Getting burned by AAA games.

AAA games. Vast, multi million and in some cases billion dollar entertainment packages. These games take years to create, and are crafted by the finest minds and technology that the video games industry has ever seen, and yet these games release all too often in a broken, and generally unacceptable state. These games that glow potential, are often released from the nest into the wild in a totally dull state, that lack the proper nurturing that they require. Fans that have waited anxiously for a new I.P or perhaps a sequel are let down by atrocious frame rate issues, game braking bugs, and in some cases, missing features that were said to be a part of the game. Developers at times have straight up lied to their audience; making promises that can’t be kept and probably were never supposed to be kept, all so their audience laps up what they shoddily create. Now it’s imperative to note that not all AAA games release this way. In 2016 alone, we were graced with the likes of DOOM, Gears Of War 4, Uncharted 4 and Dark Souls 3, as well as many other incredible games. However it’s important to speak out about the products that release in an unacceptable state; after people have spent $60 or £50 of hard earned money, on a release.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the video game world is a huge market, particularly within the AAA space. It’s a business and a businesses ultimate goal is to make money. It is this reality that is the cause for brilliant mind’s ideas and visions, to be cut short and it is the reason for these games releasing prematurely. What I am talking about of course, is publishers pressurizing developers to have a game ready for release on time for a certain schedule. For example the holiday period. Every year the majority of big AAA games are released around the holiday/ Christmas period, due to the fact that this is when people are buying the most. Parents buying gifts for Christmas etc. Publishers will often tag their games for release around this time, and if they don’t release at the holiday period as has been advertised for whatever reason,then they will be losing out on a lot of money and its as simple as that. The main goal of the publisher, making money, is not met and to a lot of publishers this is not acceptable. Even if a game is in need of more time in development, it needs more polishing, the frame rate needs stabilizing or whatever else, it’s a sad reality that many publishers out there will release their developers game regardless, thus burning and disappointing customers, and making many people lose faith in the market.

 

While accepting half-baked games is an option, turning a blind eye to obvious issues within the gaming world is an option, and continuing to give your hard earned money to companies who care little for their fans is an option, there are other ways of approaching this issue. None of these ideas are my own, I am merely echoing the words of thousands of other fed up consumers accross the globe, as I truly believe that something needs to be done about the wounded AAA games market. First of all, don’t pre-order games. It’s simple really, if you pre-order a game, then the publisher that is releasing your chosen product has received your money, and your sale before the game has even been released. Greed orientated business modules have resulted in publishers tacking on pre-order bonuses within games over the years. These bonuses often consist of cosmetic items only, however sometimes unique weapons, armor, cars and whatever else you can think of that will try to persuade you into purchasing the game before anyone has had chance to play or review the game properly. While you may have seen footage of the game that you pre-ordered at E3, Gamescom, or on your favorite YouTuber’s channel, you yourself have not played the final release version of your purchased product. You to some extent do not know what you are buying.

 

Continuing onward with another good idea on what you can do to combat being burned by AAA games… Support indie developers. Some of the most brilliant video games that released in 2016 were created by a handful of indie developers. Examples include Hyper Light Drifter, Inside, The Witness, Firewatch and many more. These games are often created aswell as published by the same company and group of people, and this comes at an advantage because it results in these developers often not having a larger company making decisions such as whether a game should be delayed for further polishing, or released in its current state. It gives the developers a chance to breathe, and a chance to ultimately decide what happens to their own work of art. This often results in higher quality games being released, at the appropriate time for the game. In addition to this, another reason to support indie developers is because of the creative freedom that is acquired by these developers, in comparison to many studios in which are dictated by their father figure publisher. Research is always being taken out to try to understand what exactly consumers of the video game world actually want. What genres of game are hot at the moment? What aesthetical setting do people want more of? Questions like this are always being researched and the apparent results will directly affect the game that a certain AAA studio will create. While looking at this, a great example to use is the Call Of Duty series. Over the last four or so years, Call Of Duty has propelled itself into the future in terms of its setting. Around six or so years ago, the market was absolutely flooded with modern military shooters, and so market research of course would have led to developers and publishers at Call Of Duty realizing that people wanted something new and innovative for the series. A step away from the modern military setting, and this is why we are now seeing Call Of Duty games take place far into the future. While market research can have its advantages and can simply allow for a company to release games that take on properties that people enjoy, it stifles the ability for pure creative flow. Indie developers are not pressured into creating games that will just sell because of their setting. Indie games are the games where the imagination can be truly unleashed upon the market.

