Hard to believe it’s been six months since I’ve posted anything here, but alas, it has! I’ll be trying to update a lot more frequently from now on, with more focus on casual “what I’m playing” type entries than anything else. So please, check back regularly and let me know what you think. Also check out the new box on the right column with links to all my micro-blogging sites. Twitter is still my favorite, so gets the most attention. If you don’t have a Twitter account already, get signed up and start following me!
This summer has been one of the best ever for the games industry – with plenty of AAA titles like Battlefield: Bad Company, Soul Calibur 4, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and On Tour being released during the usually slow hot months. Plus, hugely anticipated downloadable titles like Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2, Pixeljunk Eden, Bionic Commando, Castle Crashers, and Siren: Bloodcurse keep things fresh with innovative pick-and-play game mechanics. And with PS3 games getting their trophies rolled out, the PSN is as alive as ever and quickly growing into a worthy competitor to Xbox Live.
And of course, not to be left out on all the action, Nintendo announced the Wii Motion Plus accessory at E3 this year, which will bring true 1:1 motion control to Wii games. By next year, we may finally see the end of waggle control!
But what I really want to talk about today is why $10 downloadable games like Geo Wars 2 and Pixeljunk Eden are able to capture my attention for hours and hours at a time, while many $60 games that take millions of dollars to create can barely keep me in front of the TV. What keeps people coming back to the first Geometry Wars, three years later? And what has me itching to go play the sequel, even right now? It’s the fun factor, and it’s how the developers use it in their game. I remember one of the Bungie studios employees talking about this in an interview for the Halo 2 collectors disc. He said that with Halo, they took 30 seconds of fun, and just recreated and repeated it throughout the entire game.
I think its the same concept with games like Eden and Geo Wars. The developers come up with an awesome idea, capitalize on it, and create 30 seconds of fun out it. Then if they can manage to repeat that over and over again, and keep it interesting, they’ve got a great game. Sure, 70 hour RPG’s are a whole different world and can’t really be applied to this sort of thing, but when was the last time you played through an RPG a second time? Yes, there are exceptions such as Mass Effect, Fable, and FFVII, but most of the time games that take many hours to beat are only worth a single play through. And it’s because instead of creating a single really-fun instance and repeating it, they spread out less-addicting moments through the game and put hours of side-quests and level-grinding in between.
It makes me wonder if these two very different types of games can ever be merged, or switch roles. Can a game like Geometry Wars ever warrant a $60 price tag? (and yes, I know about Galaxies, but it wasn’t the AAA blockbuster I have in mind) And is the XBLA or PSN capable of putting out a quality epic-scale game like Mass Effect or FFXIII without demanding an enormous chunk of your hard drive and/or your wallet?
With current-generation hardware finally starting to be taken advantage of (think Halo 3’s multiplayer or Little Big Planet’s user-generated content), the lines between genres are merging, but the line between casual games and “hardcore” games is getting bigger and bigger while the fanboys bicker. I suppose only time will tell how things are going to evolve, but at the moment I am happy to see games like Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2 and Pixeljunk Eden be so successfull.
What I’ll be playing this weekend: Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2, Pixeljunk Eden, Devil May Cry 4. I’m also going to be getting some PC time in with Civilization 4 (is it bad that this will be my first time playing a Civilization game?) and going oldschool with the Descent series so I can bust out my flightstick. Reading up on Jumpgate: Evolution news has gotten me nastolgic for some old-school space flight sims!