There’s a divide. A clear yet subtle disparity between young and old gamer’s. There’s certainly an indication that expectations are sharply distinctive between generations. The difference between gamer’s is the same as the difference between the movies “Alien” and “Aliens”; marginal, yet distinct. What’s also telling is the number of people who will comprehend that reference and those that won’t understand the significance of the plural. There’s invariably the same enthusiasm, similar passions, just a variable interpretation of what constitutes as reasonable doubt and deceitful. Youth tolerate certain grievances that someone like me would never condone. It’s a very broad generalised sentiment that may not accurately reflect your own personal experience, but it’s hard to deny that some established practices are deemed acceptable and even normal.
Games released unfinished, teething with crippling bugs, inflated pre-order incentives, premium currency, and everyone’s favourite legalised thievery, Loot Box’s. Of course these are also the kind of practices that have occurred incrementally over many years, simmering gradually to condition us to odious stench of corruption without it seeming alarming. It defies belief that such practices are tolerated in an industry that once flourished because of innovation not despite it. Commerce over craft is the encouraged method for game development. Hell, many supposed AAA games aren’t even released fully functional! If a game I purchased didn’t work I’d demand my money back, not passively defend the ignorant exercise as a necessary part of game development. The worst part, the thing that really rile’s me is the blatant lies emitted by devs/publishers, most notably the fallacious assertion that not only do we not play single player games anymore, but also don’t trade games.
The systemic dissolve of the second-hand market instigated by publishers that want more control over their revenue is not something I’d consider a positive step for the industry, let alone consumers. The aggressive defamation of single player experiences simply because publishers can’t monetise them infuriates me! They use their significant influence to flat-out lie about how people don’t want single player games to justify the inclusion of their sloppy, content starved multiplayer games. What I hate most is that people accept it. Just watch idly, complicit in their deceptive labour and casually say that it will get sorted “later”. As if that’s an acceptable alternative. So how does this translate into some perceived hostility towards older gamer’s? Well, we tend to be more casual, and casual players don’t tend to spend as much.
We have jobs, bills, domestic responsibilities, things to moan at, awkward joints, and quite honestly we require more sleep. There’s a necessitating incentive from brief, easily accomplished objectives in games that at my age and social standing is not only appealing but required. Life simply doesn’t permit the time to engage in an extended play-through that can’t be paused and potentially left absent for a period of time. Companies that can’t exploit you regularly and aggressively aren’t much interested in you. And ironically enough I’m not all that interested in them.
People don’t like change. Having something they cherish distorted and altered beyond recognition is such a difficult thing to accept. Your immediate instinct is to rebel against it. To dismiss the alteration as misguided and better to be ignored until the decision can be rectified and subsequently retracted. This seems to be a position currently espoused by some members of the Fallout community in response to “Fallout 76”. Evidently fans are divided about this multiplayer variation of the series traditionally developed as a single player experience, with some almost vitriolic of the accursed integration of other human people inhabiting the same decrepit land as themselves. I find all of this controversy fascinating. I can’t confess to being a devout admirer of the franchise, nor a detractor of it either. My butt cheeks are comfortably, if precariously situated on a rather stable fence of neutrality between this two conflicting paradigms. I believe this impartial position affords me an objective perspective on the entire situation, and why Fallout’s support for expanding player interaction may not be such an unsavoury addition.
I guess the primary catalyst for many fans vehement umbrage is the interaction with real players infiltrating their experience with potentially hostile incentives. Traditional commerce with people and environments were artificial, with many instances scripted to enhance “your” experience. Fallout 76 removes those premeditated stabilisers by introducing a threat you can’t predict: idiots. Dangerous, free thinking idiots with personal agendas. Impediments that won’t hesitate to shoot you on sight simply because they believe that fedora your currently wearing would look so much better on them. Because Fallout imbues the player with purpose, creating a narrative that emphasises your significance in this world. But when there are thousands of players similarly empowered suddenly you aren’t as important. And as such you are more vulnerable, susceptible to the whims of a more organised party that will flaunt their superior ballistics regardless of your passivity. That can be intimidating for people who like to feel important, as they have done in previous entries.
