As of the beginning of 2019, I have played multiple games that were experiments into the comercially dangerous zone of a slow-paced experiance. Some of those,
for instance Proteus, is balancing on the edge of even being a game – it’s more of
an experiance simulator than a game, a walking simulator without a clear goal.
Some of those are straight up movies with the “play next scene” button scatterd
all around the controller, like Heavy Rain or Dragon’s Lair.
A few years ago I got Red Dead Redemption from PS Plus on PS3. As I’ve been mostly broke then, and the only game capable device was the PS3, so paying a small fee for access to all those productions was the rare oppurtunity to play
some of the newer games out then. Some of the games on PS Plus were the
case of a rare gem, a forgotten perls (i.e. Scott Pilgrim vs World – If it wasn’t for
PS Plus I think I wouldn’t even hear about the thing existing). Also the
A-something titles were there.
By the way, isn’t it stupid that we call the production value of games by A-something? I don’t like that. It’s just like the batteries size – it wasn’t long ago “AAA” was the smallest rare thing in your stuff, now it’s the “AAAA”, and out there probably some evil masterming is plotting to make “AAAAA” so I can scream it out in a technical anger every time I’m trying to buy the damn things. And with games, I’m just as dazzled & confused as I am with those batteries. But while I can stick the batteries into the slot and check if that’s the case, I cannot easily
stick a game into the A-something slot or socket, nor does it have any significant
Red Dead Redemtpion 1 was the game where the fun wasn’t there. It was more like an endurance test on the player, who was dwelling deeper and deeper into
the westernish early XX century and into the madness of the story.
I cannot remember if I have finished RDR1. I do remember playing it for hours only to find myself tired as hell. I also cannot remember much about the game-
I do remember that noone liked the protagonist in-game, I do remember catching some animals, and I do remember some kind of a snake-oil salesman. Before playing RDR2, I’ve had to read the rest of the story on the wiki, as the game
bored me so much that the story slipped from my mind, as unremarkable.
Unremarkable is not a word I’d spit out in the case of a game made by Rockstar.
Their games since GTA3 had the tendency to deliver “the new something”.
GTA3 was the first serious police-car sandbox in 3D. Vice City is just Vice City, and Vice City is the hyper-romanticized nostalgic 80s postcard, coated with cocaine
and fresh sweat of the floral hawaii shirts. San Andreas was the game where you had the feeling that basically anything can be done out there – you didn’t just get one game in the box, but toys to be played with. GTA IV had a meaningful commentary on what it’s like to imigrate to US and why it sucks. GTA V was there to satisfy all the people with different play styles, and had an interesting case of in-game menu done with a phone. Manhunt (1&2) just looked like the designers had tried to make the most gore-ish game ever. Hell, even their Table Tenis game was made cause they’ve wanted to showcase how good their new RAGE engine is.
And yet, RDR1 was unremarable for me. Yet I’ve jumped straight onto the hype train of buying RDR2 the weekend it released, while being told “it’s sooo good” by multiple people. And the first weekend I’ve played the thing, it seemed to me that I wasn’t playing the game everyone else was playing. I got bored again, and quickly. The game tells you, during it’s bloody long introduction (which is about 10 hours) that it doesn’t want to be played.
What do I mean by “it doesn’t want to be played”, you ask? It’s not like the game
has a popup telling you “TIME EXCEEDED” or something. It’s more of a feeling, that you’ve had enough for today – or even maybe for at least a month. There are multiple games out there without such a flaw – games that can be played with no end while maintaining the player being sticked directly to the damn screen – main RPG Pokemon series here is the best example – I’ve put about 80 hours straight into each game at least, most of which was during the very first week of playtrough.
So yes, RDR2 is a game that doesn’t want to be played by my terms. It also lives on the false promise of a sandbox, which isn’t really a sandbox – you’re greeted with
QTE everywhere, and some of the time during missions you’re encouraged to turn on a “movie mode”. The shooting inbetween all that isn’t really a challange,
but “lock onto a baddie and shoot and repeat” thing. So… RDR2 is closer to being a Heavy Rain / Dragon’s Lair clone for me rather than being a sandbox like Saints Row 3/4. At least that’s what the game is about for the first 30-50 hours of extremely boring 4 chapters – a movie. But while Heavy Rain was more of an “on the track” experiance, RDR2 gives you some degree of freedom… and as soon as you got a taste for it, you’re punished – I’ve had mutiple situations where my group of outlaws was running for their lives while I’ve tried to shoot the pursuers – and invent a plan on the go -only to die or end the mission cause I hadn’t hidden behind the rock the designers intended me to hide behind.
