I am LOVING how 2016 looks. Holy shoot!

(edit, I fixed the format somewhat and changed the title to be less... inflammatory? This was meant to be a celebration of next year in the context of me feeling like I was coming away from gaming)

Hello,

I worked at EB Games in Canada for almost eight years and I love the shit out of video games. (I promise I was one of the good people you were served by there) I left about a year ago, took a manual labor job and took a step back from games. So much of my life (social, work, play, quiet and passion) was about gaming. I was on Destructoid, IGN and GB in the morning, gone to work to sell and talk games for eight hours, listen to a podcast on the way home, play some games maybe that night, and check those sites again before bed.

And I love games. But that pattern will burn you the fuck out of almost anything eventually. That and retail. So I left.

In the few months after I left I watched a shitload of movies and really took a step back from games. I had been in a seriously joined-at-the-hip relationship with them and was a little suffocated. So I watched a tonne of movies. Turns out that was kinda good timing because 2014 and 2015 were deeply uninspiring unimpressive for me in gaming. Seriously? Shadow of Mordor was 2013's game of the year? Christ...

People love Witcher and Bloodborn and MGS and that's great, those are cool games but the former two were deeply problematic for my personal tastes, and MGS... is a thing I gotta get around to but doesn't appeal to me from a distance. Literally Rocket League and Helldivers are the most fun I've had gaming this year. Which is a bummer overall.

BUT.

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2016 looks pretty incredible. And I'm pretty DAMN excited to love gaming.

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THE WITNESS, January
THE WITNESS, January

Man, I've been wanting this game since Braid. It did fall pretty far into the background and my interest has waned for sure. That said, hearing the Johnathan Blow interview on GB recently I was reminded of all the good things The Witness might be. He has a dedication to a very interesting sounding game and has taken the money and time to make it exactly what he wants. And from the guy who did Braid back when people didn't care about indi games, it's exciting.

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Horizon: Zero Dawn
Horizon: Zero Dawn

I Flipped my gaddamn wig when I saw the demo they showed for this at E3 2015. I don't flip my wig very much. And that doesn't just apply to games. Other than the odd anger issue, I'm as emotionally stable as a pile of stones. This game looks really cool.

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CRACKDOWN!
CRACKDOWN!

CRACKDOWN '07 is not a perfect game. But I love it. I can't wait for this, even if it's not perfect again. :)

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Uncharted 4, March
Uncharted 4, March

I'm one of those nuts who doesn't think Uncharted 2 is 'overrated.' I played it after hearing YEARS of hype and GotY awards talk. I went from having a chip on my shoulder, saying "It's not that great" to leaning forward in my seat, heart pounding, laughing out loud and tearing up by the end. I think it's amazing, and Uncharted 3... was kind of a mess that I try to ignore. I want something as good as Uncharted 2. I know that's a lot to ask but if anyone can do it it's these damn amazing people.

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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Human Revolution is a game that really surprised me. Some clunk notwithstanding it's a terrific game with the balls to treat the player as if they have a brain. It's plot is smarter than people give it credit for and it delivered a universe I wanted to live in, learn about and run away from simultaneously. Can't wait for the one! I don't have all the time I used to in my life but I still did a second playthrough, 30+ hours, on Hard and not killing anyone. Just because!

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NO MANS SKY
NO MANS SKY

Yes, it's got a little bit of overexposure and overhype going on. I'm not expecting the second coming of Christ. I'm expecting a lightly minecraft inspired open universe that will eventually show it's math roots. I know I'll see one two many creatures and see the math behind it's varying templates. I know it will it'll get boring or might even be boring from the get-go. That's ok. It's still going to one one hell of a thing. And they have lots of room to surprise me.

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The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian

This is a game I'll play. A game whose existence was more a war of attrition fought between Gamers and The Universe.

We fucking won you guys! I don't give a shit if it's good at this point.

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X-Com 2
X-Com 2

X-Com: Enemy Unknown was really, really, really good.

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Scalebound
Scalebound

Basically, they said I would get a game from the Bayonetta/Vanquish people who, with the backing of MS money, were making a game where I control a dragon in 4-player co-op, battle armies and battle things BIGGER than dragons. Done!!

