Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"I compare, so there" What Bull.

Why do people feel the need to compare things to other things?

Well there are a number of reasons and a lot of them make sense, but to a point, and no farther.

Comparing a Volvo to a Honda is one thing, comparing a Honda to Book is a different thing.

These days people seem to want to compare every game with ever other game.


There is no final answer when comparing games. Like I have said before, everyone is different, with everyone having different tastes, where one person might like Counter-Strike another may love Halo. You can't say which one of those it better, as the word known as "opinion" throws a wrench in "Fact's" cogs.

But even so, people sometimes have good debates on which game is better, be it very rarely, but, people have to go one step farther....

They decide to compare things like Ratchet and Clank, to Halo, or Gears of War, and Burnout to Metal Gear Solid.

Okay, tell me....

How the f*** are you suppose to do that? Like the metaphor from before, "comparing a honda to a good book."

Some things do not work; you cannot put together a jigsaw puzzle with pieces from multiple puzzles, You cannot take a taxi from Japan to Hawaii, and you cannot compare a Shooting game with a puzzle game, or a platforming game, with a racing game. Some things just *don't* work.

End of story.

This should be obvious right?

I guess not.

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Rip Off", is a "Rip Off," of "Ripping off"

First off, sorry for not posting for the last few days, I've had thing after thing come up. Be it, little sleep, friends being around, or just plain fixing a deck. Hopefully I will be back at it again regularly.

Rip Off. Rip Off!

Dude that's totally ripping off this.

Rip Off!

We hear this all the time in the gaming industry. The question is: "Why?"

People keep saying that one game is "Ripping Off" another, when the game they are talking about is in fact "Ripping Off" another game, which in all odds is, probably "Ripping Off" same game before it., but why is the phrased used so much?

People often refer to this as a bad thing....

And yet, we would not have "Halo", "Splinter Cell", "Gran Turismo", "Zelda", and many other series, if they were not ripping off another game or series. People continue to say that it's a bad thing, and continue to site games that have ripped off others.

So then, what if it IS a bad thing? Let's just think about this.

The first video game was called "Tennis for Two", which means there would not be any other Tennis games suck, because they are 'Ripping Off Tennis for Two".

Pole Position was the first Racing game, which means that "Gran Turismo", "Burnout", "Project Gotham Racing", "Forza Motersport" and "MotorStorm" all suck because they are "Ripping this game Off".

"Super Mario Bros" Is the first Adventure game, which means that "Zelda", "Kingdom Hearts", "Jak and Daxter", and countless other Adventure games suck.

"Doom" was the first, First Person Shooter, thus, "Half-Life", "Halo", "Resistance: Fall of Man", "Metroid Prime", "Goldeneye", "Perfect Dark", all must suck.

"Driver" was the first true 3D Free roaming game, so "Grand Theft Auto", "The Getaway", "Spider-Man 2", "Mercenaries" and "Jak II" must suck.

I could go on, but that would probably bore you.

People will go on to say that "Game X Rips Off game Z." But this is not necessarily a bad thing, as most of the most loved game franchises "Ripped Off" another game or franchise, and look where it got them.

People often cite "Ripping Off" being bad because it's not original. This is really stupid. How many games could be made before there isn't anymore concepts to be had. I will agree games like "Katamari", are "original", but even games like "LocoRoco", and "Gitaroo-Man" are STILL ripping off other games.

I will agree there are too many similar games these days, but putting a label like "Rip Off" on them is ridiculous, "Ripping Off" is necessary to the gaming industry, and is not a negative thing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Companies Minus the Public

Here is something that when it happens in the video game industry is considered cool and such, this is something few companies do, though most of the ones that do it are the well known ones.

What I am talking about is people from a company actually taking time to talk to fans, denying, or confirming things about their game, just talking about things, ect.

Why do only some companies do this? It seems like the more player feedback the better right? If people are continuously ask for something, then it's probably something good to add. Maybe people point things out that the developers didn't notice, whatever the way, to me it seems like a good idea to have a company to have contact with "The Outside World."