Here I’d like to make a quick break. Do you happen to know what a bad game is?
How one would point out a bad game? It’s the same problem as with many-A games. What is the thing that shows – hey, it’s an universally bad game?
For me that would be the related to the game itself – is the executed idea executed half-assedly? Is the game world presented in such a way that I can properly interact with it? Those are the questions I’d rise – those are the questions one would rise when asking about the game being finished as a product – and I’m surely not the only one with such conclusions as to overall game “bad” aspect:
And you know what? RDR2 has multiple problems with its controlls. A load of times I’ve tried to talk with someone in-game, and instead of talking I’ve shot them directly in the face with a shotgun. And while you could argue that’s some sort of a next level of immersion – you’re a mad outlaw here after all, that could happen – such an explanation doesn’t cut it in case of collision problems. Yes, the
game is riddled with a f*ckload of them. I’ve been stuck in a rock, couldn’t jump on a little ledge, and had my horse spinning on a wooden fence.
But those are mostly techinal issues, not ones concerning the design. And somewhat, I’m a sort of game maker myself. The last thing I do while I try to push out games during jams is music and sounds – they’re the last thing to do, but without them the game feels empty, unfinished of sorts. I’m not the guy that fancies some sort of “delightfully empty” experiances. I’m the guy that’d swallow the Dragon Quest VIII’s symphonic score deep-throat, any time. That’s why I felt that Zelda Breath of The Wild was an unfinished piece of art – it felt like a prototype of game, something that will be good in 30 monthly updates (but Nintendo stopped doing anything with the game after 2 DLCs. Talk about a waste of potential!). And you know what? RDR2 is in a lot of cases silent. So, to conclude: It doesn’t even try to stimulate me with the cheapest, oldest trick in the book – playing music while I play!
So, would I recommend RDR2 to anyone? Let’s think:
Do you like exploration? The world has nothing remarable or especially rewarding that comes out of exploration.
Do you like killing everyone? Then hey, the missions force you to kill in some sort of a pre-determined time frame, so you’re not free here to go full psycho.
Do you like socializing? Then the protagonist constantly will be about “AAA FOGGGET ABOUT IT” type, whom seen everything and wants to be left alone.
Do you want to achieve something? Then this game tries to discourage you from achieving anything at all, showing that the world around the gang is going straight to the brown hell of guano.
And finally, do you like having fun? Cause this game is not fun. This is “old grumpy men doing grumpy old man things in XIX century”.
Should you play this? No. If you want to spend a weekend playing something, try Far Cry 5 instead. If you want to watch a western movie, watch a western movie.
At least you won’t spend a weekend trying to find a reason why’d you even drop the cash for Red Dead Boredness 2.
…recently I’ve come back to the town I grew up in.
My family still lives there. Or at least, a part of it.
When I was a teen I always went out for a walk and stumbled upon someone who was actually throwing a party. It was crazy. I could just walk out any time I wanted and there was something to do at least.
Not now. I know it’s easter time, but hey. There’s nothing to do in my home town. Shops got closed. Cafeterias are closed. Bars are nonexistent. Cinema doesn’t operate. Maybe I could meet someone, stumble upon a friend on street? Lol nope. Nobody to be seen anywhere. Just like a ghost town.
Actually, my home town would be perfect for zombie-themed easter european larp. Actually it sorta feels like it, as the most common people – rarely seen – are dirty drunkards.
From a game design perspective, if I were to gamify my town, it would be a survival experiance for sure, similar to “lost in blue” games (kind of). The goal of the game would be to earn money to buy a ticket out of this town. It’d be one of the most depressing and boring experiances known to man.
Or I could spice it up a bit with excitement, and make it an FPA game, just like an antichamber, but in greyish reality of eastern europe – where the space is arranged in an non-euclidean way, so you always do get lost in the post-soviet reality.
Or I could make a play on one of zelda mechanics- the classic exchange chain-but instead of exchanging stuff, you’d exchange alcohol to the point where you get a ticket out of town.
Thinking all about that made me realize-I subconsciously don’t really want to be in my home town.
The year is 2006. I’m playing the newly released Outrun 2006 C2C on PS2. I did read about that game in a magazine, and realized that, after playing some Outrun on my GBA (it was on Sega Arcade Classic cartridge, along with Super Hang-On, Space Harrier, and After Burner) I want to play the “second” game.
