Tuesday, February 24, 2009

PC Better Than Console?

With the release of highly-anticipated installment of overly-popular Halo franchise, Halo Wars, a heated discussion has been resumed: "Is PC's control of keyboard and mouse superior to that of the console systems', and are they necessary to enjoy games?" Well, I think that's an obnoxious hardheadedness to hold on to the way it is and has been in the past. Thinking everything is flowing and evolving, and that we should evolve with it, I've posted the following comment on Wired magazine's review of Halo Wars.

Of course, there is a sense of achievement for those who has time, energy and money to invest on a decent PC to enjoy games on it. But not everyone has that kind of free resources. No, MOST people don't. Shifting of games' preferred platform from PC to consoles is just another step of this industry's evolution. It does so to expand and flourish.

That said, I think RTS genre will also evolve to accomodate console systems' (somewhat limited) controls to provide as fun and rich experience as PC games with mouse and keyboard controls. I think EndWar shows it pretty well. I think it was a great first step towards this. No economy, more tactic.

And let's stop to kid ourselves. We call RTS games RTS just because we've been calling it that, not because they truly involve "strategy" in any meaningful way. Every game is tactic with mechanically glued-on microeconomy. So, don't start arguing EndWar-like RTS games without "real" economy system are not TRUE RTS games.

So, my point is, today's RTS games on console is just a start. If you want to hold onto your dear PC and your futile stubborness, brace yourself. You'll see a flood of games like that in future.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Say Yes to Console RTS!

Here is a comment I left on Giant Bomb's Quick Look video feature of Halo Wars. Below the video, numerous users has expressed their negative thoughts about RTS games being developed for console systems, and that they must stay on PC where the complex controls enable gamers to battle with precision and fast-response. Seeing this as a mere resistance to change, I expressed my thought against them.

Wow, anybody who bashes console's capability to house decent RTS games fail big time, in my view.

You seem to forget that historically, there were hardcore fans of specific portion of games that clung to the traditional style of gaming, trying to resist change. And what happened? Things kept changing and they had to move on. Adapt.

Today's no-RTS-on-console argument is just the same, I think. As hardcore games evolved to become (in hardcore gamer's point of view) easier to accomodate not-so-hardcore gamers to enjoy, RTS games will also do the same to survive. I think EndWar is a great example (not sure how well it's doing. Haven't pop that thing in 360 in a while). It enables gamers to show skill in managing troops, yet it perfectly utilizes consoles unique control scheme. And it is very enjoyable, too.

The notion that a RTS game has to be based on economy, base-building, and unit control is just about to become passe. Just as "having to retry 100 times or more to finish a game" became a thing of the past.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wii-Fit != Game

NPD charts are unavoidable. They're released monthly, and when it does, each and every news outlet out there, be it a magazine, a news website, or even a blog, seems to write it up as if it's an obligation. So, failing to avoid the unavoidable, I took a look at this month's chart and found it very un-surprising; Wii-whatever is on the top! Just like last month, and few dozen months before it.

Then, I thought:

Maybe, just maybe, the reason Nintendo's flagship titles* sell like crazy is because their games are not really "games" at all.
*I mean Wii-Fit, Wii-Play, Wii-Music and stuff like that, not their traditional major titles like Zelda.

This theory comes from my belief that gamers who're in gaming for epic experiences are still a minority in this stinking world, that even with stellar technological and artistic achievements numerous titles contributed, the term "video game" is still mentioned as a degrading, childish play-thing ..thing. So, whatever that will go beyond the usual nerdy audience and reach out to the "normal," busy people with real lives will inevitably float to the top of the charts. And this is where Nintendo seems to excel.

Of course, I don't have a Wii and only had some playtime with it prior to the release of the balance board. So, you can and probably should take whatever I say here with a grain of salt.

But just look at that damn thing. It's a board you stand on and some simple instructions on the screen for exercising. Yes, excercising! It's not really something where a "player" "plays" it to enjoy the experience (by this I mean characters, stories, and interaction between players and characters). And besides this instructional program, the only thing that can be considered "game" are some extras that can barely be called games.

Let's think about the majority of people who buys Wii and Wii-Fit. Without any scientific data to back my theory, I say they are some average Joe who enjoys drinking beer, going out to movies, watch television, and only when friends come over does he fire this Wii up for maybe an hour of laughs and happy happy time. Is this what I consider a gamer? They are as much a gamer as bleak a game Wii-Fit is, if you ask me.

This is why I think NPD should not include Wii-Fit, Wii-Play, or any other so-called "casual" games in the same chart as games that traditional gamers, who enjoy games for game's sake, plays.

And when we do that, and start counting casual games seprately from traditional games, I bet there isn't as much expansion in the market as there is heralded to be.

Now, please sit back and enjoy this promotional video of the popular *tiny pause for dramatic effect* Wii-Fit: