Gamer Hate

Belligerently lacking in remorse.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mankind

It’s funny the duplicity of man.
How we mirror our own internal structures in everything we do.
Our freeways built in lines like veins,
the populace, the blood of the city,
streaming down the roads,
every accident a stroke we must unblock,
the blood moves through to keep humanity alive,
by doing their individual tasks.
In corridors and hallways within the buildings,
we walk to our desks,
we type away at our computers,
firing like neurons to create ideas and keep the systems of our cities running smoothly.
We rush outside for brief moments of freedom,
replenishing our ability to think and breathe,
then return inside to keep the system running.
Our trash and sewer systems,
picking up our waste and depositing it far from where we sleep,
so that we are not tainted with its disease.
Man has created civilization in his own image.
Where else in humanity can we see this inadvertent vanity?

posted by CommanderHate at 9:44 am  

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Finally Purchased a Wii

I think it’s rather sad that it’s taken me this long to get a Wii, given that I’ve been developing a game for the Wii for a year already. I even had Amazon text messaging me everytime the Wii was in stock. It didn’t seem to matter though for as soon as I logged into the site, they were gone. There was one time where the button to purchase the Wii from them appeared, and as soon as I clicked it I got a message saying they were out of stock.

I’ve heard stories of people walking into Target or Walmart and finding plenty of Wiis in stock, but whenever I would get there, they were gone. What’s worse, is that they often would be some sort of prepackaged deal where you had to buy 3 or 5 titles that you had NO interest in, AND pay a premium price on top of that. All I wanted was the Wii, $250.00 flat. Amazon also offered free shipping on it, so I simply waited until I could finally get one.

Today was that day. My Wii will get to my house in September… =P

At least I got it for 250 bucks with no shipping or tax charges. I can finally play the release version of Order Up!

Review to follow.

posted by CommanderHate at 3:55 pm  

Monday, August 11, 2008

Braid : Formal Review

I did a short review before when Mr.Blow granted me the privilege of an early version of the game. How have my views on the game changed now that I’ve completed the final release version on XBox Live Arcade? Little to none. Let’s do a breakdown as different people like different things.

Gameplay

Braid is an exquisite medley of nostalgia and completely innovate new game mechanics, combined to form a sandwich entirely made of awesome. Seriously though, the ability to fast forward and rewind time has been toyed around with repeatedly in games of the past, but this is the first time where it actually fit perfectly and was implemented perfectly in the history of video games. Whereas most designers would immediately try to restrict or build costs into a time rewinding mechanic in order to make the game “fun,” Jonathon Blow has built a game around utilizing time rewinding without any sort of chains, backlash or other bullshit that made those previous time travel games a miserable failure (or at least not as fun as they could have been).

Most game designers would immediately flinch and say the game is too easy because of the time rewinding mechanic alone, but they would be wrong. Deep thought must be put into every puzzle that advances progression, and time manipulation is the key that opens the locks. Each World of the game gives a slightly different way to manipulate time, and all of them have many brilliant puzzles.

For those who have started playing and are getting frustrated or stuck, do not worry. I swear that every puzzle is completable and that despite their seeming impossibility, once you have finally figured it out you will be amazed by how natural the solution feels. All it takes is time, thought and effort. If you find yourself repeatedly trying to do something that seems absolutely impossible, reconsider your thought process and see if there’s a better solution that utilizes your time manipulation mechanic. If you’re thinking of giving up, do not. The end level is absolute genius, and to miss it is to fail at life.

Art

I’m not an artist by any means, but it is rare for me to play a game and be absolutely enthralled by the background images. Everything within the game is beautifully rendered in an ethereal way that fits in with the spiritual journey you go through as you push Tim towards reality. Art is often in games, but rarely have I thought of games as art. Braid, in all its ethereal beauty, is art in game form.

Music

The music suits the game well, and I am particularly fond of how it speeds up and slows down with the time manipulation mechanic. Hopefully it will bring a lot of new people into the realm of enjoying classical music.

Story

The story of the game works perfectly with the overarching theme, and more importantly, fits in with the gameplay perfectly. It’s all leading you to something, something brilliant and achingly sad. You can see it in the words as you progress and when it all becomes revealed, you feel it in your soul.

My only criticism here is the writing itself. While the implied meaning of the paragraphs are quite good and perfectly set the scene for the levels you will experience, the writing itself feels mechanical and a bit placid. Perhaps this is the intention, for Tim seems to be obsessed with the mechanics of things. However, it is slightly out of sync with the elegance of the world within which he imagines himself. I would like to think that someone who can dream up worlds so achingly beautiful, would also have the words with which to accompany them.

