EDIT: To watch The Vidiot Channel 24/7, I have uploaded my past Justin.TV videos to LiveStream. Crude, but damn effective. I won't be using LiveStream to actually do the live broadcasts, but instead as storage.
After finishing up the PAX video last month, I found myself in a creative stupor: Where the hell do I go from here?
The amount of feedback, from what was really my first real amateur attempt with anything utilizing video was awesome. I did do LiveStreaming a while ago on LiveStream.com, but I stopped after a combination of a lack of general interest and frustration over how LiveStream handled....everything.
The idea has always stuck with me though. Streaming and commenting on games. I'm sure such concepts for the rest of you, who joined up during the Endurance Run days with Persona 4 have an affinity with this idea. I'm not the only GB member who have taken up the idea recently. Ossi is kicking ass, and Ace829 streamed Sonic 4 from an Android phone.
Setting this up has been an infuriating process, that taught me a bunch but has equally annoyed me to no end. Problems with my Dazzle capture device regarding audio set me back a week, then add a couple days while I tried to understand how to set up audio with my computer headset. The end result is something that bothers me, whenever I talk into the microphone I hear myself, and the game audio, on a delay. It's kinda funny re-watching some of these videos and hearing myself messing up in mid-sentence because of this. I've gotten better, but it's very evident.
Even with streaming this, I was not satisfied.
I didn't like the concept of having a video feed perpetually down. I have no schedule when I decide to stream things, so why not have something playing when I'm away? So I wanted to set up a playlist.
Two weeks later....
Apparently Justin.TV had a playlist feature. Said feature has been removed. Why? Who knows, I personally don't care. I just wanted it, and while were at it: Let me tell you something else when it comes to me personally, regarding most things in my life:
When I want something. I get what I want.
Or...well...I try my damnedest. The playlist runs off of VLC player, after executing two .bat files I made. If it's not running it's because of two things: 1) My computer is off. 2) <-That.
I'll have it on for a few days and see where it goes. I usually am chatting with people in the ?super-secret-invite-only? GB chatroom. Not specifically anyone in the actual Justin.tv room. When I go on next time, I'll be sure to announce myself.
Stuff I wanna do:
Play more good obscure games.
Find a way to incorporate the chat transcripts into the pre-recorded videos.
Maybe have someone else join me? Who knows. Getting that set up is something that sounds pretty daunting.
So I hope everyone enjoys it. I think it's time to go back to my regular scheduled blogging.
Trying to think of way's to one-up my previous video blog at Pax has been difficult. Lack of updates are solely based upon my current personal life, which has kinda gone a bit down-hill ever so slightly. Things have gotten quite better the last few weeks in a big way, and I hoping to ramp up with some more content here.
Valkyria Chronicles 2-
It's quite surprising to see how functional Valkyria Chronicles can be on a portable system. Everything runs as it should, although I'm not entirely a fan of the new classes or how they mechanically separate different classes into strange "sub-classes". Finding different credentials for each unit to specifically upgrade that specific unit is a bit odd, the days of just stating "I want a sniper!" seems to have some unneeded jargon now associated with it.
I remember when Valkyria Chronicles initially came out, and simply suspecting that other companies would be wise in at least taking notice of it's base mechanics and design. There's really nothing quite like it mechanically out on the market right now. It's this initial reaction that made me look over the fact this title is a PSP only exclusive, I simply wanted more VC and it's a bit annoying that other developers have not taken notice of the solid foundations that have been put into place here.
The story is also a definite strange side-step, that while good conceptually is terrible in actual context. The idea was that the first VC lacked in story regarding the main bulk of your squad-mates. So this game tries to rectify that short-coming....by focusing the entire narrative from the perspective of high-school students, and not the cool anime high-school students. So while it works to getting to know the different squad mates, the whole experience is hampered by a plot that seems like a downgrade in comparison to the first game.
A great strength for this generation of portable games, are games that act functionally as a full-blown single-player game and also something you can pick-up and play between classes. Being able to sit and dive into a story related mission on your own time is good, but having the ability to grind levels between actual classes or on the-go really helps, and it's nice to see that VC2 really incorporates this concept admirably. Both game type's existing almost independently from each other in your own personal environmental situation.
