Author of The Vagrant and Albion Online Landfall is a fan of fantasy RPG games, however his controversial stance of Dragon Age vs. Skyrim had to be addressed.
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This isn’t a cry for help, as you can see I’m back to work (posting this drivel), but instead it’s me doing the Simpson’s Nelson point and ha-ha to people with families and regular 9-5 jobs that think that playing Dragon Age and beating it over the course of two months is a great gaming experience. ~Honorabili
I’m Becoming A Korean (Gamer)
Basically, for the past month or two my girlfriend has been alien to me so I’ve reverted back to my old girlfriend: MY COMPUTER. This happened shortly right after I got back from my trip from E3 to which she did not get invited to go with! =P Anyways, half a week after I got back AT&T decided to be a bunch of useless fucks and decided to have my internet connection go down for about ten days… this in the middle of my addiction to League of Legends (which was already starting to die) and World of Tanks, which I had just dumped 20 dollars into and had a subscription to which has now expired.
What to do, what to do? Go back to the basics! I pretended it was the 1996 and that I didn’t even have internet gaming (for the most part). My brother and I were going nuts as to what to play, since without internet connection we were cut out (literally) from the virtual world needed to play a modern pvp game (since few companies make hotseat stuff anymore, other than for usually some console games). We both said at the same time “Master of Orion 2, multiplayer, over the LAN”. What a brilliant solution to being stuck in the dark ages. After a little bit of work and installing the IPX network protocol, we got the game to work like a charm over the LAN using DosBox. We even made a CD image of the game which runs better than a full HD install and streams from a hard drive anyways. After a few days we were playing as if we had never stopped playing in the first place. Even when the internet came back on, I went on League of Legends and I thought the level of strategic thought now required to play it was nothing compared to the complexity of a legendary 4X strategy game.
Anyways… after a short while I checked my email and saw they had sent me some free codes for games to play so I logged into my Steam to add and download them. Boy, what a mistake… They were having a huge sale with stuff 90-75-50% off, so I just wasted about 200 dollars on that shit and then started to game non-stop. Like basically, since then days have been a blur. I haven’t posted anything on here in a good while, not since my E3 article which took J.A. Laraque forever to get me to finish it (well after the event had already ended, which was already when nobody cared to read it). I am now awake on some fucked up schedule that lets me play with all the European gamers as well as the Asians! I take power naps, drink about 3-4 cafe con leches (cafe lattes) AND 1-2 Red Bulls a day before I start playing pvp games. I go from Mount & Blade, to Master of Orion 2, to League of Legends (doing my daily XP bonus), to World of Tanks (again with that daily XP bonus bullshit, feels like a job!) to Dirt 3 (I beat it today, so now doing multiplayer races against a lot of Germans) to Fable 3 (which I just destroyed) to Monday Night Combat to AI Wars to … well you get the idea. Gaming nearly 24 hours a day, I barely begin to scratch the surface of even a fraction of all the games I have… On top of that my PC keeps dying more and they keep releasing more cheap (and in my case sometimes free) games.
I bought an ATI 6870 card to replace my dying underclocked ATI 3870 but I only had it for 3 days since I sold it to fix a client’s machine. Now I think I’m going to build a machine that uses the AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Desktop Processor but we’ll see since they’re always releasing new ones but I’m pretty sure that will be the winner.
This isn’t a cry for help, as you can see I’m back to work (posting this drivel), but instead it’s me doing the Simpson’s Nelson point and ha-ha to people with families and regular 9-5 jobs that think that playing Dragon Age and beating it over the course of two months is a great gaming experience. (insert rant saying something like “fuck all games with DLC” here) =P I’m starting to get a system down as to when a game will be shorter than a day for me, it pretty much sucks, especially if it doesn’t change as I replay it and it’s currently selling for around 40-50 bucks on Steam or some other distro. (ahem, Fable 3 in this case) I don’t have any children or a wife and yeah sometimes I forget to eat while gaming but even then I’m a fat bastard so it’s not like I’m at risk. ;] I’m Korean for my games but not just for Starcraft or Guild Wars, but all of them!
On a serious note, much during my internet down time I got to read the Master of Orion 2 manual A LOT and it made me really sad that they no longer make 200 page user manuals like that that were actually worth reading and it also made me really sad that Microprose (probably my favorite game company) has been dead for a long time. They sure don’t make them like that anymore! Klackons FTW!
