A Dead Space In My Heart

Posted by Tidel (360 posts) -

I love Dead Space. Probably a little too much.

I love part one and two equally; Downfall a lot more than Aftermath; Martyr over Catalyst, but I’m only a few chapters into the latter.

Point is, I’m invested. Dead Space has inspired in me a level of fandom that no other game has. I am drawn to the lore – cthulonic alien technology, reanimated corpses, religious zealots, planet-cracking spaceships; it’s a fully formed, lived-in fiction, and one that I want to revisit again and again. I care about Isaac Clarke. I want to see how he makes it out of this. If he makes it out at all.

But I’m torn about Dead Space 3.

First, the fanboy problem: I was bummed that Dead Space 3 shifted focus to co-op. That’s not the Dead Space I want. I want to be Isaac Clarke, the most put-upon engineer in the history of space mining, alone, tested and scared; fighting my fear, determined to put an end to the Necromorph menace, getting to the bottom of the Big Question mystery of who, what, why.

I don’t want to bro through the terror. For all that internet toughs like to claim the game isn’t scary, its gotchas still get me. The atmosphere is unparalleled. Violinists hide around every corner. I get the heebie jeebies from it, and heebie jeebies don’t do threesomes. I want to play alone.

Sure, the game isn’t co-op only. But marketing has made it seem like co-op first and foremost, like single-player is some archaic mode from the past that we’re all better off without, instead of the bedrock of horror. I harbor feelings about this. I don’t like it. For two years I’ve watched “fans” become monsters over the changes to Devil May Cry with disdain, but Dead Space 3 gives me a bit of sympathy. Unreasonable or not, it’s hurtful when something you love as-is is changed without your consent.

The end result is this: I’m already disappointed. Game-unplayed, Dead Space 3 has already failed to live up because it’s chosen to go in a different direction.

Not all of that direction is bad, though. I love the idea of weapon crafting. Isaac Clarke should be able to MacGruber through a bunch of scrap and cobble together an effective weapon. That’s super engineer-y. It seems more honest to the character that buying blueprints. The game is committed to the system: gone is the traditional Dead Space credit economy, which would be cool if they hadn’t replaced it with real money.

Before you flip your shit: I get it, I don’t have to buy anything I don’t want to. But here I decide to be principled – how can you justifying a micro-transaction model in a full-priced console game? There is only one justification, and it’s EA’s motto: “Because money, idiot.”

Even that I wouldn’t fault, necessarily. But we live in a post-Diablo 3 world. A game that should have been legendary and nearly was, except end-game loot was tuned to turn people to the Auction House, which, lo and behold, had a real money variant. Given that my trust in this franchise is in a fragile state, why should I believe the appalling line we’re fed about “appealing to mobile gamers and their enthusiasm to pay-for-convenience”? Especially since that model is regularly abused in the mobile space. It is just as likely that in-game material drops will be tuned to encourage real money purchases. They can, so they will – because money, idiot.

Reviews will tell the tale on that. But regardless, I’m not comfortable with premium, pay-for content adopting a model designed to support free games. Game luminary Jim Sterling calls it the ‘pay-to-pay’ model; how I loathe it.

There’s a total of $51 worth of day-1 DLC; weapons and suits and crafting materials, oh my. Part of that is the now-familiar $10 online pass.

And that’s the kicker that brings it back home. I have no interest in playing Dead Space co-op. None. Not now, not ever.

Do I get a discount on the game?

If access to online co-op play is something I don’t want, can I opt out, and buy a solo-only version of the game for less?

No, I can’t. That’s not how it works. EA can saddle this game with a secondary revenue stream and pretend it is a different tier – free-to-play, supported by in-game purchases – while still reaping the benefits of a full-priced console title, and all I get out of it is half a product I want to play.

If the game didn’t have co-op, and didn’t intend to beg money out of me at every bench – if it were in line with the other two games in this series I dearly love – I wouldn’t have a qualm laying down my $60 and space-jumping back to terror.

It’s a funny thing. Instead of adding value – the PR perspective – these things depreciate the game for me. They detract from my enthusiasm. A product stuffed with twice as many features as the last game in the series comes off as somehow less-than its predecessor. These aren’t features I want. I don’t want co-op. I don’t want to be able to buy cheat-codes. That I can theoretically ignore them is irrelevant; perceptually, they have already cheapened whatever experience I wanted to have. I don’t want to give EA new game money, because they will misinterpret that as consent.

