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Rant #005: Modern gaming never grew up.

Thanks to my girlfriend for making this for me.

Thanks to my friend for making this for me.

Let’s face it. The modern games makes the current gaming market a totally different market. You can’t deny it, it’s simply a fact that games lately are getting easier and easier and that you can’t go without a tutorial, even for an easy game. People always go nuts about the graphics and some things no longer matter for them. Is this current gaming market still as good as the old gaming market? Are retro games truly better or is it something else? Let’s rant!

Retro games are better!

Many claim that the original Mario is still better.

Many claim that the original Mario is still better.

Many gamers that are around the age of 20 or older will tell you that games of their childhood where better then the current games. Some will even stick with those good old games and play them even to this day, they are the so called retro gamers.

But if you ask younger gamers, they are going to look to games from 10 years ago and go bashing on the graphics or other things. Saying that they are old and actually saying they suck.

To make a long rant short, you can easily say that it’s a generation thing. Older people grew up with the old Mario and since it holds so many childhood memories, they say it’s the better game. Newer games don’t give that feeling of nostalgia that makes them prefer the newer games above the older games.

Yet, there are also gamers who always think the newer games are better. Graphics, gameplay, story telling… everything gets improved.  But what’s a better game? Surely, it’s personal preference. If I like to play older games, I’ll say that the older games are better. But it can work the other way around too. In addition to that, you need to look to the “quality” of the games too. Are the games actually good for that time period? Or are they garbage?

Flaws of the modern games.

Yearly we get a new Call Of Duty. Yup.

Yearly we get a new Call Of Duty. Yup.

Modern games aren’t perfect. Not at all. The biggest issue I have with them is that they are mostly focusing on the graphical aspect rather then the gameplay. Also, in one of my previous rants, I talked about how many modern games actually hold your hand and tell you what to do. There is no exploration in a game.

Straight or a limit amount of paths are the norm. Games with an open world like for example Zelda always have a certain way to stop you from progressing without an item. This way they manage to make the game extremely linear without you even realizing.

A big example for ranters to talk about is how the Call Of Duty campaign gets shorter each year. The game is a multiplayer game without a doubt. You basically buy it for being able to go online. One of my best friends was a fan of the series but got annoyed by it’s latest entries where his hand was hold for him to finish.

It would be stupid if we didn’t mention the fact that most gaming companies go milking the cash cow. If something sells, they make more of the same to get even more money from our pockets. Let’s take the cheap example of how many Mario games are sold. It’s an easy mascot that kids recognize and buy.

What mostly makes me worry is the lack of creativity in the current gaming world. Outside of the indy developers we barely see new creative work. It’s always the same thing and it the sequel the work out the flaws of the original, but it’s mostly the same idea. Or they cut out on things like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon – Gates To Infinity.

Let’s talk about the systems for a second. Give me one system that can’t run DVD’s or play your favorite music. The Wii & DS couldn’t do that, unless you illegally modified them. Modern gaming platforms are more aimed to the general multimedia lover instead of a gamer. This makes that games need to be aimed for a wider group so they can’t be too difficult.

Flaws of retro games.

Good old Metroid.

Good old Metroid.

One major issue is that some games are way too difficult. The infamous 1 hit death is a welcome example here. Also the fact that there wasn’t an internet to look for walkthroughs or cheats, makes games more difficult. Like some gamers say, when you couldn’t finish a game back then, that’s though luck for you.

In addition to that, there were many games that had cryptic area’s to make the game more difficult. In Zelda II – Adventure of Link for example you need to pass through a wall to finish one dungeon. Or Death Mountain, it’s a maze beyond belief.

Also, games were pretty fragile. Saving worked with an internal battery in the cartridge and when that one ran out, it’s no saving for you. Also when there was dust in the game’s connector pins, you had to carefully blow in the cartridge to make it work again. When the connector pins broken, your game was broken too.

Also the games where more flawed back then. The games where more buggy like the famous cartridge titling glitch. But I can’t count on one hand anymore how much internet memes are created because of the faulty translation of games. “All your base are belong to us.” is a very popular example.

The internet, a knife that cuts both ways.

A generic picture to fancy up the article.

A generic picture to fancy up the article.

If I had to point out something that is good and bad for the gaming community it’s the internet for sure.

The good thing is that indy developers now have more tools to release their work. If they make a website and do some promotion on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube for example; they are set. Another good thing is that (big) companies can now easier support their costumers. They can make FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on their website so that their Q&A (Question and Answer) staff doesn’t have to answer the same question over and over again.