Anyways, I’m out, going to go troll some noobs and work more on my trolling reviews of more games I wasted my money on! Game on!!!
Be Thankful, Gamer
I know. The title blew your mind. Umar Khan is writing about something he is thankful for rather than venting an apocalyptic hate filled rant? This is impossible, you may think to yourself. But it’s true. While my editorials are usually about me demeaning a genre or writing farewell letters, I am thankful for many things. And while I am in great appreciation for the greater things in life outside of gaming like friends and family and just the general ability to live, I am still thankful for the lesser things in life found in games.
I am thankful for games that give me a limited aerial arsenal and decide its time for an aerial fight. “Wait, what did he say?!” Calm down, reader! Give me a chance to explain myself. In games that focus too much on ground combat, I find it refreshing to be put into an aerial battle where my arsenal is limited to a single slashing attack. While these fights are repetitious in nature they also make every hit you land as important as the first swing. A force of timing and precision infuse you where the rest of the game left you with the mindless monotony of button mashing. One cannot deny the sheer satisfaction they feel when that overgrown robotic fly careens into the ground, left in a smoldering heap. Was it obnoxious? It sure was but you know when you have that get together with friends and talk about the game you’re all going to say, “Wasn’t the air battle a pain in the ass?” You’ll forge friends in common camaraderie and that is something you should be thankful for.
I am thankful for underwater levels because nothing gets my heart pumping more in a game than knowing there is the potential to suffocate or that hair rising terror that there could be a giant squid monster lurking in the murky depths. The sensation of dread that creeps upon me knowing that there is something dwelling around me in the darkness and one of my few hopes of survival around the crushing pressures of the blue abyss is my limited air supply is invigorating. I feel an unrelenting wave of anxiety as I progress through a game and I begin to notice the foreshadowing scenery getting a bit more coastal because I know, at some point, I will be submerged and I will end up crying myself to sleep like a little bitch that night.
I am thankful for villains who aren’t pure evil but just have differing views that they believe are correct and bode no true ill intent. In some sense you could find yourself relating to their predicament. If I learned one thing from Loghain in Dragon Age it’s that sometimes you have to be a D-bag to get through the day. Sure, the responsibility and knowledge of what you did will weigh heavily upon your shoulders but in order to be a titan sometimes you have to bear the curse of Atlas first. And while I found myself at odds with Loghain, had the tables been turned, had I witnessed the world from his perspective, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to find myself being loyal to this patriot.
I am thankful for in-game prostitutes. They are a great way to gauge your true moral values in life. As a teenager playing Grand Theft Auto, sleeping with a prostitute and immediately killing her for a refund was economical and humorous all at once. As I grew older and prostitutes found themselves leaking into other games, (haha, I said “leaking”) I began to take a more virtuous approach towards these emotionally distraught individuals. Should they keep to themselves as my hero rolled on by, I could see the pity in their eyes, the defeat drawn upon their faces as they simply tried to survive with the education they managed to soak in during their times in high school and the deprivation of their living situation, be it an addiction to drugs or a baby at home they wish to save from this lifestyle. However, should she open her disease-ridden, puss marked mouth and say “Hey, daddy? Want some tenda luvin care?” I kick into crusader mode and begin to purge the barrio from these swindling sluts! Some may say, what a hypocrite! I say, “Fuck you!”
I am thankful for player collision and the ability to grab your partner. Nothing increases the enjoyment of a game like having a cohort. And nothing increases that bliss like being able to nab your partner and toss them into a canyon between platforms. I remember spending more time fighting with my brother in the New Super Mario Brothers Wii than actually trying to complete the level. Constantly jumping in different directions to slam into each other and fall to our deaths, tossing one another into bob-ombs, and bubbling up to lose the level are some of the most amusing cooperative game play elements I have ever encountered. Let us not forget of the grand self-sabotage in the coop mode of Little Big Planet. If you remember, you could grab your partner’s arm and drag them. Nothing in comparison could be funnier than watching a friend run to gain force for a jump and chasing after them. Right before they took their leap of faith, I would nab their arm quickly and tug in the opposite direction, At this point all I had to do was let go, depleting their momentum but leaving them cascading in the air and falling short of the platform. I am so thankful for the ability to interact with your partner in a game. So very thankful for all the laughs and tears shed while with playing with friends.
