Saturday, March 31, 2012


I think I have already talked about not letting others opinions (some call them 'reviews', for reasons only them know) privy yourself from enjoying something. People are all different and what is the trash for some can be the treasure for others. And today is another day I discovered how true this is.

I avoided buying Ace Combat: Assault Horizon at launch because of the lukewarm (at best) reception by gamers. Many complaining it is so far from the other Ace Combat games that it is not Ace Combat (may be true) and therefore unworthy playing. That it is full of quick time events and segments were you don't fly a jet. That is not a very good game.

Man, how I am happy to be able to buy it! It is a great game! I am having a blast in each mission, even the chopper ones! They are not as exciting as the jet missions, sure, but they are nice too. The quick time events, all of them, are not 'fail or die' QTE, and have no interference in the game at all. It is not also a 'hand holder', you need to be in your toes all the time and have lots of ability to thrive (sure, not the same level of skill a realistic simulator would require). The graphics are gorgeous. The satisfaction of seeing your F-14 destructing a MiG-29 is incredible.

I am glad to have given a chance for this game. And I paid half the price for a brand new copy. So, I tell you: do not let other people's opinion stop you from giving anything, from food to movies to games, a chance. Sure, you can regret it, but you may regret even more for not giving it a chance and discover you missed a great thing because others told you to.

Movies Can Get Away With That?

The double standard between game violence and movie violence is easier to understand when you remember that several networks owns movie studios and they will do anything to protect their profit sources from interference. The funny thing is that I know way more movies with gratuitous gore and violence than games doing the same.

But movies don't have just the backup of the news networks. They also have the backup of the people who do the movies. Actors, directors, producers, all of those people will use their fame to protect their own jobs from any attempt of external control. And we must admit that Shigeru Miyamoto is not as popular as Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie.

Since Final Destination the number of movies whose main selling point is the creative and gore of their deaths raised. Games didn't seem to have followed the trend, which is good. Even Mortal Kombat don't see to be as creative and unnecessary as certain movies.

I am not against violence in movies or games. Neither I am against those gore fest movies. I am against censorship. But it trouble me a bit when I see movies who are violent for the sake of violent being so popular this days. I hope it is just me seeing to much in  the matter.

Because it is fucking troublesome to see someone saying how cool was that beheading.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Food for the Soul

You can always count with the porn industry to be creative with otherwise common items.

Also, I want the next game in the From Software Soul Series to be called Bacon Souls. Everybody (except Jews and Muslims, probably) loves bacon. So, there is no way to go wrong with that.

Foods had a more relevant role in older games. It was the go to when you needed some way to replenish your health. I mean, sure, the chicken leg was inside a barrel/mail box/trash can or fell from the pockets of the guys who were trying to kill you. But it was probably tasty. Maybe...

Buying Your Way to Victory

In the last update for Battlefield 3, some new pieces of DLC is available. They are the Shortcut Packs, that allows the players to unlock all weapons for certain kits (or all of them), by paying for the DLC code, instead of playing their way to unlock them. At first, I was a bid dismayed for this. It meant that people with enough money can just start the game with all the cool stuff, while the poor ones needs to work their ass to get them.

But them I remembered that in a game like BF3 the weapons you have doesn't matter, but the skill you have with them. Many times I killed opponents with way better levels than me because I was clever or just a better player than them. There is no super weapon in the game that allow players to be vastly superior than you, and usually when there is a weapon somewhat better, they just nerf it to be not an unfair advantage to it.

I think there is no problem in selling early access to weapons and other game items as long as other players can have access in-game and that this items don't give any unfair advantage to opposing players. For example, if it was a case of selling a car in a racing game, but this car being so much better than the free cars, that anyone with the DLC car cannot be beaten in a race except for people with the same car. In this case I am against this kind of DLC.

But I don't like the 'unlock within time' system too. It gives and advantage for people with more time to play than others. So, in a week, someone who can play all day all week will have unlocked way more than someone who can only play a few hours during weekends.