 

Something that I have stopped doing over the recent months… Buying games because of their name. Essentially, brand loyalty. We’ve all been let down by a bad sequel, or a bad prequel. Perhaps the game didn’t run properly, perhaps it simply wasn’t what you were expecting or perhaps it was riddled with bugs? The tipping point for me when it comes to brand loyalty was with the Mafia series in October of 2016. I purchased Mafia III based on the fact that Mafia II was such a fantastic game, with a cliff-hanger ending. I was met with shoddy AI, bizarre cloud shadowing, repetitive gameplay as well as many other irritating bugs. As somebody who doesn’t earn a whole lot of money due to being in education, I simply said no more. I decided to actually take care when purchasing a AAA game, and I think you should too.

 

If we the consumers say no to a lazy and half-baked game, thus refusing to purchase it, then publishers will feel these declines in sales. In 2016, games sold in smaller numbers when it came to AAA games, and this no doubt has something to do with people being fed up with being burnt by the AAA game industry. Hopefully we’re on the right track to bringing back fleshed out, high quality games in the AAA market, because It’s about time that certain publishers stopped treating their consumers like idiots.

The reaction to Suicide Silence’s new track ‘Doris’

Approximately three weeks ago, Deathcore pioneers Suicide Silence released the first single from their up and coming self-titled album in which is titled Doris. After letting the world take a while to soak up the new sound that the band has produced, I wanted to discuss my thoughts and feelings on the track, Suicide Silence’s new planned sound, aswell as people’s reaction to the new song.

 

It’s not uncommon to see bands from the metal scene try to take a new direction in terms of their sound. In 2014 we saw Metal core behemoths Bring Me The Horizon make the huge switch to radio friendly pop music, and more recently we have seen Carnifex undertake a more black metal tone, aswell as Whitechapel utilizing clean vocals within their latest material. Bands like to evolve all the time. And most bands don’t just like to evolve, they need to evolve to keep things fresh for the band members, seeing as they are playing these songs day in day out. If every album was the complete same then things would get pretty boring for the band, and probably for a lot of fans. When Suicide Silence unveiled their first track which showcased their new sound, there was an immediate and lasting negative receiving to the song from the majority of listeners (in terms of YouTube viewership). At the very minute that I am writing this, Doris the new track has 11,333 likes and 18,840 dislikes on YouTube, with a total of 625,056 views. That’s a significant like to dislike ratio. Even in the comments aswell as on social media I am seeing the band get crucified for a number of reasons. Many fans are unhappy that the band even tried to get a breath of fresh air from the world of deathcore, many fans are disappointed with the production and of course there are still some fans who are disappointed that Suicide Silence continued after Mitch died (get a grip), and I just seriously don’t understand the overwhelming negative response to the song. I can completely understand a fair few fans being disappointed with the new sound, as well as being disappointed with the clean vocals as it isn’t for everyone, however such an overwhelming negative response has seriously bewildered me. I really do feel that a lot of people have exaggerated how bad this song is, purely for the reason that it isn’t The Cleansing 2.0.

 

First and foremost, I love the track. In terms of Doris’ musical properties we are once again graced with the usual thunderous Drop A tuning of Alex and Marks 7 string setup. The song itself takes a lot of nu-metal influence, instrumentally as well as vocally. Eddie Hermida’s cleans as well as screams are all over the place in terms of range which certainly reminded me of Korn’s style. The song gave off a very primal, and even tribal like feel to me because of those reasons. A lot of the vocals sound very unplanned and raw, and this ties in with the production. I personally thought that the production was perfectly fine in terms of quality, however it does sound a little more as if the production was intended to sound like a live performance which of course concocts nicely with the raw feel of the vocal performance. The whole package seems as if the band just wanted to get in the studio and produce a song that just came naturally without having to force a certain sound. Suicide Silence even said in an interview with Rock Cafe Prague in 2016 that they wanted to produce this kind of atmosphere with the new album, and I can safely say that I’m very happy aswell as excited to hear this evolved sound in the coming months.