Some companies are doing this, like Kojima Productions(Metal Gear Solid), Bungie(Halo), Guerilla Games(Killzone), and more. This is a good step, it brings players that much closer to the developers, which is a good thing for many reasons, not the least of which is that some companies see to be up completely of people that have never played games, as sometimes games get released, and you just have to wonder about the people making it.

Often companies listen to fan feedback, and take what fans like to the drawing board, trying to incorporate what people like to make the game better, but sometimes, companies, sometimes one that even talk to their fans(Rebellion), but don't listen to them about things, which end hampering the game (Battlefront: Renegade Squadron).

Then there are companies that listen to fan feedback and make their product what the fans want, (Guerilla Games, Bungie), and this obviously pays off, as the companies that do this often come out with games that are generally considered the best.

Another thing that companies talking to fans does is give a face to some of these companies that would otherwise be just a name. Obviously some companies you will only know by their games, and name, where as some companies such as "Bungie" will be known also by the people that work there, that have shown themselves to the public, (Frankie of Bungie).

It's easy to enjoy a game more when it feels like you know the people behind it more. Additionally, when you see something you don't like about a game, it's nice when a reason if giving for having it the way it is, sometimes it will stop bothering you even.

So, why are there so many companies that make a game and do very few interviews, and have bland page with no way to contact them? You have companies that release 1 game, and then disappear again, where you wont hear from them until another game is released. Are you going to care nearly as much as you would if it felt like you were keeping up with the company? Probably not.

I see it happening more and more where companies talk to the public, and I think this is a good thing, and I am glad it is happening, it's just a little odd it's taken so long. What happened to "The Customer is always right?" I would assume the reason a lot of companies don't keep in contact with the public is because they would believe they know better.

But this all leads to some interesting points, such as the fact that there are things that fans have complained about for a long time and developers still get wrong, such as certain crappy animations (Halo 2 - Halo 3), better camera system (Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater), major control problems (Camera - Grand theft Auto III - Grand Theft Auto: Vice City).

Hopefully these types of issues will happen less and less due to more then just the developers looking out for them. in this respect, hopefully games and companies will continue to improve.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Can't we all just agree on what is good yet?

I know that people tend to argue over things, and it's only natural, because everyone has different opinions, BUT there are some things that people should just be able to agree on.

And yet games continue to come out years later, when it seems like some of these things should have become apparent. Games may continue to evolve, but they are not going to go anywhere as a whole, unless there are a few things we can agree on.

I am not talking about the ability to jump, because i know that is up to personal taste, because I know I love it, but I know there are people that think otherwise.

What I am talking about is more long the lines of, say, a customizable control scheme, what the hell happened here? This seems like the simplest thing to have in the game, and it can completely change the game, for example, the game "Battlefront: Renegade Squadron" for the PSP, has 2 control schemes, the main one and the secondary one. The main one focuses on Lock on, with the secondary being the only other option, a lot people people didn't want Lock on and opted to go with the secondary control scheme, which is flawed. If they had just had an option to change the controls, everyone would be happy.

Another one of these, though I can see it taking more work then the last, is subtitles, this is an option that needs to be able to be turned on and off. A lot of games either don't have it at all, or have it on all the time, neither of which is the best fix. It's really annoying in games where the background noise makes it really hard to hear what's being said. An example of a game that could use it, is the original Halo, where there is a cut scene or two in the game where it is incredibly hard to understand what the characters are saying over the sounds in the background. And example for one that has them on all the time is Kingdom Hearts, where once in a while, the subtitles spoil the mood.

Here's another one that wasn't so much a problem until more recently, where newer games these days fall victim to this problem more then older ones. The problem I speak of is: Split screen multiplayer. This was the only way to play, all the way up until the last batch of consoles. yet, today, less and less games seem to include split screen play, even if they include online, it doesn't seem like it would be to hard to implement split screen multiplayer if you already have online. Games like MotorStorm, and DiRT suffer from this.

