Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weirder Than Thou

This is what I always want to do with the guys on forums who start criticizing others by liking characters from anime or Japanese games while completely doing the same for western characters. Both are liking fictional characters. But of course, the critic's preferences are completely normal while the criticized is the weird one, despite both being more equal than different from each other.

It strike me as stupidity when we live in a world where we have to defend our hobbies that instead of getting together we spend so much time and energy trying to prove that we are normal while the other are weird, instead of just appreciating our hobbies and letting others appreciate theirs. In the end, this just prove that those legends that nerds, geek, gamers or other people who were ridicularized because of their hobbies are in fact more similar to their bullies than they want to admit.

And as long as people try to defend their preferences by attacking the preference of others, this will never ends.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Like the OUYA, OnLive promised cheap gaming with a better experience and too many gamers were hopeful it would live its promises and potential. And like the OUYA, too many gamers ignored the obvious flaws in the proper execution of it to be cautiously optimistic.

On paper, OnLive would be great, but reality kicked in. The precarious infrastructure around the world, the price of servers and many other problems put OnLive in its current situation. But gamers seems so desperate for a cheaper, better option for games than the current one that they sure forget the advantages of what we have now and disadvantages of what is promised. And specially when the promises are so good, we tend to want to believe.

In the end, the game market is not an easy one, even if you are making the right promises. You need to earn money to keep making it. And if you fail to earn enough money, you can't make true to your promises. A hard lesson that all dreamer must keep in mind before entering in this business.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Darkest Day

And for more of an exaggeration this is, we are really coming too close of the time where making jokes will be impossible. I am not saying that all is excused just because it is supposed to be a joke or that people cannot feel offended, but we are coming to the ridiculous point were people actively try to be offended. Take these examples.

What people need to stop to do is taking everything personally, specially when it have nothing to do with them in any way. Sometimes there was no real offense being done, except the one the 'offended' choose to put in the joke in order to justify his 'hate'. What it feels is that people aren't being 'offended' but is just searching their minutes of spotlight by acting like that.

And the day that humor will be no more seems more closer and real than ever.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why Evangelion is the Best and Worse Thing That Happened to Anime

If you are into anime, even a little bit, chances are you have heard of Neon Genesis Evangelion. this 90s anime, at first glance, it is about a bunch of highschool kids fighting monsters in cool giant robots. But you need not more than three episodes to understand that it is way deeper than that. It is way more dark, confusing, deeper and gray than that.

The characters all have a dark past, traumas and are far from being heroic. The story hide several hidden agendas from many characters and organizations. The main characters aren't the usual unchangeable characters that most western shows have. They change a lot during the run of the show. It become a great success and launched several trends that anime follow to this date. So, let's start with all the bad things Evangelion left.

The very first thing it made that I really don't like is all the gore. Sure, Akira had a hand in that, but Akira was not the commercial success that Evangelion is. Evangelion set the way for extremely violent shows, like Elfen Lied. And now it seems any show trying to be more 'mature' seems to rely on great quantities of blood, meat masses exploding and killing people in gruesome ways. It is not a sign of maturity, but the fact that the writers cannot seem to think of mature writing, and just add gore instead.

Another bad trending is the one of making insane plots. Many anime trying to be mature put really hard to follow and understand plots, like making the plot a mess is a sign of cleverness. It is not. Confusing the viewer doesn't help to sell a story, it make them hate it. It is the same as the gore, a cheap tactic to make the writing seem more mature, not just lazy.

The third trend it created is the obsessive fans. Evangelion started the trend of obsessive fans collecting all the stuff made about it, fans who cannot shut up about it. Sure, it is not fault of the show per se, but it is an annoying thing. What is fault of the show is the moe trend. Rei and Asuka pretty much started it all, making today's anime filled with cute girls to gather to the obsessive fans.

The last trend I hate, but this one is very particular to me, is the trend of making characters' life hell. I want to watch TV shows and movies to relax. life is already too hard to just sit and see people suffering during twenty minutes. Many shows have being doing it recently. Some do it for the 'realism' (yeah, realism about a show where giant mechas fight monsters) but honestly, I prefer something more lighthearted.

Of course, I would be unfair saying only the bad things. Evangelion have positive influences in the anime world.

It showed that an anime could gather to an older audience, and that old audience could be as profitable as the children. By that, it opened the door to many people to create works trying to aim at people whose classic stories were not enough. We would probably never had animes like Cowboy Bebop if Evangelion wasn't a success.

It also showed that animation could go deeper with its themes, not being locked like western animation in the old cartoon tropes.It could tell stories about human relationships, about philosophy and about human nature, even if superficially at first in Evangelion.

It created a new kind of star. Megumi Hayashibara (Rei's voice) was one of the first voice actresses to become a success outside of the voice acting, becoming a hit singer. This helped the animation to become more than itself.

