Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.
Let’s All Hold Hands And Not Work Correctly
In John Teti’s rundown of the Microsoft press conference—the “nerdy rich kid” of the video game community, in his words—he described how the gaming giant proudly demonstrated its ability to stream your music directly to roughly 7,000 devices in your home. RidleyFGJ added a bit of color, noting one of the few moments in Microsoft’s presentation that aimed to truly please—making fun of itself:
It says a lot about their presentation when the best moment was a surprisingly well-timed barb from South Park co-creator Trey Parker: “How many times have you been watching
an episode of South Park and thought, ‘I’d like to be able to watch this on my television, while hooked into my mobile device, which is being controlled by my tablet device, which is hooked into my oven all while sitting in the refrigerator?!’” I imagine that everyone present in that conference who laughed at that joke (and I imagine that was everyone) was also bitterly reminded of how painful the build-up was to that moment.
We laugh because it hurts. Effigy_Power spoke further about this need for every machine to talk to every other machine:
This obsession with interconnectivity between a slew of devices that have no business talking to each other is such a lame premise. It’s been tried before, if I remember correctly, such as with the idea of using the Game Boy [Advance] as a controller for the Gamecube, which didn’t pan out.
And in general, aren’t there more pressing matters? Making the limited amount of content shared over streaming services show up on multiple screens at the same time isn’t going to plaster over the fact that streaming services themselves are still flawed and about as all-encompassing as a 1995 Verizon cover map.
Why can’t these show-off extravaganzas remain true to their form? Comic-Con hasn’t seen an actual comic in years, E3 is turning into the Multimedia Con (which I am sure already exists) and the last roleplay convention I went to (years ago, mind you) was a 6,000 squarefoot flea market. It’s like Sten says: “No one has a place here. Your farmers wish to be merchants. The merchants dream of being nobles, and the nobles become warriors. No one is content to be who they are.”
Keying in on the ironic conclusion to the Microsoft event, Swadian Knight used this opportunity to play fantasy-interconnectivity with a few Microsoft devices/products:
Nothing compares to Microsoft ending their presentation about how they want their technology to be involved in every part of your everyday routine with the trailer for Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2, a game with the premise that hostile forces would take control of everyday technology as a means of war. I can just picture the enemy general/big bad screaming “Kinect: Kill The President Of The U.S.A.!” in his living room.
The Stuff Of Legends
Anthony John Agnello reported from the field that the upcoming WiiU title Rayman Legends could actually be good. The catch, though, is that you have to play it on the WiiU, which is as touch-screen-y a console as Nintendo can make before being issued a restraining order. In Legends, a fifth player sits back and uses the screen to control a bug, so while other players are having lots and lots of fun, you’re stuck touching points of light without so much as a free hand to drink your Stella (because you’re a classy guy). In the comments, the discussion turned toward Super Mario Galaxy, which had a similar system: While one person played the game as Mario, another could use a second Wiimote to gather up floating stars from around the screen. Girard, renowned director of the comment-thread CATFRENZY trailer, defended this player-helper setup:
I actually quite enjoyed that style of interaction and found a few different ways to make use of it. In addition to the expected scenario of a less-savvy friend being able to gather and waste star bits, I found what was more fun was giving a friend or younger relative the chance to play as Mario, while my more experienced self played as the 2P and used the cursor’s ability to stun enemies or hold back obstacles like rolling boulders, making the game less frustrating and challenging. He was traversing the world, and I was manipulating the world, and we were working as a team toward the goal, which was pretty great.
It seems like people expect the “helper” role to be handed over the grandma or little cousin to save them from the boredom of just watching the “real” gamer play, but I found it better addresses the frustration experienced gamers have when they sit and watch less-experienced gamers frustrate themselves playing a game. It gives you an opportunity to use your knowledge of the game to assist their gameplay without just snatching the controller out of their hand and beating the level for them.
Naughty Dog Done Made Us Cry
While Gus Mastrapa’s peered into the abyss of the Sony E3 press conference, Spacemonkey Mafia patted our backs and reminded us that there is a world, a better world, outside of E3, one in which death is not the equivalent of an APPLAUSE! sign:
I have a two year-old daughter, and watching this trailer for The Last Of Us made my heart hurt. The sense of vulnerability and urgency was so tangible in the trailer, heightened by the utter lack of music. It must have felt completely different watching it in an auditorium full of people cheering for death, because in the silence of my home, the game appears to do a fantastic job of showing just how high the cost of life is. If the game is capable of maintaining that tone throughout, without devolving into camp or bloody rampage, Naughty Dog will have achieved something truly impressive for an action game. Hell, any genre, really.
Life is precious, and it shouldn’t be wasted. Oh, no, I was talking about my bowl of Life cereal.
Do As We Say, Not As We Do (But Really We Don’t Do, We Just Say)
Nintendo’s press conference reminded John Teti of how much over-explaining goes into Nintendo titles these days—a far cry from back in the day when Samus’ space ship crash landed on an alien planet, and you had to just go. Dikachu nodded:
I grew up playing video games when virtually nothing was actually explained to you. You had to actually FIGURE SHIT OUT. And it was incredibly fun and rewarding to do so— would the original Legend Of Zelda be anywhere near as awesome if Link had a fairy telling him every goddamn thing along the way?
Nowadays every studio insists on bashing every detail of the game mechanics over your head at every opportunity. Cutscenes, voice overs, popups, button diagrams…it’s like programming robots to do repetitive tasks. I can understand the impulse—reaaaaaally casual gamers may not want to play if they can’t mow through it in a few hours—but there are still a ton of us who just wanna dive in and explore.
ALGUIEN_COMENTA was quick to follow-up with a link to this helpful graphic, outlining the grim scenario of Super Mario Bros. being designed by today’s over-explaining standards. It’s fairly accurate, though it wasn’t quite clear enough that I’d be playing this game as it streamed wirelessly to my radiator. I found a fire flower! Wait, that’s just me putting my hand on the radiator.