Saturday, August 21, 2010

Realtime worlds: I told you so.

Since 66% of this blog is situated in Scotland, and I am actually in the games Industry, I suppose we are expected to comment on this one. For those of you who don't know, APB flopped, and as such RTW went into administration. Now, did anyone NOT see this one coming? I certainly saw this... not as a pessimistic prediction, more a painfully apparent inevitability. I have seen many people come and go from this company, each time I would pose the question, "why, realtime worlds?". Just to be met with an almost blind ignorance that this company could 'do no wrong', when specifically they were working on a supposed WoW-killer MMO. An ambitious task, anyone would agree. And the premise of this WoW-killer? Cops and Robbers. Realtime worlds I roll my eyes at thee. Though I do have to tip my hat to them, during the time (years) leading up to the launch they did manage to create some hype about a 'GTA-like MMO' (lies), and at one point made micro-transactions sound like a good thing! But frankly in our heart of hearts, despite wanting this wee Scottish over-budgeted company to succeed, we all knew this idea was dry, and continuing with it was, too little, too late. Each piece of news I heard from it; such as concentration on character customisation from third party sources (i.e. T-shirts with branded logo's on them), and removal of much of the free roaming, just made me sad face inside. What were they actually doing? Making the game less and less worthwhile.

Ah well, RIP APB, we hardy cared about ye.

Cops and Robbers,

Richie X

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Stag Do

Last weekend was my stag do, which was organised by my gay partner, Richie! Unlike your traditional stag do there was not a stripper in sight. Or going out. At all. Instead it was this groom to be and his bezzy mates playing the games that we all grew up with. I couldn't have asked for a better stag do, I laughed until I cried, I drank until it hurt and we had one last gaming session with all my Slads in one (well, two rooms). Sadly on Sunday I realised this would probably be the last time we'd all be together with nothing but time for playing the games that we cut our teeth on. But enough of the gay stuff! AWARDS TIME!
Group Awards. CLICK FOR BIG IMAGE. This will mean very little if you weren't there.

Some of the games that came out: Quake 2, Mashed, Mario Kart, Boom Blox, Geometry Wars, Resident Evil 5, Timesplitters 2, Puzzle Fighter, Blazblue, Street Fighter IV, Soul Calibur, Pod Racer, Red Faction Guerilla, Wii Sports, Army of Two and even a spot of doorsies. The weekend just flew by. Flew by. But now. Now it is time for the individual accolades!

Richie! (Real name Richie) The best man and organiser of the stag do. Let it be recorded that it just wasn't his weekend but that didn't stop him trying. With hindsight, he should have stopped trying. No. Really.

Dr Wo 69 (Real name Dr Wo) The longest serving Slad who was there with me right at the beginning. With two bags of goodies and a pair of socks we rose to the challenge of our rivals!
Chuff_72 (Real name Chuff_72) Long time TGAM contributor and Chris to my Sheva. Shevvvvva! Shevvvvva!
Bobby Ball Grabber (Real name Bobby Ball Groper) Zebra-footed street-fighting downing-legend and voice of reason. Fuelled only by Mountain Dew there's no stopping him.
Randy McSporran (Real name Old Man Mountain) Legend in the field who insisted on going to bed really early every single night. Fuck you motherfuck.
Chis (Real name Dan Dan Fighting Man) Dan Dan Fighting Man Fights a Man like no other man can. THROWS LIKE A GIRL THOUGH!
Flayer 9 (Real name Flayer 7, Slayer 3) Despite crippling motion sickness he has managed to overcome his severe disabilities just long enough to still beat Rich.
Robisgay (Real name Retardo) Ultra competitive with Flayer 9 and general all rounder took an early pasting in the drinking games but bounced back with a vengeance.
Jules (Real name Jules) Despite being the only non-gamer fared significantly better over the weekend than others (Richie) and didn't think that the mega breakfast was enough so ordered extra hash browns.
Cunzy1 1 (Real name Cunzy1 1)Last and definitely least when it comes to this line-up of legends.Let us never drink absinth again!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dragon Age 2

Crazy summoned Demon hands to rip apart any wrongdoers, man that would be an awesome skill to have the next time someone tries to sell me the Big Issue.

