Here They Are Juggernauts

And while I don’t think production realities excuse a shitty game, they sure do explain it.

Christian Nutt provides one of the best-reading reviews of recent time from a damn LiveJournal account. The game in question is Final Fantasy XIII, but it could really be any AAA game that came out to middling reviews from lack of direction – either production-wise, creatively or both. You don’t have to be familiar with FFXIII‘s gameplay despite Nutt’s excruciating detail.

It sounds like the game removes “meaningful decisions” en masse (to use the Meier definition) and what is there is deceptively shallow:

There’s an ominous awareness of someone in control, just out of your field of view… And there is a severe and obvious flaw with this: gamers don’t all enjoy games the way the developers intend them to. Gamers don’t all enjoy games in the order developers intend them to. And gamers do not all enjoy games at the speed which developers intend them to. This is the first game in the series which does not allow for this, and that is a severe flaw. […] It’s about making sure everybody gets it. Really, really gets it.

This is a trend in games as we strive to be more “accessible”. We have to be there behind the curtain, pulling strings, being a puppetmaster, knowing that players need be level 5 HERE so that they have access to the golden boomerang that can kill the velociraptor. If a player isn’t level 5 THERE then they may wander around aimlessly and give up. If we are going to be more inclusive, we simply cannot have that.

So we are stuck in this gray area between choice with consequence and minimal negative consequence. It’s a tough chasm to span and I don’t think people understand the pressure coming from both sides.

But regardless, the dude gets it. Click the link.

6 thoughts on “Here They Are Juggernauts

  1. Somewhere in that drivel is, supposedly, a review of Final Fantasy XIII. I really have no idea where, because I got sick of being told all about the reviewing process (which almost could be boiling down to an apology for getting fired from legitimate review-writing for an actual magazine), about the gaming market in general, about game developers…

    Again, I’m sure somewhere in there is the review of a specific video game, as promised, but I sure as hell didn’t see it. Of course, I also gave up after around half of it, so maybe the actual review of the actual game was at the end.

  2. I found many things he was saying very interesting. It wasn’t so much a review as it was a journal of his experience with the game. A review is supposed to be helpful to people who haven’t played the game, so they know if they’d like it or not. This was directed toward guys like me who bought it with the highest of hopes, played it through, and still want to talk (or complain) about it. Masturbation, really.

    But, like masturbation, that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time.

    I heavily disagree with his negative statements about Final Fantasy 6 of course. But that’s my inner fanboy.

  3. I think the only consequence should be the lack of a reward. People shouldn’t be punished for playing a video game. Take for instance NBA 2K10. In the “My Player” mode you play as one character only and get graded on your performance, but instead of rewarding you for good performance and giving bigger rewards for excellent performance, it punishes you for poor performance which can sometimes cancel out anything good that you do. In the case of Final Fantasy, rewarding those who venture off the path to get a hard to find sword will get special ass whopping privileges, it shouldn’t be necessary though to complete the game. The best games all have excellent reward systems.

  4. What I find most interesting about FFXIII is simply how let down I am after the fact. The game I WANTED to be playing was so very different from the game that I WAS playing.

    I love the concept of the Paradigm Shift; but every time I swapped party members to adopt to a new tactic, I had to reprogram every single paradigm.

    I wanted to really PLAY the game; instead I pressed X 50,000 times while waiting for the story to get good.

    I wanted an involving story about a group of adventurers single-handedly saving the world; I got drivel that really only made sense 50+ hours later, and then only mostly.

    I wanted characters that could fight Omega Weapon at the end of the game; instead there was a gulf of days and days worth of worthless grinding ahead of me. For what? So I could afford 40,000 CP strength upgrades?

    It saddens me that this will be Final Fantasy’s swan song.

  5. It sold ninety hojillion copies. I doubt it will be the FF swan song. We are suckers for brands.

    The problem is that in the FF6 days and even into the PS1 era, Square was constrained technologically by what story they could tell, so it fell to tropes and left detail up to the user. Now that they have the budget both fiscally and technologically to impose details, that magic where the story makes sense because you are filling in the gaps is gone. It is the same for many other developers.

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