Friday, November 18, 2011


Sorry for the lack of articles.  I don't like the quality of the articles I have up on this blog so far, and I'd like to spend more time working on each one.  Because of that, I won't be posting new articles daily.  Instead, they'll be posted on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sundays from now on.

Thanks for understand, guys!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

No post today either.

I thought that I would be able to write a new post today, but I'm just not in the mood.  There will be a post tomorrow though.


Friday, November 11, 2011

No post Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday.

Due to a family situation, I'll be out of town starting Saturday around noon.  I'll be returning sometime Tuesday afternoon, but there won't be an article that day.

Sorry guys, but it's important that I be with my family this weekend.

Modern games have too many cutscenes.

Sorry this is about an hour late guys.  Also, despite my current trend of writing articles about what I don't like about modern games, I still love a good amount of games that came out this generation.  I have issues with older games too, it's just these are the topics I've been in the mood to write lately.
I also know that this story and my previous story aren't exactly the most Nintendo related articles on the internet, but I'll get back to Nintendo eventually.  Don't worry.  Now onto today's topic of discussion!

Story is an important part of games.  Without it, players would be confused on why they're even playing the game.  Even in some of the most basic games like Super Mario Bros., there's still some form of story present to motivate the player.  Stories in games started out simple, with save the princess probably being the most famous example, but as time went on, they became more and more complex.  Due to the complex nature of these new stories, cutscenes started to become a common sight in multiple games, especially RPGs.  However, I feel like the ample amount of cutscenes in modern games is cutting into the enjoyment of games.

The genre that's the biggest offender of cutscenes ruining my enjoyment of a game is probably RPGs, especially Final Fantasy.  Whenever I try to play a modern RPG, like Final Fantasy, I find myself getting frustrated that I can't play for long periods of time without the game interrupting me so I can watch a scene that I couldn't care less about. It's especially frustrating when it happens every few battles or every few steps.  There's a problem when I spend more time watching the game than actually playing the game, and that's how I feel when playing a lot of RPGs.

It doesn't help that stories in RPGs generally aren't exactly top notch, especially JRPGs. Sure, they get the job done a vast majority of the time, but that doesn't stop them from being cheesy and corny.  I wouldn't have a problem with cheesy stories if they didn't try to force it down my throat, though, but if I'm forced to sit through a barrage of cutscenes telling a horrible story, then I'm not going to be a happy camper.  In fact, it usually makes me lose interest in the game.

Seriously?  Another cutscene?

Excessive amounts of cutscenes aren't exclusive to RPGs though; many genres in the gaming industry have games where cutscenes bombard you constantly, with the most famous example probably being Metal Gear Solid 4.  While these games aren't as common as their RPG counterparts, they still exist.

I know a lot of you are probably going to be saying, "Adam, if you don't like cutscenes so much, you can just skip them."  Yes, it is true that in many games cutscenes are skippable, but since story is such an important part of games, I don't want to feel like I'm missing out on such an important section of a game.  I like to know what's happening and why I'm doing what I'm doing, and skipping cutscenes would deprive me of that knowledge.

I love story in games, don't get me wrong, but the main reason I play a game is to play the game.  It sounds like common sense, I know, but in the last ten years, I've found that I've been watching some games more than I've been playing them.  I know this is going to sound cliche, but if I wanted to watch a movie, I'd watch a movie.

So what would be my ideal way of telling a story in a game?  I'd say do it like Portal 2.  If you've never played Portal 2, then let me tell you how it tells its story.  The game never interrupts you to tell you a piece of information, and instead, the characters talk while you're solving puzzles and traversing through the abandoned laboratories.  You also get a sense of the background just by looking at the environments.  You can tell that the area the game takes place in was once a state of the art laboratory, but has since been forgotten and left behind.

How to do in game story right.

Sure, Portal 2 doesn't have the most complex storyline ever, but I wish more games would take that route of story telling.  If a game tells a story through the environments and gameplay majority of the time, then I wouldn't mind a few cutscenes.

