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All for me, myself, and I! The killer of co-op games
Posted on Monday, August 2 2010 @ 08:56:48 Eastern

Co-op. It’s an abbreviation of cooperate or cooperation. Video games use co-op as a selling point because who wouldn’t enjoy slaying hordes of monsters with several friends watching your backs? Games like Left 4 Dead, Alien Swarm, World of Warcraft, and many others are co-op games and players are naturally expected to support each other or fail. However, many people do not grasp the concept of co-op and would rather play lone wolf and go do their own thing while the rest of the team gets mauled and pissed off at the defector. Why does it happen so often? Why do people want to go and do things their own way while ignoring the needs of the rest of the team? It highly varies from game to game, but there are a few key points that can be applied to all co-op games when this problem rises up:
 
They want to finish a level as quickly as possible  
In games like Left 4 Dead and Alien Swarm, enemies respawn if you are progressing slowly. Because of this, many people adapted to the belief that the faster you go, the less time enemies have to react or respawn. This is true in some cases but the problem that lies here is other teammates may not want to speed run through a level. Co-op games require everyone to be on the same page. If someone is not on the same page, the team will crumble and many swears will be said. Speed running can be good, but only if everyone agrees to it. You try to blaze through a level and not tell everyone else about it, then don’t be surprised if your teammates get pissed off at you as they get swarmed while you leave them behind. Have them agree to it first or find another game.
 
They think their method is the only one that works.  
You know these types of guys. These are the ones who try to play leader and boss everyone around because they think every strategy they come up with is the one that is foolproof and will always succeed. They will also never admit that they are wrong. Because of their stubborn nature, they will not listen to the rest of the team when they need help or have a better idea. If the “leader” had enough of the group, he can turn into the speed runner as mentioned above and ditch the rest of his team as punishment. It is not a team if someone only thinks about themselves.
 
They believe nothing will happen to them.  
Like Francis from Left 4 Dead, you have players who think they are indestructible and will pretty much turn into a Leeroy Jenkins and will gladly try to take on every single enemy they run into and/or waste limited supplies. This is most likely due to many FPS games (although others can apply) where players can run around and be “brave,” coming out as a winner, even in a team battle. In games that heavily rely on teamwork, trying to do your own thing and acting like nothing can happen can be a one way trip to disaster plus many people hating you for making it happen.
 
They are going for an achievement.  
Almost everyone wants to get a shiny new achievement these days. Some are easy and others are hard beyond words. Like the speed runner problem, a good chunk of people try to earn an achievement without telling the other people first. This causes a mess of problems as a tightly formed team falls apart because one guy runs off trying to kill a monster and steal its loot so he can get the achievement for it. Again, not telling people what you want to do is the ultimate team killer.

They refuse to help the new guy(s)
This is also quite the common problem of co-op games. You will have players who will have tons of experience in a game and know all the tricks and secrets. However, the expert player jumps in a game expecting everyone else on the team to be as good as he is and when the said new person doesn't live up to the expectations that has been set, the veteran player will swear and rage as he decides to "punish" the newbies by either team killing them, leaving them behind when they need help, etc. Not only it makes experienced players look like total jerks, but it also kills the mood for the new guy as they get pissed off at the team not helping out and may never want to play the game again. This behavior kills teams since no one wants to show the new guy the ropes when he screws up.

 
These are the general points on why people do what they do that ruins co-op games. Selfish motives and lack of communication as described above is what will make a co-op game feel more like a job than an actual break from life. Of course no one is perfect and some of us probably have been guilty of doing one the above at least once, even me. It is up to people to stop and think about what they are doing and think for the team as a whole. By working closely with your team, you may get another friend request to play again later.


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"It's free and I'd like to see you do better!" The common cry against critique with game mods/reviews
Posted on Monday, May 24 2010 @ 16:35:50 Eastern

Criticism is a fickle thing. Sometimes it is something we need and other times we just don’t want to deal with it. In any form of media, criticism will always be there, but there are some who believe it’s an evil thing or have huge misconceptions of the word. There are two kinds of criticism. Constructive criticism is where you give someone a critique on something by showing where they went wrong and ways they can try to fix the problems. Deconstructive criticism is when you bash the person’s work like a jerk and offer no advice on how to improve. Thanks to the rise of popular critics like Simon Cowell and Yahztee, now many people believe being absolute mean is the only way to grade someone’s work. These types of criticisms apply to video games as well.

