Watch, As I Brazenly Equate the PS4 Reveal to this Site's Relaunch

Hey folks, apologies for the lack of... well, anything, from me last week. I've kind of been a little demotivated from writing new content here because of the way the site's redesign has kind of put a kibosh on having a vibrant community of bloggers by seemingly isolating all of us. Through fault or design, I've been feeling very disconnected from my bloggy brothers with the lack of friend streams, a most recent blogs side-bar and a notification system that's on the blink and I'm certainly not the only one who's feeling a tad alienated by all this. But it's not really a fair complaint to make if one were writing here for a better reason than attention, which I ostensibly am, nor do I feel like it'll be a problem that will last any longer than Dave et al will allow, once they've finished ensuring the site doesn't implode due to stability issues. This site knows its audience: It's the reason Giant Bomb's persisted as long as it has, after all, while sites like 1-Up fall to the wayside (which is also unfair, since there's a probably a litany of other factors behind that closure, but hey I'm trying to be sensationalist here).

I realised all this while I was reading some of the complaints about the PS4 reveal - that rather than being a beacon of hope for the future of game consoles, it had the opposite effect for a discouraging percentage of its audience - and how that reaction had more than a few things in common with my misgivings with the new site, and how petty they might end up becoming in retrospect should we elect to dismiss an organization that has proven itself capable on many an occasion of engendering our trust and respect. I mean, Giant Bomb never potentially gave all our credit details to hackers, as far as I'm aware, but the comparison is more or less apt.

The PS4 Conference

Just going to collate my thoughts on this PS4 (sort of) revealing and how that console will, more than likely, become a fixture in my life for the next half-decade. I didn't particularly care that we didn't see it in the (plastic) flesh - as several more astute and pragmatic industry types have already said, to paraphrase, "it'll probably be a black rectangle that fits on a shelf" - nor was I particularly engaged by the smattering of system specs that we received. I did, in fact, appreciate that the conference was geared more towards presenting the games we could expect to see. Unfortunately, they didn't really pick a group of games I have any particular interest in.

Knack seemed cool. I always like a character-driven platformer game, even though it looked a bit more like a big stompy action-adventure thing. It actually reminded me a little of Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, though there was nothing to suggest that game's Ghibli-esque partnership between a young human and an immortal, magical being would be represented here. It at least looked interesting and new, which is more than I could say about most of the others on display. Killzone: Sky Shadow Fall I have zero interest in. DriveClub I have less than zero interest in, somehow. InFamous lost me after the lackluster second game and though I'm not counting it out entirely, the whole "Big Brother" angle seemed a tad trite (not to mention more than a little uncomfortable given its presenter): Why not go with something like the X-Men's Age of Apocalypse instead? A powerful mutant controlling a fascist state with the few rebel superheroes that hadn't yet been captured and "processed" leading the revolt? It's not like inFamous has taken any major steps in the past to separate itself from its Marvel/DC roots. Deep Down could potentially be interesting, but only if it had a fraction of the interminable walking around Dragon's Dogma did. If it's all underground, perhaps I'll get that wish. Watch_Dogs is still Watch_Dogs, that weird Arabic Square-Enix RPG is still that weird Arabic Square-Enix RPG, Diablo III is almost certainly still Diablo III (though I guess this means we'll have Torchlight II on the PS4's PSN to keep things interesting?) and Jonathan Blow has still - still - only created a single game of any note, which I only sort of liked, so there's really no precedent for how The Witness will turn out. Maybe it'll be great. Maybe it'll be another Indie puzzle game with Layton-esque Mensa brainteasers to join Machinarium, Puzzle Agent and the rest. Who can say? I mean, he's made a single puzzle-platformer with an artistically novel aesthetic, so who knows where else that boundless innovation could lead. But now I'm just being uncouth.

Despite all this, I have high hopes for the next Sony console. I won't be able to afford it for a year or so, but I'm sure the games will get there eventually, as was the case with the PS2 and PS3 both. The PS3's been the non-portable home for my beloved JRPG genre for the most part and as much as PlayStation All-Stars did to put me off Sony's back catalogue, I still feel Sony's only second to Nintendo in terms of legacy characters and franchises. Hell, if we go by the Japanese release of the PS1, we're coming up to 20 years of Sony consoles. That'd be impressive if it wasn't also such a bummer that we're all so old now.

The New Site

I'm not going to spend a lot of time grousing here. No-one is more acutely aware of the work that needs to be done to improve the site, or at least bring it back to a functional level equatable with the old site, than the very engineers currently busy working on it day and night. I appreciate their work, truly. So all I'm doing here is putting a list of features I'd like to see come back presently. I'm sure everyone has different priorities for different areas to improve, but no-one said I couldn't have my two cents - as long as I appreciate that those two cents will probably be roundly ignored. I'm aware of this site's negative stance on pennies, Jeff's aberrant views notwithstanding.