It's upsetting to see where the future of this series is going though.
Production values, and a shrinking market seem to be pushing too many Japanese developers into handheld gaming only these days. It's not surprising that VC3 will be PSP exclusive, yet at the same time, I find it a bit detrimental to the series. Just how much the game from a design and mechanic standpoint can grow on the hand-held, we will have to wait and see, but nothing from the recent TGS announcement has me interested in any real form. Knowing what this game, can both from a presentation standpoint and a gameplay standpoint, be on superior hardware is always running in the back of my mind.
S-Rank #34 If you need an easy S-Rank, look no forward to this. It feel s like Case Zero does, JUST ENOUGH, to justify a purchase. I was quite content with it and very interested in the final product. Developer Blue Castle knows the formula that made the original Dead Rising work, and it looks they're following through quite nicely....although there are a few points of concern...
1) Controls. I never specifically had a problem in combat, my main annoyance is the context-sensitive "B" button that does everything from picking up items to closing doors. Speaking of which, the act of closing doors is a horrific process, especially if any object happens to be remotely close to said door. At one point I was outside and decided to close the door behind me...only to now find myself....inside the building closing the door...
There were also too many times where Chuck would pick up things I didn't want him to pick up. Annoying, although not game-breaking.
2) Character models are great, although....ya'know, I dunno, they don't seem to be of the same quality as the previous game. Perhaps it's because the locations+zombie count is higher and the engine can't compensate. Speaking of which...again....about the game's engine....It seems spotty. A few people glitched out of the credits at the end of the game, and I had a situation where an object "spawned" in the way of a door.
This game hate's doors.
3) Loading times. Strange pauses during saving and loading, especially for a game saved onto the HD which is stranger.
I'm looking forward to it.
So someone thinks a gothic-twilight-homeless man who looks like he's on meth, is going to be marketable. Not only that, he's the "new" Dante being made by Ninja Theory, a company that personally, I don't think have proven themselves yet. Heavenly Sword was nice on production and something fun to play during PS3's launch, Enslaved is getting a bunch of mixed reactions, why someone thought that Ninja Theory was a prime target to take such a big risk is a bit confusing. Capcom's plan of utilizing western developers is a smart one...this doesn't seem to be a prime example.
There is something positive. I've been able to find a plethora of fantastic web images regarding this travesty.
For the last two day's I've been taking all the video-footage I took at PAX, and have been trying to compile it into...something. The end result is this.
I've worked heavily in AfterEffect before, but never something this big. (Let alone uploading anything to Youtube :P) Going back and compiling what video I would use, and not use, I was surprised at how much random video I took. So I decided to compile a video that focuses more on the event itself, and while they're are lots of shaky-cam footage of games being played, looking back at this I think the best parts are truly the conversations I had, and the giant set-pieces that acted as displays.
Seriously, I've heard some of them were E3 booths but that doesn't stop them from being freaking amazing.
So without further ado:
A genuine reaction to the Fallout: New Vegas booth.
Old games. Plus Panzer Dragoon Saga new is only selling at $500.
Footage from the surprisingly large Square booth.
Really freaking rad Mother 3 figurines, plus I talk to the awesome artist Camille who made them. "SCULPEY 3?!!!!"
Vidiot makes ball jokes with the publishers of The Ball.
Epic Mickey booth is epic
"Jesus christ that's a lot of computers" <-Understatement of the freaking year. Way to go me.
A on-rails FPS where you shoot via playing a rockband drum-set.
A conversation about the how certain female Spartans look. :P
Footage of people playing Kinect.
Footage of people playing motion controlled fighting game... ... ... -_-
At one point I realized that simply taking video footage of people playing Kinect games was far more interesting than the actual games.
I do not know who you are, large man who danced near the end of this video. You are my hero.
AgentJ and Hailinel. Re-watching the video I realized I actually misspelled Hailinel's name. I would re-render this, but I've re-rendered this video like 12 times. :P My apologies, we should all hang-out again some time. Beers on me.
I accept Duke Nukem Forever exists.
One last funny thing after the credits.
