me that's not the most metal England you've ever seen.

The more interesting aspect here is that they’ve been willing to do this. To whatever extent they do make changes, to go back and change a fictional work once it’s done is fairly unusual. Yes you have, say, director’s cuts in movies when they’re out on DVD, and remixes of music tracks, but those aren’t really the same thing as making a change to the canonical version of the thing itself. The only real precedent I can think of, and Pike and I tried for some time to come up with something, was the Broken Steel DLC for Fallout 3. But even that was a small change, a simple “Oh you survived after all” and the ability to carry on after finishing the main quest, as it should be. And it was paid. The ME3 DLC is to be free, and at least has the potential to make significant, even sweeping, changes to the canon of the series.

What are your thoughts on this, readers? Are you hopeful, or do you despair about BW’s caving to angry mobs? Does this bode well or ill for the industry? Tell us what you think in the comments!

Mass Effect 3 Ending Discussion

I shall warn you now: This is going to be a long post, and it is also going to contain an overabundance of spoilers, not only for the very end of ME3 but plot points throughout the series. Therefore if you are not interested in having it spoilt for you, do not read beyond this point!

Now we’ve all seen the great hullabaloo surrounding the ending of Mass Effect 3 – RPS provides a good summation of the current state of affairs – and that lets us launch into one of the core points that needs to be made explicit right from the beginning. People are invested in this game, this series, and deeply so. Mass Effect has been going for five years now, encompasses three vast games, and a number of other media like books and comics. A core concept of creative endeavor is that the creator and the consumer of it are engaged in a compact – at the very simplest level this compact is that the reader/player/watching agrees to suspend disbelief, while the creator agrees to deliver a satisfying story. The suspension of disbelief is vital. When you find the story coherent and internally consistent, you’ve got yourself a stew going. When you encounter something that is obviously nonsensical, contradictory, or the like, your ability to suspend disbelief is harmed, perhaps even shattered, and that makes your ability to enjoy the tale weaker. You can read a fairly excellent summation of this whole concept here, although the last bulletpoint may not apply!

In short this does matter. It’s not just the ending of a game, it’s the ending of something that people have invested in. Invested their money, their time, and their emotions. If anything the outrage is a testament to BioWare. Nobody gets too worked up about something they don’t care much about, but when we do get attached to things we naturally have expectations.

This honestly has nothing to do with anything, we just needed a picture to break up the text.

The problem, therefore, is not that the ending was anything in particular. It’s not that it was sad or happy or bitter-sweet or anything in-between. There’s nothing wrong with any particular ending, but it does have to have thematic ties, foreshadowing, and when it purports to be the ending of a series, it needs to provide satisfaction. Mass Effect 3 only succeeds on the first two in a very shaky fashion, and falls down on the third entirely.

The three choices given at the end of the game, by Magical Star Child von Ex Machina III, are roughly as follows – you can choose to either Destroy the Reapers, to Control the Reapers, or to merge all organic and synthetic life in the galaxy. The first of these options is fine – you’ve been trying to do that all game. The second is problematic. You’ve been specifically trying to stop the Illusive Man from figuring out how to control them throughout the game, and it’s pretty much outright stated that it’s not possible to control them. It turns out they can be, but you’re never given much reason to think it’s a good idea. In previous ME games choices like that were always given context and meaning. In the original game at the end you are presented with a choice of whether to charge in to save the Galactic Council, or hang back as it will help you fight more effectively. Sacrificing them has another purpose however – throughout the game you’ve seen humanity’s place in the galaxy, and how they are not given the due they feel they deserve. Failing to save the Council would propel your species to a position of power, as the new Council would be built around the people who saved the Citadel itself.

Conversely, although the possibility is raised in ME3 of controlling the Reapers, it’s never highlighted as a serious proposition. It’s something a madman is doing, something that the Reapers themselves have suggested to him in order to divide humanity’s efforts.