Seriously though, Dragon Age 2


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You don't want to know what I googled to find it though

You gotta love the rabbids. They represent that idiotic, goofy childishness that used to be the heart blood of gaming on the NES and Mega Drive. This should be the last sexy image on TGAM for a while now.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On things Achievementwise:

I have had a recent campaign to "thousand" quite a few of the games on my 360 list. I have completed Dragon Age: Awakenings and the Expansions (1550 GP), along with a couple of other titles too (Nothing cheaty like Avatar or King Kong though). Rather dauntingly I decided to start up Final Fantasy XIII with intent of thousanding it, I've invested serious amounts time into previous Final fantasy games, why not do it with this one? Because endgame sucks... I have pretty much run out of things to do except grind...

I have spend 60 hours on the game I have completed 62/64 missions ( I have decided to leave the remaining 2 missions until I fill out the crystarium AKA get to the maximum level) and well, if I complete mission 64 it makes the grinding process slower.

So I'm sitting on 720 gamerpoints: 

I'm missing 6 achievements *SPOILERS*

Adamant will: Killed an Enemy that spawns after mission 64
Masters Seal: Maxed everyone's roles.
Treasure Hunter: Collected all items in the game.
And the last 3; Galuf's Grail, L'Cie Paragon, Exorcist. Which will be unlocked upon completion of the remaining Missions and 5 Starring them all (only a couple left to 5 star).

So my quandary is, do I want these last achievement points?

Should I grind on adamantoises till the early morning for the next week, gaining enough levels for Master's Seal, and continue to get enough money for Treasure Hunter? Is that fun?

Admittedly, once I have grinded (ground?) enough to max out my levels, the next haul is money, AGAIN dropping from the Adamantoises. so... Killing the same enemies over and over and over... Is that fun?
All for 280 GP and the satisfactiopn of knowing I thousanded FFXIII... Is that fun?

IS IT FUN?!?!? Honestly?... I'll tell you once I have done it...

Ground Love and Grinded hugs,

Richie X



to thousand (third-person singular simple present thousands, present participle thousanding, simple past and past participle thousanded)
(transitive) (Gaming) To finish all achievements/Trophies; to make done; to reach the end of the required achievements/trophies.
NB: Is not necessarily used in context of the number "one thousand", as expansions, live arcade and multiplayer achievements add/subtract form the total.
You're a participle.
Love and transitive hugs,
Richie X

Friday, August 06, 2010

Metal Gear Solid 4

We're less angry today but we spent yesterday evening watching cutscenes from Metal Gear Solid 4 which made us angry again. Let me explain. Back when I wrote this post I did a lot of research into the top rated games for each platform. Obviously for two of the consoles this was a bit of a task. For the PS3 it was much easier due to the paucity of quality exclusive games on the platform but I kept seeing Metal Gear Solid 4 come up again and again. I was concious that we might get some backlash from people arguing that MGS 4 should have been on the PS3 list but then remembered that Duffin and Richie haven't played it. So that accounts for 100% of our readership. My relationship with Metal Gear Solid began at the PlayStation one and ended with watching my brother play through 2. So I decided last night to ruin a game I was unlikely to play by watching a couple of cutscenes. At the time MGS4 came out I looked at it and thought it was pretty much going to be more of the same but I'm always interested by the bosses of MGS4 and the four bosses that make up the Beauty and the Beast Unit looked to be interesting. SPOILERS YONDER CAUTIOUS READER.

Black Raven, Laughing Octopus, Screaming Mantis and Crying Wolf make up the unit and I watched the cutscenes before and after each battle*. The idea behind the unit is that each one has become demented through tragic events in their past leading them to be recruited and manipulated into the ultimate killing machines. Whilst the bosses themselves echo back to the four bosses from the PlayStation Metal Gear Solid I was genuinely surprised at the general awfulness of the direction of the cutscenes and the general writing. This is a highly acclaimed game with the writing on a par with average fanfiction and with cinematography from a teenagers wet dream.