Yet the internet is such a bad influence to games as well. Walkthroughs are such a welcome invention. But I can’t deny that I have finished some games with a walkthrough at hand. Above that, the internet is filled with spoilers. If you are tired of the game and you want to know the ending, you can simply look it up. This defeats the purpose of finishing a game.

Oh, and don’t worry, I’m going to talk about it. The amount of hacks and cheats in a game that you can download on the internet. An aimbot for shooters or a X-Ray for Minecraft. It all exists. And people enjoy using it online. And it ruins the experience for gamers that want to play the game legit. Abusing bugs, I can live with that. But using wall hacks or other things makes my blood boil.

I have to admit that after finishing a game, I messed around with programs a lot that made my character jump higher or that I had unlimited ammo. It’s fun to do once to see how the game is made and how things work. But if you try to finish it for the first time, a lot of the fun is taken away.

Spoilers are also everywhere. If you play a game alongside with one of your favorite YouTubers, the comments are filled with things that will happen in the game. Bye bye thrilling game.

Modern games never grew up.

It’s nearly “pick your poison”. Both games have flaws that make me go nuts. Old games can be too difficult and new games can be too easy or unpolished.

Thankfully there are exceptions to the rule. Some games actually aren’t that bad. Some old games can also be extremely easy. But in my eyes, modern games never grew up to a new gaming level. Many improvements are made to the graphics but does that make for better games? I truly don’t know and I will surely touch upon this subject again. But for now I’m going to leave it here. Thanks for reading and until next time.

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Rant #004: Lay-outs ~ Let’s get forcing.

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Let’s rant about something different this time. Something that mostly all gamers have something to do with. Social networks and things like that. But mostly, the lay-outs of them. YouTube is a big one in this area. They change their lay-out so much, it starts to annoy their users. Another nice example is the Facebook Timeline. Are these constant changes good? Or do they do wrong things? I wanted to make a video about this but I rather wanted to write an article about this. I admit that some changes got me mad but I actually started to not really care. I just try to adapt to the change. 

The biggest issue.

The biggest issue with the changes are mostly that you don’t get any information at all when the change is going to happen. Suddenly a new lay-out is there in your face, and you simply got to deal with it. After some hours, a dozen of video’s go online that claim that you are able to revert back to the old lay-out.

Also, you can’t really test the new lay-out. Apparently as YouTube partner, you can. But according to me, that is far from enough. Cosmic Panda was a lay-out you could test at will. That was a good idea.

Don’t worry YouTube, you won’t be the only one receiving some ranting here. Facebook, you have issues with this too. The timeline, it’s a great idea and makes the site pretty unique. Think about it. Basically you write your life story on Facebook by sharing pictures, video, feelings… And you can watch your history in a timeline form.

Each new lay-out has a bunch of nice new features but it also gets rid of a lot of features too. It’s like in a store. They change everything from location so that you explore the place a bit more so that you pass by products in the hope you buy them. This logic can’t be applied to sites like Facebook or YouTube. Because you get frustrated since you can’t change what you want.

Trolls and haters.

It doesn’t take long before almost the whole site starts to hate the new lay-out. They always say that it sucks or that it doesn’t look nice. But after some time, you get used to the new lay-out. But by the time everybody got used to it, there is a new lay-out ready to be launched.

I have a big question for Youtube. You guys have the lay-out for quite a while now. How is it possible that so many big channels still have the old lay-out? And even your partners? The change to your new lay-out has a good idea behind it. To change the lay-out that it’s the same for each platform. That the channel looks the same on the computer and on the mobile devices. But make it them so that you have to change after some months.

It wouldn’t surprise me that a lot of comedians take easy money when the new lay-out comes around. That they make parodies and put the creators of the site to shame. But I don’t think that a lot of the changes are bad. I have a penpal in Finland and by the second he got the new lay-out he went all rant on me. People aren’t used to changing sites. And he doesn’t like the merging of the “stop” and “refresh” button in browsers.

Testing.

Facebook had a beta program to test their new lay-out. My mother and a classmate have gotten the new lay-out. And as far as I know, for months. Until this day, the new lay-out  hasn’t been published.

YouTube has it’s YouTube Labs. But here is the thing, it’s extremely hidden and you barely see it. Plus, I am sure that the feedback they get from it is too little.

I remember that Google Docs and other products had an option for a while to change back to the old lay-out. This was great since I used the old lay-out on one screen and the new one on my second screen. So I could see where everything was located in the new lay-out.

The biggest issue is that these things are buried. You want to test something? Well, after some digging you can. And then you can give feedback more easily.

WordPress has a great system for this. The publish unfinished releases so that people can test them out. They also tell you where you can help and give feedback. In addition to that, they have a change log. And the help feature really helps if you feel lost. The WordPress forums is extremely helpful and they reply fast.

