Wherein I discuss my novels, another sword boy joining the fray, an extremely enthusiastic electronic upset, another win for the master class, and the cruel captain of the S.S. Gamindustri
Over the past month or so I have been going through my 2015 novel, Verde’s Doohickey, in order to improve and revise it for publication on Nigma Box, with the first chapter releasing on January 21st, as per my tentative 2020 schedule. I initially pegged it as a fairly light task that would consist of some light grammatical and spelling corrections, along with some light rewrites. However, now that I am about 65% through the editing process, I realize just how daunting this task truly is, as I’ve had to completely rewrite certain sections for clarity purposes or to fix glaring issues.
Part of me is happy that I am finding so many issues, as it means that my writing and writing sensibilities have improved considerably over the past few years, but it is also discouraging at the same time, as there is just so much to fix, and at such a slow pace than I would adopt if I were to be writing something new. However, I will abide by my schedule as closely as I can manage, and will continue to edit my older work so it may be available and preserved on this fair website… even if my novels garner very few views, and have been largely ignored by my limited readership.
Starting things off with the biggest story of the week, Nintendo held yet another digitally distributed live-streamed promotional event concerning the latest character coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Yes, after a full year of announcements and releases across 2019 between Persona 5’s Joker, the Hero from Dragon Quest, Banjo-Kazooie, and Fatal Fury’s Terry Bogard, it was finally time to conclude the first wave of DLC, the first Fighter’s Pass, with a character that people were demanding, that people knew would join the fray, and whose appearance was predicted for months… But not because it was a character many people actively wanted. Instead, we got another damn sword-wielding Fire Emblem protagonist.
Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the fifth and final DLC character for the first Fighter’s Pass in Smash Ultimate, and basically nobody was happy to see them included, with the outrage on Twitter and gaming forums being real and volatile. The character has a nifty moveset and is clearly being handled with a lot of love, but as people were expecting third party representatives, it came across as a massive disappointment for many. Personally, I am not that passionate about Smash, so I wound up laughing as I saw the announcement, and for those who do care deeply about this game, good news!
In addition to getting Mii Fighter costumes for Altaïr from Assassin’s Creed, a Ubisoft Rabbid, and also Cuphead (yes, really) it was revealed that the second Fighter’s Pass will feature a total of 6 new characters, boosting the roster further. Meaning that we will get to go through this same old song and dance for… a good year and some change. A fun song and dance nevertheless, but one that will assuredly crush some hearts. I mean, there are only six slots, so we could theoretically have Geno, Crash Bandicoot, the Doom Slayer, Waluigi, Dante, and Master Chief duke it out, but… I doubt it. For now, you will just have to settle with Byleth, who will smash it up, down, and all-around with video gaming’s greatest all-stars on January 28th. Well, all-stars with an asterisk attached, as Smash still lacks many western icons and any Sony representation.
Speaking of which, Sony has announced that they will not be participating in E3 2020. A move that, considering how they skipped out of E3 last year in favor of adopting their State of Play events, is not surprising. Nevertheless, this announcement has upset some enthusiasts who enjoy getting excited about E3 and all things video games and want the event to be as flushed as possible. Me, however, I’m just glad that my E3 workload is going to be nice and light again this year. Because for as much as I love the event, putting out loads of hastily written content, I also like being able to go to bed at my usual time, not feeling pressured to call out of work on a Monday, and being deeply immersed in all things video games
With Sony still on the docket, the idea of many Playstation exclusive titles and series making their way to PC has been a moderately common talking point for the past couple of months. Back in 2019, Quantic Dream launched Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human all launched on the Epic Games Store. And right before the release of the latest big PS4 exclusive, Death Stranding, it was announced that the game will be coming to PC in the summer of 2020. As such, there exists a president for Sony-published titles to make their way to the evergreen platform, and according to sources vetted by Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, 2017’s Horizon: Zero Dawn will also be making its way to PC. A move that, while appealing on its own, can largely be interpreted as Sony making a major move towards bringing a fully owned and original games of theirs to PC, which is naturally a very enticing notion to me.
I love the PC as a platform. I love how open it is, how evergreen most modern titles are, how games are supported, how they are distributed, and while things do get messy with a multitude of launchers, the bottom line is that I can easily and comfortably play whatever I want from the comfort of my desk, in an ecosystem that I have far more control over than any game console. I have wanted everything to come to the PC for years, and now, with the next generation looming around the corner, it seems like that may be the case, as all major third parties, Microsoft, and now Sony, are committing themselves to a single universal platform.
I mean, sure, the PC platform is not devoid of faults, as bad ports and launches still do crop up from time to time, like with the recent release of Monster Hunter World: Iceborne. However, this can be fixed by hiring the right people for the job and bringing in a hit-squad to handle whatever mess a less experienced team made. And there is no better example for both of these things that the PC gaming icon, Durante. An individual who is best known for fixing the initially terrible PC port of Dark Souls, and, back in 2018, co-founded a PH3 Games, a support studio that has worked on the PC ports of Rez Infinite as well as the first two Trails of Cold Steel titles. As such, it should be no surprise that NIS America hit them up to not only work on a port of Trails of Cold Steel III. A title originally released on PS4 in October, and will debut on PC on March 23rd.
However, that was not the only project NIS America and PH3 are working on, as they also collaborated to release a massive overhaul of the infamously problematic PC port of Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. One that features more resolutions and aspect ratios, fixes to assorted framerate issues, higher quality textures, rebindable controls, improved stability, and also an experimental 2-player local co-op mode, because why not. It just goes to show how much games can improve and be iterated upon even years after release, and that it can be completely justified sometimes as PC gaming is forever.
And y’know what else is forever? Crunch. Crunch has been a staple of this industry since its inception, and while the practice has been faced with a lot of criticism within recent years, it is unlikely to change as games get bigger, development cycles get longer, and the quality demands of certain vocal individuals become ever more unreasonable. It is a practice best mitigated through a more reasonable scope and more generous development timelines, but, supposedly, even extending timelines through delays does little to break down crunch. Instead, whenever a AAA game is delayed, it supposedly means that a couple of extra months of crunch are being tacked on.
This information was common knowledge to some, but only recently became widespread after Kotaku’s Jason Schreier put out an article describing the process, and after CD Projekt announced a 5 month delay of Cyberpunk 2077 they said, quite clearly, that the developers would need to put in more extra hours to get everything done. Which I think is an indication that maybe, possibly, these folks bit off more than they could chew.
I am planning on going into more detail about this later on in the year, but I find the modern trend of making games bigger, flashier, and more technologically intensive to be wasteful, detrimental to the creative process, and generally unsightly. Whenever I look at a big flashy game nowadays, I just view it as a lot of unnecessary fluff that could have been streamlined down into something less costly or strenuous on developers. Game budgets and staff sizes have ballooned this past decade, and the AAA industry is becoming unsustainable because of it, with people developing such wild expectations that people are damn near killing themselves just to make games.
It does not need to be this way. Production can be scaled down. However, the big question is that now with standards set so high, will people be willing to accept games that look worse, have less detail, or are not as lavish? I know I would, but the mass market? Well, being fully realistic here, and considering the general discourse surrounding the next generation… I kinda doubt it.