Author Archive

CardboardDeathRay

July 19, 2014

the past was RUBBISH

Writing, eh? All that writing people do. About games and stuff. And news, sometimes. Mostly about the one trick discovered by a mom, I suppose, but still – awful lot of writing going on. It’s the games stuff I’m interested in though. I’ve got very little to add on the subject of the thing that this US marine did next that will really surprise you! Sorry if that’s a disappointment.

Which is all a terribly roundabout way of saying “Hallo again, internet!” I’ve not seriously pointed a keyboard at you for quite some time, but suddenly I feel the compulsion. So here goes.

First sentence of that last paragraph looked weird, though. What’s going on there? Should there be another full stop? That would look right strange. I’m leaving it as it is, but I don’t mind telling you – it’s going to play on my mind.

ANYWAY! What was I here for again?

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Games Of Future Past

November 12, 2010

Just a quick one.

EuroGamer have a piece up where games developers talk about the game that influenced them the most. Is that useful? Is it a helpful concept? Probably not, but it does make for interesting reading. Molyneux is predictable – but he remains, generally speaking, on the right lines. Ru Weeeasuriya, however, marks himself out as The Enemy. He is talking absolute nonsense, and perpetuating the myth that films are best and games should be like them. Actually, I think I have an answer to that claim. Blimey. I’ll sit on that for a bit, however – keep you coming back. What a tease I am.

Anyway, go read.

 

Can’t Buy Me Love

November 10, 2010

CoD: Black Ops is the entertainment event of the year, y’all! Hundreds of millions of dollars are almost guaranteed to be spent on shooting foreigners in the face by all and sundry this christmas season. Game retailers are saying prayers of thanks to their greedy materialist gods.

To demonstrate how culturally important it was, Black Ops had a glamorous launch event at Battersea Power Station. The chap off Big Brother’s Little Brother was there and everything. So was (and this is a blast from the Jurassic Age) Sophie Ellis-Bextor* and also some chap from boyband Blue. Excellent. Games have made it, brothers and sisters. We’re in. We’re recognised. Testify! CODMODWAR2 made, according to the Guardian, $1bn worldwide, and that’s the kind of money that makes even James Cameron raise a jewel-encrusted eyelid. The fact that the Guardian wrote up the piece which I am plagiarising so gloriously here is evidence – games make money, and now people care.

The numbers bear examination, though (by someone other than me, ideally, but I’m the one with the keyboard and the chip on my shoulder). $1bn is a lot of cash. Avatar itself made twice that, admittedly, but most films don’t come close. Games are making someone an awful lot of money, and that has been equated to Going Mainstream – market penetration is what I mean here (I think). But money doesn’t necessarily equal acceptance. $1bn is the sort of money to make someone pull up short, twang their red braces and suck air in through their teeth, but making a lot of money isn’t the same as playing to a large audience. Avatar made twice as much money as CODMODWAR, and it did this at around $10 a pop. COD was selling at around $60, I believe. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to guess, then, that Avatar attracted an audience roughly ten times as large as COD. We’re not in. We just feel like we are.

We’re going the wrong way. Games have lept from ghetto pastime to money spinning Super Big Business without anything in between. Games are celebrating, and being celebrated for, profit. The industry’s ambitions rarely go further than baths full of money, and in doing that, by focusing on the genres and franchises that fill the baths the quickest, we are boiling away and reducing much of the artistry and experimentation that games grew up with. Activision wants to produce at least one title from each of it’s main franchises each year. SEGA have put the brakes on new games and new ideas, instead concentrating on sequels to their proven IP – so more Sonic, Football Manager and Total War, less originality. The publishers have found an audience happy to pay again and again for a certain type of game, and so the game keeps coming. The audience isn’t expanding, and rather than growing, maturing and broadening as it ages, gaming is narrowing, and becoming One Thing Only.

This is bad news for us, EDRites. Imagine a world in which the only games produced and sold are sequels, the same game tweaked just enough to justify the next £40, but not enough to actually be any different. Endless stultifying repetition. Sequel after sequel after remake after cover version. This launch event is, in some ways, a sign of that. It is a sign of the gaming world’s long-standing desire to be cinema, but a cinema without the arthouses. A cinema populated entirely by Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal films.

Money is fine, and money is important. But it can’t be everything.

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*Gilbo’s dad likes her.

Getting Hugs Is Cool: Sonic the Hedgehog 4

October 15, 2010

I love a console war.

Happens every generation, of course. PS3 / Xbox 360, PS2/ Xbox / GameCube, PSOne / N64 / that Sega thing I can’t remember the name of – all of them important conflicts, but they pale into significance next to the big boy, the Great Console War. It spanned two generations, but it was at its bloodiest in the late eighties and early nineties. The vast edifice of the NES locked in conflict with the curvaceous Master System, giving way to the clash between the SNES and the Mega Drive*.

But the fight wasn’t about hardware. It was only partially about the games. The fight was personal. Two cultural icons decking it out in every playground and classroom all over the developed world. Were you for Mario? Or were you for Sonic?

 

SONIC BOOOOOOM

 

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The Elder Scrolls Chronicles Part One: My Life in Games

October 11, 2010

Being a gaming memoir, of sorts, in four parts. Do come in.

I have an admission for you, internet. I am afraid to say that I am something of a geek.

