My lazy ass has taken up fanart again, hardcore. I haven’t drawn much in awhile, and needed to get back into it, so I dove into some pieces that I’d left hanging months ago. The three that I’m currently working on are coming along well, so far, and I hope that I can shake off the last remnants of rust from my skills by the end of the month. What are they? Well, all I’ll say at the moment is that they involve Final Fantasy VII (of course) and two games I beat this year.
Having an account (and running a decently-sized group) at deviantART, I see a lot of others’ fanart on a regular basis. However, my favorite bit of recent fanart I saw on a forum; it’s the one to your right, which, via the “Reaction Guys” meme, is an accurate description of what many Devil May Cry fans felt when the Ninja Theory-developed reboot DmC was unveiled at the Tokyo Game Show last month. To whoever drew this very true reaction, I salute you.
Yeah, I don’t like Dante’s new look either. I’m also a bit wary about Ninja Theory taking the helm of this game, which will be the latest in a series which is traditionally action-packed, combo-heavy, and charmingly cheesy. From what I’ve heard about Heavenly Sword, it wasn’t all that, and early impressions of Enslaved have me suspecting that although DmC might have the Hollywood associations that Ninja Theory likes to include in their games, it probably won’t have the Devil May Cry series’ tricky controller gymnastics. So far, the funniest, weirdest, and scariest thing about DmC is how much the “new” Dante resembles the lead developer. Egad.
To round things out, here’s some other recent articles, blog posts, etc. that I’ve found interesting. First off, it seems that Stephen Totilo and N’Gai Croal were at it again, asking developers to play their game “Canon Fodder”, the aim of which is to list the ten greatest games of all time. You might recall that I attended the first season panel at PAX East. It seems that PAX Prime 2010’s Season Two brought a lot of its own drama, especially since that stubborn Ocarina of Time was completely removed from the list. Good stuff, and I’m looking forward to Season Three come PAX East 2011 (hopefully). And speaking of PAX East 2011, registration is now open! Unfortunately, the hotel info isn’t up yet, but you can bet we’re booking as soon as it is.
Finally, some JRPG-related stuff. RPGamer posted a “retroview” of Final Fantasy VII that is honest and fair, though I don’t agree with the reviewer’s take on the field navigation. Meanwhile, Andriasang has posted some interesting and wonderful pics from Japan, namely a comparison between old-style Disgaea sprites and the new Disgaea 4 ones, and a drop-dead-adorable plush of Final Fantasy XIV moogle Kuplu Kopo.
I’m probably never going to play FFXIV, but I must have that moogle.
Metroid Prime was really good, if a little frustrating at times. The levels, very much including the in-between hallway bits, are incredibly varied, and the puzzles are genuinely interesting. Story bits are told via computer terminals and ruins, which can be scanned with a special visor; as such, there were very few cutscenes, which I liked. A lot of backtracking is required to collect all the doodads you need (and don’t), which got a little tedious at times, and at one point, I had to run to GameFAQs in order to progress (always a Bad Thing to me, though in this case, the solution was merely a little oblique instead of ludicrously buried, *cough*). Both enemies and environments require more elaborate battle tactics as the game wears on, which not only added to the difficulty but the variety. Also, the Wii controls for this first-person game are a dream come true, though I personally would’ve put the default jump control on the Nunchuck instead of the Wii Remote, similar to the Elebits scheme. I’m looking forward to playing the other two games in the Metroid Prime Trilogy set, though probably not right away, as my backlog is nearly all JRPGs again and I need, more than ever, action games to break things up.
Captain N isn't that kind of guy.
Metroid Prime was also my first Metroid game, believe it or not. However, thanks mainly to Nintendo and fandom, the game’s protagonist was already known to me, though I was not aware of much of the minutiae of her canon. Really, there aren’t too many hardcore gamers who don’t know of the bounty hunter Samus Aran, since, along with Lara Croft, she’s the most famous and iconic video game heroine out there. An important aspect of her is that she has traditionally been a silent protagonist in the games she appears in, much like Mario, Crono, and just about every main-series Dragon Quest and Pokemon hero. In fact, the only time I’ve seen her talk is in the old Nintendo Comics System books, where she is a calm/cool/collected hunter who macks on Captain N.
