Earlier this week, Liore posted a guest post that I wrote for her on DLC and why it is dumb and potentially unhealthy. I don’t know that there are a lot of people that read this blog but don’t follow hers, but on the generous assumption that there are, you should check it out.
I read this article on Gamasutra today, and it follows up this one on Destructoid. They both make a similar case to my post on Learning the Language about why things like “Easy Mode” are not actually bad. I think it’s important to remember that, for a lot of us, we grew up learning this stuff. And yes, the number of people who have played games is ever-increasing. But if we really want this passion of ours to be taken seriously – to be able to talk about it publicly without the silly nerd-shame that is so easy to feel – we need to be able to share actual games with other people. This was the magic of the Wii, and being able to play things like Wii Sports and Tiger Woods with my dad was awesome. Even if he never picks up a long-form RPG or joins me in the Borderlands, I think he has a better appreciation for why I might actually find these things fun. And that’s awesome.
Likewise, being able to hand over Spec Ops: The Line or Bioshock: Infinite to a friend of mine that only plays games occasionally – but really appreciates film and storytelling – would be great! I don’t really feel like we’re there, yet, but I’d love to get there. The more I think about this, the more I appreciate things like Twitch TV or Let’s Plays. Even if I don’t personally love watching other people play through a game (mostly because I want to jump in and do it myself because they are clearly making the wrong choices), I think that having those types of things available to people is awesome. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to push through the language barriers that exist. There are already people doing things like making “movie” versions. This is something I would be able to share with non-gamers (even if it’s a little long). And then we could all talk about Bioshock.
Speaking of which, I played through Bioshock Infinite over the last couple weeks. I really enjoyed it! And, more importantly, I keep thinking and reading about it. And not in the SimCity schadenfreude sort of way (oh god it is horrible). I don’t want to talk about specifics just yet, but I think we are planning a spoiler-heavy podcast discussion soon. Many things will be said then, and possibly I will write something up afterwards. Until then, this post is an interesting spoiler-free discussion (the comments are not spoiler-free – DO NOT SEEK THE COMMENTS).
That said, this is the sort of thing that made me love the game visually:
Why yes, that is a George Washington robot with a machine gun.
So, first things first, the podcast is coming up on its one-year anniversary! To celebrate (and also because some WoW guildies, Liore and I were going to be there, anyway), we will be doing a live podcast from the Aria in Las Vegas on Saturday, April 20 at 2PM! Hooray! And party hats! Definitely tune in, because I am sure something fun will happen. At least, it will be fun for us. Hopefully, Arolaide will be able to make it by interweb phone.
Second things second, I am sad that I haven’t written in a while! I had a goal of making at least one post a week this year, and I have clearly fallen behind that goal. Hopefully, I haven’t lost you guys, since infrequent updates are the bane of bloggers in a world where Google thinks that RSS feeds are lame. But I’ll assume that I haven’t, because, afterall, we all know that Google is wrong. The other thing we all know, is that it would be totally awesome if I was able to get a job that paid me $1.03 million a year for running the company that was about to be voted Worst Company in America for the second year, running. Seriously, it wouldn’t even be that hard to turn them around! I’d just, you know, not be a total asshole who builds my business around shitting on my customers and rejecting risk-taking and innovation. But hey, what do I know? I only play the games and/or yell about them on the internet. (Also, if you haven’t, go read Aro’s post on SWG and its free-to-play implementation. Because it’s dead on.)
But enough about stupid stuff. Because today was supposed to be a happy occasion! Look, here’s what’s important. The last few weeks have been a pretty awesome time games-wise for me. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been writing – but probably it’s because I’m lazy. I’ve played through the new God of War: Ascension, I’ve played yet-more Borderlands 2 (since the new level-cap increase and playthrough DLC dropped yesterday), Tomb Raider has been causing the internet to pour out some simultaneously horrible and heartwarming stories (and is sitting on my desk waiting for me), and Bioshock Infinite appears to have broken the ratings meter (I swear I will eventually get to this).
Even with all of those things to talk about, I have decided to go in another direction. Yesterday (although, also, sort of, on Monday), Trion released the game-half of Defiance – it’s new hybrid shooter MMO/SyFy network television show. The show, itself, premiere’s on April 15th, and the trailers all look really fun! People that have seen the pilot are up on it, and I can always go for some relatively cheesy sci-fi, if that’s what this turns out to be. The background is something like… Aliens came to Earth, but they weren’t necessarily aggressive. However, some Bad Shit™ went down, and there was a big war and now the Humans and Irathient (one of the Alien races) are surviving together in a post-apocalyptic deathscape. Also, there are ginormous head-crab looking things that want to eat you. And you can drive around in a Mad Max-style DODGE CHALLENGER or on an ATV or whatever.
It really doesn’t matter, because the game is a ton of fun. At least, from the few hours I played in beta and over the last day and a half. I have no idea what was really going on, except that I picked one of four primary skills (Cloak, Decoy, Overload and Blitz) and then just started sticking points in a couple of surrounding boxes that seemed fun. There do not appear to be any classes, at all – everyone gets to make the same choices from the same palette and the initial skill choice just indicates where you start. It’s very much like the FF VIII skill tree thing, if you guys remember that. It looks like, eventually, everyone will have all the options available to them, and respecs are reasonably affordable. You can also build out loadouts (which include sets of guns/shield/grenades, and maybe skills?) and swap between them fairly easily. Honestly, I don’t know that much at this point, but I also don’t care.
My plan was to just post a bunch of screenshots here and talk about the awesome hardcore human dude I made and the badass Irathient that Telaan made, but all of my screenshots were instead just black images. Shtako!
Instead, I’ll just leave you with an official screenshot or two, and this general description of how my evening went:
Arkfall events are like Rifts!
Start out with a fun cutscene in which an angry space captain and a weasely-seeming corporate scientist (who I apparently work for?) are yelling about who is actually in charge of this mission. Shit goes down, and I find myself disoriented on the ground somewhere near Mt Tamalpais (hey, I live sort of near there – also, there is a ridiculously good cheese named after it).
Cortana EDI My EGO implant talks to me and teaches me some stuff, but mostly there are mutants and bugs to shoot. I run around and find the space captain and a badass Irathient woman who gives no fucks, get an ATV, see a giant red indicator on my minimap, follow it and SHOOT GIGANTIC HELLBUGS (pictured above) FOR AN HOUR. Seriously, it was awesome.
Is anyone else playing? There are no official servers in the game – apparently, you are just sort of put in the same phase with your friends/guildmates on an ad hoc basis (and can travel to them) – so not even that amount of coordination is needed. Supposedly the first couple weeks in-game are going to have things that lead directly into the first episode of the show, so join up and shoot things if you’re so inclined! Cause first impressions are that this game is going to be fun, and Trion has proven to me their ability to rapidly fix any issues that are currently hanging around.