Friday, December 19, 2008

Some of the problems with MMORPGs

I'm not an MMORPG fan. This you may know and I'll say it upfront. Some of the stuff that happens in MMORPGs is interesting to read about and there are some creative folk who can spin a nice tale around something they experienced in an MMORPG. For me though the problem is that the worlds just aren't compelling enough.

Okay, that isn't entirely correct, the worlds are compelling but as soon as you set foot in it the effect rapidly wears off. The cutscene generates excitement but then grinding and questing and PvE events etc. etc. work to make the game into some kind of numbers and skills drive. Nice if you like it, total immersion breaking if you don't know what you are signing up for in an MMORPG.

Case in point? I recently had a look at WAR. It looked nice and everything (immersion breaking HUD aside). My friend (playing as a Magus) summoned his disk of Tzeentch, left the beautiful crystal cave he was in and then crested a hill to end up in the middle of an Elven fortress of some kind. "Cool" I said as the encampment stretched out in front of us, lined with archers, warriors and war machines. Meanwhile, the Elves seem pretty unfazed so we fire balled one and got his attention. A couple of seconds later, the guard was a burning corpse and the rest of the defense force......just stood around. Apparently, not at all fazed that their colleague had been killed and that the base was under some kind of attack. We then saw that a guildmate was in the area so we IMed them and met up. In the middle of the camp. An Orc and an evil wizard stood in the middle of an enemy encampment, shooting the shit, and not getting any trouble from the guards.

"I'm looking for a guy with a sword drop" Noggle IM'ed us.
"Yeah he's named, he's up on the ridge" Was my friends reply.

Both then went off, walked past about 30 guys, who weren't interested (unless you violate their personal bubble of about 2m diameter) greased the named guy and collected the sword. And so it went on.
If this was a game of any other genre, that kind of AI would be game breaking. Maybe Solid Snake and Sam Fisher had it all wrong. You don't need stealth just an air of confidence and you walk straight into the heart of the enemy, kill the bad guy and walk out the front door.

We then went into some kind of capture the flag PvP variant (escort the explosive barrel to the enemy base while they were trying to do the same deal) and the whole universe of Warhammer is shattered when you see 15 disorganised evil doers bundle 15 disorganised 'good guys' for 15 minutes straight. Running around like an idiot, jumping about, clicking icons and keeping your eye on four or five bars is not exactly my definition of fun. There were no tactics, no plan, no communication. Just 15 players spawning, buffing themselves (self gays), running into the fray, dying, respawning. Occasionally someone would pick a barrel up in which case there was some vague sense of escorting them to the base but everytime the ensuing melee would leave everyone, barrel carrier included, dead to start the pointless trial again.

It strikes me that a group of well organised players could dominate most of the game, until that is they hit bad guys of sufficiently higher level which is where MMORPGs suck people in. Leveling. I hate it. And these days, everything is leveling, spells, skills, renown, the guild blah blah blah.

It seems to me that MMORPGs could put their pretensions away for a while and learn something from other genres and dare I say it, console games. Here's a list, as ever, numbered:

1) More mini games.
I'm not talking about wiimote waggling mini games proper mini games that are engrossing and a whole new game in their own right. Remember the FFVIII card game? Addictive as hell. Why every MMORPG hasn't just ripped this off is bewildering. Or Blitzball!? I knew a guy who spent practically two years solidly playing blitzball in FFX. In a game like WAR the obvious mini game would be blood bowl. Imagine it. In fact, there's a whole new class, a Blood Bowl coach. Crap in combat but get some special items from a few quests to boost the coaches performance in a match and if your regional team beats another regions team, the whole faction gets a boost (in various things) until the next match.
Imagine hundreds of players congregating weekly to fill the stadium to watch a game. Hoping that their team wins. Hell, go down this road and you could have your own hall of fame per faction of players of renown.