But… it’s Dead Space. I love Dead Space.

How much is too much?

At what point should I suppress my affection for a franchise because of my disgust for the business around it? It’s not something gamers do. We are a culture of dead-ending dissent. If you express less than reverential love, you’re a hater who’s just hatin’. The ramifications of supporting game companies that continue to devalue product with this pay-for cheat-code grubbing is always secondary to self-interest.

That’s what I’m struggling with. I want to play Dead Space 3. I read everything posted about it. I’m even creeping on the Neogaf OT, which as low as a gamer can get. I look for confirmation of my disdain; I look for justification to consume. I want to be right and have the franchise ruined by this game; I want to be bullshit and it’s the best in the series.

I’m making this hard on myself. Do, or do not. I’m fluffing up the importance of this decision – do my actions matter to anyone but myself? Will not buying a game I want to play actually send EA a message? If my purchase will send them the wrong message, maybe I should write a letter to the lead dev with the right one: “Dear Sir, I love your franchise but I’m not buying Dead Space 3 because I’m mad at it and you for changing it; also micro-transactions are shitty. I hope it fails horribly and you feel bad about yourself. Can’t wait for a much improved back-to-basics Dead Space 4! Also please do another movie; the first one was rad.”

In the end, is this really all about the co-op? Because I hate that they put it in. I really do. Don’t get me wrong – I hate all the shitty pay-to-pay crap that is worming its way into all our games, of which I feel this Dead Space is a Step Too Far. But, of course, I rarely buy DLC.

If I don’t buy this game, it will be because it turned its back on me, first – it told me that my preferred play-style is a secondary concern to shifting units to the bros. My fan devotion is irrelevant. Dead Space doesn’t care about me, personally, as much as I have cared about Dead Space.

#1 Edited by Tidel (360 posts) -

I love Dead Space. Probably a little too much.

I love part one and two equally; Downfall a lot more than Aftermath; Martyr over Catalyst, but I’m only a few chapters into the latter.

Point is, I’m invested. Dead Space has inspired in me a level of fandom that no other game has. I am drawn to the lore – cthulonic alien technology, reanimated corpses, religious zealots, planet-cracking spaceships; it’s a fully formed, lived-in fiction, and one that I want to revisit again and again. I care about Isaac Clarke. I want to see how he makes it out of this. If he makes it out at all.

But I’m torn about Dead Space 3.

First, the fanboy problem: I was bummed that Dead Space 3 shifted focus to co-op. That’s not the Dead Space I want. I want to be Isaac Clarke, the most put-upon engineer in the history of space mining, alone, tested and scared; fighting my fear, determined to put an end to the Necromorph menace, getting to the bottom of the Big Question mystery of who, what, why.

I don’t want to bro through the terror. For all that internet toughs like to claim the game isn’t scary, its gotchas still get me. The atmosphere is unparalleled. Violinists hide around every corner. I get the heebie jeebies from it, and heebie jeebies don’t do threesomes. I want to play alone.

Sure, the game isn’t co-op only. But marketing has made it seem like co-op first and foremost, like single-player is some archaic mode from the past that we’re all better off without, instead of the bedrock of horror. I harbor feelings about this. I don’t like it. For two years I’ve watched “fans” become monsters over the changes to Devil May Cry with disdain, but Dead Space 3 gives me a bit of sympathy. Unreasonable or not, it’s hurtful when something you love as-is is changed without your consent.

The end result is this: I’m already disappointed. Game-unplayed, Dead Space 3 has already failed to live up because it’s chosen to go in a different direction.

Not all of that direction is bad, though. I love the idea of weapon crafting. Isaac Clarke should be able to MacGruber through a bunch of scrap and cobble together an effective weapon. That’s super engineer-y. It seems more honest to the character that buying blueprints. The game is committed to the system: gone is the traditional Dead Space credit economy, which would be cool if they hadn’t replaced it with real money.

