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Poodlejumper Blog

Pining for Nostalgia or Simple Economics?

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nos·tal·gia

/nstæld, -di, n-/ Show Spelled [no-stal-juh, -jee-uh, nuh-] Show IPA noun 1. a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time: a nostalgia for his college days.2. something that elicits or displays nostalgia.

Recently, I keep hearing those who say negative of these kickstarters using the word 'nostalgia'. There's something about this statement that really bothers me...Like those of us who funded such projects and Project Eternity or Wasteland 2 are pining for the Pacman Arcade style gigantic machines to come back when they went away for a dang good reason. They were a part of the times they existed in. Any attempt to bring back those gigantic hogs would be just ant attempt to relive a past that is long gone.

'Nostalgia', would be not being able to stop playing that old game. I haven't played Planescape Torment for years. I did replay Baldur's Gate recently as it was redone (rather lacklusterly) and I have to admit that there was Nostalgia involved in replaying it. Nostalgia is a feeling that happens because one is pining for a return to that era and furthermore one would be demanding a part 2 that is exactly the same as the old one just to bring back that feeling.

Nostalgia would be wanting something that went away for a reason...because time and life moved one. Time and life may have moved on...and I'm glad they did, but simple economics remain. I have been wanting to play games that fill my need for deep tacticle and role playing in a video game medium. The demand for more of these gamse was there when the other games came out and the demand for more is still there in me. It never went away or decreased!

This isn't about nostalgia. This is simple supply and demand. There is a demand for real tactical RPGs and someone is supplying this FINALLY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS. There's been a CONSTANT demand since a stronger focus for FPSs have been in view but some idiot in publisherland thought that something else was what we wanted when we asked for an RPG. That something else has devolved into Dragon Age 2: a mindless button mashing excuse for dog dirt that has nothing to do with Role-Playing games.

The same role playing games that are based off PnP games that still get published every year and played by players new and old alike. They never went away. They keep coming out. Usually getting better and better as time goes on.

Some old favories get reinvented and sometimes the older systems (PnP speaking in this example) are better. Sometimes an industry needs to rethink the path they're on because they're not supplying the demand that they left vacant.

If I were the only one who still held that demand it would be a sign that I'm being nostalgic or attaching feelings to this that are unwarranted.

I'm not. Not by a longshot.

Games without 'humanity' are doomed to mediocrity

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Reflecting on the Aliens: Colonial Marine game recently.  Just why did this game do so poorly.  Why do many of the Aliens based games do so poorly.  Last really good one I remember was the only reason to buy an Atari Jaguar, and it's horribly dated now.

 

Was it the bugs?  They weren't that many.

 

Was it the partially dated graphics?  They weren't that bad.

 

Shoddy gameplay?  I've seen worse...seldomly.  The autoloader was atrocious granted.

 

Was it the general false advertising part of it?  That was probably the kick inthe head that turned the tide.  That aside...it kind of dawned on me.  It happens in every Aliens game.

Aliens was never about the marines.  They were cool.  Weirzbowski to Hudson they were an awesome part of the film but Aliens was NEVER about the Marines.  You didn't even get to know them...not as people...not as people you'd want to get to know in reality.

Aliens was about Ripley.  Aliens was always about Ripley.  She was a woman and the hero of the story but not in the macho shoot 'em up way.  The marines did that...they died...well all but Hicks...but he didn't seal the deal.

Ripley was not a violent person by nature or training.  She was a strong woman but a creature of necessity.  When did we really cheer for her?  When did she turn to a force of nature?  When she was protecting a little girl.  A surrogage for her lost daughter.  The queen alien herself was also turned to revenge by something akin to the emotion but still entirely...alien.

 

Riply was human.  She acted out of maternal love and defending her young.  Even to the point where she shields Newt from the Alien Queen as comes out of the elevator shaft at her with a final "Close your eye's baby" as her last thought of the moment are that of protecting Newt.  It was something we can almost all associate with: Motherly love.

 

Why did we protect Clementine in Telltale's Walking dead?  Why did the end of BioShock make me misty?  Why did I really like Alyx Vance as a person and work to protect and save her in Half-Life 2?  Why did I feel so sorry for Jahera in Baldur's Gate 2 when she spoke of her late husband?

 

Humanity.  Empathy.  Sympathy.  

 

They're what makes a good story great and a decent game an immersible experience.

 

There's something stronger than tough-guy shoot-em-up in a good game or movie.  There's humanity.

A Sure-fire formula to predict AAA Game stinkage

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Well Diablo 3 is out and there seems to be a mixture of rage between the game getting poor support in release (seriously Blizzard...just flipping get rid of the antipiracy stuff that actually makes people not want to buy the game in the first place.) and the game not being worth 12 years of development time (littleless than Duke Nukem's recent come back...but I digress). Now I have not played but I do trust certain gamer's calls on things and I do smell a sub-par product. Yet I smelled it before release and here's why:

I know how to tell the "next big thing" is going to be sub-par.

BS you say. Piffle. You're trolling.

No. No I'm not. I can predict with near certainty (provided that we're dealing with a AAA game) of a games need to be disregarded and not purchased.

Bottom line: when the marketing is OVER THE FREAKING TOP. When it is plastered everywhere on every game site, game store, game related news media release, even on game tie in products (freaking mountain dew and what not)...it's going to be overhyped. Mediocre at best...most likely (and don't you dare whine about the word usage when it is so very apt) DUMBED DOWN, and at worst a polished turd that should lose money hand-over-fist.

Can I provide some proof? Yes I can. Dragon Age 2 (I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you...), Rage, Dante's Inferno, Duke Nukem, and yes now Diablo 3.

All had insane amounts of pandering and unneeded marketing (Remember Rage and the NBA Rookie of the year Blake whatshisface who I honestly don't give a ***k if he games or not) to the point of intangental tie ins. The only game series I've seen this done with both insane levels of marketing and a decent game (from all sources that I barely trust...I never played it as the series ignores PC Gamers until 2 years after their X-Box release) was Halo 3. Even then I consider Halo to be so overrated it's beyond funny but consider it the possible exception of the rule.

Marketing to an over-the-top level serves one purpose no matter the industry. To seperate a fool from his money and when you're buying a crap game you sir/madam are a fool.

When you see overmarketing happening. Wait for release. Read the reviews. Then buy if you can justify it.

Caveat emptor

Just a lil bit about me...

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I figure if you click my handle you want to know who's that cat writing that **** a bit about me so I don't come across talkin' out of my posterior.

Been gaming since Pong and Donkey Kong. Love my games like Wiford Brimley loves his grandkids and oatmeal. Aside from many recent platform releases that I WANTED to play but couldn't (because I don't have the money these days) if you bring up a game that's been on the PS1, Nintendo (NES), Atari 2600, and especially PC...well I bet you I've played it.

36 now...Family man and Project Manager for software development (nothing entertaiment based...reality is much more boring than that)but I still know a thing or two about where development can go wrong and I'll be slapped like a chipmunk if the theory isn't bang on across the board regardless of the end product.

Truth be told I'll play anything if it's good...and I'm not afraid to try new games and styles but you bet your sweet azz I will tear some crappy games up when review time comes around.

Nobody's paying me to rate things...and I have a long memory of what is good and bad...and where a lot of games go wrong.