Authored by Flan

Bilby is always demanding I write something here. So here you go Bilby, here’s some bullshit from the horse’s mouth, just what you ordered.

Here we fucking go.

I’m always thinking about video games, it’s just my thing. There are many schools of thought on what actually constitutes a video game, what constitutes a GOOD video game, and what actually qualifies as a video game. Then there’s all the weirdos who end up calling things art? And shit like that? What the fuck man, who does that. Art… art is only called art by the critics who decide at that time that this thing is fucking art. Would they have called Zappa’s Freak Out! or some such art, at the time? No, in fact the way I hear it it was widely regarded as the worst music America had ever heard. But, I’m getting a bit off topic here.

Opinions are all that separate humans from animals – I think someone said that once. If they didn’t, they should have, because I think it sounds fucking brilliant. I’m always bitching on about the sick truths I’m laying down, and all the facts and shit, and to a degree I think I’m in the right. I can, of course, be so conceited to think that it is actually the truth, because at times it may as well be. So here’s some opinions/truths, whichever you fucking want to believe (which you’ll be making your mind up on as you go along unless you’re a mouth-breathing waste of skin).

Video games don’t always really need to be fun? Is this something some people believe somewhere? Personally, I think I do believe this. I don’t know about always, but at the moment, yes. Dark Souls 2 is a prime example of a game which isn’t fun, but you play it anyway. I say not fun, because KAMI-SAMAA~ think about it for a fucking second. Deep down. Every time you died to a random fucking thing you couldn’t have seen coming because you didn’t watch YouTube videos on it, did you really say to yourself, “yeah, I fucked up, this is my bad”? Personally, no I didn’t.

Comparison time. In Dark Souls, one of the first examples of Shit I Should Have Seen Coming Part II is that one flaming barrel that barrels down the stairs at you in the Undead Burg (oh no spoilerino). If you didn’t see this coming, you’re a dumbass. Why? They straight up show you the dude. He doesn’t come out of nowhere. He doesn’t spawn in with the barrel. He’s standing there the entire time, waiting on you. And when you’re up the stairs far enough, he kicks it down. This is a good reminder that you need to be on your toes, always – since this isn’t really ever a fatal trap, I don’t think, but it can certainly wake you up.

Unlike this, you’ve got Dark Souls 2, where there are times you simply cannot possibly see things that end up happening. One example is all those explosive barrels. The black ones. Who looks at a black barrel, and says to oneself, “this barrel is going to explode if I happen to breath fire on it, throw a firebomb on it, or if someone simply hits it too hard with a gigantic fucking mace”. I don’t think anyone does. Why couldn’t they be red? Red is a good colour, it says to me, “stay the fuck back man I’m scary”. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve died to these barrels once or twice in stupid ways. But my main issue here, the first time you see these barrels, there is no possible way to know what to expect. But I’m really not here to bitch about Dark Souls 2.

This is kind of an example of gameplay which isn’t fun. It’s not fun to get your shit kicked in for a reason you straight up don’t understand, don’t see coming, or simply don’t like. I just can’t think of a better example than Dark Souls 1 and 2, because this is a case where difficulty has been blurred in a very odd way. People don’t really seem to notice, and maybe they don’t give a shit, but they’re very different games because of the way they use difficulty. Dark Souls 1 is forgiving, it allows you to play the PvE any way you like, and if you get fucked up by something, that’s your fault. Dark Souls 2 isn’t generous enough with weapons or armor, and the fact that everything is less durable than before is a pain in the ass.

I don’t really know, I’m having trouble expressing just how different they are. But it comes down to shit like animation timing, 60fps vs 30fps, the dodge frames, the fact that invuln frames are tied to adaptability, things like that. There’s so much different and wrong that it really should have just been a new game. Maybe, one day, Miyazaki-senpai (uguu~) will actually fucking tie this shit together, story-wise. But I doubt that. So you might as well call it something like, “Broken Crowns: Throne of Want”.

But yeah SERIOUSLY I need to stop complaining about Dark Souls 2.

Games need to be challenging, yes. Games do not have to be Dark Souls 2’s Fume Knight fight on NG+7, however, where you’re constantly trying to nail those frame perfect rolls, while poking him down, all that. They don’t. Low skill ceiling games are good too. People like those, and so do I. But why? Because then you can pick it up and play it with anyone. Anyone. Children are inherently good at games, because of their natural curiosity. Kids will pick up games like this and given enough time will beat the shit out of you. And that’s always good fun, because being able to connect with others through a video game is always a good experience.