Compare this to the slow Facebook and YouTube helpdesk. They might be big companies but if teams like the WordPress guys can pull it off so fast, I truly can’t understand why the others fail in this. WordPress goes even as far that admins can edit posts on anyone’s WordPress.com hosted blog to fix issues. You don’t see other websites do that.

Conclusion

I would like to shout at developers to release beta versions to the public to test out before you fully launch the new lay-out. Even when the new lay-out is filled with great idea’s, people get alienated and lost in the new lay-out quite easily. The internet can be that dumb.

Also, I want to thank the people who do the effort to make video’s to point out the issues of the new lay-outs. Video’s or articles, it’s the same deal. This way people can voice their opinion and maybe get some things “fixed” or improved.

Also, leave an option to stick with the old lay-out. And when you think the new lay-out is ready to be launched for everyone. Please, make an announcement. So that everybody can get ready for the change. And don’t roll it out like it’s your site’s last thing to save it from death.

But what are your thoughts on this matter? Leave it in the comments down below. Thanks for reading and happy blogging!

Rant #003: Tutorials ~ The games that hold your hand.

ds-game-reviewsIt’s extremely lovely how games now explain the things in game. Sadly enough you don’t have to look at the manual anymore. For that manuals start to disappear. As a game collector, this makes me sad. But there is one thing that makes me sad too. That’s how games now a days have tutorials. Even if the battle system is extremely simple, the developers feel like explaining the game mechanics to you. Is this needed? Each time you play the game? Well, I don’t think so. Game tutorials are overrated, big time. I’m not against them, but they are certainty overstaying their welcome now.

Want to play the game, here I will help you.

I was talking with a friend of mine over Skype earlier and I said that I was giving Call Of Duty a shot. (ha, bad pun.) And he said that past CoD 5 it isn’t worth a play, since the game actually “holds your hand”.

What I mean with this is that you barely have any challenge in trying. The button you need to press flashes on the screen way on beforehand and finishing the game is just as easy as pressing the button.

Don’t confuse these with quick time events. I actually kinda like quick time events, as long as they aren’t overdone in a game. Tomb Raider has the action broken up with quick time events.

A game that’s good with it’s tutorial is Devil May Cry 4. The first part is you having a tutorial of the basics, to refresh and check if your controls are properly set, and after that it’s up to you to play the game. When you get a new ability, the instructions flash on screen once and then it’s up to you to remember them.

That’s the big problem with games that flash the buttons on screen. Back in the day, I knew where the A and B buttons where on the gameboy. But now I don’t know where the buttons are located on my PSP, since the button is flashed on the screen and I quickly peek over or just memorize it for that game. That may be a personal nitpick but tutorials can be annoying as getting the trash out and the bag rips. The first time you might go through with it but the second time you want to say some curse words.

Where is the skip button?

I can understand tutorials to make the games accessible for everybody. But when a battle system is self-explanatory then why for the love of God do we need a tutorial. I’m looking at you Pokémon for example. Is it really needed to say that you can select attacks under “attack” and that your items are under “bag”? Well no, let me try to defeat my opponents Pokémon by trying to run away and let’s try to throw a Pokéball to a wild Pokémon with a Sand Attack.

One game managed to nearly boil my blood. The start of Devil May Cry 4 is a fixed tutorial. And when you don’t do the move or the action required, forget it, you won’t pass to the rest of the game. Lovely.

A game that got it right is Overlord for example. In this game, right after the opening, you get the basics explained but for the basic combat and such, you can take a route. But if you want to skip it, you can go right to the Throne Room. This is how I want my games to be! With a skip-able tutorial.  I don’t want to be reminded each time I restart the game how to play the game.

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A game that is a perfect example of how to do it, but make it extremely annoying is The Legend Of Zelda – Ocarina Of Time.

In this game, you have a fairy following you, acting as your tutorial in how to use weapons and your items. But the sound effect to remind you that she has something to say is “HEY LISTEN.” and you hear this phrase a least a million time in the game. It gets on people’s nerves extremely quickly. Luckily they fixed this in the sequel Majora’s Mask where the sound effect is just a tingle.

A game that has no tutorial is Minecraft. This game drops you in a random generated world and without prior knowledge, this game is pretty confusing. And this is the big fun of Minecraft. You get to learn the game by playing it and you feel rewarded if you kill that first Zombie or craft your first bow. Most recipes aren’t far fetched anyways.

Some games have in game menu’s where you can review certain combo’s or actions. I remember some games, and I’m sorry that I can’t bring an example at this moment… I think it might be Age of Mythology for the DS, have a separate tutorial button that you can take outside of the game. That’s also a great option.

