Comments by Jason"loonyboi" Bergman
My sister Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman is off in Seattle attending that Microsoft Gamestock shindig, so I'm handling the witty commentary in this week's MailBag. And boy, was there a lot to work with this week…we got more mail from my "Overrated" column that ran on Monday than we have for any single article. Yowza. So let's hop right in, shall we?
From: "Scott Roberts" <[email protected]>
Hi Jason, nice column.
First of all, let me say that I agree wholeheartedly with your opinion of zelda64. I tried it out for an hour the night I gave it to my nephew, and had no interest in trying any longer. Mario64, on the other hand, almost made me buy a console. That is one hell of a beautiful game!
What I’m really writing about, however, is your Cyan bashing. I’m not sure why it is that so many "hardcore" gamers get so incensed over people liking Myst. While I wouldn't make the mistake of equating popularity with quality (The A Team WAS the number one show on television once), there was a reason why so many non-gamers were drawn to Myst. It created an experience that few other games have achieved: the feeling that you had entered a fully functioning world.
Everything was well integrated from the visual design to the very underrated sound design. Story? Who cares?? I just loved exploring the place (much like Mario64), and the puzzles were made so they weren't too intrusive (like the lame ones in 7th Guest).
As for your complaints about Myst and Riven failing at visual design, all I can say is: "huh?" Yes, they do have a certain amount of realism.
But there is more to artistic style than the closeness to photorealism. "The City of Lost Children" and "Brazil" are both photoreal, yet they are great examples of artistic style. Artistic style doesn't have to be an exaggerated un-reality. It is in the thought and cohesion of an artistic vision. Someone designed all of those plants, all of the structures, the lighting, the camera angles, etc... And they obviously put a lot of thought and design sense into their decisions.
You are correct in saying that the claims that Myst and Riven are surreal are misguided, but the reason that this is false isn't the one that you state. You may think you've "seen surreal before", but that's an oversimplification of a complicated art philosophy. What exactly do you think surrealism looks like? Melting clocks and burning giraffes? Surrealism is a thinking process that drives the creation of a work; not some "style" that you can easily categorize. It has been distorted in the public perception to refer to anything Dali-esque, and the style of Myst does draw off of this visual history. But it certainly wasn't designed or created following any real surrealist method.
I don't claim to be an authority, but as a master of fine arts candidate, teacher of "current directions in art", artist, animator (Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted) and game designer, I do have some idea of what I'm talking about.
Keep up the good work! (both the column and the mag)
You're definitely right about what constitutes surrealism…it's not the sort of thing that can be summed up in a matter of words. I do maintain, however, that the Myst series, while technically stunning, is really lacking in artistic vision. But hey…different strokes for different stuff…
From: "Anton" <[email protected]>
Subject: feedback: overrated games
You missed a few of the most over rated games of all times!
For starters Quake 1,2, and I am sure 3. There was nothing new in 1 or 2 and I see nothing that new about 3. The internet/gaming community made Quake a great game by creating killer mods. The only difference I can see in 3 is that Id quit doing the parts of the game they sucked at. You know the story, monster AI, and ladders. Ya, ladders. I think more people fall down them or jump to their death rather than use those damb ladders. If it were not for the mods would anyone still be playing Quake or Quake II? I don't think so.
Half-Life. Ya, that's right Half-Life. It is a good game, but not great. The press would have you believe it was the biggest innovation in years for the first person shooter. Here is a little of the hype. "A great story! Interact with other game characters. The monsters have animal like instincts They work in packs, and some only attack when provoked." Lets start with this great story. Did I blink and miss it? Here is the story. Gordon goes to work and all hell breaks loose. Now Gordon has to kill monsters while trying to get out of the research facility. Then the government decides to cover it up by killing everyone. Now Gordon has to kill soldiers and monsters while trying to find his way out. This all leads to one of the worst game endings ever. Join or die? The end. Now that is one complex story. I loved the "scripted sequences" which consist mostly of a scientist suddenly getting killed in front of you. I know sometimes it is a soldier instead of a scientist. That brings me to character interaction. This consists of telling a guard or scientist to follow you. You know I almost confused this game with an RPG. Then there is the monster AI. It is not that it is bad and infect it is good, but come on I did not see "sophisticated pack behavior". Where were these animals that only attack when provoked. They all attracted me when I got close. It was a good game but there was too much hype.
Last one. Star Craft nothing more than an updated War Craft.
I could go on and on about games that were overrated.
Love you web site!