This one takes a lot more work, but ends up being worth it. Co-Op, when did this become such a selling feature? You'd think it would be an obvious thing to include but these days, it makes a game worth looking at, and they have games that get a of hype due to that fact that they have Co-Op. If you can remember back to the days of the "Super Nintendo" and "Sega Genesis" you will remember that a much larger percent of games had Co-Op back then, and it wasn't a big deal when a game had it. When I play a game, I personally have a loads more fun and will play it for a long time to come if it has Co-Op, because I will show my friends, and get sucked back into it myself. "Halo" and "Resistance" nailed this, hopefully more games will in the future.

This is another that would take a bit of work, but would be completely worth it, and this is, Split screen online. I don't know if "Halo 2" was the first game to have this, but it's the first game I remember having it. After playing it for a while, I would have expected many other games to follow suit, instead, it like Co-Op, became one of those feature to brag about, with only few games supporting it, "Halo 3" does, and so does "Prefect Dark Zero", also "Warhawk" has it. Along with Co-Op this really helps when playing a game with friends.

Here's another simple one: Music and sounds volume control. So many companies forget that some people enjoy listening to their own music when playing. Or what if they don't want to hear people's voices, but still want to hear the music. This doesn't seem like it would be a very hard thing to implement.

This one should have been stomped on a million years ago, but it still gets me these days somehow. How can someone making a game, not think to have an option to change between inverted and normal, be it for aiming or just camera control. We still have games that force you to play it one way. I can't see why this still stands, when it's something that should be obvious as night and day.

This one might be incredibly hard to do, especially on some games, but is another thing that can be done to make games last a lot longer. Level select, I hate it when I am playing through a game, I see a part I want to play again, and the only way I am able to do this is keep a save, so I can come back later and replay it. It's much easier to do it when selecting a level from a menu.

Overall, I may come back to this subject, but I completely lost my train of thought for now.

The Seriousness of Having Fun

This one is really short. I couldn't think of what to say though.

Some would say the console market is competitive, I would say that console is over competitive, to the point that it feels like the developers aren't trying to make us have fun anymore, but just to bring fame to their company, or parent company.

This is not the direction I want to see the industry going in.

Why can't we have it where companies are more friendly?

It would be nice to see more cameos, and more tributes, for instance, I like the fact that they have Snake in "Super Smash Brothers Brawl," Even though I think it is a horrible waste of his character. I wish more companies have cameos and such in their games, like say, a Kingdom Hearts of game worlds. In the gaming age we live in, that would be near to impossible to even imagine due to how the industry is.

Another thing that the industry being like this warrants, is not unified online play. Sure some games would have slight advantages in terms of controllers and such, but there a such a large amount that wouldn't. I don't see why 3 copies of the same game all have to run on different servers, just due to company politics. I would be awesome to be able to play online from a PC, to a "Playstation 3."

I think it would be really cool to have a game that is made by a few competing companies, like Bungie(The makers of Halo), and Guerilla Games(The makers of Killzone). Think about how cool that would be. What about a game between, say, Naughty Dog(The makers of Jak and Daxter), Insomniac(The makers of Ratchet and Clank), and Sucker Punch(The makers of Sly Cooper). The last one is more possible due to the fact that they all make games for Sony, but still, I don't see something like this happening in today's gaming world.

Think of how useful it would be to have a LAN(Not online, game with more then one console, hooked up through cords) party, with PCs, and consoles in the same game? Think about how much easier it would be to get people who own the game together rather then people who own the game AND the same console...

This is short I know, and I have no real way to wrap it up.

Console War

I have a dream, a dream where a "Console war" is a silly concept, and gamers don't suffer from having a market with 3 consoles, all with different online systems, and exclusives.

Now I realize this sounds a stupid, of course it does, we have lived with multiple consoles for as long as there have been consoles to play on.

And yet... When Sega Launched it's console, the "Sega Genesis" along side Nintendo's console the "Super Nintendo," there was a real difference in the games that came out on each console, and it was easy to decide which console you would rather have, due to this.

At that point, it was easy for a consumer to buy what console suited him, which lead to happier customers.

When the "Sony Playstation" came out, alongside the "Nintendo 64", the same suit followed, with Nintendo offering more colorful games, and strong first party games such as Mario, and Sony offering amazing RPGs, and action games, generally in different genres then what was found on the Nintendo 64.

What happened?

