A Revoution Against the Resolution: A Confession

NOTE: If it hadn't been made clear by this point, not least by the garbled title, I intended this blog to me taken in jest. I just wanted to add this disclaimer after reading back through the whole thing and realizing it may come across like some alcoholics rambling break down. Intentional to a degree, but I misjudged the tone slightly.

As a personal aside I don’t really like making New Year resolutions, at least not seriously. I’ve always perceived it as some sort of posturing for the most part, you know the people, those who make a point to inform everyone about their resolution to get in better shape. Those are the kid that have that inevitable habit of never coming to pass. I usually just make a note of something in my head and if I’m serious enough about it, I will see it through.

Which is why shining a light on this probably does not bode well for any sort of promises I am about to commit to this post. Whilst attempting to power on forwards with my dissertation (the fact that I’m writing this should let you know how that is progressing) I have turned to idly skimming various blog posts and threads around the forum. Now, that’s not to say I don’t do that anyway, but as most of you will no doubt know, having some sort of deadline staring you in the face is like waving a red-flag to a bull. In so much that I will make some sort of attempt (no matter how vain that will be) to get some work underway only to be quickly waylaid by anything that just so happens to catch my interest. Which in this case could be just about anything to he honest. So bad analogy aside I’ll try and make some sort of salient point.

Reading these lists has brought to my attention a rising trend, a good majority of you buy a lot of games, more than you will feasibly have time to play. Now, I’m not about to judge anyone for this. Truth be told, I’m as guilty of this as the next person. My previous blog posts will certainly attest to this, back when I still posted them (and no one read them). No, a “Pile of shame” is hardly a new concept, but up until now it’s never bothered me too much. Lately though it has started to gnaw away at me, and reading the plethora of GOTY lists has only intensified that. You see viewing these lists highlights a good number of highly regarded games that I’ve not yet played, and in some cases not even been made aware of. It’s a sobering thought indeed, and in part has forced me to address the way that I play games.

My first thought was to simply stop purchasing so many games, maybe it wouldn't be such a problem if I just did the sensible thing and curbed the spontaneous purchasing of shiny things. But after quickly laughing at that notion, it was back to brain-storming. The logical next step would be for me to determine what it is exactly I spend the most time doing in regards to my gaming habits. I don’t really indulge in online multiplayer, at least not competitively so that wasn't an issue. I do like RPG’s and they have that annoying habit of requiring you to take up the full time job known as playing them. I have currently put Skyrim on hiatus for the time being, but that’s a story for another time and neatly rules that out of the equation. But as I started to browse both my PSN & Xbox Live accounts it hit me, I like achievements. Don’t believe me? Look no further than my Xbox Live account:

Admittedly there are a few games that are shameful entries in that list, I'll refrain from mentioning those because you probably already have a good idea as to what they are. Those specifically where during my honeymoon period with achievements, when the novelty was high and I just wanted a respectable and inflated score to get the ball rolling. That eventually gave way to shame, I mean a more completionist outlook. I’ve always been something of an OCD player; I will often seek out most of the secrets and optional content but the achievement system shone a light on this, and in my mind at least, offered a further incentive. I gradually justified this behavior as something I would only do with games that I genuinely liked, but even the best games can still fall prey to bad habits. At their best, achievements encourage you to explore aspects of a game you may not otherwise have experienced, but more often than not these boil to an over reliance on collectibles and tedious grinding. The bane of my existence in other words.

To look at my PSN profile would bring this problem into focus:

Among that list of platinum trophies is an FFXIII entry, which aside from being a game of questionable quality for many of you (not me), also carries the distinction of being a notoriously drawn out affair in completing everything. So to put it plainly, I have (had?) a problem. It severely ate into my time in which I get to play video games. In turn this means that it commits the most heinous of sins in that it hampers my ability to play MORE games. It seems easy when I lay it out like that but its something which has been a long time coming. Hopefully to put it out in the open here will encourage me to simply forget about my pursuit for that elusive score and instead simply enjoy a game, unburdened by the prospect of missing a specific item, or whether or not I’m playing the game in a way which will provide an optimum net gain in points. Believe me, those are among a number of thoughts that have occurred to me in the past before I have decided upon which game to play next. If I were to offer you the chance to play a multitude of varied and exciting games, or simply to play the same one multiple times, what would you choose? I know, it’s a plain decision when you think about it in those terms.

In boiling down these games to a science I’ve been robbing myself of the spontaneity and fun that should come from the experience. I’ve essentially been looking behind the curtain the entire time; I've been ruining the magic. I've made games boring.

This isn't some criticism of the points system itself, more of the way in which I played solely within it. I know others who have a great time playing in the exact same way, some of who let it be known on this very site. More power to you, I feel like its undermining my fun at this point. To call upon a tired idiom, consider this a line in the sand.

No more! Instead I will devote myself to more noble persuits, like watching HILARIOUS comedy shows.

A Belated Happy New Year!



Spoilers And The Internet

I originally was going to call this Warning: Spoilers! Look away now (not really), and its safe to say that's probably the worst title for a blog post ever by the way. Start as you mean to go on...

