Monday, July 30, 2012

What makes a game?

So, this time I've decided that I'll talk about what I actually prefer in a game. This will give a little more definition as to what kind of gamer I am, my views, etc. As I said in my little About Me box, I got started playing video games on the NES, when my dad got me playing Super Mario Bros. Oddly enough, I haven't really turned into a platform game type. That would probably due to the fact that most of the games I've played since have included, as stated in my previous post, such games as the Legend of Zelda series, the Metroid games, as well as a mixture of racing, puzzle, action/adventure, strategy games.. I've pretty much ran the gamut of video games basically. Over the years I have, of course, favored certain genres and/or certain games over others, as any usual gamer will. As right now, my main genres that I enjoy playing are action/adventure games (so long as they have a decent story, I love going out and exploring places like that), strategy games (i.e. Sins of a Solar Empire, although technically that's a real-time-strategy/explore, expand, exploit, exterminate type game), with a few racing and puzzle games tossed in for variety. Oh, I almost forgot that I do play some FPS games now and then, but I don't feel like I got exposed to those types of games early enough to have the same reaction time as those who have been playing it for years, so I tend to get a little frustrated.

Now, why do I like the games I do? Well, I'm of the personal opinion that if a game has a story, it should be told well. Hence my preference for action/adventure games. Even though a lot of them can tend to be linear in their gameplay, the story is usually decently written. I admit that some action/adventure games can have really horribly written stories though. What makes a good story? Generally speaking (and again, this is my opinion), it is one that engages the player in the story itself. There should be a connection between the player and the characters in the game. If there is a character in the game that ends up dying, the player should either feel happy or sad that they are gone. Happy that they're gone because the person was a 'villain' and was causing horrible grief to the world/whatever setting the game is in, or sad because the person was highly useful and had a great character. As far as I'm concerned, a player should never just feel 'meh, no big deal' whenever a major character dies in a game. What else makes the story good? When the world the game takes place in is properly fleshed out. This is one of the few things that I have against one of the games I love, Fable. There is the world, and the world as it is because of events that happened long in the past, but that history is never explored. The only tidbits that we, as the players, ever get, is that such and such event happened in the past that still has an effect on things happening in the timeline of the Fable series. That's it. Nothing else is said about why these why these things happened, who or what caused them to happen, or anything like that beyond little bits and pieces here. Now, I know that a little more information has been given in various websites, but they are still just little pieces that don't really flesh out the world of the Fable series.

An example of a game with a rich story? Darksiders. Not only do you get a feel for the main character, but you also get a pretty good idea of why things are happening in the world. The rest of the characters also feel really nicely thought out, with well done personalities as well as reasons for their actions. They also did a good job of giving players the impression that something in the world just isn't quite right, and in the end confirm those impressions solidly. Since the game itself takes place on Earth and not some fantasy realm, they didn't have to delve too deep into history and instead simply had to focus on a bit of history for the characters and events happening in the game itself. I will have to admit that the gameplay itself is a little simplistic, but hey, it's kind of to be expected from a game that's mostly hack-and-slash. That's not to say the game isn't fun, because it is. And I think I need to stop here on this post, because my brain seems to have died out on me. Just one of those days. I'll try to continue this in a future post if I can, probably dealing with gameplay mechanics or what-not.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Long time no see.

Once again, I haven't posted in quite some time, partially from playing a few games that I've already talked about, partially because at least one of the games I'm currently playing is in closed beta, and partially because I just don't have much to talk about. I figured I'd use this time to just talk in general about games and the like.

Currently, I'm just a little disappointed with the way most developers seem to be going in terms of what games they are pushing out lately, although there are a few exceptions. One of them being Planetside 2, which I am very much looking forward to. From all that I have seen and heard, SOE seems to be doing a pretty good job of pushing out what will (hopefully) be a really great title that also happens to be free-to-play (henceforth referred to as F2P for those who might not have known the gamer vernacular) with a micro-transaction business model. Yes, I said micro-transaction business model, and in this case I don't think it will be a bad thing. As far as has been shown, it looks like the majority of things that will be available for purchase using real cash are going to be cosmetic stuff, like camo for your character and weapons. Personally, I'm perfectly fine with that kind of business model on a F2P game. It allows the business to potentially pull in a decent amount of cash while at the same time not alienating those who wish to not purchase things with real money. I've played plenty of F2P games where they have failed on that part through allowing purchases of things that are obvious (and sometimes huge) upgrades to anything that someone who plays the game completely free could ever hope of attaining.

Anyways, enough about Planetside 2. There's plenty of youtube videos for that, which would be far better in explaining it than I could in written form. What else have I been doing besides drooling over previews of PS2? Mostly Smite closed beta with a sprinkling of Tribes: Ascend here and there. I've also taken to the habit of going back to my Wii to play some old SNES, Nintendo 64 and Gamecube games, most of those being the Legend of Zelda and Metroid games. I've always loved how well the story-telling is in the LoZ series (although I'm still a little iffy on the official timeline bit..), and how you can just go and explore and find all the hidden secrets. Even if there isn't an outright story told in Metroid, the gameplay itself is in a way it's own story-telling. Here you have Samus, a silent protagonist, going through these various worlds (up until recently with little or no contact with anyone to talk to her), killing all of these alien Pirates to ensure that their plans for domination never come to fruition, all with the ever-elusive and mysterious Chozo haunting the background, in the form of their ruins as well as their technology. Even the Metroid Prime games still have heavy overlays of the Chozo in them, even when the missions don't take place on worlds that the Chozo themselves didn't inhabit. Yet, despite all of this, we still know so little of this star-faring species. I think it would be pretty cool if Retro Studios were to make a new Metroid that explored them in more detail. I suppose part of the reason this hasn't happened is that there may simply be too small of a demand for it.

Other than all that, not really too much to say. Still having the usual daily cussing bouts at the gameplay of the various teammates I end up with. Playing MMOs, especially of the like of Tribes and Smite, has definitely compounded my opinion that tactics really are a virtue, and a dying one at that. I leave that particular post (read; possible major rant) for some other time. And if anyone who reads this is lucky, I shall forever spare you from ever having to read it.