So, dear reader, there are things out there to be thankful for in games, if you really think about it. They bring memorable times with friends, an opportunity to share a story with your brothers in arms, and a chance to display your true character traits. Right now, some of you are probably in your room, isolated from your family because you have relatives coming over for Thanksgiving and wish to not be bothered. You want to hold your Xbox close to you and whisper sweet nothings into its air vents but remember, keeping your gaming experience to yourself is lonely. Stories are best shared than kept in your head. Get out there, make some friends, drink with your family, have a good time because life is meaningless without people you care about, even if you feel they don’t care about you. It’s only one day any way. Enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
Japan, I Left Your RPGs On The Sidewalk And Changed The Locks. We’re Through!
My dear and sweet Japan, it breaks my heart to write this message. I hope this tear stained letter lets you know that the way I felt about you… about us was something I will always cherish. While the flickering flame on the candle that represented my love for you has been snuffed, the moments we shared will always be emblazoned into my mind and heart.
Do you remember when we first met, my childhood friend? I was seven years old walking through the SNES rental section of Blockbuster looking for a new game to rent. My little childish sticky hands were all over the Aladdin rental box, a smile stretching from ear to ear as I imagined taking the fight to Jaffar. I skipped down the aisle looking for my mommy so that I could go home with Aladdin and enjoy the adventures of an Arabian night. The other games looked on as I gleefully took flight down towards the register. I was blind to their laminated glare.
Like a rifle’s laser scope, I could feel the pressure of a presence weighing down upon me. This entity’s gaze was fixated on me, reaching out for a friend. Slowly turning to my left, my heart went a flutter. Behind the plastic wrappings of the case was an unknown creature holding a wicked sword. Its white fur and pink nose were innocent yet it held a darkened tormenting blade that screamed out to me like a van with free candy. My grip on Aladdin loosened as he fell to the ground face down and like a handicapped older woman was unable to get up without my help. That is where Aladdin would remain though, living away his last breaths as I stepped closer to examine the enigma in front of me. My fingers raced against the title as I dared to utter the name, your name…
Final Fantasy III.
At the time I was ignorant to your true identity. How could I have known? I was only a child and you offered me the ambrosia of adventure. I brought you into my home and for the first time in my life, I learned from a game. I read, I established connections with a game’s characters, I felt remorse for a fictional struggle, and I…
Well, you know…
I fell in love.
Yes, I said it. I fell in love with you, Japan and your RPGs. I still wanted to take that magic carpet ride but not with Aladdin. You engrossed me into your adventures and made me actually care about story and my characters. I chose characters who statistically sucked but because I felt for their background, I strived to turn them into weapons of perfection so we could see their adventure through to the end. I never thought I would experience anything like this ever again. I thought our love was a once in a life time voyage, a one night stand that left me laying in my motel room bed dripping like a used whore.
I was wrong. You kindled my heart through and through for the years. You invaded my life like a powerful militant country raping and pillaging my childhood for resources. You attempted to take them by force but you didn’t expect one thing, Japan. I welcomed you with open arms.
Like Teth-Adam meeting his Isis, your power and my love for you flourished for years to come. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and the others. Month after month, year after year, it seemed like an eternity that our love would last.
Then things changed…
You became predictable. Another story about a hero who has amnesia? Another villain who dresses like David Bowie? What was that? Someone wants to destroy the world for no fucking reason? Wait, what? The hero can’t speak and can only express themselves by exclamation points and question marks? This is what you bring me?
Like a disgruntled woman on her anniversary, discontent with the predictable present of flowers and a dinner at Bennigan’s, my loins yearned for more than what you had to offer. I had seen too many movies on Lifetime. You were the villain in all of this. You were the man who didn’t lust for me and you know what, Japan? I stopped lusting for you. I went back home. I went West. I went to America.
The West showed me something that you couldn’t show me. They showed me how my actions can change the story. They showed me how my hero was capable of the greater good or the most unspeakable horror. America wasn’t one dimensional. They let me choose.
You forced me into this linear adventure with the same old characters. You took away the tragedy that I loved in you. There wasn’t any drama. You filled your games with twelve year old heroes who from the very beginning accepted their role as a savior. You are nothing like America and I’m sorry for that.