2) Better Exploration.
A fraction (I won't hazard a guess as to how many) of MMORPGs cite exploration as reason for playing MMORPGs. Problem is, exploration in MMORPGs is shit. They need to take a cue from GTA and Oblivion (Fallout 3 too). Make exploration interesting. As Chuff_72, friend of TGAM says: "Anything, why isn't there a catapult on top of the highest mountain with a parachute to fire you around FOR FUN, or a ski slope, you could argue that this breaks the atmosphere but frankly that's a cop-out. A mini orc circus or fair, with a shooting game, SOMETHING other than walk miles, hit a guy in the face, walk some more." As someone who spent hours exploring San Andreas I fully agree. Reward the players with hidden areas and hide them so well that only the most avid explorer will find them. It could even be built into the game, if you get a guild of explorers together they can go off and discover whole new continents, unlocking new items globally.

3) Persistent worlds.
The ultimate MMORPG lie. Play Animal Crossing for a month and you have a real feel that you have changed the town. Swap records with friends in Pokemon and you are occasionally surprised to see a TV show talking about the feats of one of your friends from undertaking a hardcore feat through to the ridiculous. Play any RTS and you really get a feeling for your base, think carefully about where you build your new buildings and where you put bunkers etc. Play an MMORPG and the hub is the hub is the hub. Some areas can be 'captured' in MMORPGs but often this results in everything being blue to being purple, until the good guys recapture it. Why not launch an MMO where there are no settlements whatsoever. Players can then band together and start to build one. Harvesting resources and building villages, towns and cities in the shape they want. Take the building design thing from Spore, and the resource management and city creation from SimCity and Command and Conquer and you'd be on to a winner.
Players who build their own settlement will be much more connected to it and you'd start to get some interesting conflicts over resources for building between factions and between settlements.
Don't like the main city the players created? Find fellow players unhappy with the status quo and set up your own colony. Every building can be destroyed meaning that to get a big illustrious city you have to defend it pretty well. This means that if you went to a different server the world we be completely different depending on where the factions built their settlements. One server might be a classic setup with good in one corner and bad in the polar opposite. Another server might have one faction building cities whilst the other faction exists in a guerilla state, relying on thieving and raiding to live in nomadic like settlements. It would be great, trust me.

4) Better character customisation.
Okay a potential problem for PvP players because you need to recognise what class you are up against to work out if you are on the right side of the paper, scissors, stone triangle to bother with the fight. But come on. PlayStation games offered superior customizations than your typical MMORPG and they were games you weren't expected to spend 2000 hours looking at the back of your characters head. Character customisation is so dreary, you'd be hard pressed to tell one MMORPG from another from a screen shot, but you would be able to tell what class they were. Some might worry that you lose the sense of a universe if all the buildings and inhabitants looked completely different, but then most universe seem obsessed on making you kill 24 frogs, or rats, or crabs or XXXXs for rewards. At least make everyone start out generic but allow them to customise their character as they progress. That way players would know to instantly fear the giant electric pink gimp, not because they were a gimp but because they'd spent a lot of time in the game to customise their avatar to such a degree.

5) Dispense with leveling.
I don't know how this would work. Leveling keeps players playing and buying expansions and keeps MMORPGs in business. Dispense of it and it becomes another throw away game. Leveling as a means of progression is very cheap though and an easy way to prevent players from running from the starting hub right to the last stage or phase of the open world. Some other mechanism of unlocking new areas, items and skills would be desirable and help to take the genre away from being a basically tarted up numbers game.

6) Persistent worlds II
Did you beat the big bad boss that everyone in the last village was complaining about but didn't get the drop you wanted? It's fine, just come back later and he and his minions will be there again. Every day, round the clock. Narrative breaking. Immersion breaking. And sad to think that villages are kept in perpetual fear by the ever-respawning local bad guy. By the same token it would be a pretty poor game if you spend the whole time trailing the servers leading group, coming across the still warm corpses of all the big bad bosses. In some MMORPGs this system is so broken that you have to queue up to fight a particular battle. Game breaking indeed.
A way around this is, if you beat the local bad guy, you become the local bad guy. Taking their place either permanently, choosing to settle in, decorate the place and choose your own army of minions or by leaving a copy of yourself. This way, it at least makes sense in terms of the storyline and in theory could result in some interesting dynamics.