Recently, Metroid: Other M came out, featuring Team Ninja’s take on the character and her universe. I hadn’t really kept up with this game, but what reviews I’ve seen have been generally favorable. The one from the Onion AV Club got me wondering, though:
It might not sound like a big deal, but Other M focuses on Samus almost to the point of being a character study. In her many internal monologues throughout beautifully rendered cutscenes, the previously strong-and-silent Samus owns up to being petulant in her time with the Galactic Federation, to having misguided, unshakeable loyalties, and to dealing with daddy issues.
That didn’t sound like the Samus I (barely) knew. Turns out it was worse for a more experienced Metroid player at G4. I first heard about Abbie Heppe’s Other M critique via GJAIF, which quoted a Boing Boing article about the piece and its accompanying backlash. In summary, Heppe did not like the characterization of Samus, and took issue with the story itself; she also wasn’t satisfied with the control scheme and overall game design.
From what it sounds like, Samus was handled badly in Other M, and not just in the sense of a silent protagonist becoming chatty: Heppe logically points out as uncharacteristic Samus’ moments of fear when facing a certain enemy that’s a mainstay of the Metroid series. However, I believe this bit is just another fault of the overall approach as well. If I’m reading this right, it seems that Samus is a character whose thoughts and personality we didn’t know at all, but only interpret through what limited information we are given (sparse storylines and cutscenes, her equipment and enemies, etc.), with the rest up to us, the player. The Samus I saw in Metroid Prime was an independent and diligent explorer who seems not to care for the company of others. There’s doubtless many more interpretations of her out there (like her being a greedy and flirtatious sort, a la the Captain N story). An immature and doubtful Samus was not one I ever thought possible, especially not at the point in the canon that Other M takes place in.
Silent protagonists, especially ones that have been that way for as long as Samus has, must be handled carefully when given a voice and thoughts. I can only think of one other instance off the top of my head where a silent protagonist was given a significant personality injection, and the results were also inadequate; the Jak of Jak II was, unlike the original in Jak and Daxter, not someone I particularly liked. Mario might qualify, as he has been given voice in the past through cartoons and comics, but his in-game persona is still largely open to interpretation; at most, his speech is limited to very basic reactions (“uh-huh”, “no”, exclamations of surprise, etc.) and Italian gibberish.
Perhaps Samus should never have been given a personality in the first place, as that, traditionally, has been left up to the players to fill in for over twenty years. That lengthy time, and all the Metroid games filling it, have created many Samus Arans in the minds of uncountable numbers of gamers. Whittling down these many Samuses to one (and an apparently strange one at that) is a very dicey proposition at best. I hope the next Metroid allows us as gamers to once again see our own personal Samuses again.
So I came home the night before last, exhausted. The next day, I caught up on internetty-type things. One of the sites I sifted through was Game Journalists Are Incompetent Fuckwits, a recent find and the best angry video game blog I’ve read since the deceased (and missed) Pre-Order Pushers. As usual, there’s a ton of stuff about Kotaku, including a link to a funny Something Awful parody, but little did I realize that a raging, gusty shitstorm was on the horizon. I’m still piecing together the entire story from GJAIF posts, Kotaku comments, and other places, but here’s what I’ve gathered:
• On the morning of July 5th, Kotaku EIC Brian Crecente posted an entry titled “This is Kotaku”. It’s an introductory article for newbies to the site, with links to articles, broken down by category, that serve as “a taste of what we do”. iambeaker on CAG later noted, in a thread titled “What is up with Kotaku?”, “I know many of the Gawker blogs place an article similar to this when a blog is featured on a major network (i.e. The Today Show) or when the blog is being sold (i.e. Consumerist).” FriskyTanuki replied: “That post is their response to the Game Journalists Are Incompetent Fuckwits blog that criticizes sites that post stupid articles or gets information completely wrong and Kotaku accounts for probably 60% of the blog’s content.” If that’s true, seems the post didn’t work.
• According to GJAIF, “After Crecente posted the ‘This Is Kotaku’ article, there was a bit of a meltdown in the comments.” To say the least. Evidenced by the handful of comments still left on the post, many more were “disemvoweled” (the vowels were stripped from them) and later deleted (or at least, hidden from non-Kotakuites). One critical comment by lineypi—which I am unable to link to directly—stood out to me as I began putting this post together. I’m not sure if it is representative of its deleted brethren, but here it is in its entirety, in case it should disappear later on:
Just out of curiosity, but are the other Gawker sites doing something similar to this? I feel like there’d be a lot of overlap between things on here and things on Gizmodo (and a few of the other gawker sites) just based on this overview.
