Tag Archives: Peter Cooke

The gaming mandate

We all seem to know what is best for all, we talk about policies, protocols and even mandates. Yet are they valid? I looked at a game based in the Walking dead on iOS, I looked at it for 5 minutes, saw how it played and deleted it. In my view it was not a game. It looked awesome, the graphics were amazing, but the game play is set to short term events that will get increasingly harder, not challenging, merely harder, and soon there after too hard. The game draws you in and after that it will be about pay to play through microtransactions. Their actions are not invalid, they are not illegal. I merely see it as this being no longer a game, but a mere cash cow. The problem is that these games also attract people who do not really know what gaming is, or sometimes even what games are. That is a shame.

You see, I am not trying to set out some mandate, but there is the joy of gaming and that needs to be protected. As I saw this game of short term bursts of gaming, the idea of gaming tends to be larger, should be larger and often on non-micro-transaction foundations will be more joy. So I started to think, what if the premise of that game is altered?

A different stage of play, a much larger map, even at the same foundation, consider what you know of the Walking dead and now have a Dungeon keeper approach. A map that is set, but in that map we can create a small protected place, we can place a garden (hatchery) that offers sustenance and calls a type of player, we sleeping quarters (lair) that does the same, but lets people rest. And we can see how we can add a workshop, a gym, a guard post and so on. As the game goes from level to level the players gets attacked, walker after walker with a wave or two and  the player can figure out hat to build where, how to get resources and so on, a stage NOT build on micro transactions, but a game build for joy and the consoles are doing their jobs, but soon it will be to the streamers, if they cannot break the cycle of pay-to-play, a whole generation will optionally lose the joy to play at all. Consider that Activision Blizzard generated 5.74 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. That is ONE company. Now we get it, Blizzard is big, and we cannot compete with that size, but there are dozens of smaller ones competing for revenue. Candy Crush generated revenue exceeding a billion dollars in 2019. Now consider that they did nothing wrong, but their game is set on algorithms that are set on you almost making it, and yes for $1 in special candy you could make it, it is ego versus mathematics and the ego will ALWAYS lose. Yet what happens when we invest into that $5 a month Amazon Luna solution? What if we enjoy long term gaming? You see, Amazon Luna (Google Stadia too) have a much lower threshold than consoles do and that is the barrier that is easily broken, to set players into a field where they can explore, enjoy and have fun. You see when we crush short term achievement drives and we get people on the bandwagon of fun we can change a lot and hopefully create a few people to take over the sceptre from people like Peter Molyneux, Richard Garriott, and Sid Meier. We have some really good game makers, but t present there is ALWAYS room for more, especially when their dreams, ideas and perseverance brings us new and original gaming IP. That is what we need on pretty much all systems. When the wish becomes the mandate it can be a force for good, but it is not a given, I merely hope it will turn out that way.

Yet in all earnest, and even as I am ripping old IP apart to use what is good, we need the stage of what is good to hopefully create something new and better. Even now I still think of a game released 24 years ago. It was GoldenEye 007. It changed things and even now it still holds a candle up to what is created today. Some of it is found in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, almost 17 years ago. Games that enticed whole scores of gamers. So what happens when we look back and consider the IP we cast aside? We ignore Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods, a game 30 years old, but even now it still has appeal. Even as graphics need improvement, the makers then had really nice ideas and we forgot just how much fun we had for weeks. Even now, a 23 year old game like Sentinel Returns could still generate a whole score of fans and they are not alone. There have been makers like Peter Cooke who created Tower of Babel well over 30 years ago. Even as it requires an upgrade (graphics), the foundation of these games was good and engaging and we need them, we need to break the cycle of micro transactions. This sounds a little wrong, because there is nothing with microtransactions, yet I see everyone hammering against loot boxes and EA, all whilst the problem of microtransactions is well over 1000% worse. And the issue is not that they exist, or that they are not illegal, because they are not, but the foundation of the kind of gamers we create is. And I am not including the stupid people who go crying to some lame journo on how they wasted $12,000 on loot boxes, all whilst that journo is ignoring the stupidity of the person, but the draw of gaming is partially to blame. By setting the stage to ego (like a puzzle with a diminishing IQ counter), instead of a joy that has no time pressure, we change the foundation of our playing habit, and it needs to change. The old systems were harbouring dozens of games that could be added to any gaming arsenal and bring joy to the gamer Not all of them are RPG, some are shooters, some are platforms and some are a combination. We all have different needs, but we all have an overwhelming need to have fun, and too many games in todays android and iOS environment are driven to make it an ego driven event. If I were wrong there would never be a lego game, but I am not. There are well over 80 games based on the lego concept and they are (for the most) all fun. They are not alone but they are out there and their presence sticks out, they are not alone.

