Thoughts for Thursday – Videogame design and that One Movie

Apologies for missing “Thoughts for Thursday” last week.  Let us just say that real life intruded upon my virtual one.  But I’m back now!  Onwards!

1.) Bugs and Patches.  So, the much-hyped game “Fallout: New Vegas” came out this past week.  I’ve never played the Fallout games, so I’m not here to review it, but it is widely known that the game released with a number of bugs and glitches (including a very creepy one).  The company that produced the game immediately announced that they were working on patches, to be released as soon as possible.  This got me thinking – has the ability to add patches made current game designers lazy?  Back in the day (before patches existed), game developers had to make sure a game was finely polished before release.  Bugs couldn’t be fixed, so they spent extra time fine-tuning games.  Sometimes, this meant delaying the release of a game so that it would be acceptable when it was released.  Nowadays, games are rushed to completion.  If there’s a problem, so what?  It’ll just get fixed when a patch gets released.  Games like the Call of Duty franchise, which cranks out one new game every year, get released with tons of bugs (In fact, I advocate not buying a new Call of Duty game until months after its release because that’s when all the glitches are taken care of).  Contrast this with Halo.  There has only been one Halo game every three years.  Yes, this means there isn’t as much to play, but when a Halo game comes out, it’s a big deal.  The experience is polished and (for the most part) glitch free.  These days, however, game companies are too focused on getting their product out there so they can make money, rather than crafting a well-polished, enjoyable game.  Of course, not all patches are bad, and sometimes, a very rare bug might be innocently overlooked.  But when you have to announce on the same day a game is launched that you’re releasing a patch for it soon, you’ve done something wrong.

2.) The Hobbit. The Hobbit is officially happening and Peter Jackson is directing!  We got this news about a week ago, and it’s been most welcome.  The film has been plagued with endless delays and complications for the past year and a half.  However, even though it’s now officially underway, there’s still one major problem facing it – it will probably not be filmed in New Zealand.  You see, a very small actor’s union in NZ boycotted the film in attempts to make more money.  Most of New Zealand was against this action, but it didn’t matter – they still went through with it.  Yesterday, Peter Jackson announced that Warner was going to move the location of the film shoot because it didn’t want to deal with this fiasco.  Naturally, the union ended the boycott shortly thereafter.  Nevertheless, the damage has already been done, and Warner Brothers, who wants to protect its $500 million investment, is still considering moving the film.  PJ, of course, still wants the film in NZ, but it’s no longer his call, as executives are flying down to NZ on Monday to cast the final decision.  The Prime Minister of NZ has gone on record saying he’s going to personally meet with the WB higher-ups, but nobody’s sure if that’ll work.  Even Peter Jackson says it’s likely that it will still move.  I’m not happy with the idea, as NZ worked so well for Lord of the Rings, but I understand the need to protect the film.  Of course, since Lord of the Rings is one of my all-time favorite movies, I’ll be keeping a close watch on any developments.

3.) Gaming Personality.  Over the past week or so, I had the privilege of playing the first Uncharted game for PS3.  Aside from the fact that it was loads of fun, I also noticed one major thing – the main character was loaded with personality.  It struck me how odd this was.  It seems like lately, most primary video game characters either have no personality or a super-serious, Batman-esque personality.  In some cases, it works (obviously “Arkham Asylum” needed the latter), but I wonder why it’s so prevalent.  Nathan Drake, the star of Uncharted was none of these things.  He cracked jokes.  He flirted.  He taunted the bad guys.  He was reluctant to get into unnecessary firefights.  He had no idea what he was doing.  Not only did this make it fun to watch Drake onscreen, but it also made him extremely relatable.  Why do so many video games seemingly avoid this?  Now, I understand that one of the rules of first-person videogames is that the main character needs to display no personality so that the player can inject their own and feel like part of the game.  But, honestly, I felt more like a part of the game (and had a lot more fun doing so) playing as Nathan Drake than I do in some first-person games.  I wish more game developers would take risks like giving the characters a little personality.

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~ by digitallysmitten on October 21, 2010.

One Response to “Thoughts for Thursday – Videogame design and that One Movie”

  1. I gotta say that buggy video games drive me nuts. If it isn’t a finished product don’t ship it out the door.

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