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JordanElek Blog

ACB: The OCD gamer's bane

Although I don't cry at the mere thought of touching a toilet seat, I do have some OCD tendencies when I play games. I justify it to myself by saying that I want to experience everything a game has to offer, but really... I just need to collect everything.

I swear that the development team behind Assassin's Creed Brotherhood designed their game with smirks on their faces, thinking of all the people like me that would be TORTURED by everything there is collect. The map screen is usually just a Rome-shaped blob of hundreds of icons. And it's not just treasure chests and flags and feathers.... There are hundreds of missions, and every mission has a challenge that gets you a 100% sync if you complete it and a 50% sync if you don't. Seeing that 50% drives me crazy, so I've replayed a bunch of them in order to get that 100%.

In the end, though, I don't really mind it. I really DO want to experience everything a game has to offer, and it helps when the devs put up a percentage or some other kind of indication of how much of the game I've experienced. It helps people like me not go crazy thinking that I might have missed something.

Vinny Caravella illustrated this perfectly when he was asked if he liked Assassin's Creed, and his answer was brilliant: "Every g**damn flag of it."

Motion gaming isn't really a step forward

In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Peter Molyneux said that the Wii was "revolutionary" and Kinect is a "much bigger leap forward."

I know a lot of people might agree with him (or maybe not, let me know in the comments), but I think we're looking at motion gaming from the wrong perspective if we think it's either a step forward or a step back.

I'd say it's more like a step sideways.

Now I love the Wii and motion gaming in general. I think it adds an energetic kind of fun to gaming that just wasn't present before, aside from the occasional yelling matches in local multiplayer games. But that kind of fun was limited to people who could stomach those kinds of games (mostly sports and FPS). Motion gaming has opened the gates to tangible excitement for all kinds of people, and that's awesome.

And I have no doubt that Kinect will do the same kind of thing. Most of its uses will be active in nature, and they'll be applied to games in order to really appeal to that energetic type of entertainment.

But I wouldn't call that a step forward. For it to be a step forward, the whole industry would be in a different place than before. That's the whole idea behind the "step forward" metaphor; when you step forward, you're in a different place than you were before you took that step.

When I look at gaming as a whole right now, I don't see a revolutionized medium. I see the same types of games that have almost always been around, with the addition of motion games.

Don't get me wrong; that's not a bad thing whatsoever. Not yet, at least. Other factors are causing the industry to revolutionize and really change their course - the down economy, the massive increase in game budgets, the need to expand the market (which motion gaming was a response to in the first place).

So what do you think? Is motion gaming really revolutionary? Or is it just another way to enjoy games that isn't necessarily an evolutionary step? Or do you see it in a different way?

Other M has the right ingredients but the wrong proportions

I guess "wrong" is too strong of a term. Maybe "different" would be more appropriate.

(Before I go on, this entry has minor gameplay spoilers but absolutely no story spoilers.)

Other M has everything that you'd expect out of a Metroid game - exploration, familiar abilities, abundant expansions, winding paths, etc. It also has some things you wouldn't usually expect, namely cinematics and more intense action. The weird thing is that these newer aspects of the game are great additions to the series, while the tweaks to the more traditional Metroid mainstays make Other M seem a little off.

Two of these tweaks are major and could be described as using the right ingredients in the wrong proportions. If this were a stand-alone game, there wouldn't be anything wrong with these design decisions... But it's a Metroid game, and previous Metroid games have already given us the winning recipe. So it's still a great game and even a good Metroid game, but it could've been even better but for these two things:

1. Linear sections (and locked doors)

Every Metroid game is linear, even though an illusion of non-linearity is created through the multitude of temporary dead ends. There is one path to get to your destination; the difference in Other M is that that path is always visible rather than invisible.

But even that isn't a problem so much as the sheer LENGTH of each linear section. This problem is compounded by the fact that you're FORCED to traverse these sections without much deviation because the doors that are deemed unimportant are arbitrarily LOCKED. So if you get a new ability and remember a place where you could use that new ability to get an expansion or reach a new area, forget about it if it's not on the path to your next objective.

This isn't ALWAYS the case, though. Some sections of the game are open for exploration. They take place between major plot points and give you a chance to finally use your new abilities. But these sections are too few and far between. Instead of having maybe a total of 50 separate linear sections with non-linear parts in between like other Metroid games, Other M has nine or ten linear sections with non-linear parts between only some of them.

2. Ability distribution

I'll just make a rough graph for this one. Each o represents a moment in the game when you get a meaningful new ability:

--o-----o-------------------------------o-------o----------o-o-o-o-o-o----

You spend the vast majority of the game with only a couple of abilities, then you get barraged near the end with the other two-thirds of them. So even when the map opens up for exploration during the game, you'll rarely have a new ability to even go back to places to use it. And the usually steady progression of weakling to badass has a quick spike near the end of the game when you suddenly become almost invincible.