It would also be interesting to see these different things sorted into what you plan to post most about compared to what you see the least of.
At the moment the impression is that top of the list is what Kotaku has chosen to rank as the highest importance.
So for instance, you’ve got Sex really high on that list, but personally I don’t see sex & games as something intrinsically linked. Gawker has ..alternative.. sites for sex.
So the implication here is that Kotaku will have a sex article posted each day or something, but if that’s the case then I can see that driving away (the mature) gamers rather than attracting them.
I dunno, I just feel like with this summary list Kotaku isn’t really representing itself the way that I, as a visitor, experience it. And if this list is indicative of changes that are going around or about to occur, then I’m concerned that the experience will change.
PS – I’d also really like to see some sort of internal news that is purely a response to the mass banning/censorship that has recently occurred.
If there’s a way you can tag something so that it is only visible to registered members, or if you just use the internal messaging system, then I could see that being a solution that would answer a lot of the community’s questions without having something so off topic & purely internally focussed end up in your blog feed.
In the #speakup section of Kotaku, I found much more. In particular, the banning of a user named dean seems to have been a major flashpoint for the implosion. kanji08 goes into further detail about yesterday’s events in this comment.
• The conversation and arguments continued beyond Kotaku, spilling into a fan forum and Steam group. Again, GJAIF has more details regarding that, including a lengthy bit of chatlog from the Steam group, for which Kotaku writer Owen Good is present. GJAIF is later kicked out of the chat.
That’s about all for now. There’s still some fuzzy bits here and there, such as the precise role of certain individuals, and the nature of the deleted comments. It’s disconcerting how much has been covered up. I understand editors wanting to have a certain degree of control over their site, and I’m pretty neutral in my feelings toward Kotaku, but this is kind of nuts. It doesn’t seem like much is being written about this implosion right now, which is a shame; I’d like to see more. Something tells me that the meaning of “community” on Kotaku has just been considerably altered for its users, and it’ll be up to the Kotaku staff (and parent company Gawker) to decide what this means for everyone.
Comments Off on At Kotaku, the Fireworks Come a Day Late
This afternoon, I’ll be boarding a plane to California for a personal trip. What this means is that, for the past week or so, I’ve been tying up some loose ends beforehand, so I wouldn’t have to deal with them when I got back. The usual errands notwithstanding, this has meant returning to the final, postgame stratum of Etrian Odyssey.
One of the monsters I didn't fight.
I had originally begun tackling it last year, immediately after beating the main quest. Unfortunately, the most advantageous stat boosts required me to restart with new characters at Level 1, and thus, a lot of grinding was required. I took up the grind again earlier this month, and eventually maxed out the five stat-enhanced characters I had created way back when at Level 70. When my party was strong enough to venture into that last stratum again, around Level 60 or so, I began mapping it out thoroughly, finding it an even more devious bastard than the snippets I had seen last year. In the end, I never got through the whole thing due to some insanely tough bosses that I would’ve had to have defeated. Still, I’m glad that I got as far as I did, even though I had to spam the items and abilities that cut down on random encounters after maxing out my party and building up my cash hoard, as fighting monsters was a waste of time by that point.
In general, the plan was to be “done” with Etrian Odyssey so I wouldn’t have to take it along with me, but I also wanted something new to play on this trip, since Pokemon Platinum by itself would get a little boring after awhile. Thus, I ordered Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, which I’ve had an eye on ever since its release. (It’s also, I believe, the first Ubisoft-published title I’ve bought since Grandia II for the Dreamcast, which says more about my tastes than the company’s games.) Yeah, another RPG, but with more of a strategy and puzzle bent from what I understand. I’m looking forward to playing it.
I also picked up the issue of Edge that’s currently on the US newsstands, because that’s what I do nowadays before a long trip. It’s the June issue with Little Big Planet 2 on the cover. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have every Edge cover appearance of LBP by this point, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if I’m missing one or two. Something interesting I’ve heard about LBP2 is that the gravity is adjustable, which might mitigate my one major turn off from the first game: the floaty animation. You can bet I got sick of seeing all those Edge covers (and stories) real fast after seeing the original LBP in motion for the first time…
Anyway, that’s all for now. See you again in a little over a week!