But at least that has some measure of foreshadowing, hamfisted as it is. The third option, “Synthesis”, comes right out of left field. Now, let’s be clear, I am an ardent transhumanist in the real world and fully desire ascension to becoming cybernetic. However, in this game it is completely insane to think Shep would choose that in the state he reaches the end in. He’s seen synthesis – it’s how the Reapers get their ground forces. There would need to be a HELL of a lot more in the way of setting this up beforehand for it to be remotely palatable.

The third problem with the choices given is that Shepard is not the kind of person who just accepts the choices given. The series is about defying the inevitable fate others have prescribed, and it doesn’t just come through in the big picture. A lot of small quests throughout the game can have an alternative option that Shepard figures out where nobody else could. At this point he should absolutely be able to say “Fuck you, we’re done playing by your rules.” as a Renegade, and “But look at the evidence” as a Paragon. And then what you have done in the series to date has an effect on what happens next.

How you have played should totally influence how the endings work out. Here’s how I envision things: You have brought peace to the Geth and Quarian, and present this to the Catalyst as evidence. It responds by saying “Yes, temporary peace has been achieved. Only through our presence. We have seen this in preceding cycles.” and they give you a long list where it has occurred. Then you can offer “EDI and Joker are in love.” as evidence, and the Catalyst says something like “Interesting. We do not have enough reference points to determine the outcome of this eventuality.” and then you have speech checks to convince the Catalyst to at least give the galaxy a chance to see if it can work. Alternatively you can choose to fight on, and then the battle just plays out. The outcome is determined by your War Assets – you should entirely be able to lose everything here! That would be a really great bad ending that made sense. And either of this would put things in the player’s hands, and made the choices over the game and series fundamentally matter. You could have three tiers of outcome – victory, a close defeat that is a Pyrrhic Victory for the Reapers and gives hope that the remaining galactic powers might be able to muster enough force to survive (or at least that the next cycle will), and total, crushing defeat.

So much for the choices. Let’s move on to the consequences. The choices of the ending are bad, but the outcomes are if anything even worse. Very little makes sense here. You see almost nothing except a few dying repears or whatever, and then the Mass Relays start blowing up (Seriously all it took was ONE LINE from Hackett earlier about how the Crucible’s effects seem to be propagated through the Relay system) while Joker is escaping through one. Why is he running when Shepard isn’t confirmed dead, and indeed the Citadel just opened, so Shep is probably not dead? How did Ashley and Liara get back aboard the Normandy? Who knows! Anyway the advertised multiple endings just plain don’t exist. You get a couple different colors of explosions, and you get a few minor scene changes, and that is that.

Gamers want choices. And we want choices that matter – choices and consequences used to be the watchwords of the RPG genre, and it is something we have sadly come to almost totally lack. One of the reasons Mass Effect was always so exciting was that it promised to oppose this trend – but it hasn’t done anything of the kind. It presented a total copout, in fact. Now, take my suggestions above, and you can see just how disappointing it is. I’ve not been spending forever drafting ideas, I pretty much plucked them out of thin air in the course of a few minutes. And though I’m not going to say I should be writing for videogame (I should totally be writing for videogames) it demonstrates that it would be easy to have come up with alternative endings that made sense. Endings that, as I’ve said but must hammer home, synthesize the gameplay and narrative choices over the course of the series to adjust your final options and their outcomes. This is surely the Holy Grail of games that purport to give the player significant choice – we all make gameplay choices constantly. Who to shoot in which order with which weapons, etc. etc., and how a battle plays out is the consequence thereof. In ME we make narrative choices regularly as well. Combine the two and baby, you’ve got a stew going!

Of course, this entire post rests on the concept that companies aren't evil bastards who destroy the best things ever.