The next generation of home consoles included Sony's "Playstation 2", Nintendo's "Gamecube" and Microsoft's "Xbox." This generation, most games were found on all consoles, with minor differences in between consoles. Additionally a majority of the games could also be found on the PC.

Some of the same things could still be said, especially with the "Xbox" being the "Console of shooters" with more shooting games one it then the other consoles. Sony and Nintendo's consoles were more varying, but most games could be bought on all three.

Now comes the latest generation, with the three major consoles being Sony's "Playstation 3", Microsoft's "Xbox 360", and Nintendo's "Wii". this generation, Nintendo decided to go back to it's roots, and made a console that really defines itself, and is reminiscent of their older consoles, in the fact that it stands more to the side, and has it's own genres of games. Sony and Microsoft however, have their consoles sharing most of their games, making it harder to choose which console you want, also the fact that most of the games can also be played on the PC. Overall, the Xbox is still considered the "Console of Shooters," but less so this generation.

Differences between the "Xbox 360," and the "Playstation 3," include: Different controller, different online system, different price, different online stores, and different outputs. The "Playstation 3" and "Xbox 360's" controllers even have the same amount of buttons.

So what am I getting at?

Should consoles have more of an identity, with the "Xbox" having a "Console of Shooters" and such, so people can get the console that best matches them?

Maybe, but that probably wont be for a while.

So what then?

Not only have the consoles become similar, but the market has become so serious and so competitive, with companies putting each other down, and fans joining in to make fun of other consoles. Companies like "Electronic Arts" make money by making game after game, not caring about the quality, and just trying to make money.

Were consoles invented for this reason?

I think consoles and games were invented for people to have fun, not to have people arguing over what is better, or companies trying to just make money off of half-assed games.

So how did we end up here? I'm not sure, but hopefully things will only go up from here, leading to a more friendly console tomorrow.

As for today, people will still watch the monthly, or even weekly sales charts, to prove that their console is selling better, to accomplish nothing, people will mindlessly talk trash about games they have never played on other consoles, and people will talk about every thing that a company does wrong.

Sounds like fun huh? This is definitely not what consoles were invented for, and I say, if things want to change, there needs to be some major changes.

I guess we can all keep our fingers crossed for the future.

"Halo Killer"

Halo, wow, 7 or 8 years ago, if you said that very few gamers would know what you were talking about. Nowadays it's hard to find any gamer that hasn't at least heard of the game, with each game making record sales, and bringing less employes into the work place for a few days.

In general, the Halo series, is one of the most well known video game series, and has influenced many other games and pop culture. It can be found with Halloween pumpkins, machinima and various other areas.

Since the release of Halo: Combat Evolved, a phrase was invented by the press and gaming community, this phrase became increasingly popular towards the release of Halo 2, with the most famous game for receiving it was Killzone.

A number of months before it was released, Killzone was labeled by a gaming magazine as "The Halo Killer." The press for the game blew up considerably with people flocking to previews, trailers, and screenshots of the game. The game was finally released, and was met with lukewarm reviews, but was generally considered vastly inferior to Halo. With news of it's bad reviews, and public opinion, the game became regarded as somewhat of a joke to a lot of gamers.

But when looking at the game by itself, it's an amazing experience, it may have it's problems, but in general, deserves better scores then received, so then, perhaps it was the title "Halo Killer" that killed the game, rather then Halo, with expectations blow out of proportion with the hype the was gotten along with the title.

What did the company think of the title? "You can't buy that kind of publicity. Anyways, who is going to say their game is not as good as another game. That is a matter of opinion. "Killing" a game is a ridiculous concept and it is not possible."

So their game given a title that was not wanted, made the game meet lower reviews and public opinion. Not a "Halo Killer" indeed.

But then, what IS a "Halo Killer?"

What could "Halo Killer" mean? Does it mean superior gameplay? Does it mean more sales? Does it mean better story? Does it mean better review scores? Does it mean that everyone will drop Halo and buy the "Halo Killer" instead?

Let's break these down, in terms of gameplay, many PC users will say they've had their Halo Killers around for years, with games such as Half-Life, And a large number of people will agree that the 2 Nintendo64 smash hit titles from Rare, Perfect Dark, and Goldeneye, far surpass Halo.

