Bahs and Humbugs

Ghost of Christmas Past (Tis The Season!)

I haven’t really been a holiday season type for much of my formative time here on earth.  It was a life made up of phases. Kid phase, awesome of course. The presents, the mystery, the joy. Young adult phase, awesome too. Parties with friends, travel, excitement. In my second year of University, disaster struck. I had three friends die over a 10 day period, and I spent my Christmas holidays going from funeral to funeral. One suicide, one accidental, one by sickness. The third was somewhat expected at some point but that didn’t make the pain any less – remember, at that time in our lives (low 20s) we felt absolutely invincible. This made the holidays not a fun time of year. Not based on cheer, but loss. Looking back of course it was silly to allow that to ruin the holiday season for my but youth, and lack of wisdom, and all of that.

It was hard.

Of course, when I had my own son  I got to relive the joy of the holiday season through his eyes and actions. Looking forward to seeing him party it up and travel with friends as he turns into a teen (few years left!) and then hopefully he skips the sad phase and goes straight into his own adult phase. It has made the holiday season much better.  I had a good holiday, but I have some gaming humbugs out there that I am in the mood to get off my chest. Call me Scrooge.

Ghost of Christmas Present (Destiny)

My son We got Destiny: Rise of Iron for Christmas. I had a great run with Destiny but held off on this expansion. My serial nature of gaming, and being waist deep in WoW leaves little extra gaming room. I was excited to play it, spent about 3 hours doing the main quest line only to realize this is probably the worst expansion I have played for any game – ever. While that is scathing (it is meant to be) the expansion didn’t improve on anything about the game. In fact, it just feels like a re-skin of old areas and a new mob type and exactly the same otherwise.  I know they are working on Destiny 2 but they should have put some resources into this. It’s terrible. Maybe it gets better (?) but not sure if I will be playing this long enough to find out. The Taken King felt like a whole new game in many ways. This feels like a new side mission. They didn’t even expand the classes.

The story, sucks as ever. It’s so frustrating. This could be a fantastic, amazing universe to be a part of. Instead it makes no sense, it’s confusing, and it is largely incoherent.  I know there are great writers out there that given the time and investment could fix all of that even in its current state.

The shooter elements are slick. The classes are unique and fun. The PVE nature of it is incredible. The game fails for the sole purpose that it doesn’t come close to realizing it’s potential and this expansion was a gross cash grab. I believe Titan was cancelled because it would have beat out Destiny because the shooting elements were there, but story as well. Activision was worried to lose / split such a huge pile of cash so turned it into the lobby competitive shooter it is. If another PVE shooter comes along I will ditch this game in a heartbeat. Oh, there isn’t anything? Oh, sure, I am still playing it. There is nothing on the market better than it in what it does. Yes, irony or some-such. I can hate it and play it at the same time, given the alternative. Plus three hours is not a ton to judge a whole expansion on. Those are just my first impressions.

Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Game Designers of My Generation)

With Smedley’s closure of Pixel Mage is there any doubt that game design is as much luck and timing as personal ingenuity? I grew up in awe of Lord British (UO: Revolutionary. Tabula Rasa: “fail”, Shroud of the Avatar: too early to tell), Mark Jacobs (DAOC: Amazing. Warhammer Online:”fail”. Camelot Unchained:behind schedule), Brad McQuaid (EQ:Best ever, Vanguard:”fail”, Pantheon:too early to tell). “Fail” is in quotes because some of those games were important to some gamers and had some success, but they did not have the same commercial and critical acclaim that their initial offerings and what was expected. Version three of all of their work may be the triumphant return as they have “learned their lessons”, or it may be final proof that lightning doesn’t strike twice. My generation (40’s) that grew up on those titles have held expectations.  It’s frustrating to see them fail, and I hope the best for them in their new titles. I just have little optimism. That may be unfair, but in my current mood I am not overly optimistic.

There, the lumps of coals are out. I will now return to my cheery, regularly scheduled programming. I hope you had an awesome holiday seasons sans Bahs and Humbugs!

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. The one thing I have regrets on is not being able to have kids, to like you say, experience Christmas through their eyes, to be able to say, hey, grab that controller, let the old mN show you how it’s done. I’m a decade ahead of you, I was the first generation, Atari 2600 and Pong. I’ve seen so much over 40 years. Something is coming. I don’t know what, or when, but someone is working on some game that everyone is going to be in awe about. I think the only thing holding anyone back is a major breakthrough in computers and affordability. The VR thing? I don’t think that is it. To much immersion makes it too real. No. Something will be along in the next few years. Keep gaming. Be there to show your kid(s) the old guy still has some skills.

    1. I’m not going anywhere in gaming, and as a gamer, it is a joy to play with your kid, for sure =) I think we need some non-mainstream commercial success to really branch out into something new and exciting – there isn’t a lot of risk appetite in the big-gaming world.

      Cautiously optimistic there. I also don’t think it will come from one of our old star game designers though =)

  2. After almost fifty years of listening to and searching out the new, exciting, original or just plain committed in music I have come to the definite and certain conclusion that almost everything worth paying attention to is made by people aged somewhere between mid-teens to mid-20s. It’s pretty much a ten year window of opportunity. After that lots of very good work still gets done and excellent art made but that fundamental drive is never there again.

    Whether that also applies to video games I’m not sure but I suspect it may. There’s a huge amount to be said for not knowing what you can’t do. It’s more important in some ways than knowing what you can. Whether EQ or DAOC could have been made at the time it was made by people in their 40s I very, very much doubt. Whether the people who did make those games can make anything even close to as exciting or influential in their 40s I doubt even more.

    New ideas come from new minds.

    1. Great observation Bhag. I agree – and will be interesting to see if those old vets hired enough of the smart, young visionaries to make their games a success – or if their old way of looking at thing stifles that opportunity.

  3. Hi Isey! I think I’m happy during the holidays at all is really because of my own son who is going to be 12 this year and watching everyone else getting into the season also helps. But I still feel like a bit of a holiday bah hambug if I’m completely honest. lol But I like that everyone else is happy even if I’m not…if that makes sense.

    I hope you enjoy playing Destiny. Best wishes for 2017.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.