Thursday, April 12, 2012

My thoughts on gaming these days

I remember when top down scrollers were tools to help represent a world that before could only be described in a book or expensively portrayed in a movie or TV show (or a cheap cartoon). Video games changed the way we view user created graphical story telling. When you read a book you are a passive element in the story. In a video game you can actually change the outcome of the story as it's being told. Before computers, only in role playing games can this be accomplished and I find this simply amazing. Being an old man I have seen the rise of the computer from the Atari 1600 to the 2 terabyte drive. TWO TERABYTES. When I was growing up, this size of memory was either for a small country to maintain (or a James Bond villain) or in a science fiction TV show. I am even holding in my hand a data pad once fictionally portrayed in Star Trek the Next Generation. I am getting away from my point.
Computer games are progressing by leaps and bounds. I see some challenges in the marketing of video games. In order to make a good video game, you must have an affinity for the people who will be playing your game. If you are only looking to make a profit, either short or long term, then the game you created with be constrictive, completely creator controlled and innovation to make it better by the community will be stifled. The argument can be made that complete creator control (example would be that you have to 'sign in' every time you play like in the dreaded window$ live) decreases piracy is a completely flawed argument. It heralds back to the analogy of the unbreakable shield and the all powerful spear. Like yin and yang they will always be on each other's tails forever, seeking to usurp power over the other, seeking separation yet never breaking apart. This is what piracy and anti-piracy is. The people who wanted to make money tried to make their games unhackable, the unbreakable shield, and the hackers, given enough time, will create a spear that sunders it. In the end the spear will win and in my observation the only thing that protects copyrights is the lag time when the software is cracked and distributed via bittorrent. There is no such thing as a unhackable game.
With that said, get rid of windows live, games that cannot be OWNED via a DVD disc I can put on my shelf or any other way the game designers wish to limit our freedoms.
I will list what a good game possesses:
1. A good game will put graphical beauty second to the story or function of the game.
2. A good game will allow the players to create their own maps, mods, game changing elements for single player play and the ability to play off line. Any game that does not allow any or all of these characteristics causes the the buyer of the game to become a 'renter' instead.
3. A good game will never collect personal information of any kind and will allow you to play monthly fees (if that is truly needed - which is almost never) anonymously so that there is no possibility to put you on a black list that could be shared among game companies. Game companies, eventually, will never use your personal information for anything good for you. Never trade your full name or anything about you in exchange for a short term gaming experience. Eventually they either will make it free or a hacker will make playable without this breach pf personal privacy.
4. A good game will be able to be uninstalled COMPLETELY and TOTALLY with no remnants left behind. You should not have to reinstall your OS just to erase the game you installed. Thank goodness this is rare.
5. A good game will allow you to create multiplayer games off the internet in a local area network environment. There is no reason to disallow LAN capability other than to make extra money for the game company at the cost of your personal freedom and what you rightfully paid for.
6. A good game company understands that when you shell out $60, that you are not renting a game, you a buying it. What I mean by this is that when you buy a car you should not have to call the company you bought the car each and every time you have to drive somewhere and if you fail to do so, you car forever ceases to function. Apple is this way and many video games seeking our personal gaming freedom.
7. A good game has a complicate plot with many side plots that make things interesting. Going from one stage to the next can get boring, unless it is done right. Duke Nukem Forever did it wrong and Half Life 2 did it right. Put some puzzles in, we can take it and if we can't then we need to grow out of our selfish teenager years and learn how to get out of a room with a crowbar...
Toltrin out.