I also must admit that I did not fully “get” the final few books that I found in the world. I think I understand the general meaning of them, and while I did get some closure from it, I felt they were lacking in cohesiveness with everything else I had experienced. It’s almost as though they were written on such a high level that they failed to mesh with the very explicit meaning of the end encounter of the game.

Overall

The game has come together beautifully, and honestly, little has changed since I played the initial version. I think I may have found a few of the puzzles to be a tiny bit tighter in execution, but that could be my imagination playing tricks on me. Every puzzle completion was a moment of joy for me. It’s simply an exquisitely well thought out and executed game. If you have any interest in game design, you must play this game.

Braid – A+

Pros

  • Amazingly crafted gameplay
  • Best use of time travel ever done in a game.
  • Elegant and brilliant puzzles
  • Exquisite artwork that fits perfectly with the theme and gameplay.

Cons

  • Slightly mechanical writing style detracts from the perceived overall theme.
  • Epilogue felt slightly disjointed at points from the rest of the game.

There you have it, a perfect game in my opinion. The cons are totally personal feelings, but since rating a game is entirely about a person’s personal perspective, I felt obligated to put them in. Weighted against the whole, they are absolutely insignificant to me. Go get this game, now!

WARNING: Comments may contain spoilers. I highly recommend you finish the game first.

posted by CommanderHate at 1:29 pm  

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

EGM’s First Ever Successful Magazine Release
A Colossal Breakthrough For Video Game News

It is absolutely unprecedented. I have long been a reader of many types of gaming magazines, but for the first time ever I was actually enthralled by the content of one. The gaming media has long been the red headed step-child of actual news media sources, and for good reason. They have lagged far far behind their “real news” journalist brethren. But for the first time ever, I picked up and read a gaming magazine and actually read every sentence of every paragraph of most of their news stories.

The most exciting recent event to happen in gaming news news (not a typo) was when then editor of EGM, Dan Hsu had a little Q&A with then Microsoft 360 executive Peter Moore. The questions he asked were borderline inflammatory given the garbage most game reporters have asked in the past, but more importantly, the questions were poignant and freaking relevant. I was excited by the interview and was hoping to see a turn around in the gaming news industry. Of course the answers to the questions were less interesting than the questions themselves and unfortunately no one picked up the torch that Hsu had lit.

One and a half years later, the latest issue of EGM has finally taken game news reporting to a new level. The September issue (#32) goes in depth into the roots of our gaming history and they have several interviews with classic Japanese game maker icons. They discuss the rise and stagnation of the Japanese video game market, and really analyze what the problems could be in Japanese game development. It’s a thing of beauty really, and it’s what I’ve been hoping to see come from all of our video game news sources.

I suppose this makes EGM the New Yorker of gaming magazines, but whether or not it’s going to continue to give us this sort of content remains to be seen. I would like to see some more hard hitting questions from their reporters, particularly directed at Sony and Microsoft executives, but I suppose not everyone has Dan Hsu sized balls. On another note, I miss the Hustler of gaming magazines… PCXL… (sigh)…

On the other hand, with Hsu out of the picture, EGM’s new editor-in-chief James Mielke seems to have taken the whole magazine into a very positive direction for themselves and the game industry as a whole. Will other magazines follow suit? Probably not… To do what EGM has done requires journalists to actually go out and talk to people (you know, like they’re supposed to) and the game news media is notoriously fucking lazy (and often pathetic with even simple to find knowledge).

I would like to see this taken even further though. Hsu’s hard hitting interview may have gotten him critically chewed out by fans and haters alike, but it’s something that is still missing from video game journalism. Perhaps the sad truth is that the gaming magazines are all but slaves to the advertiser’s dollars, but I hope that’s not the case and we’ll soon see another gamer journalist take some real questions to their next interview with a Sony or Microsoft executive.

So, kudos to you EGM folks. If this trend continues I may continue my subscription (although I’m still annoyed about you tricking me into subscribing for an extra year). For anyone out there lamenting the state of video game journalism, take a look at this issue and let me know if you too are pleasantly surprised.

posted by CommanderHate at 10:54 pm  

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Braid is Out!
Download it on your Xbox 360

In case you hadn’t heard, Braid is available for purchasing on your Xbox 360. I can’t recommend this game enough. I have yet to play the release version, but if it’s anything like what I played a few months ago it is probably my pick for game of the year.

Though I am something of a puzzle nut, I think anyone can find a lot of enjoyment in Braid. Give it a try.

I’ll post a formal review after I’ve played through the release version. 😉

posted by CommanderHate at 9:33 am  

Powered by WordPress