Tag Archives: video

Internet Killed Console Gaming–Point 2

 

Oh, Internet… It’s a love and hate relationship. I’ve become so tied to the Internet, like most of us, and it’s hard to live in a life where you don’t exist. I also can’t stand what you’ve done to one of my most precious loves: console gaming. There’s nothing like hooking a system up to my T.V., holding that controller pad in my hands for the first time and wasting away in the glow from the television set for hours on end. But you have to stop!

Point 2 – Broken games

nes360

I’m a firm believer that it’s about the game play not the graphics which decides the top performers in the gaming world. Shiny cutting edge graphics are no match for great story telling and compelling character arches. You can have the faster processors and load times, but I will not play it if the game just down right sucks. And the Internet has allowed more of these shitty games through the gates with the idea that “We’ll make it better!”

A.

The Internet has made game developers of all kinds lazy. They release broken games with slapped together physics just so they can hit their delivery date to get full exposure for important dead lines such as a system launch date. By doing so, we as gamers, are now teaching these corporations that it’s OK if your game is broken, we will wait for updates and sometimes, even pay to get them. What has become of us?

A perfect example is the newly released The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. Developed by Bethesda Game Studios, Skyrim quickly become the number 1 game at the top of many reviewers charts. The crowd was unanimous: this is an amazing game. Or is it?

Released on November 11, 2011, the first patch was made available for download on November 29, 2011. 18 days after the game was released to stores. 18 days! Now, what did the patch do? Well let’s see what the book of knowledge has to say:

Patch 1.2 was released on November 29, 2011 to fix some of the game’s issues;however, some players reported new bugs in the game following the patch, including more frequent game crashes.

wikipedia.org

18 days after it’s initial release, the game was already broken to the point of the system crashes deeming it completely unplayable. What happened? Well, I will admit that Skyrim is a fucking huge game. I’m talking big. But, the thing you need to remember is that this is the fifth in the series. This is not the first game released by Bethesda Game Studios. With the reputation they have created for themselves, they are vets even gods among game developers. 18 days… it only took players 18 days for them to realize that the game was broken to the point of it being unplayable.

So, they released a patch. To fix things. But that didn’t help. So they released 5 more patches to get the game into fighting shape, the last of which was pushed out on March 20, 2012 again to fix the bugs and system crashes. To me, this shows that Bethesda released a broken game, an unfinished product, a worthless attempt to get my money.

My point is, if the game isn’t ready to be released then don’t release it. There’s a reason that every game company has play testers. They are there to find issues with a game that wouldn’t be found by someone who is making the game.  A new set of eyes if you will. Now, I’m not saying that these play testers will find “every bug imaginable” but if it’s crashing your system… that’s a problem… especially if they need to release 5 different patches to fix the problem. Only with the ability of the Internet can a game company get away with this and make it the norm.

If you have the ability to fix an already released product months if not years after it’s release date, then where is the bar? What would stop a company from releasing a game that just consists of an environment and few if not any actually playable game aspects? I mean, couldn’t the definition of a game be ripped down to just an avatar running around on the screen with no real objectives? Anything is possible.

The lack of updates throughout the life of a video game has forced some game developers in the past to really go that extra mile to do something amazing… Case in point —

B.

Final Fantasy

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Some of you have heard of a small company called Square (now known as Square Enix). But a few of you may not know that Square was, at one point,  becoming a distant memory. Yes, they were at their wits end ready to call it quits.

Square was at the bottom of the barrel with it came to video games back in the mid to late 1980s. They just couldn’t put anything together to turn a profit. They had one more game in them and if it didn’t work out, well… that was it. Close the doors, pack up all of the Japanese porn and call it quits. It was literally their “Final Fantasy”.

The idea came from a similar company called Enix (which they ended up purchasing, I’m sorry “merging” with later in 2003). The game was called Dragon Quest: an RPG for the Nintendo Famicom. It was a hit, but Square thought they could do it one better. Final Fantasy was released in December 1987. It spawned many squeals and is easily the only reason why Square still exists.

