Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Modern Adventure

Just this last November I finally became aware of modern adventure games when I picked up chapter one of "The Wolf Among Us". Needless to say I've learned a lot about what a game that limits player input, and relies more on you watching, can offer.

In all honesty, it's actually surprising how long it's taken me to get in tune with adventure games of the day. As for a short period after graduating from high school, I had no qualms with playing Japanese visual novels, which require a lot more time and reading. Regardless of the reason I've learned now, especially with the conclusion of “The Wolf Among Us” Ch.3, just how involved of an experience modern adventure games can deliver. Everything from needing quick reactions, to QTEs, and regretting a choice you made episodes ago. It's all quite new to me, and I love it.

Suffice to say, I'm a lot more open to playing adventure games now than I ever was in the past. It's not that I disrespected them in the past, I just never wanted to personally play them until now.

---Strife Out---

Sunday, March 16, 2014

To Pay, or Not to Pay, that is the question.

I felt that this was something I needed to say something on. There are lots of ways to market and finance an online game, but here I talk about the most popular ones.

---- Strife Out ----

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Dirt, Decay, Rust

Hi all, it's been a while since I last posted hasn't it? I won't bore you with my wondrous exploits of work though. Instead i'm going to talk today about the game Rust.

For a long time, ever since I was in middle school actually, I haven't been much for competitive or multiplayer games. That wasn't always the case though. Once upon a time I played WarCraft III with fervor, and I had a real desire to play round after round. However, that flame died out when I lost multiple ladder rankings due to poor teamwork (there's a story behind that, but it's too long to share here). It was after months of losing match after match that I became very disappointed with other players, and my interactions with them. As a result I completely lost all desire to play with other human beings. Since then not playing with others has become a bit of a mantra for me, which i've stuck to it to this day. And it's all because I know how douchey other players can be. Rust however has begun to change that a bit for me.

There's something about the crafting, and competitive survival design of the game Rust that I find hard to resist. You're allowed, and moreover encouraged to build a shelter, gather sufficient supplies, and explicitly go to dangerous locations, all for the benefit of survival. Now right off, none of these things are new. However, everything is somehow distinctly different in rust, and it's something I've never encountered before. That difference is how, both struggling to gather and survive better than anyone else, are both encouraged and kept in check by the way pretty much all players naturally act. Like total douchebags.

When I think about it, this is something far from new. Plenty of games have used competition as a force to drive success. But for me, someone who's been out of the multiplayer circuit for so long, it's kinda like a revelation. And moreover I don't think any other game has done it quite the same way as rust, though there are other games which are very similar.

As an example, in Minecraft there's no real good reason to dig, or build other than to do it because you can. The entire game is about exploring your creativity, and sharing that with other people. But when you introduce other random player to that experience, everything changes. The game's purpose in single player becomes meaningless in multi, because other players will relentlessly destroy your work. At this point the game becomes combat focused, which Minecraft is really not designed for. The alternative to try and foce the game's goals and purpose to stay the same is to force special protections to stop greifing, but this hinders the overall ease of gameplay, meaning the experience is compromised one way or another when playing with or around strangers. This however, is not a problem in Rust.

Despite heavily relying on gathering and crafting just like Minecraft, Rust instead focuses on survival and how things aren't permanent. For instance if you build a wooden shelter it will just vanish eventually, because it rots away. And when you log out your character just goes to sleep where he stands, so you can still die while not playing. In Rust safety lies in preparation, so if you want your shelter to be more permanent you need to gather tons of resources. But some of the most useful materials can only be scavenged from hot zones, where you run the risk of getting killed by radiation, or worse other players. It can take a long time to be fully equipped, and after you have the materials and knowhow to stop squatting in wooden shack, craft Kevlar armour to wear, and hang a shotgun on your hip, you have to fend off other players who are, naturally, being total douchebags, trying to kill you and take all the shit you've worked so hard to acquire.