Ok. So I WASN'T blown away by their E3 showing. That's ok, it's got some time, I believe in PLATINUM and MS's production know-how. Should be good. Colour me excited!

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Quantum Break
Quantum Break

As much as Alan Wake and Max Payne aren't objectively 'The Worlds Greatest Games' they're pretty good. But more importantly they stick with me. I remember their stories. Their characters and what drives them stay with me for years. Alan Wake particularly is one of the most vivid games I played last gen. Seeing everything so closely through the eyes of Alan is an experience I can recall among a torrent of fuzzy, same'y narratives as clearly was the day I finished it.

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The DOAX games are some of the most insulting wastes of my time I've ever indulged in. I even played 20+ hours of DOAX2 in a very, very, very, very stubborn effort to get any, just one, of any achievement offered in the game. Literally if you don't want to walk away with Zero gamerscore in DOAX2 you're looking at 15 - 20 hours of honed play. It's insane. I put this on here as a joke.

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THEN there are a bunch of games that; Look cool; Are cool but I'm just not into, or; Who the fuck knows?!? All of which might end up being raaaaaad

  • Space Hulk: Deathwing (because Warhammer! and WARHAMMER IS MAD, METAL AND BONKERS
  • The Division
  • Mirrors Edge
  • Street Fighter 5
  • DOOM (again)
  • FFXV
  • Dishonored 2
  • Firewatch
  • Persona 5
  • Gears 4
  • Cuphead
  • Hyper Light Drifter
  • Below

-and Nintendo stuff if you're into that sort of thing.

Thanks for reading :) I'm jazzed for next year!

63 Comments

I played The Order 1886, my thoughts.

I work at an EB Games in Canada and (for literally the first time in my time there) I played a game in advance of release. A Sony rep came around with the demo they're been showing to press for a while. This one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOHTJiRQB9o

I quite enjoyed it. Normally I'm not one to rag on people that work at gaming sites but I had watched an IGN guy play the demo and he seemed to really be having problems getting a bead on moving enemies. I was worried that the aiming and shooting feel/turning speed/arc might feel off. It's never been the strong suit of Sony published games I find and this is the first shooter from the studio. Turns out the IGN guy is straight garbage at shooters. That whole element felt great. I was able to pull off shots I wanted to without issue and I didn't feel like there was an over abundance of auto aim.

It looks fucking good. I was playing on a very small demo TV and maybe small blemishes will be visible on bigger sets but it looked amazing. Even things like eye and cloth movement looked great. 'nuff said.

You honestly can't tell when a cutscene ends. It just results in moments where you're thinking to yourself, "I feel like he would have done something by no- oh wait." which isn't exactly good for immersion in a sense. But it's still pretty impressive. It also lead to moments where you really do feel like your controller input is just triggering the next few steps of the animation (see the opening cave sequence of Tomb Raider and certain moments of Uncharted 3) which is a little disappointing when you become aware of it. It's like you're gently prodding a movie to continue playing instead of actually having agency with your input in the scene. It was in controlled moments so I don't think it will get too bad but it threw me off a little.

The controls overall were good. The cover is a little too sticky and there aren't as many contextual movement commands and in something like Gears. eg, in Gears you can push forward and X to move out of cover heading forward already in a run or you can push to the side and X to move quickly to the next piece of cover. Here only the latter exists so moving from cover forward, running, into cover is far more inputs than it needs to be and feels kinda clunky. It was an irritation that seems like a silly oversight but it was one I adapted to pretty handily over my 20 minutes or so with the game.

Overall I was pretty happy with it. I AM a person satisfied with a fun, single player game. Even one as simple a a cover shooter, proving I find the fiction interesting and the story at least half interesting. It really strikes me as a game like Gears of War, maybe a little more 'cinematic' in the hand-holdy sense. I'm not nuts about that but providing the overall narrative thrust is strong and the gameplay stays fun I kinda won't give a shit.

Respectfully,

my 2 cents,

also happy to answer questions.

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Reacting to 'Indi Game: The Movie" long after the fact...

EDIT PLEASE READ:Please do not leave comments from now on. It's has devolved into a toxic listing of peoples judgements of people in the film which is not what my blog was about. It's not going anywhere but down and I think we should all just end it.

