I bet you didn't expect me to post so soon, did you? The promise of a new blog has been looming over me like a fat hippo on a string, just waiting to fall, crush my bones and squeeze my internal organs through my urethra. With the unprecedented amount of bile that the game industry has been spewing over the past few months, I figured I'd join in and contribute some of my own. After all, we are gamers and we pride ourselves in doing what we do best - complain. Hence I present to you my top three gaming peeves.
I also promised to go all out with the rage inducing topics, so here goes.
Also also, if you don't want to suddenly REALLY **** hate me, I recommend that you read this blog with a bit of salt. Proceed at your own risk.
I shall start with the topic that perhaps pisses me off the most - brand loyalty. Gamers often tend to forgive bad games if they are fans of the series. They would even go as far as to defend the people who made them and come up with their own hypothesis on how or why said game had failed to live up to expectations. It's really quite fascinating the level of denial these people operate on. Take Sonic, for instance. Every time a new game comes out, the fans all pile up and single handily proclaim that yes, this new release is finally the turning point for the series, and how Sonic will once more regain it's former glory. A few years pass and voila - a new Sonic game comes out, and again, fans claim that it's a return to form.... You get the point. No one is willing to admit that Sonic is dead and he should bloody stay that way.
At least end it for the sake of the series, damn it. No one wants to see Sonic stumble drunkenly for another miserable installment only to fall flat on his face and bleed out in a ditch somewhere.
Here is another example - Final Fantasy. It's fans still think that the worst is behind them. No, guys, the worst is still to come, trust me. I know how this **** works. One would think that after so many disappointments people would pick up on a pattern or two, that perhaps this series isn't the same one you loved so much back in 1996. And perhaps now with a bit of hindsight, that 7'th installment isn't looking all that special anymore. And come to think of it, nor do all the other games that came after it.
Brand loyalty is infuriating because it allows stagnant franchises to sell long after their expiration date. Just the mere mention of a name would send millions of fanboys into rage, or adversely, hype the living piss out of them. Popular brands hold unspeakable power over your mind, whether you want it or not. The Star Wars prequels that you went to watch... remember those? Like zombies, we all marched on and paid good money to see what we knew would be **** awful.
I think this serves as a lesson to everyone - Always doubt your instincts and remain cautiously optimistic about anything that you like. Always be critical, especially of the things that you like.
Brand loyalty brings out another thing I despise about our culture - loyalty to developers. Quite frankly, I find the notion even more baffling than Brand Loyalty. At least then you knew what you were getting yourself into. Game development is not an exact science, and a well known developer might be good at something very specific, and really awful at everything else, which is exactly the case with 99.9% of developers out there. Even the all time favorites like Shinji Mikami, Suda51, Warren Spector, Will Wright, Peter Molyeux.... all of them are mere shadows of what they used to be. In fact, I firmly believe that you are only as good as your last game.
Also, let's face facts: these people are old, and as your grow older, you become more conservative. It's a principle that works in real life, too. You take less risks, and you become far less ambitious. And if you are rich and fat enough, you become docile, lazy, and ultimately a sell-out. You've got a family to feed, after all. Three kids and a wife... what about pension? gotta keep that in mind, too!! gotta pay taxes... need to save money for the children's education... money doesn't grow on trees, you know? Daddy has to bend over for the evil businessman if he wants to feed his children.
Case to point - none of these people are what they used to be back in their "glory" days, much less are capable of delivering on the same games you once enjoyed. There is still a possibility, but your chances are rather low at this point. Remember that game development takes more than one guy, and the vast majority of interesting ideas usually come from other people, mainly because there is more of them. Development is a group effort, not a **** choire that sings by the lead designer's whim.
To those that think of bringing up Kickstarter - We've yet to see any actual results. Frankly, I very much doubt any of them can deliver on a truly great game. Gamers just convinced themselves that their pedigree will somehow make everything work. I hate that.
And just to drive my point home, I'd like to present to you some recent examples of developers that grew too "old" for this hobby.
Remember the guy who made Deus Ex? Well, that's what he has become - http://www.joystiq.com/2013/01/10/hit-list-qanda-warren-spector-creative-director-and-founder-of-j/ - A monumentally pathetic human being. May I remind you that this was the guy who revolutionized the industry back in 2000?
Also, here is the famous David Cage making a horribly stupid comment on video games - http://www.gamespot.com/news/sequels-kill-creativity-says-david-cage-6402218 .... sadly unaware of the fact that he has been doing little else other than sequels for the past decade or so.
Here is another thing that makes steam come out of my god damn ears every time I hear people say it: "This console generation is over too soon!". I believe there are quite a few console gamers reading this blog so I imagine not many of them know why PC gamers are so angry in general. There are many reasons. I'll start from the very beginning:
Contrary to what most console gamers would tell you, we PC gamers don't care about the system wars. In fact, I couldn't care less which console is the best and why console X has more games than console Y. I love all consoles (for the possible exception of the XBOX360, because **** Microsoft), and I play on them quite a bit, but my main gaming rig and my main focus will always be the PC. This whole PC elitist nonsense is something I encounter quite often online, and it's always some bloke who knows nothing about PC gaming or gamers and always assumes stuff that is so incredibly off the charts that if you could measure his presumptuousness on an actual physical scale, it will **** break and the needle would gouge your eye out.