I prefer a system where everything are available from the beginning, you just need to spent in-game money you receive to buy them. So, if you are looking for that sniper rifle who looks so cool, you don't need to play for 50 hours just to finally have it. You buy it and start right away. If you want to test other rifles, you just need to play the game and keep buying them until you find the one you like most.

I don't know about others, but it does not make sense to me to play games just to unlock things. I know it is nice to do it, but I think a game must be more than hoarding items. It must be about the enjoyment of playing the game, not about how many virtual items you have.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Don't Get It

As I said before, I am not a fan of Legend of Zelda. It is not that I think the games are bad, I just fail to see what people like about it. Wait, scrap that. There is nothing wrong with me or with other people. We have all the right to like or dislike anything.

I was reading some comments in this VG24/7 article an crossed over someone saying that if you do no like Journey, you just don't get it. I disagree. You may just don't like it. This sentence, the 'you don't get it' is full of arrogance. I may have used it before, so I ask forgiveness. Now I understand I was wrong in using it. Because this sentence imply that the one using it is more intelligent or clever or superior in some form to the recipient of such phrase.

But that is far from true. People are different. We all have grown in different houses, neighborhoods, countries and even in different decades. So, we all have grown with different experiences, values and influences. It is because we cannot demand of other to have the same experiences that we cannot demand they also have the same understanding we had about something.

We can tell our own experiences and perceptions, yes. But what we perceive and experience is not an isolated event. It is consequence of the way we grown, learn and analyze. It is not something we can pass on other peoples easily. And just saying 'you don't get it' hardly helps.

Expecting people so different from yourself to experience something, to have the same feelings and reactions as you is naive at best and arrogant at worst. It is sometimes just an attempt to feel superior against other person, claiming you may have some higher mind and that inferior beings cannot enjoy what you enjoy.

That is not the case. sometimes people are just different and genuinely don't have the same understanding others may have. It is fine to other people to not 'get it'. It is fine to you to 'not get it'. But belittling people for not liking what you like just make you a douche.

Or maybe you just don't get it.

Dumbed Down or More Accessible?

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is a very divisive game. Long time fans of the series accused it of being a dumbed down version, made to appeal to the Call of Duty audience. I never have being a fan of the series, so I liked the demo a lot and I will buy a copy for me as soon as I find one. The demo was very fun and exciting, and being able to feel like an ace instead of needing to be one to thrive in the game is very good.

Simulators are trick business. The fans of the genre want the most realistic experience possible without needing to have access to fighter jets and choppers. But the size of such an audience is not that big. Simulators require training and skill before you can be good at it. So, what do gamers who don`t have the skills or are just starting in those games can do?

Arcade style games are they solution. Instead of being constant punished by their inexperience or lack of skill, they still can enjoy the games and feel like an ace in those games. So, of course, they will go toward games with a better learning curve for them and that reward they more often than a simulator would. And of course, those are a bigger audience than the simulators fans.

So, game companies know that games who are easier to learn and play will sell more than hardcore simulators that demand time and dedication. Therefore they will seek this audience more often. I agree that Namco would have done better if Assault Horizon didn't had the Ace Combat moniker, since it would not make the old time fans feels 'cheated' because the developer decided to make the game more accessible and appealing to a broader audience.

But what those fans, and many gaming fans seems to forgotten is that not everyone is experienced and skilled. Many people seem to not want newcomers to games, feeling like they are the only ones deserving to be gamers and that no one is allowed to enter their precious private party.

Of course, the other hand on this matter is that developers must take care of those fans too. But it is not by only looking at old fans and forgetting to attract newer ones. Making to game series, one for the simulator fans and other to attract new ones is the challenge here. New fans will become old fans and wanting to try the more realistic and challenging games.

Dumbing down is two words thrown rather freely around the community. It is rarely the case. I think. I would only consider dumbing down if this meant an auto-win mode, where no matter the lack of skill of a player he would finish games without doing more than holding the controller.

