On Comments

The first rule of Internet Club is (sing along with me) DON’T READ THE COMMENTS.  (The second rule of Internet Club is don’t ever go to WebMD, regardless of what symptoms you might be feeling, and third rule is to simply be yourself and have a good time.)

That being said, when the comments are starting to go apeshit over something that you’ve written, sometimes you can’t help but wonder what it is they’re getting so upset about.

Which brings me to the startling realization that, apparently, nobody actually reads the article they’re commenting on, or even (in this specific case) the actual headline.  They see what they want to see, and comment and yell and scream about how the article disagrees with their perception of what was written.

To wit:  I wrote a piece about No Man’s Sky for Gamemoir yesterday that seems to be doing quite well, as far as generating traffic is concerned.  It’s a bit of a relief, to be honest, because a lot of the posts I’ve written over there lately have more or less died right on the vine.

It’s not the best thing I’ve written, nor is it a deliberate, transparent attempt at click-bait.  The premise of the article is that for all the new games on the new console systems, the only game that actually seems to be “genuinely new” and “different” and “something impossible to achieve on previous generations of hardware” is No Man’s Sky, and therefore it’s the first “real” Next-Gen game.  That’s all I was trying to say.  Nothing particularly controversial, nothing particularly noteworthy.

But apparently I did generate some controversy, because on one of the portal sites the article was linked to, there’s a lively bunch of comments from people who have obviously not read the article or even read the headline fully.  The article’s headline is “Why No Man’s Sky Is The First ‘Real’ Next-Gen Game”.  The angry people are saying no, Infamous Second Son and Killzone SF were the first next-gen console games; those are the ones who seem to have glazed over the emphasis on the word Real.  Other angry people are saying that because NMS is an “indie” game, it doesn’t really count as a “real” game.  I guess their premise is that because the game isn’t being developed by 1000 people in multiple time zones with a gigantic budget, it can’t possibly be any good.

Here’s the thing – there is every reason to wonder if NMS is actually going to be fun to play.  For all its majesty and wonder and jaw-dropping vastness, the actual moment-to-moment gameplay is still very mysterious.  But even if the moment-to-moment experience is fun and engaging, there’s also the very real possibility that the game could be horrendously boring and tedious after a time, if the universe is as big as they claim it to be.

But that’s neither here nor there.  I’m excited for NMS because it’s different.  While I’m sometimes intimidated by truly open-ended games like Minecraft, I have a very easy time losing myself completely in open worlds like Skyrim and GTA, and as such I can see myself being totally immersed in exploring the vastness of NMS’s galaxy.  Moreover, it appears to be not only something I’ve never played before, but also something I’ve been wanting to play for as long as I can remember.  I’ve been wanting to explore the universe since I was a little kid wearing Star Wars underpants.   The Mass Effect games have come the closest to giving me that feeling, but the exploration was severely limited and very tightly scripted.  NMS is a completely different ballgame.


 

I did end up finishing A Story About My Uncle last week.  I sat in front of that aforementioned gauntlet, set up a timer on my iPhone, and said to myself – if I can’t get past this gauntlet in 15 minutes, I’m quitting, deleting the game from my hard drive, and moving on with the rest of my life.  I ended up getting past it in 10, and as it turned out it was the 2nd-to-last challenge in the entire game; the credits rolled about 10 minutes after I finally reached that elusive checkpoint.  Can I recommend it?  Sure, if it goes on Steam Sale again.  It’s got charm, and it’s certainly doing something different, and it’s nice to not kill anything for a few hours.  The difficulty does tend to spike unevenly at times, though, and it can be incredibly frustrating.  I am glad that I finished it, though I almost certainly won’t return to it.

I also gave Sniper Elite III a quick look-see over the weekend, and saw enough of it to know that it’s not my bag.

I’m mostly playing Stealth Inc. on my Vita, which I’m enjoying the hell out of – I’m at the beginning of Stage 8, which means I’m near the end, and it’s getting very difficult.  But it’s also a lot of fun, and it’s a perfect puzzler to play in short increments.

Speaking of the Vita, I still haven’t decided which Final Fantasy to commit to.  I’ve already played the first 6 hours of VII (though I think I’d have to start from scratch), I’ve played the first hour or so of X (and found it kinda meh), and also gave the first 20 minutes of IX a whirl (but couldn’t find a save point quickly enough).  As it happens, I’m probably not going to play any of them any time soon, being that I rented Persona 4 Golden.  I haven’t started that one yet, but I figure I might as well give it a shot first.

The Destiny beta comes out on the 17th.  I pre-ordered the game digitally a while ago on the PS4 but haven’t yet received my beta code; supposedly they’re arriving via email any minute now.  If you get in, look me up on PSN – I’m JervoNYC.

The Summer Doldrums Continue

At the end of my last post (has it really been 8 days since the last one?) I’d said that I was going away for the long weekend, and that I didn’t know how much gaming I’d be doing.  As it turns out, I’ve played almost nothing.

(I’ve been reading a lot, though!  I think I’m finally at that stage of parenting where I’m not totally exhausted all of the time, and so I’ve been plowing through books lately.  Finished the first 2 books of Carsten Stroud’s Niceville trilogy (pretty good), and am currently about halfway through Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box which is freaking me the fuck out.  He is very much an apple that has not fallen far from the tree, and that is one fucked-up tree.)  

