eclipt1c

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The End of Format Wars

This entry is mostly in response to this article from Giant Bomb on the future of game formats. 

The initial quote from Phil Harrison is:
“There’s a generation of kids being born today and probably already alive who I’m pretty confident will never buy a physical media product. They will never buy a DVD, they will never buy a CD, and they will never buy a game in a box.”
I think that this statement is unequivocally true, because both Sony and Microsoft are heading in this direction already.  Sony already has the option on its online service to download full PS3 games to your hard drive, and Microsoft has recently added the capability to download your disks so that your disk drive doesn't spin.  There's also the fact that it costs tons of money to physically publish a game in disk format.  Granted it costs money to keep up the bandwidth, but eventually (very soon) this will be more economically feasible than physically printing a disk and case.  Finally, the last obstacle is space, but as of publishing, you can buy a 1 TB (formatted is 930 gigs) hard drive for around $100-$150, which means that you would have room for about 19 games.  Cut out the DVD drive and the support costs associated with that and you can probably afford to put in a several terabyte hard drive into the system.

With people already moving towards digital distribution in about every other entertainment arena and the PC, consoles will probably skip over blu-ray completely, or at most have it for the next generation, with the generation after that going completely digital.  
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Post-Apocalyptic Oblivion with Guns?

Kinda 'eh' in my opinion
Kinda 'eh' in my opinion
After getting caught up in the hype for Fallout 3 about a month before the game came out, I did some looking around for information about the game, just to get a general sense as to what it was.  At first and at the end, while I held the game in my hands I was very apprehensive.  The thing was, I never really enjoyed Oblivion.  There just wasn't anything about the game that I found particularly enjoyable.  I had spent probably around 40 hours or so with different characters just seeing if it was the character's playstyle that I didn't like, or if I got further that I might enjoy it more.  Nope.  So even with all this I preordered Fallout 3 and got it home and absolutely loved it, and still do.
Probably prefers Oblivion
Probably prefers Oblivion
But the reviews from a lot of reviewers and a lot of blogs/forum posts complain about a lot of the stuff that I found to be wrong with Oblivion.  Some of these reviews even state that they recognized these to be problems with Oblivion, but still loved the game anyway. So, I spent some time thinking about why I love Fallout even though it does have a lot of the same problems that Oblivion did, and why others don't like it.  I could only really come up with two maybe three fairly good reasons.

The Setting and Playstyle.  I think that these people might have just loved Oblivion for being a really good fantasy game, but don't really like the retro-futuristic post-apocalyptic genre.  I think this certainly applies for me.  I'm not a HUGE fan of the fantasy genre, but I don't dislike it either, I just don't think that I like to play a fantasy game in the first person, I'm not used to it and I don't think I ever got used to it.  I think this is evidenced by my aversion to Melee weapons in Fallout.  Which brings us to the other point: the style. 
Really damn fun.
Really damn fun.
 Fallout 3 had guns.  I think that's the main point of contention between the groups of people who didn't like either game, but did the other.  I think that either people just prefer to use either guns or swords/bows in a game, which harkens back to the setting, but ultimately menas that the games play completely differently.  This is of course hightened by the VATS system which basically turns the the game into a turn-based strategy game, which was Bethesda's intention (a genre of which I am also a fan).

To sum up:  I think that people either liked or didn't like the change in setting, the change of weapons, or the VATS system of play, thus leading to some contention between fans of Bethesda who prefer Oblivion and those who prefer Fallout 3.
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Atmosphere In Video Games and Why Dead Space Puzzles Me

Space Samurai Wizards are much more interesting than their terrestrial counterparts apparently.
Space Samurai Wizards are much more interesting than their terrestrial counterparts apparently.
Ask me what George Lucas did to make his Star Wars franchise such a hit, and I'll tell you that he created an incredible universe.  The plots of the three movies weren't especially special, the acting was pretty bad, and the movies weren't shot in any incredible new ways.  What he did do is create a mythos in which the world lived that was able to and did expand beyond those three movies (promptly to be completely destroyed by the next four).
Zombies! Of the Future!
Zombies! Of the Future!
What does this have to do with video games?  I would argue that in many ways, video games have been and continue to head in the direction of interactive movies.  Many developers have focused on the story to pull people through games instead of just tons of action.  Games like Bioshock and Half Life come to mind.  These games use their game's universe to pull you into this story, whether it be the retro-futuristic nature of Bioshock and Fallout, or the weird 1984/Matrix-like Half Life 2.  Because games are so much more interactive than the silver-screen, it makes sense that the environment and the atmosphere in games is so much more important and in-turn, emphasized.

What then surprised me when I picked up Dead Space on launch day was that when I booted it up, the game didn't really immerse me in anything new.  Like every reviewer has said, the game wears its influences unabashedly, which is fine with me, I love games and movies that do that, but what makes or breaks those are their abilities to take those influences and synthesize them into something new and fresh.  Oddly enough, I never really got the impression from my 3-4 hours so far with Dead Space that the game does that. Undoubtedly, this all picks up the more you get into the game, but to this I say, why should I care if the first three hours have done very little to get me interested in the rest of the game's progression.  

That is really damn cool, too bad none of the back-story is really explained.
That is really damn cool, too bad none of the back-story is really explained.
What I really don't understand is that the game seemingly has an awesome universe already built.  I've read previews talking about how they have huge ships that crack planets to mine them, and I got the concept-art book with my preorder, so there's obviously an established universe.  Apparently the game just doesn't care or want you to know about it.  Hell, even a scrolling text paragraph before the game opened up would contribute immensely.  I'm sure it's explained later on, but why should I care about blowing all the arms and legs of the necromorphs?  Why doesn't a normal headshot kill them?  This all seems like stuff that could easily be explained with an audiolog about an hour into the game, or at least hints as to why they are that way (the incessant audiologs about the artifact are kind of annoying, I figured it out OK, it has something to do with them, why is everyone else taking so long to figure that out?).

What's even more frustrating about this is that the game fully immerses you in this environment you know nothing about by taking away all HUDs and menus, instead making everything real-time and in-game; undoubtedly an awesome design choice if I cared about being in the environment which I'm sure would be awesome if it was explained.
4 Comments