Sunday, 29 September 2013

Negativity makes a comeback!


I haven't written anything lately because...well, I have no excuse except good, old fashioned laziness.

So, allow me to compensate you with some of the most moving, brilliant, inspired and creative writing you will ever see in a gaming blog read by about forty people! I guarantee delight!

This week I want your thoughts on something quite unusual. I want you to help me decide if I have inadvertently become something terrible. I want you to consider the scant evidence I am about to place limply before you, like exhibits in a particularly tedious fly-tipping court case, and promptly form an opinion which will either condemn or exonerate me. Yes, I am at your mercy, Sir.

The accusation that has been levelled at me I a negatively-minded gamer?

A negatively-minded gamer. I know right now you're thinking 'What the hell? I was expecting something serious, something with some intellectual content to sink my metaphorical teeth into, and instead I get THIS?!?', but being branded with this filth has wounded me, friend.

Right, into it. A few nights ago I was enjoying some CS:GO with a pal of mine, and as we played we discussed general blah blah about various. If you have read this electronic leaflet before, you will be aware that I despise people discussing cauliflowers, ladders, foreheads etc. over the in-game voice chat while the game is 'in play', as you cannot hear a bloody thing as their reedy, faux-jaded voices mask every single useful audible clue to the enemies whereabouts.

These voices belong to either high-pitched squeakers boasting of their hip-hop sexual prowess, or morose students claiming everything is boring in a flat, monotone drone regularly punctuated with derisive snorts. Both types are unaware of how agonisingly, crushingly generic they are. Scum!

As my chum and I continued, obviously we encountered lots of these types and I moaned and bitched accordingly, like one of those guests in the audience of 'The Jeremy Kyle Show' that sits there gently shaking their head and pulling a face, as if they are faaaaaar too good to even be there.

Then we set about discussing the upcoming releases, was I interested or intrigued by any, to which I responded with an assortment of huffs, puffs and blowing his optimistic house down.

Or, in actual language, I said no, not really, as the same irritating kids will infest all the upcoming titles with their rubbish attitude to team objectives and their gleeful on-mic revelations about how they noisily pleasured my Mother the night before 'Ya get me bruv innit batty boi sick'.

I recounted my mixed experiences with the Battlefield franchise, how I was constantly driven insane with disbelief as one of my 'team' sprinted to the armoured personnel carrier and drove away at speed, leaving several out-of-breath comrades chasing breathlessly after him like a gang of obese cheetahs pursuing an athletic wildebeest. Or something.

And if you did manage to get to the drivers seat first, and if you did manage to stealthily trundle unnoticed along one of the few flanking routes, your cover would be blown as one of the cocks in your squad would decide to 'test the guns' mounted on the vehicle, thus instantly revealing you to every RPG-toting/C4 explosive wielding baddie in the area.

Then he quizzed me on my views of the Steam OS and the Steam PC/console hybrid thingies that are en route, and again, I blew out my cheeks and released a sigh. Nah, not bothered about them. Early adopters can give the feedback and publicise the bugs, I'll ignore it all until then I grumped.

I think this the point where I was labelled a negative gamer. Me!?

I instantly mute everyone, I always think the worst of other players, I refuse to diversify with my gaming tastes, I only trust Valve...these are a few of the things he accused me of, but the most cutting of them was how I am rigid in my prejudices of games and gamers. I choose something, then discard and mentally discredit the rest, like some sort of entertainment butcher, herding other people and their preferences into the slaughterhouse to be anally electrocuted and turned into a sandwich. Yum!*

To him, at that particular point in the evening, the following image is me:

"Consoles? You mean those devices they use to distract poor children from their hunger?"

So there you have it. In my defence, I have been playing games for a long time, and in that time I have made lots of virtual friends within one game or another.

But of late...I don't know if it's just because I'm at the upper end of gaming demographics or what, but I tend to apply the standards I expect from other gamers to my own behaviour. I don't subject other players to a deafening commentary whilst I do my thing, I don't feel I have to spam the chatbox with bait to get some kind of furious I-want-to-find-you-and-stab-you reaction from the person that just killed me, and I usually attempt to put a bit of effort into teamwork using the in-game communication tools provided. Credit to team, no?

Or am I missing out on some hidden fun? Should I throw my babble onto the enormous pile found in online gaming? Should I try to organise a knife fight in a pub car-park with the next gentleman that beheads me with an AWP? All these things are easily achievable!

So do I seem negative? Or am I exactly where I should be with my attitude?

Your verdict matters. Or not. You can decide. Or not! I could do this forever.

Anyway, many thanks for reading as usual, and apologies to the people that have been visiting only to find I have been absent. I am a horrible person and you deserve better. Ridiculous!

Come to think of it , there's enough stuff in the archive for you to read if you're that bothered, don't pretend you already have, the NUMBERS DON'T LIE. I know you haven't. You think I enjoy this?

Next Sunday: Something shocking, a true exclusive! Honest!

