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Worth Reading 03/08/2013

It's all Hexels all the time in Worth Reading this week, full of the Internet's thoughts on Tomb Raider, SimCity, and plenty more.

This weekend should prove interesting. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate showed up, and it's the next logical step for my pursuit of expanding my gaming horizons.

I’ve had good luck so far. XCOM was one of my favorites from last year, and Fire Emblem: Awakening has a good chance of being there, too, when 2013 winds down (it’s weird to say that). Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan was my first stumbling block, albeit one that wasn’t entirely unexpected. A hardcore dungeon crawler is both not in my wheelhouse and isn’t necessarily a genre I’m all that interested in getting into. I knew the game wouldn’t get covered on the site unless I picked it up, and rather than just pop it in, I wanted to give it a few hours, and have the game open itself up to me. Maybe I’d be wrong? Maybe I’d fall in love? Probably indifference?

You can’t love everything, but you can certainly give it a chance. That’s the driving factor behind playing all of these games that would otherwise fly around in my periphery, and get little more than an eye roll. It’s important to have a better idea why I like or don’t like the things I like or don’t like, especially when it comes to genres that I haven’t visited in ages, and my feelings have crusted into a mass of unknowables.

Anyway, who knows what will happen with Monster Hunter. There’s just as much of a chance that it won’t click for me, but I’ll sleep better knowing that when people ask me why I don’t like Monster Hunter, it won’t come from a place of brushing off the franchise and, instead, from spending some hours with the game.

Hey, You Should Play This

Did you play Mirror’s Edge for iOS? It was one an early games from a traditional publisher on Apple’s platform, and remains a favorite. It wasn’t a first-person platforming affair, but it condensed some of that Mirror’s Edge magic into a 2D platformer. The Button Affair plays around with similar concepts, except dropped into a world of spies and deception. The cutscenes have a charming MS Paint quality to them, and while the mechanics aren’t as twitchy as I’d like, it scratched an itch I’ve had for a long time now.

And You Should Read These, Too

Considering our lengthy Hideo Kojima digressions on the podcast recently, thanks to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Brett Fujioka’s lengthy look at the designer is fascinating. Fujioka presents a compelling essay about the reasons for creating Raiden the way he is, what it says about the Metal Gear fan base, and the potential motivation behind keeping the Raiden’s central, controversial role in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty a secret from everybody. He doesn’t just piece together quotes Kojima, either--he takes a hard look at the concept of “otaku,” and how Metal Gear’s broader mythology works as social commentary. Even if you don’t buy some of the junk Kojima’s selling, this makes great reading.

“None of Raiden's psychological traits are unprecedented if you look at Evangelion's characters. What's different is that MGS2 directly correlates the relationship between otaku-like groups and the internet. Before the U.S. got the notorious 4Chan, Japan had 2Channel. Like its American successor, anonymous postings were the popular mode of conduct, even when internet anonymity was still controversial. If people could write anything without repercussion, it left room for libel and other falsehoods to stream freely. Bearing this in mind, The Patriots -- MGS2's antagonistic shadow government -- agenda of internet censorship is more easily understood.”

"Gameological Q&A: Not Again" by Gameological staff for Gameological

A bunch of Gameological writers are asked to confess their greatest pet peeves in game design. I wrapped up Tomb Raider earlier this week, and it brought to mind one of mine. Collectibles are a cheap, easy way to motivate players to explore the world in a way they might not do on their own or along the directed path of the story. That makes sense. But I can’t stand collectibles for the sake of content padding. Only the journals in Tomb Raider add to the plot, the rest are hidden objects that stop being hidden when the game hands over a treasure map that makes their locations explicit. It’s even worse when the game implies through a line of dialogue that one of the collectibles, the GPS caches, might have payoff. Unfortunately, they don't. Argh.

"I can’t stand games that make you mash buttons to perform a simple action. You know the kind: You have to turn a valve or pry away the cover to an air vent, and the game puts a prompt on screen with a throbbing button icon, inviting you to hit the X button a thousand times. I suppose it can be mildly effective at times, when time is of the essence, but in most cases, it’s the lowest form of busywork. For all their good points, the Arkham Batman games do abuse this gimmick, as does Asura’s Wrath (to the point where it’s almost hard to mind anymore). But my “worst example” is Dark Void, for personal reasons. I was playing through a prerelease demo of Dark Void with one of its producers, Morgan Gray, and we were having a fun conversation about pet peeves. I complained about this particular design trope, and I didn’t hold back. You know how the story ends: Not 30 seconds later, one of those throbbing X prompts popped up on the screen, and I just let out a quiet groan. Gray was an awfully good sport about it, though."

