When I play Diablo III on my PlayStation 4, I can tell it's a good game. It's been beautifully adapted to a controller, as though it was always meant for consoles. But after 70 hours of Divinity, I need a break.
I cannot stand to look at loot anymore.
Part of the reason I'm always willing to give new games a shot, even if I don't end up liking them, is avoiding burnout. Though Divinity and Diablo 3 differ in significant ways--one is real-time action, the other is turn-based--both have an emphasis on loot.
To recalibrate, I'm playing other kinds of games. One day, it was Unrest, a conversation-focused adventure about an ancient Indian kingdom dealing with a lengthy drought. Another, it was Eidolon, an exploratory story game giving me some Proteus vibes. (Vinny and Alex looked at it recently.)
You Should Read These
There are some really smart criticisms of the mobile market presented in Tadgh Kelly's piece, and they're miles away from the usual conversations we have about smartphones games. It's not about free-to-play. Instead, Kelly points out the inability for developers to successfully build upon a hit video game, preventing many from sticking around. Angry Birds is an exception to the rule. There is no Candy Crush Saga 2, if there was, and few would care. Mobile does not inspire loyal players or customers. Not only that, but Apple and Google have done a poor job at allowing communities to build around mobile games. This was an article where I was nodding my head the whole way through.
"We often say that games are a hit driven business, but the reality is games are a franchise driven business. When physical retailers dominated the landscape, the continued success of the franchise was all about selling boxes, and often still is. A big publisher like EA or Activision spends a lot of cash and effort ensuring that their biggest games are able to be annualized because they know the value that franchises can bring. It’s rare that a game arrives from nowhere and sells 10m copies cold, but over a few releases and building of brand and intellectual property (as well as good games), momentum leads to greater and greater success."
"Power to the players," "by gamers, for gamers," and other slogans are designed to make a certain kind of person feel good. I'm one of those people. You're probably one of those people. But Matthew Burns has taken a closer look at the philosophy of "gamer," and I come away feeling pretty gross about the whole affair. In the context of what's happened in the last few days, it feels especially pertinent. Underlying his essay is the importance of having a range of voices to ensure we're getting new perspectives. We can't always trust ourselves. (Note: Try to think of this article in the grand scheme of things--big picture. It's not meant as a personal attack on anyone, but a broader consideration of what the underlying effects of heavily marketing to a specific demographic are.)
"We tend to say the problem lies with 'gamers.' Consider how successful and widespread “gamer” is as an identity despite the fact that it hardly means anything at all. The reason the gamer identity has become so laden with bad connotations--misogyny, Doritos--is because the identity itself doesn’t really matter except for one crucial aspect: the buying of games. As long as “gamer” means someone who spends money, preferably a lot of money, on products that are produced by the game industry, the rest of that identity is left undefined. There’s no incentive for the largest groups that do things around games to attempt to define gaming as, say, something that makes you interesting, or as a noble pursuit. Anything anyone knows about “gamers” is just that they purchase games.
I want to talk about a certain kind of good customer. As a group they are an important source of revenue. Since 'gamer' doesn’t mean anything, I will call them 'consumer-kings' (the gendered term is intentional). Central to the notion of the consumer-king is the purity of his agency to make decisions about what to choose to experience. We could imagine him in front of a table brimming with a stunning variety of exquisite foods, much more than he could possibly eat in one sitting. He looks at each of them, enjoying their shapes and colors, imagining what they will taste like. There are many aspects to consider, so he is surrounded by a group of people whose job it is to talk about the dishes, to tell the stories behind them, and otherwise add new dimensions to his aesthetic reverie. His advisors are educated and opinionated, and he suspects some of them might secretly look down on him. But at the same time, he revels in their attention and in the notion of having his own, equally valid opinion to contrast with theirs. At the end of the discussion– which has taken all day– they always defer to him. After all, his own critical thought is the highest and most important faculty in his choice of repast (even if that process leads him to conclusions that are overwhelmingly similar to everyone around him)."
If You Click It, It Will Play
These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool
- Slap .45 is a tremendously fun "slap" game. Trust me, I've played it. It's great.
- Jeff Cannata and Anthony Carboni have a terrific new podcast series, We Have Concerns.
- Vagante seems like it's riffing on Spelunky, but with classes, magic, and other elements.
- Gryphon Knight Epic is a 2D shoot-'em-up in a world without many shoot-'em-ups.
- Ray's the Dead was being developed in Chicago, but they moved to Texas. I forgive them.
Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"
Research shows that upon reading a statement many will remember it as true even if its falsified directly afterwards. Journalists take note.— Thomas Grip (@ThomasGrip) August 19, 2014
Imagine how empty someone's life must be to just sit on Twitter and talk shit to others all day long.— Dave Lang (@JosephJBroni) August 19, 2014
Cannot believe this video game gave Brock Lesnar a German suplex as a weak grapple.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) August 18, 2014
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Patricia Hernandez spoke with her 15-year-old sister about Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.
- GB user Marino has started a thread with original EverQuest players sharing old war stories.
- M. Joshua Cauller looks at his playthrough of Valiant Hearts from the perspective of Jesus Christ.
- Javy Gawtlney explores the bonds players make with characters in Mass Effect and Fire Emblem.
- Jessica Contrera reports on the struggles of starting a video game conference.
- Kirk Hamilton spent two weeks playing Elite: Dangerous with an Oculus, and came back with stories.
- Brendan Keogh breaks down what makes P.T. work as a piece of horror.
- Chris Plante has issues with Battlefield Hardline's portrayal of the police, in light of recent events.
- Hatsuu, production coordinator at XSEED, writes about backlash to a translation in Akiba's Trip.
- Sven Grudenberg, Jens Hansegard report on the influx of women players entering games.
- Fumiaki Shiraishi isn't so sure about the "fail early" philosophy that you often hear about.
- Toby McCasker has a long conversation with Far Cry 3 writer Jeffrey Yohalem very late at night.
- Clickhole finally weighs in on whether anime is for jerks or not.
- Chris Sullentrop writes about the forgotten female video game pioneers.
- GB user KoolAid works on free-to-play games, and has come back with lessons from the front lines.