Earning Your Fun – Why Monster Hunter is a great teacher

Earning Your Fun – Why Monster Hunter is a great teacher

While memory may suggest its release was criticised more than reality allows, it is safe to say that the reception for 2009’s Final Fantasy XIII was not as warm as Square Enix would have liked. Despite earning more than its fair share of positive (if not exactly glowing) reviews, the critical response to the game’s release was more mixed than the norm for such a well-regarded series. One of the key complaints levelled at the game was one of pacing. As is typical for the JRPG genre, Final Fantasy XIII is a long game with the potential to chew up well over fifty hours before the story’s conclusion. Where the game really faltered, according to some, was that the game does not open up and become interesting until the 10 – 20 hour mark; the preceding content being frustratingly linear and unengaging. With the release of Assassin’s Creed 3, Mark Serrels (Kotaku Australia) bemoaned the lack of respect the game had for his time: “Yeah, the first five to seven hours are a bit slow,” says a friend. “But then it really kicks in.” At first I nod. ‘I’ll persevere,’ I say to myself. But then I stop. A realisation. Seven hours? Seven hours. I have to wait seven hours? Life is too short to wait seven hours for a game to become engaging. Like Final Fantasy XIII before it, many argued the third Assassin’s Creed title took far too long to become good. Too long before the fun could start. It’s easy to sympathise with the opinions around both games and my intent here is not to attack...
Size matters – digital distribution refocusing the industry

Size matters – digital distribution refocusing the industry

What we want from video games continues to change. The amount of game we get for our dollar remains important, although more gameplay doesn’t necessarily mean better value. More often than not, I’ve found games feeling increasingly bloated, padded with cut scenes, plot twists and pointless features. Even great games can overstay their welcome. Over time, the scale of games being made has gotten smaller and more focused, thanks in part to a changing economic climate. The digital distribution of games on consoles has opened the door for smaller developers making smaller games. Take for example Flower from thatgamecompany, an excellent example of how to explore big concepts using minutia as a theme and core mechanic.   Smaller scale games can be important too, though until now on consoles, have been unable to enjoy the financial success of large-scale game development backed by marketing campaigns.  But I get it. Games cost money. People want value for their dollar. Think back to a time bookended by a dying PlayStation 2 and a launching PlayStation 3. A game’s worth was judged by its length. Even a good game that took less than five hours to complete was considered a rental, at best. In 2014, a good video game clocking in at five hours is considered ‘good writing’. Bloated games aren’t necessarily the fault of game developers. They are simply meeting demands. Forums, critics and publishers want better value for their dollar. The result is a hodgepodge of gratuitous features included to tick a back-of-box checklist, often to the detriment of the game. If you lived through a generation of great 3rd...
Rest Moves: Why WWE Videogames Need to Stay Down for the Three Count

Rest Moves: Why WWE Videogames Need to Stay Down for the Three Count

  Few things in popular culture are as divisive as professional wrestling. Seen by the majority of people as ‘that silly, fake fighting’, wrestling pushes buttons, provoking a fight or flight response. Upon seeing it on their television, many instantly change the channel. Others vehemently defend their passion to unconvinced family and friends. Fans argue in defence of wrestling, explaining it to be a complex, intricate form of entertainment serving as a time capsule for popular culture and combative theatre. The mainstay of professional wrestling is the WWE, beginning in the mid 1950s and, overtime, redefining the wrestling business from carnival attraction to a global brand, combining sports with entertainment or as its simply known now: Sports Entertainment. To remain relevant, the WWE follows trends in popular culture, mimicking fashions to attract attention. Global conflict in the 80s between the West and Middle East was replicated in the wrestling ring with patriotic flag waving and infuriating flag burning. During the mid-90s, fans were treated to numerous broody, gothic-themed characters or rebellious anarchists. It could be argued the WWE is often a few steps behind trends, perhaps intentionally so, to ensure their in-ring mimicry of pop culture captures the widest possible audience. So goes the theory of wrestling writing; it doesn’t need to be clever, just understood. Following tremendous growth periods during the aforementioned 80s and 90s, broader interest in the WWE dwindled to leave a small, insatiable audience. The WWE resigned itself to targeting new fans outside of their core fan base at one key event each year; WrestleMania, where wrestling history was made. It was at WrestleMania that...