I love my complicated and deep storylines. I love my free reign in the events to unfold. I love not playing as a clean shaven emotionally complicated hero. I love The West’s Clint Eastwood attitude. It makes me feel like I’m in control. Not you! Me!
Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age have yanked me from your grasp. I didn’t secretly leave you. The evidence was there the whole time. They took what your wrought and pushed it to another level… a level that I’m afraid you won’t reach.
Japan, you are the clean shaven boy with flowers who took me to the prom, the one who promised to bring me home before 11pm. America is the boy I want to leave with after 11pm. He has tattoos, he smokes, and his motorcycle is fueled by the blood of kittens. At the end of that night, you hope I give you a kiss but America hopes they can pop all my cherries in one session.
I’m sorry Japan, but for now this is good bye. Your lack of creativity, your undying urge to force me into a position I don’t think I want to be in, your inability to manifest a story that hasn’t already been done, and making me play as a he-she has forced this.
Is this the life that you want to lead? Will you take the road that has been laid out before you or will we meet again somewhere else in our lives?
Good bye Japan…
I don’t want to sound bias but do video games lacking story make you want to play the sequel or even finish the game? I think a well-established story can motivate you to playing a game to its full completion. There are so many video games that I have picked up that I just can’t finish because the story and game play are so bad that I don’t even want to bother completing it. Do game companies just think of a good game mechanic and just say “Ya know what? Let’s just build something decent around this engine and hope it sells.” I honestly believe that even a game with a shitty engine could sell well if its story is captivating.
I used to be part the creative team for an online forum text based role-playing game. The game mechanics were simple. Write a 1,000 word role-play depicting what you’re doing that day in your adventure and myself or one of the moderators will come in and grade your writing and let you know how much damage you did if you were fighting, what you would be fighting, or how you should proceed given the options you are left with. Sounds tedious doesn’t it? Writing over 1,000 words just to illustrate what you were doing is a bit obnoxious but we did it this way so we got players to make actual stories and not just “NATHANIEL WALKED INTO DA BAR AND PUNCHED MACARTHUR SO HARD!” and then we’d have to moderate that. Instead we got a short story about the character’s adventure. You may ask yourself why anyone would play this game if it was obviously so tiresome to make a post this long just to advance. Well, compared to other message boards of the same category, we were the largest with around 150-200 active members. What made people keep playing and want to part of this world? It was our story, the world, and the characters within it. It ran for about three years with constant activity until we finally shut it down because we couldn’t handle the work load with our current staff and also come up with more stories since we spent way too much time moderating. The story overtook game play and also made a lot of people much better writers than they were when they first began at the site.
Lets take Final Fantasy for instance. Very few people actually anticipated the sequels to Final Fantasy because they needed their turn-based action. People kept playing Final Fantasy because the story made you want to fulfill the accomplishment of beating the game. You wanted to be that hero with the help of your ragtag group of adventurers, which saved the world. Stories make the game memorable and even make loyal fans keep playing. I still played Final Fantasy 13 even though I thought it was one of the worst stories in any Final Fantasy or RPG ever. I continued to play it because I believed that Square-Enix would turn the story around somewhere and make this an experience that was worth enduring the bland characters and adventure. Alas, ADD addled maniacs wrote it and it ended being a total piece of shit. I did think, though, that the game play was better but not worth the agonizingly retarded story. But you get where I’m going with this? I loved the Final Fantasy franchise because of the story and STILL completed this abomination of a sequel just because I loved previous stories and believed in the game’s track record.
There are games out there with good stories but are horribly paced. Red Dead Redemption has a good story from what I can tell by my six hours of game play that I put into it, however, I’ve had the game for almost 2 months now and I haven’t bothered to keep playing it because it is astoundingly drawn out. I don’t feel I’ve made a dent in the story because of all the “filler” non-sense in between pivotal moments in the game. The initial taste of story you are given doesn’t give you an urgency to want to see what happens next because the game takes so long to introduce you to anything worthwhile and intriguing.