7) More server wide celebrities.
There may be some MMORPG 'celebrities' but unless you play every day and haunt the forums, you'd be hard pressed to pick out any kind of achiever, arch nemesis or hero on any given server. NPCs should be programmed to chatter about a particular player character who has been causing havoc recently. Some MMORPGs have a king or lord which is one way of drawing attention to successful players but more effort should be put into recognising individuals. If one guild consistently defends a settlement from being razed to the ground then the villagers should start singing their praises. And if the town is overtaken it takes a while for the citizens to stop complaining that things were better under the "I love willies" for example. This would help players build attachments to areas of the world and also add a bit of comedy when NPCs become attached to a particular player.

8) Get rid of the HUD and try to make things look more exciting.
I'm not offering up any answers to this but some of the stuff going on in EVE Online sounds amazing. Watch a video though and it looks like a poor screensaver. The same is true with fantasy MMORPGs. Watch the top players play against each other on GomTV and die of boredom as two avatars jump around each other until one falls over. The HUD and little numbers hovering above players heads need to go. Again, it all makes you take one step back from the universe and just looks , well crap. Also, we all know about bullshots in console games but compare the FMV of most MMORPGs and compare them to the game itself. They are two completely different entities. One is dramatic and exciting and leaves you wanting more and the other is boring and silly with little people firing blue crap at each other whilst hopping around. Plenty of other games manage to disguise or hide menus and lifebars so MMORPGs should look to do this so that regardless of whether or not you know what dps is, the fights look good to everyone not just the people behind the clicking or people who know exactly what is going on when 'the green shit appears on one guys head and the other guy keeps spinning on the spot". Hard to pull off but I think it would help in the long run. Perhaps a bushido blade system should be implemented. It would be hard and tip the scale in the favour of skill, over level and would probably drive most MMORPG players away.

So there we have it. Anyone in the know will probably go through this list one by one picking out why each of the above is either impossible or game breaking so we'll just stick with what we've got thank you very much. That may be fine but until then myself and a few others will remain skeptical that MMORPGs are little more than poor copycat machines designed to keep people paying subs. It's not that MMORPGs aren't popular of course but they could be a hellovalot more compelling IMO.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Preserved for future use

Comment on a PC whinge blog on a post about PC gaming and how EPIC games (the company) left it's nice smart, flat-chested girlfriend (the PC) for an attractive big chested slut (consoles). If this taken out of context, context isn't cringe-worthy enough:

"… and she has a drawer full of the most variegated toys and an active imagination concerning how to use them. This explains why, when slagging off on the ex, from time to time the new Console Elite’s pupils will dilate, his gait will devolve to something between a stagger and a waddle, and he will start muttering something about “configuration problems landing me in A&R a few times."

Dude. It's a PC. Make some graphs and leaflets if you need to but keep your trousers on whilst you do. Oh and stop watching Battlestar Galactica.

In other news:

TGAM's Top 10 PC games 2008:

1) The Sims 2. Dual heritage edition.
2) The adventures of super person in super land, where everyone else is entitled to and has the same level of adventures and super powers anyway.
3) Nintenisn'ttheworkforcemuchnicernowthatitisdiverse.
4) Cooking Momma, Papa, brother and sister, animal and homosexual neighbour.
5) Call of Duty: World in peace.
6) Civilisation V: Open all borders.
7) Multifaith deities or no god at all of War.
8) Super Lyndsey Siblings.
9) Spore.
10) Kotobagari Damacy.

Have you played as the monkey yet?

This picture somehow represents the content of this post. If you don't get it you are just painfully out of touch as it is a new meme and was so on Craigslist like a hundred days ago.
Oh dear, rumours abound that Free Radical might be in trouble. Pre-2005 us are very sad indeed. This could be the saddest news ever.

But that is only because we haven't heard this news yet, which in late 2008, will make us kill ourselves. Truer words are not written anywhere else.

Post-2005 us will be holding a fourteen day party to celebrate, if the rumours are confirmed. The whole world is invited and we'll be burning copies of Timesplitters: Future Perfect and Haze and getting high and then getting dead on noxious fumes.

The Facebook page for this party is up so feel free to bring yourself and all the chav kids from the bloc to ruin our house and stab each other so we can be on TV in a filler spot on BBCNews 24, in between the news about how to save money on mince pies and more news about the end of the world.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The (almost) a year that was. 2008

Inspirational posters, still not as funny as 15 years ago
It is nearly the end of 2008. Which means it is nearly time for all the vidjogame blogs to start posting "top 100"s and retrospectives of the year.

