Fairly Messy Rant: Realism, Multiplayer, and Photorealism

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Well, some things in the industry are making me a bit upset, and when that happens, I tend to vent in what I refer to as Fairly Messy Rants.  I take a few topics and regurgitate the words of people who share my opinions.  It might not be unique, but screw it, let’s talk about photorealism.

About a month and a half ago, the president of THQ complained that until we achieve full photorealism, his exact quote was, “To dramatically change the industry to where we can insert a whole range of emotions, I feel it will only happen when we reach the point that games are photorealistic; then we will have reached an endpoint and that might be the final console..”

I nearly cried several times while reading the text, just the text, of some of the little side stories in Lost Odyssey.  Words created a variety of emotions within me that resulted in sorrow.  I listen to voices and laugh my bum off on a daily basis!  You do not need photorealism when creating anything for a wide range of emotions.  The amount of shock, disgust, engagement, delight, and wonder I felt while reading Berserk, a realistically drawn, but still black and white, manga were outmatched by anything I have ever seen from spending an equal amount of time with people.  And all of that combined with the sheer bliss that I experienced when I saw one certain, disgusting panel of the thing, is probably one of my favorite experiences with any media, and it was just one single drawing. Saying that in order to achieve every emotion, we need to see other human beings in the most realistic way possible, is a close minded look at art in general.  

For a book to be photorealistic, it must contain every moment of the character’s life and feel like someone’s normal, ordinary, uninteresting, and boring life.  Because realism is tied hand and hand with things that are not fun.  there are great moments in life, but everyone would love to not need to do something, from pooping, to driving, to not being forced by their bodies to sleep or eat.  Real life doesn’t have a flow of engagement, it is just random and chaotic, and wanting our stories to be like that is a no-go for any medium, because it isn’t enjoyable more often than not.  Oh, and this from the guy who had to greenlight two recent semi-cel-shaded games, The Darkness II, and Borderlands 2.  And then there’s Bioshock Infinite created wonderful emotional reactions by having such a good atmosphere, that you can get immersed in it within mere minutes of just looking at it.

That felt good, but- Wait, Overstrike has been revived?  That game looked pretty cool, what is it like now?  A co-op focused third person shooter with unique powers, but begins a refusal to develop single player games, and a heavily degraded art direction!  Y’know, just what a light hearted action game is suppose to morph into!  *Goes to the corner and stays there motionless for five minutes.*

Okay, Overstrike, or Fuse as it is now called, didn’t look that amazing, but Insomniac is a very good developer and as someone who only ever owned one Sony product, some nice headphones, I never experienced Insomniac’s games.  I am aware that this studio also made Resistance, one of the first gray shooters to plague this generation, but by the time the third installment came out, it basically became a late 90’s shooter with a fresh coat of paint, and several fun toys to play with.  And since I find Half-Life 2 to be the best FPS I ever played, it seemed like Overstrike would evolve on my prefered subgenre.  But Fuse is now just another shooter made by EA, and coming out near the end of this fiscal year.  

I complained about Dead Space 3, Crysis 3, and Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, for different reasons.  But putting a fourth shooter with little unique about it, and just trying to fit into the most profitable mold for EA, in a move that I hope, really do hope, this will cause the entire industry to just say no to every generic looking shooter it can cough up.  Toss in the fact that Metro: The Last Light, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Bioshock Infinite, Gears of War: Judgment, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: Patriots, and Aliens: Colonial Marines, all come out in the same bloody quarter, and I am a bit embarrassed how one note this industry can be.

Now, the later list of games I don’t have a problem with, I think they look good for the most part.  But it is pretty sad to see such a one note line-up for an entire quarter.  But look at the rest of the games we have for Q1, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Tomb Raider, God of War: Ascension, DmC: Devil May Cry, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Beyond: Two Souls, Anarchy Reigns, SimCity, Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.  Two of which you could easily consider to be third person shooters, make up less than half of the big releases of a quarter.  I understand it being popular, but over reliance on one single genre is a really dumb move.  Also, before you think that EA was the one mandating Fuse?  Insomniac has full creative control based on what I’ve heard… I’m going to the corner again.

But going back to EA, they recently proudly stated how they refuse to publish single player games.  They are allowed to do whatever the hell they want, I can only criticize it, but I need to ask whether it would be worth it.  A few quick question, how many multiplayer games do you own?  When was the last time you played every one of them?  Would you keep on playing them if you had the time?  Would you keep on playing them over newer single player titles?  I’ll admit my bias against online multiplayer, because it is unstructured in difficulty, players have different skill levels, so there is not a lot of balance.  

The experience needs to repeat more than a single player one, it requires repetition to truly enjoy, and you have no set goal.  In a game, you try to end the campaign, normally when the credits roll.  In games like Animal Crossing, you stop when you lose interest, but the game is relaxing enough to play if for about half an hour a day.  

When I play multiplayer, I tend to get bored after just shy of two hours, and it is mostly competitive, or trying to be tense, so you need to bring your A game or you’ll be shouted at.  If you find that to be fun, that’s cool, but I don’t want that most of the time, let alone with every single game, none of which anyone would play a few months later.  Players are a finite resource.  Even if I tried the Bioshock 2 multiplayer, would I find anyone playing at 17:30 Central?  Maybe, but I doubt anyone still touches the game.

Anything else?  Let’s see… Oh, Keiji Inafune, I like you, I am for people criticizing anything in the world, and I enjoy many of your titles.  But recently you’ve started work on, in no particular order, that King of Pirates, a 3DS game based on Romancing the Three Kingdoms, but with animals.  J.J. Rockets, an iOS game where you play as the president of the US fighting for great justice.  Yaiba, a game about zombies, ninjas, and mechs), Something in Guild02, which is surprising, since the first one flopped in Japan, but we might see it in the US, thank you for that Level 5. And Soul Sacrifice, a game that looks cool, but I refuse to research, since I don’t have the time to buy a PS Vita and do it justice.  

That seems like a lot of projects for one man to work on, especially in one of the few interviews of him that I read, he only likes to have a staff of 20-30 people, but since he’s doing so many things, wouldn’t he end up working with far more?  I get it if he was supervising about 3 projects, but he is working directly on five games, which seems really schizophrenic.  No real point here, I just thought that it was odd, and nobody else was mentioning it.

Well, that’s all on my mind for now.  I plan on doing one of these more focused on a single topic, namely translation and localization.  However, that will require research, talking to companies, and me getting off my bum and doing work for my play.  

If you have anything to add, gripe with my “facts” or presentation, more information to add, or anything I forgot, please leave a comment below, since I love getting those!

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