PAX was over-whelming. I bought a Sega Saturn. For reasons I'm still trying to understand. ( Shining The Holy Ark is fun though :P) I went all three days, and by the end of the second day my legs felt like they were screaming at me. This year PAX pretty much took over the entire convention center area of Seattle, the main-stage was Benaroya Hall, a few blocks away but away nonetheless. You add 3-4 floors of walking in the convention center and you yourself a pretty elaborate set-up that requires a little endurance.
What I'm trying to say is that I need to work-out some more.
...There were so many different moments this year that stood out. Whether it was one the lone Japanese producer for FFXIV who appeared on the main-stage, said a single sentence thanking us for coming, then left. (*Crowd began laughing*) Or the conversation with the amazing Eric Maruscak, who drew his annual chalk drawing that this year for Metroid Other M. He admitted that Nintendo, for better-or-worse, was very involved over how that piece of art looked. That makes sense, but I was perhaps most surprised that they actually made him add the ESRB logo. The logo appeared in his last work for Bioshock in the previous PAX, but I completely, and naively, didn't even consider that there were guys in suit's concerned about that. The moments of meeting genuinely amazing people was probably my favorite part of this convention aside from the games.
Hat also goes off to the cosplayers this year. Damn dudes.
So I hope everyone enjoys the video. It was actually a ton of fun to make. It also has music from LCD Soundsystem, which means it's a capital crime you are not watching it now.
Some of you might be wondering why I haven't blogged about PAX yet. I went all three days, there should be a reason right? For god-sake, I only went one day and blogged the crap out of that one day last year.... I mean, I must be slacking or something! ...
The video will be finished/posted either tomorrow evening, or Tuesday. Suffice to say, I am very excited about it after watching rendered portions of the first few minutes of it. The big problem is just deciding what clips to use, I recorded more than I thought I was initially going preparing for. My interest was recording the actual event, such as stages and booths versus cam-footage of gameplay. More importantly: The people. I want to talk more about that, but I'm going to cut it short because I this is just the preview blog post and I also want to go more in-depth with the whole event in writing.
For now I will leave you with this thing I purchased during PAX.
So it's hours until PAX. Most difficult aspect of PAX? Waking up in the morning.
Yes, I'm laughably lazy. For someone who's biological clock is set at going to sleep at three, such concept is kinda difficult. Who knows. Probably won't sleep. It's kinda like Christmas. I'm pretty freaking excited. It's also the first year that I'm not even thinking about Bumbershoot, Seattle's music and arts festival which I have attended annually. Their line-up has kinda been going downhill for the past few years.
I'm looking through the schedule and planning my what panels I'm going to check out, last year I literally went to one-after-the-other.
Everything on the schedule have pretty detailed explanations and descriptions. Except one company. Care to guess who? C'mon!
Friday, 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM, Main Theatre
At first glance one might walk away with: "Goddammit Square, can you do anything correct?!" Then I began thinking about it some more and remembered that Square bought up Eidos. I strongly doubt Square would show off anything that they're working on in Japan, TGS is right around the corner and such a feat would actually be pretty forward-thinking, and less pompous-contrived-paranoid-ambiguity that they've been flaunting for the past five years.
While I'll be there for the opening key-note, and of course the Penny-Arcade panel, (and of course, GiantBomb) I suggest people also check out the TellTale panel. They literally build a complete scene within the span of a few minutes, voice actors from the audience, completely animated and lip-synced. They're development tools are amazing.
Send me a PM if your showing up. It will be cool running into a few of you.
I was gearing up to blog a bunch after returning from my vacation about a month ago. Things have happened. School and future related things, that have kept my mind preoccupied. To keep it short: I'm excited. Then this came up. So...yeah....
For a whole week I tried to get Fallout 3 to run on my PC. After countless attempts...and a complete reinstall...and applications with an uncountable amount of user created fixes...I have finally "won".
I'm still upset about the entire ordeal. Why I had to do that much work to get a game that has no business running that poorly. I proclaimed that the game is "technical garbage", which looking at the mountains of other individuals running into the same problems I have not seen any real reason to take that statement back. Recently there was a thread with people complaining that Hideo Kojima shouldn't think about a re-release of MGS4 with added trophy support and 3D compatible and should just pump out a patch. I understand, yet don't understand that concept: Because the game is a few years old, runs, and most importantly there doesn't seem to be any commercial incentive to paying a bunch of programmers to get working.