 

There are tons of game mods out for PC games, ranging from new game modes, skins, sounds, and other things. The majority of them are free and we expect the content to be functional, have minimal bugs, and be fun to use at least. However, with the concept that game mods are free has been used as a shield against people who criticize custom content made by their fellow peers. The most common rebuttal the defenders use against people who critique custom mods are “Well, it’s free, so you shouldn’t be complaining about it! Let’s see you try to do better!”

 

The minute anyone says either of those two phrase or both, they instantly lose the argument. They are basically just covering their ears and singing loudly to block out any form of criticism. Let’s start with the concept of “you can’t complain because it is free.” Just because a game mod you downloaded didn’t cost you a cent does not excuse the maker of any major mistakes they made while creating the content. If there are tons of glitches or the level design is very poor, people will critique it and will not be happy with what they played with. To say that no one can complain about free content would allow makers to make shoddy work and hide behind the concept that it was free. Not to mention some companies like Valve release new content that is free AND they are well made and have few bugs. No one is expecting a common Joe to make free content of the same quality as the big game companies, but people should at least put effort in their work and test it (or have their friends test it) before rushing it out the door for everyone to see.

 

The other part of the argument, “LET’S SEE YOU DO BETTER,” also holds no water. The majority of people who make criticisms have little to no experience in the field they are criticizing, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t offer advice on how to improve a work. For someone who plays custom maps often, such as myself, we never made a single map in our entire lives, but we’ve played enough of them to know what works and what does not work. Even professional video game reviewers are constantly blasted for giving bad scores to a video game and that they never made a game in their life, but reviewers are the ones that show what makes a game work and not work. This applies to any medium besides video games. You have movie critics who review films and probably never produced a single film and are respected by many people. They watched a lot of films to know things like character development, good acting, good story, etc. and how they can make a movie good or bad. To have actual experience in the field is just a bonus. To say that people cannot critique something because they have no experience in the field would limit the author’s ability to improve and basically narrows down the critique to people who are in the same field. You have to listen to various voices to get a full story, not from people you only want to hear from.

 

Critique is not the spawn of Satan. It can push people in the right direction but only if they want to listen. Setting up artificial barriers to avoid critiques will only set you up to fail down the road. There are people who will pretend to critique just to troll but there are others who will give good and genuine advice. When making anything, your first priority should be to please the people who are going to play with your mod and if they think it falls flat, try harder!



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Expansion Pack VS Sequels: Are They One and the Same?
Posted on Sunday, April 18 2010 @ 14:17:56 Eastern

Whenever a great game came out and you played it for hours and hours on end, you and your friends would hope the developer would make a sequel to your favorite game. After all, who didn't want a sequel to Super Smash Bros. Melee or Resident Evil 4 where they could get more of what they love plus a ton of fun new extras? Then there are expansion packs that add more content to the current game, usually for a low price. These are not 100% necessary to get in order to get the most out of your game and they are quite convenient since they integrate themselves to the game that requires them and you can play it from there.

 

 

Nowadays, people expect a lot more for less and this has translated to the video game industry. Lots of gamers want better gameplay, longer hours of play time, bigger online, better graphics, and a lot more while not wanting to pay a lot for it. $50 has been the standard in price for buying a video game in the past several years, but as technology advances and grows more expensive to produce in, the added costs has to come from somewhere. Sequels, expansion packs, and DLCs (downloadable content) have been the bread and butter of most video game companies to generate revenue and our constant buying of their products support them.

