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"What the Heck Are You People On??" Dept.:
MailBag for Issue #6
Comments by Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman
Every week our associate editor takes on the big ol' pile of mail for your reading enjoyment...got something to say? Send it in. You just might win a swanky loonygames t-shirt. Letters are presented exactly as they are recieved.
Subject: The death of single player games...
...is vastly exagerated. Sure, the developers with whom we're familiar seem to be leaning towards multiplayer, and will continue to do so; but, publishers, the suits, look at titles like Deer Hunter, one of the biggest selling titles of all time, and ask, will this game sell like Deer Hunter? Not when 80% of all sales are for single player games. If the primary focus of the FPS is now the death match experience, that's going to alienate a large segment of the potential buying public, especially at fifty bucks a pop.
As another example, let's take Myst. Great graphics, incredibly popular. Multiplayer? Death Match? CTF? Uh...nope.
Don't get me wrong. I LOVE 'net play (well, maybe not the lag aspect...damn LPBs) but what caught my interest with Quake was the single player aspect. Same with the Duke, FireFight and Chaos Overlords, and so on, going all the way back to Wizardry, Ultima and the Bards Tale.
What it boils down to is that multiplayer is all well and good. If multiplayer sucks *cough*unreal*cough* I may still be interested. If single player is a lame afterthought *cough*quake arena*cough*, that's a completely different issue.
Unfortunately, though, I don't believe you're speaking for the majority. Sure, people buy games for single player, but what gives games staying power is, overwhlmingly, multiplayer. Deer Hunter's an interesting example, but it is different than most games these days...just look at the audience that buys Deer Hunter, the overwhelming majority of the people who are buying it and loving it aren't on the Internet, and aren't thinking about things like multiplayer abilities. But for the market that buys games like Unreal, Half-Life, the $60 games, multiplayer's a very big issue. Who knows though, people are raving about Half-Life and nobody knows how it's multiplayer is yet so...maybe there's hope. :)Single player dead?
And just some happy lovin' stuff...
Subject: Cool magazine
I love your magazine. It's so great to find a magazine that doesn't assume its readers are hormone-driven 14 year olds. Instead, I get to read intelligent, hype-free commentary about the games that I love. Kudos to everyone on the staff, this was exactly the kind of game magazine that I was looking for.
Why thank you. :)Loons,
While reading Loonyboi's editorial rant, I was filled with a sense of compassion. I, too, find it overwhelming to look at the myriad of games coming out, and keep an excited attitude toward each of the ones that, in their own right, would grab my attention (and my dollar).
The problem, as I see it, lies in the immediacy of our current web-based infoculture. As soon as a design specification gets approved from a vendor, the news releases start flooding the online infomation store. Blue's News, PlanetQuake, VoodooExtreme, and so many others all start promoting the exact same links to the same pre-release news. How many games can you count that have been promoted, and are nowhere near shipping?
In the dark days of print media, we, the gamers, would read the published magazines and drool over the screenshots and exclusive interviews. The few internet savvy would be "in the know" by reading the (very few) .plan files. It was okay, then, to feature a title that had months left in its development cycle, because the delays in print media made it seem less of a delay to shipping. That, and each issue could only cover so many new games.
Now, we gamers are inundated with information overload on a plethora of games. It used to be a big deal when official news of a game "going gold" was released. Now it is blase. In this immediate information age, anything short of a new press release is stale.
I understand that the reason behind all of this information is to hype the market, and get consumers excited about the products. But how can I get excited about news of features added to a game that won't be released until second quarter of next year? Am I expected to wait, with baited breath, for the next six months? Especially in light of the fact that every other distributor is flooding my bandwidth with the same kinds of information about *their* hot new titles? Press releases, reviews of betas and demos, previews of alphas, .plan files, unofficial FAQs, rumor pages.... Is it any wonder that gamers are so skeptical of gams?
Why don't developers and distributors keep things more under wraps? Keep us in the dark, so that any little leak of info is really a big deal? In the war of information supply and demand, it seems to me that a "secret" project is more likely to raise eyebrows then one which is publicly flaunted from the get-go.
Perhaps you can take that loony whip to the various powers that be, and give us all a breather. And perhaps breath some exitement back into waiting for a game?
