I didn’t know about this until yesterday, but apparently Massively named this little blog as one of the blogs to watch out for in 2011 as part of their top ten blog list for 2010. I am humbled, honored and frankly a little confused. When you get put in the same list as people like Syp, John, SynCaine, Gordon, Tipa, Zubon and Ravious, Larisa, Spinks, Ardwulf and numerous others, it can be a little intimidating and a tad confusing as to why you were selected. Thank you Shawn, you weirdo!
As for watching out for this little blog in 2011, that’s right, you better watch out for this blog come next year, which, coincidentally, is in less than 24 hours!
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!
I have been a Lara Croft fan for a long time. I remember first playing the original title back in the 90’s and being in awe of the awesome game mechanics and the cutting edge graphics. The action adventure was fresh, challenging and the titular heroin wasn’t a bad sight either. Over the course of time, and with each successive iteration of the IP, I grew increasingly disappointed with the overall experience.
The series managed to pique my interest again when Crystal Dynamics took over from Core Design, and Underworld especially breathed new life into the franchise. The series took a strange turn with Lara Croft: Guardian of the Light, which wasn’t a bad addition to the series, but it wasn’t groundbreaking or even above average.
A few days back I came across a gritty image of Lara Croft, one that piqued my curiosity. I followed the story further to Game Informer. Crystal Dynamics is now working on a new game in the series, a rebirth title simple called “Lara Croft”. It looks good. It sounds good. And for the first time in years, I am actually excited about a Lara Croft title. There is a ton of tantalizing detailed information scattered across various articles over at Game Informer, particularly the evolution of the character article, as well as the the redesigning, and subsequent re-branding, of an icon.
Take a look at some of the screens and concept art from the upcoming game.
“…we already accept inventory mechanics in which 100 metal ingots take up as much space as a ring, bears sometimes carry swords and multiple hides but have only a 50% chance to have one leg or tooth on each corpse, gold bars are worth less than gold coins, and gold coins take up no space.”
Zubon recently made a post about looting and how convoluted this mechanic is in our favorite MMOs. He touched upon limited inventory space, a thorn in my side for as long as I have played MMOs. Industry standard-setters like WoW are the worst culprits of this disease. When you kill a foe, you much walk up to its body, click it, manually transfer all items to your inventory and move on. Zubon argues, and I agree, if the experience I get goes directly into my character’s level, cash is deposited directly into my coffers, why is it that I need to manually pick up that Great Axe from the squirrel I just downed? (The absurdity of which merits another post.)
Both looting and limited inventory space are archaic and dated concepts in MMOs. Looting is nothing more than a senseless time sink, nothing good comes of it for the player, and it doesn’t serve any other purpose than the alleged psychological advantage of knowing you just teabagged the corpse. I am being facetious, but the point stands: looting is obsolete, and unless it serves some actual purpose, such as salvaging in EVE Online, I think it needs to be automated to allow players to a) get the most out of their experience and b) remove one of the most repetitive, mind-numbing aspects from contemporary MMO gaming. I bet if I put up a poll asking MMO players if they would like to physically loot bodies or just have the items dumped into their inventory, the majority would choose the later.
I know I often champion the need for immersion, but once you have looted that useless piece of junk from the 85,657th body, immersion can suck it. With the advent of new technology, mechanics and the continued metamorphosis of the MMO industry, I believe it is imperative that developers take another look at these dated concept, and remove/revamp those that force players into incessant grinds and repetitive gameplay.
Gaming has it’s fair share of bizarre happenings and crazy stories. Every once in a while you come across a really stupid tale involving parental negligence, supreme teen idiocy, or some use of duct tape that would make a grown man cringe. But this story that I came across on Kotaku today is a class in itself.
Short version: dude with buddies discusses playing Frogger in dense traffic across a South California highway; yells “go!”; runs into traffic; gets hit by a Lexus SUV; miraculously survives.
Thank God no one ever tried a real life version of Donkey Kong. “Hey honey, why don’t you hold the video camera while I climb down into the Gorilla pen, hit him in the head with a barrel and then try to climb back out before he can get me?”
I came across these excellent ‘stache illustrations a while back, buried them in the deepest recesses of my homicidal hard-drive (I can’t even begin to count the number of things I entrusted it with, that have now gone missing), and forgot about them. Cleaning my HD yesterday, I saw these again and I thought it was imperative that i share these with the world!
This post is very personal, so if you are not interested in my personal, non-gaming-related thoughts, feel free to skip this post.
I Once Lost a Friend
In college I had a friend. Let’s call him Harry. Harry was a quiet kid, the sole child of an ultra-Christian family, shy, modest, soft-spoken and always nice. I can’t recall a single moment in the three years that I knew the kid when I saw him frown, or be mean to someone, or even be in a foul mood. I don’t mean to say he was always in a cheery, happy-go-lucky mood, he was a deeply troubled kid, but at least he never added to all the misery in the world.
Harry was raised by parents who stringently adhered to Orthodox Christian beliefs. Since an early age he attended church, learned about how Christ had bled for his sins, and was told that unsavory indulgences like adultery, pre-marital sex and homosexuality were sinful in the eyes of the one true God. Harry came to college with these beliefs and values, and tried as best as he could to follow them to the letter.