Finally, when it comes to consequences, whatever the outcome we should have seen a lot more about your allies. Mass Effect is really about your other party members and how you interact with them. To see nothing except that they are stranded on an alien world is completely unsatisfying. Fair enough if you had a bad ending where Joker fled the battle once it was totally lost, I suppose, but otherwise just what. Assuming a good ending, like one where you convince the Reapers to leave or your superweapon works as advertised, you should see vignettes of where your comrades are five or ten years down the line. Liara excavating the ruins of Tuchanka. Javik is with her if you convinced him to become a bro, and they are working together to search for other Prothean ruins and perhaps other Protheans who survive in stasis. Garrus is a highup on Palaven helping to organize rebuilding. Wrex is doing the same on Tuchanka, keeping the tribes in line and working to create a new krogan identity. You see others as well, if they’re still alive. And finally you come to a scene maybe thirty years on, where you are older now, and your comrades too, and everyone who survived the series has gathered at the opening of a new Normandy Memorial Museum or something, a definitive and permanent memorial to the Reaper War and its heroes. You see a wall of the lost, as on the Normandy, you listen to your comrades make brief speeches about you, and you get to make a final one yourself about where the galaxy should go now.

That’s only one possibility of course. I understand that we all have our ideas about how everything should be different, too. I’m not trying to say I have all the answers and my ideas are best, but I am hoping to point out that not only is the current situation a bad one, it’s doubly bad because a better ending would not have been difficult to come up with, and given the money invested in the series, it wouldn’t have been an undue strain on resources to implement more.

Fundamentally it’s not disappointing just because of choices ignored, or consequences ignored, but because both are ignored in combination. Add a bit of nonsense and there we are. It’s disappointing not just as series fans, not just as paying customers, but as people who love the medium – because it could have been so much more, with so little extra effort. Maybe even enough to have a very clear way to demonstrate to Ebert that an experience can be enhanced by player agency and control, not diminished.

A Gaming Curriculum

Last night Mrs. Pike Adequate, co-blogger and better half of mine, were discussing the future possibility of creating, through arcane and unholy science, progeny of some manner. As is our wont the conversation turned towards videogames, and specifically how we would best go about educating Adequate II (Electric Boogaloo) in the history thereof. The thing is that yes, anyone can just pick up a game today and have a good time, but this is an important artform and cultural expression to us, so we would want them to have a comprehensive and informative education. There are a huge number of classic games from back in the day, but unlike other artforms the constant advancement of gaming technology means some of them won’t be so readily picked as others; this is something we intend to avoid.

So far we have come up with the following policy. Beginning 1985 with the C64, the child will play every major console from the successive generations. They will be assigned a number of classic games of particular importance, and be allowed to choose a handful of electives per system as well. Once they have completed these, they will move on to the next console, until they reach the current generation of the day. They will also be playing PC games throughout this time, of course, keeping rough pace with the console generation they have reached. Only when they have achieved a sufficient knowledge of how gaming has developed, and of the classics of yesteryear, will they be getting any kind of contemporary system or game.

Now, the thing is that we want to demonstrate games that are important as well as ones that are good. It’s all very well making them play Strategy Games Throughout The Ages, but that’s not going to be broad and rounded enough – how will they understand why DooM was important, for example? So Pike and I need to come up with a list of games that had significance in the history of gaming, not only because they were good but because they were important, for whatever reason. And this is where you all come in, readers!

If they don't know Vvardenfell geography better than real-world geography, they're no child of mine!

What would you consider the canon required for a comprehensive gaming education? Not just those that are the best, or personal favorites, but ones which can be identified as important to the development of the field – perhaps even ones that can be argued to have harmed it? No matter how obvious it might seem, tell us what you would call essential, and if you feel inclined, tell us why!

Boss Fight of the Year

Having finally bothered to set aside some time to play through Batman: Arkham City, I have to say it’s a fantastic game whose story (Or rather the last fifth of the story) is a little bit of a letdown, but that doesn’t bother me because holy. Christ. This game has one of the best boss fights I can ever remember enjoying.

Also dat voice HNNNNNGGGGGG

The fight with Mister Freeze is superb. It is brilliant. It is genius. I’m almost tempted to leave it there because saying almost anything could begin to spoil things, but that would make for a rather short blog post so I’ll take that risk. The core of the fight is that Freeze’s suit is a giant-ass super-awesome thing that even Batman can’t damage directly, because if he tries Freeze will just shoot him with his ice gun or something. (I want an ice gun.)