You read phrases from disgruntled detractors like “This isn’t my Fallout”, “who asked for this?!” and other pernicious statements and wonder if fans are just being arbitrarily dismissive of a game they haven’t even played yet? Or perhaps their anxiety concerning the intimate single player game-play could become compromised if Fallout 76 is a success? It’s a legitimate concern. Really there are too many variables to definitively support either theory, but I believe Fallout 76 validates its existence by being an aberration rather than an extension of the franchise, much like the Elder Scrolls Online. Personally when the ESO was announced I was similarly sceptical about the series perusing a more communal area for players to explore, especially when it was announced that players required a mandatory monthly subscription to participate, a service quickly revoked before hitting consoles. Visitation to Tamriel felt less appealing to me if I had to share it with similarly endowed users. But having played it periodically over the years, you begin to realise that the MMO style is not a continuation of the series, and certainly not indicative of the franchise itself.
If Fallout 76 expansion into multiplayer doesn’t appeal to you than by all means don’t play it. There’s certainly nothing wrong with preferential affinity for Fallout’s established single player content. With only cursory research about Fallout 76 and no direct interaction with the game I can’t comfortably assuage your fears that it won’t lead to more preferable sequels that include multiplayer, the kind of sustainable income afforded by micro-transactions is highly lucrative after all. But again using Fallout’s mythological sibling as a barometer, the Elder Scrolls single player experience will continue to thrive along side its MMO partner. Of course be vigilant, but also amiable of a new way to play a revered and respected series. This generation has proved just how relevant single player games are to the community, and its unlikely that Bethesda, a studio that has embraced personable experiences, would have forgotten that.
Are you looking forward to Fallout 76? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
The demise of such a distinguished and prevailing studio such as Telltale is another crushing example of the fickle, congested and vulnerable nature of the games industry. From an ethically minded position its dispiriting to see so many people lose their jobs, particularly when the companies financial defects can be attributed to managerial incompetence rather than the general staff. It’s certainly a situation I can relate too. Rumours have persisted that Telltale’s strenuous regime, toxic working environment and languishing creative verve have all contributed to the studios sad but inevitable decline. The studio’s increasingly precarious financial security had become unsustainable, with its dedicated employees facing unemployment after years of stifled creativity. The fact that most were not even granted a severance makes the entire affair even more remarkable. And sad. Though my condolences won’t placate their unjust situation, I do sincerely hope that everyone is able to secure work quickly. From a consumer standpoint however I can’t say I’m entirely aggrieved to see Telltale go into liquidation.
The narrative based, partially interactive content developed by Telltale never really appealed to me in the way I thought it would. Games like “Game Of Thrones” and “The Walking Dead” relied on minimal player directed conversations that were meant to advance the story in a personal, meaningful way but just felt kind of hollow. Many of the decisions were superficial dialogue exchanges that had limited repercussions, other than a character being mildly irritated by it. The animation used in many of their games felt flat and lifeless, like a newspaper print that had become damaged by damp. It was indistinct, gloomy, utilising a wide variety of greys and bland hues that I guess was supposed to convey a sense of realism. Crucially for me however were the mediocre stories.
I’m sure many of you will refute that appraisal, but I personally just couldn’t connect or even care about the characters depicted in either “The Walking Dead” or “Game Of Thrones”. They weren’t bad games, just tolerable ones. I realise they produced other critically lauded games like the “Wolf Among Us” and “Tales From Borderlands” but I never played them, and if I’m honest I probably never will. The concept of a narrative driven experience, with branching tangents that allowed the story to adapt to your catered direction was inspired, yet ultimately floored when you didn’t really care about the events that transpired around you.
But this is why I didn’t enjoy them, and by no means a factual account of Telltales revered history. If you’re a fan I’m sure you are devastated, but perhaps not surprised. The over saturation of content was probably a clear indication of the companies deeper financial difficulties. No doubt that Telltales sizeable team will go elsewhere and tell many more tales without the restrictions that seemingly stunted them there. And though I didn’t enjoy their full body of work as much as I wished, I doubt even the most ignorant of us will forget their contributions to gaming any time soon. Best of luck to everyone affected.
Did you enjoy Telltale games? Let me know your favourite in the comments below. Cheers.
Traditionally the release of a new game would necessitate time off from work and a chance to reserve a couple of days devoted to the engagement of some relaxation. Usually I’d bookend the weekend with the nurturing splendour of a new exciting game, brimming with untapped potential. All the speculative assertions you’ve made about a games quality can be vindicated, the game has the potential to exceed all expectations, with the farcical monotony of the world and all its trivialities for a short passage of time is everyone else’s concern. Your world is localised entirely through your 50 inch, 4K television with soundbar and compartmentalised on your preferred gaming console. An uninhibited experience that truly enables you to absorb a game without distraction or adhering to the limitations of time. Time off work or perhaps even school are always the best gaming times.