The year is 2016. I now own a cheap Windows tablet that is always charged up and has a Bluetooth controller wrapped around it. And the only program on that tablet? Outrun 2006 C2C.
If you’ll gonna get that game right anyway I need to tell you first: It’s nowhere to be seen now. You cannot just buy this game as a download online. It’s not that easy. Sega’s deal with Ferrari has run out, that’s why you’d need an used copy of the game to play it. And it almost have been always like that: for instance, it turned out, that Outrun C2C had a PS3/X360 version. It was taken down a month before I bought a PS3.
Also, If even you’re gonna play that game, you won’t fell what I feel about it. Most of you will get bored, cause the gameplay is not like a high-action burnout/nfs game, and those liking passive games won’t like it cause it requires some of your attention.
But those who will, are in for a treat.
This game somehow is still playable after all those hours I did spend playing it. And it is not uncovering any new cards, there is no “new, refreshing” content introduced to the game whatsoever. Bah, the options there are so limited that it’s almost pathethic-the cars cannot be customized, pimped, or riced in any way possible. There is no track editor. There’s basically no content looking from regular player point of view-just some skins and music tracks.
The music in this game is bad. I’d say It’s very bad, If I’d listen to it without the game, it’d make no sense. But just because of how the game is designed, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. One of the game modes, for instance, makes you avoid UFO abduction and dribbling a giant beach ball in order to impress a chick. It’s just bonkers on its own level. And I still find myself happily drifting along the seaside humming one of those music tracks.
And I didn’t know why. Nostalgia? Yeah, but how can I be nostalgic about such game?
And then I realized something. As now I’m also making games, I try also to keep looking how players react to whatever I make. Some of them won’t even play my games, cause they don’t have any usable devices for that purpose (we live in Post-PC era, remember? Noone has really usable gaming PC nowadays-or putting it more specifically, not in the real reachable achievable audience; also the PC installation process is tedious, comparing to easy one-click android installs).
While a barrier of starting any game you make is still there (because some games take too long to install to properly keep most humans interested), there’s also the “chillax” barrier. What’s that? That is the very same thing that atari did notice while developing atari mindlink. What was that? At one point in history, atari tried to make a mind controller for its games… But failed because players needed to focus on the game too much, resulting in brain over-usage.
And you know, we need to define here a few things: gaming is entertainment. Entertainment is there to make you relax. Overusing something to it’s maximum is called putting stress on something. Yep. Stress.
That barrier is, simply put, “I won’t play that game cause I need to relax, and that game was like full of stress”.
And so, It came to me: Outrun 2006 C2C is the perfect brain-idle game (at least for me). It’s not overly complicated. It doesn’t want you to get too tense, while remaining not boring. It just takes your soul to the land of relaxation and pleasantness. It doesn’t want to move your guts in any way, doesn’t want to stir up thoughts in your brain, doesn’t want to enhance your consciousness.
That’s why, If I was to leave any mark to this game, it’d be 10/10. It outgrew itself on me in so many ways, that it’s almost impossible to give it a lower mark.
So there are a few Youtubers I frequently watch-one of them being GradeAUnderA, who is a brillant guy shouting out his opinions about things. While this doesn’t sound like a new thing-nor an enojoyable one, he’s got a really nice voice and seems eloquent to a deegree where I just like hearing him out on things. Really, if you haven’t, go watch his works, you’ll gonna have a good time.
One of his videos I like.
But, while I like most of what he has to say, there is that one video that I’d like to talk about, that showed me some things need an explanation.
I feel there are some things here that need explaining.
So what is here to explaing? Why the video games industry goes so much into the “visual aspect” and not the “fun aspect”, cause it seems that mr Grade just didn’t get. And I’ll try to make it clear for anyone, with my little bit of game developing experiance I have.
First off, the comparasion of game graphics to how food smells is a bit innacurate. A more accurate comparasion,in my opinion, would be dating a woman basing on her looks. Why? Imagine an ugly woman and a neat-looking woman. You’d probably approach the prettier woman first, then maybe, if that woman is not ok, you’d try your best with the uglier one. The first aspect that did matter wasn’t how good she is or how could you spend your time with her. That’s how human brain works-it’s like a bee flying to the prettier image-and that’s pretty much why gaming industry has this infinite “looks race” of the best looking game so much-people will aproach your prettier game first.