If You Click It, It Will Play

Kickstarter Has Promise, Hopefully Developers Don't Screw It Up

  • Empire Eden is one good looking 2D action game.
  • In Pulse, the only way forward is to utilize the sound around you.
  • Some folks are still trying to bring Homeworld back.

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

For those worrying about how you’ll play always-online games, like Sim City, decades into the future: the answer is piracy.

— Mark Brown (@britishgaming) March 7, 2013

Piracy offers the all-encompassing archive of discontinued video games. Heck, you can play Bandai Satellaview games thanks to SNES emulation

— Mark Brown (@britishgaming) March 7, 2013

All those games that have been removed from the Xbox Live Arcade servers? You can pirate them. I wouldn’t worry.

— Mark Brown (@britishgaming) March 7, 2013

Hexels is a Nifty Art Program Helping Artist Make Beautiful Stuff

(If you're interested in seeing more, make sure to follow http://madeinhexels.tumblr.com.)

Lara Croft is Back, And People Have Thoughts About It

SimCity's Launch Has Prompted Some Iiiiiiinteresting Articles

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
158 Comments
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Edited by Video_Game_King

On that Metal Gear thing: is it possible Final Fantasy VII was doing the same thing, or at least something similar? Because reading it right now, Cloud's somebody that nobody liked as a kid and didn't really amount to much as an adult, so he made a fan-fic out of his life where he got to hang out his childhood hero (and was so obsessive about it that he drove the 30 year old into grey-haired insanity).

Posted by Daharpinator

Thank you for the Journey video, Patrick.

Edited by Ponyexpress

I kinda want to give Anita money now, as it seems to annoy just the type of people who I love to see whine and squirm.

Edited by SparkleMotion

@ponyexpress: When did it become cool to want to annoy other people?

Posted by animateria

Oh boy, MH eh? I think I'm dreading the response that game will get already. I quit that game a bunch of times when I thought "oh I'll try this for a couple hours." Definitely need a 'mentor' to get a grasp of the game. Mine was YouTube but that isn't the same as someone teaching you the ropes.

I'd say go to the forums and find some vets to play with. You'll learn just by watching them. And they will give you pointers for sure.

Edited by MormonWarrior

EDIT: Wait, somebody in the comments used RE4 as an example, not the video which I hadn't finished yet. Oops!

It's interesting to see that girl use RE4 as a "damsel in distress" trope. That's a series that, from the very start, allowed you to have strong female protagonists, often running to the rescue of men. RE4 happened to have a girl to be rescued - and in that case, I don't even see it as much of a trope. Ada Wong is in that game, and turns out to be the ultimate nemesis in a way, showing prowess and ability that even Leon couldn't match. It seems to be the antithesis of her argument.

Otherwise, I feel like the "trope" comes from classic chivalry stories of knights rescuing kidnapped maidens/princesses from dragons. It's been subverted countless times in games and other media and I don't see it as a problem at all. Interesting discussion, but I almost don't see the issue. I'd like to see further development of the argument and see where it goes, if it has legs at all.

EDIT 2: "The belief that women are somehow a naturally weaker gender is a deeply-ingrained, socially-constructed myth, which of course is completely false."

There's a loaded statement. What is she talking about exactly? Physically, more than nine times out of ten a man of similar size to a woman can overpower her. Men are built with more muscle mass (in general) than women. So from a strictly biological, physical perspective men are stronger. That's not necessarily talking about prowess in certain athletics, scholarly pursuits, or general worth and capability, etc. etc. But there's a reason men and women don't directly compete in a lot of sports, and it has nothing to do with artificial gender roles or sexism.

I do, however, find it important to make sure we as a global society check ourselves constantly to make sure we aren't making sweeping assumptions about people based purely on race, sex, ethnicity, etc. The video was very interesting to watch and could prove important moving forward as games continue to grow up and expand.

Wow, that's a wall of text. Sorry about that, I just had a lot to write there...

Posted by Azurath

God dammit Patrick! You fucking got me excited for an indie game. Darkwood looks amazing.

Edited by beeryayghost

The negativity in the comments of the Sessler GoW review is astounding. The internet is a horrible place.