Fallout 3 on the other-hand seems completely incompatible with PC's that have quad processors, requiring you, the user, to make the game....functional on your modern PC. Failure to do so makes the game litter ally unplayable. My hat goes off to the users and consumers that seem to know more....about....the game engine...than....Bethesda... Which is...Strange.
Although, finally getting it to work has been great fun. I'm having fun playing this on the side while I also play Mafia 2, (Have not finished) a game that I have enjoyed greatly. I'm thinking about doing another blog putting Fallout 3 under a microscope, in comparison to previous entry's. To give you some perspective: I've S-Ranked Fallout 3 for 360. While I've talked in great detail about Bethesda's reoccurring problems with past games (They have a ton) I still enjoy this game immensely. Yes. I'm looking forward to New Vegas.
So I'm bouncing between this...leveling up characters in Final Fantasy XIII...Mafia 2, and now Valkyria Chronicles 2 which I recently picked up.
So except more continuous...more scheduled blogs in the future. I'll probably be updating my impressions every day during PAX, so look out for that too.
I liked how Davey, (who I assume is stalking all the users status updates, or has somehow hijacked my computer) dived in with unnecessary, although completely acceptable words of encouragement. Thanks duder.
I'm also initiating: Prime directive: Flaming tapioca elephant ears. You are free to do what you will to this individual, although like all trolls: I suggest ignoring the thing and letting it die a slow death of general mockery and over-all user ambivalence.
I'm going to use this moment to talk about the forums in general, my perception, and construct something positive. Get ready, because vidiot is going to talk honestly to all of you for a few moments here.
I've known a lot of you for the past few years. I can't really think of a single user that I've followed, or who has followed me, that I've ever "not liked". GiantBomb is a place where just a few days ago I got into yet another debate about Modern Warfare 2's stupid...stupid...single-player campaign (broken record, I know) and not have the discussion boil down to poorly written chicken-scratch. I didn't agree one iota with the user's opinion, but I totally respect well-thought out responses and most certainly decided to follow the individual. GiantBomb is a place that I can express my conflicted thoughts about Final Fantasy XIII, and talk to people and really flesh out the actual problems, versus blanket general sound-bytes that seem to dominate gaming web forums.
GiantBomb has also slowly become a place where the likes of FrostedDolphin totally thinks this, and just this, is a proper blog post:
Shit you guys try and try to justify stealing I shouldve said do you hate theives ? or prove me wrong tell me how what your doing isnt stealing
I've seen a bunch of very rightfully scared, knee-jerk posts from countless long-time users concerned that the GiantBomb community is losing edge. I can't accept that.
No: It's not that I can't accept that because I don't want it to happen, as if I am in denial. I can't accept that, because every time I think that way: I stumble upon something, usually a blog post or a thread comment that proves me different. Regardless of opinion, comparing some of the comments here to other web-forums is still night and day. We most certainly have our moments of internet drama, or general stupidity, but we still have in my personal opinion: The best goddamn gaming community on the freaking planet. Period. For every moment that might mirror a 4Chan exchange (not necessarily a bad thing given the context) there is a moment of brilliance that I have simply yet to see anywhere else. The idiots might become louder due to increased popularity of this site but that's about it. You shouldn't feel threatened by it.
So truly, at this point in time, let me be clear: You are all awesome. We may have disagreed, gotten on each others nerves, or -insert situation here- but I've never, ever, second guessed the sheer quality of awesomeness...most of you have. Let's put it this way: I might have an ego that might rival the universe, but the only reason why I come back here every day, is because of you general awesome people.
....I hate Ossi too...
...Bronz is like a gay stalker or something..
...Symph needs an intervention from her WoW addiction...
...JL needs to grow a pair and leave Symph, he is an enabler of said addiction...
...I said good things about Davey earlier, but for some reaon I've decided I hate him too...
...Ajay needs to get laid or something...
...Pepsiman hasn't spoken to me for a few weeks so I'll add it to the hate list...
...I will never obnoxiously know that much about computers as HitmanAgent47, add to the list...
...Hailinel is right about most things, except Final Fantasy XIII...I hate him too...
