Remember the days of video games that you bought in a box and had paper instruction manuals? In some case, more than one disc? Fortunately, this was on a DVD, so there was disc changing. It’s the diamond edition of Neverwinter Nights from Bioware, and took me two minutes to punch in the serial code.
Mind you, I still have the original discs that have been quite badly scratched (thus, why I bought the diamond edition which has both expansion packs, Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark), but can you imagine swapping out discs to install a game now? Especially when the current trend is to digitally purchase it and download it. But I still have those discs, and the only way to play it now is to have a friend who might have an extra copy (such as me having two copies).
Along with all three of the original manuals.
And… apparently a Far Side book was tucked in next to them.
Light reading material for later, to be honest.
Ah, but forgive my brief nostalgia. It brought back wonderful memories.
Before I go into my own new description (yes, I know I haven’t posted anything for a while, but I’ve got some things on my plate), take a gander at this video first from Jim Sterling at the Escapist Magazine. He talks about innovation in video games, and it’s something I want to point out more in usage of the term. But first, the video.
Innovation, as Mr. Sterling pointed out (getting past some of the more crass aspects of the man) has become an over used term. It’s the new buzz word. I remember when I worked in broadcasting how I began to loathe buzz words. Like “It’s on the back burner” or “it’ll climb to the top”. There were others, but in the decade since I worked in radio (more than a decade, actually), we’ve managed as a society to keep our buzz words to just one word phrases.
Now, we’re using innovation like it’s the next great thing, and I honestly don’t think that people really understand what the word means. The CEO of Apple uses it every time a new product comes out, like the new iPhone, iPad or computer system. Google’s done it. So has Microsoft, Sony, Blackberry, and on and on and on. But really, what they mean is “we’ve taken the thing our competitor made, and made it better” which isn’t innovation, it’s just lazy.
The same can be said for story telling.
I know there’s a few movies that have come out as reimaginings of the original (like Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and Psycho) where someone somewhere has said the film is taking a bold, innovative direction. But it wasn’t innovative when you’re basically telling exactly the same story. In truth, the dictionary meaning of the word comes from innovate, which means at its root “to alter”, but also means to create as though for the very first time. I see lots of the former, but very little of the latter. And that’s part in parcel because that kind of innovation requires a dirty R word. Risk. And nobody likes risk, unless it’s the board game (and then, nobody likes having the weakest defensible point on the board, unless you have Australia).
In order to do something really new (or really innovative) one has to take a risk. Let’s be honest, nobody is doing that in any form of entertainment medium. Not video games, not movies, not comic books. At least, it’s very rare in comics. And those movies and video games that are really innovative, are usually passed over without so much as a glance by those who follow the mainstream (if anyone has some REALLY innovative movies they know of, leave them in the comments, it’ll give me more movie watching material later). There is one place where such things do take place, and that happens to be in books. But I also believe that books, printed and digital media, happen to have a leg up on the aspect of innovation. There are some really great books being published. Admittedly, there’s a lot of steaming piles of shit, too, but there’s a lot of good that’s being published. Not all of it is coming from the mainstream publishing houses, and even some is being self published.
For now, can we all agree to stop using the word innovation, because it’s getting tired with how badly it’s being misused.
It’s not so much that it’s new, but it’s really sort of exploded in the past couple of years. Thanks to youtube, blogging, tumblr, twitter and all manner of social networking, people are doing things in a very creative way with something that for the longest time had been just about playing. I’m talking about video games.
Video games have evolved from a very linear style to something that becomes different with each play. But it’s gone further than that, as some very creative people are coming together to create some very good works of art. This comes in the form of fanfiction and fanart, but also comes from an area of video games that for the longest time nobody really cared about. The video game soundtrack.
Soundtracks and music have been a staple part of video games for a long time, but now, people are getting together to create their own recordings of what are becoming iconic video game soundtracks. These are just three of my favourites that I’ve found lately.
What’s also pretty mind blowing is just who is creating these impressive collaborations. Well, not so much the who, but it is something that sort of shatters a stigma about video game culture. It’s not a culture that women aren’t familiar with, as seen by these videos. Women have been playing video games for a long time, but thanks to the different outlets to talk about love for video games or video game franchises like Skyrim and Elder Scrolls and Guild Wars, it’s becoming a lot more common place.
I really love seeing these kind of collaborations and really creative people who are using a venue from something they love in order to create something incredibly wonderful.
While traipsing around The Plains of Ashford in Guild Wars 2 with my thief Shani (not pictured above, because Shani’s armour looks cooler and at least covers her up), I really began listening to the music recently.
So, yeah, I’ve been playing a lot of Guild Wars 2. My main character is already level 44 (highly disappointed that I didn’t realize the new hat I have can’t be used until level 45). There are a great number of reasons why I love this game. From crafting, to the design aspects of the characters, to the fact you don’t need to buy more dyes to recolour your armour. But one thing I did notice is the music. Jeremy Soule composed all of the music for Guild Wars 2 (just as he did for Guild Wars) and I came to realize something. The music reminded me a lot of another game, which was also composed by Jeremy Soule. A game I’ve played since it’s release in 2002. Neverwinter Nights.
The music in Neverwinter Nights was very encompassing, and I’m one of those players who likes the music in a game (because it’s part of the game, people worked hard to add it in). Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2 and Neverwinter Nights had music that matched the atmosphere of the world, and add to the epicness that surrounds it.
The music is also very familia, as that piece from Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, sounds very similar to this piece found in the Plains of Ashford.
Whatever a person wants to say, they can’t say that the composer is plagiarizing, as Jeremy Soule composed the music to both Neverwinter Nights and the two expansions as well as the music to Guild Wars, Nightfall, Factions, Eye of the North and Guild Wars 2.
