Monthly Archives: October 2013

Collectible Card Games and Me

For the longest time I’ve not been a fan of Collectible Card Games (CCGs) but I’ve not been able to articulate it. I’ve had numerous friends into Magic: The Gathering and similar things, but I didn’t care for them, and in a way, I didn’t trust them. The dynamic turned me off, pushed me away. Part of my attitude could be hit upon a sense of imbalance in the play mechanics, or the distant abstraction of the actual gameplay to the world it depicted. I had no sense of the imagination from placing cards down that I could get from a table top RPG, nor was it as visual as a board game, and definitely nothing on par with any video game. Until I started thinking of it in modern gaming, and less interactive terms.

When you buy a pack, you don’t know what is in it. It is a lottery, a gamble. Sure your employment of a card takes skill, but purchases are either dumb luck with a pack, or plain investment at a store. The other player has that tool in their possession and you don’t because they got lucky in buying a pack, they spent a lot of money on a lot of packs, they spent a lot of money on just that card, they won it (an honorable method in some ways), or a generous player gave it to them. You are facing that card combination because of finances or luck in most scenarios, and your choices are limited by your finances and luck.

I think this is what ultimately has kept me away, CCGs are to me, pay-to-win DLC wrapped in a casino, for an abstraction that brings no immersion or imagination. This wasn’t a planned out post, just a mild revelation as to my own opinions from earlier today. Now I know why I reject that genre, and frown when I encounter its being played.

You’ll Never Guess What’s In RPS’ CoD Coverage

Oversimplifications.

Things the genre has but only this franchise gets criticized for.

Reverse xenophobia.

Hoplophobia.

Franchise ignorance.

Genre ignorance.

Platform ignorance.

Individual release ignorance.

Misunderstandings of marketing schedules.

Double-standards for advertising.

Okay, I guess that is enough. It isn’t that Call of Duty isn’t worthy of critique or even lampooning, it has plenty of issues, its mechanics are far from perfect, its community leaves much to be desired, and it can be samey. But what of this separates it from similar games which get treated much more considerately? Dog puns and fish AI jokes? This is akin to reviewing Full Throttle on the basis of five o’clock shadow rather than the story. Ghosts has a rather different perk system, it has a strike package system, it has contextual leaning and smoother object traversal to keep the player flowing in a fight rather than going through clunky state changes. It has been stated the PC version is receiving higher quality assets than any of the console releases. Your character classes persist as AI while you are offline, earning XP which reduces the grind of the game. The single player abandons all safely established characters from the franchise, and yet none of this ever gets brought up. Instead people point and laugh at the action game having explosions and showing the most cinematic events in the trailer. Continue reading

The Virginal Experience

We all remember our first time, for anything substantial that happens after early childhood. I see this more and more often in the realm of games. We attribute the benefits of a genre to the first game that we play in that genre, and we attribute the gains of a technology to the first game that we play which uses it, and if it is our first game for either, we were generally unaware of the substantial gains already made in those areas by prior releases.

Typically these things happen in waves with adoption of other technology or hardware, demographic activities, infrastructure rollouts. So games which release in a timely manner around these events are poised to be received by a whole host of new customers who don’t know their genre or the technologies they use. Many of my favorite games saw the benefits of this, and I will be attempting to list a few examples of this below to illustrate my point. I will be focusing on the first person shooter genre, as it is my genre of choice. Continue reading