Why does it matter that they approach you game first, and not the other? You see, those people are your customers. Every customer has a wallet-and those are finite in cash amounts. And you know, making games is business. That guy could spend his hard earned money on your game, but he won’t mostly-he’s gonna spend it on the game that looks nicer to him-which doesn’t give the developer money-which in turn makes him go out of making games. That’s why half a year before the game is released, it’s all around the media, like interwebz, to show that the title exists and you’d might wanna spend your cash on it, or pre-order it. That’s how the developer is sure to get the money they require to operate.
What could be done to make people care about a game that plays and doesn’t look ? Maybe the thing is a playable demo. Non-devs think that “just release a demo” is a quickie, like giving someone a sip of a coffee. Well, that’s a lot more complicated. Making a demo isn’t like “just take some of what you have and cut the rest”. If you want a good demonstration of your game, you have to prepare a release of the demo. That means debugging, building, cutting… a good demo could take even more than 2 weeks of work. 2 weeks! That time could have gone to polishing the main game.
So, It may seem that this whole “business” thing is some kind of evil monster that eats people and loots villages. Nope. That’s just like a hard RPG/strategy game, where one must try to get to live day by day-making games take a lot of effort, experiance, and gathered coins… I mean, money. And while some would like games to be a “charity” thing, that also *does* happen! There are countless games online to be played that are free (look at some of my games, they are not finished, I don’t see that they’re complete yet, I’d love to get some input on them, and I don’t require you to pay me), but people will complain that “this ain’t what they did mean” because they wanted the AAA market to be a charity/free type of market.
Ok, now it’s time to tell, why the hell there are so many AAA games released that are not finished, and have “day one patches”? Shouldn’t it be like, if they have so much money, they should be able to release a game without bugs, right? Again, it’s more complicated than that. First, Time equals money for the developer. They most likely don’t have the money on hands to spend, they get it from some kind of an investor, who would like to see the return for the game ASAP. That’s why the devs release the game when it at least, seems ready, and then when they recive additional funding, they fix the game.
Now, what has that whole bragging about AAA gaming to do with GradeA’s rant? It’s because to oppose that graphics in game matters, he has shown so called indie games. Indie games are titles made without a publisher or giant budget. They mostly aren’t made by a crowd of people-for instance, recent Witcher game took hundreds of people to complete, while minecraft was for months a one-man operation (with huge screwups, like the DDOS that Notch had to deal with-it was so bad that notch made the game free up until he fixes the DDOS damage). So, why big studios don’t work in small teams of people to deliver games? They do that(sometimes, for experimental work). But you’d also like to have to deliver something on a much bigger scale. Why? If you take risks with much bigger products, the return can get much bigger. It’s very similar to how Hollywood operates with movies vs how indies record they stuff for youtube – it’s the same medium, but much different scale: a big movie, with all-around marketing, that requires a lot of people to complete and hypes a lot of people, renders a lot more revenue than simple banner ads on youtube.
And you know what’s funny about that revenue thing? It’s not sure. It’s a huge risk. It’s basically a gamble. That’s why to not take extreme risks while building giant products, most gaming companies play it safe-a sequel to popular game is some sure money. A game similar to the other popular game, that plays mostly the same, is more safe than releasing a very experimental work (and that’s why we have so much same-ish FPS these days, sports games, car racers…).
So… I hope I made you, reader, a person who understands now better what’s going on inside games industry.
Hi there, interwebz stranger!
The name is Duobix, or more oficialy Mr.Rockgovsky. The story I’m gonna tell you works in mysteriously absurd ways. But never mind that.
Some time ago I decided that I want to make games. I was maybe sixteen then. I wanted to make a living out of it. I had made some mods for different games prior to that decision, most for games I don’t exactly remember now (but I’m sure I gotta revisit some of them sometime).
The dream of making games was there, but I couldn’t just put it out loud to people. Somehow, when talking to adults, or to other teens, it seemed like I could have been joking.
But the year was 2008. That year may seem like nothing to most of you. To me that date is the birthdate of indie gaming as an actual thing, when people started to belive that a small group of people could create a very good game. It was probably the first time ever that game developers weren’t some people nobody knew, they were there, you could talk to them. And that’s because things like twitter and tig were there. It was all great.
And my idea was, that if some people could do that, so could I. But I was pretty much clueless. How do I get things on screen? How do I make it all work? How do I make a good game?
Answering those question takes years. And it took me years to be able to make a fully playable game. By writing my experiances, I hope I’ll help someone else with their dreams, not only those dreaming of making games, but also those with their own, very personal nightly visions.
To test myself-how good I am at the moment-I often visit/take part in events called game jams. And on this blog, I’ll be covering my experiances from them, and also my experiance from beyond the gamejams-as if what has happened to some of my games.