At 4:06p on March 31, I acquired the final badge in Bejeweled for iOS. This is the seventh game cleared in 2012. Thirty-three games remain for the 2012 challenge.
I’m sure that by now the Mass Effect 3 ending “controversy” is either dwindling down or completely irrelevant, but at the time I’m writing this, a group is petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to intervene over what is being characterized as a case of false advertising. Again, by the time this goes live I’ll probably have made it through to the ending myself, but as of right now the only thing I know is that the culmination of a huge number of choices and player actions across three games are distilled into one final choice which determines which ending you get.
Yeah, this is definitely something to be (have been?) up in arms about.
While this load of bullshit was going on, I had a discussion with a couple of friends who were, to various degrees, involved in the issue (though certainly not on the side of the “protesters”– I don’t know anyone that stupid). One of them argued that it’s remarkable how a video game is causing this much of an emotional attachment in certain people, and that the outcry is a rallying point for the “games as art” movement. To which I promptly replied that no, as much as we would want it to be seen as a positive, the media is going to portray the outcry as “a bunch of immature pseudoadults whining over the ending to a children’s video game that they’re too old to be playing”. It probably already has.
I can’t be positive about this. I literally cannot find the good out of all of this. If there is any, it’s too well hidden and too miniscule to offset the tremendous amount of public-perception damage that this is doing to gaming as a whole. We want gaming to be treated as an adult pastime, as something that anyone of any age can enjoy, but the minute something goes wrong, gamers revert to a twelve-year-old mentality and start whining to beat the band. We can’t have it both ways, and unfortunately it looks like the way we want it is to reinforce the stereotype that’s been imposed on us.
As much as I want to be “out” as a geek, I have to accept that doing so means I’m not going to be free of the associated prejudice in my lifetime.
The last ten years of gaming have seen two things rise: portable gaming and multiplayer gaming. It’s easy to forget, then, that the fusion of the two has had a really, REALLY rough time of it. The original Game Boy had an awful multiplayer scheme; it required one copy of the software for each player and a link cable. In theory, this sounds reasonable.
In practice, a family wouldn’t buy multiple copies of the same game, friends wouldn’t either when they could just trade amongst themselves, and because of both of those the link cable would get lost within a couple of weeks. I think I managed, what, three linked Tetris games on my original GB, and I traded Pokemon with my sister twice. Obviously, once the Game Boy Advance came along and permitted single-cartridge multiplayer (what we call “Download Play” now), the only problem was that the link cables weren’t included anymore and were $20. Only once the DS came along and provided built-in, easy-to-use wireless capabilities, did portable multiplayer really take off. Even then, single-card multiplayer is relatively rare, for reasons that are usually green. Even the PSP’s game sharing feature doesn’t see a lot of use.
What should be noted, though, is that smartphone gaming is really taking off in terms of solving the other problem with portable multiplayer– finding someone near you who’s set up for and receptive to playing with you. Yeah, asynchronous play is a great innovation, especially because it makes long-form games like Ticket to Ride, Scrabble, Risk, etc. more convenient to play. But linking with folks across the world to get your game on helps far more. Case in point, I’ve been having the hardest time getting some friends together to run a campaign of Risk Legacy as that requires a very long, consistent time investment. On the flip side, whenever I want to play Ascension, I just have to fire up my iPad.
As great as it is to play games together, it could be a lot easier to play the games I want to play with people.
It’s been just shy of a year since the Nintendo 3DS was released, and now that I take a look back at how it has been received, and my own use of the device, I note some similarities to endeavors from the past. This is only the second handheld since the original Game Boy that I haven’t later eliminated or replaced within a year of my first picking it up. That, if anything, is quite remarkable. Witness:
GBA: Bought launch day, replaced within a year with the silver edition
GBA SP: Bought and sold this several times during the Unemployings
DS: Same, but replaced repeatedly over two years until settling on the black Lite
DSi: The only “survivor”, lasting from launch day (2009) until late last year
PSP: See GBA SP, only with longer gaps and fewer games
Why would I go through that treadmill? Well, the Unemployings were certainly a factor, but they were not the entire reason. I thought back to my first DS game, Mr. Driller Drill Spirits. At the time, I called it a “waste of the system’s potential”, and with good reason: that title suffered greatly on its trip across the Pacific, having lost features and game modes. Ultimately it wasn’t anything that couldn’t have been done on the GBA, which was a dramatic disappointment after the quantum leap from the GBC to the GBA. Hell, even going from the original GB to the GBA was a major improvement. I went through a similar disappointment period with the 3DS, picking up Bust A Move Universe shortly after the console’s launch, and regretting it instantly.