PC gamers became "elitists" not because we consider ourselves superior, but because the PC gamer community has been beaten down by console gamers ever since the early 2000's. Why? How?
This was the time when it all started going horribly wrong for PC gamers. It's no secret that the console market was getting stronger during the early 90's, but the big "boom" of console gaming came in the early 2000's. Most developers have realized that rather than deal with "piracy" and a rather niche PC market, the console market presented a much richer soil to exploit. There were no hacks or cheats back then, and you couldn't easily download a crack to make a pirated console game work. Consoles were also closed systems, which means that console manufacturers like Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Sega, could regulate the games on their system and avoid competition as much as possible. They could set the prices and dictate what you can and cannot do, as well as Impose fees on third party developers for hosting their games on these systems. Plus, console games are rather simplistic in comparison to PC games, therefore they would be cheaper to make, and since consoles were designed to be cheaper, it would ultimately increase their profits significantly.
And this is exactly what they did. People saw the massive profit potential in consoles and they all dived in.... leaving PC gamers far, far behind, with barely any PC developers left to cater to them. In fact, some of the most adamant PC developers have simply stood up and left, never to make PC games again. So you can imagine the outrage the PC gamer community had felt. It didn't stop some ignorant console gamers from spouting abuse at people like me, which left PC gamers very bitter and angry. It's like coming home every day to realize that another portion of your house was repossessed and sold off to your neighbour who mocks you everytime you pass him by on the street. This is pretty much how the term "PC elitist" was born.
It doesn't end here, however. The sudden move of most developer houses to console gaming had left behind a gigantic hole in the PC market that no one wanted to fill. It would take some time before Valve would come along to fill the gaps with Steam, but in the mean time, many game genres have died out as a result. Flight sims/Space sims, Strategy games, traditional RPG, Dungeon crawlers, Adventure games,Puzzle games, God games, as well as their sub-genres have all but disappeared from the face of the industry. It's only recently that we are seeing them come back, although not as fast as I would like them to be. The massive tear that PC gaming had sustained can still be seen today, sadly enough, with most developers out there not even acknowledging that the platform even exists.
Did you know that Sonic, Resident Evil, Mario, MGS, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, Metroid, Halo, Unreal Tournament, Gears of War, and many more used to be on PC? Well, they aren't anymore. This whole "shun the PC gamer" trend hasn't gone away as the time went by, in fact, it's gotten worse. The peak came roughly around 2007 when there was almost nothing to play on the PC. No triple A titles within miles. Just a load of old wank to suck on in between a handful of PC releases that year. Back then things were pretty bad, but little did we know, it was about to get even worse.
I believe it was around 2008, possibly even sooner, when PC hardware had far surpassed consoles. It was also the time when Steam was really getting into the swing of things, prompting quite a few of the money grabbing companies to turn around and say "we're sorry we neglected you for the past 8 years or so, here, have some ****ty ports as a consolation prize", whereupon they literally heaped on us hundreds of really awful console ports of already watered down games. I'm not just talking graphics wise, since as I said before, PC technology was already ahead at the time, but also in terms of general functionality. Case to point - the bloody games barely even worked!! A classic example of such bullcrap is the infamous Saints Row 2 port, which is quite frankly unplayable. On consoles such a thing wouldn't pass a publisher's QA department, but on PC no one could even check. In fact, the number of awful ports had increased over the years and became even more of an issue when Microsoft decided to release GFWL.
This became a bigger problem as the time went by, as the gap between the PC and consoles became wider, the PC ports were still stuck in 2007 in terms of graphical fidelity, which is no surprise since games are primarily developed for consoles and ported to PC as an afterthought. In some cases, PC ports are released at a much later date, following some kind of lame blanket excuse from the publisher about wanting to optimize it. Suffice to say that the end result is anything other than that. Keep in mind that I haven't even touched on the horrible always online DRM, and how multiplayer PC games are plagued with hackers because publishers don't wanna let us run our own servers, or perhaps how the FPS genre has devolved into the boring slog-fest you see today, just so they could release them on consoles...
The bottom line is this: PC gaming has been hadicapped by the console market ever since 2000, and will probably be sucking on the heels of console manufacturers for all eternity. We have been nothing but second rate customers for almost as long as I can remember, and the screams of piracy and elitism only serve as an added insult to injury, especially when these insults come from game developers themselves. It's the sad, ugly truth of the matter, and is the reason why I'm a jaded, joyless **** you see in front of you today.
Contrary to what this may imply, I don't hate console gamers. After all, you are just as much victims of circumstance as we PC gamers are. It's just that most people don't know or care about it. The real force that drives this industry are the publishers themselves, and they are the people I despise the most. Them, and an ignorant group within the console gamer community that spreads bull**** about PC gamers among equally uninformed individuals.
The ultimate purpose of the last few paragraphs is not to make you feel sorry for me or PC gaming. All I ask for is empathy. Understanding. Knowing that for every action there is a reaction. Do it for the sake of this hobby. Because if there is no understanding between gamers - this hobby is doomed.