Then, you have games that have a story that is apparently fleshed out but it sounds like a SyFy Channel Original Movie. I know it was a blockbuster game, but Assassin’s Creed’s story was horrible. The game play is atrocious and the story is almost vomit inducing. You know how in the Matrix when they upload the knowledge of Kung Fu into Neo’s head and it only takes a whole 5 seconds for him to be a total badass? Ok, imagine Neo learning Kung Fu but it requires him to deal with some past master’s life over the course of a few hours. That is Assassin’s Creed. The introduction to the sequel had me turning off my 360 almost instantly when they mentioned the word “Templar Masters.” For villains who take place in the modern era, aren’t masters kind of a childish thing to call them? That sounds like something a five year old who couldn’t think of a creative name made up while playing with his action figures. The main character himself looks like a chump and is way too foolish to be a hero, which is what this series is setting him up to be. He has to learn from his French ancestors how to fight better or something but if memory serves me right didn’t he learn how to be awesome in the first game? Apparently not, because he couldn’t even handle security guards who lacked batons or guns on his own. He needed a GIRL to save him. Good job, nerd. A chick had to back you up against rent-a-cops. I lost interest in this game within 30 minutes.
Some games have too much story. Think about Metal Gear Solid 4. Were we playing a game or an interactive movie? From what I recall, I got to sneak around some hallways for 5 minutes before being interrupted by 30 minutes of cinematic and dialog. If you’re going to make a game heavy in story make it interactive so I have something to do while you’re blabbing about your military and science bullshit. You know what I remember about the MGS4 story? Not much at all due to the fact that every single time the game would take control away from me I left the room to make tea or I put a pillow over my face and woke up when I noticed the talking ended. The story became way too encumbering and I only finished it because it was the finale to the series or so it was believed at that time.
If the gaming industry needs someone to look to in order to make games with decent game play but highly engrossing stories there is a little company called Bioware that completely decimates the industry with its captivating stories and player involvement. Dragon Age and Mass Effect are their two hottest franchises right now and it’s hard to argue that either has a monotonous story or boring main character. Commander Shepard is a bad ass and they sway from good or evil but the ends always justify the means regardless of the decision. The nameless Grey Warden leader in Dragon Age does what needs to get done despite the situation he/she is placed under. While I love both franchises, I dislike the villains and I feel they could do more than just have a villain who wants to shit dicks all over the world because they are evil. In Dragon Age, Loghain was a rather interesting character but they didn’t focus much on him. I feel if they did it would’ve been much more difficult to stomp on his dreams and kill him when it came down to it. The game always leaves you thinking that he is possessed by a demon or somehow working for the enemy, but he isn’t. He’s just a man with an opposing view and you aren’t really given a chance to understand his action because you get the option to decapitate him, which any reasonable person will do. Only a total pussy wouldn’t chop off someone’s head if given the option. Do note how I compliment the story so much in these Bioware games but I don’t even mention the game play experience. That would be because it is rather simple and nothing introduced has been revolutionary. It’s the story that kept me playing over and over and over.
So video game industry, this is what I’m demanding from you from now on. There will be no “ifs”, “ands” , or “buts” about this. I want a hero who isn’t a metrosexual and has a beard. Yeah I said it. I want more heroes with beards. I want a villain who has a really good reason to want to do the things they do other than just being a total chode. We need someone we could see siding with if given the appropriate circumstances. I don’t want “The dark forces of” to be part of a story anymore. I’m sick of one-dimensional villains. Why can’t it just be an opposing country or something? Sephiroth wasn’t born evil. He went bat shit when he found out how he was made and wanted to destroy the planet for his mama. See? I can side with that. He loved his mom so much he wanted to make her proud. I’m sick of Ganon being a total dick for no reason. I want likeable party members. I don’t need anymore Wakka’s or Snow’s who think they are hot shit but are incredibly obnoxious. Do the creators even play the games? Do they not notice how annoying these kinds of characters are? Get rid of them. If you want a fun loving side character make him a happy drunk or something. Don’t make the game a movie by leaving us on the sidelines with lack of interactivity. I don’t want to sit through dialog that I have no say in for thirty fucking minutes. If this scene really has to happen make it worth listening to. Don’t get all scientific and shit. I’m playing this game for entertainment, not to learn how to fucking make a clone in real life. This is all I demand from you. In return, I will give you my money if you don’t somehow fuck this up.
Do you guys think that the story matters in a game or are you fine with stories that are as bland as Tetris?