Telling Stories: The metaplot

Yes, I know, it's a horrible logo. I'm not always good at those.If you’re playing Final Fantasy XIV, your world got rocked pretty thoroughly a couple weeks back.  The conclusion to the game’s big storyline hit, and it has pretty staggering implications for the game as a whole and the setting that you’re roleplaying in.  It is, in short, a big deal.

But even though you have to go through all of the quests leading through these events with your character, it by all rights should not be a story that happens to your character.

I don’t mean that in the sense that the events don’t make sense for your character; it’s quite possible that they do.  But you cannot reasonably claim to be the most super-important person in all of Eorzea, and even if you do there’s the realize that what happened would make you persona non grata across much of the world.  So it’s undeniable that these big events happened, and you need to react to them, but you cannot have been at the heart of them.  So how do you react?

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Compression play

I'd love to see someone try, regardless.

It’s hard to stress how wonderful flying feels in the game, and it’s very hard to say whether having a longer game with more opportunities for flight would make it feel better or just tedious.

I’m almost finished with Saints Row: Gat out of Hell.  I bought it right away, of course, because it will be an odd day indeed when something is released within that franchise that I don’t want, but I saved it for a while with full knowledge that I would be able to blow through it in a very short amount of actual play.  True to form, here I am, with the game almost completely finished, even down to picking up the wobbly collectibles scattered throughout the game, a technique I generally eschew because it’s massively time-consuming in a larger city.

At the same time, I can appreciate the height of the end all the more because of where I started.

The start of the game, you see, drops you right back at the beginning of the usual Saints Row power curve, and leaves you at the end in roughly the same place as you were at the end of Saints Row 4 with an arsenal of slightly different superhuman powers and a flight system that’s both brilliant and fun.  The difference is that instead of sinking 40 hours into the game to be most of the way to completion, I’m almost there in five.  As there’s an extra layer of appreciation there.

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The Final Fantasy Project: Final Fantasy V, part 6

I don't expect it to last, but it'll be nice while it does.

Artwork from a sketch by Yoshitaka Amano

The party has a boat again, which is a good thing.  It’s impossible to imagine that the fate which befell the last boat will also befall this one, due in no small part to the fact that this boat is not being pulled along by a sea serpent.  With this boat, we can hopefully prevent the last crystal from shattering, which would both be the first successful effort that the group had made thus far and also be kind of a failure anyway.

I mean, we’re down to saving a quarter of the world-preserving crystals here, somehow I don’t think the one still working will make the other three better.

Still, no point in not trying, right?  Off we go, and to the great surprise of absolutely no one, there are only a handful of locations to go to that we haven’t already visited, thus making the process of locating the Earth Crystal chiefly a matter of finding which one has something relevant to do there.  At least it’s consistent?

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Hard Project: MOBAs

Great idea, but I can't stand the game it's attached to, in short.

Believe you me, I find it absolutely baffling that I live in a world where this can exist but it doesn’t make me fall to my knees in fascination.

I am not a fan of MOBAs.  There are a variety of reasons – the toxic and vile player communities they tend to attract, the symptom of meatheaded posturing previously associated with physical sports steadily seeping into gaming, the usual control schemes that they support.  But boy, if there was ever a genre that didn’t exist a decade ago that’s managed to explode in popularity since then, this would be the one, and I can certainly understand the heck out of people who do enjoy the games.

Of course, the downside to success is and always has been imitation.  MOBAs have been hit by this pretty hard, to the point where it seems that almost every game company in existence has brought out a new MOBA, like the online equivalent of Japanese game companies making pachinko machines.  Frankly, these games are a hard project even without all of the copycats, but the addition of those copies has only made the dynamic more difficult.

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Demo Driver 8: Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians

No, no, you're going to try and tell a story no one cares about.  Good job, guy.

Are you? Is there a reason I was supposed to care about this? Were you going to tell me why I should care about it?

I’m not generally a fan of Steam’s recommendation setup simply because, well, it doesn’t work too well.  It picks out things that it thinks I’ll like, but it bases those recommendations upon elements that aren’t necessarily delivered with any panache.  Case in point: Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians.

Regular readers know that I’m a big fan of pairing music with gameplay.  When done correctly, it really marries rhythm to action, something that creates a different gameplay flow than you normally find.  So the idea of Beatbuddy, of having an action-adventure game that flows along with the beat, is very appealing to me.

Unfortunately, the game fails to deliver on that promise.  Beatbuddy has great music, great visuals, and even largely solid gameplay mechanics with a few downsides.  But not only does the music fail to flow along with the gameplay, in many cases the marriage between the two makes the game less fun and playable, rather than more.  Which seems pretty notably backward, all right.

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