The thing is, the DS came into its own once some really good software came out for it. More than that, I’m in a better place now than I was during that high-churn time. I have a better chance to stay stable as time goes on, and so I can stick with a console for the long haul. It hasn’t been as long a wait for the 3DS, in my opinion– Super Mario 3D Land was a great title, and Devil Survivor Overclocked has me really upset that I don’t have the time to sit down with it. But I’d like to think I’ve learned from my past habits, and am not going to go for new hardware “just because”. Software trumps all, and if that means I have to wait a little bit before I get a new console for myself, then so be it.
I’m actually very glad to be “done” with Skylanders for the time being; at the moment, I probably could brute-force my way through the last four achievements if I really wanted to (or, more likely, enlist the help of another player to use a subtle exploit that may or may not work), but I’m pretty happy with leaving it as-is for now. Honestly, the game is too addictive for its own good, and outside of the figure-swapping gimmick there’s not a whole hell of a lot to it. Plus, the final boss is brutally hard solo, which is why I’d consider asking that certain other player for help– the “last” achievement (aside from the “get all others” one) requires a no-death run against the final boss, and I think it would be remarkably easier using the characters that can both attack foes and heal allies with the same action.
And yeah, I did do it this morning mostly to get to the next gamerscore milestone. It is an ultimately meaningless pursuit, but I like tracking it, and with the purchasing restriction this year it’ll be interesting to see how my percentages increase. They may actually go down, in point of fact– I have a few games on the shelf that haven’t even been put into the system yet, and as a result when they’re added to the aggregate totals I might lose some ground. Still, I’m making better progress to the 2012 clear goal than I really expected, and I imagine that I’m probably going to fire up an older RPG when I get back home tonight.
Speaking of that, I’d better get moving if I want to be on time– going to meet some friends and roll the ol’ plastic polyhedra. Ciao, folks.
Today, my Xbox/Games For Windows Live Gamerscore exceeded 23000 points. The achievement that put me over this plateau was “I Love Smashing (20G)” from Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. My current count for achievements, according to the Xbox 360 dashboard, is 1354 individual achievements across 145 games, totaling 23125 points. The average value of each achievement is 17.07 points, with an average count of 159.48 points per game (the Xbox Dashboard reports 22.24% gamerscore completion and 28.22% achievement completion, with seven fully-completed games). It took 51 days to reach this point from the previous plateau of 22050 on December 30th, 2011. 47 achievements were collected in this time, totaling 1075 points, with an average value of 22.87 points, and a collection rate of one achievement approximately every 26 hours, 2 minutes, and 33 seconds.
So, thanks for bearing with the little info dump there during the car story. Looking back, it’s just a tad over-dramatic at times, but let’s be honest– there was a hell of a lot of drama going on. Anyway, we should be back to our normal posting habits now, and there’s nothing better to kick this off with than the fact that I’m honestly enjoying Skylanders far more than I had initially expected to.
It’s been an on-and-off game for me, but I can usually plow through a couple of levels to relax now and again before I yearn to play something with a bit more meat on it. I’m running into my usual problem when there’s a cast of character this large, though– I pick one or two favorites and focus exclusively on them. In this case it’s been Whirlwind and Flameslinger, and in truth I’ve only had Flameslinger a fraction of the time I’ve had Whirlwind. WW is just shy of Level 9, and FS is hovering around 6. The rest have been either just put in play once or only have a couple of levels. I’m somewhere around five stages from the end of the game, and I fully expect to be done with it in February.
Beyond that, a lot of my free time for the foreseeable future is going to be taken up with Tekkoshocon preparation and other things, but I still am working on trying to get a group together for a one-shot adventure using the Paranoia XP rules. I may just go ahead and ask that we do that one day instead of the normal gaming activity, but we shall see. I’ll keep everyone updated on that as it progresses.
I’m also gearing up for an Essay Week sometime soon… Not sure when, but it’s in the cards. Anyway, catch you all tomorrow.
Over this week, I’ll be telling the story of how I got my new car. I happen to think the tale is worth telling. If you’re just here for the video game and anime snarkiness, well, I suggest you tune in next Monday, when I hope to return to form on those fronts. But for now, please enjoy the six-part “Treks, Plans, and Auto Ordeals”. Posts for this week are on auto-pilot and should show up before or around noon.
…..okay, to tide you over, then, this little bit of news: I’ve slowly been getting back into Magic: The Gathering, and today I managed to score a relatively major coup in that I found an item that was the perfect confluence of my interests: the Jace vs. Chandra Duel Deck set… in Japanese, with the exclusive alternate artwork for the two planeswalker cards. It’s my firm intent to be able to play either of these decks by the end of the year. I know Magic, and I have a rudimentary grasp of kana and kanji. I also happen to know someone who knows both of these things. I’m sure she will also be interested in helping me with this challenge.
Good night, all.