...Do you know how fucking old Claude is? Seriously! If I see you on the news for something regarding an impressionable child, videogames, and your basement, I'll be first in line to testify against you!
...AgentJ is going to Pax too, and I'm totally prepared to explain in detail how much I hate him when I see him...
...HEY! LOOK! VideoGameKing played another old goddamn game I will never play...
...HS21 needs to get laid or something...
...Ace never let me be on that podcast so I hate him even more...
...aurahack is all like: "I have a completely horrific, and legitimately terrible family problem, and I'm a fantastic artist! Please hire me! BLAHBLAHBLAH!"
...Hal is...I don't know why I should hate Hal...I hate Hal...
Actually: I hate all of you. Every last one of you. Except all of you that I don't hate. Which is all of you.
California is a strange, alien land that I both have great admiration for, and compounded distaste. I lived there when I was a kid, and it's always a bit surreal visiting places where you grew up. The apartment complex is still there, the park, the school, but then you notice what has changed in the last decade, and in my case the half-decade prior to that. What's funny for me is that the lay-out seems the same, but the size difference is completely off. Buildings and shops that towered above me as a kid look completely unnoticeable as an adult. Yes, I am implying that when one is in kindergarten-first grade, their impression of the world around them might be skewed versus they're more older versions...something about height differences...but for me, the impression was no less-obvious and still greatly moving.
I had a strange moment of silence as I stared out into the park that resided next to the apartment complex. How strangely small it looked. It's size was far less grandeur than my memory constructed it, although it's context was still intact. There was the field, the tables, the equipment...No, that had changed. Perhaps for the better. Thing was barely standing as it was.
I've always felt that there was an impression, perhaps subconsciously, that living in that area during the 90's left on me. I think I was a pretty naive kid. I know, that's a pretty deep statement. Seriously though, when I think back to the park, there is one memory that I kinda shrug off that I don't know how I would interpret today. There was a regular drug dealer, a homeless man who lived in the park, and he made money selling drugs to kids. There was a bus stop for school, and I would watch from afar as older kids wandered over to "talk" to him. I stayed away, because everyone told me too, but no one really cared that this guy was constantly living and essentially making drug money off of kids. What I'm confused about now that I'm older was: Why the fuck did anyone not report this turd? Perhaps they did later? This is just one example of many instances that proper reflection kinda questioned the escapist mentality of my youth...er...younger....youth?
The skewed nativity of children seems for me always celebrated: The park will always be a grand adventure in my mind, versus it's stark reality. That doesn't excuse the other side of the coin- the complete absent minded nature of reality. Perhaps, I'm being more sardonic than necessary.
I liked how the bus ride to my old school was shockingly shorter than I remembered it too. :P
Then came the school itself...Which upset me. I get out of the car and I'm greeted by a fence: A fence that now surrounds the entire campus. How can I say this nicely? It looked like a fucking prison.
Yeah, screw the metaphor of school being a prison. Let's add some goddamn watchtowers while were at it. Now I know what you're saying: Maybe they had a good reason to build a giant fence around the elementary school? Maybe they had an incident with someone who walked on campus? Maybe if we take our shoe's off, no one will try to blow up planes? Oh. Wait. No. That didn't happen.
Okay, so maybe a giant...draconian fence...that looks like it's stopping you from entering a mine-field...is appropriate for elementary school kids. It's just something that kinda annoyed me.
We then drove from LA to San-Diego, and once again, I am welcomed to some great scenery. We went on a hike with the family through some pretty impressive scenic views. It goes without say that the beaches were phenomenal, and once again, I feel comically inadequate physically :P Clearly, I have adapted too much to the cold overcast weather patterns of the Pacific Northwest.
You crazy people. Stupid nice weather. Allows for you to have skin that doeskin look like it's transparent paper. People asking you if you re "okay"...Or if you're sick.... ...Or a ghost...
Within the span of about ten minutes: The hike started around a forested golf-course, became a very flat high-vegetation desert, then became mountainous, upon finally becoming a beach. It's always interesting how varied even desert environments can be, you just gotta take the time to look for them. There were a ton of helicopters flying around too, San-Diego is home to our naval forces and it shows. My uncle let us go out with his sailboat, that I got to drive...pilot...err..."move with the steering wheel". We sailed around the military base, an imposing structure that sent the right expression.