But at the end of the day, we are who we are, and at the end of the day, we have to come to terms with our deepest darkest fears and desires. Harry realized partway through sophomore year that he was gay. Girls weren’t his cup of tea, and boys always piqued his curiosity. Given his upbringing, this terrified Harry. On the surface I remember seeing a generally happy but reserved kid turn into a brooding introvert, always seemingly concerned with something, but never forthcoming about the origins of his troubles.
If you can hear any of this Harry, I am terribly sorry. I should have pushed harder, I should have been a better friend, I should have asked you what was bothering you and maybe you wouldn’t have felt so alone. I am sorry I was less of a friend and more of an acquaintance. I am sorry I was oblivious to your plight, busy with studies and girls and booze and other college indulgences, and I am sorry I wasn’t there like I should have been. I am sorry I blew it off when others asked me about what may be troubling you. I am so, so deeply sorry. I wish like anything I could go back and be there for you, but that time is gone. And I can’t take my carelessness back. I am not an idiot, I know it’s not entirely my fault. But I know we could have done something, and again, for that I am so sorry.
They say time heals all wounds. But for Harry, time only added to his burdens. A devoutly religious individual, Harry tried earnestly to ignore and subdue his homosexual tendencies, treating them as a test from God to gauge the depth of his faith. Worst of all, for the fear of being judged, or his parents finding out, Harry never discussed the true source of his troubles with anyone. Ever. Can you imagine how lonely that is? To spend years with a secret locked up inside you that you want to yell out to the world from the tallest building, yet it doesn’t even comes out as a whisper? Can you imagine how alone Harry must have felt, unable to share his troubles, fearful of persecution, ridicule or misunderstanding?
On a cold morning in late April, campus patrol found his body at the base of a building, the eighth floor of which he lived in. They tried reviving him, but he had been there a while, and he was no longer. All that was left behind was a note that shared his confusion, his inability to share his thoughts with anyone, and his shame at not being able to control his feelings.
I am sorry Harry. I should have tried harder. I am sorry you had to bear that alone, and I am sorry your life ended so much sooner than it should have.
It Gets Better, Says EA
What prompted this post is this video from EA:
It Gets Better is a campaign sweeping the U.S. in which LGBT individuals share their experiences and tell those who are still chained by societal constraints to be openly gay. It is an effort to reduce the fear of coming out, to let those who are terrified of coming out know that they are not alone, and that even if it feels like they are between a rock and a hard place with no way out, it does, in fact, get better.
What pissed me off were some of the comments made by the readers below the post on GamePro. My stance on the issue is very clear: Live and let live. if you don’t agree or understand why someone is the way (s)he is, at least have the human decency to let them go about their business unabated, free of persecution. They have the right, just as you do, to live their lives as they see fit.
Here are some of the comments made under the video:
“In regards to homosexuality being a human right: First, I would like to say that I have no problems with individuals being gay, but when it comes down to it, what part of human rights says that we should support and accept them?
A difference in color I can understand; but the scientific fact remains, homosexuals cannot breed. When we begin to dismiss homosexuals and homosexuality as “normal,” we are telling future generations that “we don’t care about the survival of our species.”
Whatever mutation took place in their chromosomal development is not the fault of the rest of the human race.”
I sincerely hope I don’t have to point out the blatant irony in the statements above. And then, there was this gem:
“Why would it matter? These are gaming companies, I don’t give a damn what they think, or what causes they are for. Just make the damn games and STFU. I don’t need to be preached to about their world view.
This is gaming, keep the bullshit out of it.”
Here is the same response inverted, ala what Quadratic1, another commenter said about another similar comment:
“Why would it matter? These are gamers, I don’t give a damn what they think, or what causes they are for. Just play the damn games and STFU. I don’t need to be preached to about their view on what EA should or shouldn’t do.
This is gaming, keep the (homophobic) bullshit out of it.”
Yup, the shoe sure fits.
I don’t mean to be preachy, but the base of all religious is the religion of humanity. Learn to be a decent human being first, accepting of others, tolerant and caring, before you use religion’s peg to discredit the beliefs and lifestyles of an entire portion of the human population.
Live and let live.
And yes, it does get better.
And we’re back from Christmas break. Well actually that is a lie because in my part of the world, Christmas isn’t celebrated widely, you know, being a Muslim country and all with its own culture, traditions and holidays. I have been away because I have been incredibly sick, and I am pretty sure somewhere along the coughing bouts I lost half a lung at a bus stop downtown.
Assassin’s Creed MMO?
Ever since I finished Brotherhood, I have been contemplating what it would be like to play the game in an MMO setting? It is a living breathing world that transforms and morphs based on the choices you make (the city building element), and continues to evolve as the player progresses. The player can also call in his own Assassin recruits in battles (companions). The only thing really missing is a bunch of Assassins running around Rome trying to tackle the Borgia and the Templars. I think you would need to limit the number of players in a world to ensure Rome isn’t overrun with overly ambitious budding Assassins to the point that Rome needs saving from Assassins instead!
The point is that I think an Assassin’s Creed MMO would be a great idea. Lo and behold, two facts for your perusal:
- In 2008, Ubisoft’s boss Yves Guillemot said that Massive, a studio that had previously only made strategy games, was being put to work in the MMO space.
- On December 23rd, 2010, via a Tweet, Ubisoft revealed that Massive was working on an Assassin’s Creed project. Hallelujah?
In all likelihood it isn’t an MMO, probably some Facebook tie-in to the third (fourth?) upcoming game in the long-running, critically-acclaimed series.
But one can hope right?