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Games, technology, music, silliness. Oh and ninjas. Lots of ninjas.

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I am Andreas. Day time programmer and technical consultant. Night time musician and game developer.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Another Wii rant

Everyone saying they havent turned on their Wii in forever belong, according to my awesome theories, to one of two camps:

1. The people that actually bought into the prelaunch hype and thought it was going to utterly revolutionize their world from the get go. This isn't a Wii specific issue. Exactly the same thing happened with the PS3 and 360; lots of promise, very little immediate gratification.

2. Gamers that "grew up" on the previous generation.

I think the Wii appeal comes down to wether you truly like playing games, or you're just some dude who wants one specific thing from the media and that's that.
That's fine! But it's called checking out the market and weighing your preferences against what you buy. You don't typically go eat Italian when you really want Chinese.

I own the whole trinity, and to me the Wii is still the most exciting one. I know there's a heap of fun stuff coming out soon, and most recently? No more heroes, Zack & Wiki, Endless Ocean. Those titles just flat out justified the system for me, AGAIN. Zack & Wiki in particular; it's a truly gorgeous game and i have a hard time picturing it on any other console, including the PS3.

If you want to talk about buying potential, here's how i gauge the future;

Xbox 360 and PS3 will continue to host awesome looking titles with large budgets that take years to come out with gameplay that make increasingly gradual tweaks to existing conventions out of abject fear of losing money. I don't remember who said it, but there was a comment on here recently going something like "WHY IS EVERYTHING AN FPS!!?!" I totally share that sentiment. I'm sick to death of FPS shooters with recharging health, left trigger for iron sights, left stick clicked to duck, A button activates/reloads, yada yada. I know it's mad to be hung up on the controls like that but the games truly start feeling like the same game with a different mod, especially in these UE3 times.

I'd like someone to tell me, honestly, what they think the chances are of a game like Zack & Wiki coming out on the PS3 or 360 anytime soon. If the graphics hadn't been super next generation hootnanny, if there hadn't been fully voiced speech. If there hadn't been the motion sensing conceit. The game would instantly have less foundation for actually entertaining people.
Doesn't take a genius to see how much money would be lost on a Zack & Wiki for the 360.

Fact of the matter is, if a developer isn't up to snuff for the "truly" next gen platforms they're damned either way. I don't think people realize just how crippling the budgets have become.

River city ransom just landed on the virtual console, and i'd almost forgotten how brilliantly simple and entertaining that game is. It made me want to dig out every game i TRULY loved over the years, like Chu Chu Rocket (where's my Wii version already!?), Power Stone 2, Ooga booga, Ninja Gaiden, Monkey Island...

I love games. It's such an engrossing, exciting medium, nothing else out there can do the same. When my dad bought me a Gameboy in 89 i almost instantly dropped out of choir and piano practise. I remember making a papercraft gameboy in school and a simple contraption so i could drag strips of paper through slits on the sides of the "screen" so i could make my own levels and just at the very least see them moving on something LIKE a game console. Ever since then my life has been geared towards just worshipping the medium, as a player and as an academic. I read about them, write them, play them, talk about them, compose for them. They can be such amazing things.

So why in fucks name do people insist that all they now want from them are first person shooters, rpgs or other easily identifiable genres? Games aren't about genres, they're about putting your mind in places you don't normally go, challenging instincts you don't typically challenge.

What's happened is this: Increased consumer demand has forced a competitive industry into an arms race where the production values of the product has necessitated distillation of gameplay into the absolute gray area where EVERYONE can at LEAST enjoy SOME of it. Microsoft's game testing "labs" are a great indicator of how wayward this whole thing has become.

The arms race has to stop, or at least reach a plateau, and i think we're nearing it. I think what we're seeing is hollywood versus direct to video, and i for one am a huge fan of direct to video, where people get to play around with ideas without complete TERROR at the prospect of losing millions of dollars.

The 360 and PS3 are Hollywood. Take from that what you will. I for one am hugely satisfied with my Wii purchase; it lets me play that steady slow tricle of those rare gem direct to video titles.

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