Here at the laughable TGAM we make no exception and are virtually thrilled to review the trash we put out throughout the year.

January 2008.
No. No. I just can't be bothered. There's too much to look at and it wasn't that great to start with. New initiative. Here are some of the best and worst bits of TGAM this year.

Best Bits.
Probably the Hotel Dusk review if I was being not very modest.
The Front magazine interview and photos continues to generate 98% of our traffic and visitors stay for just under 18 seconds presumably before clearing the search history and logging off.

Worst Bits.
The ten days of Dante-mas which to be fair we did bother to finish but perhaps ten days was too long. No, it was too short, we did eleven days of Dante-mas. Yeah, eleven days was too long and the game wasn't even that great.
Way too much reactive ranting about stuff we can't even remember now.
'Jokes' which would have been considered not very funny even when they were 10 years more topical from the 90s was an early theme and perhaps the best material of the year.

No. I just can't even face doing this even. It's too depressing.

Look you all came here to see Soul Calibur XXX and CG tits so here they are. Expect some kind of ironic but deadly serious Game of the year, early next year and maybe we'll finish that top 50. We might get Omastar to put in an appearence. Other than that it'll be tl;dr rants, awful typos (I spelled Animal wrong in the last post FFS), maybe some reviews of dildonics, the occassional image of Marvin the RPD cop as Will Smith, some weak PC vs console posts and if you are very lucky SPOILER [Nope, actually no spoiler here I just ran out of insp]

In the meantime try not to kill each other and have a good Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where has Richie been?

Gone since September. Ha he been working hard? Doing research? Travelling the world and conversing with the interesting people he found therein? I am proud to reveal the answer in a rare email from the estranged co-author of this blog.

Human MageOkay so playing Wow for some of it but not for 3 months surely?

HunterOh okay so maybe one month. Anything else?

Waste of time?Jesus Christ. Expansions work people is the lesson here.

And the beat goes onSome people are just happy in Wow I guess.

UnbelievableSeriously though, I'm informed they are all level 70+. This is a lapse for him. Perhaps we should send over the big ass crane that winches WoW fatties from their bed to his house before he explodes.

This is exactly what Richie looks like in real lifeThank god! A casual game. There's hope for her yet. RIP in Richie.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Animla Crossing Let's Got to the City

Has arrived and been played by me. It's good or is it? Well yes I think it is.

You start off and it is all so familiar, you can import your face, hair and some of your catalogue from wild world but unfortunately, you are still back to square one otherwise. As ever, you need to meet the villagers, undertake some tasks for Nook, and then start afresh increasing your box flat to a mansion, destroying the local ecosystem through over harvesting and turning your hick town into a thriving country 'destination'.

Some veterans might be a bit peeved that although your catalogue can be transferred from the DS version, you still lose all your fish, bugs, gyroids fossils, art works, resident potraits, golden equipment and Sahara carpets and walls.
I am peeved at this. I don't mind catching them again to give to the museum but would it have been so hard to have transferred over the data so that it shows that you have, at some point, caught a banded dragonfly, without neccessarily collecting one yet again when summer rolls around. Playing the game throughout the year isn't difficult but it is annoying when you don't play it one month and you've missed three species of fish and two insects.

As for the rest, well it's Animal Crossing. Just goes to show the dearth of quality games out there when I'm excited about doing it all over again, again. Hell, much of my gaming in the last two, three years has been playing the same goddam game and going through the motions on Pokemon, Resident Evil and Animal Crossing. I still buy the things though so I am fully to blame.

From here on, we do a Kotaku style review:

What I loved about Animal Crossing LGTTC or whatever it's called:

1) Swear words are back! Yesterday I wrote a letter that went like this:

Whore Twiggy, I fucking hate you queer.

And I'm pretty sure in AC:WW that would have been censored to read

Whore Twiggy, I fucking hate you queer.

So expect Residents of Gaywood to be cursing each other within seconds. Some people might think that sending the above letter to Twiggy might be homophobic but I sent the letter and signed it 'Nook', I'm angling for some kind of blackmail situation. I'll keep you posted. (UPDATE: Twiggy got the letter and seemed positively pleased with it. Somehow he (she?) knew it was from me and rewarded me with a Lovely Carpet. I don't know what she (he?) is after so I pretended I knew nothing about it and sold the carpet to Nook, just in case).

