Destiny, Bioshock Infinite, and FF6 on phones

Random news mishmash!

Bioshock Infinite

Ken Levine had an AMA on Reddit on Tuesday, in which he took some incredibly soft, er, softball questions about Bioshock Infinite and its upcoming DLC. I am not sure what exactly I expected – perhaps an apology? – but I left pretty disappointed. Actually, I sorta found myself feeling angry every time I read someone proclaiming that Infinite was their “favorite game ever.” I keep thinking: “No it’s not. The game taking place in your head bears no resemblance whatsoever to the actual game you are playing.” Yes, there is an ontological difference.

I generally have no problem with people having different favorite games than me. If you liked Zelda: Wind Waker more than anything else in the world, good for you. And, hey, now you can buy the High Definition cel-shading version with 300% more bloom! And with basically all the extremely annoying shit you had to do back in 2003 tossed right out: your sailboat can go 50% faster, you don’t have to bother with changing the wind while sailing (pretty sad how exciting that sounds in a game called Wind Waker), and there is significantly less trolling the ocean floor for maps that lead you to pieces of the pieces of the Tri-Force, i.e. what you do for 60% of the game.

See? No judgment here.

I suppose I should be more accommodating for peoples’ favorite games, given how my top-list basically came out in 1997-1998. But, seriously, if Bioshock Infinite registered anywhere higher than Top 50 for you, I’m going to need you to play some other games because damn. It looked pretty and the soundtrack was awesome, but the gunplay and story… you know, it’s not worth it anymore. I’ve said my piece.

Let’s just smother that baby and pretend these paragraphs didn’t happen. ¹

Destiny

Remember that not-Halo game Bungie was making? Me neither. Kotaku posted an article/video yesterday about how Bungie was coining the term “shared world shooter” for Destiny, and basically contrasting that with more traditional MMO player experiences. Which is actually a sort of interesting game design/philosophy argument when you think about it.

As the video points out, a game like Destiny or GTA: Online simply couldn’t work with 100s of players dicking around and causing mass mayhem. It got me thinking about how MMOs themselves manage to pull it off, and I realized that our extremely limited interaction capability is probably due to precisely this problem. The more people you put in one place, the less they are able to change or influence the environment, lest you spend your gaming hours traversing barren craters everywhere.

This is not a new subject by any means; I posted something similar way back in 2011 and the concept of TTP goes even further back (if not to cave paintings). The angle I had not considered was how ridiculous (and abusive) something like WoW would be if you could impact other players to degree you can in GTA: Online. Mount-jacking, being pushed off cliffs via collision-detection, and so on. Some sandboxes advertise these as features, of course, but I’m starting to wonder which one comes first. Like maybe you have to rely on player-driven content simply because players would just create a constant shitstorm in any sort of PvE content if they had to ability to directly grief interact with others.

Getting back to Destiny… well, I’d rather not. Once I realized that they are basically making a non-cel-shaded Borderlands, my interest level plummeted. Just watch that E3 video again. Dungeons? Check. Bosses? Check. Random loot drops? Check. Raids? Check. It can still be fun, no doubt, and maybe they will be able to do some things better than Borderlands did. But the game is “Bungie’s Borderlands” to me now, and I am very much burned out from Borderlands 2 right now.

FF6 Coming to iOS/Android

I don’t have much to add to what’s already out there. Well, other than how I think it’s amusing how much these old properties are being mined for residual income in an environment that (I assume) is dominated by ROMs. Actually, it’s probably pretty smart in that even a relatively tech-savvy person like me balks a little bit at the steps necessary to play SNES games on my phone. Hell, I’m not even sure I want to play these games on my phone in the first place; my commute is a short drive and my breaks/lunches get filled pretty quickly via Feedly and Reddit all on their own. And even if I did want to play these games, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to play them using a SNES controller overlay on the touch-screen.

Although I have perked up a few times hearing that I could play Xenogears on the PSP and Vita, I just can’t envision a scenario in which I would be playing it and not be near either my computer or television. If I’m not playing ROMs on the computer right now, why would I be doing so on a handheld? Help me out here, people: when would you be playing these classics on portable devices?

Plus, you know, Sony is still selling 32gb memory sticks for $72 like it’s goddamn 2005.

¹ That’s a Bioshock Infinite joke. If you don’t get it, be thankful.

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Posted on October 10, 2013, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m on the fence about the latest batch of not-quite-MMOs. Destiny, Titanfall, and even Elder Scrolls Online are designed with loose drop-in drop-out multi-player. I’ll wait until I’ve seen more than just video footage, but I’m cautious how this crop of hybrids will turn out.

    Yes, our youth is being datamined for smartphone ports in an effort to sell us overpriced nostalgia. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that games are never as good as we remember then. Let the memories lie in that warm fuzzy place, instead of being held up to brutal ridicule against some of today’s titles.

    And yes, I enjoyed Bioshock Infinite. Sure, it wasn’t the best game I’ve ever played, but it’s a strong example of the craft and I’d recommend it without hesitation. Partly because it’s an apt demonstration of the narrative running unrestrained, and partly because it invokes such strong reactions from the player.

    • The interesting thing about the not-quite-MMOs, to me, will be how exactly they make it compelling to play with strangers. I had zero incentive to play Borderlands 2 with strangers, for example, as there wasn’t personal loot (as far as I know). But even in games like Diablo 3 which had personal loot, I never really got the sense that the game was more fun than playing solo. It’s a bit different in MMOs simply because you’re likely to see those people again.

      Or maybe it’s even the opposite: other players make the content easier in MMOs. Contrast that with BL2, D3, and so on where monsters become tougher the more people show up. Plus there is less… “intimacy” (IMO) in an open-world game than specifically coming over to someone’s 4-person world.