5 Conclusions - 13/07/18

July 13, 2018
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A regular look at gaming-related stories from the past week or so whereby conclusions are drawn from anything and everything. These may be incredibly well reasoned based on events from the week. Alternatively, they may be highly speculative, drawn from very little evidence. More likely, they will be somewhere in between.

Conclusion One: Don’t gamble in Las Vegas

Sounds wrong, right? In most cases, yes, but in the case of Youtuber Rhetam, a labour of love would not have been possible had any risk been taken. By risk I mean starting a fight and gambling that you’d win it, because for his particular challenge, he wouldn’t have.

In detail then, what this Fallout: New Vegas fan has achieved — over the course of nineteen broadcast hours and however long of actual gaming since March 2017 — is to beat the game with pretty much every difficulty modifier you could imagine according to PC Gamer: Hardcore and Ironman modes enabled; no killing and no deaths; no utilisation of any companions, no shooting of any guns and all of the sidequests completed.

 

It seems that in the land of casinos, playing it safe can reap the greatest rewards. So don’t gamble folks, not in Vegas.


Conclusion Two: Playing Fortnite can now earn you a living

Fortnite is pretty much the most popular game in the world right now with all the cool kids running around shooting things and doing the Floss, a dance move popularised by Turk in Scrubs (check out this video from 41 seconds onwards) and then appropriated by Fortnite and most children in the northern hemisphere.

So the fact that Epic Games this week announced its first competitive tournament, where Fortnite goes all esports on us, is not in any way a surprise. In fact, I am Jump Dash Roll’s complete lack of surprise. This new world of competition begins with the SUmmer SKirmish series and a total prize pot of $8 million. That’s a lot, and clearly just the beginning. Soon the world will be a sea of esports where the top games are variants on Street Fighter, DOTA, Fortnite and a few others and frankly if you are any good, or better still young and still getting good — consider a new professional path for your future. If I were younger, pro gaming might be my nirvana.  

Conclusion Three: Gaming is yet to mature

I often look to cinema to check if what’s happening with games as a medium is what should be happening. I do this for a couple of reasons: one, as although games are interactive, cinema in my mind is a peer in terms of what it depicts as in the main it’s real-life people doing whatever’s being done and two, cinema has been around a lot longer than gaming. In the 70’s and 80’s in the UK in particular there was a series of video nasties banned from shelves but in latter times most of those are available.

We learnt this week, thanks to Eurogamer, that Mafia 3’s original prologue was scrubbed totally from existence and something else put in its place. This was done by the developers themselves who determined “...it would have looked terrible, because disconnected from the game it's obviously even more shocking." It got me thinking that gaming still has a long way to mature fully. This was censorship, by the creatives behind the game themselves. In 1932 MGM’s Freaks was deemed so shocking that it was cut from 90 minutes to 64 minutes ahead of release, and even then was pulled from release in the US ahead of schedule. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen today. The medium, the world and everything about film as an art form has matured to the point that, in the main, it is taken as it is. Yes, certain films are made just to shock and they succeed in that, but for serious cinema, all is good.

One day I hope that gaming will get there. Various publishers and developers are pushing the boundaries of what should or can be in games — CD Projeckt Red are perhaps a key example of that with The Witcher 3 and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 — and no doubt in time, maturity will be reached. We’re not there yet, though, are we?

Conclusion Four: Nathan Drake retconned

First, a definition:

noun
  1. 1.
  2. (in a film, television series, or other fictional work) a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events, typically used to facilitate a dramatic plot shift or account for an inconsistency.
  3. "we're given a retcon for Wilf's absence from Donna's wedding in ‘The Runaway Bride’: he had Spanish Flu"

When we learnt this week that Nathan Drake never had a health bar — no, he had a luck meter — the above is what I thought of. I’m sure Naughty Dog really did think it as a bar of luck from day one, through Amy Hennig, Neil Druckmann and all the other creatives and devs on the teams, but why did they never tell us, until now?

It’s a cool thing to let folks know and one which would have only added to Nate’s adventures if we knew that’s what was going down. No, I’m not sure it was there from day one myself. It quite possibly became a thing somewhere down the line, probably during the second game. Either way, and whatever you believe, it’s quite cool to hear now, even if it is a retcon just because it’s cool.

Conclusion Five: Kickstarter is still good for something

A few years back, when the crowdfunding thing first happened, the world loved it and kickstarted (or via various me too approaches) funded all kinds of stuff from the cool, to the not very cool in the end.

This included various games, for instance Superhot, which perhaps wouldn't have existed any other way. Yet now, most people you talk to about Kickstarters don't even remember when they've funded something until the backer survey rocks up, or the item itself makes its way to your house. I actually have two items in their postal boxes, with one of them from April 2017. The time between saying yes and getting it leads to dwindling excitement, perhaps even extinguished.

However, there are some things which make me glad the platform does still exist. In the main these are books by Read Only Memory, or a chap called Darren Wall, who has a library of funded projects via Kickstarter, including Sega Mega Drive: Collected Works and Sega Dreamcast: Collected Works. It's not all Sega, but that's the strongest flavour amongst previous coffee table works of art. And they truly are works of art. I myself long for SNES: Collected Works and I had hoped that this week's reveal would bring my dream to life. I was ready to fund immediately.

That's not what came long, however. What we do have though is still a seemingly marvellous creation - Sega Arcade: Pop-Up History. It's what it says on the tin, a book detailing various key arcade titles in Sega's rich history (including Outrun, Afterburner and Space Harrier) with pop-up pictures of the cabinets, for example.

It's unlikely this book, or previous ones from the same folks would get made any other way due to the upfront funding required to ensure the work is covered. On that basis we should all be thankful for Kickstarter and specifically the way it allows fabulous, historical gaming products like this to exist and enrich our lives.

Luciano Howard

I've been gaming for 30+ years on the Commodore VIC-20 to the Nintendo Switch and most things in-between. I enjoy all kinds of games but if I had to pick a couple right now, I'd say I adore Mario and love Dark Souls. I can talk about either ad infinitum...