I guess that's why my favorite game genre is platformer and my favorite game developer is Nintendo.  For the most part, platformers and Nintendo games don't have storylines that require cutscenes, and I appreciate them for that.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Modern games are too short.

When modern gaming started to take shape in the 1970s and 1980s, games were incredibly short and could be beaten anywhere between a matter of minutes to an hour or so if you knew what you were doing.  As time went on and technology became more advanced, games started becoming longer and more fleshed out.  This eventually led to games that you can play for close to one hundred hours and still not be finished. However, with this most recent generation of consoles, games seem to have become shorter than before, not longer.

If you look at most of the big name games from the previous two generations of consoles, they usually last a good amount of time.  Games like Kingdom Hearts, Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Majora's Mask, the Final Fantasy games, and others couldn't be completed in a matter of hours.  You had to spend days playing them to completely finish the games with everything collected.  While there are games today that do compete with these games in terms of length, they're a lot more uncommon.

I think part of the issue with game length nowadays is the fact that many of the major games released have a multiplayer focus.  Games like Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Portal 2 have extremely short campaign modes, but have a nice, fleshed out multiplayer mode.  Even though I do enjoy the multiplayer aspects of these games, I find myself wishing that their single player modes were longer, especially when I'm paying fifty to sixty dollars for a game.  I don't want to be able to finish the story completely in one or two days; I want it to last me a good while so I get my money's worth out of it.

Call of Duty is the perfect example of a game with a short campaign,
but has a fleshed out multiplayer mode.

Yes, there have always been multiplayer games with a short story mode, but they're a lot more common this generation than they have been in any other. The standardization of online may have helped lead to that, but I feel like there are a lot of games today that should have had longer single player modes.

But it isn't just multiplayer games.  There are also numerous games this generation that are strictly single player, but have short campaigns, like Batman Arkham City, Enslaved, and Bioshock.  I don't know if it's the massive production costs that are cutting into the length of games, but it would be nice to see a new IP whose single player campaign lasts around twenty hours.  If it is the production cost that's hindering the single player experience, then maybe developers should stop focusing so much on creating the largest worlds with the most realistic graphics, and start focusing on creating a game that lasts more than ten hours.

I do realize that there are games this generation that do have long campaigns, such as Final Fantasy XIII and the Zelda games, but due to their history and the expectations created by previous entries, their single player modes have to be a good length.  Besides, these games are developed by companies with almost infinite resources, so the games themselves aren't hindered by the rising cost of development.

In the end, it feels like games today have generally become shorter than games from previous generations, for whatever reasons.  Hopefully with the next generation right around the corner, games will start to become longer.  Maybe the costs of development will drop with the newest consoles or multiplayer won't be included in almost every single game, which would hopefully lead to longer campaigns.  We'll just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Have faith in me.

I know I promised a few times in the past that I would post an article up the next day, but then I never did.  Well, I'm telling you the same thing today.  I swear I'm telling the absolute truth when I say I have an article already written, I'm just holding onto it for tomorrow so I can get back into the routine of posting around noon eastern time.  Just have a little bit of faith in me.

See you guys tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why the Wii U should have achievements.

All right, back on track!  You can start expecting articles daily again.  I've gotten over my writer's block hump and I'm motivated to write again, so here we go!

When it comes to the Wii U, online has been a popular topic of discussion.  Nintendo knows that their fans were unhappy with the DS and Wii's online systems, and they've promised us that the Wii U's will be better.  The bar is set high though, thanks to the Playstation Network (PSN) and Xbox Live (XBL) services.  There are numerous features on the PSN and XBL that are expected to be present in any next generation online system, such as cross game chat, multimedia services like Hulu and Netflix, and achievements.  Despite these expectations, there are countless fans of Nintendo who argue against such features, with the inclusion of achievements probably being the most popular debate.