Cutscenes dwell on moist and dripping breasts, buttocks and gussets with the voyeuristic vigour that would make even Capcom coders cringe not to mention repelling the downright awkward affections of Laughing Octopus. Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude but this isn't titillating or erotic it is just pervy. Even Old Snake seems to blush as each of the beauties writhe around on the floor and moan.

As for the writing, after each battle the histories of the beauties is delicately explained to you by a man telling you their story. So much for subtlety or any kind of innovation in storytelling through the medium of games. A guy literally phones you up and tells you their story. Snake occasionally apathetically grunts during these stories which follow the same pattern:

Beauty X lived in a village in roughly defined but non specific region of the world (Scandinavia, Africa). As a young girl she ends up in a generic war zone environment and is subject to horrors on a par with Brownie's campfire stories. Then she has visions and hallucinations and goes mad. She then ends up in the B&B unit.

I wish this was exaggeration but it really is that formulaic and unimaginative. Also, despite these psychologically damaged characters being over-sexualised and physically attractive, rape is never mentioned when their traumatic abuse at the hands of others is recounted. It may be hinted for one or two of the characters but it feels that the punches have been pulled. Murder is fine. The imprisonment, butchering and suffocation of children, no worries. R...r...ra. No. That crosses a line.

Pathetic really. Critically acclaimed.

*Watched it, didn't play it. Tell me that any of the above was made un-pathetic when viewed in context and I'll show you a moron.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Another day

Another hundred video game forums retread the same six questions about the Wii. We occasionally engage in a handful of forums until we realise why we stopped the last time. The flavour of the last five years on console forums is to discuss the death of the Wii. The death of third party support. The death of core gaming. The death of non HD gaming. Over and over again. The same arguments backed up with time honoured gut feeling and rhetoric. This heroic poster over at neogaf, Hunahan writes what I would were I not making dick jokes or getting angry at the dumbness of the gaming community.

What? There's tons of third party support. At almost every given moment of this generation, there has been more third party games for Wii than for any other system on the market.

Let's just cut to the real question. What you're really asking is why the Wii doesn't have the next big installments of Resident Evil, GTA, JRPG XIII, Platinum Games Presents, Castlevania Of War, or whatever the hell else it is that's igniting the latest raging message-board megathreads, pixel-counting screenshot wars, and fawning, five-star video reviews.

Thing is, by the time you can sit through a thirty minute cutscene about a gender-bending ninja cyborg limping around to save a mustached, one-eyed super-soldier, you probably also cut pretty deep into the same demographic that spends large quantities of cash on electronic entertainment, buys way more HDMI cables than the per-capita average, and scorns the suggestion of physical exercise encroaching upon their grossly disproportionate interest in recreational software.

What I'm driving at is that if you were to create a ven diagram that mapped out the type of people who are actually interested in the specific types of product that are absent, I'd be willing to bet that you'd find a nearly perfect and complete overlap with the type of people who are interested in better graphics, HDTVs, realistic physics, and online play.

Nintendo's biggest success was identifying that the presumed critical mass of spaceship fantasizing, underboob-ogling, IGN-reading geeks were actually a fractional niche.

It seems pretty clear that this niche is now struggling to catch up with a moment of self-realization.

Hate it, bite it, fight it.....the answer is still, quite simply, that despite the Wii's resounding success, it has not managed, on any level, to corner the increasingly irrelevant traditional market that continually slaps $60 across all of those sweat-smeared Gamestop counters to buy this type of nerdy crap. Those folks run with a different crew.

And without them, you really can't sell Street Fighter.

Oh, I know. You, or I, or Steve, or poster #213, or whichever petition-posting collection of 2,000 people all have Wii's and we like them, and we'd buy 3rd party hardcore games, and blah blah blah whatever.

When it comes to gaming the 'core gamer-market game, the Wii is basically stuck playing the Spock goatee-wearing, inverse-world version of Kinect.