Now, let’s fast forward to today. With all of the technology we have available, what would be of Square if they decided to start today? If those dead drop games they released before Final Fantasy were able to be updated, to fix bugs, in short, to make the game better, would Final Fantasy ever be? Without getting too philosophical, yes, someone down the road would have created the game sooner or later. But would it have been Square? Probably not. Because they weren’t faced with that moment of terror that could close them down forever. They didn’t have the ability to fix a crappy game like game devs do today. Once it was released it was up to the players to decide if the game be worthy or not. If not, that was it. No second chances. Nothing. You’re done. Thanks for playing.

Let’s look at today’s games. What if a company, that released a crappy game, who now has the chance to fix it a second time, does instead of scraping the entire project and go for something different? We’ll never know for sure what amazing games we could be playing other than the 20th version of Call of Duty. But I can tell you, you back someone into a corner with one last chance, the possibility of doing something wonderful and beautiful is more likely than not. Think about that…

Join me for point 3 where I discuss the losing game of…. TROLLS!

Point One

Internet Killed Console Gaming — Point 1

 

The Internet (it is capitalized right?) has killed console gaming forever. It wasn’t something that the causal gamer saw coming, and in fact, very few gamers of any age can really see the implications of how gaming was infected and destroyed by the Internet.

Point 1: Physical Media

Classic_Game_Carts_by_NoSmokingBandit

Ew… gross… what are those disease carrying, oddly shaped things?

Those, my ignorant gamer of the future, are called “game cartridges”. Those use to be how we played games. They weren’t beamed down from a space station, through your body, to your T.V. set. No, the information was placed on these “carts”, we plugged the “cart” into the game system and played until our hearts content.

This might sound silly now, but I’m telling you, in no more than twenty years from now, no major game company will think about the possibility of placing their cutting edge game on any kind of physical media. Physical media has some major flaws that a business doesn’t want to be apart of anymore.

A:

netflix-wii

I have to buy them again!? But I can get the cart for $2 at my local game shop!

It’s a one time buy – Companies don’t want you to purchase their content once. They want you to purchase it as many times as possible. A game cart, if taken care of, can last the life of the player. Look at the some of the oldest games that are available at your local game shop (i.e. Atari 2600 games). These carts are decades old, but with care, they will still function. This is bad news for companies. The media has to be disposable, forgotten about, or unreliable so that, years down the road, when you want to play that “retro game for the Xbox 36o” you will have to buy it again via an software download.

Look at the popularity of the Xbox Arcade, Playstation Network, or Nintendo’s Wii Shop Channel. The games that are on these services already exist in one if not multiple versions stretch across many consoles and PC set ups. Game consoles you probably already own, maybe even the game itself, but people will buy it yet again for many reasons: convenience, minor updates typically in a graphical nature, rare if not impossible find, etc. The issue with this is that we are feeding the monkey. And it’s not a nice monkey. It’s an evil, evil monkey. By buying into this program, we are telling these game companies that it’s OK to release the same game year after year with little to no incentive to us and we will keep on buying.

B:

Stacks_of_money

Money – placing any kind of information on a disk, whether it be a cartridge or compact disc, is expensive and prone to failure over time. After coping so many discs with the same application, there is always a testing phase to make sure that the games actually work on the console.

Now you might be thinking, well I can get 50 CD-Rs for 10 bucks surely a major corporation can get a better deal on media than I can and I’d say you were right. And they more than likely add that additional cost into the price of the game itself at the point of purchase. But if we are so use to paying $50 and $60 dollars for the latest Xbox 360 game, why would we shake a stick at paying the exact same amount for the same game only to have it downloaded to a hard disk that’s attached to your console? With the blazing speeds that are available for the internet now-a-days including broadband and fiber optics, to download a 4 GB video game would be done in minutes not hours like in the past. Which would cut their production of developing a physical media all together. Less work means less workers means more money in the business’s pocket. Because the games sure as hell won’t cost less.

This type of model has been around for ages really pushed through by Apple’s iTunes app. Here’s my story. Many years ago, I purchased an album from iTunes that was recorded locally and was no longer in production for a physical copy. A few years later, my iPod had crapped out on me, so I went back into iTunes to download the album again. To my amazement, I had to purchase it again since so much time had gone by. But I bought it already didn’t I own it? No. I didn’t. Most digital media that is purchased online is actually only being “rented” from the company for an unknown amount of time. Meaning, if I lost my copy, I will have to buy another.