I had hoped to finish A Story About My Uncle before leaving, but I got stuck in a particularly tricky section towards the end.  I tried picking it back up when we got back, though, and I made literally no progress, and instead just got more and more frustrated, and now I think I’m done with it.  Looking at certain Steam comment threads, I’m clearly not the only one who got stuck in this particular area, and so while there is obviously a light at the end of this tunnel, I’m not at all inclined to find my way out.  I’m stuck because this particular puzzle represents a rather sharp difficulty spike requiring mastery of a skill I’ve just been introduced to (i.e., swinging from falling stalagmites), and the incredibly dark lighting makes it very difficult to pick up targets – plus there’s a feeling of inconsistency in terms of how far away a target is.  The short version is that this particular platforming gauntlet is frustrating for all the wrong reasons, and that’s annoying, and now I don’t care if I finish the game or not.

Meanwhile, I’m looking at my backlog and feeling wholly unmotivated to go through it.  And there’s a bunch of stuff that I really ought to get back into, considering the current release drought we’re in – Transistor and Valiant Hearts immediately come to mind as PS4 titles I’ve picked up and put down.  Given that Oddworld: New & Tasty comes out in 2 weeks, I really ought to finish at least one of those before getting wrapped back up in Abe’s Oddysee.  As for my Steam Sale purchases, I may give the Ada chapter of Resident Evil 6 a look.

In other news, I’ve been going back and forth about getting an Xbox One.  I keep turning on my 360 every morning hoping to see this message about receiving a $75 credit if I upgrade, because I almost certainly would upgrade with that kind of incentive.  And yet it must be noted that I – a loyal, happy original Xbox and Xbox 360 customer – shouldn’t need to be so blatantly bribed in order to upgrade; and even if I went out and bought one today, I’m still not sure what I’d play on it (besides maybe Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive and the Halo Collection, none of which are available right this very minute).

And that’s basically that, folks.  I’ll have a new Gamemoir column up on Monday, and I need to get cracking on my piece for Videodame that got put on the shelf back in May.  I’ll also have an essay in an upcoming issue of Unwinnable Weekly that I’m pretty happy about; more details on that as they emerge.

The Year (So Far) In Games

A bunch of sites have been putting up “Best Games of the Half-Year” posts this week, and I was tempted to follow suit, but after looking at my Games Played spreadsheet I found myself wondering how I could spin Wolfenstein: The New Order and South Park: The Stick of Truth into 800 words; it’s just not happening.  Those are two surprisingly terrific games, and they’ll most likely end up in my year-end list, and you should play them if you haven’t already.  Beyond that, it’s a bit of a reach.

I don’t know if it’s fair to call the first half of 2014 a disappointment; I expected this transition period between last-gen and current-gen to be a little weird and underwhelming.  That being said, a lot of the year’s biggest-hyped games fell relatively flat for me.  I was certainly impressed with the tech in Infamous: Second Son, but I hardly gave it a second thought after easily getting to 100% completion.  Similarly, there are certainly quite a few things to like about Watch Dogs, but if I think about that game for more than 5 seconds I get irrationally angry.  And Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is what it is, I guess, though I haven’t felt compelled to pick it back up since I finished it the first time.

I could continue on in this vein – there’s plenty of bummers on my Games Played spreadsheet (*cough* Thief *cough* Mario Golf World Tour *cough*) – but I’d prefer to keep the rest of this somewhat positive.

Jazzpunk!  That’s a spicy meatball if there ever was one.

I enjoyed playing Tomb Raider again on the PS4 and my HDTV, although I suppose its retail success is partially to blame for the HD double-dips that are in our immediate future as we wait for the real next-gen stuff to appear, i.e.The Last of UsGTA VDiablo III, to name a few off the top of my head.  And I’m planning on at least renting all of those games, too, so I suppose I’m partially to blame as well.

Speaking of Diablo III, I suppose I should heap a little bit of praise on its Reaper of Souls DLC and the additional patching that game’s received in the year since I last turned it on; the DLC managed to suck another dozen hours of my life after I’d sworn I was finished with it forever, and the daily missions and objectives are an intriguing carrot that I still consider chasing after.

I really enjoyed Bravely Default right up until I realized that I was going to have to play the entire game a second time; and then I read some walkthroughs that revealed that I’d actually have to play the whole thing 3-4 times before getting to the final ending.  This will not do.

What else, what else… I’ve not yet had that much time to actually play anything in depth on my PS Vita, and yet I keep downloading free games on it.  I’m very happy to finally own it, though.  The port of Fez is great – I just love having it in portable form – and Luftrausers is excellent and I need to get back to it, and Olli Olli hurts my brain but is also really good.

I was also going to include my favorite bits of gaming journalism and criticism, but it’s a gigantic list so far, and it’s also full of rather depressing stories of how toxic this industry is.  Still, if you’d like to check it out, I’ve made it publicly available as a Google Doc.

This weekend I’ll be away with the family, so I’m not sure what gaming there’ll be.  I’m currently playing A Story About My Uncle, which is both exhilarating and frustrating, sometimes simultaneously; I’d like to try and finish it tonight, since I’m not taking my PC with me.  I picked up Civ Rev 2 for my iPhone this morning; it’s not quite as graphically interesting as the 360 version from a few years back, but it’s leaps and bounds better-looking than the previous iOS version, and the touch controls are a lot more intuitive.  I’m still way over my head most of the time, but such is life.  And I guess I’ll bring the Vita along, too, and maybe keep plugging away at Tearaway and also perhaps one of the 6 Final Fantasy games I’ve got on there.  (The voting was inconclusive.  I might go with 8 or 9, since I’ve never touched those before.)

Have a happy and safe 4th, everyone.