Games need to be fun. But also, they don’t, because games can be art too. The Stanley Parable, The Beginner’s Guide, games like those – are they really fun? I don’t know if they’re actually fun. Is it more just simple curiosity that gets us to play through silly little stories like this? Games need mechanics, things that you can interact with, and in a way I suppose in The Stanley Parable that’s what you’re doing, you’re interacting with the narrator – he tells you to do one thing, and you, you choose to do that or something else. And then he reacts. So you’ve got that constant interaction that gives you a form of enjoyment.

The Beginner’s Guide is a game, however, that I wouldn’t consider terribly fun. The narrator there is much less interesting to listen to for those who aren’t in it for the story, or for those who simply wanted The Stanley Parable 2. You also don’t really have much of anything to interact with. You’re being guided through a series of things, and along the way you press a few buttons here or there, or read things, or whatever. It’s fascinating, really, that someone has made something so terribly meta – but seriously I digress. It’s a game that isn’t necessarily fun, but is it good?

Is the game good? That’s a question. That’s a very interesting question, for every game. Opinions, bias, and facts all play out when a person equates everything in their head and responds. I for one move that The Beginner’s Guide is a fantastic game – but then, it’s barely a game, and more of a story, so it’s more that I want to call it an interactive story but simply say game, because, well, it’s on Steam and easier to enunciate and because I don’t want to sound like a turtleneck wearing art critic.

This is where we have to continue to ask endless questions. Is it really a game? Does it matter if it’s a game or not? Is it good, then, whatever it is? I for one am not really sure I have the answer to any of these questions, and I’m not entirely certain it would or will ever be the solemn duty of anyone to actually declare any one answer to any of these questions. On a purely definition level, is The Beginner’s Guide, a game where you walk around with WASD and that’s about it, really a game? I don’t know. I suppose it is. But it’s not. You don’t really do anything. You don’t have to solve any puzzles. You don’t fight any aliens. There’s no game here. You just walk around, and listen.

I don’t really think we’re there yet, I don’t think we’re at the point where we really have to worry as to whether or not our games are truly becoming metaphysical entities transcending the dictionary. I think it’s safe to call anything that has a mouse and keyboard attached a game (or a controller of whatever the fuck it is you’re into). That, perhaps, should that be the answer? As long as you press this and that on a form of interactive plastic and metal, is that what defines a piece of content as a game? I suppose when it really comes down to it, you could say so.

Is the game good though? This is just endlessly a back and forth debate. Is Fallout 4 actually good? Here’s the list of good things, and here’s the list of bad, let’s weigh it up. It’s not really possible to form an opinion on a game by playing it. A person develops an internal opinion straight up by playing the game. It’s impossible to discern, it just happens as you’re doing it. You won’t even know you have an opinion until you wonder as to whether or not you like it, and suddenly realize, gee, I’ve been considering everything I’ve seen already, even now I have an idea of what I want to say about this.

And so, you’re never ever gonna have an unbiased opinion. Stop ever trying to say ‘unbiased’. You won’t manage it. You need to be a robot, or so clinical about the game you’re never going to actually be able to feel emotions ever again because you have an ice pick lodged in your frontal lobe. I’ve tried, with some small measure of success, to try to weigh up the pros and cons of a game, but opinions are a fickle thing, and just today I completely changed my mind about two games so many times the implications for both are still reeling inside my head, and I have more to say about the pair of them, I’m sure.

Video game journalists are a joke. Anyone who takes them seriously are off their heads. Once upon a time, I thought it’d be okay to read this and that. But nowadays I’m older and wiser. The sports section of your local paper isn’t like the upcoming games section on Kotaku or whatever the fuck people read. The sports section is filled with solid, grounded information. Facts. Perhaps predictions on upcoming matches. This is far and away nothing like what people say about video games. People say shit like, “Fallout 4 coming soon – MEGA HYPE TRAIN!!!!” when comparatively little has been revealed about it, and fuck all has been told about what will make it actually good as compared to the shit games from yesteryear.

When you’re seeing things like the news reporting things such as Tony Abbott stuttering so hard on camera he looks like a chronic alcoholic, this is (to a degree) biased information. They almost always cast such things in such a hard light as to render the poor fucking moron who used to be our prime minister a poor fucking moron, no matter which way you look at it (or read up on it, whatever). This is completely unlike the things that people like Chris Fuckface or whoever on Kotaku say about this and that, because it’s less important. Newspapers can change a vote (or a whole bunch of them), they have the power to tell lies, and many other things… just like Kotaku. They can also take bribes.

Come to think of it, what was I thinking? Everyone’s corrupt.

I don’t know what else to fucking put here, so here you go, 2000 words or so of shit. Take from it what you will. It’s all opinion anyway.