Friday, 24 August 2012

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ - By Tom Dransfield

When it comes to gaming vernacular, there are countless gems to pick out as great examples of language development, but my favourite phrase by far is the term ‘rage-quit’; supposedly crafted by 12 year olds playing online FPSsseseseses and quitting when they became frustrated at losing. It will usually go along with petty accusations of modding or camping and cheating, but without those inept pre-pubescents, I wouldn’t have what has become for me one of the best ways to describe my feelings to a number of situations in my real life.

Turns out there's a Rage Quit Reptar meme. This picture is the funniest thing about it so that's all I'm posting here.

It’s incredibly useful as a phrase because of its double meaning, part of you is saying is “okay, I suck at this, I give up” but you mask it under the accusation of “This is broken/rigged against me”. I can honestly say that in my life I’ve rage-quit many different things: hobbies, jobs even entire relationships have crumbled under the might of my dramatic declaration of frustration. In my mind it goes along perfectly with throwing your arms up in the air as a mimed table flip, which I’ll represent here with this emoticon

    (°°)╯ ┻━┻

But when I think back to my gaming habits, I notice that I actually very rarely rage quit games themselves. The games I’ve spent the most time on are the ones that are the equivalent of just hitting your head against a brick wall as you try something incredibly hard again and again as you keep on tirelessly dying and retrying. I have spent hours and hours tirelessly honing my skills over countless lost lives on Super Meat Boy or Bayonetta's non-stop infinity climax difficulty setting, much to the chagrin of those watching me play,

(°°)╯ ┻━┻

When I think back to it I can only really remember two instances in which I’ve publically rage quit games: I was playing ‘the kid’ bonus level on meatboy for the 5000th time and when I died I immediately stood up, left the house and promptly got drunk. The other time, I was playing Octodad at the latest gameathon and ‘apparently’ shouted many profanities before collapsing into the 'spooky skunk' sleeping position.

Both of these accounts are inappropriately melodramatic, but melodrama is the epitome of the rage-quit ethos. Plus that’s only two accounts of an actual rage quit in many many years of happy, mindlessly repetitive and poorly skilled gaming. I don’t mean to brag, but if I had devoted the same obsessive dedication to almost anything else, I would probably be reaching ‘carnegie hall’ levels of talent by now. As it is, the only achievement I can boast is that I can successfully do about 70% of ‘the kid’ level (the first of three such sections that is) almost 2 out of 100 times I try.

I also look like this by that point. Just kidding, I'm a pathetic nervous wreck actually.

So to conclude, I’ll depart some useful lifestyle advice like a wisened agony aunt: next time you find yourself in an impossible situation or facing an insurmountable challenge rather than taking that foolish common advice of knuckling down or even worse swallowing your pride and asking for help, first try calling it broken and storming off. It’s relatively unlikely that anyone will believe you, but you can hold your head high in denial and you’ll feel very satisfied.

Monday, 20 August 2012

It's not about the destination - by Dr. Liam Fielder

After recently being reunited with my wonderful PS3 following a 6 month absence in my life, there was one game that topped my list of priorities; Journey. After the success of their previous releases, Flow and Flower, Journey is thatgamecompany’s third and, if I may use a term that is often thrown around, most ambitious game.

Just in case any of your aren’t familiar with Journey, the premise is simple, you are a lone robed figure in vast desert, and ahead of you in the distance is a large and awe-inspiring mountain, from the top of which shines a bright light, reaching towards the sky. In case the objective of the game is not immediately clear; you must walk towards the aforementioned mountain.

How were we supposed to figure that out?

In order to achieve this you have at your disposal the ability to move, jump, and depending on the length of your scarf, fly. It’s a relatively simple concept in keeping with thatgamecompany’s usual approach to game design; if the mechanic does not contribute towards the desired emotion, it isn’t included.

Just like in Duke Nukem Forever.

However, character control doesn’t stop there, the most important mechanic in Journey is the ability to release a short burst of song, allowing you to communicate with other players. Oh, Journey is a multiplayer game by the way, but not in the traditional sense; the players you randomly meet on your adventure are anonymous, and you have no way of communicating with them aside from whatever creative singing patterns you can come up with. Given the choice between teaming up or going it alone (Dark Souls style) it’s probably no surprise that I choose to continue my journey with my new companion.

Together we travelled through the vast desert and ancient ruins, learning of a long-dead civilisation, before eventually reaching a climax that will rank amongst my favourite game endings. Against the anonymity, a bond had formed, at one point when we were separated from each other in a near white-out I found myself immediately panicked and began calling out. And so despite the astonishing sound design and spectacular visuals that all contributed to the experience, part of me knows Journey would not have been the same should I have chosen to play offline, and it is here that we have a problem.

Unless of course, you don't give a shit about other people.

As the game was already five months old by the time I was able to play it, I feared that I would end up alone in my adventure (I later released how foolish this view was, considering the game only requires two people in the entire world to be playing at any given time for this mechanic to work…) and although this was not a problem, I realised that there will come a time when the Journey server support will stop, and the game will cease to offer the opportunity for such an emotional connection.

Online support is not uncommon, in fact, many games these days incorporate it in some way or another, whether through a complex and unnecessary Diablo III model, or a simple tagged on multiplayer, so we can expect online support to continue for some time to come. However for those few games like Journey which rely so heavily on such support, it saddens me to know that unlike the classics accumulating dust at the back of my cupboard, not even blowing in the cartridge will fix the problem that time will bring to Journey.

PS. In case the objective of this article is not immediately clear; play Journey before it’s too late.