With all that said, I still absolutely love Other M. Metroid is an amazing franchise, and even though Other M doesn't get the formula exactly how I'd like it, it still satisfies. I beat it with 100% in 13 hours, and I'm going to play it again right away on Hard and see if I can beat my initial finish of 75%. It's a ridiculously fun game.

In preparation for Other M, play Zero Mission

If you've never played Zero Mission, try to find it and play it before you play Other M.

Zero Mission is the essence of Metroid in a single game. It's technically a remake of the original Metroid on the NES, but it incorporates all the greatness of Super Metroid in both visual style and mechanics.

I'm cool

But I'm cooler

Zero Mission is Metroid with a Super Metroid makeover. If you were to play through Zero Mission without knowing that it was a remake of the original, you would never guess it. Gameplay-wise, it feels like a true sequel to Super Metroid. It also has the absolute best shinesparking sections of any Metroid game by far, and it even has certain design choices that were deliberately created for speed runs.

One major addition to the original game is a completely new end section that puts Samus in her zero suit and fleshes out her childhood story a little bit. This slows the pacing quite a bit and feels the least like a Metroid game, but it's a short section that ends up being kind of cool.

Shao Kahn in a Varia Suit???

Maybe the perfection that is Zero Mission will make Other M seem weak in comparison, but it at least serves as a brief reminder of what Metroid is all about. It has everything that makes Metroid great as a series in a quick, awesome package.

Bob Tagat. There's **** EVERYWHERE!

I got tagged and I'm afraid of haxx0rz if I don't comply. :o

1. Tag at least 10 friends. (I'm not tagging anyone. You're welcome everyone!)

IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.

2. Anyone tagged has to do the same, because fun pointlessness spreads like a virus.

--

1. If someone says, "Is this okay?" You say

"Yes."

or

"No."

....depending on if it's okay or not.

2. How would you describe yourself?

I try to make the best of whatever situation I'm in, so I'm pretty easy-going. But I'm also brutally honest, though being brutally honest with a smile can go a long way.

3. What do you like in a guy/girl?

Authenticity and good humor. And a cute face doesn't hurt. Unless it slams into your face at a high speed for some reason...

4. How do you feel today?

Better than I deserve.

5. What is your life's purpose?

Right now, to answer these questions.

6. What is your motto?

Don't waste it.

7. What do your friends think of you?

They think I'm smarter than I am, even though I prove to them daily that I'm an idiot...

8. What do you think of your parents?

Well I'm living with them still while I finish up school, so ... sometimes I get annoyed but I do appreciate everything they've done for me.

9. What do you think about very often?

What DON'T I think about very often!!! HAHAHahaha.a......

10. What is 2 + 2?

Four.

11. What do you think of your best friend?

And so the high school ****questions begin.....

12. What do you think of the person you like?

I like pretty much everyone I meet. INCLUDING YOU. So I think you're awesome.

13. What is your life story?

I'll tell you when it's finished. Don't want spoilers or anything.

14. What do you want to be when you grow up?

A teacher of some sort. It's one of the few things I'm good enough at to have confidence about.

15. What do you think of when you see the person you like?

"Hey look, that's that person I like."

16. What will you dance to at your wedding?

Whatever my wife forces me to dance to.

17. What will they play at your funeral?

Wii Sports.

18. What is your hobby/interest?

Games, books, various sports, current events

19. What is your biggest fear?

Being trapped and unable to move my arms. I've only been violent towards people two times in my life - once when someone intentionally trapped me under a giant beanbag chair and once when someone knocked a cookie out of my hand.

20. What is your biggest secret?

The plaque in my room that says "SECRET" in giant letters.

21. What do you think of your friends?

Thems good people.

22. What will you put as the title?
"Bob Tagat. There's **** EVERYWHERE!" Even though it's a reference to a terrible movie that sullies the name of one of my favorite movies.

Why I Despise System Wars

It's personal.

I've always been vocal about my distain for everything system wars... not just the forum, but that too. That especially.

Just to get the disclaimer out of the way.... I know there are good people in the System Wars forum, and I know some good discussion goes on in there, and I know that it's popular for a reason. With that said....

I hate the place. Rather, I hate the idea of the place. When I first joined Gamespot (which is equivalent to "when I was your age...." Yeah, one of those), there was no System Wars forum. If you wanted to be an ignorant fanboy in one of the forums, you were roundly criticized and you either learned to be (or act) a little more open-minded or you left because this place was lame.

And that's how this topic is personal to me. My second message here was the 1999 version of "SONY SUX TEH COWZ HAVE BEEN PWNED SHEEP RULZ LAMLAMLAM" (and to be honest, I don't even know what the 2010 equivalent of that would be). I was roundly criticized by a few of the regulars, and as the low-self-esteemed 15-year old that I was, my face turned red and I decided to win the respect of these people.