For most of us any opportunities to play a game is solely regulated on the caveat of restricted time. Whether there are other domestic or professional obligations to full-fill, borrowed time, restricted and mediated by the critical considerations that dominate our lives. So any time dedicated to the solitary delights of gaming is embraced as though the 4 Horseman were coming round “with the boys”. Utilising this time efficiently is dependant on external interference’s or in later years, battling dreaded unconsciousness, at least in my case. The only truly liberating method is taking time off these compulsory duties. To really engage and assimilate without yielding to some other pedantic or menial task. These are the best times to game.
Memorable moments are almost exclusively reserved for those introductory sessions of uninitiated catharsis. Those little points where your grasp of game mechanics are erratic, tentative and downright embarrassing. Familiarizing yourself with it takes time, with only fleeting sporadic periods that impart the briefest slivers of potential skill. You can’t replicate this kind of “toddlers first steps” progression with interspersed engagements, nor truly immerse yourself in new insatiable environments. You have to take your time to marvel at what you are playing. To savour the experience permitted by the luxury of time unrestrained by responsibility.
I remember playing Skyrim on day of release. I’d booked the day off, ventured out bright and early to my local Sainsbury’s that I’d reserved a copy from. Entering the store I sauntered over to customer service desk and requested my copy of Skyrim. After explaining to the elderly receptionist precisely what a Skyrim was, I purchased my copy, thanked the bewildered lady and dashed off picking up a few choice snacks to consume over the course of my day. I’m not ashamed to admit that I spent the first 20 minutes just looking at the case, not even considering the contents. Of course I eventually tore through the protective casing and rescued the trapped disc from its cellophane prison, idly trekking through this frigid and enchanting land. Such extended vagrancy and slow, listless ambling wouldn’t have been possible without taking time off work.
With only a few hours at your disposal you’re compelled to make good use of the time. You can’t compromise it by idly wandering with no direction, at least not without feeling like you’ve wasted your evening. That’s why it’s so important to take time off to play new titles. No commitments. No responsibilities. Just you, some unhealthy food and oodles of time to meander. I had the same experience with GTA V, Uncharted 3 and many others besides, simply because my first play-through was uninhibited by life. The simple extension of time is crucial to really experience a game without restriction. And nothing promotes this quite like a day off.
There, I think I’ve just about justified to myself that booking the day off to play “Red Dead Redemption 2” is the right decision. As if I needed an excuse.
Reviews have always been a divisive and singular method for exhibiting a discernible personal view. A very formal approach to declaring what is essentially an opinion, determined purely on the basis of how you felt at that time. Trouble being is that opinions are so mailable and instinctive that they don’t always accurately reflect the quality of the game/movie/novel you’re supposed to be reviewing. They are also susceptible to intense communal censure and disparate interpretations. With other people’s vehement opinions contradicting your opinions, which are now subjected to trivial analysis to determine which subjective opinion is right?! Really the only review that should matter is your own. It’s why I abstain from doing many reviews as I find it difficult to be analytical about fun, which is really what you’re interpreting.
Most reviews published in the more professional and refined periodicals are written by those that can articulate their own loquacious evaluation with erudite precision. Which is then undermined by attributing a superficial numerical value that abbreviate’s the entire review into a palatable scoring system. Then this review is collated into a aggregated system like metacritic that forgoes any nuance or specific information that accurately describes what you liked and disliked for a conflated, highly deceptive interpretation. “Well it only received a 6 out of 10, so it can’t be very good”.
How disenchanted would you be if a review you’d dedicate hours to composing, meticulously editing to include every facet both positive and negative that you deemed relevant to really get your point across to the reader, only to have people completely disregard the entirety of your toil just to look at what score you gave it? That kind of primitive evaluation really does compromise the sincerity of the review, only really prompting those with a contrasting opinions to chastise you for having an alternative opinion.
Personally I enjoy reading other people’s opinions. Gaining some insight on an issue that may differ from my own. I also enjoy ignoring people whose opinions differ from my own. Reviews are just an extension of that, just more verbose and problematic. The question really is do we need them, particularly if people are inclined to disagree with it because they want it to be good or just ignore the entire specifics just to see what value out of ten you’ve given it?Neither situation appears to be especially appealing.
What do you think of reviews? Do you actually read them? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.
