Under The Influence

Being a member of such a... vibrant online community such as this

it's a given that the exposure we have to the inner working of the industry will be rather more enlightened than that of our casual, knuckle-dragging friends. We are "in the loop". In fact, we are so far "in the loop" that we have set up a small shelter, carved a set of rudimentary inner-loop tools out of loopish looking driftwood, and are making great progress in our seduction of the natives. In the loop.

We are privy to knowledge that wont hit casual ears for many weeks, and while this feeds whatever information addiction we might currently be cultivating, it does come at a cost.

Firstly, we are viewing much of this information as a third or even fourth audience. Giant Bomb is our vehicle and Jeff, Ryan, Vinny, Patrick and Brad are taking it in turns to drive us around. The route they take can dramatically alter our perception. So how heavily do we rely on them for cultural reference, and is such heavy dependence a good or bad thing?

An excellent example of this would be Bastion. We have been lucky enough to witness the evolution of that entire project through a series of videos produced by friend of the site and all-round cosmonaut Greg Kasavin, but then presented to us through the staff here at Giant Bomb. It's hard not to develop a sense of endearment to a project which we have seen take it's first bumbling steps and ultimately blossom into a full commercial videogame, all the while being proffered by the support of Giant Bomb. The fact that they declined an official review is, I feel, testament to their own understanding of this process. No official review is necessary because in their extensive coverage of it's development, Giant Bomb has already sold us the game.

So how can one be objective in an assessment of Bastion as a result?

Or more importantly, does that question even matter? The primary purpose of a game is to entertain, and if it does so then it is a success. One could argue the process of reaching that finality is secondary. If you watched Building the Bastion, and you enjoyed it, and you find yourself with a positive predisposition towards it as a result, that is no bad thing.

It's a pretty lazy view to take, but having followed Jeff and the gang for so long, it's hard not to just assume they know what they are talking about and leave it at that. I find myself less and less opting to experience a game for myself and more often just borrowing the opinions of a writer here at Giant Bomb. In retrospective truth, that should concern me a great deal. Fortunately, it doesn't. My mind remains open, my opinions receptive. I shall continue to make up my own damn mind when I feel the need.

Which is why I'm going to go and buy Catherine when it's released here in the UK, despite the mediocre review it got on this site. Because I am not a zombie. Not yet, anyway...

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

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Battlefield 3 Alpha

No time for a full blog but a quick update: I clicked some link that was posted in this thread and it took me to the EA site. I input my password and BOOM, Battlefield 3 Alpha code. I wasn't even trying.

Get hype.

My account name on Origins is "sexualinfection" so add me if you want to murder some robot people.

Thanks for reading

Love Sweep

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Turning Tables

Alright, ALRIGHT, I'm writing a blog, shaddap already!

Some shit has happened since I last blogged about videogames.

I graduated from university for one thing. I spent the last couple of weeks slowly trying to transition my life back to some factor of normality, a mental progression that ran parallel to my rapidly decreasing funds. I then spent a week scrubbing around on Turntable.FM where my eclectic audio preferences were met with a mixed hail of praise and, most often, confusion. I was rewarded with a selection of follows, DJ points and even a boot from the Gary Whitta himself.

I don't know what stage turntable is currently at, though when I had access to it (being from the UK that is, unfortunately, no longer the case due to licencing issues) it was a fairly small userbase, only allowing friend-of-a-friend access to the fortunate few - I don't know to what extent the site has become quantified amongst a common audience, though I shall attempt to explain why it sucked away a handful of days from my life. At it's core, turntable.fm is a chat room where, at all times, music is playing. That music is chosen by one of several DJ's who nominate themselves on a first-come first serve basis. The playlist moves through the DJ's consecutively, playing whatever song they have at the top of their playlist. The audience can either "Lame" or "Awesome" the current track, a culmination of the former resulting in the track being skipped, whilst "Awesome's" get you DJ points which you can flaunt in front of the masses, letting everyone know just how good your grooves are. Perhaps the best feature is the ability to easily add the current song to a playlist on either turntable, last.fm, spotify, or buy it on iTunes. The result was that many people, myself included, left turntable.fm idle in the background of our computers, adding music as and when it became apparent.