Now, this is similar to a physical copy as well in some small cases. If I own the CD, and I lose it, I no longer have that copy and I will have to purchase a new one. The difference is I have the ability to make a software “back-up” copy of the hard copy for just this case. Now, the laws of copyright can be read in either direction pertaining to “back-ups” but at the time I was allowed to have one backed up copy of any physical data that I owned.

Apple, and many other companies, use a security called DRM or Digital Rights Management that will only allow you to have one copy of the medium. You are not legally allowed to copy that DRM media from one source to another. Many other companies and just about everyone else is against this model of security but that doesn’t stop deep pocket companies from using it. And the only advantage is to the company not to the user.

In part two, I will be discussing the issue that has cropped up with console games that are just down right broken and how it’s considered “OK” now to release such titles.

Stay tuned!

Point Two

How to Fix Shitty Games–Bill and Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure

 

I’m a firm believer that there are many games out there that are just bad. Really bad to the point where there is no fun in even playing them because of design, game play, or plot flaws. A lot of these “bad” games can be enjoyed with fairly easy fixes. Below is one of those games that can easily be fixed so that the game is some what enjoyable.

220px-Bill_&_Ted

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a 1989 American science fiction comedy buddy film and the first film in the Bill & Ted franchise in which two metalhead slackers travel through time to assemble a menagerie of historical figures for their high school history presentation.

The film was written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon and directed by Stephen Herek. It stars Keanu Reeves as “Ted” Theodore Logan, Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and George Carlin as Rufus. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure received reviews which were mostly positive upon release and was commercially successful. It is now considered a cult classic. A sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, was released two years later. An untitled third film is in development. — wikipedia.org

titlebillted

A Little History

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure is an action-adventure video game that is part of the Bill & Ted franchise and is based on the film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure that was released in North America by LJN for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991. The game’s plot is not an adaptation of the movie, but rather serves as an original continuation to the film’s events. – wikipedia.org

 

First Impressions

Let’s face it. This game is terrible. I mean one of the lowest of the low, a fierce competitor for E.T. on the 2600. OK, it’s not that bad but this game is pretty bad. The controls are loose, the physics don’t make any sense, and you have no idea what the hell you’re doing. How is any child who was a fan of the movie (I know you’re out there) suppose to enjoy such a horrible game? Tell me. You can’t. You just can’t.

The first dead give away is the publisher for the game.

LJN_logo

Now I’m not going to go into rants like AVGN, but he makes a valid point about LJN. Their shit games to passable games ratio is extremely high in the shit department. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get down to what can be fixed to make this game better.

 

1. The Intro

I love intros to games. I mean, how else are you suppose to know what’s going on in the game if you don’t watch the intro? Especially in this day and age where actually manuals for these retro games are hard to come by unless you are willing to spend a little more on a CIB. Intros are great. It gets everyone on the same page.

I have no issue with a game, that’s based off a movie, not follow the story line of the movie itself. This can end up being either a good or bad thing. It’s OK in this case. But the issue lies in the length and the lack of an option to bypass the story at the beginning. It’s nothing but text with the stupid lingo that I’m guessing was popular at the time. Lots of “dudes”, “dudettes” and “bogus” which does get annoying after a while.

So how does this get fixed? Well how about allowing the intro to the game to play while the player is sitting idle. Not a huge fix, but these sort of small things actually do make the game play speed up and allow the gamer to do what the game was intended to do after all which is to play it. And make the intro something that I would want to watch. Don’t hold me up on long and boring intros every time I reset it.

2. Phone book

Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure (2)

Now this one is one of the biggest things that kills the game for me. The phone book has a list of phone numbers (well duh right?) that corresponds to a particular figure in history.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Well, what the hell am I suppose to do? There’s nothing but black around those edges. No “Press Select to enter a phone number”. No, “The one with the flashing number is the one you need to enter”. No nothing. Now, since I do not own the instruction booklet, it may very well be in there that explains what I’m suppose to do. Which is something the game designers weren’t anticipating. I can let that slide. I mean, nowadays with the internet, who needs these books, but back in the day, that was your only source of true information because you sure as hell weren’t going to listen to the fat know-it-all kid down the street tell you what to do in the game. No way no how.

