Tag Archives: rant

Why I Quit Winter Voices Avalanche

I’m coming up on the end of Winter Voices: Avalanche, but I’ve decided that I’m done. I’m just done. “There is victory in defeat,” reads the only victory condition in this battle against my own grief — an obscure objective, but so cleverly simple in its true meaning: lose. Lose the fight to win. Easier said than done, or should I say, easier said than tolerated. Continue reading

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Rant: Story vs. Theme in Call of Duty

(Originally posted at Digital Hippos)

I only just finally got around to playing Call of Duty: Black Ops and I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it. In the past I’ve been extremely hard on Modern Warfare 2, mostly for its poor level design, but also for its absurd story, wherein a supervillain tries to take over the world with his private military. Black Ops’ story of Soviet conspiracy, brainwashing and dissociative identity isn’t much more grounded, yet I was able to invest in it completely.

I think that the reason why Black Ops’ story worked so well for me was because it was completely upfront about exactly what its major theme was: Cold War-era paranoia.

Protagonist Alex Mason wakes up in a dark room, tied to a chair, being interrogated by the mysterious, distorted voice of a distant shadow. He’s being tortured in a vague way, hallucinating and suffering total-recall flashbacks while numbers count off in his head. Right off the bat, Treyarch establish a tone of exaggeration and fiction; this isn’t the typical obstacle-course tutorial commonplace in the franchise.

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Rant: In Medias Res

(Originally posted at Digital Hippos)

I want to talk more about something that I touched on in my blog entry about Fable III that was my first post here at DH: in medias res storytelling in games and how the device so rarely accomplishes what it’s meant to.

For those unfamiliar with the term, in medias res (Latin for “in the middle of things”) refers to a narrative device wherein a story begins in its second or third act (or partway into its first act).

Dragon Age 2 is probably the most recent example of a game using in medias res, as it picks up midway into the Hawke family’s story. Their peaceful time in the village of Lothering leading up to the Blight and the Darkspawn’s attack on the village all occur before the start of the game, which catches up with the Hawke family mid-flight during their escape.

This technique is employed often by game designers because it allows them to get right to the action. According to traditional three-act story structure, the first act consists of a calm, gradual introduction to the protagonist’s life and world. The introduction of conflict generally doesn’t occur until towards the end of the first act, when the protagonist’s happy little life is reversed.

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Mario Endures Because He’s There For You

I’ve had a pretty lame couple of weeks. Struck with a sinus infection, I wasn’t able to enjoy Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Red Dead Redemption the day they both arrived at my front door. I know that for many, being sick is prime gaming time. But I’m not that guy. The congestion that I can feel all throughout my face and chest, like a Venom Symbiote trying to burst out of my body and take over; the demon DJ who uses my skull as a subwoofer, producing a constant, pounding bass rhythm of agony; the slow, vitriolic drip down the back of my throat that robs me of my voice and sends me running to the sink every 15 minutes to cough up horrors I dare not describe. Continue reading

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Filed under Rant, Retrospective

An Open Letter to Suikoden Character Recruitment FAQs, c.2000-c. 2006

Dear Suikoden Character Recruitment FAQs c.2000-c. 2006,

I’m writing this letter to you now, many years after the fact, to express the final, lingering, spark of deep-seated adolescent aggravation. Despite the numerous gaming message boards and Suikoden fansites I frequented as a lad, I never expressed my frustrations. I can’t say why, really. Between the ages of 12 and 20, I wasn’t adverse to expressing my teenage anger over the internet, protected by a wall of impenetrable anonymity. But because this one issue — trivial to many but paramount to my precious (and abundant) youthful free time — slipped by, I feel it needs to be addressed. Continue reading

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