2) Individual houses again!
For those who don't know, in the Gamecube version of Animal Crossing, each player (up to 4) gets their own house. In Wild World it was a shared house and sharing a house virtually is pretty much the same as sharing a house in real life. Endlessly tidying up after your housemates or coming home to find apples and turnips all over the floor starts to grate quickly. Also, depressingly, my housemates and I spent longer debating the decor of our virtual house than our real house. So thank Ninty for the seperate houses again.

3) The ability to take snapshots.
Yes, providing you have enough space on an SD card you can snap away, taking photos of all your virtual Kodak moments. Expect the SSBB images which have been dominating this site to be replaced with Animal Crossing images. You can also mess around with these images on the Wii Menu, in the photo channel and on the message board. Some of you may laugh but I find it oddly gratifying to do a virtual 48 piece puzzle of Nook asking me inappropriate questions or creating Warhol like images of my Mii holding a football fish.

4) Mii faces.
Mii faces are in, which is a win in my book. Visit the City and Harriet the hairdressing poodle will give you a Mii face of your choice. Unfortunately, the Mii face works as a mask so you can't add accessories or hats without reverting back to your standard Animal Crossing face. Some players may not like this but personally I am in love with the idea of wearing you Mii face as a mask. Or better, wearing your friends Mii face as a mask. And committing evil deeds. And taking snapshots of it. And posting it on the internet. Along with offensive letters signed in their name.

5) Bigger and better museum.
The museum has had a massive makeover and looks great! Small thing I know, but it matters to me!

6) Some Wii controls.
Digging holes and catching fish can either be done on the nunchuk, wiimote or using motion controls. Forcing motion controls would have ruined the game so it's good to have all the options available. Much like SSBB, there's no point forcing wiimote controls if it really doesn't add to the game.

7) The City.
Although relatively small and certainly not enough added extras to justify a whole new game the city is a cool place to visit and increases the daily to do list as well as centralising some of the pointless occassional visitors to the town. Now Crazy Redd, Katrina, Gracie and Dr.Shrunk can be found in the City instead of randomly turning up in the town. Also, there is a lot more for "endgame" play (endgame in Animal Crossing!) with the ridiculously expensive lavish sets and accessories available at Gracie's store. Yesterday the gorgeous set was on show. To buy it all will set you back approximately 1,000,000 bells if you were to go for the whole shebang.

8) Online stuff.
As well as Wii to Wii compatability (via the DS suitcase) there are a whole slew of features for online use. Auction house, HRA model room and wii messages are there for those who have friends that play Animal Crossing online and who are happy to share friend codes. As a 56 year old without an internet connection this will not be me but I don't feel like I'm missing out on too much for it to be grating at all.

9)Pattern designs.
Sounds totally gay (and it is) but the pattern designing is still in and slightly expanded, it is now possible to design the individual elements of a shirt whereas before, if you were to design a shirt to look like a naked body, you would end up with nipples and belly button on the front of the shirt, the back and the sleeves. Now it is possible to design the elements individually. Again, little thing but a nice inclusion. Also, for the Animal Crossing playing football fans (we know you are out there), you can create a football shirt now. Also, for the perverts who play Animal Crossing (perhaps a bigger demographic) you can now run around with your top half naked. Also, for the alternative crowd who play Animal Crossing (????) you can now run around with your tribal tats and piercings for all to see. etc.

10) Everything you were already used to.
Everything is back in there, the residents, the town hall, the bulletin board, Nook's Shop, Able Sisters shop, the Town gate and the museum. Even Resetti is back and he thanked me for buying Animal Crossing Wild World. Which is nice. People don't thank me enough for buying their games and throwing hours of my time into it when I should be doing the laundry, or paying bills or whatever it is grown-ups do. On top of that the politically incorrect holidays are back so we can all celebrate Christmas and Halloween again. I've not checked but hopefully La Di Da day is gone forever.

What we hated:
1) Losing all the stuff from the catalogue which is just a tad unfair.
Collecting the fossils and fish again isn't too hard but collecting all the insects and rare carpets, wallpapers, resident potraits and paintings is a bit galling. Although, if this stuff did all come over there would be a lot less to do once the mortgage was paid off etc...... Richie once described Animal Crossing as a single player MMORPG complete with grinding (with collection in the stead of levelling) and he was absolutely right but imagine having to start a new character from scrath to play every expansion. Then you get some sense of how annoying this is.

