Floating hearts, running bear and the legend of naked guy

August 3, 2007

Gametrailers Link . The game’s called Kokoro Scan. I think it’s a japanese Nintendo DS dating utility (gives new meaning to Wi-Fi connection) but geeze… that’s one…. uh…. wacky commercial. And yet at the same time there’s something very artistic about the whole presentation. Cultural differences mixed with marketing.

I needed perspective to make that WOW Murloc video seem normal 😛


Remake something until you get it right

July 31, 2007

“Remakes” is generally a dirty word around me. Whether we’re talking about a movie or a novel or even a cover of music, the idea of a remake seems like a general cop-out. First there’s the idea of cashing in on an existing well known property, instead of producing original work. If it were an exact reproduction of the story with newer graphics or different actors, that’s one thing. However most movies don’t feel they can get away with that and instead they decide to re-write the plot adding new twists. Recent “big movies” such as Planet of the Apes, Ocean’s Eleven and The Manchurian Candidate all follow this. The writers and the director decide that the plot needs to be mucked around with, and frankly I find that insulting to the original work (especially in the cases where the remake ends up being worse or unwatchable compared to the source material).

But my blog post isn’t about movies, even though I felt the need to open a conversation with them (and I’m not going to talk about books or music despite mentioning them in my 1st line. Sorry). I talk about games instead. Videogames have also been subject to the remake syndrome as original programmer teams as well as new programming teams get to work “updating” old classics for newer systems. But unlike films, I notice that forums don’t have the same amount of venom for game updates as they do for other media. So why is that?

The first reason is platforms. Quite simply, not every game exists for every game systems. Remakes partially fill this need. By hiring a studio to “update” gameplay, graphics, story and other elements, the company is often investing in a way that they believe will be needed to appeal to the gamers on newer systems. It’s not so much that many players agree with their changes, in that they have no choice. If they want a version of [Game] for [System], then they’ll take whatever they can get. Likewise, gaming history has been filled with official ports that were essentially remakes in everything but name. As a result, quality can vary quite wildly. Already we’re seeing that versions of Spider-Man 3, a brand-spanking new game… plays very differently on an XBox360 and a Playstation3 than it does a Playstation2 and a Gamecube. Even though the game is the same, you won’t learn anything new by playing one version after another version, it’s still a drastic change in mechanics and ultimately experience.

Now let me just go back to my movie example. Do you think people would be happy if different versions of a movie featured different scenes? If actors said different lines? What about different endings? In fact they’ve tried it before. The movie Clue if I recall was shown in theatres, and depending on the specific reel, any one of three or four different endings would conclude the movie. People who own the VHS or DVD copies of that movie get to watch all the endings. This feels so much like the situation we have with gaming platforms right now that it’s ludicrous. Yet at the same time, people *have* put up with George Lucas/Frances Coppola muddling around with footage 20 years later, just as they’ve put up with a new imagining of a movie 10-20 years later.

Back to games… full remakes happen here too. Resident Evil on Gamecube is essentially Resident Evil “remade” entirely for a faster system, Several games on X-Box Live Arcade are “remade” with snazzier elements rather than being the original. We accept these, because they allow us to play. Movies don’t have this problem, an original version will always be shown on TV, or found in a pile of VHS or re-released on DVD (often to cash in on the remake). Games just don’t get this luxury. If you want to play Elite, it turns out you actually NEED hardware from 20 years ago… or software that pretends to be that hardware, with all kinds of extra overhead and artificial limitations.