GL & HF! (unless you're negative like me)

*'Yum' for the sandwich, not the.....oh, you got it. Good.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The only genre guide you'll ever need!

Have a nice Sunday!

Hello, it's me. This week I'd like to explain to you what a genre is!

This information will help you select games that are to your liking, and will hopefully assist you in steering clear of titles that will make you weep like a Victorian-era war widow! And that.

So, a genre (pronounced jjawn-ruh) is basically a category into which video games are slotted, like a biscuit being inserted lovingly into a fat man's mouth. These categories often contain some wholly unnecessary sub-categories, but as I'm not the type of bloke that gets a kick out of making people feel confused and inferior we'll just ignore all that crap, friend!
And, as you've read this far, I'm going to assume you're not one of those impatient angries that tears people to pieces (with words) for some sort of minor factual inaccuracy, so we're good to go!

The following is an exhaustive list of video game genres assembled through my many years of gaming experience. Examples of each genre will also be provided. I am too kind, I know.

Genre #1: First Person Shooters.

A First Person Shooter (or FPS) is a game in which you invariably play some sort of soldier, and you are only able to see your weapon, or the hands that hold your weapon. Hence 'First Person'.

I think that's right. Yeah, we'll run with that.

These games are all about coldly murdering whoever you encounter for the flimsiest of reasons, but you'll be given some kind of persuasive blah by your duplicitous commanders in an attempt to numb the distaste you feel as you stab a poor, unaware character in the neck with a piece of jagged metal for a reason that you're not exactly clear about. Yuck and ouch, brother. Ironically, the other guy will be trying to do the same thing to YOU for the same unknown reasons. War is a tragedy :(

You will shoot, then shoot some more. You will have a score. You will have lots of numbers to record your senseless extinguishing of life with, and you will feel an intense emptiness as you realise it is all meaningless. You may even drop to the floor in your room, curled into a ball weeping!

Here is a picture of an FPS game in action:

n00bs enjoying a frantic pWn, yesterday.

Examples of FPS titles are Team Fortress, Counter-Strike, Battlefield, Call Of Duty....there are literally too many for me to list here. Absolutely loads.

Are they all pointedly different? No, not really. The players will all rabidly defend/promote their FPS franchise of choice, whilst at the same time rubbishing others, but it's all nonsense. Some of the titles above are chasing the same huge audience, so it's sort of obvious they will overlap in some areas, no?

ATTENTION: FPS players tend to be a bit aggressive when it comes to discussing games.

Genre #2: Role Playing Games.

A Role Playing Game (or RPG) is a title in which you are always the sole living heir to something, or an unknowing chosen one, or some historically important reincarnation of someone that emerges at exactly the right time to avert an oncoming disaster. Always. Always you. Sigh.

These games are story-driven epics, involving you beginning as a dirt-eating simpleton, rotting your monochrome life away in a urine-stained village in the back of nowhere, and then progressing on to become a golden-haired body-builder possessing several NVQs in killing baddies and rescuing toffs and their various pets etc.

You will be required to 'level up', which means get better at hitting things, stealing things, threatening people etc. Levelling up is a bit like having a can of strong cider, the more you have the better you get at certain tasks, like kicking over your neighbours bin or shouting at a bus, for example.

The majority of your time spent in an RPG, however, will be spent doing things that have nothing to do with the main plot. You will be told, right at the start, that the Earth is about to implode unless you (and ONLY you) find & unite the eleven shattered pieces of the mythical mirror of Izgrathankmuth or whatever the hell it is in that particular instance.

Sounds serious, yeah? Pretty urgent, no? Maybe a priority? Nah.

Inexplicably, people that live in this world and are very, very aware that they are about to have their lungs burnt off and their faces flung into the freezing depths of space (if you don't get your skates on) will mither you with the most unbelievable requests!

"Hail hero, I have misplaced my antique chair in yonder no quick-travel woodland!"

"Would you help an old man gather 25 leaves from the other side of the enormous map?"

"I can train you to ride fish in return for your assistance in combing my back"

Amazing. You'd think they'd be desperate for you to get on with it, wouldn't you? Gah!

Have a look through the window of an RPG:

...THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID! *canned laughter*

Some RPG's of note are The Elder Scrolls series, the Final Fantasy series and the Dragon Age games.

Do they all differ? Yeah, the stories are pretty diverse, but the methods used in completing the tasks are kinda usual in most of them, really. So it's sort of like buying a book. Pick the story you want to be involved in, Son, the gaming element will take care of itself.

NOTICE: RPG players tend to produce lots of horrible 'fan-fiction' which clutters up Google when you're trying to get a walk-through guide or some such.

Genre #3: Racing games.

A racing game is....a game in which you race. Cars, usually. These games don't tend to have anything meaningful in terms of characters, just lots of images of cars. So if you like cars, you'll like these.

Customisation is the hot thing in racing games these days. Physics, track design and race options are becoming secondary concerns next to games featuring the ability to draw naughty things on the side of your virtual car!