The resultant experience is highly entertaining. Many of the best rooms claim a "theme" that can be enforced by the moderators of the room and, if the atmosphere is right, DJ's working together to establish an audio fluency are rewarded for their efforts by the crowd. Picking the right song becomes increasingly challenging as the session goes on, but on more than one occasion I was witness to, and even took part in, virtual sets that were incredibly entertaining. Syncing up your song with that of the DJ prior to you can be fantastically complicated, but doing so successfully is wonderfully rewarding, especially when you introduce your audience to a song they have never heard before. Fuck achievement points, gaining a shallow respect from your fellow music enthusiasts is far more satisfying.

And remember, popularity leads to intimacy.

Apart from Turntable.fm I have spent my time pointedly not playing Trenched. Because of geography. What has geography ever done for us? Fuck geography.

There are a couple more blogs coming in the next few days. It's not like I have anything else to be doing right now. I have spent some time with LA Noire and The Witcher 2, both of which deserve some bloggage. Oh, and I saw Transformers 3.

I don't like it when people say "Transformers 3 was made by Michael Bay" as though that's some form of justification for its stupidity.

This picture isn't even from Transformers 3, though it could be.

I don't know at what point we, as a society, decided to just accept that the man is a bad director and bypass that fact. I appreciate that accepting the low quality of the narrative may allow an increased sense of enjoyment for explosions and robots and whatnot, but with Transformers 3 I can't help but feel that Michael Bay is no longer meeting us halfway. The film is a mess. Call me a snob if you want, but if one were to disengage all mental activity as frequently as Michael Bay requests, one might find themselves with severe neurological damage. Or a brain tumour.

Anyways. Robots.

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

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Important mod decisions

Sweep: So I was thinking

Sweep: we should make a calendar.

Sweep: A swimsuit calendar.

Sweep: of all the Giant Bomb mods.

Zombiepie: No

Sweep: You can be June.

Zombiepie: Fuck that

Sweep: Alright, I'll be June. You can be August.

14 Comments

Summer Ball

So

Yesterday some of you may remember me posting this:

I should probably explain. At the end of every academic year there's a huge summer festival-esque event at Bournemouth University where the Student Union sets up a load of tents full of live music and everybody dresses up in costumes and get's impressively drunk. The atmosphere is always fantastic, everyone has a great time, everyone looks awesome in their costumes. There is a funfair with a ferris wheel and games and stuff, as well as all different kinds of music, alcohol, the lot.

It was last night.

I'm still feeling pretty shaky from the sheer volume of vodka which I consumed but people just started putting up photographs and I wanted to share this with you all:

That's me on the left, and my friend Rob dressed as Jake the dog. I am in a bajillion random photos from people (drunk girls) running up and asking to pose in photos with them. Spending time making a decent costume is worth it. Trust me.

The only problem was trying to go for a piss. I had to take everything off, and I mean everything. Have you ever tried to unzip a morphsuit with lobster claws? It's not easy. Oh, and I couldn't see shit, especially after it got dark.

Good times

Anyways, that was my last official university... thing. I'm not completely free. Time to find a job, I guess :D

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

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Champagne

Last Friday I graduated from university. I would have liked to play that off as something other than a big deal, but I am unable to do so. It is a big deal. For the first time in my life, I don't know what happens next. I'm not going to lie to you here... I'm pretty fucking terrified.

The last week has been... well... it's been fast. I like to think there's a difference between drinking and celebrating, but those two lines draw dangerously close as each night progresses. And then E3 started, and then the alcohol stopped being an excuse and started being a result. This is what happens when you take an extremely exhausted, malnourished, lost human being and expose them to an overwhelmingly crippling wealth of information: Simply put, after the first day of E3 I pretty much mentally surrendered. I took note of events but my ability to care was significantly hindered by both my psychological and physical state. I spent the last seventy two hours on autopilot, sub-consciously water-skiing; terrified that if I stopped moving I would sink and drown.

I graduated.

I'm leaving university, where I have lived for 3 years, and I might never come back. I'm leaving all my friends and I might never see them again. I have no money, no job, nowhere to live except back with my parents. These are problems to which solutions must be found. For the first time in a long time, shit is happening. Things of relatively great importance. E3... well... E3 can wait.

It's times like these that you have to stop and look at what you are doing, what you have done, and what you are going to do. Fresh perspective is hard to find, and being granted such perspective is an opportunity, a privilege, that cannot be wasted. So right now I'm looking at myself and I'm trying to figure out if I like what I see.

...This might take a while.

As always, thanks for reading.

Love Sweep.