I wonder how much of it really is to blame on the developers, though. Look at what just happened with the Half-Life OEM. I was offered it no less than 10 times by 10 different people, none of whom had it legally. No, I didn't download it, not only can I not run it anyway, due to the patheticness of my computer, but I do believe that using illegal software is just wrong. But certainly, nobody intended for this to leak. And yet it did. Isn't it conceviable that the same is what has happened with 'secrets' in games? Someone opens their mouth to someone, somewhere, they tell someone else, next thing you know it's on the front page of Blues "DUKE WILL BE WEARING A KILT!" or something to that nature.
We like the close relationships we have with developers, enjoy the fact that fans are able to be actual friends with the people who make the games we play. I think that knowing all about the games before they come out is just a price we have to pay if we want to enjoy this closeness.
Personally? I like my friends in gaming far too much to give them up to get some of the secrets back about games.Subject: is duke nukem sexist?
What surprised me the most is the number of people who "never really thought about it," "it" referring to the level of sexism and misogyny in the game duke nukem. I realize that it is a game, the "chicks" are appropriate for the setting, and most of it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but when i got to the part where there are a bunch of naked chicks begging you to kill them i had to stop. It just made me too angry to enjoy the game anymore.
It is very easy for a male to say that women who are bothered by this need to "loosen up" or have a "good fuck" (obviously the fellow i am quoting has a problem getting any himself) because they are not the ones who have to deal with the symptoms of this kind of attitude day in and day out. I believe that it is something that everyone needs to question, whether it diminishes his/her enjoyment of the game or not. Too often, the token female character in a game, if there is one, is represented as a big-breasted, scantily-clad bimbo. Even Lara Croft has been sold out. I would assume that when you are playing Tomb Raider, you are too engrossed in the game to worry about what the lead character looks like. However, those responsible for marketing the game seem to have chosen to emphasize not the incredible gameplay, but Lara's massive tits.
This is an issue that needs to be addressed, not just for the benefit of the growing number of female gamers, but also for the large number of boys and teenage guys who are getting a really warped message about women. All media are guilty, but just because the movies are ten times worse does not make it ok for the gaming industry to be irresponsible. Ideally, the kids playing these games willl have responsible parents who have raised them right. No, software developers are not supposed to be everyone's parents, and i do not think that the fact that parents shirk their responsibilities is a good reason for gaming companies to censor their own games. Personally, I would be greatly disappointed if Quake became less bloody. However, any extreme amount of enmity directed at one specific group of individuals, be they women, blacks, Jews, gays, etc., is too much of a problem in society at large to be taken lightly. At least in Quake the violence is distributed equally!
You bring up a great point, and one I don't think I've gone into earlier here, anyway. That fact that games, just like any other medium, teach the player something. And in Duke, no matter what arguments are made against it, one of the things being taught is that it's ok to kill helpless women. It is part of the overall attitude of Duke, but the parental control lock does not take out the women, so the lesson is still being taught.
But, maybe people are listening? From what I've read about (nope, haven't actually gotten around to looking yet), Lara's chest size has shrunk significantly in the new game. I've been reading the outraged posts "Bring back Lara's boobies" and the like, and just laughing my ass off. The same people who tried to claim they like Tomb Raider for the gameplay, are now mad the breasts are gone. Need I make the obvious point that breasts have nothing to do with gameplay? :)
And the winner of this week's loonygames t-shirt...System Shock!
Subject: How soon we forget (FPS's and Storylines)
All this hype and excitement about Half-Life makes me very excited that a Guillemot Banshee, complete with My Very Own(tm) copy of OEM Half-Life is on-route to me.
However, all this hype and excitement seems to focus around how "revolutionary" having a rocking story and environment in a first-person shooter is.
Nope. Two words:
THE most immersive FPS of all time. God, I hope Half-Life beats that, because that would mean that it is something special indeed.
I'm just going to give you loony's reply here, since he put it best:
Excellent point. System Shock ruled. Nice little fact: did you know Rich Wyckoff (designer on Trespasser, and loonygames columnist) worked on it back when he was at Looking Glass? It's true... :)Single player dead?
Why can't they keep their mouths shut?!
More on Duke...
Credits: MailBag logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. The MailBag is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and not nice.