I mean there’s just nothing. The book itself looks great in all it’s pixel glory. The character sprites have a unique look to them and you can tell what it is. I just don’t know what the hell to do.

Since the NES controller has only so many buttons, that after trial and error you’d figure it out. The flashing number is the number to dial. But it’s only after trial and error that you figure this out. And after having to sit through the fucking intro, you’re all ready set to kill this game with fire.

GIVE ME SOME INSTRUCTION ON WHAT TO DO NEXT. THIS ISN’T A SEQUAL. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE BUTTONS DO BASED OFF A PREVIOUS GAME. SOMEONE HELP ME PLEASE!!!1!!11!

So yeah, just add some informational text around the border will clear that up.

3. Pointless game aspects

Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure-2

What the hell is going on? I mean, really? If you are making me play this stupid “mini-game” because you couldn’t think of a better way to add the actual time travel in the game, then stop it. Just stop it right there. This whole part of the game is pointless and I have no idea what anything means. Are you going to take away 5 coins if I land in the 5 coin circle? I know I lose money when I land in the skull circles because that’s a worldly ideal: skulls = bad. And it has to be coins because I don’t have 5 of anything else.

But seriously? You couldn’t think of a better way of adding time travel to the game? If not, then don’t put it in. Just bypass the whole thing. I don’t remember Bill or Ted ever getting stuck in the “circuits of time” because they ran out of money.

Coins? So you were able to think ahead on the money idea. Well, a phone call will probably cost more than a quarter in the future so let’s just call them coins. If you thought that, you should have thought that no one would hold on to a tiny ass booklet that tells you exactly what to do screen by screen then either.

Just take it out. It’s not any fun.  Give me a sweet ass animated graphic of going through space and time with Bill and Ted saying something like “Dude, this is totally wicked.” “Yeah, Dude, but it’s making me totally sick at my stomach.”

I can relate.

4. Inviting graphics

72796-bill-ted-s-excellent-video-game-adventure-nes-screenshot-arrived

What am I looking at,you asked? Well it’s a lot of green. That’s it… Just a lot of green. Too much green. Way too much green.

Either give me something more pleasing to look at or get it out of my view. What to know how you fix this bit? Look below.

72796-bill-ted-s-excellent-video-game-adventure-nes-screenshot-arrived_smaller

Ahhh, so much better. Oh what’s that over there? Oh it’s a tree. Well that’s nice. Oh and a fence. Much more pleasing to look at. Yeah, all I did was crop out the crap you don’t have to see anyway. Most of the graphics on the outside of the “gaming area” is off limits anyway. You can’t walk over there. You just can’t. The game won’t let you. It just wants you to look, don’t touch, and the rest of the area is just a lot of puke green to enjoy. Yeah, I like it better this way too.

Now the graphics don’t have to blow my mind. I’m not expecting Final Fantasy or huge sprites like Final Fight. But something better than what you’re giving me. Give me some detail in the grass. Give me more than just one type of rock. Give me something. Put a fucking clown in there I don’t care. Well, I guess, a clown wouldn’t work for the time period, but a Jester would. Or some cattle grazing on the luscious non-existent grass. Something that’s not green.

5. Direction

So, you start the first level, and pat yourself on the back for that because we’ve lost 50 percent of the players all ready. But what do you do? Well you walk around talking to people. But they give you some of the most pointless information.

bat_strange

So… is it strange good? Strange bad? Which way is south? Heard something? Like from a person or an inanimate object? If you heard some from a tree then yes that it strange. What was it? Why won’t you tell me? I’ve got nothing.

You see this throughout most of the game. The game calls these “hints”. There is nothing there that I would call a hint. First, he says that he heard something. OK, but from whom? Someone important? Someone that I care to talk to?

Plus where is south? There’s no map, no indicator of where I am exactly in the level. These levels are actually pretty large to say the lest. To give just a general direction in a space where direction doesn’t technically exist, which way is south? How about this: “I’ve heard something strange can be found down south past _________” then give me a landmark. Like the pastor, or the dueling knights. Fucking something! I just need a little more information. Unless you’re going to give me a map.