No Mans Sky certainly had ambitious plans. With a formidable potential that was perhaps hastily grandiose and hideously exacerbated. You can’t fault that kind of over exuberant inflation or scald such a dedicated will for aspiring infamy. The scale and scope are wonderfully invigorating, with a ceaseless expanse for players to traverse, resource deposits to deplete and hostile weather to negotiate. Mocked and ridiculed on release, No Mans Sky’s fertile reputation was in tatters before it had even had a chance to be established, then accused of deceit. It has taken Hello Games years of hard, surreptitious work to redeem their dubious introduction. All whilst assuming the role as the industries most infamous propagator of inflated promises. Thankfully I wasn’t duped by its extravagant claims, totally indifferent to the growing hysteria surrounding its release so I didn’t suffer the disappointment that afflicted so many optimistic adopters. But I have now and must admit that I’m not sure what to make of it.
The game certainly does espouse a principle that bigger is better. The universe, occupied by a punitive 18 quintillion planets is a daunting prospect. The sense of scale, the diverse and often hostile ecosystems that really encourages exploration are breath-taking. Extracting precious resources from verdant landscapes enriched with minerals that provide fuel for your spaceship is meticulous but very unique. All whilst averting the procedurally generated wildlife and sentient alien droids that roam these often inhospitable worlds. The experience is actually one of serenity, of meditative repose. There’s no war to ratify, no pestilence to cure, just the opportunity to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where “no man”, or indeed women has gone before. And boy can it be boring.
Perhaps I just don’t get it. Maybe the games revolutionary intention has overshot me like so many of my contemporary ramblers that routinely bypass me as I struggle to remember which extracted mineral combines with another to form another? The vaguely defined objectives are reminiscent of a concerned mother prompted their agoraphobic child to go outside and play anywhere, which feels nonchalant. Perhaps years of restrictions, inert goals and cloistered linear paths have ruined my ability to appreciate freedom. Or maybe, just maybe a game that celebrates the splendour and tranquillity of liberating, leisurely exploration that isn’t harried by a perceptible, all-encompassing goal is just a little too relaxed for someone like me who gets home from work at half 9 at night, consumes a late supper that I have to reheat in a microwave and requires a stimulating game to entertain rather than put me to sleep.
No Mans Sky is a game that has transitioned from ambitious failure to be hailed as a progressive masterpiece. Sadly it’s also a game that has come good at a time that just isn’t convenient for me.
Tutorials are often regarded with hated derision. For most veteran players being spoon fed simple directions and basic instructional movements like a toddler in a high chair is an unnecessary irritation. Not only that but these preliminary mandates, where rudimentary functions like walking or jumping are explained to you as if you’ve literally just emerged from the womb are so dumbed down and cumbersome that it’s difficult to really assimilate yourself into the experience effectively. A lot of tutorials work under the assumption that the person playing the game has never seen a controller let alone played one! “Push the left anologue stick forward to move forward” being a familiar logistic. By design tutorials have to teach by example to allow players to familiarise themselves with the controls. But when almost every button is exactly the same as every other game of its ilk, are they really a necessary inclusion? Yes, yes they are.
This customary triviality is a softening comfort for me, especially as I seem to regularly forget the controls. It only takes a couple of days neglect to completely lose track of what button does what, until you’re caught off guard by some hysterical militia and instead of dispatching them with swift, assured justice you run behind a wall or crate trying desperately to remember which button throws grenades, instead dropping one and exploding into a dramatic “You’re Dead!” screen. There are games like “Horizon Zero Dawn” that I’m scared to go back too because of the extended absence has withered away any comprehension of the plot and most of the skills I procured would just confuse me. But I don’t want to restart the whole sordid story again knowing that I’m somewhat close to the end. What we really need is mid game tutorials.
Refresher causes designed to fine tune existing skills, or simply remind you of the one’s you forgot you had. Now I realise how irritating that would be for the more consummate gamers out there, those that can dedicate half of their day rigorously attuned the finer points of an attribute, but some of us aren’t so fortunate to engage with a specific game with such fortitude. So an interim, totally optional tutorial to help guide us poor unfortunate casuals can’t be a difficult solution to implement?
You don’t realise just how privileged you are to play computer games on a regular basis until regular becomes semi regular and then finally scarce. Before long your going days perhaps even weeks between sessions. So as irritating as it is to endure countless tutorials that pander to the most basic of simulated directions, spare a thought for us older casuals who can barely remember what they had for dinner last night.