When I started writing this, I was hoping it would sound less like a rant. Now that I’m here at my last paragraph I’m not sure I’ve made the point I set out to. Quite simply it is this: Remakes are insulting. Rewriting the ideas that make something memorable is akin to saying those ideas were not good enough in the first place. Yet it’s always the “hits” and famous titles that get remade. In other words the material that has proven itself “good enough” gets remade in some new designer’s image. This hurts me because I think the focus is wrong: A message to Hollywood and the Games Industry would be: The products that need to be remade are the ones that FAILED the first time around. There are hundreds of material that would fall into something I would call “almost good”. And because they’re not good… they’re unknown. In terms of games, there’s titles like Daikatana, Robinson’s Requiem, Solar Jetman, Omnikron: Nomad Soul…. (quick examples off the top of my head) these are things that have great elements… but as a whole, aren’t that great. If we were talking movies, I might mention: Flight of the Albatross, Ice Pirates… (less complete list based off the top of my head) UNDERDOGS.  And I really wish if a company were to focus time and energy to do a remake instead of their own original ideas… they’d focus on the items that NEED a remake. Need a little push to become great.

Sorry this turned into a rant. If any part of this didn’t make sense, leave the standard comment and I might go back and edit some text to make it more clear.

The Internet is doomed.

July 25, 2007

It’s going to be a long day for anyone who works with computers. 😦

Breaking News: All Online Data Lost After Internet Crash

World of Warcraft discovers metal

July 19, 2007

It’s been a long time since I had a World of Warcraft account (and sometimes I miss it, but not to the point of keeping up with it every month I buy a gamecard). Even so, I’ve enjoyed a lot of the machinima that’s been made from the game’s engine. WOW, along with some of the more open ‘sandbox’ games of the modern time seem just great for creating fan-content. However most of these creations still look like players running their actors/objects back and forth of the screen of a game. So… the following is a metal video via Gametrailers that just looks better edited than many I’ve seen (update: okay, it’s by Blizzard themselves, that always helps)… because of how long it’s been since I’ve played, I forget exactly what is Blizzard-provided content and what isn’t: but in any case, those mighty axes look mighty impressive, and would bring the envy of Nigel Tufnel.

Hmm… I can’t seem to get the gametrailers embedded to work on wordpress, so here’s a direct link. Followed by a youtube version:

No subject… this just cracks me up

July 1, 2007

It’s easy to remember…

Design your own RPG and save!

June 30, 2007

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a look at RPG Maker… I remember being informed of the first release of the game in a “hey, that’s kindof cool” way, but as an editor for making one’s RPGs… it seemed overly difficult. Fast forward a decade and RPG Maker 2003 seems to have been the latest edition. I’ve never heard of it and I’ve never known of what it can do… But Aethis in vgmusic‘s IRC channel posted the following video and to my eyes… it certainly looks just as good or better than half the RPGs that ever graced the Super Nintendo game system. Now if I start comparing it to the “best” in console RPG sub-genre… I might find things that the editor can’t do that a real programmer can… but for a single product (and the RPG content displayed below), this is fairly impressive.

On the other hand, many of the sprites and graphics are “borrowed” from Final Fantasy IV… and it’s difficult to know how good this same video would look using the… uh… let’s say art talents of a single independent fan. Still, I respect that the design is possible.

Just thought I’d also note that “RPG Maker” may not be fully covered on Mobygames since only the versions which come with a pre-assembled game world as a demonstration (in other words, a game) are eligible into the database. MG does not cover standalone programming tools and editors.

On yet another hand, this might just be the logical extention of having to compete with powerful game editors such as Neverwinter Nights or The Elder Scrolls games.

Just assume I’m on a world travelling vacation…

June 22, 2007

I’m still too busy to get back to get back to my NGAD project… but certainly this blog hiatus has gone on longer than I wanted (though not unfortunately longer than I expected). Part of the problem is that I keep chatting about “meaningful topics” to people in a 1-on-1 format… and once that’s done, I don’t feel like repeating myself for the benefit of my blog.

So…. since I have nothing useful to say, I’m going to start doing what a lot of bloggers do… and just post more videos that I find fun. In the offchance someone is watching this page on RSS or some other form, this will give them some updates to watch. And as for me? Well… having a video embedded gives me an easy way to share the video with friends.

Bloody Tears… what a catchy tune… no, that’s not me playing.