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Cblogs of 01/11/16 + Is There Life on Mars?


Nostalgia, what a peculiar beast. Despite the forward march of technology, design experience and accessibility, we still go back to the older games of days past. We ponder on games years upon years old, we get excited every time we blow dust off our elderly consoles that creak and whine like a life support machine and we find new ways to re-jig our high powered systems to cope with games made in the 90s/80s. 

Yet, I've never really been grasped by nostalgia I think. I don't say that boasting, looking down upon those who enjoy hearing the jingle of a PS1/N64 starting up. Rather, I've never really had that gaming moment where revisiting a game made me wonder how the hell I could have still thought it was a good game. Everything I still hold in a wistful memory from ages past has stood the test of time, from Metal Gear Solid, to Bushido Blade all the way to Final Fantasy 9 (which I completed yesterday, marking the first Final Fantasy game I've ever completed).

So, with the caveat that I'm not the type to root around for NES games on E-Bay to chase memories past, I would like to talk about how our anxiety about tomorrow has fuelled our rose-tinted glasses of yesteryear. That, I believe, we've never really been in as good of a position now than perhaps ever. 

Let's get the obvious out the way first: The internet happened. Well, that's not technically true as you could still get a hold of dial up (that'd block your phone lines from anyone ringing you) in the 80s and 90s. However, it was only around the 00s that it became mainstream. Since then we've been able to download games, talk about games in communities (like this) and play games with random people online across the world. In addition, ever been stuck on a game? Chances are the internet swooped in with a walkthrough to help guide you not just how to do it but also how to do it efficiently with as many secrets unlocked as possible. 

Miss the days when you used to have to print off all your walkthroughs because we didn't have phones/iPads to show walkthrough information? No? Thought not.

On top of this, video games became mainstream. I admit, this may be a little bit before my time in places I didn't live, but one time video games weren't a thing openly celebrated by the masses. The idea of PAX, EGX or even award ceremonies would have been a sick joke to those who got bizarre looks for playing a game for over 3 hours a day. Now, we glorify our hobby in wonderful ways.

Okay, that's comparing 10 years ago to today. Not recent enough, I know. I believe within the last five years, the amount of games available in a digital form has skyrocketed. The amount of games being released yearly, the amount of older games being ported to a digital form and the amount of ported games from other consoles have all increased. This has allowed us to not only pick games that are “good”, but are also up our streets in the most niche of ways. 

Then there's our critical nature. Even reaching beyond journalists and the recent advent of commentators, we have created a culture where we don't just celebrate but we also hold people accountable. While personally we may be going overboard, preferring to make a type I error (false positive) rather than a type II error (false negative), we have grown passionate enough to look beyond the games into the development its self. We've honed our critical eye, and I trust in time we'll grow better at it as time continues to march on.

Things may look grim, especially since we are detecting more and more things that make us feel uncomfortable. However, there is a difference between a true number of shady parts of development and the detected amount (which can include erroneous positives). The reality may be that we are reducing the amount of hindrances down the road by showing we care about the production, although we should remain cautious we don't create fragmentation and distrust from developers/publishers/etc by projecting our fears onto them.  

I guess this intro came about because one of the themes of Life on Mars is contrasting now with a setting more akin to Dirty Harry where the law uses any power it feels justified in using. "The Iron Cage of Bureaucracy" (to quote the original theorist behind Bureaucracy) is a real thing, but may be preferable to the inaccurate method of gut-feelings, scattershots and assuming the absolute worst when investigating. Another reason is because it tackles the nostalgia of the days where you could put someone off the street because you have a gut-feeling they're scum. Then again, I also picked it because it is a very good show and you should probably watch it.

I really believe we've never been in as good of a position as now. That new faults severely out-weigh the older ones and that it only seems more so because we've become better at noticing them. I'm not asking you to scatter your older joys to the winds, but rather to stay hopeful about the game industry. We'll always have problems, but never before have we been in such a good position to detect and claim what we want.

And with that, let's get on with the recaps. We have a lot since Dtoid was down on Saturday, so no time to lose (especially on something I could talk about for hours upon hours).

* – Dr Mel has a few games they meant to get to playing, but sadly just didn't have an opportunity. Sometimes games just pass you by and you don't have a chance to play through, like sand through your fingers, as the passage of time marches on. Sadly it is a case of so much time in the day, where you have to pick what you're going to play through to the exclusion of others.

A – So I didn't know Katamari got a clicker game but Dalek Sex dissects it as an example of how to do a clicker game and, perhaps more relevant to the game example, how not to do one.

A – With the coming of a new year comes the wanting for new games. n0signal shares the games they are looking forward to the most in 2016.

P – Episode 79 of the Cheat Codes podcast by Chris Morris has been released, talking about subjects like the $600 price tag on the Oculus Rift.

A – Some people go for top 5 of the year (e.g. me), others go for top 10, TheLimoMaker has gone for their top 15 games of 2015.

S – The latest Comments of the Week comes to you live from the crime-scene, presented by Dreamweaver.

This week, I've been mostly listening to: Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie.

Okay, that's a lie. Contrary to how it likely seems, the name of the article came from an UK TV show based on the David Bowie song of the same name that I had begun rewatching 30 minutes before I heard the news from a Russian with a radio. Really good show, just leave the US version alone. Anyway, here's one of my favourite songs by David Bowie.

C – bry159 takes a dive into showing the reductive nature of just relying on quantitative data, by asking people to sum up the metascore average of all the game you have. Although, as a games journalist, I believe it is a twisted cycle. Journalists use scores, people want scores as a nice summery so more journalists use scores more, and therefore publishers/developers use metacritic scores as a guide; as well as consumers who encourage its use further.

R – CoilWhine has tucked into the latest edition of Just Cause with some thoughts on the various shenanigans they've seen...Just 'cause!

R – Huh, unusual. So ChrisHannard is challenging themselves into writing reviews within 50 words, covering both The Deed and Undertale. Not a fan personally, but I'm a wordy sort of person.

R –  Often, Game of the Year lists are more a review of games the person liked rather than the tedious and frustrating task of picking what caught your eye. Nes Richmond reviews 9 of the games they've played in 2015, and plans to continue on the list later.

T – Oculin thinks about Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt and the awkward control scheme.

M – Need some new music to check out? Alphadeus has released some for your precious ears.

Best to watch it on Youtube, but is an example of the UK version of Life on Mars at its most silliness. 

- Riobux


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About CblogRecapsone of us since 11:27 PM on 07.02.2008

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