It helped small studios gain attention and being able to put their shows on TV, as Gainax at the time was not a very big studio. Many were able to create series who weren't as long but that left a mark in the industry.

And finally, it helped expanding anime not only by broadening the audience back in Japan, but by being one of the first animes to gain world wide fame and success. It was to many the first contact to anime, and in many countries is one of the most known and loved shows ever made.

In the end, what happened is what happens with all successful media. The surprising success made several studios trying to find the one reason that made Evangelion a success, copy it and then multiplying one or several factors of it tenfold, hoping that the more 'in your face' attitude could create a similar success, or bigger.

If you are watching any anime made after Evangelion, the chances are you will find lots of influences of it in the show you are watching. Of course some influences are better than others. But for the good and for the bad, even if you didn't liked the show, Evangelion's influence is there. At the same time that it made the anime a bigger industry today, it also created some of its biggest problems.

I love Evangelion, mind you. But it is clear that many of the negative things I see in modern anime comes from it. But love it or hate it, to this date, Evangelion is one of the most influential shows not only in the anime industry, but in several other media. And if you love or hate anime to this day, you can be sure it have Evangelion's influence in it.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

I had played three different games recently who put heavy emphasis in the choices you make. InFamous  2, The Walking Dead and Mass Effect 3. InFamous 2 was a very bipolar experience. You either is evil or good. All black and white. The Walking Dead and Mass Effect where very gray in a lot of its decisions. While Mass Effect sure made my past decisions, some of them tracking back to the very first game, make its weight be felt in the later games, specially the third one, The Walking Dead is still to show me this weight ( I have played only two episodes).

I think it is nice to see games holding players responsible for their decisions, even when they were made a long time ago. And specially when they make it seem a good idea at the time. Like most things in the 80s. And I swear, the mullet hair style should be at least a felony. if you have one, don't delude yourself, you are not cool. No, you aren't.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I've Become What I Hate Most

Human beings have this weird tendency to root for the weaker. We don't want to see someone who is already successful being successful again, we want to believe that anyone can be, so it give us hope that we will be successful ourselves one day. But in the moment that the weak become the strong, we forget their humble beginnings and that we supported them because now they remember us that they succeeded and we don't. That is why it is so easy to find people who now state their hate for something they loved in the past. 

The really interesting part is that sometimes the only difference between this relation is the success itself, not that the subject of our rooting changed. Take Call of Duty as an example. People loved Modern Warfare, and now many hate it. The games changed almost nothing (one of the complaints, in fact, about the series) and now many can't withstand it anymore. And what changed was not the company behind it or the games, just the amount of success in it.

We want to see new things succeeding. Not because of any logic, but because we want to hope we can succeed someday.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


It like I feel with certain books, movies and games. They take so long to get to some interesting point that by the time you got there, you are already tired and the excitement is lost. Or you just give up all together. In games, many people demand the games to have a certain amount of play time, and the answer many times is to just drag certain sequences. Like Skyrim, where you spend a lot of time just walking to your destinations, not doing something cool. In books this is made with lots of exposition, and movies do it with long sequences of scenarios. So, I prefer something to be short and sweet than drag so long that you start to wonder when it will end.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Jack Of All Trades

It happens more often in open-world games like GTA and Red Dead Redemption, RPGs and any game that try to be very big in scope. You have to do something and to do this something you need an object or an information who is in possession of someone. Of course, this someone seem unable to just give you what you need, instead you have to go in a long and laborious task to get it. One who usually involves an object or an information who is in possession of someone. Of course, this someone seem unable to just give you what you need, instead you have to go in a long and laborious task to get it. You got the idea.

It was specially maddening in Red Dead Redemption, where you had to spent long times doing menial jobs to some of the most despicable people in the west. People you probably could just have shot in the face and get what you wanted. I can accept that in the event of the main character being someone who must abide to the laws and can be punished by breaking it he cannot just shot someone.

But most of the cases the main character is either a criminal already or someone whose law cannot do anything anyway. So, it all felt like lazy writing of the game creators in order to give the players things to do. I will always wonder why they need to use such cheap devices, instead of making a story where you have lots of things to do, not just one thing who takes more time than they should because someone need you to deliver a box for him.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I Hate This Word

I hate the word 'gaymer'. It is not even a real word. Not because I have something against gays. I just really wanted that them, as anyone, didn't feel the need to make their own convention because everyone else is a jerk about things that shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter your gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, place of birth or anything like that. you like games, I like games, we should get along. unless you are a jerk, but being a jerk have nothing to do with whom you like to fuck.

I can understand that in a world where calling someone gay is still considered a big offense (specially in gaming) they felt the need to make a convention where they feel they are more welcomed. And I hate that. I want them to go to the conventions already in existence and feel like they are part of that. Maybe one day they will not need to do that and just feel what they already are. Gamers.

