Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Brief(ish) Dissertation on Trevor Philips

Full Disclosure: I have not finished Grand Theft Auto 4 or 5, and likely never will. (My GTA IV disk is AWOL and GTA V stopped working so I deleted it from my hard drive) While they are impressive feats of engineering, they are deeply lacking in a vital quality: respect. Respect for the player, respect for the player’s time, and respect for their own internal consistency. Foremost in my thoughts is Trevor, the third of three protagonists to be unlocked and by far the darkest.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Destiny - The Bad Bits

Last time I told you all of the ways Destiny was the best game I’ve played all year, but now the time has come to tell you all about the many ways it ranks the worst.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Destiny - The Good Bits

So…Destiny. It’s a big game. Four planets, plus another area, with more promised in the future. Three Classes, with two Subclasses apiece. Procedurally-generated loot leading two dozens of variant weapons and armor pieces. It’s SO BIG, in fact, that I’m not going to try to review it in one unified article. I’m going to talk about the good parts of Destiny in today’s article (as the title might lead you to suspect) and the bad parts in the next (which should go live by the end of the week.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Almost a review of Destiny...

This post was originally going to be my review, but then I hit this tangent and I wanted to get it out of the way before getting into the meat of the game. (Not to mention that I'm writing that review now and it's going to be pretty big, so I'll probably break it up into two or more posts.)  I only hint at the overall feeling I have toward the game, but that's what the proper review is for. Anywho, tangent!

I’ve never played a game quite like Destiny.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I’ve played FPSs and MMORPGs before, and Destiny borrows liberally from both of those to make something new. What I mean is that Destiny is inherently conflicted in a way that I’ve never seen in a product THIS BIG. Activision, one of the largest (and most hated, but let’s not get into that now) game publishing companies in the world, teamed up with Bungie, creator of one of the most iconic video game franchises ever made. (If you don’t know which one, why the hell are you reading a blog post about a video game in the first place? Go play some games and come back later.) The hype machine was in full swing for this one; pretty much the only time you see ads for video games on TV is when the heavy hitters come out with something new they want everyone to see.

There were preorders, more than any other game this year.  There were preorder bonuses, like the ability to dye your little robot buddy and speeder bike red. (Presumably because Gamestop -with its clean-cut red-white-black color scheme- was involved.) And of course there were the usual cries of corruption, with the release tied to the activation of servers in such a way that the game would not run until the day of its launch, making it impossible to give a full review before millions of players threw down $60 or more on it. It reminds me of a movie that a producer knows isn’t any good not getting a press screening so the reviews don’t scare discerning moviegoers away.

If it were any other game, by any other developer (My low opinion of Activision notwithstanding) I’d be crying foul like anyone else. But here’s the thing: Destiny doesn’t need “protection” from the free press. If anything, I wish more people knew this thing existed, and was on the previous generation of consoles (which is where I, an impoverished peasant, am probably playing it as you read this.) so they could play WITH me. It’s a game with a lot of content and a lot of intermeshed systems, but the one thing they all have in common is that they’re better experienced with friends. My next post is going to be something of a holistic review of the game as I’ve experienced it; I aim not to tell you whether it’s a good game and fun to play (spoiler: it REALLY is) but WHY it is. (I'd meant for this post to be that review, but it sort of got away from that.)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Moldy bread, linguistics, and you.

So I was looking at bread last night (I have WILD NIGHTS) and I thought to myself: “Why do we say bread ‘goes moldy’ if it doesn’t go anywhere?” After I finished giggling at my inane banter I gave the matter some more serious thought. I hypothesized that we developed these ways of talking about food during a period after the food in question was invented (DUH) but before the process of spoilage was commonly understood. Ancient precursors to scientists observed a loaf of bread harboring colonies of mold, or raw meat being seeded with maggots and starting to rot and assumed that what they observed was simply a natural part of the life-cycle of meat and bread; the theory of Spontaneous Generation was born, and the lingo of the now-defunct theory made it into the common lexicon. (Or more likely, people with no knowledge of theories, science, or hygiene left their banana bread out too long and decided the bread killed Mildred after she ate it, and that it was part of the natural life cycle of banana bread to turn green and poisonous.)
This little thought exercise serves no purpose, I just thought it was neat the way commonly-accepted beliefs from the past can shape the way we talk about things today; we say bread has “gone moldy” even though we now know that the bread is being consumed by tiny organisms that only become visible on the macro scale long after they’ve set up shop. If asked, you might say that you talk about it that way because “it’s more natural to say it that way.” But it’s only natural to say things like that because they’re entrenched in our culture, and linguistic drift can only change so much.
I just wrote 300 words on linguistics and banana bread; I think it’s time to go to sleep now.