-Thanks

-bluefish

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And I really enjoyed it, it's very well put together and all that but I paid the most attention to Phil Fish in light of the public perception of him and where it's directed his life. The following are my own thoughts, I appreciate people are polarized on the guy but lets try and keep this positive/polite/respectful.

I was struck by just how scared he was. Honestly. With his legal woes, development woes and just seeming like a pretty open guy emotionally I admire what he was able to accomplish.

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I just wanted to say something nice about the guy. He's a character for sure but keep in mind that was an incredibly stressful time in his life and he clearly let that film crew into his life with little held back. I just really admire that. It takes a certain kind of guy to make a game like that with so much of themselves in it and with so much dedication. If that means he's not the most reserved or genial man in the world that's fine, I'm genial and pleasant but I'll never make anything like he did and I'm glad something really cool came from all his hard work. Rough edges come with intense personalities and intense personalities are often the ones that accomplish remarkable things.

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I dunno, watching it with all the hate these guys get reminded me what a dark voice the gaming community can have. We can be critical of games but I don't think we have the right to be critical publicly of the people who make them. It just feels gross, and it's so much the norm that it made me sad watching this guy. He's younger than me, just a kid in a lot of ways, taking a bigger risk than most of us have taken in our lives. And he got shat on by a lot of people and it clearly hit him pretty hard.

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It's an uphill battle to ask this but: lets not make this a discussion of whether hating the guy is 'valid' or not. I was just reminded that we're all just people and we need to try and treat each other as such.

Thanks for reading.

-blufish

63 Comments

2012's Top Games of Top 10 Game's!!!

I don't post a lot but I do realize Top # Lists are as common and unremarkable as fly's. That said, games are a medium I truly admire and devote thought to so IF you chose to read this, know it is done in love, consideration and maybe some bitterness.

Thanks!

1) Journey. Who can know if it will be a worthwhile game on a third or fourth playthrough but I can safely say it had me in a state that no piece of art or entertainment had before: I was honestly touched by the company of another. That was singularly amazing. Everything else was pretty damn amazing too.

2) X-Com: Enemy Unknown. The last strategy game I loved was 1998's Starcraft.

3) Mass Effect 3. While NOT talking about the ending, ME3 still had plenty wrong with it. The lighting was all 'hard core' and dark, the side quests made no damn sense, the characters and writing were not up to ME2's and everything felt figgity and kinda rushed. That said. It's still a great game with sharp, interesting combat and a more interesting universe than most games of the last decade. Disappointing? Oh my god yes. Still better than most of what I played this year? Yup.

4) Halo 4. So despite an uninteresting ending and it feeling really just like another fucking Halo game: it being a good Halo game really puts it above any other shooter out there. The amazing sci-fi aesthetic and always changeing combat puzzles give it the beating heart of a shooter that doesn't dry up when you finish it. The multiplayer is still the most interesting out there and the assault rifle finally sounds like a son-of-a-bitch again!

5) Far Cry 3. Again, disappointing. Not nearly as emotionally or environmentally involving as Far Cry 2 it was nevertheless fantastically satisfying to stealth your way around camps without eyes ever falling on you. That or just blowing shit up. Or just wandering around the jungle. It played great and it left a good portion of that up to you. That's why it's here. Unlike...

6) Walking Dead. Y'know, I didn't want to hop on the Walking Dead train but it is pretty good. It's story is engaging and... and... well, nothing else. The gameplay feels like filler and is often poorly thought out and frustrating. When you are asked to collect objects or solve a 'puzzle' the game becomes a huge chore which is why it's so far down. Sure it's engaging, but so is a good TV show. And it's that and it aint much else. Lee is boring, Clementine is boring and the redneck guy is ok. For my money, everyone interesting is dead by episode 4, so yea...

And we're done. That was my Top 10 for 2012. Because y'know, games this year were pretty fucking banal. Maybe good, but that doesn't mean I am going to care. Witcher 2, Mark of the Ninja, Borderlands 2, Dishonored and Sleeping Dogs were all games just uninteresting'ly clinging to their genre and suckling off proven knee-jerk impulses. I couldn't be bothered to finish any of them. If I don't care about the place I really don't give a crap about whether the next gun will be better than mine nor do I care if I killed that guy without him knowing I was there. WHY WAS I THERE? Ahhhh, who cares...