 

 

However, many of today’s gamers are quite picky and cynical and will refuse to get a game at full price if they feel it doesn’t have enough to justify their purchase. This has transformed into a situation where people who think a sequel to a video game is nothing more than an expansion pack if the game is just more of the same with some new shiny objects to play with. For example, Left 4 Dead 2 has been dubbed as the $50 expansion pack due to people’s anger with Valve backing out on their word on giving the first game updated content. Yet, Left 4 Dead 2 changes so many things that I am left scratching my head wondering how it is an expansion pack. After all, it has the core part of what made Left 4 Dead fun plus lots of new stuff like more guns, zombies, a connected storyline, an improved AI Director, and a vastly different level design that keep things interesting and varied. People always say that the new stuff could have easily been in L4D1, but the new zombies and some of the new guns just wouldn’t play out too well due to how most of the levels were narrow hallways or having spots where survivors could hold out in one spot and the infected could only rush in from one or two directions.  

 

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is another video game sequel that is being labeled as a lazy expansion pack game. Unlike Left 4 Dead 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2 has not been released and the only info we have are screenshots and trailers. So far, you do seem to be hopping from galaxy to galaxy as before, along with collecting those stars (because it is always stars). The new stuff we’ve seen is the inclusion of Yoshi and giving him powers like Mario, Mario getting new stuff like the ability to drill into the ground, and bigger and nastier enemies to stomp on. We don’t know what the story is yet, nor do we know if Rosalina will even make an appearance. It's quite unfair to be calling Super Mario Galaxy 2 an expansion pack so soon before release and it's the same as calling Final Fantasy VII being samey as Final Fantasy VI because the core concept of both games are reused. Using things that worked the first time doesn't always mean it's a lazy attempt.

 

It has gotten to the point where the meaning expansion pack is starting to lose meaning like the word hardcore. To be technical about it, an expansion pack has to require a game in order for it to work or it merges with said required game in order to use the content. To say a game that adds little is nothing more than an expansion pack is absurd. A game doesn’t have to change a lot in order to be a sequel and franchises like Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros, and Grand Theft Auto proved just that. Just remember, having more of the same plus extras doesn’t always equal to an expansion pack type game.



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Social Gaming: People You hate to Play With
Posted on Thursday, January 28 2010 @ 16:02:44 Eastern

          It comes as no surprise when I say we human beings have become total dick bananas when it comes to being civil to each other. Selfish, self righteous and greedy are ju...   read more...

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Left 4 Dead 2 Boycott: The History and Its Downfall
Posted on Tuesday, October 27 2009 @ 11:42:24 Eastern

Back in June, Valve presented a trailer showing Left 4 Dead 2, the sequel to the ever popular Left 4 Dead. Naturally, you'd assume that the fans would be extremely excited to see a sequel. Only problem was that the sequel was announced to be relea...   read more...

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Fan ideas: What seperates them from the professionals
Posted on Wednesday, June 10 2009 @ 09:31:04 Eastern

            Ideas. Everyone has them, but only a few can execute them properly. In the video game fandom, ideas thrive and grow and they mature into the games t...   read more...

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Has Video Games Entered A Recession?
Posted on Tuesday, January 6 2009 @ 12:13:32 Eastern

We all heard about how crappy the economy in the United States was during the final months of 2008. Lots of stupid decisions and mistakes were made to have caused such a big effect. Video games have been hit by the ...   read more...

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Nintendo Reborn: Blessing or Doomsday?
Posted on Monday, November 17 2008 @ 18:32:03 Eastern

Nintendo, without a doubt, was the leader of games during the 1990s. Ask any Nintendo fan who was around in that era and you're bound to find a few responses with the phrase "The Golden Age of Gaming" in it. Of course, Nintendo was not with...   read more...

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Dumbed down gameplay is not the way to play
Posted on Saturday, May 31 2008 @ 18:34:06 Eastern

I can't help but notice how much...easier games are becoming.  Yes, I may be slow to the realization, but nevertheless, our favorite games of today seem to be more watered down than melted ice in a glass of milk. Of course games should never be ...   read more...

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Artifical Intelligence? More like powerful and broken intellegence
Posted on Thursday, May 1 2008 @ 07:42:01 Eastern

Ah, the good ol AI. Whether they enjoy screwing you over with their stupidity, or gleefully raping you with cheap tricks and blatant cheating, AI is almost every gamer's bane. We should have won that race fairly, but no, the computer decides that you...   read more...

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