Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I think not many of you will agree with me here, but I've just got to say, I think platformers are terrible.

Or, to be more specific, I think platformers are obsolete and should be put down.

They're a product of early video games. Back then, the technology was so new, that the simple act of manipulating something on a screen in a digital environment using physical controls was, in and of itself, so interesting and fun that games were built around it. The games were about, "how skilfully can you interface with the controls?" "How's your hand-eye coordination?" Hence early games like Mario. Timing jumps, judging distance... back then, it was new, and gaming technology was limited in how far it could push strategy elements, story elements, artistic elements, and so forth. So, platformers had their role.

But in this day and age? I'm sorry, but I think a game whose core still revolves around platforming is just lazy. I understand the nostalgia element, I guess, but since I came to gaming later than most, I never developed the love for platformers when they existed in their own time. Of course, all games involve timing and hand eye coordination - you're still using a controller, after all - but an FPS, for example, involves strategy and planning and coping with what other players or AI toss in your way. The game is not ONLY about how well you handle a controller. For the actual gameplay, and the challenge of a game, to be you, simply hitting the right buttons or flicking the joystick at the right time... and that's it? That's the whole thrust of the game? I just don't see the appeal in this day and age.

Take for example, the image below. Where's the fun in completing that level? I know what I have to do, I've figured it out. There are no surprises or ambushes or twists. The only challenge is that my finger might slip and I'll have to start again. This is fun?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

So apparently there was some big rapture scare. Honestly, I completely missed it. Not that I buy into insane mass paranoia (remember Y2K, anyone?), but it's fun to keep track of these things and make snide remarks.

But oh well, I missed it. I guess I need to keep a closer eye on the news?

Anyway, that's not the point of this blog. The point of this blog is to discuss a gaming quirk of mine. I am what I term a "compulsive saver." When I play games, I save them every few minutes, spread across multiple save files. If I play games that don't allow for this feature, for example, Final Fantasy games that only let you save at certain spots or in the open field, it makes me uneasy.

A while ago I thought to myself, "what is at the heart of this compulsive saving behaviour? What is it's root?" I think I've figured it out. One of my deepest gaming fears is that all my progress is going to be lost because something is going to happen before I get a chance to save. Not something in-game, something from the real world. Like my computer crashes. Or, my worst fear... a power outage.

Think about it, you're trying a boss for the 10th time, FINALLY making progress, you think you're going to win this time... and then ZAP. Power outage. All progress lost.

It keeps me up at night.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Escort Missions

So, I take gaming pretty seriously, and as such, I don't mind when games take me seriously. That is to say, I don't mind when games are insanely difficult. I take it as a challenge. I take it as the developers saying, "here, we have faith in you, try your hand at this!" The harder the game, the greater the sense of accomplishment. I go to advanced difficulty settings whenever I start a game. All in all, I dig the tough levels and modes.

However, games can cheat.

The cheapest, easiest way for a game to add a challenge is by throwing in an escort mission, where you need to guard some AI, or ally, or whatever. This is cheating. It's cheating because they don't give you control of whatever it is you need to guard - the game controls it. Let's think about that a second: the game is saying 'to pass this level, you must ensure no harm comes to this ally. Also, I control the ally." The game then goes on to make your character act like a complete and utter idiot, chasing after hostile bullets and explosions like some cracked-out danger junkie. Then, the game blames you for the consequences.

Case in point?

Here we have Natalya, from Goldeneye 64. There were several missions where you had to escort her through the crossfire of raging battlegrounds, while she literally runs around and remarks "Aren't these flowers pretty???"

Sorry, games, but this kind of challenge is not satisfying or interesting. Holding the gamer responsible for inconceivably bad AI is just dirty pool. I'm playing, here, let me control things on my end. Don't shackle me to a ridiculous liability whose behaviour I can't affect.

Now, you might just say that the concept is sound, it's the AI that's bad. And for Goldeneye 64, that may be true. But I was just playing the post-apocalyptic Advance Wars on my DS, and they give me an escort mission. And it goes a little something like this:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chess Games

I take chess way too seriously. I'm not even really that good at it, but I enjoy it thoroughly. Though it can get a little stale - it's a pretty slow, stuffy game. That's why I absolutely love PC chess games. My all time favourite was Battle Chess. It was a game where you could play against your friends or the PC (various difficulty levels) and the game was animated in 3D, with each piece being a character with unique battle animations versus the other pieces. It was really violent, and really funny. For example, Rook takes Queen...

Another great thing about the game was that it had fantastic music. The background music would change depending on how you were doing, and each piece had its own theme music whenever it moved - PLUS the music would be different per team, so your Knight would have different music than an enemy knight. Basically it was solid all around.

It even had a fully voice-acted tutorial feature, where each piece would come forward and teach you how to play the game.

Anyway, the reason for this post is that THERE'S a NEW battle chess coming out! I read about it on Joystiq. There wasn't too much info, just a few screens and the fact that it's apparently coming out this summer. So, I'm damn excited. I need to get back into form, so I can start taking Chess way too seriously. It's game time!

Ants update

Thanks for the support re: the ant battle, all. Just a quick update... we won!
Combination of raid liquid bait and strategically placed bait traps seems to have done the trick. No sign of ants in a while.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The most important issue of all...

Following an earlier post I made when things were first heating up in Egypt a couple of months ago, I thought it might be consistent of me to make a post about the killing of Bin Laden and my thoughts on that. But honestly, I think we've all heard enough about that, so I won't.

Then I decided, well, Canada is wrapping up a federal election which saw some big changes, so maybe that's worth a post? But no, that's not really that interesting or important either.

Instead, I will write on an issue that far eclipses these two: there are ants in my fucking apartment. Now normally, I find ants totally unobjectionable. I don't think they're gross to look at, like other bugs, and there's really no risk that you're going to be surprised by an ant in bed or anything, since they usually stick to their colonies or if not, they're on a mission for food and not dicking around in your bedroom. But these guys were making an anthill in my bathroom, using bits of cement and mortar they scraped up from in between the floor tiles. And that is just not cool.

So, the battle is on. Step one was to flush hot water down the cracks that I see them in. That'll kill a whole bunch - maybe even halt their progress - but I don't think it'll kill the whole colony. I should also mention that I'm in a clean, sixth floor apartment, so the mere fact that they're here is totally shocking. Anyone have experience with this sort of thing? Any good pest control brands or products I should know about?