We stopped by the battleship Midway while downtown. The best I could describe it is "Naval Disneyland", complete with an animatronic captain. There's just so much you can do with the subject matter, and for the most part I thought they did a pretty good job.
I said that I probably wasn't going to bring a gaming device on the trip. I lied. I packed my PSP with me and loaded it with Lunar Silver Star Harmony, a game I had bought but never had real time to sink my teeth into. I've played the game before back on the Playstation, but I just needed something mindless I could dive into during the large swaths of down-time. It actually kinda works as a portable game, the feature to save anywhere is something fantastic too.
Lunar is a game that has been remade and ported more times than it probably should have, and I've considered checking out the original Sega CD version. I've only played it since it's Silver Star Story days, and I've always been interested in it's original version.
I like this version. The goofy translation effort seems intact, the Playstation cutscenes are still in there. The game though has a much needed face-lift, bringing the whole thing to a higher SNES-era similar to the original Star Ocean and Tales of Phantasia. The voice acting...what little it has...is pretty atrocious, and I'm trying to block my mind remembering the new "beginning" they added. (Which will remind you of Phantasia in more ways than one :/)
I checked out the Scott Pilgrim game. Loved the over-world homage to Mario.
I played the Mafia 2 demo, then immediately pre-purchased it on Steam. :P
I'm jumping onto a plane in the next few hours for San Diego. It's a family get-together and I was invited. Suffice to say: I'll be gone for a week, and I doubt I'll be checking my GB profile during this week. So now I have a reason not to play WoW! Because I'm not here! YOU'RE NOT GOING TO WIN!
Before I go I wanna give a real quick general run-down on stuff that matters. I still need to finish packing.
Frustrated over the lack of reviews on StarCraft 2? Here's my early-impression/review of StarCraft 2:
It's StarCraft. The end.
There's a really neat almost, dare I say, Wing Commander-esque adventure portions between missions that I enjoy greatly. The plot is still paper-thin-juvenile-sci-fi written by someone waaay too into Warhammer 40,000. So far I've been able to look the other way, thanks to what looks like a pretty nice progression of an RTS singleplayer campaign. I like the little RPG and adventure mechanics that pepper the experience.
When it goes down to the actual bulk of the game however, I'm still waiting for the big design jump that proclaims that it's something more than 3D StarCraft. I'm very early in the campaign and I still haven't touched the multiplayer, (Nor it's revamped Battle.net) so I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I'm not sure it will though. Although, at the same time, I don't really find that as a bad thing.
Personally I could go on over complaining why it took so long for Blizzard to make StarCraft 2. Perhaps it's the skewed opinion that after eleven years, you get the feeling that something fundamental should change. That's more human nature, versus any real well-thought out gaming criticism. :P Hey, I'm tired. :P (Not looking forward to this flight :P)
I can totally respect the reasoning in not overtly-changing mechanics, because I understand it elsewhere in gaming. The next time someone points to a turn-based combat system, or a covered based shooter as something that's been "done before", crap, just point to StarCraft 2 :P
The last few weeks for me personally have been increasing turbulent. I know I'm...uhm...what's a good word for "bat-shit-crazy"? Is that one word? It should be. Like, you say it all at once really fast. Try it out. BATSHITCRAZY.
What was I talking about?
Oh, personal stuff. So I'm going on vacation. I'm planning on...well....not a whole bunch of anything. Probably going to read a bunch. Go out and walk. I'm not really bringing a bunch of games with me like I usually do. I'll check in regularly on the internets, but for the next week or so I'm going to be pretty damn silent on this end. Call it, a vacation from myself? Oh, that sounds depressing.
For me when personal "issues" crop-up, they seem to all kinda cascade at-once. It's never "oh, and now something bad will happen to you, and now something good will happen..." THAT NEVER HAPPENS FOR ME. EVER. Grrr... I don't even like looking at that sentence.
It always seems like it's all at once and it never one problem at a time. If there's something that I can walk away from, it's that it's predictable.
Oh- and I'm an idiot when it comes to interfacing with the opposite sex, doing stuff for other people, depending on other people, not making enough money, and not taking matters in my own hands.
WAIT!NO! SAID TOO MUCH!!!