But we must always remember that none of us, gamers with years of experience, started with mad skills from start. We were newcomers once and prone to mistake. And denying the chance for a new audience to enjoy games feels just wrong.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What I Like and Dislike About Next PlayStation Rumors

So, rumors about Sony next console gained new force today, with this new one. It seems that it will be powerful enough to do 4 times the 1080p resolution, will have Blu-ray, AMD processors and anti-used games systems. It is code-named Orbis. I like the code-name, and hope that the PlayStation Orbis to be a thing. And here is what I like about it:

- No fancy chipsets: It is good for players because it is good for developers. It means that it will be easier to code for it and so multiplatform titles should not suffer in the Orbis as it was common in the PS3, and likely will reduce development costs;

- Blu-ray is still there: Good for players who don't have fast broadband connection, as it means we still will be able to just go to a store and buy our games. and I hope they put a really fast drive this time;

- No PS3 compatibility: OK, I know a lot of people see this as a negative. But if I really want to keep playing PS3 games, I will just keep my PS3. This is good news because it means that they can have a starter price for the Orbis lower than the PS3 had, as it will not have the Cell processor in it, basically turning it in two consoles and priced as such. And cheap consoles from start means better sales and more games in long term.

And the one thing I hate about this rumor:

- Anti-used games systems: Apparently, if this rumor is true, once you started the game on your console, the disc will be locked to the PSN account that it run first. It is stupid, as it will do more harm than good. It have a good chance to create bothering and unnecessary extra steps to play the damn games. I doubt it will help to sell more games and I predict that this will be hacked in weeks.

Now, if they do just the second part, than this can turn to be a good thing. if they allow us to optionally download a digital copy of the game we bought in-disc, then locking the disc, I am all for it. The disc can be stored as a back-up copy, and when you decide to sell the disc, you would need to uninstall the digital copy first. In this case it can be a win-win situation.

But if they really do anything to kill the used market like that, then I doubt it will be a success. I might even buy a damn Wii-u (hahahaahahaha), if the thing allow me to play used games. You heard me, Microsoft and Sony? I will not buy your damn machine if you use any anti-used game system! Scrap that and give me the rest and we can talk.

7 Best Games I Played this Generation and the Lessons they can Teach to other Games

This generation of game consoles is coming to an end. Maybe we still have two or three years of games, but as soon as the next gen strikes, the great games will become rarer. So, this is the best games I have played this generation till now and what lessons they can teach to developers. I will not try to say why I think they are the best, as it is something personal. Let's start with:

What Uncharted 2 can teach developers? That your characters matter. Uncharted would not be as good as it is if the characters were not so easy to like and to root for. Drake is not just a badass as many other characters. He is funny and intelligent, while he recognizes the ridiculous situations we got himself into. And Sully and Elena are also great. Creating a memorable cast is important today. Making them believable and lovable is as important as making them awesome.

Ok, I am kinda cheating here. Persona 3 is a PS2 game, but since the best version is a PSP game, I will count as this generation. This game shows that you don't need to westernize a Japanese game to it be great. In fact, in addition to the Yakuza games, it shows that you can embrace the Japanese culture and still deliver a great game, with an amazing story and cast. Atlus, where is my Persona 5?

You can be creative with old tricks. That is what Portal 2 do. It is in 1st person view, like so many FPS, but it uses so many creative ways to turn around conventions and deliver such unique experience. The clever monologues just add flavor to a brilliant use of physics mechanics that this game deserve more prizes than already have. It shows what developers can do with a simply but brilliant idea.

While Portal 2 shows what developers can do if they are a bit creative, Bad Company 2 shows what players can do if they are creative. Differently from most shooters where once you find the way to play who are most effective to you, in BFBC2 you need to be creative in order to win, as the game changes every match you play. Too many snipers? Use the tanks. Too many tanks? Become an engineer and blow it up. If you want to win in BFBC2, you need to adapt to the situation, and smart thinking is reward more than quick reflex.

