The Problem with Hype

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Our culture is one which is ruled by hype. We let ourselves get excited about every little upcoming thing like it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. So what’s wrong with that? There’s nothing with being excited for something you like. When a movie or a game you’re looking forward to is coming out soon, it’s only natural to be excited for it; but in this day in age when everything has to be the next big thing, it can be hard to tell what will be good and what will end up being a disappointment.

If everyone gives in to the feeling of hype, then they could be caught off guard if the thing they’d been waiting for turns out to be bad, and so they would be even more disappointed than usual. In this case, the point of hyping up the product in the first place is completely nullified.

Something that sort of proves the prevalence of hype in our culture is that the word’s very meaning seems to have changed over time. In the dictionary, it refers to the extravagant and exaggerated claims surrounding a product or service, but on Urban dictionary.com, hype simply means “to be excited about something”.

I guess the point I’m trying to get at,is that the underlying problem with a culture so riddled with hype is that it creates a vicious cycle; one where something tries to claim it’s the best thing there is, only for people to realize it isn’t the case, thus prompting the next big thing to claim it’s much better than the last big thing, which is ultimately proven false because of the huge amount of hype involved, and so on and so forth.

I Hate Everything has a good video on this topic available on Youtube, and I encourage everybody to check it out.

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What is a 10/10?

Gaming, Uncategorized

In many gaming publications, critics are quick to assign a numerical value to the end of their review; usually grading it out of a total 5 10, or 100 points. I believe that this is a bit more arbitrary than it would seem at first. The general conception is that a 10/10 is perfection and a 0 or 1/10 is utter garbage. But game reviews are made my countless different critics, and so in the end, these numerical assignments are totally subjective.

what this means is that, everyone will have their own opinions about any given game, and that someones’ 10/10 will be someone’s 7 or 8/10. However, recently, I have seen many 9.5 or even 9.75 reviews out there. When I see these I will often wonder what prevented this game from getting the full 10? They came so close, so why not just round up to make a whole number? Apparently, as good as these games may be, they still have some minor flaws. But nothing can truly be perfect; especially in the gaming industry, where bugs and glitches will always be a factor. This being the case, I wonder what this imaginary perfect 10/10 game is that these reviewers are comparing other games to. What, if anything, will get the full 10 points?

Episodic Gaming

Gaming, Uncategorized

Telltale Games is a studio known for episodic gaming. Unlike the more common method of releasing one game with a long narrative every once in a long while, Telltale specializes in releasing shorter offerings every other month. This strategy has worked spectacularly for the company; over the past few years, its The Walking Dead series has proved to be immensely popular, and its other episodic games like Minecraft: Story Mode or The Wolf Among Us are successes as well.

However, Square Enix (fairly) recently announced that the remake of the ever-popular Final Fantasy VII would be be provided to fans in an episodic fashion. More recently than that, the same company revealed plans that the new Hitman game would also be using the episodic format.

This news got me wondering whether or not this was a good call. Sure, the episodic formula is pretty popular right now, with the success of Telltale Games and other titles like Life Is Strange no doubt on a lot of developers’ minds, but I think Square Enix may have rushed into the decision to have some of their titles follow this trend.

What makes episodic gaming work, in my opinion, is the way it is presented. The Telltale games, for example, are made to work as “seasons”; each episode is its own little contained story, but it still fits into the narrative arc of the season as a whole. At the end of each episode, players are left wondering what happens next, but at the end of a season, it all gets wrapped up in a big finale, much like a television show.

The problem with Square Enix’s decision then, is that Final Fantasy and Hitman don’t really fit this structure. Or at least, it would be a challenge to make them fit this structure. Final Fantasy VII is a game that was already released as one complete package, so it seems strange to break it up into episodes and sell each episode separately when the original could be bought and played as one product. In addition, an episode must have its own rising action and climax, but the season when put together and viewed as a whole must also have these elements. FFVII as a standalone product didn’t have to worry about making a episodic-style plotline, but now its remake suddenly does.

Hitman, being a completely new entry in the series, has a better chance of being made to fit this structure. The question here though is: should it? This newest entry was first reported by Edge Magazine to  only have 3 levels at launch, but recently it was revealed that the game will go fully episodic and only offer a prologue and one level. In a time where games are being criticised for a lack of content, this move seems very risky. The developers claim that the level count is so low because of their size and the complexity of the NPC AI, but is this enough? Paying 60$ for a game is a bit of an investment, and then paying for future levels as they come out down the road feels dangerously like a large company trying to squeeze as much money as possible; this feeling is only exacerbated when the initial 60$ only gives people three levels to play in. Making Hitman episodic is a very risky venture indeed.

What do you think about the rising popularity of the episodic format? It certainly has put out a few successes, but will companies take it too far? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.97ghqril8qi-878x0-z-z96kyq

Thoughts on Dark Souls III

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As many of you are probably already aware, the Tokyo Game Show has begun and will be running until the twentieth of this month! With this exposition, there are many things to get excited about, and more than a few surprises as well. We got new trailers for Persona 5 and Metal gear Solid 5‘s multiplayer, and a Kingdom Hearts collection with some new content was announced too, among other announcements. And there are still three more days left!

As exciting as the event is, and as great as seeing a heap of new information about a slew of upcoming games is, one game in particular has me paying very close attention: Dark Souls 3. The souls series is one of my very favorite series of all time, so in the time until the newest installment arrives on shelves, I’ll be soaking up any information I can find about it.

In that regard, TGS was a godsend. A flood of new gameplay videos is beginning to surface around the internet, and with good reason. Even though the demos at TGS took place in the same area as previous expos, The Wall of Lodeleth, this time, there was a very new addition. People at the Tokyo Game Show got a first hand look at how magic will play in the game, and I couldn’t be more excited.

In short, in addition to a health and stamina bar, players will also have a MP bar, which harkens back to the days of Demon’s Souls, and does away with the limited amount of spells players had to deal with in Dark Souls 1 and 2. Players also have a second type of Estus Flask, an item normally used for healing, for re-filling the new MP bar, which drains upon casting a spell or using weapon arts, which are special abilities tied to the players’ weapons.

For an in-depth look at the changes of the game, have a look at this video, posted by Eurogamer, which goes into further detail.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below. What do you think about the new system of magic in Dark Souls III? I personally see it as a vast improvement, but I can see why someone would prefer the old way too.

Concept Art

This week, I found the website of a very talented artist named Michal Lisowski. Here are some of his works.

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For more work by this artist, please check out his website here