Resuming the Survey
Yesterday I really did not make it terribly far into the survey before I simply ran out of time. If you want to check out the first part see my previous post. I will be picking up where I left off this morning and hopefully getting significantly further. There are a number of awesome responses to all of the questions floating about so I highly suggest you check out the other Blaugust folks as well. If you want to see the original survey you can still see it here.
7. Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.
I am going to have to say Guild Wars 2 here. I have given this game a good college try on several occasions, but each time I play it I just get frustrated that I cannot for the life of me see what everyone else likes so much about it. I alpha tested this game and so far it has been the only alpha test that I actually went through the trouble of resigning from. When it launched everyone was interested in it so I decided to give it another shot, only to end up frustrated again. Since this is a buy to play title, I keep patching it up every so often to see if it is something I can enjoy yet.
I feel like I am less frustrated with the game at this point, than my inability to see any of its saving graces. I feel like I am somehow flawed in that I cannot understand why this title is popular. Don’t get me wrong it has a lot of really nice features, ones that I wish were in other games. However the lack of meaningful interaction with the world and lack of role based game play always end up with me uninstalling the game. I mean I understand that the world is pretty, but past that I can’t think of why someone would want to play it. This game will always be an enigma to me, and I have yet to actually make it past 45 or so in any character.
8. Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
I struggled with this one for quite a bit, and I went on this morning writing most of the other posts below before returning to it. Mostly I didn’t quite know how to classify something as “poorly received”. There are a lot of games that do not necessarily do well upon launch that later receive an almost cult following. Then it finally hit me… the game I should talk about. In 2011 ID Software was working on a brand new engine, and a game that showcased it. Everything about it looked like we might be getting their take on the whole post apocalyptic fallout style genre. When it released however, not a single person seemed to like it. I however loved every single moment of Rage. I loved the setting, the engine, the characters you interacted with… and most importantly the moment to moment game play. The only problem I had with the game was that there simply was not enough of it. It was over well before I was ready for it to be, in fact I thought it was going to pull a “Link to the Past” on me and show me that the real mission was only just beginning. Sadly however the game was over and I had so many things absolutely unresolved. However the game that was there was absolutely sublime, and for whatever reason people just couldn’t seem to see that. Unfortunately due to lackluster sales and due to bad reviews… they never really released much DLC for the game, and I will be left with what might have been.
9. What are your favorite game genres?
I primarily play MMOs and Role-playing games or at least games with heavy character development and role-play elements. I like games where I can become the character, rather than playing through someone else’s character. Games like the new Tomb Raider are awesome, but it is like watching a movie. The games that really pull me in are the ones which I can inhabit and that become about me more than the characters I am playing. I want to be the big damned hero and save the kingdom… and if a game lets me do that I am generally happy with it. Similarly I can never seem to actually play the “dark side” option in a game. I cannot bring myself to willfully be a dick to people in games, because the character is really just an extension of me… and I can’t bring myself to act like that.
10. Who is your favorite game protagonist?
To be honest, I have to go with the above answer. I am my favorite game protagonist. When I play a game I am playing a version of myself. It might be Bel the Orc, or Bel the Monster Hunter, or even Bel the Crackpot Surgeon… but it is always me that inherits the character. I like playing versions of myself and when I play a game it is about me being able to do things I can’t actually do in real life… either that or shouldn’t do for the sake of you know not ending up in jail. So when I play Mass Effect I am not playing Commander Shepard… I am playing myself as a Commander. The games that do not disturb this internal narrative are the ones I tend to enjoy the most like Skyrim or Fallout. If you actually want me to pick a character from a game that I like the most… we will have to go with Link in all his many forms. I guess he most represents the heroic ideal for me or a weak person that goes on a quest and gets strong during the process.
11. Describe your perfect video game.
This is always the roughest question, because if I knew how to create the perfect video game I would likely be a game designer. For me at least like I said above the game that gets the least in the way of my personal narrative is the one that I tend to enjoy the most. So for me I greatly prefer the silent protagonist games like Secret World of Final Fantasy XIV. When someone is speaking the dialog of someone that is supposed to be “me” in this world, it causes so much cognitive dissonance. As far as the game play I tend to favor fantasy games or post apocalyptic world settings, because they are very open ended and allow for very loose moment to moment gameplay. I want a good overarching quest that drives the storyline along, but I also want there to be a ton of interesting side quests along the way that are in essence little bite sized chunks of adventure with very limited commitment.
The most important thing to my enjoyment however is the ability to go off the rails. Nothing frustrates me than having a series of cut scenes the moment you start a game, so my preference would be to dump into a world with little explanation, and allow me to figure out what is going on as I roam around. Cut scenes are cool, but I hate feeling like I am trying to play an “interactive movie”, so I would prefer that if they exist they are initiated by me and not forced upon me. I place a high premium on being able to explore on my own and find my own adventure where it leads me. I think this is why I like the MMO genre so much, is because I can carve out the game I want to play through all of the various things it offers. I have learned to appreciate narrative gameplay, but it so often feels like I am being handcuffed and forced to do things I don’t want to. So at the end of the day I feel like the “Theme-box” or “Sand-park” hybrid is my favorite thing. Give me a storyline that I can follow if I choose to, but also let me go off and build my own game play when I decide to do that.
12. What video game character do have you have a crush on?
This question is a little odd to me, because I can’t say I have ever really had a “crush” on any video game character. Maybe in part it is because I grew up in the era of gaming where storyline was an after thought and the characters really were just an assemblage of pixels. I guess the closest for me is I have a fondness for Tali’Zorah in the Mass Effect series and always tend to pick her for my parties. I can’t say that is a crush per say but I definitely like the character more than most of the others.
13. What game has the best music?
I listen to a lot of video game music, as that tends to be MOST of what I listen to at work. Instrumental music is what I can write or code to most easily, so it helps me focus on whatever I happen to be doing. Additionally there is a nice feel good element to it of nostalgia as in the back of my mind I get warm fuzzies when I hear tracks that remind me of good times in games. Right now the soundtrack that is on heavy rotation for me is Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn import CD. I am also a huge fan of The Secret World and Defiance soundtracks for various reasons… but primarily that they fit the game they represent and reminds me of those worlds. However if you absolutely want to pin me down to just one soundtrack… I have to go back to Castlevania Symphony of the Night. There is just so much to love about that soundtrack, and it will likely always be my favorite.
Finishing Up Tomorrow
Once again I have run out of time, but I feel like I can probably finish things up tomorrow morning. I feel bad that it will have taken me three days worth of posts to make it through one single 21 question survey. However I could not bring myself to give short answers on any of the questions really. The questions themselves serve to unlock a bunch of memories in the process, so I figured this is my blog and I might as well expand upon them.