7 Comments

Gabe Newell: "The industry has a broken pricing model"

There's a article over at the Escapist on an interview with Gabe Newell about the way that games are currently priced. Here's a quick quote:

In a lengthy interview with Develop, Newell said: "The industry has this broken model, which is one price for everyone. That's actually a bug, and it's something that we want to solve through our philosophy of how we create entertainment products."
Rather than pricing a product based purely on what that product is worth, Newell talks about pricing a product based on what the customer is worth as well. "Some people, when they join a server, a ton of people will run with them," Newell continued. "Other people, when they join a server, will cause others to leave."
"So, in practice, a really likable person in our community should get DotA 2 for free, because of past behavior in Team Fortress 2," Newell added. "Now, a real jerk that annoys everyone, they can still play, but a game is full price and they have to pay an extra hundred dollars if they want voice."

Which is a pretty interesting take on the whole pricing system that currently exists, though it opens up several glaring issues that i'm sure you are all immediately aware of.

Firstly, a system like this would be hugely exploitable

and would be consequently exploited. Mercilessly. Communities would group together to either bump or drop individual scores in the name of getting free stuff for themselves or depriving others.

More interesting, however, is the idea of a developer having direct control over how their games are played. What if someone's enjoyment from a game comes from annoying other people who play that game? That might not be particularly honorable, but is that not fair? If they are paying money for the product, aren't they entitled to use it however they want? This echoes the entire "Should people be able to jailbreak their iPhones?" argument that was held not long ago. I seem to remember that the court ruled that once a person has bought a product then they own it and can do with it as they please. Where do you draw the lines?

For example, I sometimes play Eve Online (shaddap), and one of the main sources of entertainment in that game is "Scamming" or trying to embezzle in-game money from other players, which is a legitimate way to play. Doing so is obviously inconveniencing other players of the game, but it's still a legitimate way to play. I appreciate that Eve is a pretty extreme example given the free-from nature of the game, but the fundamentals still hold true.

The other side of the argument is that Valve should have the right to reward their loyal customers. If they deem you a dick there is nothing to stop them from treating you like a dick. If you own a store then you can give personal discounts to your friends while refusing to serve other customers. That's their right as well.

I know people that consider themselves entitled, having paid money for a game, to fair and honest gameplay.

I used to play Gears Of War 2 with a good friend who would rage at anyone who wouldn't work as part of our team. His argument was "I'm paying to play the game, I shouldn't be forced to deal with other who are paying to fuck about". This sense of entitlement is also core to the issue, though this is of course highly subjective. Who is to say that one way of playing the game is better than another? That mentality reeks of the arrogance of Denis Dyack who, after people gave Too Human poor review scores, claimed they "Didn't get it."

I have also had lengthy discussions (arguments) with MattBodega because, having discussed a game I was currently playing with him, he told me I was playing it right. I was outraged at the suggestion that any experience other than the one I was having could be considered anything other than "right". It's my experience within a videogame, something that is personal to me alone. That's the whole point. If everybody was supposed to play in an identical way then we might as well be watching a fucking film. In that sense, is there a wrong way to play a videogame?

Yeah, that's right Bodega! I'm calling you out!

So what does Sweep think about all this?

My own opinion is that; if the game is well made then the incentives of the game should be enough to dictate how the game is played. I shouldn't need to be told, the rewards of fair and balanced play should be all the incentive required. If there is room for others to abuse the scenario in which they have been placed, who is at fault? The developer, who left the game exploitable or didn't give the player enough incentive to not act like a dick, or the player, for finding an alternate source of entertainment.

I can see Gabe looking at the current system and saying "We need to mix things up a bit" and mad respect to him for that, but this does somewhat seem like a slightly idealistic system being applied to a far from ideal userbase. Still, very interesting.

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

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Keeping It Simple #32

I know I usually write these blogs on a Friday, but I'm not feeling particularly patient. This Wednesday is unfortunately complicated, when really we should be keeping it simple...

YES

Bonobo

  • Black Sands is pretty fucking fantastic and is probably responsible for salvaging my sanity over the past few weeks.

Ambient Occlusion

  • It's like the Guile theme; It goes with everything!

Followers

  • Yep, all 6,000 of you. Be you spam-bots, communist cyborgs or otherwise, I want to be inside you all!

NO

Eve Online

  • When will I learn?

Girls who sponge drinks off guys at a bar and then fuck off.

  • Yeah you look hot but no that doesn't entitle you to free shit. Normally I don't fall for that bollocks but last night I was pretty wrecked. Anyway, fuck you.

Disappointing reviews for games that I was actually excited about.

  • Yeah, I'm looking at you, Brink... 


Thanks For Reading
Love Sweep
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He looks like he's in a lot of pain. You should leave him be.