To call for a gaming mandate is wrong, because gaming is different for us all, I get that and some like the match three games, but they are hidden traps and that has never been made clear, The Conversation linked to this in 2014, There we get “During a recent radio talkback discussion, on which I was a guest, parents rang in with extraordinary tales of their children’s accidental and expensive online spending. One parent divulged that his six-year-old had spent A$700 in 15 minutes upgrading to new levels using in-app purchases.”, we still see news on loot boxes and the need to tax it all, yet none of them are looking into micro-transactions and match 3 games, are they? And they are not alone, a source gives us “The mobile games industry shows no signs of slowing down with consumer spending reaching $44.7 billion for the first half of 2021, an 18 per cent increase year-over-year.” And how does that add up compared to loot boxes? I think certain political players are unwilling to look into the directions that they have no hold over, and micro-transactions are not illegal, neither are loot boxes, but their legal status is wrongfully being changed. The stakeholders have a little too much power, so I need to make sure that we can change the premise of gaming before it is too late and in this the streaming solutions are the easiest to tackle, they are the station where the independent programmers could make the larger impact and with disregarded IP on a dozen systems there are additional options. I believe we need to press for this change before people forget that gaming has always been about fun, not ego.

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The Yesterday approach

I was looking at the Google Stadia setting for games, and naturally I got a list of the games that is on all the other systems. The problem is that Google is just starting, and even as it has good games, it also has a few titles where we can wonder how many disappointments the gamers will be introduced to, this is not about bashing Ubisoft, but they do not have the best track record at present, giving the Stadia almost half a dozen games less. One option would be to renew the old games, and I am not merely pointing towards games from the PS3/Xbox360, which is not the worst idea, but another level of gaming. I mentioned Murder on the Zinderneuf in a previous blog, but today I was re-confronted with an old classic, Tower of Babel, it was a Rainbird production in 1989 and made by Peter Cooke. We might think that the game is simple and that is only partially true, what is important the this is a game that the younger players can play, it can be upgraded to 4K if need be, but the moment the Internet congests, I wonder how much playtime people will get. The game fitted originally on a 1MB disc, as such the game could be upgraded to some degree, but it was already a good game, and as I see it, the amount of puzzle games is a little on the low side on nearly all platforms. And it is not the only game that could make it there, I mentioned Millennium 2.2 in an earlier blog and as such there is a rather large game pool that can be connected too, and that shows the larger flaw in the Google Stadia arsenal. We see what some call ‘the cool games’ and plenty of others too, but for any console to copy the other ones, is merely an exercise in catching up at best and yes, the Google Stadia has the potential to make it to third position, but if they want to differentiate themselves they need and a larger arsenal and a different level of additions. Puzzle, strategy, RPG, but not merely the ones already advertised, they need more and the old games were really good, as such a streaming game that is an upgraded version is still a lot smaller than some of the 30GB games and in streaming that counts as well. And that is not all, NBA 2K21 is supposed to be coming, yet the games has all kinds of issues on the other platforms. Park not working, players are prevented from joining games, we see mentions of ‘hailstorm of issues’, which let’s be honest, was always going to happen, but on a new console, the more games with issues, the less appealing it is. Yes the Microsoft and Sony solutions had the same thing, but they had a pol of titles to rely on and Google does not have that. Nintendo has had this a lot less and they have the advantage there, but for Google being on par with Sony and Nintendo was never going to be realistic, as such Google needs its own pol of games, games that have been properly tested and they will need close to a dozen games added, a dozen Google games and the old games are a good option. So how many Chess games are there on non-PC systems? What is the range of games per category? I am actually a little surprised that Google lacked in that regard, at least according to their own pages. So I wonder who were the deciding voices at Google, especially as the Stadia list has Breakpoint, a game regarded as the worst game in 2019, and that is before we consider some of the other titles (without judgement), titles that have been ‘heralded’ as ‘more of the same’, is that really how Google wants to start a new console? There are a few other titles, but that would be kicking certain makers whilst they might be really wanted by other players, my view is merely my view for the games that I like, others like other games, yet no one will like a lack of games and in this Google has its work cut out for them. 

 

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