It's pretty obvious that Nintendo's fanbase is split when it comes to the inclusion of achievements.  You can go to any website specializing in Nintendo news or any Nintendo forum, and you'll find people who say that they don't want achievements on the Wii U.  Their arguments usually boil down to two points, with the first being that they don't really add anything and the other is they take away from content inside the game.  While these arguments do hold some water, they can be refuted quite easily.

The debate over achievements between Nintendo fans is probably
one of the most talked about online features so far.

To say that achievements don't add anything is completely ignoring a large group of gamers that replay games specifically to collect achievements.  You may see that as a bad thing, but to just as many people, achievements add an extraordinary amount of replay value.  Some of these gamers normally wouldn't run through a game to try to collect everything, but if an achievement tells them to run through a game to collect everything, they will.  Sure, it may artificially add replay value, but nevertheless, it still adds incentive to complete sidequests and completely finish a game.

Saying they take away content from the actual game is a horrible point too.  Achievements don't take away from in game content at all, they just give you more reason to see everything in the game.  Every game I've played that has some form of achievements has never felt gimped specifically because of the achievements.  In fact, it feels like the developers create the game first and then later decide what achievements would best fit the game they created.  The fact that they feel like after thoughts may be an issue with achievements, but the fact is, for the most part, they don't take away from ingame content.

I'm not arguing that achievements are perfect, though.  They're not.  There are quite a few games where many of the achievements are just given to you and don't even add replay value to the game. For example, when I first played the Sly Collection on the PS3, I got a trophy for just starting the game.  Nothing else.  And I know there's also the fact that once you're done collecting an achievement, they don't do anything outside of the game other than sit there and show off how many games you've beaten, and that does bother me.

This game probably has one of the most pointless trophies I've ever
had the pleasure to unlock.

But something you have to realize is that this is the first generation that achievements have ever been implemented.  Of course there are going to be kinks in the system the first time it's ever used, and next generation could potentially work those kinks out.  I personally think there's a massive amount of potential in the achievement system, we just need a company to step up and find that potential.  And what better company to lead the mission of realizing achievements' full potential than Nintendo?

Now, I know Nintendo hasn't exactly been a pioneer on the internet front, but they've shown that they're willing to step up their game with the Wii U, and improving the current achievement system could be one way to show that.

An example of how Nintendo could improve achievements would be to actually give them a purpose outside of their game.  They could create a point system where you receive a certain amount of points based on how difficult the achievement was to unlock, and then those points could be used for downloads on Nintendo's next virtual store.  Of course it would take a fairly good amount of points to buy a game off of the store, but it would be incentive for developers to make meaningful achievements that harder to collect and it would also give incentive to players to actually go through the game and collect them.

Overall, the current system achievements use is flawed, but if it's tweaked a little a bit, it can become a great compliment to online gaming.  Nintendo fans that don't want an achievement system on the Wii U are only focusing on the flaws, no matter how wrong or right they are, and they aren't taking into account their full potential and what Nintendo could possibly do with them.  To automatically write off a function after only one generation of testing is wrong, and Nintendo should show fans the true potential of achievements.  It would not only fix a system with a few issues, but it would also prove to gamers that Nintendo is serious about online gaming.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sorry for my absence

So obviously my current way of writing these articles isn't exactly working, seeing as I haven't really posted a new story for about four days.  Because of this, I'm changing my schedule and not doing anything else until I finish writing something for the day.  I'll start doing that tomorrow, so you can look forward to a new post.

I know I've probably been the most unreliable person on the internet this past week, but I promise things will get better.  I have a lot of ideas for articles already written down, it's just a matter of sitting down and writing them.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I'm a horrible person.

Uuuuuuugh.  This week.

Post tomorrow.  I'll force myself to sit down and write something tonight.  Stay with me through this week and it'll pay off!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I suck.

There won't be a post today.  Again.

But it's for a reason!