A survey of twelve year old boys was conducted globally via Xbox Live recently, the point of which was to establish what users thought the top three most desirable & offensive images are to feature in any in-game emblem design. The results were:
  1. A swastika
  2. A penis
  3. A swastika made from penises.
Pretty conclusive stuff, many thanks to Microsoft for this invaluable data!

Anyway, look at this picture of a racing game:

Man, I used to love this!

Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport are both racing game franchises. There are lots of others, but most of them are either bad or far too hardcore for the less.....committed gamer, shall we say?

SOMETHING ELSE: The 'Need For Speed' series used to be great, but nowadays it is aimed at twelve year old gangster rappers desperate to escape the oppression of the po-leese. Hmph.

Genre #4: Beat 'em ups.

No. Go to the archive if you need reminding why.

Genre #5: Massively Multiplayer Online games.

A Massively Multiplayer Online game (MMO) is a game know, I have never actually played one of these. I know a bloke that plays absolutely nothing but Star Wars: The Old Republic on his swanky new PC, which seems a criminal waste to me, but there you go. He's a clan leader and all that, active in the community for that particular game and he generally speaks well of it.

I gave it a bash when it was featured as a free weekend title on Steam a while ago, and I hated it. I'm ashamed to say I was just confused. These titles seem so complex on the surface, impenetrable to an ignorant reactionary like me. I just couldn't get psyched to learn, man.

These games generate massive cash for their respective publishers though, as all the players have a subscription thing going on, or if it's a free to play title they'll cough up for items and the like. Seems like a lot of money gets whizzed about in the world of MMO, sister. But the experience is probably the better for it, with all that guaranteed cash flowing in and being spent on new content, various stuff like updates and improvements and all that. Maybe I'd like it if I gave it a go? Dunno, really.

Here is a photo of what I think an MMO looks like:

The cheapest of shots is always so tempting to the weakest of writers :(

As the mildly offensive image above suggests, these games usually overlap into RPG territory, so they have the strengths and weaknesses of that genre also. Pretty factual stuff this, eh?

World Of Warcraft and the aforementioned Star Wars title are the only ones I know of, so feel free to shout any others at your screens...NOW. GO. SHOUT THEM. SHOUT THEM NOW. Thanks.

 Genre# 6: Real-Time Strategy.

Real-Time Strategy (RTS). In the dominant military RTS world, you basically order things to kill other things, without actually getting your hands dirty yourself. Think of it as a bit of a military command simulator, with yourself cast as the man safely tucked up at home as you send scores of scared, nervous recruits blinking tears from their eyes to their graves at the click of a button. So real!

Yeah, so you command things. And manage resources. And balance budgets. And develop tactics.

I know that doesn't seem very inspiring as a gaming concept but it's actually rather good. There's something super satisfying about squeezing a victory from limited resources, or turning a losing fight into a throat-stomping win. Overcoming the odds is the name of the game! Or not!

The better mobile games are all RTS, too. The touch-screen interface was made for RTS games.

Have a sly look, and notice the monkey enjoying my post this week:

A cutting-edge ripped-off RTS in action

As you can see, RTS doesn't just encompass war. You can RTS in the world of business, you can RTS in the world of football, hairdressing, supermarkets...endless stuff. Although I am eager to hear of an RTS based on chavs, wherein you plot tactics for scrapping with policemen, manage your resources in order to purchase another tattoo on your lower leg, and successfully upgrade your wardrobe to the top of the chav wardrobe tech tree (100% replica football shirts). Come on developers, deliver!

Examples of RTS games are Football Manager, Dawn Of War and the Total War series. Unique thing about RTS is they are usually all very different from each other, so that's a big plus point.

Genre#7: Platform games.

Why are they called platform games? Well, you run about and jump from platform to platform. Too complex for you? Then how are you here reading this?

Platformers are retro. Old school. Archaic. See, at the time technology dictated what you could and couldn't do as a game developer. But nowadays the world is their oyster, and they can pretty much do everything they imagine. So run-jump-run-duck-jump has been left behind a little.

Or has it? The glorious PC (the only gaming platform that matters) enjoys a wealth of extremely high quality platform games at the moment, with more added regularly. Games like Mark Of The Ninja will blow your monocle out with the quality of the experience on offer, old-school sideways action built upon contemporary design standards and incredible depth of play. Delicious!

And the consoles have contributed too, with LittleBigPlanet teaming basic, charming gameplay with a brilliantly simple 'create your own content' interface. All good stuff, let's be honest.

Let's look at a fantastic platformer here:

Two monkeys in this weeks post, nice.

Hmm famous platform games....hmm. Let me think. Give me a minute. Er...



No, no it's gone. Can't think of any. Sorry. Was on the tip of my tongue.

Genre#8: There is no #8.

And that concludes this weeks effort from me. I hope you now understand the subtle differences between the genres, and can now select your next game purchase with confidence, instead of sitting with a few games in your basket on Amazon with a faceache born from indecision.

Also, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I hated writing it. It was horrible! Nah it was OK.

Thanks for coming and I'll see you soon.

GL & HF!