Alright, now I'm actually for the first time excited about the vacation. Almost.
The following contains major spoilers regarding the game Red Dead Redemption. If you have not completed the game's main story up to this point, do yourself a favor and hit that "Back" Button on your browser. I am not accountable for anyone being spoiled regarding....anything.... Now that I mention it, I would like to point out that I am not accountable for anything regarding anything I may write now...In past writings...Or in future writings...Or with writings in the....present?...
Like any individual, with an ego one can document, and measure...From space...I have a cornucopia of biased opinions, some of which are rigidly set in stone. One of these idea's is that video-games, when harnessing story-narrative correctly, can become superior to other entertainment mediums due to an emotional attachment one get's from playing as that character. I know, I'm horrible.
If the character is well-written and if you've spent along time playing as said character, you're probably going to be attached to said character. Sometimes writing has nothing to do with it. Games like Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and my personal favorite, Out of this World utilized superior direction, versus complex plot context to give you an experience that I don't think can be properly depicted in a movie.
Emotional attachment can be subjective for many. Perhaps you have never felt moved while playing a game, although there's probably a mountain of data somewhere out on the internet that proves otherwise. Your live-journal perhaps? You know, that one entry that you wrote years ago when you saw Aerith die, and the only way you could go to sleep at night was if you smothered your face with your pillow, and you told your friends in school that the reason you were crying was because there was an increase in pollen, but it was winter so they didn't believe you, and they took your lunch money for being weak AND YOU WEPT IN-FRONT OF THAT GIRL YOU KINDA LIKED AND SHE NEVER SPOKE TO YOU AGAIN!
Then there are the concepts that your active participation in the interactive medium enhances the over-all narrative, Illusions of choice and the like.
Sometimes these very complicated concepts can be misinterpreted. Essay's rallying against the use of cutscenes in games, while at the same time acknowledging games that utilize cutscenes. Strange definitions over what a "game" must adhere to, mass-overgeneralizing about entire genre's. Sometimes it's hard to keep-up, other times the answer and conversation has been done to death one might throw-in-the-towel, not as a means of giving-up, but out of sheer boredom. When it comes to the best way to impact the player emotionally, there a torrent of opinions. Although at the end of the day, applying emotional impact in a game is probably not as complicated as we wish it to be, (me :P) and these broad canvas sized valleys of narrative-execution are probably far more easier to cross that we perceive. The most interactive sequence could pail in comparison to a properly made cut-scene and vice-versa. It all boils down to the quality of the context of what's happening, and how the game decides to present this context. Nothing more, nothing less.
As I stared at the credits for Red Dead Redemption, my mind began to wander soaking in the final moments. I thought back to a year ago- during a time when I was reading a ton of editorials about how I was supposed to be impacted by a sequence. Yeah- I've been down this road more times that I can count, but to fully appreciate the success of Red Dead Redemption's final sequence one should contrast a scene supposedly trying to achieve the same feelings of emotional attachment and participating in a rigid linear-sequence that's "supposedly" made to make you feel bad.
Misinterpretation befell Infinity Ward during the development of the mess that would be Modern Warfare 2's single-player campaign. The base-concept roughly was: "That, If you're doing something bad, then that means you will feel bad about the situation you are in." Why must things always go for the main-characters favor? A proper question one might ask for the evolution of our medium.
Of course there was a myriad of problems initiated with the airport sequence. A lack of contextual associated with the rest of the game's tone was the first major issue, the lack of any emotion being supposedly being initiated being justified by the end of the game (No closure killing Makarov) . It seemed unapologetic in being grotesque, no funny sardonic undertone to make it less-serious as in Grand Theft Auto. Then there were the myriad of basic plot-holes that peppered the entire sequence, although to be fair the entire game had one chasm of logic defying sequences one-after-another.
I was not "disturbed" by the sequence, nor offended by what was depicted. I was though, upset at how radically tasteless it was, and how I got the impression that the only reason for the inclusion of this sequence was so that the game could have an entire page dedicated to " controversies" on wikipedia. Like I've said before, I can't stand controversy for the sake of controversy, and there was no chief offender than the wasted airport sequence.