I got a number of letters from people who expressed disappointment in Half-Life, and suggested that it should have been included in the list. It wasn't included, because I do think that Half-Life lives up to its hype, even though I was extremely let down by its multiplayer game. But hey…that's just me. I'm weird. :)
From: [email protected]
Subject: feedback :)
Can I just say I agree with you about Myst? For one thing, I'm convinced there's no puzzle book on the bookshelf in the library in the Mac version (or else I'm just an idiot, which as you know is also possible, but I'm in agonizing pain so humor me!). So it's basically unplayable past a certain point.
Give me a call tonight or sumthin'
My girlfriend, ladies and gentlemen. Can I pick 'em, or what? ;)
Yes, there were other articles this week as well, you know…
From: "Justin Kramer" <[email protected]>
The "Two Programs, Two Dimensions" article was excellent! It's great to see an article on gaming art that actually offers something unique, not just rehashed info or "duh" tips.
I hope you have more articles like this in the future!
From: "Michael Pope" <[email protected]>
Hey, loyal reader here. Okay...I'm not the nosy type I swear, but...the Penny Arcade guy proposed last week, and I haven't yet seen word of what the answer was. Before you say it's none of my business, I think it became the business of a lot of people when he proposed in such a public forum. Not a big deal, I'm not losing sleep or anything.
On another note, hype or not, how could you not love Zelda 64? It's just baaaddddaaaasssssss....
Oh, and bring back Shooters! Believe it or not, some people actually watched it (semi) loyally... :)
If you check the page, you'll note that she did in fact say yes. W00p. :)
As for Shooters…hopefully it'll return soon enough, and the wait will have been worth it.
From: "Statz, Jeremy" <[email protected]>
Man, Symphony of the Night is one of the most brilliant games I've ever played. Excellent control, lots of goodies and secrets to find, and some of the most beautiful graphics I've ever seen. The soundtrack was fantastic, too, though I would've liked more remixes. It also had some great bosses, which can make a game for me right there. It can't compete with Radiant Silvergun in that category, but of course, nothing can. heh
It's a shame Konami has seen fit to bastardize another great series with a move to 3D. Didn't they learn their lesson from the PSX Contra games?
No joke about Rampage, though. Blah.
-- Jeremy Statz < Terata >
Designer, Raven Software
From: "Travis Hennings" <[email protected]>
oh man you know you are just asking for trouble with these games, let the hatemail pour into your mail box :)
You know something? I think I got more, "I feel sorry for the amount of hate mail you're gonna get over this" letters than I did actual hate mail. Naturally I got a ton of letters from people who disagreed with me, but they were cordial, and expressed a different opinion while respecting mine. Just shows to go you…loonygames readers rule. ;)
From: "Dr. Nick Riviera" <[email protected]>
Loved the commentary on overated games. It's about time someone said something about Myst and how bad it was. I felt cheated after I played it through. Glad I'm not alone. I agree with you on all points, except Castlevania. I actually like this one, but you're right, after having played through the 4th one, it isn't graphically better. the thing I liked about it was the items system paired with powerups that stayed with you. I always hated losing my stuff after I wasted a boss. This way I get to kepp it and manage it as well. And I like the idea of gaining Familiars. All this is old hat, but it's a good rebuild of an old game if you want to pla another CV.
you're right though, Abe's is much more original, and SOTN didn't deserve all the praise it got
From: "Kris Nosack" <[email protected]>
Well, Jason, I just HAVE to comment on your "From the Mouth of Madness" lists.
First the kudos:
Myst and Riven - Right on man, these two titles are the lamest pieces of crap ever put on a CD-ROM! Sure the graphics looked cool, but all the navigation and backtracking eventually made me feel like I was watching uncle Herman's Disneyland vacation slide show over and over and over....
System Shock - You're not the first to honor this game as a ground breaking sleeper, but I'm glad you're reminding the gaming public that there are some games out there that are awesome even though they didn't get all the fanfare. I remember being entranced by the demo and to this day I regret not buying System Shock (I look for it - in vain - every time I go in a computer store).
Abuse - I didn't get into this game as much as you, but I must agree that it did some cool and innovative things. I can't fault you for giving this unique game some praise that it deserves.
OK, now the counter point ("Jane, you ignorant slut!"):
Hexen II - Were you locked in a room with no other game to play? Hexen II sucks! WAAAAAYYYYY too "puzzley"! How fun is it to have killed every living thing in every map of the hub and spend the next hour just solving puzzles? Not very. The graphics are top-notch, but Raven got too creative here - they should have made the puzzles easier and more a part of the action.
Your list of underrated games wasn't very broad. We all have the fondest memories of the first games we played (4 player DOOM co-op still haunts me as the most fun I've ever had with a computer game), but that doesn't mean they are ALL classics. It's your column so I can't fault you for highlighting the games you have the strongest attachment too.
Well, that's my feedback. I respect you for speaking your mind.
- Kris Nosack
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