All throughout this process one thing never changes, you can lose everything suddenly and without warning. One false step, or a single bit of bad luck, and your entire base is raided while you're taking a dirt nap. And it's all propelled by the very thing I hate most about playing with other random people, they're total assholes. Which is why i find it so strange that the game is fun. You rush to gather and prepare, so you'll be better at killing than the other guy for when he inevitably comes around. Yet at the exact same time, to survive, you have to be just as big of an asshole to him, as he'll ever be to you. It's so strange, I never though I'd see an open, crafting, survival game that would propel itself though competitive gameplay. It's the last thing I would have imagined, much less that I would end up loving it.

Suffice to say, Rust is a strange but well-made game. And the reason I keep coming back to it is because I have to deal with all the other players, that I never want to play with.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Grand Theft Audio

Something that I only realized this past week was the release date of Grand Theft Auto 5. For quite some time now I've been so busy with my work on YouTube, and trying to finish background projects, that this monolithic release nearly passed me by. I'm certainly glad I looked up from my work just in time to not miss anything.

The Grand Theft Auto series holds a special place for me for multiple reasons. I've been playing the games since the industry changing GTA3, and I subsequently played through the previous entries after discovering it back in 2001. Indeed I still follow the franchise because it plays well, and is all around a good game even with the quirks in each entry. The big reason I still come back to the series though has more to do with it's world design and the satirical media that fills the radio waves.

Ever since I first picked up the games something I fell in love with were the talk radio stations. Most of the content makes good and very humorous jabs at some of the dumbest things you see in society today. This stretches across the entire canvas with is each game too, all the advertising, brand names, venues, political banter, nothing is off limits but the radio is really where I find the best of the content lies. Between Chatterbox, VCPR, WCTR, WKTT, and a host of other stations and shows that play on the car radios across the GTA universe, there's just so much to listen to, and each bit of content is just so funny to me.

You see for me satire is some of the best comedy. Any day of the year I'll take persiflage that lampoons real events or principles over the purely fictional type you get in sitcoms and films. Never before have I seen any piece of entertainment that does this as well as GTA, after all they have to build their own word first and make it a fun and convincing place to run around before being able to properly use it to spoof anything.

The TLDR is that I love GTA for how Rockstar uses it to entertain you in ways other than shooting people and stealing cars.

And on that note maybe I'll make a few videos about the game after it comes out.
----Strife Out----

Sunday, September 08, 2013

About the Yogscast...

Many of you no doubt know about my interest in the Yogscast, and how I've made an official bid to join their ranks (if not watch the video Below). Likewise I feel that it's very likely several of you want a more through explanation as to why I've chosen to walk down this path.

Everything started back in late June of 2012 when the the two lead Yogs member, Lewis and Simon, began a series using the Mincraft Tekkit modpack. I was already addicted to MIneCraft, and knew of the Yogs, but had no interest in them and their work. As I watched their Tekkit series I was mesmerized by they way it expanded Minecraft. I also loved the humour of how the rag tag, and sometimes incompetent, band of Yogs ineffectively went about building a corporation. For six months I joyfully watched their antics, and followed the exploits of many members, exploring content from the extended Yogscast family. I passively watched, entirely content to consume their content and only be a viewer. That all began to change when holiday 2012 happened.

Those of you who are unaware the Yogscast put in large a amount of time during the winter holidays in the name of charity. They live streamed every day of the week, and the entire reason was to encourage the viewers to donate for a charitable cause. This was a real shock to me, as up to this point I had only worked with Machinima who's only concern was their bottom line. It really meant something when I saw this small group of Youtube talents, with a far smaller profit margin, putting in so much extra work for such a redeemable cause. And that's what got the gears turning in my head.

For the next five months I began to view the Yogscast more seriously, not as simple entertainers but as genuinely good people who love what they do. At the same time I began to take my work on Youtube more seriously, and not too long before May 2013, I finally decided to do something I was previously to demoralized to do. I cut ties with Machinima in order to Join up with Maker Studio (aka The Game Station now known as Polaris). The major factor that fuelled this action was my decision to at least try to join the Yogs who are also a part of Maker Studios.