Before you flip your shit: I get it, I don’t have to buy anything I don’t want to. But here I decide to be principled – how can you justifying a micro-transaction model in a full-priced console game? There is only one justification, and it’s EA’s motto: “Because money, idiot.”

Even that I wouldn’t fault, necessarily. But we live in a post-Diablo 3 world. A game that should have been legendary and nearly was, except end-game loot was tuned to turn people to the Auction House, which, lo and behold, had a real money variant. Given that my trust in this franchise is in a fragile state, why should I believe the appalling line we’re fed about “appealing to mobile gamers and their enthusiasm to pay-for-convenience”? Especially since that model is regularly abused in the mobile space. It is just as likely that in-game material drops will be tuned to encourage real money purchases. They can, so they will – because money, idiot.

Reviews will tell the tale on that. But regardless, I’m not comfortable with premium, pay-for content adopting a model designed to support free games. Game luminary Jim Sterling calls it the ‘pay-to-pay’ model; how I loathe it.

There’s a total of $51 worth of day-1 DLC; weapons and suits and crafting materials, oh my. Part of that is the now-familiar $10 online pass.

And that’s the kicker that brings it back home. I have no interest in playing Dead Space co-op. None. Not now, not ever.

Do I get a discount on the game?

If access to online co-op play is something I don’t want, can I opt out, and buy a solo-only version of the game for less?

No, I can’t. That’s not how it works. EA can saddle this game with a secondary revenue stream and pretend it is a different tier – free-to-play, supported by in-game purchases – while still reaping the benefits of a full-priced console title, and all I get out of it is half a product I want to play.

If the game didn’t have co-op, and didn’t intend to beg money out of me at every bench – if it were in line with the other two games in this series I dearly love – I wouldn’t have a qualm laying down my $60 and space-jumping back to terror.

It’s a funny thing. Instead of adding value – the PR perspective – these things depreciate the game for me. They detract from my enthusiasm. A product stuffed with twice as many features as the last game in the series comes off as somehow less-than its predecessor. These aren’t features I want. I don’t want co-op. I don’t want to be able to buy cheat-codes. That I can theoretically ignore them is irrelevant; perceptually, they have already cheapened whatever experience I wanted to have. I don’t want to give EA new game money, because they will misinterpret that as consent.

But… it’s Dead Space. I love Dead Space.

How much is too much?

At what point should I suppress my affection for a franchise because of my disgust for the business around it? It’s not something gamers do. We are a culture of dead-ending dissent. If you express less than reverential love, you’re a hater who’s just hatin’. The ramifications of supporting game companies that continue to devalue product with this pay-for cheat-code grubbing is always secondary to self-interest.

That’s what I’m struggling with. I want to play Dead Space 3. I read everything posted about it. I’m even creeping on the Neogaf OT, which as low as a gamer can get. I look for confirmation of my disdain; I look for justification to consume. I want to be right and have the franchise ruined by this game; I want to be bullshit and it’s the best in the series.

I’m making this hard on myself. Do, or do not. I’m fluffing up the importance of this decision – do my actions matter to anyone but myself? Will not buying a game I want to play actually send EA a message? If my purchase will send them the wrong message, maybe I should write a letter to the lead dev with the right one: “Dear Sir, I love your franchise but I’m not buying Dead Space 3 because I’m mad at it and you for changing it; also micro-transactions are shitty. I hope it fails horribly and you feel bad about yourself. Can’t wait for a much improved back-to-basics Dead Space 4! Also please do another movie; the first one was rad.”

In the end, is this really all about the co-op? Because I hate that they put it in. I really do. Don’t get me wrong – I hate all the shitty pay-to-pay crap that is worming its way into all our games, of which I feel this Dead Space is a Step Too Far. But, of course, I rarely buy DLC.

If I don’t buy this game, it will be because it turned its back on me, first – it told me that my preferred play-style is a secondary concern to shifting units to the bros. My fan devotion is irrelevant. Dead Space doesn’t care about me, personally, as much as I have cared about Dead Space.

#2 Posted by Funkydupe (3311 posts) -

You could rent it.

#3 Posted by OfficeGamer (1087 posts) -

@Tidel said:

I don’t want to bro through the terror. For all that internet toughs like to claim the game isn’t scary, its gotchas still get me. The atmosphere is unparalleled. Violinists hide around every corner. I get the heebie jeebies from it, and heebie jeebies don’t do threesomes. I want to play alone.

