May 2010

28
May
2010

Time Passing

Posted by Cha

If there's one thing that annoys me more than fishing mini-games, it's game mechanics based on real-time instead of game-time.

Having worked through at least some of my Monster Hunter Tri obsession, I returned to Nier this week. Of course, my carefully laid out plants had withered and died while I was away. There is no real need for this. Nothing else in game changes while it's turned off. No one dies because I'm not there to save them, and no one gets annoyed when I leave their errands incomplete for weeks or months. It doesn't really make sense for just one element of a simulation to keep going while the simulation is turned off. It's just a cheap trick to keep me playing, and I don't appreciate it.

I enjoy games, and I hope they can enrich life. But I don't want them to dictate to me how I should spend my time. As someone who often flits between a few games at a time, I don't understand why I should be punished for my preferred gaming behaviour.

26
May
2010

Game Fears

Posted by Cha

Over-developed anxiety can have some odd side-effects. Normally, I'm most anxious about social situations and my issues are not too obvious in other contexts. But sometimes I do have anxiety spill over into gaming, in the form of unreasonable fear of character death.

Games are often designed to build tension, and that works incredibly well on me. It's taken me a long time to really feel capable and willing to play some game genres. I remember trying a demo of Unreal briefly in high school, which put me off just with atmosphere and shock tactics before I even reached the first enemy. I thought escaping the crashed prison ship was cool and interesting, I just couldn't quite overcome my own apprehension.

23
May
2010

Still Here

Posted by Cha

There is a good reason for how quiet I've been this week, I promise. More on that soon.

I visited some friends yesterday to try out some Band Hero. I have managed to avoid the rhythm game trend thus far and so I'm a bit out of my depth with them. I would have expected a party game to be a bit more accessible for a newcomer like me, though I can certainly see the fun that could be had with enough time to get the hang of things. I wasn't feeling brave enough for singing, and the guitar felt slightly awkward in my little hands. I probably had the best time on drums, but I was keeping to beginner mode where it doesn't matter at all which drum I hit. Some things really do bring out the newbie in me.

15
May
2010

Obsession

Posted by Cha

Monster Hunter Tri has been interfering with my writing, my work, my personal hygiene... okay, maybe not quite that extreme. There is a point, though, where games become something like obsession for me. I think it's always been that way.

As a kid, I grew up without a console in the house, and we didn't get our first PC until I was in high school. But I have a good memories of visting and playing Sonic the Hedgehog with my neighbours and sister. We did get obsessive about it, as was pretty much required to finish games then. I lacked experience, and so spent a lot of time watching rather than playing. But I remained very much involved.

We sat for many hours, engrossed and determined to progress in spite of the lack of save files. If you watched us you may have considered us zombies, with our eyes unhealthily glued to the screen.

15
May
2010

The Epic Win

Posted by Cha

I've been very excited about the upcoming release of Rebecca Mayes' first album "The Epic Win". The official release date is May 28th, but it is already available for download. Check out her videos on the Escapist for an idea of what to expect.

I've spoken before about how I wish more people would discuss games from their unique viewpoint. It's difficult to think of a better example. From game reviews to discussions of game culture in general, Rebecca Mayes unashamedly puts forward her own perspective. I find her vision valuable and inspiring.

04
May
2010

I'm a Hunter

Posted by Cha

Monster Hunter Tri is currently dominating my play time. This is no real surprise, as I love Freedom 2 and Freedom Unite on PSP, and have been anticipating this instalment for some time.

I'm used to reviews of Monster Hunter games being faintly depressing reading. Many of them mention its popularity in Japan, and then go on to complain about design flaws that make it inaccessible to a western audience. It gives the impression that the unenlightened Japanese must all somehow like badly designed games, while "we" know better. Meanwhile, some fans get angry and complain the reviewer doesn't know what they are talking about, and lacks the skill to be a hunter.... only using angrier language.

03
May
2010

Character Design in Nier

Posted by Cha

Nier brings up some interesting thoughts about character design. I imagine game designers are in a slightly difficult position in this regard. If they keep to the standard formulas they may be accused of being generic and promoting inappropriate gender stereotypes. But as soon as they try something different the "weirdness" of a game's characters may reduce its popularity. I happen to like weirdness, but my opinion doesn't have much relevance to financial success or failure.

Nier actually manages to fall into both of these categories at once, with an odd mixture of original and generic. It is not exactly an achievement I admire, but I do find it fascinating.

01
May
2010

Nier: Initial Impressions

Posted by Cha

The other game I indulged in over the ANCAC Day long weekend was Nier. I doubt it's going to be a widely popular game, but I like it.

The game begins in a decaying city in the year 2049. Our protagonist is desperately trying to defend his sick daughter. It felt rather poignant to me, and I found myself caring about their plight. Wielding a length of pipe and fighting wave after wave of monsters in the snow, I felt a bit like I was experiencing a cross between Silent Hill and God of War.