I made my initial bid to get their attention in late May, and made increasingly visible displays to catch their eye. These attempts came to a head when I published my original Application video (which I had kept unpublished for about two months). When I made the video public a few of my subscribers saw it and took it to the Yogscast Reddit. This served as a turning point, and is the most recent event in my Yogscast related exploits.

I'm not willing to tell the rest of the story yet, but what I will say is that the Yogscast contacted me not long after the application vid was posted to their subreddit. Weather the message was a warm welcome or a cool refusal I won't say, but for those of you who care, let it be known that I have spoken directly with the yogscast.

----Strife Out----

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Kanji, Booker, Joel - Troy Baker

Wow has it really been so long since I last updated this blog? Sorry about that, I guess life has been much busier than I originally thought. Anyway on my subject of interest.

How many of you have played the games Persona 4, Final Fantasy XIII, Catherine, Batman Arkham City, Saint's Row 3, BioShock Infinite, The Last of Us, Arkham Origins, Metal Gear Solid 5, and Infamous Second Son? Ok, none of you could have played those last three at this time, but you may still see what all of these games have in common. Each one has a major character that's voiced by Troy Baker.

Troy Baker is what I would call an amazing voice actor for multiple reasons. The three largest though are one: He's been filling roles in mostly good games, two: No matter what role he's in he really fills it out with authentic and believable acting, and three: He can shift and change his voice with not only accurate accents, but also change pitch and tone to sound completely different.

Ever since I encountered his bang up job as playing Kanji Tatsumi in Persona 4, I was sold on his talents as an actor. What struck me so much about his portrayal of Kanji was how, despite the game's many slapstick scenarios and honestly melodramatic moments, he still managed to deliver his lines in a way that seemed believable and grounded given the character's background. However, I was ultimately surprised when I looked up his filmography and discovered that he voiced many recognizable characters I had already seen, and yet I never recognized him. Recently though he's landing bigger and bigger roles in high profile games including Booker DeWitt (BioShock Infinite), Joel (The Last of Us), the Joker (Arkham Origins), and Revolver Ocelot (Metal Gear Solid 5) to name a few.

I have to say I'm pretty happy to see his career taking off, as he certainly deserves it. I just hope he doesn’t end up doing the same thing as Steve Blum; Fill lots of extra roles and use one voice fore them all, so when I hear it I'm taken out of the experience.

That's enough for now. Hopefully I won't take so long to post on the blog again.
----Strife Out----

Monday, April 29, 2013

Something About Watch_Dogs

Not even a full year ago at E3 2012 Ubisoft did something unexpected, they completely stole the entire show by unveiling a game called Watch_Dogs. The title came entirely out of left field, no one really saw it coming and it was displayed so well that it even overshadowed the game I thought would be king of show, The last of Us.

Now today there's been another unexpected reveal, the release date for Watch_Dogs. As it turns out the game is due to land for everyone on November 19 this year. I've been completely caught off guard by this date, as I'm flat out surprised by the incredibly quick turnaround from reveal to release. Usually when this type of high fidelity, new IP game is shown off it takes some 2-3 years before you see it on store shelves. As a result I'm a little worried that Ubisoft might be rushing Watch_dogs to market.
The reason they would do this is clear though, the game received enormous positive reception at E3 last year and it's going to be a cross gen title. In other words it'll be on just about all available consoles (PS3, PS4, WiiU, 360, PC, and presumably the NextBox), meaning it has good chances to rake in cash better than many other titles out in the season.

I think the reason why so many people are attracted to Watch_Dogs is because it plays with some familiar concepts of both fiction and reality. The game deals with surveillance and how just about everyone has a digital footprint these days. Most important above everything are cellphones, just about everyone has one. Cellphones carry people's lives, being jam packed with loads of personal information, and many of them have GPS tracking features.

Now think about the traditional Cyber Punk story. In the future we live in a dystopia controlled by one or more conglomo-corp, we're heavily surveillance, and extensively controlled, yet we're lead to believe we still have freedom and make out own choices. Watch_Dogs is a combination of modern day technology and traditional story setup from you're typical dystopia cyberpunk.

I think that this is what makes it so appealing to so many people. Other than just looking like a really fucking fun game anyway!

----Strife Out----

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