Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Video Game Excitement

Video game excitement doesn't happen at conferences anymore, or at show floors. Conglomerate announcements were what we waited on E3 for back when, and a 24/7, 365 news cycle doesn't accommodate that as much. For the viewers, E3 has been years of promise of "this will happen, this game will come out, and it'll be good." Every game is supposed to be good, and we should be excited for everything. Watch more than one E3, however, and we're more likely than not have at least one broken promise to carry around with us. What's big at the show, the biggest new trailer, the most dazzling conference presentation, we eventually learn, isn't at all a predictor of what will actually excite us. So unless the announcement of a game itself is exciting, it's harder and harder every year to muster excitement.

But I suppose I shouldn't speak for everyone. For press the show is still exciting because they leave with impressions on how the games touted in trailers actually work, whether they're fun or not. If the show weren't exciting anymore, message boards wouldn't have to go down during conferences. And I'd be lying if I didn't say there wasn't anything at the show I didn't want to play: The Dead Rising 3 DLC, the The Witcher 3, and The sequel to Kirby Canvas Curse all come to mind as games that I want to play. But nothing screams "I can't wait to play this" anymore, because nothing is a guaranteed. Everything becomes "that could be cool."

I still have games I dismiss, games that I root for, and I don't think I've lost a sense of wonder or I've become jaded or anything like that. Instead, I've reallocated my excitement to the surprise of finding out that something is good. Not to belabor the point, but Dota 2, a current all-time favorite, came out of nowhere for me. Most of the time, my favorite games are those that surprise me as I play them, not those that fulfill an excitement quota I set out the first time I saw it. I'm much happier when I'm surprised by A Link Between Worlds, the new DMC (which I admit I'd written off), Dishonored, or Fez when I didn't have much of an idea what they'd end up being. That's where my excitement comes from. Not from the umpteenth trailer shows me nothing of what the game actually is, or wants us to pretend that roller coaster of a scripted sequence counts for much outside of spectacle. I guess that last part does read as cynical.

The reason I say this is because it's easy and fun to write off the state of video games from a lackluster showing, or something that may not leave us in a tizzy. But we should remember that shows like E3 are not representative of what video games are from a number of angles, and that every year megashows like this become less and less relevant.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A bunch of tweets in a blog post

  1. Also it was supposed to be one or two tweets and I wasn't falling asleep when I started. Bye.
  2. I wrote this late at night because I don't have another real forum for it and so people don't complain about me clogging their timelines.
  3. Except for the one point in the game where it says no fuck you, go get the camera you don't really need.
  4. Outlast has limited batteries, but they're too plentiful. And if you know your way around an area, you can travel in darkness with impunity.
  5. Amnesia was cool because you had to worry about your lamplight, since in darkness you went insane. You were worried about supply constantly.
  6. And it's not like I've never liked a horror game. I love the first Amnesia, even if both games are similar in structure.
  7. But you have to want to make the player play along. Outlast doesn't. I can get over the boring parts faster if I break the facade.
  8. So maybe horror games just aren't for me because they "break" so easily and playing along is so much more key to the experience.
  9. these problems (regressive to-do lists, bad stealth) are in lots of games. But when horror fails all you have is are these trite systems.
  10. If you try to hide, it's a bad stealth game.
  11. Hold shift and run by it to the checkpoint. If it kills me, restart at last checkpoint and try again (this has worked numerous times).
  12. Horror games try to up the tension by eliminiating combat, but that just makes them less scary. When I see an enemy I know what to do.
  13. I screwed up on a previous tweet: I can be scared by lots of things.
  14. Once you're lost your fear, most "pure" horror games are adventure games with monsters and manipulative music.
  15. I'm not saying I'm unscarable or whatever. I am. But when any enemy can be avoided by running enough circles around a floor, I'm not scared.
  16. When my dude dropped the camera, I burst out laughing. I wasn't scared of enemies by then, so I was like well that'll be another 10 min
  17. "Instead of adapting to the lack of light like a normal human being, let's risk our lives to go get it!"
  18. "You made it over this gap after seeing like three killers below! Yeah! But whoopsie, you dropped your camera!"
  19. "Aw shucks, the sprinklers don't work! Gonna have to find the two valves needed to turn them on again!"
  20. "In order to put out the one tiny area of fire you need to get through a room, go turn on the sprinklers instead of using any other water!"
  21. "Got the keys! But whoops! [comical sound effect] The key was stuck in a body that fell through the chute! Down we go!"
  22. "You're gonna need three fuses to get this key in the laundry chute!"
  23. It doesn't help that Outlast has as much in common with a Dick Van Dyke skit as it does a horror movie.
  24. After the first death it's impossible to be tense or scared. Yeah I'll get startled at jump scares, but I'm not thinking about survival
  25. Outlast made me think that I just don't like horror games.