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What I want for Christmas from video games

I’m angry.  I was never a Scrooge before.  Holiday time!  Trees! Presents! Santa!  But not anymore.  Oh no those magical childhood days of unicorns and guitar playing chimpanzees (my childhood was freaking great ok) are over.  How can I tell?  I don’t want new video games for Christmas.  Games worthy of our duckets come out every single month of the year now.  What I want heading in to the new year is some stuff to CHANGE.  Games are great, we write about them, you guys come here and read about them (that isn’t totally true, we definitely write about them but most of you come here to check out the pictures of hot chicks from Blizzcon, but whatever) and everybody is happy.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t  some fantastically stupid things going out in the land of interactive media though.  What do I want for Christmas?  I, much like our President, want CHANGE.  Not in a healthy country affirming way, I don’t have time to worry about that.  I want the experience of being a gamer, be it the games or how we play them, to change.  So let’s get on it developers.  Let’s make 2011, which looks like another enormous year for gaming, a step in the right direction.  Or, let’s at least stop being stupid.



So if you haven’t seen the trailer for Bioshock Infinite, you really should.  It’s absolutely fantastic.  Ten minutes of Bioshock in the sky bliss, showcasing some wicked graphics and what looks to be insanely fun gameplay.  I watch the trailer, getting excited and then…….coming in 2012.  What the french, toast!  2012?!  This trailer released about 3/4 of the way through 2010!  It wasn’t even “January 2012” it was just super vague and gave the year.  IGN lists the official release date as “TBA 2012”.  Really?! It could be freaking December!

You know who else is guilty of this?  Blizzard.  Anybody who reads this site knows I’m a huge fan of Blizzard.  In fact, I’ve attended the last two Blizzcons.  At the 2009 con, guess what game I played?  Diablo 3.  I remember thinking “hey, this game plays pretty well, it looks good, the sound effects don’t sound placeholder, I bet this comes out within the next year!”  I was so naive back then.  As I sat down to play Diablo 3 at the 2010 Blizzcon, I had the exact same thoughts.  Now I realize Blizzard is known for the “it’s ready when it’s ready” mantra.  It’s probably one of the reasons that every game they put out sells like crazy and is worthy of those numbers.  But throw us a bone here Blizzard, this is getting crazy.  Not only have I previewed Diablo 3 for two straight years, I still have absolutely no idea if it will come out before the NEXT Blizzcon.

As such, I’m decreeing a new rule.  Developers are not allowed to announce a game more than one calendar year ahead of its release date.  If you announce a game on January 1, 2011 I better be playing it by January 1, 2012 or there will be hell to pay.  I might freaking type another post about it on the internet.  And by that time we’ll be bigger than god damn Google so it will MEAN SOMETHING!


So, we’ve all been there.  There we are, just traversing around the city/jungle/post apocalyptic wasteland/hedge maze/broken underwater utopia  when we see it.  Some shiny item in the corner, placed just so among some platforms so getting it to it will require some nifty jumping (Unless your Enosh, in which case this shiny item is forever lost to you).  So you bounce off the pipe, grab the vine, swing to the wall with brambles on it, then use a grappling hook to attach to the giant robot, which pulls you up on to the platform.  Success!  Now, this glowing ball of goodness will be yours.  You pick it up, feeling glorious and get…..wait for it….waiting…..nothing!  You don’t get anything.  Sorry, haha!  Now, mayhaps you get an achievement.  For the record, I love achievements.  They give additional replay value to games that otherwise might not have as much.  But they’ve become a problem.  So much so in fact I am CHANGING THE BOLD TITLE OF THIS RANT TOO….


What I mean by this is, do not design totally pointless things to do just for an achievement.  If I get to the top of a mountain and the ONLY reward I’m given is an achievement, that is a failure on the part of the developers.  Give me a cut scene, some story, a bonus item, health upgrade, SOMETHING tangible in the actual game and not just part of the meta game that is being an achievement whore.  Microsoft and Sony both require achievements/trophies to be in every single retail game.  I get the sense that maybe some developers are just throwing them in as an afterthought.  Let’s put some thought in to them and make them a nice addition to the game, not the main or only reason to do something.



So Tophat actually gave me this idea.  But I changed it a bit.  His original thing was developers need to stop patching games a really long time after they come out to the point that nobody cares anymore.  I agree completely, but I really don’t have any examples of this in my own gaming existence.  That said, there is a definite problem with patches.

Since I just got done ranting that games need to release faster after announcement, I’m aware that bugs will probably be a problem.  I don’t have a problem with patches being used to fix stuff, but like Tophat was saying, it needs to be done in a timely manner.  I think most developers go about as fast as they can with that kind of thing.  (As an aside, I think MS/Sony’s process for approving patches seem to be abnormally long, as I’ve seen multiple messages from developers basically saying “such and such patch is ready we’re just waiting for approval”.  Hey, MS/Sony.  Approve faster, damn it!)  What we need is a bit more communication and transparency about them.  When Tophat and I were waiting years (ok months, it felt like years) to play Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, what was stopping us was a patch to include co-op play.  The day arrived when the patch was supposed to hit…nothing.  Two weeks later?  Still nothing, no news on the developer’s web page or their twitter account.  Angry users on message boards demanding information, nothing.  Finally a cryptic message about it being worked on, then ANOTHER two weeks of nothing and the patch finally gets released.