2) Tom Nook.
Seriously, isn't against the
Geneva convention that this guy throws you into so much debt against your will because basically, the dude can't be bothered to collect fruit, items, insects and fish on his own?
So expect some Animal Crossing updates in the future. I haven't decided what the fate for Gaywood is yet, I've been watching the wire a lot recently so I might make it into a mini Baltimore. We'll see.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ask a silly question....

Just like Ike! Nintendo sent us this image so we used it, so there. PS those killzone screenshots are cool I was looking at them again today, just now in fact.
We're thinking of doing a big 2008 retrospective because we are lazy, like to recycle content and love to use any opportunity to show off our unforced 'whacky' comradorie?, comradory?, comodorarody? and witty office banter.

So I've been going through the archives, pulling together bits for this epic post about what we did this year, shifting computers every time I finish checking through a month in order to up our unique visitors. Whilst doing so I found this piece where we managed to stay focussed enough to ask our future selves some questions.

Now it is the future and I will answer our pastselves' questions for my own pleasure.

1. Did all the above games come out in 2008 (Devil May Cry, Resident Evil 5, Silent Hill 5, Super Smash Brothers Brawl and TGAM: The game based on the blog based on the games that influence our lives.)?
Yes, Not yet, yes, yes and no. After seeing the shitty Penny Arcade game TGAMTGBOTBBOTGTIOL got shelved.

2. Were they good?
Yes, don't know, ish, hell yes, N/A.

3. What were the surprise releases of 2008?
Megaman 9 was a bit of a surprise. The least surprising releases were probably Little Big Planet which, if you are a follower of blogs, was so over exposed you felt like you'd played it, discussed it and got bored of it before it was even out. We are surprised that Killzone 2 still isn't out and Home is kinda out but not really despite being on of the Top 10 gadgets of the year according to Time magazine. In fact this was probably the year of least surprise as publishers paid through the nose to hype and advertise shit before it was even finished.
Perhaps the true genuine surprise this year was that Microsoft so brazenly copied the idea of Miis and got away with it.
If we were truly hilarious individuals we would have just answered this question with Fifa 09 and been done with it. Unfortunately, we can only aspire to Gamespot-esque levels of humour.

4. Is Richie still playing WoW?
Hard to say. Our one avid reader may have spotted that Richie hasn't really contributed to the blog since before September. So probably yes then but no one really knows for sure.

5. Is there yet another expansion for it?
Yes which might be the cause of above.

6. Did the Wii’s sell out again this Xmas?
Looks like it, who would have thought. Well past us clearly.

7. Is the Wii any good yet?
Totally depends on which console you are a fanboy of. I reckon this year both the Xbox 360 and the Wii have had a good run of it and both are worth owning if you are truly a discriminating gamer. Although the Wii doesn't have the sheer number of games the 360 does, they do tend to either be classics or shovelware. The 360 has a fuller spectrum of quality from classics through mediocre to crap. But if you like No More Heroes, Mario Kart, World of Goo, Super Smash Brothers, De Blob, Okami (cheating), Warioland, Chocobo Dungeon and boomblox then yes, in the UK at least 2008 has made the Wii good.

8. Is the PS3 still shit?
Yeah totally. Such an awful year and so many hopes dashed as PS3 exclusives went multiplatform, weren't noticebly different to 360 versions, delayed, slagged off as difficult to develop for or just plain ol' cancelled. Just look at this gamespot top 2008 PS3 games list. Take out the multiplatform releases and there is nothing worth forking out for a PS3 for. Truly sad times.