This is a really well fucking written blog. It always breaks my heart to see such an invested fan let down by even the thought of a bad sequel. I hope it'll turn out to be what you consider a great Dead Space game, with the co-op being only an add-on, not a substitute to anything you enjoy!

#4 Posted by Funkydupe (3311 posts) -

You can play through it on co-op after your first singleplayer playthrough to experience the different cutscenes.

#5 Posted by Tidel (360 posts) -

@Funkydupe: I live in a mid-sized town in Southern Ontario. There is literally no where left for me to rent games from, and we don't have Game Fly. But that would be ideal, for sure.

@OfficeGamer: Thanks duder. I'm really just trying to be honest about this aspect of fandom -- my fandom, at least. On one level, I realize it's silly -- a bit overblown, because in the grand scheme of things a game franchise shouldn't matter this much. But being a fan is a weird, neurotic thing sometimes. You love a product, a world, whatever -- you invest in it, and expect of it. But it doesn't owe you a thing. That's hard to reconcile, sometimes.

#6 Edited by ArtisanBreads (3804 posts) -

The thing I keep saying: you guys should listen to the last couple Rebel FM podcasts. Arthur Gies is a really big Dead Space fan and to hear him tell it the game handles playing single player very well, to the point where if you didn't know you couldn't tell it was co-op. We will see but from what he says, it sounds like they handled playing singleplayer far better than say Resident Evil, with their AI controlled partners mucking things up. Cutscenes, puzzles, all sorts of things get altered a lot to fit it being a solo affair.

Beyond that there are apparently a bunch of crazy difficulty options.

There are some shitty things in there for sure, but I get the feeling people may end up surprised that this game is good from all that flak it has taken since the E3 reveal.

#7 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (3859 posts) -

First off, great write up. nice to see some negative thoughts calmly explained and backed up with reasoning. We could use more of that.

I'm a huge Dead Space fan too. It's become one of my favorite franchises easily. I'm a little disappointed about the move away from horror but I guess at this point I've just accepted it. I kinda have a philosophy about this stuff, just try to enjoy it for what it is. I'm sure I don't always follow through with that but for this game, I'm gonna try. As far as co-op goes I agree the solitary experience is part of what makes it great but the devs have said that's still there if you want it. So I guess I'm gonna hope they mean what they say and try to stay optimistic. At this point I'm invested in the story and in Isaac so if I get more of that, even if it's total action...that'll kinda suck but I'll still enjoy it I'm sure. I liked the demo.

I've also heard the devs say that you can still buy all the stuff in the game without real world money, it'll just take some work to get it. Depending on how they handle that, that's totally cool with me. I guess it's just a reality of the games industry right now, this stuff is here to stay (currently) and as long as it's handled well it can be easy to stomach. If EA will or not is another matter but I mean, without EA, Dead Space doesn't exist. The game doesn't happen. So I'll give them my money to buy the game if it's a good game and feel good about the fact that the devs will be able to keep making good games.

I guess the TL:DR is, there's some shitty aspects to this but underneath that is (hopefully) a great game and nothing EA has done yet has been bad enough to make me not want to play it.

#8 Posted by Humanity (9068 posts) -

@Tidel said:

I love Dead Space. Probably a little too much...

...

..How much is too much?

I think it's too much when you spend this much time pondering the purchase of a game you're excited about. Let's rewind to the time when games weren't serious business and you just had fun. While your write up is quite good in expressing opinions on a subject you're passionate about - I do think a lot of your strong emotions are rather misplaced.

I won't go into detail about how you still haven't played the game or how you shouldn't even care about micro transactions that you won't take part in anyway.

The matter is quite simple: you love the series, you probably want to know what happens to Isaac Clarke - so what is your dilemma? The answer is quite obvious: you purchase the game and have fun with it. Thats it. Really this isn't that complicated - you buy games you like. This isn't a class struggle between the reasonable, well mannered, intelligent players, and the horrible "bros" that want to go "pew pew" Master Chief up your game. I loved the first two games as well, but I also enjoy a fair amount of action and appreciated the faster, more refined movement changes in Dead Space 2. Am I an idiot bro that you describe in your blog? I don't think I am and the whole mentality and usage of the phrase "bro" has become so idiotic in the past year that it pains me to read it in an otherwise intelligent, well written blog.