I really want to get back into the habit of updating around noon eastern time, so I'm saving the article that I would have normally posted today for tomorrow.  This week has been rough in the writing department, but stick with me!  It'll get better in the weeks to come.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gamers place too much emphasis on the art style of games

Games have come a long way in every department since the original release of Pong back in 1972.  Gameplay has become more sophisticated, enemies have become more intelligent, the worlds games take place in have become larger, and graphics have advanced so much that games like Uncharted 3 and Ni No Kuni PS3 are possible today.  Along with these developments, art style in games has also evolved.  Back in the 1980s, every console game released was using an 8-bit processor, which limited developers from fully realizing their artistic visions in a game.  As time went on, game processors became more and more advanced, allowing developers to eventually create games with the art style they envisioned.  However, a developer's ability to fully realize the art style they strove for has created a problem in the gaming world.

It's commonplace today to hear a gamer say that they don't want to buy a game simply because it looks childish, with the most famous example probably being The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.  The people who played and completed The Wind Waker for the most part agree that it was an amazing game that's up there with Zelda's best, but there are just as many people who dismissed the game because of its cel-shaded graphics, calling it "kiddy."  It's a crime that this even happened, as the art style doesn't affect the gameplay at all.  If The Wind Waker had an art style in the same vain as Twilight Princess, it would have played the exact same way.  Link's head being the same size as his body doesn't take away your ability to have fun, which is what the main point of games: to entertain you so you can have fun.

Many gamers dismissed The Wind Waker because of its art style.

Nintendo fans aren't perfect either; not by a longshot.  I've seem numerous fans of Nintendo defend games like The Wind Waker and repeat the same points I just made, but then turn around and say that games like Gears of War and Call of Duty don't interest them because they have realistic art styles and the colors they primarily use are grey and brown.

Yes, games that look realistic do have an art style, and I feel that's something a lot of Nintendo fans forget.  Realism may not be the most creative art style ever, but nonetheless, it is an art style.  The famous painting Mona Lisa uses realistic proportions and colors, but it's still just as much a piece of art as Van Gogh's Starry Night.  If you hate on Gears of War because of its color palette and realism, you're just as bad as the people who hate on The Wind Waker because of its color palette and unrealistic proportions.

But don't worry if you're one of those Nintendo fans that defends colorful, cartoony games, and then turns around and refuses to play Gears of War because it's brown and realistic; I used to be that Nintendo fan too.  For the longest time, I refused to play God of War because the art style just didn't appeal to me; it was realistic and less colorful than the games I was used to playing at the time.  But then I decided to give the series a shot to see what all the hype was about, and boy was I shocked.  What I discovered was a series with some seriously fun gameplay that managed to entertain me from beginning to end, and I would have never experienced it if I kept my prejudice against games with a realistic, not-so-colorful art style.

I used to dismiss God of War because of its art style, but when I
played it, I discovered an extremely fun and addicting series.

The series that really hits the point home is Zelda.  I know I've already talked about The Wind Waker, but I feel like the series in general is a great example of what I'm talking about.

It's no secret that the Zelda series has gone through multiple changes in art style since Ocarina of Time.  The two N64 Zelda titles had a colorful, anime-esque art style, which then turned into a colorful, cartoony art style in The Wind Waker, and then it changed back to the anime-esque art style, but this time with less color in Twilight Princess.  At their core, all four of these games play the same way.  You go through dungeons to collect items, fight bosses, and move the plot along.  You may like one more than the other because sailing across the ocean in The Wind Waker was too cumbersome, or because Hyrule Field in Twilight Princess was too empty, or even because you felt rushed by the time limit in Majora's Mask, but the point is, it's not the art style that makes one game more entertaining than the other, it's gameplay elements each game had or didn't have.

I'm not saying that art style isn't an important part of a game -- it is a significant part because it helps set the overall tone for the game -- but it's certainly not something to base your entire purchase on.  The game's gameplay and genre should be the deciding factors when deciding which game is worth your money and which isn't, not the fact that the characters in the game either look realistic or cartoony.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I lied.

I know I promised a post today, but my parents stayed a lot longer than I anticipated, so I didn't have time to type anything up.  I know, I'm a horrible person, but just think of these last two days as like a weekend for me. I promise there will be a post tomorrow though, and this time I meant it.