I hate the word 'gaymer'. Because it is a made up word. One who represent the fact that us, people, are still able to be really stupid against each other, for reasons that shouldn't matter.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why Games Should and Should Not Become Easier

One of the complaints of the old time gamers is about how easier games are today when compared to the legendary 'good old days'. Of course, it make sense. Arcades didn't wanted gamers to finish a game in a hour and going home, they wanted them to play for hours and put lots of quarters in their machines, so a hard to beat game would be more profitable than easy to beat. And many console games were ports of arcades, so they retained their difficulty.

Now, with arcades almost dead, people play mostly at home. And making a game who gamers will dedicate days in beating it is counter-productive. Developers want gamers to finish their games as soon as possible and buy a new one. That is way they have no interest in keeping games with high replay values or that will take multiple tries to beat it.

That is why games like this is rare today.
Of course, that as a business make sense. If the profit comes from selling more games, making games who keep players trying to beat it for a long time is bad business. With the exception of games who try to keep the players hooked to sell DLC (MMO and Multiplayer heavy games) there is no reason to make a game hard. Not only that, making a game hard to finish will make it less accessible to newer gamers and create an obstacle to sell more games to more people.

And let's face it, most gamers now hate games with far away checkpoints, no autosave feature and no regenerative health. It is frustrating to lost a lot of progress because you made a single mistake or because the game unfairly killed you with a surprise attack you had no way to see it coming. We got to expect those features and to factually like them. But many of us miss the challenge of certain games.

Games like the Soul series and Ninja Gaiden with their brutal difficulties become a heaven for gamers who play games to challenge their skills. Many even call them 'real' games. Of course, games were just games in the old days. Nobody played because they were curious about the sprite in the screen backstory and how the game would end. Well, things changed...

If you played this game because of the gameplay, you did it wrong.
Games now have story, some even good, interesting story. I am one who hate to not finish a great story because the gameplay is getting in my way. It does not mean that I am for getting away with the gameplay altogether. Neither that games should be so hard to beat that you need to get months to play it to the end.

Games need to either find a balance for its difficulty. But a fit-all solution is impossible. That is why I love games who still do difficulty settings. You can just set it yourself, making a game as challenging as you need it to be. Many games don't have this option, making it harder to many people to get into the game and making it hard to newcomers to get into it.

Games have to be easy if developers want to profit and to new gamers to start getting into games. But it does not mean that games cannot be challenging to veteran players. All it need to do is give the options to each player to find the way they like to play games. Unfortunately we live in a time were people seem to believe that one thing must die to other exist. It does not need to be like it.

We just need to have the option. You like a challenge? Set the games at the highest difficulty. You just want to breeze through it? Very Easy in the settings. Developers need to start stop thinking just about a part of the public when making their games. Gamers need to stop to think only about themselves. By making games more easier to customize to the different kind of players, everyone can find their own sweet spot.

It is not that harder to do.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Gaming Gold Rushs

We are living interesting times in gaming. From time to time, someone will declare the death of something game related so a new, better thing will take its place. The current trend is people making social and mobile games declaring that traditional gaming, with consoles and $60 games will die. And today, news that Zynga, one of the most famous makers of Facebook games is in serious financial troubles. All of that remembers the famous gold rushs humanity suffered in its History.

Every time that someone strike a successful business, people rush to make similar enterprises in hope to be as successful as that very first guy. Success comes to two kind of people. The ones who do it first and the ones who do it better. But to both of them, this just means short term success.

Long term success comes only to those who perceives the changes in their business and adapt accordingly, by also being very effective in determining for how long they can stay the same way before the gold mine dry out. As it happens with the gold rush, the ones who kept rich was the ones who perceived that simple mining would end up soon, and used the money they got from gold to invest in other stuff, like stores, cattle and more traditional, less fast profitable but more sure fire than just gold mining.

The next to fall?
Being able to perceive when something is a short term success is hard, specially when you are gaining lots of money. You just perceive it when the money start disappearing. The bubbles happened more then once in History. The .com bubble in the late 90s/early 2000s, the videogame crash of the 80s. All of them created because of stories of fast success that attracted too many people with no knowledge about how to make their business a long term affair.

I doubt that Zynga failing will just kill the social gaming scene. It will work as an warning to other companies about what they can become if they don't be careful. They will need to change the way they make business, diversify and improve in order to avoid a similar destiny. After all, we still mine gold, make videogames and have .com companies. Look at Google as an example of a .com company being successful and how they are working to broad the scope of their business.

Ultimately, it is sad that Zynga may be no more, not because of its games, but because of all the people who worked there hoping for success. But it is a warning about gold rushes. Not everyone will succeed and even less will keep being a success in the long run. So, before just declaring something to be the next big thing and the death of the old big thing, it is better be careful. Because only time can prove which one is right and to what extent.

Because not all that glitters is gold.