72796-bill-ted-s-excellent-video-game-adventure-nes-screenshot-arrived_compass

Oh well, won’t you look at that. I know where I am because of this handy map I have and well look at that! A compass. Now I know which direction I’m going in. Man, this is going to be a fun adventure. I can’t wait to start talking to people and discovering the secrets of this level. Gee whiz. I hope they make a sequel because I’m already having a blast.

Final Thoughts

It’s games like this that make me sad. It just missed the turn. Even if this game wasn’t a hit (which it wasn’t) if the engine would have been designed good enough, another game dev could have taken it and made something great with. Something original; something fun. This game is not fun.

So, for those who know how to program, do me a favor: make this game fun. Because I truly believe that a game like this would be great. It was be a great mix between action and RPG. There’s zero violence in this game. I mean you throw pudding cups at enemies to ward them away. How awesome is that? But the train was missed. Thank you, LJN and your rainbow of shit.

FIGHTWARE – The Ultimate Gaming System–Part 1

what is FIGHTWARE

FIGHTWARE is an idea that can create the ultimate gaming experience in emulation. It combines the love of retro gaming with the computing power of today to allow the player to replicate the gaming experience of conventional consoles in a all-in-one tight, cute little package.

Basically it’s a computer. Just like all modern consoles, it will consist of a motherboard, hard drive disk, controllers, etc. But the beauty of FIGHTWARE is to strive to feel exactly like you are playing on the actual console with real controllers rather than on a computer keyboard. With today’s technology in emulation, anything is possible.

why “FIGHTWARE”

A name is just a name. Actually, my original name for this console was “Agent Orange”. I just thought it was a sweet ass name. Could call it AO for short. But after some serious thinking, and realizing that it might upset some people, I decided on FIGHTWARE. It has a better ring to it than AO does. When you ask someone what they’re doing  they would say something like “I’m playing Xbox” or “I’m playing Playstation”. I’m playing “Agent Orange” doesn’t really sound good. I’m playing FIGHTWARE sounds way better. Then again it might just be me. I can go either way.

is FIGHTWARE legal?

Short answer, No. According to the law of copyright, you are allowed to have one soft copy (in this case a rom) if you own the hard copy that you’ve legally paid for. This is an old law and more often then not, this is also against the law. The main purpose of FIGHTWARE is to play through emulation, but there can be so much more you can do with the system which will be outlined in later installments. So no, it’s not legal. With that in mind, let’s continue shall we?

origins

FIGHTWARE was created out of my lonely days of trying to mod my original X-Box console. The idea that I could put emulators and roms on the system and play them without having to blow into cartridge slots, wiping smuggie discs on my white tee, or placing a Coke can on top of the console to play got my heart pumping. A modded X-Box. It was heaven to a retro gamer like me.

But… talk about a pain in the ass to get working. You need the correct game to load the installer, a Memory Card with the files on it. Just getting the files over to the memory card was a pain. Or you could get an Action Replay which is fine, back then, but now finding one is almost impossible. Most people at game stores have no idea that an Action Replay was made for the original Xbox. Then I get those dumb looks and crazy questions of “Why? Original Xbox? Just buy a 360.” I don’t want a 360. I want to mod my Xbox. Back off nerd so lame that even I wouldn’t talk to you on the street!

And updating the system or adding anything new was a pain as well. You had to connect a patch network cable to your computer, run a certain kind of FTP software because NO OTHER FTP PROGRAM WOULD WORK CORRECTLY!!! make sure that HDD was “unlocked” and that the system defaults were set to even be able to connect to your computer. Pain in the ass!

So you might be thinking “Well, I mean yeah it’s a pain, but it’s got to be easier than creating your own custom console.” And to that, I would say you are correct. At least in part. The hardest part of this whole idea of FIGHTWARE is the beginning stages. Getting everything together, connecting hardware, making sure everything works correctly. But after that’s all good, it’s a simple plug and play concept for everything else. And you will be much happier to use an original NES controller to play those roms rather than the bulky X-Box controller. Even the S version doesn’t feel well to the hands. Plus you wouldn’t be restricted to out-dated hardware to make things happen. Still with me?

The next installment for FIGHTWARE will be about the hardware.