So you need to figure out how to attack him. Only here’s the thing; everything you do he will adapt to. You cannot use a single tactic more than once, because he will sabotage anything you could use to repeat it. This is not a gimmick or anything, it is brilliantly executed and it genuinely felt like I was in a battle of wits to try and figure out new tactics to try against him, whilst he was hunting me down and I was trying to avoid him. It took me several goes to win the fight, and I did not mind one bit. In fact I loved every second of it. It is, for my money, a quintessential example of how to stage a boss fight. He is entirely unique in the game, requires a wide array of Batman’s abilities, and engages the player completely. Every other developer should take notes on how this whole thing is conceived and formulated.

So I’d like to throw the question out there to y’all about this topic. What are some bosses you’ve found particularly enjoyable and engaging in your gaming?

Why “Growing Out of Games” is a Foreign Concept to Me

I hear this a lot, both on the internet and elsewhere. People who say that they can no longer enjoy games and rationalize it as “getting too old” or “growing up”. Note that I’m not talking about a lack of time here– I fully understand that games are time consuming and that, the older we get, the less time we tend to have.

But there seems to be this sort of prevailing idea that games are a toy or mere plaything more than a valid entertainment form.

You don’t grow out of books.

You don’t grow out of movies.

You don’t grow out of watching TV.

You don’t grow out of listening to music.

So why would you grow out of video games? The thought baffles me.

Playtime is for everyone. Even ponies.

Games suck me in just as much these days as they did when I was younger. SMAC, EU3, and Civ IV are a very small sample of games that have all pulled me in and enthralled me just in the last few years alone. And it’s not just “older” games that are doing it– recently, Skyrim has really made me feel like I did back when I was exploring the worlds of, say, Ocarina of Time or early World of Warcraft. The excitement of the games I play lingers well after I turn it off, too, which why this blog exists. I want to talk about games and share my experiences with them. I always have, and even nearing thirty years old now I still do.

Or maybe I’m just unusual. Maybe it is possible to “grow out” of games. Maybe the really interactive nature of games equates them more to something like dance or sports or competitive chess– because you do have to put some amount of work and effort into it, it becomes more relaxing to just not bother. So people for whom it isn’t a priority fade away.

I hope not, though. I don’t ever want to lose what I have with games.

What do you guys think?

Forget micro, I want picomanagement!

I’m not a huge fan of most racing games, though of course there are exceptions like Wipeout, Rollcage, and Burnout. However the apex of the genre is without question Gran Turismo, which might not necessarily be to my taste in genre terms, but which has one incredibly strong appeal that really does tempt me.

You can customize everything. This game offers the kind of spergy detailed control and tweaking that really should make Strategy gamers think twice about our claims to be spergy over details. The same sort of thing appears in the NASCAR games which my dad used to play; you can customize the shock absorbance of each individual shock… thingy… look I’m not a car guy, that’s not the point.

The point is why don’t we have this sort of thing in other genres? I’m 100% behind racing game fans having a game like GT, it’s only good. I just want to know where the game that lets you design a train with that level of detail is, or an airplane. And then we get to the things I really want to see personally, which starts Gran Turismo crossed with Wipeout. Can you even fathom that level of detailed control and tweaking over your nifty little Auricom F-3600 AG racer?

Of course if you recall my recent post on different ship design methods in 4X games, you can probably see where this is going. Yep. I want a game where you can tweak the voltage that runs through the coils of your gauss cannon. I want a game where you can change the total range of movement of your ion thruster nacelles and get different effects. I want a game so incredibly complex that it makes Aurora look small-time.

I also want a game where you can do this with mechs. Armored Core is nice, but I don’t just want a bunch of different components, I want to modify each and every component individually. When will the world realize how desperately it needs to fulfill my unbelievably specific requirements?