The airport sequence in MW2, in theory, was an attempt to radically invest yourself in the game's ludicrous story from a serious point-of-view. To not make you feel comfortable. If there is one thing that sequence did, making me feel uncomfortable it achieved. To my annoyance the sequence was given huge praise by many gaming publications.........................initially. Although like most things that are blinded by hype, and blinding in various giant flaws, this opinion has slowly drifted away. There were moments for me though, of general disgust. People proclaiming that the sequence was a step forward in game narrative. A proclamation that is insulting to many developers who have carried this medium forward, who don't need to have round-table meetings with fifty different people on what the general plot will be for a five hour game.
I'm getting to it. Thanks for sticking with me, you probably see where I'm going with this. Like I said, there is a wrong way to emotionally entrance the player in videogame story development, and then there is a right way.
Games like to reward players for winning. We jump through hoops provided by a designer, and then we are rewarded with usually a happy outcome. Why shouldn't we? When you spend 40+ hours playing a game, you want to make sure that the character you have invested your time in, even if he is fictional, comes out the door alright. There is a basic push-pull design philosophy with game design. The idea is that you are given challenges, you persevere them, you are rewarded with something, and then you are given another set of challenges. Break down any game to it's fundamental essence, and this is what you have more-or-less. It's not surprising that the endings for most games exemplify the main character "winning" after surpassing their many trials and tribulations. The ending is usually the happiest part in a game.
Red Dead Redemption is not a happy game. (<-Fucking understatement of the year)
It's been a while since I've played a game that was so aware of itself. Within the first few moments, and I do mean moments, of the opening I got chills knowing that the ending was not going to be one where the hero rides off into the sunset. The final arch of the game's story has a constant dread permeating throughout the narrative, there's an uneasy feeling why the game is continuing even when supposedly all of Marstons debt's are finished.
Yes, I was emotionally attached to what was going to happen to Marston. I was rooting for him to get his life back in order but his final stand was something that made me upset, and yet, at the same time: accepting. He accepted it too which was something that made his final moments even more mind-blowing. With all the "wise" decelerations these days online about giving the player freedom to choice, whatever the hell that means, Rockstar decided to cement the fate of John Marston in stone: You can't turn around, you can't decide to not step out that door. John knows that the hunt for him will never end, that if he doesn't die it will be the people he cares for that will be in trouble. You are stripped of interactivity, given a rigid ending, and the whole thing prospers for it.
There!I see it. I see what the commentators were trying to proclaim last year with that stupid airport scene! NO! Not the airport scene, but what they said you were "supposed" to experience, but this time: it's not an excuse for a poorly designed sequence! It's genuine! It makes you feel emotionally horrible, but triumphant, especially in the scene that follows.
It's a scene that laughs at the traditional concepts of what an end for a game should have. It's a scene that has you glued during the sequence throughout, that makes sense contextually with the entire arch of the story. Everything fits nicely, and that's something that I am perhaps most amazed by. Bravo.
The fate of agent Ross was something that I applauded, not just because it's satisfying to see the villain get what he deserves. While the harshness of the time-period is well represented throughout the entire experience, there is also a reoccurring theme throughout the game of paying up for your past. The final arch of Red Dead Redemption painted the obvious, something that transcends it's historical anchor. It doesn't matter what side of the fence your on: your past actions will come back to haunt you. Ross was given medals, and was able to retire....for a few years....It's all circumstantial, and he looses everything after several gunshots by John Marston's son, Jack. John goes after his old gang, and they all have to answer to their life of crime from John, who in turns answers to his life of crime by Ross. The almost dark, dare I say humorous, inclusion to this cycle with Ross, who is constantly telling you that he is superior to the lawlessness and crime that you (John) represent. In the end of the day, the only difference between him and John's final fate, is that he got to wear a shiny suit.
Yet John achieves something that Ross couldn't hope for: Redemption.
Spotty morality system aside, the core of John Marston's character is clearly defined as someone who want's to make amends for his violent life. He knows that his final moments will be violent and unlike Ross accepts his fate willingly. The title of the game is not only some reference regarding Rockstar revitalizing the Red Dead franchise and making amends in regards to Revolver. Red Dead Redemption is description of what the game is about.
Now if only there was a way to switch the character of Jack, back to John. I want to get 100% in this game with the better voice actor.