Thoughts on Fallout - Part 2

Being a tad disappointed my copy of Fallout didn't come with an actual manual, I went headstrong into Fallout thinking I could use 2010 logic on a 1997 game. Boy, was I wrong. Fallout has a rather unique movement system that I have never seen a game before. Left click equals movements, unless you right click, then it becomes your eyes.(from as far as I can tell) The graphics really don't bother me as much if it wasn't for the weird color problems I get. (Running it on Windows 7) It truly made watching the intro movie seem more antiquated than it was attempting to be.
 
I spent a good 30 minutes creating my own character. Caligula. Since losing 50 hours of my life to Demon's Souls, I feel that the "digital life" of Caligula should follow me from her travels in an incredible dark world as Boletaria to the weird world of Shady Sands. I had a genuine smile from staring at each of the Vault Boy art assets. After showing my girlfriend, it led to a small quarrel if that's where the band Fallout Boy got their name. I've never listened to them, but I suspect she has. Nevertheless, I truly feel that all I did was click several buttons and hope for the best since I really don't know what the gameplay implications are of my choices. Hopefully, Caligula could sweet talk her way out of a gun(spoiler :  she didn't) or else I'm screwed. 
 
After learning how to wield the mouse a bit, and also having the colors go black for no reason, I realized that punching rats was a way to level up. I spent about a good twenty minutes punching and running away from rats till I discovered the exit which led me to Vault 15. To which one question quickly led me to Shady Sands. While in Shady Sands, I discovered several things. Set the options to always run, the game stops becoming a thirty minute wait for Caligula to reach the end of the screen. Secondly, though there's forty people in the village of Shady Sands, everyone seems to say the same thing and have the same name(outside of the leader). Lastly, a two headed cow is the most disturbing amalgamation of things to farm I've seen in a game thus far.
 
As Caligula was getting her way around town, she seems to attract hatred and odd amount of concern from everyone. Everyone perceives her to be a raider, but then equally want to heal her up. The town leader gave a rather odd blase approach to security mainly just accepting everything at face value. I believe he gave me a quest which was to save the town from raiders or Rad Scorpions. I then discovered the save feature, which would be vital when I decide to go to the Rad Scorpions and get stung instantly. So I reload quickly and decide to go the raiders. I found their leader and proceeded to question their leader about his morals which laterally made me question the state of video games. As I proceed to see through raiders "PR speak", I was unaware he was not having it. Equally, I was unaware that he did not have it to the point that he pulled out a gun, shot Caligula, cue skeletons in the desert. 
 
While this is quite a very interesting game, I wonder how much I'm mentally capable to adapt to the games old structure.

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Thoughts on Fallout

Having done something similar for Final Fantasy X, I realized it helped make an incredibly long game seem smaller as it was divided in chunks. While I haven't finished Final Fantasy X(I truly just felt too claustrophobic to finish), I hope to finish Fallout. So, from podcasts and internet reading, I gather Fallout has a lot of dark humor, interesting gameplay, and the ability to persuade as a viable means of action. A bit of disclosure, I'm a pacifist. Any game that allows me to achieve victory with little to any violence as possible greatly intrigue me. So after hearing several times that you could use persuasion as viable way to play, my interest was genuinely piqued.
 
I'm currently looking for delve into the humor, delve into the story, and delve into persuasion. Hopefully this becomes an interesting experience in enjoying something that was never available to me. I can appreciate antiquated graphics and gameplay if it's truly isn't broken. So if and when I do become critical, it's with an open mind.

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History Repeating Itself

In 2005, Activision and Spark Unlimited went to court. While it's has now become a common thing in the gaming world to have litigation,  Spark Unlimited is an interesting case because it correlates to recent news. Spark Unlimited were the devs who first brought Call of Duty to consoles on the PS2 and Xbox with Finest Hours. S.U.'s originating lawsuit with Activision stemmed over :

  • Activision threatened to stop funding the games unless Spark agreed to accept fewer royalties and other less-favorable terms.
  • Activision charged Spark millions in assistance costs that Spark did not approve.
  • Activision did not negotiate in good faith regarding sequels.
  • Activision did not provide meaningful bridge funding.
  • Activision hired away some of Spark’s employees.
 To  which Activision counter-sued on the grounds of
 
  • Spark misrepresented that it had the necessary talent, knowledge, skill and experience to develop the games.
  • Activision paid Spark’s legal fees to defend against Electronic Arts’ accusation that Spark stole trade secrets and confidential information from EA.
  • Spark repeatedly failed to meet its milestones, even when Activision provided substantial support.
  • Spark’s proposal for a sequel was half-hearted and deficient.
  • Spark failed to return development kits and computers containing source code to Activision.
  • Spark breached its confidentiality obligations when it filed the lawsuit.
 While we will probably never know the full gist of what is happening at Infinity Ward, I was struck with a sense of dissonance hearing the news this week at how five years ago the same situation took place.  
 
 Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. - Winston Churchill
 
If you are interesting in reading more about Sparks Unlimited/ Activision case, read more here.
 
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Thoughts on Final Fantasy X - Part 3

After reaching the 14 hour mark, I feel that no matter what, I am committed to beating this beast. I wish there was a way to praise this game without finding another flaw. So, I feel I'll spend this post actually trying to find positives. 
 
The story after several hours has found ways to plant hooks within it's repetition. I am left curious about what certain characters are alluding to and curious to know what their back stories are. I am almost certain the repetition within the setting and dialogue have to be integral to the story and I am intrigued as to how and why. Beyond that, I am most looking forward to the homecoming and seeing what has changed and what is left.
 