I feel retard. 

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Yes, I feel sometimes as a retard in a game. The game gets more like an interactive movie where you need to punch in the right button on the right time. There is no real skill involved anymore.

It’s like that coach at the side of a soccer game shouting at their players each and every move they need to do.

In complicated games, no issue, more power to you. But like I said, in a game like Kirby or Pokémon where the things are obvious how they work, it’s not needed. Just scrap that part and use the space for something decent like more levels.

Nintendo isn’t the only wrong do’er in this. I feel like tutorials now-a-days make a game way to easy. They flash the button you need to press or they can’t be skipped. What’s wrong with the challenge in a game. I once heard on a podcast that a developer needed to scrap a puzzle inside a game because there weren’t enough hints and you needed to use your common sense.

Oh, that’s another thing. Gamers don’t use a lot of common sense because of these tutorials. I wouldn’t be surprised if some gamer shouted at their game because “it wasn’t in the tutorial.”. Pathetic.

In conclusion, I think tutorials are welcome to aid the player get introduced in a game. But it’s annoying when you can’t skip it or when it explains extremely easy stuff that makes me go: “No shit sherlock.”.

Rant #002: Broken Menu’s

Broken menu minecraft

Don’t you just love it? You are playing a game and the menu’s are all glitched up? Like in this screenshot, where the “Done” button is too stubborn to move. This is a curse that many modders have in Minecraft. But in my current playthrough of certain games I have encountered some issues with menu’s for me to talk about in this rant. But before I continue, what problems did you guys have had with menu’s before? Let me know in the comments. Maybe I’ll add them in a follow up article if I ever write one. So let’s dive into the menu’s and my rant about them. 

Standard menu’s?

I often ask myself, why do developers not have some rules about menu’s? I recently tried out Call Of Duty and the options to change the controls are separate. Great, I looked over it since I expected them to be under an option tab.

All the menu’s in the games are different. I have no big issue with that. The might try to fit the style of the game. But, the issue is mainly that all options have a different spot in each game. What really makes me nervous is when developers don’t give you a chance to play a game in a windowed mode or in full screen. Some games stay full screen anyways. Or when you can’t change the screen sizes to the screen size of your monitor.

A big example of bad menu design is Overlord. Yes, for the options there are two menu’s. Awesome! But the most useful options like screen size and the changing of buttons is in the launcher and you can’t access that in game. This made me close and restart the game often to try to really fit the controls to my likeness.

To accept or not to accept?

Why do so many games have menu’s where you need to click on “accept” before the changes happen? For older games, I can forgive that, but in more recent games I have seen so many examples where the game changes the settings as soon as you change the setting. Even a preview button would be sweet.

This extremely confuses me, to the extend where I look in every game for an accept button or I get mad went the changes didn’t happen because I missed the “accept” button.

Another annoying example is how messy the Devil May Cry menu’s are. The buttons to accept options are, well displayed if they would be on a controller. What in the holy name of flying cows? Not everybody has a XBOX guys so, not everybody has a controller to attach to their computer.

This actually gives me the opportunity to do a small additional rant. Who plays with a controller on a computer? For emulators, yes, but for PC games? Oh heck no, this just silly. That shows to me that you rather have the console version. It’s so silly to sit there with a controller when you have a whole array of buttons to press on your keyboard.

Tooltips

Tooltips are a great way of letting the player know what option does what. But oh so many games don’t have this. They just throw the option in your face and you have to guess what it is.

What I really like is how some sound menu’s have a sample that plays when you lower or raise the volume. All that games need to have that, it’s great to just tweak it to your hearts content.

But truth to be told, you have games where the menu’s are so extreme, that it’s a game in itself to navigate them. Most sandbox games like SimCity have this. Where you are actually playing with menu’s most of the time.

RollerCoaster Tycoon, the first game, has a big issue with menu’s as well. Each option is a menu. You can open a menu by almost clicking anywhere in game. It’s extremely difficult to keep track of them all and I find the screen get easily cluttered with menu’s. And there is no real way of closing them all at once.

I can agree that some games are lacking options. But I will mention that in my reviews then. I think I’m going to leave it here for this rant. Actually with my conclusion.

Menu’s can be messy, different and not easy to navigate. There is a lot of improvement in this part of gaming. But once you see some touches in other games, you get annoyed that some games don’t have them. I realize that I haven’t talked about how bad the menu’s can be on Kinect games, and that’s simply because I don’t own one.

So, that’s all for this rant. Happy gaming and NekoJonez signing out!