Dear Candy Crush Saga,
God damn you.
God damn you for all the times I’ve gotten ready to go out to the store and found my wife still in bed, twiddling away at another one of your levels.
God damn you for all the phone calls I’ve had to make blaming my tardiness on traffic, while the real cause was your timer coming up at the worst possible time.
God damn you for every time I’ve had to discreetly nudge my wife under the table so that she’ll put you away and actually engage in the conversation.
But most of all, god damn you for making me realize how terrible it must have been to live with me while I was playing World of Warcraft.
(Quick note: I haven’t stopped writing, I just haven’t done much here lately. I’ve been writing a lot over at Pixels or Death recently, but I hope to pick up this blog again soon.)
Lots of people have said some pretty amazing things about Bioshock Infinite already, most of which sync up pretty well with my feelings about the game. Rather than waste thirty minutes of your life re-treading that ground, I’m going to share how I feel about the game through ten screenshots I took while playing it.
Before I begin, I only have one thing to say about the game: I would like them to patch in the ability to holster your weapon, because it keeps getting in the way of the wonderful world Irrational has created.
And yes, there are spoilers in this post, but if you haven’t beaten the game yet, you should be doing that instead.
Cinematic trailers can be a powerful tool. Properly used, they can establish the tone of your game long before you have a working engine or any real gameplay footage. It’s an opportunity to give potential players a look into how you view the game, the kind of experience you’re hoping to capture. It’s the developer equivalent of what you saw in your head while playing with action figures as a kid.
On the other hand, cinematic trailers can also be a colossal waste of money and time. Sometimes they end up as little more than very expensive examples of how impressive your CGI team is, which is awesome…if you’re making an animated film.
The Elder Scrolls Online is not an animated film. If it was, I’d totally go see it. The facial animations in this trailer are downright stunning, so much so that when I first saw a still of it, I could’ve sworn Bethesda had jumped the shark and made a live-action trailer. It’s that good. But is it a good trailer for a MMORPG?
I want you to try an experiment. Watch the above trailer and then, right as it fades out, pause the video and ask yourself: What game did I just see a trailer for?
If you answered Lord of the Rings, you wouldn’t be alone. If you said something about Forgotten Realms, then good for you, but it could use more Tarrasque.
One of the arguments I’ve seen again and again regarding the current debate over violent video games (and all media really) has been that parents are to blame. Parents, who are the gatekeepers of culture and morality for their children, should be paying more attention to what their kids are doing. They should be doling out games, movies, comic books, and albums based on whether or not their child can handle the mature themes within. Then, conversation! It’s what parents do right?
Before I get to shouting, I want to say that in a perfect world I fully agree with this. My parents were harsh arbitrators of content while I was growing up, going so far as to have lengthy discussions following particularly intense episodes of Step by Step or Full House (remember when DJ developed an eating disorder? Crazy shit!). Growing up I only played Doom once, when my father snuck home a set of 10 3 ½’ disks and forswore me to secrecy, threatening the removal of all things electronic should my mother discover. By the time I was 16, I had only seen one episode of Tales from the Crypt, had only just recently had Image comics cleared for consumption, and had lost more than one White Zombie CD to my father’s overzealous ears.
I firmly believe that my ability to rationally approach media has a lot to do with their controlling grasp.
That said, my parents were really fucking good parents. The vast majority of parents are not as good as they were. I got lucky as hell to have two loving, attentive, and patient individuals who didn’t leave my hyperactive ass to die on a cold hill somewhere. They went above and beyond in doing their job. As a public high school teacher, I often see the opposite of this.
I’m not offended because it’s gross, because it’s the kind of thing that you might find in your creepy neighbor’s fridge “as a trial run”, or even because it’s really poor quality and will most likely ship with one boob chipped off or with a rib missing. Those are all reasons to be pissed off about this for sure, but that’s not what’s grinding my gears. The very idea that somebody out there decided that this is what I need in my life is what bothers me.
If you’re not already familiar, the European only special edition of the forthcoming sequel Dead Island Riptide is planning to include, among a bevy of more traditional offerings, a gory bust of a bikini clad woman. When I say bust, I mean that in the most literal way possible, as that’s pretty much all that’s left. Head and arms removed, this is just a torso with cleavage perfectly intact. It’s the kind of thing you display in your cubicle shortly before security escorts you out in handcuffs.
I don’t know how the decision was made to produce this. What cackling madman greenlit this thing? Through the entire process, through all the mock designs and PR hype, all the desks this thing graced, there had to have been enough people who believed in this thing to make it happen. People who, with at least some semblance of dignity, honestly thought that I would want to own this, that I may even put it on my mantle as a “discerning zombie gamer” who seeks awkward conversations with my parents when they come to visit.
The other day I told my journalism class that the best writers are the most avid readers. It’s true. Being able to participate, even silently, in the discourse of your peers (and those far above you) is one of the best ways to improve your craft as a writer. Looking at what people do, how they do it, and then shamelessly imitating it is a time honored tradition among those stupid enough to express themselves using written language.
It can be a tricky thing though. Many the fledgling author has dropped their quill in horror at the very thought of Steinbeck’s sweeping epics or Hemingway’s staccato prose. Being able to look upon such great works and not be blinded can be difficult at best, career ending at worst. Even the best of us find ourselves cast into the emerald pit of envy while reading something amazing, our mouth agape at the very idea that we could ever match such brilliance.
For me, there are five concrete stages I go through when I read something really good on the internet, no matter the source.
Stage 1: Rumination
I always read it a second time, sometimes even a third depending on length and complexity. It’s rare that my manic neurons are able to grasp onto something fully with just one pass, so subsequent viewings are practically mandatory. This is often how I realize that something I’m reading is that good, I find myself scrolling back up to the top as soon as I finish.
This Tuesday, January 15th, will see the release of the English translation of Corpse Party: Book of Shadows over the North American PSN Store for $19.99. According to the US Playstation blog, a European release should follow shortly thereafter, giving us all plenty of time to dust off our PSPs and find the chargers.
Book of Shadows is the followup to 2011′s Blood Covered Repeated Fear, which told the story of the very haunted Heavenly Host Elementary School. A group of teenagers, up to some good old fashioned metaphysical fun, end up trapped in a series of disturbing versions of the place, hunted by a variety of malevolent spirits. In my review back in June I found it to be an overall satisfying experience, with amazing sound and some truly gruesome death sequences that was hampered by obtuse puzzle pacing.
Continuing in a similar vein to the first game, Book of Shadows expands on the various stories from the original game, with each chapter telling an entirely separate tale about the cast from the first game. Over on the official Sony blog, they’ve got a short summary of what you can expect from each of the game’s seven chapters.
The game was originally released in Japan on September 1st, 2011, but is only now getting an official English translation. The entire Corpse Party series has quite a following in Japan, with four different manga series and two short animated series. Perhaps the most hilarious use of the franchise is the creation of a romantic comedy game focusing on a birthday party for the series central spook Sachiko. Seriously.
Follow after the bump for the launch trailer.