Journey is a very simple game. And that is not a bad thing. In its simplicity we have one of the clever and emotional games I have ever played. It is a subtle game and the less you know about it when you play it for the first time the better it is. It is a beautiful gem that I wish every player have a chance to try it.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is hardly a technical feat like Skyrim. The world is not as expensive and detailed, but everything feels and play better, and funnier. Reckoning have a more enjoyable story and it is more beautiful (Skyrim is beautiful in its realism and greatness, but Reckoning is colorful and different). This game shows that long games with many things to do don't need to be a chore, but a delight.

Take a look at your games. look for the games rated M for Mature or classified to 18 year old. How many of them are classified as that because of the violence, swearing and gratuitous boobs? Catherine is not this kinda game. It have boobs, swearing and violence, but those are minor elements here. Catherine is a mature game because it talks about mature themes. It is about what you desire in life, what you put value, about what you want from a relationship. Catherine is a mature game for the right reasons.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


When I was in highschool (literally in the past century), I was awful at Mathematics. So, my grades were usually bellow average. One day, I got a better grade (still a bad grade, bat better nonetheless) than I used to and my teacher called me and praised me for my improvement. And that made me try harder to keep my grades above average, at least. Because he recognized that I got better.

i remembered this story after reading several reviews for Blades of Time, a sequel of sorts for X-Blades, made by Gaijin Entertainment. Basically all reviews recognized that Blades of Time is an improvement from the previous game. It is not that Blades of Time is considered by them a great game. Since I have not played X-Blades or the new game, I cannot say with certain how awful or how good they are. So, I gonna go with third person opinions here.

I love to see developers improving from a game to another. We kinda expect it to happen all the time. But while big studios with great franchises are expected to do it, we usually see small studios with not well known games, with either bad or mediocre games, as cards out of the deck, as we say here in Brazil, meaning companies not worth the time and money of gamers, so we don't count them.

But all reviews I have read about Blades of Time made clear how much improved the game is, and many reviewers were even in disposition to recommend the game to fans of the hack'n'slash genre, if not for other thing because it is a game with several flaws, but that can entertain someone for a time and because it is an improvement.

I must say, I am very tempted to buy this game, albeit I am well aware of its flaws and that it is hardly a game who will be talked in the future. But I am tempted to reward improvement. While Ninja Gaiden 3 is being criticized as not being as good as the predecessors, this game is being prized for being an evolution.

I don't know what good buying this game can make. Usually studios who fail to sell well enough are closed, and their chance for improvement is denied forever. But some times I wish to see what those studios can do with a proper budget to them. And this is what is making me consider giving this game a chance.

Of course I am against rewarding mediocrity or outright bad games. But my desire to reward improvement may just get the better of me.

A Missing Link from the Past

I didn't played any Zelda games before my twenties. A lack of a Nintendo console and the fact that Zelda and Nintendo was never as popular in Brazil as in other countries was the factor that made me discover this series so late in my life. So, when opportunity happened, I tried to play the game to see why there is so many people who likes this game.

And I don't understand till this day how Zelda is so popular.

After playing for a few hours, I completely failed to see why people are so in love for those games. I played it not expecting things like voice acting and great graphics, remembering that I was playing an SNES game. But it was not the technical aspects that put me aside. It is a pretty good SNES game in the technical department. But I couldn't hook up with it.

The gameplay was not fun to me. The story was not interesting. The characters were hard to connect with. I didn't like the game. And I am not sure why. Maybe, and that may be a reason why so many people can't understand why certain old games receive so much praise, it is because I was not in the right mental age to play the game.

Certain games, like certain cartoons and movies, only work when you are very young. Captain Planet, for example, is a very cheesy cartoon. But when I was a kid watching it, it was an awesome superhero show. If I try to watch it today, I will probably laugh on how bad it is.

The fact is that certain things only work when you are either too young to know better or old enough to get all the nuances you didn't care or understood when young. Games like The Legend of Zelda don't work on me today. I can't see the marvelous games people who played it when the SNES was the best console can see.