Although this is intended to be a blog about the nature of spoilers, I'm going to refrain from any direct references. After all, I've been compelled to write this after having a potentially surprising revelation snatched away from me. Who you say? Why one of those random people on message-boards, the kind that seem to revel in this sort of thing, who else? Originally I had an image which I was going to use, one that was to act as a centerpiece to the whole blog. The content of which was a jokey reference to pop culture invoking many spoilers by its very nature. As such, it contained numerous well-known plot reveals, which admittedly probably undermines this whole post so it's gone...wasn't my most inspired of jokes.

How does everyone feel about spoilers? In the case of games, it personally varies for me, obviously based on my preference for a particular game/franchise. That's not to say I would willingly give up the suspense willingly, but if for some reason I did find out, I can often ignore the fact and play regardless. For as much as I love a good story, its often not central to the experience within a game, often being nothing more than the preamble to the gameplay itself. That said, I would have had a horrible time playing through one of my favorite titles, (MGS4, for those who are curious) if I had known every plot detail before it had even been time to pick up the controller.

This is no lie, well the part about being a woman is.

To qualify this whole argument before I continue any further, I originally watched the Endurance Run of Persona 4 up until about the 40th episode. At this point I had enjoyed the overall experience enough, that I decided I would now like to see the rest of the game first hand. Before I did this though, I did jump forward a few times in the videos, so I saw a few minor things that happen, but these were optional events and small little scenes, nothing revelatory when removed from their original context in all honesty. On one of these occasions however, I opened the tab for the Endurance Run and noticed a small preview image for one of the final episodes (it does default to this after all) and I saw something which, without going into detail, took the suspense out of the story slightly for me. Those in the know can probably tell what I'm referring to at this point, and those who may be reading this and do not yet know anything, heed my warning. However in the context of a relative newcomer to the game (in that I didn't know a thing), I happily buried this to the back of my mind and awaited the full story to unfold before me. All was fine until late last night, when admittedly my curiosity, as well as my boredom got the better of me.

So after playing Persona 4 for a couple of hours, I decided to have a look around the forums and read some more opinions about it, this was the road to my ruin. As a general rule I usually avoid doing something such as this, particularly when I'm still not completely finished playing a particular game or watching TV series/film. As anyone can likely attest to, its almost impossible to account for the random nature of the Internet, and the people who inhabit it. What followed was me clicking on a pretty unassuming thread title, which appeared to be a clear reference to a point I had already reached . When I opened the thread, the opening line basically left me in no doubt about the late game revelation that I had previously tried to dismiss. Maybe I was to blame, after all I was looking at the forums to begin with, but spoiler was safely nestled within a thread that was SUPPOSED to be completely unrelated to what was actually being discussed.

If you spend enough time on forums you usually get a good idea on how to avoid stuff like this. Often this is done at the courtesy of others, spoilers usually being clearly marked. This is probably just a case of naivety getting the better of me, but then again, I can't help but feel annoyed about this all this. This is not to say that I won't carry on playing Persona 4, it's far too good a game to just throw to the wayside now. And at the end of all this, I suppose this is just a little outward venting that I'm doing, but I sometimes wish that we wouldn't have to be so guarded against such matters.

How does everyone else feel about spoilers?


The Street Fighter Conundrum

With the recent relase of Street Figher 4 (well at least here in the UK) I too have sort of got caught in the whole buzz surrounding the game, now I just need to decide whether or not I actually go out and buy the game. I'm bascially in the scenario alot of people who remember SFII are in and thats they at least played the game enough for nostalgia to still rear its head. Even if my exposure to the SF series was brief I still remember playing that game even if they wasn't good at it...at all, I think all I tried to do was throws and the most basic of moves.

I have no idea how to do this move.
Apart from Street Fighter the only other fighting game I have played is Tekken, infact I played alot of it, especially the second which I could off that ridiculous combo with King albeit I only had the AI as my opponent most of the time. This game which I had quite a bit experience with I doubt I could much if I were to revisit it today, my memory for combos remains as long as I continue playing a game reguarly, which by now was a pretty long time ago. I like the idea of this game bring more of an arcade mentality to the online play, but I'm unsure of whether or not I'll be able to handle, good or not there would probably only be so long I could get continally beat before I feel as though as I'm hitting a brick wall. Coming into this fresh, I wonder whether or not I would be able to learn or given the chance to considering the main draw is the online play. The thought of going online at facing people who have been since SFII intimidates me in a way and I wonder will I actually become any good at it or just face a string of endless defeats.

Even if I decided to take the plunge with the game theres also the other factor of do I get another controller specifically for this? I've heard that ditching the standard controller is essential and some special moves are difficult to pull of using the standard d-pads whereas I've also read that the difference is minimal and its something you would only notice if you didn't really need to ask around about this stuff.
 Yeah, add this one to that list as well.

The obvious answer to this seems to be if I'm going to get into the whole SF scene nows a better time than any in quite a while, at least there will be some other new players about so at least I wouldn't be alone in how bad I'll be, well I'll try to convince myself thats the case anyway.