In fact, I’m being disingenuous (in more ways than one, over elaborate introduction fans) – I’m a terrible, terrible old geek. I have long hair. I wear tee-shirts with pictures of Jedi Knights and comic book insignias on them. The only reason I don’t have a thick and luxuriant beard is that my face grows hair with the enthusiasm of a thirteen year old (a thirteen year old girl, natch). My geekery started young and it persists eternally, as the plastic griffon on my desk will testify. For a long time though, my geek tendencies didn’t really apply to videogames. I remember very clearly the moment when they suddenly, aggressively did.

The Young Me was a geek in many ways, I suppose, videogames being a part of that, but it was one facet of my personality that defined my geekdom.

I loved swords.

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Hell Followed With Me: Jimmy Chinless in the Capital Wasteland

October 7, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas is released this weekend, and I’m dead stoked. Fallout 3 was one of my favourite games of the last few years, and I played it to death. I created one of the most unusual characters I’ve ever made, defied my own expectations, and got down for weeks of big big radioactive fun. I had a fantastic time – but right at the end of my time with the game, something happened. Bethesda did something I hadn’t thought them capable of, and they blew the game wide open. I stopped playing soon after. What follows is the story of one of my all-time gaming highlights. Hang on tight.

WARNING: Big ENORMOUS SPOILERS for one of the best quests in Fallout 3 follow, so if you still haven’t done Tenpenny Tower in the aforementioned, steer clear.

Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

The Stage Is Set

Jimmy Chinless was not the man I expected him to be.

I use certain games to scratch certain itches. Mount & Blade* for when I want to death everyone up real good. Max Payne 2 for modern day deathing, but with diving around and growling. Football Manager when I want to gaze at statistics, storm out of press conferences, and scream impotently at non-existent people. Civ for when I just need screaming howling rage, stat.** Outrun 2006 for when I want speed. And a girlfriend, natch. Fallout 2 is my bastard-‘em-up.

I loved Fallout 2. For the first time in a game, I wasn’t a glittering goody-two-shoes, but rather a murderous depraved gangster, more concerned with wealth and with bonking and killing his way to the top of the heap in New Reno than saving his crappy village from slow radioactive death. It was a tremendous breath of fresh air, and it still draws me back occasionally, when my inner nob just won’t be suppressed any longer (although that engine is getting harder and harder to deal with). I had expected something similar from Fallout 3 – a chance to sex and violence my way through post-apocalyptic DC with a snarl on my manly chops and a sub-machinegun in my hand. Cracking.

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What I Did On My Holidays

October 5, 2010

As you might have noticed, it’s been a bit quiet around here. Month after month has gone by with nothing of any kind from the ElectricDeathRay Internet Word Emporium. Dead calm. It’s been sort of spooky actually. Day after day of that charming young lady below, staring out hopelessly into the world wide web, with only the gentlemen Googling for Jeanette Voerman pictures* for company. Poor girl. What a tough time she’s had. Somebody should stump up the cash and play Borderlands with her to make it all better.

Anyway, what with one thing and another, we’ve been gone a long time. While we were away, sunning ourselves in the exotic fabled lands of Work**, the world of games got up to all sorts of tomfoolery. This included, but was not limited to;

  1. All Points Bulletin (not-quite-GTA-online) was released.
  2. All Points Bulletin (not-quite-GTA-online) collapsed in shame and failure.
  3. PSMove (or whatever it is they’re calling it now) was announced and demonstrated. Terribly exciting. Imagine if they’d thought of it five years ago! It would have revolutionised gaming!
  4. Microsoft properly demonstrated Kinect, nee. Natal. No more playing with virtual children / dogs. Now you get to… Actually, I am genuinely not sure what Kinect is for.
  5. 3DS! This was announced as well. It’s like a world inside your DS. If your DS was brand new and cost five thousand pounds. And only worked from one angle. And probably gave you headaches (hypothetical – please don’t sue me, Nintendo).
  6. Exciting new flavours of CODMODWAR were announced. Some of them had fancy names, like Medal of Honour or Bad Company.
  7. F1 2010! Fast cars that sound like lawnmowers started appearing in adverts on websites. Later, people got angry when the AI cheated shamelessly. Except the AI didn’t really. Except it sort of did.
  8. Randy Pitchford whisked Duke Nukem Forever away from right under George Broussard’s bankrupt nose, and made it into a real game. He then ruined all the jokes by showing them to howling American journos over and over. Sigh.

Phew. Big list. Some of that stuff would clearly benefit from the precise and unforgiving word-laser fired by the ElectricDeathRay. After a few more hours with F12010 (which would make a much better name for a telly programme about aliens and explosions in space) I may even have some thoughts to force upon you all.

I haven’t said a word about what I did on my holidays. What a tease I am. Well, I played Outrun a great deal. And Alpha Protocol – rest assured, you’ll be hearing about that at some point. And that thing on the Xbox where you chop people up with a chainsword and then shoot them in the face. Main problem with the last two?  Not enough drifting. Or dodging meteors. Or being dumped by your girlfriend for not ramming enough civilians off the road.

Stay frosty, y’all. I’ll be back.

Probably.

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*All true. I checked the stats. All our hits in the last month or so have been forwarded by the Google search “Jeanette Voerman”. Try it. We’re surprisingly high on the list of places to look at hot Vampire chicks from videogames. Or, you know. Don’t try it.

**Bloody Thomas Cook diddled me on this one. L’Hotel Salaire-Esclavage Sans Signification is a lot less welcoming than you might imagine.