   
Inbetween working off physical extremities and moderating you chimps on the forums, I have actually managed to salvage some time over the past few weeks to play some goddamn videogames. Let's talk about them!

Participating in demo's or, as they are apparently now known, "Beta's" are opportunities which I relish and, since getting my PC a couple of years ago, have actively sought out. Being so immersed in vidoegame culture means knowing specific videogames inside-out months before they are physically available, and any opportunity to decrease the time between "knowing" and "playing" should be leapt upon. Like a rapist.


Snide is gon' find you! 

I love Gears Of War, and you can read all about my beta impressions over here.

 The Gears of War 3 beta has been thoroughly exhausted by myself and a great many other enthusiasts. I love the changes and weapon balances, the new game types, and the general refinement of the game's controls. The level design remains dynamic, the characters look and sound fantastic, and there even seems to be a much more Unreal level of humour in the game which was painstakingly absent in the previous two Epic titles. In short, I'm super excited for Gears Of War 3. However it's probably for the best that my time with the game was not overwhelming, my university workload preventing me from spending any great lengths of time signed into Xbox Live. I managed to get a few good sessions in, notably with my good friends Tanuki and Brukaoru, and also managed to unlock the retail loot like Thrashball Cole and the Golden Retro Lancer, the latter of which I will treasure and the former of which I will not. Having clocked a sizeable amount of hours with the beta already, I'm almost relieved that it's drawing to a close. I'm desperate to avoid exhausting the game before it has even been released, and playing the same 4 levels repeatedly, for experience points that shall be wiped in a matter of days, seems overtly excessive. No, it's time to slow down and back off. Whilst I do not look forward to the inevitable withdrawal once the beta ends, right now I have more pressing concerns.


Burn him!


After reading some previews of the Witcher 2, there were multiple reports of the game leaning heavily on the assumptions that players had experienced the original. The Witcher is a game that had been recommended to me many times by folks here on Giant Bomb, specifically Claude, who insisted that it would be worth a look. With the Witcher 2 looking increasingly jaw-dropping, I decided that it was probably worth £10 just to see what all the fuss was about and pick up on some of the history.  

I am not a big RPG fan.

 The closest I have ever really got was getting about halfway through Dragon Age: Origins. I didn't like Oblivion, as I have blogged multiple times, and I never played Diablo or any other dungeon crawler. It's just not a virtual aesthetic that appeals to me, the closest I have come to ever really enjoying an RPG being Mass Effect of Final Fantasy. Despite that, I decided that I should at the very least attempt what was being hailed as "one of the greatest RPG games ever made" (thank you MattBodega) and, with a few apprehensive clicks, bought the game on steam.



I'm fairly embarrassed to admit that the age of the game is cripplingly obstructive to my enjoyment of it.

The animation is poor, characters sliding around and clipping through objects, and awkward posing makes the atmosphere immediately uncomfortable for me. The textures look cheap and rushed, though I appreciate that at the time they were no doubt considered masterful, but the combat is not to my liking either. I have only played for a couple of hours, so my initial impressions are very... initial... but I shall continue to play through the game with a slightly resigned acceptance. It's not usually my style to judge a book by it's cover, and I have little doubt that I'm completely missing the point when criticising the aged technology powering one of the best RPG games around, but it's something I can't overcome through mere willpower. I don't like the way the game looks. There, I said it.

Defiance!! 


This is a personal issue that I have had to deal with repeatedly over the years. I find it increasingly difficult to go back and play older games, the relative drop in quality being absolutely mind-numbing for me. But there is still hope. I shall continue to play The Witcher, and some more extensive impressions shall no doubt feature in the blog in the near future.

Everything really is great at your Junes.


Having submitted my graduation project on friday, I now find myself with large (relatively speaking, of course) amounts of time with very few educational obligations. I have exams in 3 weeks, but 3 weeks is a loooong time. So, in order to bridge the gap, I started playing Persona 4. It feels slightly weird playing through the game solo, and the game takes on a much more sincere tone without Vinny making goofy jokes. I'm still getting weird flashbacks of Vinny and Jeff echoing throughout my playthrough, which is pretty bizarre, and has made me randomly chuckle on more than one occasion. I tried naming my character something other than Charlie Tunoku but it just felt... wrong.

No doubt my affection for Chie will soon become manifest, too. Fuck, I can't remember the word to describe someone with multiple sexual partners? Other than "winning", obviously...


Thanks For Reading
Love Sweep
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