In terms of Sales, Halo is not the best selling game ever with games like The Sims, Mario, Grand Theft Auto and more far outselling Halo. Also, what do sales have to do with a good game? A lot of the time it can be a guider, but with games such as DRIV3R, and Enter the Matrix, which sold well but were hated among critics and gamers, yet games like Psychonauts, and Beyond Good and Evil, which were both critically and publicly acclaimed, sold horribly. So do sales really mean all that much?

People talk about a better story often, and yet, what defines a better story? Mostly it's all up to personal opinion, but once again, there are first person shooters with much more in depth stories, like once again, Half-Life. But people have different opinions, and some people may find the story of Mario better then the story of Halo, and that is their opinion. So what are we left with?

A big point is review scores, but again, this boils down to opinion, with Halo 2, and Halo 3 scoring lower on review sites such as Gamespot. Yet many people believe them to be superior, leading back to the fact that reviews are opinions. Another problem with reviews, is that most of the time they are measured up against what is out at that time, not for the game to stand on it's own, with examples like, the PS3 version of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, coming out a year later, but with better loading times, more content, and better graphics, yet it received a lower score. This all leads to the fact that reviews are not solely the reason compare games.

Lastly some people expect a game to come out that makes everyone drop Halo and pick it up. This will not happen, even if the game IS better then Halo, because of the cost of a new game, or the having to learn new controls and gameplay, when you already know the game you play the most. Maybe it will be on a system that they down own, regardless, there will never be a game that will make people suddenly drop Halo.

So is Halo really that good that nothing will touch it?

I am not saying that, Halo is only as good as your opinion of it. And lots of people already have games that they have higher opinions then Halo, So does that mean we have found our "Halo Killers?"

Maybe, but that would mean that "Halo Killer" is a personal description rather then a general one, leaving the game Killzone to take the blunt of the blade, one of which it couldn't have defeated.

So what would people want a "Halo Killer" to be like?

Different people would give you different answers, and yet, most people would have it be a game like Halo, which leads to another problem, because in this world of video games, people would argue that it is a blatant rip off of Halo, even if it's better. But what if was made differently? Would it lead to a game so unlike Halo it wouldn't be in the same ballpark, and would that mean it still has a chance to be a "Halo Killer?" Or does it only apply to first person shooters? Even so, the first person shooter genre has multiple sub-genres, such as the amazing amount of World War II first person shooters, realistic modern first person shooters, Sci-Fi Shooters, and other categories.

Does that mean that in the first person shooter genre itself, the "Halo Killer" title can only be handed to certain genres of first person shooters, or can it even be given to non first person shooter games? And if it can what does it mean? Can you even compare a racing, or fighting game to a First Person Shooter? How could you ever decide what game is a "Halo Killer?"

At the end of the day, the best way to describe "Halo Killer" is a personal thing, because the only way for a game to "Kill" Halo, is to have it better your personal opinion of Halo, which is only defined by what you personally like to see in games.

The only "Halo Killer" that people will ever drop Halo for, is in fact another Halo game. This is true for other franchises also though, people will tend to stick with what they know, it doesn't matter if there is "better" things. People will only drop "Metal Gear Solid" for another "Metal Gear Solid", same with "Super Smash Brothers."

EDIT: A bunch of people are taking this as a big compliment, saying how nothing will ever touch Halo. That's what this article is about, it's about the term "Halo Killer" not how good or bad you think Halo is.

My Video Game Rants

Hello, this is alias "Jon God," the creator, and writer of "My Video Game Rants."

I decided to start this blog, due to me starting to rant about certain things that bother me about video games, the video game community, the video game industry, and what ever else I decide to throw in here.

If you have comments feel free to post them, I am not in the industry, so I am sure a lot of the stuff I say will just be plain stupid to someone who understands the industry better then I.

As for updates, i will update this when I feel like it, and no sooner, this blog was started from me ranting, I am not doing this to please people or anything, I just am expressing my opinion.

As for typos, I really don't care too much, it's the message I want to get across, not the lack of a comma, or period.