After several hours of battling, I am sprawling throughout the sphere grid trying to fill up every slot after each battle. Observing the different links and patterns, I feel this has to be the most interesting form of leveling up I've encountered. Thus far, I will say I'm guilty of reloading a couple saves just to see how different the grid would become if I altered several paths.
 
While I'm not even remotely close to the ending, I feel as I'm over the hump and currently just closing loose ends. But I could be wrong...

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Passing the Time : UPGRADE COMPLETE!

UPGRADE COMPLETE!


UPGRADE COMPLETE! is a small flash game that takes about 30 minutes to finish till completion. It has a very interesting concept that delves on a topic console gamers are all too familiar with : DLC.  The game has you purchase the most basic of things such as the user interface, background music, even the intro. Most of the game can be summed up within the first 30 seconds of playing, but the ridiculous concept and it's carrot on the stick approach kept me going to the ending. If you're looking to play something worthwhile without making too much of a commitment, I would wholeheartedly recommend this game. 
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Thoughts on Final Fantasy - Part 2

After user  Kiemoe mentioned that the game opens up more, I approached the next several 3 hours a bit more open minded.
 
The game becomes open in small doses. I now actually get to fight instead of receiving limited tastes of it. But with this new ability, it equally becomes disappointing in how by-the-numbers these fights really are : for aerial creatures pull out Wakka, for elemental creatures pull out Lulu, for strong creatures pull out

. I don't feel a thorough sense of challenge until I approach situations where my character selections are limited, otherwise, it feels like a Pokemon battle to me. 
 
While the storyline is unraveling quite a bit now, I still a sense of tiredness to it. The theme of the game's story seems to repetition, but that creates a weird cyclical loop of similar scenarios and similar wordings. Which I understand it's quite a hard concept to translate through the medium, but I felt that the idea of 'deja-vu'  was better represented in the latter half of Metal Gear Solid 2 where
but never realizing it until its brought to your attention.
 
My one problem remains thus far is how useless the grid system is. I feel I have no control in my characters progression and am just filling up these grids just as a ancillary thing to do in my spare time. Combined with the by-the-numbers fights, I can't help but feel that my hand has been held this whole time, which if they could loop it back in with the main story, I would be impressed.
 
That being said, I believe I'm 30 percent done at 7 hours clocked.  My hopes are for the game to relinquish its parental like hands and let me enjoy the grind, the possible failure, and a sense of accomplishment for the unbelievable victories- till then I'll blitz.
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Thoughts on Final Fantasy X

With Final Fantasy XIII on the way, I figured I'd churn through my Final Fantasy back log. Having played through Final Fantasy VII, Tactics, and most of the Anniversary Edition, I felt I should have some grasp on X and be able to deal with whatever it could through at me. Sadly, I was wrong.
 
Thus far, I'm three hours in, and I've realized that its really has failed to grab me. It's been an incredibly linear experience. Every time I try to reach somewhere outside of the fixed perspective, I'm met with invisible walls. I could cope with linearity if it's effective, but this is claustrophobia inducing. Everywhere I go seems to be a narrow road, a short platform, or a broad area with only one point of interest.
 
As for the story, I've really haven't got anything from it minus confusion. I've shifted through a thousand years, but somehow living in a island oasis is a bad thing compared to living in technology ridden wasteland. There also seems to be a lot of emphasis on repetition: locations, expressions, experiences. 
 
The game-play to me has felt like a regular final fantasy game, with a weird fascination with D-pad functionality. Instead of integrating it within the basic menu, I have to reach around for several moves, which I just feel is a rather cumbersome and lazy way to go about it. The grid system has yet to appeal to me. I find it rather ugly and limiting. I feel that in order to appreciate the grid system, it's probably one of those things I would need to replay the game after completion, or fully realize only late in the game.

At three hours in, I've come away with the thought that Square spent too much time on the visuals, which look rather good considering it's age, but too little on the game itself. I can count on my hand how many battles I've had.  I enjoy a good grind, or an interesting battle system. But thus far, Final Fantasy X has stripped away the game aspect and replaced it with a middling interactive story. Here's to hoping the next 57 hours change for the better.

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Characters, stories, and potential

I was recently reading Play's article on Tale of Tales acquiring Takayoshi Sato (Silent Hill) to work on the character design for their upcoming game Fatale which made me reflect on character design in general. Silent Hill has always captured a place in my heart because of the depth of personality conveyed within their character design choices. The juxtaposition of James Sunderland's love and lust characterized between Mary/ Maria or the fragility of Angela Bennett to even the selfishness and indulgence of Eddie Dombrokski - all display the possibility capable of fully realized characters within the context of a simpe story arc. 
 
As technology has progressed over the years, the amount of detail given to individual characters has grown to be quite amazing. The progression since text adventure games has brought on voice acting, motion capturing, animators and other advances to enhance the characterization and story telling experience.  Yet with so much given tools, it seems harder to find interesting characters that efficiently take advantage of what they're working with. While I am not asking for the Citizen Kane of games, I feel it's feasible to create the Living in Oblivion of games. A movie composed of complex characters doing a rather simple goal: creating a movie. 
 
Instead games become avant garde experiences that bite off more than they can chew, creating a host of problems with timeline continuity, poorly design character choices, and mediocre stories. Until designer can tackle how to tell simple stories effectively, the extravagant ideals should be kept in check. Reading Atlus' post-mortem, the problems that occur going into a game without a true beginning and end seems to have made Persona 4 a more daunting experience than it needed to be.  
 
Storylines and characters seem to be the next frontier gaming has to tackle. While we've made significant progress, there is still plenty left to be desired.

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