From everything I hear 'Fez' may need to be on my list but I played a lot of that game and put some notable thought into it and came out with nothing of the bigger puzzles. I guess I'm just too damn stupid for Fez. Really though, at the end of the day only two games grabbed me this year and they are at #1 and #2. The rest was good.

Thanks for reading. All one of you.

Seriously though, thanks,

please leave a comment. :)

8 Comments

Is Suda51 Done?

I just played Lollipop Chainsaw, it was pretty poor and it got me thinking whether I should pay attention to his work anymore.

From the arc I've witnessed he's gone from: "Killer7" to "No More Heros" 1&2 to "Shadows of the Damned" to "Diabolical Pitch" to "Lollipop Chainsaw."

And I HAVE to wonder what is going on with him. His games have declined in ambition and uniqueness even to the point that Shadows and Lollipop not only share similar premises but a similar soundtrack, senses of humor, loading screens, tangential peppered in mini-games and a the same sense of crude irreverence. To me this might not have been an issue until Lollipop Chainsaw confirmed a deep, dark, unhappy suspicion in me that there was actually nothing behind it. At all.

Like: At All at all.

I was happy enough with NMH after the deep, dark insanity that was Killer7 and I was happy enough with the hit or miss humor and action of Shadows of the Damned. But I don't think he has anything to say anymore. The guise of dry and self-aware humor in Lollipop hides only a complete lack of ideas or creative ambition in the project. It only acts as a way to give gamers in-the-know a wink and a nod with the promise we can play the game understanding some other level of meaning at work in the frilly-pop aesthetic. But it's not there! There is nothing there!

After Lollipop Chainsaw I really just believe that not only does Suda think he's got his niche and can happily stick to it but that he's now just phoning it in for the most part. He works on and attaches his name to so many projects now-a-days it would be hard to expect more involvement but it's disappointing considering the truly vapid nature of his work.

I don't want to hate. I like the guy. And if I had the choice I'd still more rather him be a part of this industry than have him not be. But when I first played Killer7 it confused and surprised me to such an insane degree that I have never forgotten that experience and I really think it stands head and shoulders above all his other work. For all it's lack of fluid and familiar game mechanics it was ambitious and unique beyond almost any other game I've played. I love that game.

And I just finished Lollipop Chainsaw. "I'm going to masturbate to you tonight!" and "I'll rip your choad off!" are lines uttered in that game and, though the low end, don't exactly misrepresent the level the game is working on.

I understand the realities of the industry now-a-days but with the rise of successful tier'd gaming there HAS to be a way for this man to not stoop to this kind of project exclusively while still getting good games out there.

best to all

bluefish

1 Comments

Blog: the gravity gun is brilliant because it's not a gun

Why the Gravity Gun is brilliant

Anyway, I’m a console gamer, I love my Halo and I only played HL2 (and episodes) in 2008, 4 years after it was released on PC. It’s brilliant, but I only realized why on my 2nd playthrough. I tried to write a full essay about why it’s brilliant but quickly got intimidated by how much that entailed. So here I just want to rant a bit about the Gravity gun and the effects it has on our perceptions in-game.

*Ahem* The Gravity Gun is brilliant, I can only assume Valve knew exactly why it was brilliant, either that or it was a happy coincidence. I have three main reasons for thinking this.

1) It deepens how you can interact with the world. I mean, obviously. But what this DOES TO the player isn’t as obvious. With that increased ability to interact with the world comes a more complete sense that this IS a world, and that sense is invaluable. Lets say it like this, when you play Doom, every area ultimately ends up being perceived by the player as a combat arena, all you can do is shoot things. It essentially relegates visuals, story and anything else as window dressing around that combat arena. As much as I love Halo, it’s really only an extension of that. People talk to you, you shoot things, you get in a vehicle and you shoot things. Halo is a very big, elaborate, series of combat arenas. If you introduce platforming it changes how you see things. Cliffs and rocks are no longer a nicely dressed up wall, they’re tools for exploration. And that allows you to believe there is a physical world there for you to explore, which is WAY more interesting than a simple combat arena. HL2 takes that to a whole new level, you can throw a paint can around a room if you want to. Obviously there is little reason to, most of the time, but you know that you CAN, and that changes what everything around you looks like. A paint can on the ground in an object, with weight and distinct from the room whereas in most other games, it’s simply part of random crap they put around the room to make it not look so barren. Half-Life is praised for the every-day’ness that they made believable in their world and a massive part of that is because you feel it’s all there, all the little details are stuff that you react to and use. And that is all thanks to the gravity gun.