That is why many new gamers have hard time to understand how old gamers liked certain games and veteran players cannot understand how kids today can like some games. Gamers have changed. We change as we get older and or tastes, experiences and perceptions changes. Today I just can't play old games if I wasn't a fan when a kid because I fail to connect with them.

Many gamers may have similar experiences. Games who were the best of a generation that they fail to see why. It is we who have changed. So, next time someone talk about a game from the past they loved, remember that they and you are very different today.

What worked in the past may not work as well today.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Expectations: The Last of Us

The Last of Us is a game being developed by Uncharted's developer Naughty Dog. It seems to be a survival adventure, where the main character Joel and his companion Ellie needs to survive in a post-apocalyptic world destroyed when a fungus disease destroyed the civilization. In this setting, they must fight both survivors and infected people, whose fungus changed their behavior and appearance.

With all I said up there, it seems just another zombie game or post-apocalyptic setting. But by the images and trailer I have saw till now, it seems that it is a different, interesting take on it. It is not about too badass characters killing plenty of deranged survivals and fungus-zombies. It is a struggle for survival.

Ammunition seems to be scarce, and scavenging for items seems to be as important (if not more) than shooting your way. In fact, I really hope they can use negotiation as a way to solve conflict. With ammunition being a valuable commodity, allowing the player to avoid combat or negotiate their way out would be a nice mechanic and twist from the 'shoot all that moves' politic in most zombie games.

Also, the relationship mechanic between Ellie and Joel can be interesting. How will she play? Will she be a helpful companion as it seems or ended up as a burden? By what Naughty Dog have said, they don't want this to be a escort mission, and she will be a helpful companion.

Also, this game seems to be a great way to show how people would react with the end of their civilization. Most post-apocalyptic games happens way after the apocalypse, so must people don't even remember how the world was before. Here it seems to be placed in the between phases. Joel still remember the world before, but Allie only know stories of it.

What I expect from this game, and it seems Naughty Dog can deliver, is a break from the conventions games established about both the zombie apocalypse and the post-apocalyptic world. With their great talent to write compelling stories, I am waiting to see two human characters, not two wannabe Rambos struggling for survival, not only against the zombies, but against people like themselves, also trying to survive. This also can create moral question. It is fair to steal the food of another desperate survival? Or to kill him? This can be an opportunity to do something really unique in games.

And can you blame anyone trying just to survive, specially against this:

Niche? Why not use Digital Distribution?

One of the great problems we have today in game industry is the vast quantity of games that don't are localized  or even made because they are 'niche', games with an small audience that don't justify the costs of such ventures. It is hard to convince yourself to spend a lot of money when the number of people who might buy the game is significant small, to the point where you are sure you will not see the money back.

So, many fans have a hard time to find games of certain genres, like dating sims, simulators of various kinds, JRPGs and others. In the past, games had very low costs and could recover the money it was put in them with few thousands of copies sold. There was no voice acting needing to be done, for example. Today it is pretty hard to take a game who have a restrict audience and hope to make money from it.

And so, that is why digital distribution can help such games to see the light of day. With no physical copies to be done and distributed, part of the costs in game is cut off. No discs, no boxes, no paper manual. You can sell the game directly to interested parties and cope the costs with fewer copies sold.

Not only that, certain niche games don't need to have high production costs. Dating sims, for example, don't need expensive budgets to be done. And you don't need to make new voice acting, most fans prefer the Japanese voices anyway.

RTS games don't need incredible graphics too. Simulators don't need a story mode. And by going digital, more of the money can go back to developers, if they self-publish, or for the publisher localizing the game, allowing them to be profitable without needing to sell millions of copies.

Of course, to this to happen, the owners of digital markets needs to make their services attractive. It is not good if they make too much restrictions or make the costs too high for the developers and publishers. But this can be a solution for niche fans to have easy access to such games, while those small companies can profit from them.

It is all a conjunction of factors, to this work. The small companies wishing to take a chance, the digital market owners allowing them to sell their games and the gamers buying the games. But it seems to me it could work. After all, we all have a kind of game we like but it is hard to find.