I understand that sometimes things get delayed.  I like to think that MOST gamers (not the vocal minority)  are reasonable people and understand that.  But we need some god damn communication.  If you have a patch that everybody is waiting for and it’s going to be delayed for a month, there is a proper response.  That response is NOT to say nothing, probably in fear that “people will get mad.”  Is it really so hard?  Check this out, I’m a PR person!

“Hey everybody, this is Elrood from Developer X.  We thank you for buying our game and we want to get an improved experience from this patch/dlc as much as you do.  Sadly, it’s taking us a bit longer to finish than we anticipated.  We want to make sure that everything works smoothly for you guys when the release actually happens, so we’re looking at about a month delay.  We’ll keep you updated with any further information right here, and thanks for the patience.  We don’t like delays anymore than you guys do, but we want to give you a quality product.  Thanks.”

This isn’t hard.  Just keep us IN the loop developers.  If we can understand what’s going on we’re much more likely to accept it.


This one came directly from Tophat.  And you know what?  He’s WRONG.  Donkey Kong is AMAZING.  In fact I’m going to close this article with some pictures of Donkey Kong being awesome.


You know what is awesome besides Donkey Kong? Monster trucks. When you put them together?! MAGIC HAPPENS!

Donkey Kong is good at sports!

EVEN SPORTS THAT DO NOT EXIST! (Seriously, are those barrel rocket skates? What the hell is even going on here, my head asplode from the awesome)

Perhaps Donkey Kong is so awesome you want to dress up as him. And drink. Alot. Well, he can do that too.

So that is right.  Donkey Kong is great.  Fuck you Tophat.


4 Responses

  1. Agreed on all points. And for the record, Donkey Kong is a big gay gorilla and I hate all of his games. I want developers to stop diluting RPG and RPG elements in games: Mass Effect 2, Force Unleashed 2, Fable 3 all are examples of sequels that dumbed down the character building elements. Sorry, but I happen to like tweaking character stats and building uber characters. I only hope that Dragon Age 2 and Elder Scrolls 5 do not succumb to this unfortunate trend. At least give us a Gamer/Girlfriend toggle to turn on the real stuff.


    But, on the plus side, Valve is very good at keeping the gamers in the loop. Points for them!

  3. Elrood: Lies and slander. Donkey Kong was okay back when they released Donky Kong Country for super nintendo, but the longer I have to look at his ugly mug the more pissed off I get. Nintendo isn’t helping matters, you know. Have you heard the noises he makes during Mario Kart for Wii? INEXCUSABLE FOLLY.
    Maybe it’s just Nintendo doing what they do. Honestly, I felt the same way about Waluigi for a long time, mainly because he DOES NOT ACTUALLY EXIST. At least friggin’ Wario has a game dedicated to him, but Waluigi is the bastard love child of two ridiculous concepts that was created simply for party games. For a while I argued that if Waluigi would, in fact, exist, there should at least be a game about him.
    Then I really thought about it and decided that I’m not ready to see “Waluigi’s Pedophilia Rampage” hit the shelves quite just yet.
    The Donkey Kong games were fun while they lasted, new Wii-centric DKcountry game not withstanding. But lets be honest, DK makes no sense. He’s a gorilla that fights crocodiles. He has stupid, freakish sidekicks. No amount of bongo-controlled gameplay is going to make me like him.
    In conclusion, Elrood is the stupidest piece of INCORRECT garbage I know, and I’m totally going to tell his mom we’re fighting.

    Zen: Internet high five! I too often bemoan the fact that RPGs are getting phased out entirely. Also, I had given Elrood another topic for this article, but I guess he chose not to use it in favor of being SO WRONG ALL THE TIME. I would like to see more RPGs where the main character is older than 15.

    Sky: Portal 2 does seem pretty sweet! And Valve does get points for keeping its fans in the loop. But I guess they have an advantage because of that “Steam” shenanigans, or whatever that means. But a win is still a win. I guess you could say it was a triumph. I’m making a note here: huge success.

  4. The top of the mountain acheivement is a bad example. Climbing to the top of the map in and of itself is it’s own reward. You get this spectacular view of the game world and often get to do something cool to get down. In Assasians Creed you even unlock a portion of the map.
    Another thing that really grinds my gears is Microsofts eagerness to develop “easy to use” products at the expense of computer literate people. The Kinect is an obvious ploy to appeal to the mainstream market and along with it came a dashboard update. What do we get with this update? A completely revamped and subsequently ruined menu system. The most obvious offense is moving the “quick” launch button from the main menu of the center button screen, you know, where it was easy to get to, to the games sub menu. OK fine it’s used to launch games. But it can’t do that quickly if it’s hidden. Then when you go to any of the marketplaces you can’t find games any more because they’ve crammed all of the categories into odd submenus no one will ever find. And indie games? Fogetaboutit. This dumbing down carries over into Windows 7 but I won’t get into that here.
    Zen, you hit the nail on the head w ME2. Hopefully we will see a return to what I loved about the original for the final installment.
    Sky, Portal 2 does look freakin sweet and I’m excited for coop.
    Also, Elrood hit the crux of the issue for patches. How long did we wait to level up in Borderlands? Too freakin long. Especially when it was like a month before we heard anything about the delay.
    Also, I don’t mind DK. He’s one of my faves in Super Strikers, even with his retarded sound effects.

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