Hey all, this piece is a sequel to an earlier piece I did about running in games. Now I want to look at how characters glide in games. Recently I’ve been playing Just Cause 3 which got me thinking about its movement style. In Just Cause 3, you use a tether to grapple to a surface. If you press another button, your parachute deploys. If you press another button after that, you change into your wingsuit. The tether acts as a grappling hook from point A to point B. The parachute gives you an initial boost of height and then a slow descent to the ground. The wingsuit acts as a glide. While using the parachute or the wingsuit, using the tether will guide your flight and if used properly allow you to stay airborne. So, while thinking on this I was reminded of some other games whose movement is based on gliding and how that mechanic informs the game being played.
So, this last week I returned to a game I first played in 2015. Prison Architect is a management simulation game where you run all aspects of a prison. The game might be comparable to games like SimCity or Cities Skylines on a much smaller and more violent scale. The game represents figures in the world in a style akin to stick figures. Initially, when I played Prison Architect I was very particular about caring for individual prisoners. I think I even had a good sense of prisoner names and the troublemakers. Now I treat them a bit like cattle in an abattoir. So that’s what I wanted to talk about. When is a human not a human in games?
So recently the social media account for CD Projekt Red, of Witcher and Cyberpunk 2077 fame, made an off-colour ‘joke’ relying on the played-out line “Did you just assume my gender?”. Their apology was that classic non-apology ‘Sorry if you were offended’. Now, I read the replies to that tweet and boy howdy, I hate gamers. In the same way that a high school bully defends themselves when consequences come knocking, most of the replies boiled down to ‘it’s just a joke,’. Is it though? I’m going to explain why these sorts of ‘jokes’ are tired.
No Man’s Sky is a game I’ve discussed before on this website. Now, two years on, No Man’s Sky has changed, and so have I. No Man’s Sky recently released its most recent, most ambitious update for the game. This is known as No Man’s Sky Next. Surrounding the game is a lot of discussion about the game as the developers poke their heads out to see if it’s safe. Back when the game launched, there was a whole fiasco about how big the gulf was between the marketing and the finished product. In my previous discussion of the game, I noted that the game was enjoyable enough albeit overpriced. As part of all this, it seems that No Man’s Sky is now remembered as a game that overpromised and underwhelmed. Discussion centred around a cynicism about returning to No Man’s Sky now that it had the “promised” features. The language around the game is about meeting a standard that was previously lied about. Here’s the thing, I certainly think there were deceptive elements to the pre-release marketing. However, No Man’s Sky is a perfect storm in a teacup to examine gaming culture’s attitude towards developers as a whole.
So, there’s this trope in apocalyptic fiction. Stop me if you’ve seen it. A lonely man walks a lonely road with a gun. This is the beating heart of the zombie genre, especially in video games. It’s a simple engine for tension and morally clear murder. You might have guessed by my tone that I take issue with this. I get that some people like zombie movies. Those people aren’t me but they exist. At the end of the day, I think that a zombie is a very boring enemy. A zombie is weaker than a human. A zombie is dumber than a human. Now, one might argue, that zombies are most effective in chaotic shambling hordes. Well, let’s get into this.
So, this past week I’ve been writing up elements of the world that I run D&D in. Now in my campaign, I have three players new to the world of D&D and one player who has been running his own games of D&D for ten years. Often, I will add elements of the lore of D&D into my world. When these elements are discussed, there is a back-and-forth about how they are typically portrayed in the canon of the lore and where my world differs. While writing up the deities of my world, I’ve thought more about where the stories that have been told about the gods differ. So, that’s a fun writing topic, what are the benefits of writing in an established universe?
So recently there has been a small and vocal group who are dedicated to remaking the Last Jedi. Attempting to remake a movie that was a success at the box office by professionals from one of the richest studios with crowdfunded money and fan support, not even a year after the film was released, does shine a light on the absurdity of remakes. Remakes are often lambasted when they are announced. Why remake something that is already great? More importantly, what is the purpose of a remake?
So recently there was a new Jurassic Park movie. This piece isn’t about that. This is about the tie-in game: Jurassic World Evolution. Jurassic World Evolution is a Jurassic Park theme park builder game. Those of you who have been around a while may remember that I’ve expressed my fondness for Jurassic Park Operation Genesis in the past. That game was also a Jurassic Park builder. While I am enjoying the new game, I do have some issues that I’ll explain by comparing the older game and the newer game. Hopefully, the developers of Jurassic World Evolution have plans to expand on the game and address some of the critiques of its shallow aspects. In that regard, this comparison might point them in the right direction.
So recently I’ve been keeping an ear to the ground regarding CD Projekt Red’s upcoming RPG, Cyberpunk 2077. The game didn’t wow me initially because all that was shown and still has been shown was a slick CG trailer. I’ve been hurt by the promise of slick CG trailers from beloved developers at E3 before. I need more than glittery promises to butter my gaming bread these days. I need reality. If a brief teaser is all you have, how far away is this title? *cough* Bethesda *cough*. There is some hope for Cyberpunk as it was first teased five years ago. CD Projekt Red received high praise for The Witcher 3 in 2015.
The thing that held me back about Cyberpunk 2077 is that cyberpunk isn’t my favourite genre. I enjoy the theming of the genre and its relevance to everyday life in the 21st century. What doesn’t appeal to me is the tired cyberpunk coat of paint that is applied. Lazy creators use it as a device to evoke titans of the genre, rather than having something significant to say themselves. However, since E3, I have been speaking about my tempered feelings for Cyberpunk 2077. The one hesitation I have is this: Make it accessible.