2) HL2 is huge on the player getting from one place to another and they integrate a few gameplay mechanics into that. You drive, walk and jump from place to place, again, increasing the tangibility of the world by interacting with it in so many ways. But that also comprises the main playtime of the player, traversing the environments. And a key part of that not being crazy boring is letting the player feel like the world was not made solely for them to pass through it. It of course was. But that’s why there is crap in the way, boxes, boarded up doors, shelving units, lots of literal stuff often sits in your way and you move it or bash it with the Gravity Gun to get past. Sure, that example is no great thing ON PAPER, but in practice it makes you feel like you’re forging this path for yourself. You feel like it’s not designed for you simply to pass through and it gives the player a small (but key) sense of satisfaction for fining that doorway (or whatever) and getting himself through it. In more elaborate instances, you're placing large floating objects in toxic pool to jump to, which has the same effect. HL2 doesn’t want to be a game where it’s core gameplay is shooting fools. So it uses gunfights as emotional peaks in the story and gives the player a variety of gameplay elements to overcome in between. The Grav Gun is key to that.

This relates to the next point... read and see!

3) The Grav Gun deals with a KEY element that often holds even great games back: PLAYER PERCEPTION, that is the perception of the player, by the player. Who do you feel like when you play this game? That is of course a huge question, but in the case of ninety-nine percent of shooters ever, you only, ever feel like a camera with a gun or a total psychopath. Obviously this ranges from player to player, but ultimately you (almost) always have a gun pointing ahead of you. That’s not normal. It kinda works for a game like Halo or CoD, you’re a soldier, you’re in battle. But even then, why do you not have the ABILITY to lower it when things are quiet or when an ally is taking to you? It’s just a gaming convention. In more… story driven games (than Halo or CoD) it feels kinda weird to always have a gun out, for your only ability in this world to shoot things. It makes the player feel disconnected, whether they’ve realized it or not. How can you REALLY believe a character is being sincere when they talk to you if you know that you have a massive machine gun between you and them? The Grav Gun changes that. Because ultimately (despite the name) it’s function in that world is a TOOL. This is also why moving all that crap in point 2 was so important, because it’s a tool rather than a weapon. And by putting crap in your way, and by making you do puzzles and throw stuff to move other stuff, the game keep the Grav Gun being your main crutch, NOT your GUN. HL2 almost makes a point to keep you using it at every stage, to keep it in front of the players face and to let the player see themselves more as a capable being that can think, solve puzzles, work through problems and come up with solutions beyond shooting fools. It lets the player see themselves as someone who is intelligent. And it lets them better believe in-game characters when they express admiration, appreciation, concern or warmth to you. They are not talking to a killer, a camera with a gun or a psychopath, they are talking to an intelligent problem solver, in this case a Dr. named Gordon Freeman.

This IS an old blog I'm re-posting, but I still like it (though it could use some tweaking) and I thought I'd give any visitors a look at what kind of writing I do.

Hope you like, I'm always happy to get feedback.

cheers

5 Comments

Welcoming Myself(?) to GiantBomb

Uh, hi.

I've been visiting GiantBomb for a while now and listening to the Bombcast pretty intensely for the last year or so. That's how I got 'into' the site I guess. I have a friend who was/is into the site and pushed me to check it out, it was a long process.

Anyway. The very idea of welcoming myself to a place, at this point essentially only talking to myself, seems pretty fuckin' dumb. But whatever. I am 26, generally educated and way too big of a fan of games. I'll try to blog about whatever game related stuff is on my mind but I'm not terrific at maintaining a consistent pace with things like that. I am great at messaging people about stuff, so if you wanna say hi it would not fall on deaf ears.

43 Comments