No matter how busy it is today, work is going to feel like it’s dragging.
Especially that last hour, it always does that.
Partially, because today is Friday, and work days always seem to drag slowly on a Friday. As an example, Tuesday was very busy and seemed to zip by quite fast (albeit in a rather hectic “we’ve gotta bust our asses” kind of way). Today, however, I have a decent workload, nothing too stressful. But there’s no urgency to get things done as there is on a Tuesday. I’m merely getting them done so I won’t have them to do on Monday when I come back from work.
The other reason why today is going to drag by slowly, is because a game I’ve been waiting for to come out is having their second beta weekend beginning today. I’ve preordered it, and I’m ready to play. Granted, I’m at work still. That game is Guild Wars 2. I think the biggest reason I’m excited for it is because they have given the player the ability to jump. Which is fine, but it makes a huge difference. The other, much larger reason, is because it’s a fantasy setting game, where I can use pistols. Okay, flintlocks, but still its a step.
The third, and final reason for today going by so so slowly is for the event that I mentioned earlier. That being Saturday and something rather special that only comes around once a year. Yeah, tomorrow’s my birthday. Some might say “but Tim, you’re like old”! And I’ll answer with (first) “Oh shut it” (and then) “Age is just a number, really”. You see, I got over the fact I turned 40 two years ago (simple math, 40, two years ago, makes me 42, or soon to be). I can’t wallow in some depressed mulch over the fact I’m turning older. It’s just something that happens. I’m 42! It means I’m still alive!
All of these are from the video game Champions Online, where I’ve made the different characters of the story, Rocket Fox: Flight of the Nighthawk.
And, from the story Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai.
- Ch-ch-changes… to Rocket Fox (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
- Make Your Own, Then tumblr submissions (taholtorf.wordpress.com)
I wanted to start with this trailer of Mass Effect 3, because I think it’s important. How many other game studios portray a woman in a positive light, a leader, one who goes into battle the way portrayed here in Mass Effect 3? It’s obvious that Bioware pays attention to the community, and they listened when there was such excitement over the creation of FemShep.
Now, Bioware, you’ve taken this massive step and ignored all those who say the usual misogynistic things about women. Time for the next step.
As the trailer for Mass Effect 3 says, Take Back The Earth. Earth is a pretty big place that we humans live on. It’s not just filled with binary options of male and female. There’s a whole colour palette of people out there. African American, First Nation, Australian Aboriginal, Pakistani, Arabic, Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, and so much much more.
I know, Mass Effect went double down by adding in the option for Male Shep to have a gay relationship in the game. Once again, bravo to Bioware for this step. By doing this, game players can play an option of Mass Effect 3 that mirrors their own life. That they can say “hey, this is the kind of relationship I want” whether that be straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual. On top of that, Bioware has taken the step to make sure that not only was a male version of Shepard available as a choice, but there’s also a female version that is just as important to the story and plot.
Keep progressing forward, Bioware. As I said, the world is a full colour palette of people that would more than like wish to have something familiar in their video game experience, not what western media calls the norm (ie, straight, white, male). To anyone who feels they need to argue against something like this, don’t. You may say that yes, there was a femshep, but why do we need all the other changes. That’s because it’s still a small percentage of the whole. Besides, why does anyone feel they have to have a voice about someone else’s gaming experience.
- BioWare Clairfies ‘Mass Effect 3′ Multiplayer’s Influence on Game Ending (gamerant.com)
- Why did Bioware add a gay option to Mass Effect 3? [Quote Of The Day] (io9.com)
- How Hard is it Not to be Gay in Mass Effect 3? (forbes.com)
- Mass Effect 3 Trailer: FemShep Takes Back Earth (gamerant.com)
- ME3 comes out: FemShep aims to Take Back Earth (vg247.com)
- The Mass Effect 3: Taking Back the Earth Extended Trailer (inveteratemediajunkies.com)
A while back (almost two years now) I mentioned that a video game was in development and I was looking quite forward to it. Seems a lot has happened since then. I haven’t mentioned it here but I have been reading up on it, and I have still come to the same conclusion; I’m still very excited for this game to come out.
That game is called Guild Wars 2. Incredibly perceptive if you clicked the link and read the previous article.
But yes, I have been waiting with baited breath and just yesterday received a link to apply for Beta testing (it’s not a Beta invite, sadly). However, it’s one step closer to actually getting in the game and seeing what it’s all about. There has been a lot that has been reported about it, such as combat changes, the new concept of “what you do effects the world” as opposed to the current MMO standard of “go out and kill ten ogres picking daisys”. Those “kill x number of things” are tedious, grindy, dull and repetitive. Plus, all you’re doing is pissing off a bunch of ogres who have green thumbs. I mean, come on! They were making Valentine’s bouquets.
There’s some other nice things, such as GW2 will recognize any achievements you made in GW1. Which means I must now crack open my Guild Wars characters and get some phat lewt!
…as the leet kids say.
Anyway, I’ll leave you with some interesting videos that introduce the Charr as playable characters. Two are in English, the last in German, but they focus on the Blood Legion, Ash Legion and Iron Legion. The three legions that make up the core of the Charr military.
- Guild Wars 2 Beta (tobolds.blogspot.com)
- Guild Wars 2 public beta sign ups end today at 6pm GMT (vg247.com)
- A jaunt through Tyria: hands on with the Guild Wars 2 beta (vg247.com)
- Guild Wars 2 Beta Sign Up Goes Live (webpronews.com)
- Guild Wars 2 Charr Elementalist Gameplay Video 2 (gamingphanatic.com)