I Like Video Games :)
I was going to write a post hawking the Humble Bundle like I usually do when one of those wonderful bundles of games comes along and as I was writing it up a flood of ideas, opinions, and rants flooded into my head. So, I scrapped it, choosing instead to just do a big ol’ brain fart on the topic of video games here instead. I apologize in advance for the lack of flow and disjointed nature of everything written here. Oh well, let the rambling begin.
First off, I still want to shove the fact that the Humble Bundle is now running and only has a few days left to get in on the smorgasbord of killer indie games (plus their corresponding soundtracks). You can click here to go secure yours. As of writing, there are 10 excellent games in the package, all awesome. Since I grabbed mine, Wizorb and Jamestown have been invading my game playing time being able to pull me away from Starcraft for multiple days (not an easy task, I’m a bit obsessed with that game). I messed around with a few other games in the package and can say for sure Rochard is a ton of fun with a great sense of humor and nifty physics mechanics and Shatter will melt your eyeballs. Torchlight is included in the package as well, and I’m happy for that. I have finished the game on my Xbox, but the whole time I was playing I kept regretting I didn’t get the PC version. It’s more or less a Diablo clone (actually, the team that worked on Diablo 1 and 2 made Torchlight, so maybe clone is a bit of a stretch for a term), and having a mouse to play makes it so much easier to control along with the higher resolution. The others I’m saving for a rainy day, but have looked into them and games like S.P.A.Z. (Space Pirates and Zombies) and Dustforce have gotten some glowing reviews. Soooo, go buy it now! Money from the sales also goes to charity if you need a little push to rationalize your purchase.
With the Humble Bundle, you also get Steam Codes so you can load and download them into your Steam library as well as download the DRM free copies from the Humble Bundle site. Which brings me to my next topic, Steam. I’m sure I’ve professed my love for the digital distribution platform in the past, but I’ll do it again real quick. When it comes to buying games and other things I’m a stickler for having a physical copy, but somehow Steam was able to change my mind on that real quickly when it comes to games. Between the awesome insane prices and sales, the great organization of the store and options to organize my digital library, very fair DRM system that makes me want the DRM, and the great user community Steam does everything a great digital distribution platform should. It just keeps on giving and giving and giving. Seriously, if you’re a gamer, have a PC or Mac, and haven’t check out Steam, you really need to get on that.
One other thing that I really like about Steam is its glowing support of indie games. Since the world of indie games was brought to my attention by way of the Xbox 360 I’ve grown to really get into the amazing gaming scene going on under all the AAA games. There were just so many fresh and new ideas being tried out there that I couldn’t divert my attention. And beyond the risky ideas, there was also styles of gameplay I’ve been missing since my early years as a gamer. Games nowadays are constantly pushing for a more cinematic approach, everything needs to be bigger, more immersive, more shooter-y (seriously, you would think Michael Bay has gotten his explode-y little hands into gaming somehow). While all games are not like that and I have no problem with those that are, I still miss those arcade style games I grew up loving. Just because I grew up, it doesn’t mean that I grew out of those kind of games. I still want to get a high scores like in Galaga, jump around like a madman like in Super Mario Bros., bounce balls around like in Arkanoid, clear lines like in Tetris, and so on. The big name developers and publishers will throw us a bone here and there, but in reality, AAA games of that nature have gone the way of the dodo. Enter the indie scene.
Those troupes that made me love my games years ago have made a return in a big way. Not only am I seeing the most diverse selection of games out there, the indie scene is adding new twists on classic genres making them feel new and fresh again as well as inventing completely new genres of games (Minecraft and Terraria anyone?). And don’t call these indie games ‘mini games’. I’ve found myself investing more time into something like Plants vs. Zombies more than the big budgeted and insanely massive Skyrim. Ya know, less is more. Give me a few highly refined gameplay mechanics instead of a million good but not great ones and I guarantee I will become more immersed in the game, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one.
On when a big budgeted studio pours time and energy ironing out a few small things instead of a plethora of things: Blizzard’s Starcraft II. They took the simplest troupes of RTS games and just ironed it and reinforced it until the basic mechanics were absolutely perfected and balanced the 3 race options perfectly. Gather, build, attack, destroy. That’s all there is to Starcraft, but the deep focus the team put on those things led to one of the most fun, deepest, and most strategic games ever. There’s a reason I need to seek help for my addiction to that game, and that is why. And as much as I hate to admit it, Call of Duty is another great example on what a studio can do if they hunker down and focus on refining the basics of their game. Their multiplayer is now a pace setter for competitive RTS games.
Going back to Steam and indie games (told you that this was going to be disjointed and all over the place), they have a new feature that I am completely in love with called Project Greenlight. With Project Greenlight the community votes for indie games they would like to see get released through Steam. Creators of games just have to upload info, screen shots, etc to the PG page and users will check out what they have to offer and if they would consider purchasing it by a simple thumbs up or down. The exposure that this brings to some games is insane and a system like this could only yield positive results making sure almost every good game is brought to the public eye. Much like Bandcamp gives bands and musicians a chance to easily get their music out there, PG does this for game developers. It’s just great.
And now going back to bundles. Some people think that being a gamer is an expensive hobby, I resent that ideology. Not including the deals I hunt for my console games (I refuse to pay more than €20 for a console game, unless it happened to be Portal 2 or a Zelda game. I also don’t like buying used.), by taking advantage of various bundle sites I’ve been able to amass a PC game collection of about 60 games for about €50 in the course of a few months. While a few of the games in the bundles are stinkers, the vast majority are top quality and tons of fun. I also don’t think I’m going to ever run out of games to play anytime soon or not have a game genre for whatever mood I’m in. Then there are Steam sales, which are the best thing ever for PC gamers, where by the end of it I’ve dropped ~€60 and I’m literally drowning in quality games ranging from AAA to indies. Some great bundle sites to check out are my beloved Humble Bundle, Indie Royale (I totally need to get on this weeks bundle, Hector: Badge of Carnage looks way too cool, and it’s by Telltale Games), Bundle in a Box, and Indie Gala (holy crap! The Worms Collection and Broken Sword Collection plus other games for $5. Plus profits go to the Emilia Romagna earthquake survivors. Where’s my wallet!). Check them out and get some games. Even if just one game interests you, grab the bundle, there may be a game in there just waiting for you to fall in love with.
Also notice that many of these bundles give proceeds to charities. Just an example for those who thought gamers, like us metalheads, were outcasts and don’t give a rats ass about the non-digital world. That’s that on that.
If you’ve read up until this point I say thank you and you have quite a tolerance for my sloppy ranting. I could go on longer, but now I feel like playing some games. How do you feel about the state of video games today? Anything to add to or argue my opinions on? I would like to hear what our gaming readers have to say about anything gaming related, no matter how random it is, so drop a comment. Peace Love and Metal!!!