  1. Fix the Friend Activity feed on the profile page. Until recently I saw the little inactive tab for it there, so I know it's a priority.
  2. Fix the Notifications - currently only @ "call outs" are supported. I'd love to know if people responded to anything I wrote, for instance.
  3. Bring back the "Followed User's Blogs" sidebar on the profile page. Dunno where you'd put it, but man did I take that thing for granted.
  4. Bring back the Forum Overview thing on the front page. I don't post in forums nearly as much as I used to without it.
  5. Don't restrict lists to 40 per page - Honestly, I'm probably one of a handful of people with more than 40 lists, but it seems odd that the lists are parsed this way when there are less restrictions on displaying the number of items within a list.
  6. Give blogs the same kind of coverage as lists - Currently, we can see which lists are the most viewed, most recommended and most recent of the current week (though, curiously, we've lost the ability to view the highest rated lists of all time). I'd like something similar for blogs some day, with perhaps "most viewed, most commented and most recent" as the search modifiers.
  7. Still hoping for a prominent, permanent front page location for ZombiePie's most recent Community Spotlight. I've mentioned before that the center square of the current 3x3 grid of Community Highlights would be a good spot for it.
  8. Change that goshdarn typeface all ready. It looks awful when bolded at smaller font sizes. Go with a nice sans serif instead (like the one for regular text, here): It would feel better suited to a site predicated on being informative and informal.
  9. All right, this isn't really a valid request, but allow more users to have access to that wiki page banner background image thing. It's so much fun, but I only have two pages that I can edit in that way. Maybe restrict a global ability to use that function to users with ~10-50k wiki points - it would provide something worth chasing after once that 5k "changes no longer need to go through moderation" target has been hit.
  10. Free up Dave so he can do Random PC Games and Flight Club again. At this point I'm being Agnes Skinner in that one Simpsons gag where she wants the bag boy to put all the groceries in one bag but not make it heavy, since they obviously can't do this and all of the above, but I figure once requests 1-9 are sorted Dave is free to bumble his way across Neo Los Angeles again.

Okay, that's enough of my unwarranted sense of entitlement for one day. I'm sure there's a dozen other venues on this site for anything pertaining to the PS4 conference and the site relaunch, and it's not like this'll be visible to anyone anyway since it's going unpublished, but feel free to add your views on anything discussed above in the comments yonder.

I will have a less gripey blog later this week, rest assured. Still have part two of TurboMento to complete before March 1st, after all.

5 Comments
5 Comments
Edited by omghisam

I hope you forward your complaints to someone who can address them. I think the font thing is because they designed on macs. The fonts look great on the iPad but awful on my PC. If blogging doesn't work out maybe there is a need for outspoken British person playing games on YouTube.

Posted by Video_Game_King

I'd like to respond to the PS4 stuff in more detail, but I was pre-occupied during the actual announcement. Instead, I'll just say that Knack is a thing, Deep Down's wiki page does nothing to sell me on it (nobody thought to upload screens from the video to the image gallery?), and Watch_Dogs looks pretty damn cool. Oh, and if the system has backwards compatibility, it's automatically the second system I'm getting after the Wii U (damn you, Atlus!), because that would mean a million free blogs with just as many comments.

On lists, though: you ever consider using that click-trap option they're giving us? I don't browse lists a ton, but I've the odd feeling that nobody has actually bothered using it yet.

Oh, recommendations for the new site? I'd just want them to bring the code button back. Copy/pasting from Word is a pain in the ass, especially when the images don't transfer over and you have to search for something you uploaded seven months ago for the sake of a dumb joke. (Also, fix general gallery browsing so I can go past the first 16 images in All Images. Not all my images have a tag attached to them.)

Speaking of images, why can I only change one caption per editing session? That's a huge pain in the ass for somebody who routinely uploads hundreds of screenshots, each with their own dumb caption or quip. Sonic Adventure 2 is going to destroy me, and I have to imagine Sorcerer's Kingdom will, too.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I think the fact that I only discovered this blog now speaks volumes about how much a "most recent followed blogs" feature is needed.

Posted by lazyhoboguy

Man what happened to the design of this site since the last time I logged in. It' s pretty terrible in comparison to how it used to be. Everything is just uglier and harder to use. I too am missing the friends activity bar. How I checked up on their newest blogs. I think that is very important. The main reason I login to giantbomb is to check up on peoples blogs. Also, OW MY EYES. Everything is white backgrounds with black text. It is like I am in a microsoft word document. Boy is it ugly. There an option to change things back to black background and white/grey text? If not that needs to be an option pronto. I cant stand looking at this site in its current condition.

Posted by Mento

@lazyhoboguy: Visually, the site's not so bad. It's a bit form over function right now, but I'm guessing these missing features (the followed blogs sidebar especially) and various bugs will be sorted out in due time. It's kind of like moving into a nicer house with less furnishings? Kind of?

The black/white background's been a site mainstay for years. For some reason they thought the white looked better and made it the new default; I'm as bewildered as you are. If you check the top right of the site next to your username, there's an option to switch it back (the white A in a black box).

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