Just buy the game, have fun, and relax.

#9 Posted by Demoskinos (14778 posts) -
@Tidel I read none of that but congrats on best thread title of the year.
#10 Edited by Ghostiet (5252 posts) -
@Tidel
Co-op apparently works in a way that you only meet with Carver at a few, set points if you're playing single, but you can hear him lurk around at points so the transition when someone jumps in is less jarring, but he doesn't tag along if there's no player 2. I doubt it will be the thing that makes-or-breaks the game - since this is what bugs you the most, I think you're safe. They apparently are pretty smart about implementing it.
#11 Edited by bybeach (4792 posts) -

Tidel said "First, the fanboy problem: I was bummed that Dead Space 3 shifted focus to co-op. That’s not the Dead Space I want. I want to be Isaac Clarke, the most put-upon engineer in the history of space mining, alone, tested and scared; fighting my fear, determined to put an end to the Necromorph menace, getting to the bottom of the Big Question mystery of who, what, why."

Nobody that I know of has reviewed this game get. Very obviously it is not out yet. And there has been some good threads about cynical gamers/gamers taking all too much to heart. On the other hand, I could not agree more with the paragraph of Tidel I quoted. To me that is the core experience of Dead Space, and a well said one also. There may be Ellie, who is now in the know and a surprisingly tough individual. I liked her charactor, and so does the protagonist. (He was careful not to piss her off...heh) But really it is him and his unique and tragic struggle and where it is(I hope) is going to end. Trilogies seem the order of the day, but in the end they are a good way to sequel and then finish the fight..I mean the story.

#12 Posted by Tidel (360 posts) -

@ArtisanBreads: That's comforting to hear. I think part of the problem is messaging -- the 'story' of DS3 has been all about co-op and micro-transactions, and I've let that colour my enthusiasm.

@TheSouthernDandy: I think you have the right attitude. That's a nice dose of sense. Cheers.

@Humanity: You're right; I like to think I'm self aware enough in the blog, but trust me -- I know this level of... whatever it is, is a bit much. I'm just working through it. But I'm not using 'bro' as a pejorative, and I didn't describe 'bro's' as idiots. It's just shorthand for action-focused multiplayer. Which, in some instances, I like. Just not this one.

@Demoskinos: Thanks.

@Ghostiet: Reviews will tell, I suppose. The game is already out there in the wild. On the gaf thread, a dude who's been playing it (solo) says it feels great, like authentic Dead Space. That's promising.

@bybeach: It's a matter of expectations and perception. However the game turns out, all the noise around it has focused on elements that are not what I am looking for -- in some cases, antithetical to what I think the franchise is best at. But, again, maybe that's just a problem with how they've been selling it. And Ellie is bad ass.

#13 Posted by MildMolasses (3219 posts) -

@Humanity said:

Just buy the game, have fun, and relax.

I think everyone could stand to think like this. Games are meant to be fun, so try to have fun with them

#14 Posted by stryker1121 (1406 posts) -

@Tidel: Very well done and measured write up about your concerns. You mentioned the hew and cry over DmC. Maybe this drip-feed of negative news about DS3 co-op, action focus, microtransactions, "too scary," etc., will go the way of the dodo once the first review hits, and like DmC the game turns out to be pretty damned good.

#15 Posted by Pixeldemon (244 posts) -

I understand your misgivings. On the bright side, there is theoretically a way that they could add co-op without destroying the solo experience. The question is, did they do it? Guess we'll know soon.

#16 Edited by awesomeusername (4175 posts) -

I'm going to say:

  • They don't need your consent to add in something you don't want. It's something they wanted so they can do it.
  • Better to have co-op then the multiplayer in DS2 again.
  • So what if they're marketing a lot of the co-op stuff? It's something new in their game and they want to show it off. Aside from different cutscenes, the game is the same. In co-op, you just see Carver yelling in your face, that's all.
  • You don't need to play co-op.
  • Some people actually want to play the game in co-op after they beat it solo.
  • Go play the demo. Solo-e

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