That moment was a turning point in my life, believe it or not, when for some reason, something clicked. I realized that it was worth the time to look at things from someone else's perspective. It started with video games and easily permeated every other facet of my thinking.

If this had happened to a 15-year-old version of me today (or any time in the last ten years or so), I would've been moderated for trolling and MAYBE advised to take it to the System Wars forum, depending on the degree of stupidity of my post. And I would find a home for my close-minded thoughts there, and I would find others just like me to reinforce those thoughts, and it might be years before I learned that valuable lesson.

I may be completely wrong about the System Wars forum, and it may be that people do learn real thinking skills there, but my personal experiences don't allow me to like it. The SW forum was created specifically as a voluntary holding cell for borderline trouble-making fanboys, with the intention being to limit that kind of attitude to one forum and keep it out of all the other ones. But the effect in reality was simply to facilitate it and allow it to spill even more into the whole community.

The main reason I'm still posting here after so long is because of the profound effect this place had on my life as a teenager. I stay in hopes of giving back somehow and maybe affecting someone in the same way that I had been. The very idea of System Wars flies in the face of that concept, and that's why I can't stand the place.

Sin and Punishment 2 scores

This is mainly for my own reference, but if you have S&P2 and want to share scores, I'd love to see how other GS members are doing.

I started off by trying to master Isa on Easy. Once I unlocked Isa & Kachi mode, I decided to stick with that all the time since that seems to be how the game was really meant to be played. Right now, I'm working on getting through Normal without dying.

The number in parentheses is enemies destroyed.

Easy - Isa

Entire game - 214,314,224 (6061)

Stage 0 - 10,483,304 (195)
Stage 1 - 17,062,197 (476)
Stage 2 - 55,443,498 (962)
Stage 3 - 41,098,312 (1050)
Stage 4 - 29,249,740 (899)
Stage 5 - 19,757,583 (770)
Stage 6 - 20,360,318 (845)
Stage 7 - 23,738,973 (797)

Normal - Isa & Kachi

Entire game - 133,960,588 (4035)

Stage 0 - 12,178,316 (189)
Stage 1 - 20,144,691 (494)
Stage 2 - 35,919,544 (1054)
Stage 3 - 34,851,749 (1014)
Stage 4 - 27,560,981 (755)
Stage 5 - 6,702,835 (533)
Stage 6 - 11,558,405 (514)
Stage 7 - 7,609,992 (262)

I come from a long line...

I just found out an interesting fact about my grandpa through a local newspaper article:

"I've been president of the local Atari group since the 1980s," he said. When asked why there was only a Wii system visible in front of his television, he emphatically replied, "That is my wife's Wii. Definitely, not mine."Article

My grandpa is the only person I know who had an Atari Jaguar. We'd bust it out on holidays and gawk at teh grafix. Then the N64 came out and we ridiculed the Jaguar's supposed 64-bitness. Puny Atari.

I had no idea that he was the president of the Michiana Atari Club, or even that such a thing existed. He talks about it in the present tense, so I assume it's still around. I wonder what they do when they meet..... I'll have to ask him on Easter.

I guess I'm 65 in Gamespot years

I'm hanging up my badge and various GS-engraved sticks today, after nearly ten years of off-and-on moderatorship.

The main reason is that I just don't feel like my help is necessary any more. I'd rather be able to browse the forums -- well, let's be honest, browse the Wii forum -- without having to worry about whether replying in a certain thread or to a certain post would be considered hypocrisy, without having to worry about reading threads that I don't care about just because I know there will be hostility that needs to be monitored.

Basically, I'd just like to be a regular user. I don't have any major problems with the moderation team or anything like that, and I don't think I'm going out with any bad blood. I've actually been planning to do this over the past year, and now the time seems right.

I have to add that it was fun while it lasted, and I learned a helluvalot about people and life in general through being a moderator. It gave me invaluable experience in leadership, working with a team, customer service.... I've spent a lot of time interacting with people - real people - because of moderator responsibilities, and I don't think any of that time was a waste.

This blog entry is too short

Recently, there have been some complaints in the Wii forum that five to six hours of gameplay is too short for a $50-game. These complaints are based on the reviews of Deadly Creatures, which generally place the game at less than ten hours, and previews of MadWorld, specifically at IGN, which places the game at five to six hours.

These time estimates don't take replayability into account, in the sense of exploration, unlockables, multiplayer, and even simply playing through the game multiple times. This is nothing new, but people seem to think that the time it takes from the start of the game to the credits is the maximum play time we can get out of a game, when that's (pretty clearly) the minimum.

So please, consider these things before getting discouraged and letting everyone know about it when other people say that a game isn't as long as you expected.