A day late and a dollar short. Just the way it is.

Well said sir. I'd pretend not to be some kind of Nintendo fanboy but you'd never buy it. What I don't get is why when gamers get together on web forums they all turn into industry analysts albeit, without any kind of data or statistics to base their poorly formed opinion. The odd meaningless sound bite from angry people at Capcom who can't understand why their poorly marketed latest re-re-port of an old game that's on shop shelves for two weeks doesn't sell 10 million. Here's why it doesn't sell 10 million Capcom. Average, normal people, people unlike you and me who read about games, participate in games forums and read games magazines just don't have the time and the inclination to endlessly research what games are worth buying and which ones aren't. So what if you are making shitty games? it shouldn't stop you from selling them. Look at Hollywood. Hollywood has been successfully marketing the shittiest films of all time over the last five years. Smother people in adverts that make the film look exciting, challenging and worth £9 at the cinema and they don't care if it didn't quite live up to expectations. By contrast paying for one TV spot at 11pm at night making your game look like a 1990s American action film won't particularly have them come running to part with £40 for your game. Alternatively, you could, you know, make a decent fucking game once in a while. One that isn't broken or racist or adolescent or a fucking sequel or actually challenges players and becomes a must have piece of human work. It's boring. Boring and tiring and negative all the time. Of course, I don't have to go those forums but sometimes I get lonely. So lonely.

We're in a rut

For no reason whatsoever we decided to watch all of Consolevania and Videogaiden. It's all over though. It's all finished. A couple of years ago. This video about the Scottish games industry is brilliant I think. Sums it all up.
This time of year we always get a bit melancholy. I'm sure we'll get over it but right now we'd be hard pressed to recommend gaming to anyone. It's meaningless. Absolutely meaningless. Throaway culture created purely for the generation of income. Sad face.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Next next gen: Already?

Readers of this here blog will notice that aside from posts about pokemon, vibrating attachments for various mp3 players and a love hate relationship with achievements is that we occasionally begrudge getting told what's next.

Already there's stifled hype for the next generation leaking out all over the place. Iwata has started the Wii 2 hype train with typical no news statements and as usual the shit eaters are eating it up. There's no discerning or questioning here. Something new? Give it to me. Give me something new they say.

SO this current generation has had longer than most but that's a pretty arbitrary measurement of how 'good we've had it'. Richie and I often theoretically talk about educating a complete non gamer in the way of games. We compile a big old list of all the games that really add something new or show off the best of video games. Our hypothetical non gamer has to play through them all chronologically and at the end is given a certificate saying "true gamer". So we can endlessly debate the gamers of former generations but by and large we'd come to some consensus. But what has the current gen left us? Here are the games that I argue should go into the all time gaming hall of fame, ignore titles which were multi format but only appear under one or the other okay?:

Zack and Wiki
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Metroid Prime Corruption
Boom Blox
Endless Ocean
World of Goo (cheating)
No More Heroes
Super Smash Brothers Brawl (only just over melee)
Little King's Story
Wii Sports Resort

And that's probably it. Remember this isn't an all time greatest list which is why Mario Kart, Twilight Princess, Animal Crossing and others don't appear here. They refine existing games but don't completely replace the originals. I'd argue that earlier games in these series do a better job at introducing cool ideas. MP3 and Zack and Wiki really make the best out of the wiimotes in a way that other games (still) don't. Super Smash Brothers is contentiously on here over older Super Smashes more as an example of how a company can mine it's own history for gold rather than just to bring retired franchises back for a quick buck.

Xbox 360
Dead Rising (possibly Dead Rising 2)
Resident Evil 5 (only in co-op)
Dead Space
Mass Effect 2
Fallout 3
Halo 3

Not many here at all. People might well bemoan the absence of Bioshock, Street Fighter IV, Gears of War and GTA IV but I'd argue that better examples of what these games do well can be found earlier in gaming's history. Earlier Street Fighters show of the brilliance of that series ideas better, Gears piles lots of great ideas together but ideas taken from older games. I'm not too sure about Fallout 3 but I suspect those who know it might argue that an earlier Oblivion does the job. Halo 3 is on this list purely for the 'innovations' with theatre mode and forge. Left 4 Dead is a PC game.