9. Does TGAM still exist?
Barely. Posts are just juvenile rants or copied from other sites. Richie doesn't chip in anymore, we lost our only full time troll and the spelling and punctuation has gotten worse if anything. But technically we're still here so yeah, woot us.
10. Does Cunzy own any next-gen machine (or powerful PC) yet?
Maybe depends if you include the Wii as 'next-gen'.
So there we have it past selves. Happy now? Here's some questions for our future future selves.
1) Did Killzone 2 come out yet?
2) What new element, colour or precious stone will the next pokemon games be? Where do you go after platinum? Maybe radioactive elements? Or poisons? Pokemon Antimony would be pretty sweet.
3) Was Home any good?
4) Did it save the PS3?
5) Has 'next-gen' managed to expunge any of the following from games yet: Crates, Barrels, indestructible scenery, childish or cliched storytelling, bullshots, too much hype, dodgy AI, lies about different storyline/morality system, too many wii peripherals, lava, ice and water levels, lense flare, bloom, FPSs set in linear corridors, boring tutorials, unskippable cut scenes, online abuse, PC gaming frustration, annoying cameras, boring MMORPGs? Or is it still all about the graphics looking nice but sticking to 1990s game design.
6) Did the gaming magazines finally go under?
7) Did everyone realise that Metal Gear Solid 4 was a bit silly really?
8) Was Resident Evil 5 really racist?
9) Did LBP finally sell well?
10) Is there still a TGAM/habitable planet?

Killzone 2 exclusive screenshots

We were lucky enough to score an interview with Guerilla games and had some extensive hands on time with the game. They also gave us some exclusive screenshots to use.

SPOILER WARNING: The screenshots were pretty cool with people shooting each other with guns and the like.

It was really good. Thanks Guerilla games and next time we'll bring the biscuits.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Animal Crossing Racism

He died the next year :( You may have read about some recent controversy surrounding some copies of Animal Crossing Wild World that were shipped to journos for testing with the inbound Animal Crossing Wii.
One character, Baabara, has been seen chucking around some nasty racial slurs. TGAM has been contacted for comment. Our comment is divided into 4 easy to read sections:

1) Tellingly, this is being reported with some akwardness by the online gaming journos clearly unfamiliar with Animal Crossing but desperate to report this headline-friendly issue. Some 'journos' even claim that you have to train residents to say such things. This is untrue, you just have to befriend them, then once in a while they'll ask you to change their 'greeting' or 'catchphrase'. As long as it fits the letter count you can get them to say it. This has been a feature of Animal Crossing since 2001 (Europe only got it in 2004 though bastards) and no doubt all kinds of friendly animals have been taught obscenity and filth so anyone acting surprised is out of touch.

2) Unfortunately, when you give gamers such freedom, some of them are going to abuse it. Nintendo have tried their best to stop this happening with friend codes and with some words outright banned (we discovered this through trial and error in Wild World, although in the orignal Gamecube version there weren't any restrictions?) however, there are always ways around it as any MMORPG player will show you when they call you ghey, gey, g3y or just ga the next time they see you in world. It's an ongoing problem that had the spore guys continuously deleting content and has Sony actively destroying LBP levels. It is a problem that causes endless problems on wankware like Second Life.

Give players too much freedom and they will abuse it, don't give them enough and they get bored or don't feel like their game is personalised to them. This is one of the great things about Animal Crossing, after a number of months you do feel like you've changed the way the village runs. Animals run around in vagina-design t-shirts made by you, they greet you with personalised greetings (I'm wet! or Fuck you!) and bid you farewell with words you advised them to say.
No wanking

3) It's tough to find a place to draw the line. Perhaps this incident can just be brushed under the carpet or seen as an unfortunate incident but one that needs no further movement. We fully agree with Kotaku commentor Jon Man who says

"As someone who has, over 3 decades, renamed in-game characters with comical and obscene names wherever possible, I fully support this.

I must confess though, doing so did sap some of the emotional value from Final Fantasy 7 when Sephiroth killed AnalBeard."

We had literally hours or even days of fun renaming Shiva over and over again in FFVIII just to see Ifrit fret that the party had "Underpants", "Willies" or "Herpes". It's hard to control user generated content and virtually every game lets you customise something from avatar names through to the name of your dog.

4)Anyone who knows Baabara knows she is a rude motherfucker anyway. Ordering you around most of the time and being rude about your face, sexual preference, taste in clothes and intelligence. If anyone deserves to take the fall for this it's her. Nintendo should run a patch for Animal Crossing Wii that forces barbara to apologise to everyone she meets and for her to live in a shaky wooden shack with no carpets, wallpaper or furniture. This one is on you Baabara fall on your sword like the daft racist you are.