Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Poor Dead Island

So Dead Island is a great game.  I love it, and if you head to any forum for the game to talk about it, you'll find that most people there also enjoy the game immensely.  So why does it seem to do so poorly?  Why do so many people dismiss it so easily, despite many not even having played it?  Well, I'll try and explain what I feel are some of the bigger problems that acted as a barrier between gamers who might have enjoyed the game, and the game.

Dead Island could be best described with the title of a 2004 Jim Carrey movie.  It was basically doomed to failure for a few main reasons.  The first issue was the trailer.  While very well made, and wonderfully dramatic, it didn't show any gameplay during a time when gamers were starting to revolt against trailers that used heavy cinematic footage with little to no gameplay; a common tactic with a lot of games that are trying to hide that the game itself isn't much to look at.  So after finally hearing about a trailer from this hyped "melee-focused" zombie game, a lot of people weren't okay with a trailer that didn't focus any of the melee-focused gameplay.  Later trailers did include gameplay, but by then a lot of people had lost their interest.

The second issue is simply deciding to release a zombie title during a glut of zombie games.  With the popularity of games like Left 4 Dead 2 and Resident Evil 5, nearly every developer decided to jump on the zombie bandwagon; be it through full-on zombie games, or several games that included the apparently-obligatory zombie-focused DLC; so gamers were starting to feel stuffed and bloated on their feast of zombie-killing madness.  Doesn't matter if the trailers looked good or not.  Doesn't matter that this game was trying something different (EVERY game "tries something different").  Just... enough zombies.  Plenty of people just didn't wanna care anymore.

The third big issue, and this at least can be blamed more directly on the developers of the game, was when they accidentally released the developer's build instead of the final build when the game came out.  For those who don't know, the quick explanation is that the developer's build of a game still has all the bugs and glitches that get ironed-out during the beta phase of the game.  They were quick to fix the issue, but the damage had already been done.  Once word got out that the wrong build of the game was released, a lot of people decided they didn't want to risk their money on the game.  In fact, many people specifically wait until after a game is released to see if the game has any major issues, a buying strategy that is often justified.

And granted, even with the final build of the game, it was still fairly glitchy.  It suffered from what can only be described as PC Illness.  With so many possible ways for a PC to be put together, not to mention different drivers and other non-related programs on the PC that can cause issues, it can be tricky to create a game for the PC without SOMEONE having some issue or another despite both his PC being just fine, and your game being just fine; something just won't get along between them.  Unfortunately, Dead Island was worse than most games with this problem.  When the game ran fine, it was great, but if you were one of the many unfortunate people who's PC just didn't agree with the game you just fed it, it could be a nightmare.  Game freezes, random quests not completing properly, items disappearing from your inventory, and many other possible glitches that could be tricky to figure out how to fix.

In the end, Dead Island became a game that you had to WANT to enjoy.  You had to be patient enough to be willing to deal with any glitches that might come your way; you had to enjoy zombie games enough that, even in the middle of a flood of zombie titles, you still wanted more; and you had to be tolerant of a trailer that doesn't show-off much gameplay.  With those three factors all added together, it's easy to see how Dead Island, despite being a great game, had a fairly narrow target demographic with which to work.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

And After Nearly 4 Years, I Exist Again.

I guess writing a blog is one of those things that once you fall out of the habit, it's hard to get back into it.  Lately though, the urge the start writing has been itching at me again, so here we are, and here I am.  I want to get back into updating this blog fairly regularly; I doubt I'll get to it on a daily basis, but a few times a week would be optimal.  As for my mission goal, it'll be more-or-less the same as before.  I wanna post about what I'm up to; including gaming, movie watching, and otherwise; post reviews of the games I play, and make blogs talking about my thoughts on game design theory.

Looking at my older posts, I noticed I got started on some rules for good game design, and I'd like to keep on that list; expanding it with more habits to be avoided to engaged; things I notice that tend to consistently make a game better or worse; as well as maybe clarifying on any rules that I find people consistently misunderstand.  Heck, maybe I'll even find, with feedback, that a rule or two should be scratched.

As for what I've been up to lately, mostly Dead Island Riptide and Fire Emblem: Awakening.  In fact, with May being Zombie Awareness Month, I was thinking I'd probably start-out the reboot of Idle Thinking by talking about the under-appreciated gem that is the Dead Island series.  I wanna get a couple reviews up for each game, as well as a post or two talking about what I do and don't like about both games.  Maybe next month I'll talk a bit about Fire Emblem and my history with the Strategy/RPG genre.

As for what I've been up to the past 4 years, mostly just life.  Working, sleeping, gaming, forgetting that I had a blog on which I wanted to post, that kinda thing.  I've somehow shaken-off my addiction to World of Warcraft in that time.  Not to say that I was specifically trying to quit, just that it ran its course and now... I dunno, just not as much drive to play it anymore.  I guess that the guild stopped raiding would be part of the reason, and getting a new job that made it so I couldn't make the raid hours anyway is another factor.

So here goes, hopefully this time I actually keep-up with something of a schedule on here.  Until then, game happy.