PlayStation 3

Demon's Souls
Heavy Rain

Not many here at all. Little Big Planet isn't here because I haven't seen a single created level that wasn't either heavily borrowing from an older game or an interesting idea in the same way that Second Life is an interesting idea. Flower isn't here either simply because it doesn't add anything to gaming's history. It's a one line game. An interesting experiment, a good talking point that's it.

Remember this is my list and I hope my colleagues here at TGAM will put theirs up. Obviously, I'm not a big PC gamer and I'm not even going to attempt to go there. I honestly don't thing racing games have particularly innovated this generation, micro machines, burnout and gran turismo set all the trends all those years ago. FPSs and RPGs have stagnated in terms of new innovations or even refinement of old ideas. So for me, this generation which we're probably on the verge of leaving. 21 games. Three consoles, five years and a mere 21 games that I'd recommend people play through. I'd strongly argue that this just isn't enough and has virtually nothing to do with technology limiting the potential creativity. As for the innovations we still haven't seen, there are hardly any good new multiplayer ideas and co-op gaming still largely involves both players doing the exact same thing. There's so much rich new design ground possible with this generations improvements in online connectivity, motion controls and pure processing power but at the moment it is squandered in favour of playing it safe or trying to replicate PC gaming on the home consoles. Over to you Richie, Duffin and readers.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Who's worse?

We strive against gender inequality in games and at the same time for more freedom of choice and to be treated with respect as adults who heathily enjoy video games.One for funBut then as soon as a game gives us the freedom to take screenshots anywhere we take images like this.Two is a bit creepyPart of us wishes that we were uploading this with irony. Another part of us is instantly going to bookmark this page under 'email support'.Three is spicyOn second thoughts our partners might need email support one day. Is it worse to try and hide this from our loved ones? If I'm going to do it anyway would you preffer to find it under "Crystal Chronicles Selkie sexy look"? Answers in the comments.Four is a fetishWho's worse, the people who code and animate this stuff? Or the people who take these screenshots and upload them to a blog?Five is still alive, justbecause frankly, there's no innocently discovering that you could do this. At some point we made the concious decision to take these shots.Six turns tricksOf course now that I'm writing this post I can explain the folder of these images as 'work'.We can't bring ourselves to do anymoreAnd who's worse the people who bring this to you in their free time or the people who get paid for it?In order to scrape back some dignity this can't be done on men, old women or children in the game.Of course, we were in a part of the game where we couldn't get back to take screenshots of all of these so now we are actively playing through the story to bring you these shots.Here's one we didn't even take. We found it on the internet. Does that make doing it better?
This is the kind of morality Molyneux wishes he could be dealing with in his games.
Storytelling in games.Sad to say all of these screens aren't even from that many hours of play. Storytelling in gamesOkay.................... now we cried at a video game.

/bookmark to favourites

We applied for a job again!

Ready-Up are hiring so we sent them a job application. Well, I say a job application, it was exactly this one. We're quietly confident. However, because we had to go and visit Ready-Up to find the details about applying for the job we noticed a few things on the application form.

A rare opportunity is available to work on the UK’s fastest growing gaming community website.
Ah, fastest growing. That immeasurable indefinable measure of success. And it is a pure lie. We just visited for the first time this morning which takes our growth from 0 visitors at 9am to 1 visitor at noon. That's growth of MORE THAN INFINITY. We're the fastest growing gaming community more like.

Applicants must have solid spelling and grammar.
Shit. We missed this on the application form. Abort. Abort.

Hint: we have a thing for farmer types
Here are our future work colleagues and a free bonus game! There are five 'woulds' and three 'wouldn'ts' can you work out which are which?

Don't worry TGAM readers. We wouldn't abandon you completely we'd just do that annoying thing where all we do is link to all the stuff we've written elsewhere. Isn't that right Leigh? Isn't that right?