 

Overall this was a bit of a short post, however I just wanted to express how much I love Doris and if this is the sound that we’ll be hearing throughout the whole new album in February of this year, then I’m very excited to hear the new material both on the record as well as in a live environment this march during their U.K tour.

 

Atmospheres And Aesthetics (AAA Games) #3 – Hyper Light Drifter

The third entry into the Atmospheres And Aesthetics series will see us discuss the action RPG released in 2016, Hyper Light Drifter. This game was developed and published by Heart Machine and was very well received by critics and fans alike.

I wanted to begin talking about this game with a quote taken directly from developers Heart Machine’s website. “Explore a beautiful, vast and ruined world riddled with unknown dangers and lost technologies. Inspired by nightmares and dreams alike.” I used this quote as it sums up the game very well. You truly do explore the world that you are traversing. Most games have an element of exploration to them, however Hyper Light Drifter really sticks out to me as a game that does exploration to a very high standard. This is due to the fact that the locations of the keys and treasures required to progress through certain areas of the game aren’t shown to you. You aren’t even told that you actually need certain items to progress, and so the exploration element of the game begins. In some games searching for what can seem like hours for one certain item can become extremely irritable, however with Hyper Light Drifter, the more you search a certain area, the more the game opens up to you. New enemies, contrasting areas and secrets become visible to the player and this keeps the game refreshing, even when trying to search for one particular item.

Something that I absolutely love about Hyper Light Drifter is the fact that the world initially is split into four parts. North, east, south and west. Each of these four areas of the world contain very contrasting and vibrant terrains in which the player must explore. In the north we are greeted with a blizzard battered zone. In the east we are mesmerized by a zone filled with water falls and canal like structures which must be crossed by jumping over stepping stones or accross bridges. The west is home to a cosy, autumn mood which is filled with thick, lush pink trees. The sound of the wind whisks around you so elegantly that it creates a feeling of home (when you’re not being attacked by bandits). And finally in the south… Well I haven’t explored or unlocked the south zone as of yet.

All of this 2D beauty, charisma and charm is sewn together by a soundtrack crafted by the artist Disasterpeace. The electronic based OST brings a mixed bag of emotions to the player. For me I felt that the soundtrack opened up a creative void for me, as there is a mysterious and secretive element to the tracks that play within this game that creates a fruitful concoction with the fact that the game itself is very secretive and mysterious. While there are times where the soundtrack to Hyper Light Drifter can get a little frantic, the OST generally holds a very mellow and relaxed tone, and this contrasts brilliantly with the fact that Hyper Light Drifter is a very difficult game. You will die a few times during your play through of this game and the unexplained exploration within the game can get a little frustrating when it feels like you’re making no progress. However the OST will always be there. Keeping you calm through its mesmerizing and mellow beauty.

The things that I wanted to say about the ambient sounds within this game, are very similar to what I said about the OST itself. The ambient tracks within this game are some of the most tranquil that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing in a video game. The flowing waters of the east, the howling winds of the north that make you wish your character was in the warm indoors, the autumn whispers of the west. The ambiance is of such a high level that I feel like i’m in a different world when I hear those tracks. They’re so elegant that they make you feel bad for exiting the game.

Hyper Light Drifter is a very special game to me. I was recommended it by a friend and I took his word and purchased the game. After going into the game blind and discovering such a beautiful 2D world that had one of my favourite soundtracks of all time tagged with it, I was instantly hooked and I knew that Hyper Light Drifter was special. The game is so powerful that at times I will just find myself staring at the screen, taking all all of the games creative wonders until my character decides to meditate on the ground. I would recommend this game for even one of the elements of the game that I spoke about here today.