Monday, May 23, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim- Real Fantasy: Not An Oxymoron, After All!


     “Is anyone else as absurdly excited as I am about this game?” Seems a difficult question to answer these days.’s Top 10 Most Popular list puts Skyrim at #8. Their Xbox 360 list ranks it at #3, as does their list for the PC, but the PS3 lags far behind at #24. How odd. Skyrim doesn’t even rank in Gamespot’s Most Popular list.

     What on earth is going on? Has anyone even watched this?

Remember Oblivion? After this, you won’t.


     It hasn’t been the topic of much discussion, but I’ve noticed the most in these videos is the striking difference in animation quality. Characters move across the ground with real, convincing weight and strides, the action has finally surpassed the robotic rhythm of Morrowind and Oblivion, and even more telling, the fighting is much more interactive and dynamic. I’m thrilled to see that damage looks less like an algebraic equation and more like physics. Everything feels so organic! Heck, I’ll even embed a video of Oblivion for a comparison:

Gotcha! Okay, but really, this spoof is spot on.

     Physics-bashing aside, it is great to see the Elder Scrolls series continuing the standard of excellence it has achieved. Some new elements to note:

  • The inclusion of dragons, in case you hadn’t noticed.
  • Dragon Shouts! Watch the gameplay video carefully- when the Dragonborn shouts, there’s an actual aura. Apparently it inflicts damage. KEWL
  • Real sneak attacks. We’re not talking robotically stabbing an enemy in the back and watching him groan and fall over like a felled tree- throat slices! Open-mouthed smile 

      Well, that’s all I have to gush about at the moment. Let’s all look forward to killing the Adoring Fan over and over! …Oh, and some dragons.

New Contributor!


     Before moving on to the next moving, relevant and entirely pertinent topic, I’d like to acknowledge the appearance of a new writer on my blog. TheSugarRay has a tendency to wax philosophical on the more literary areas of entertainment- however, don’t be surprised if he touches on everything and then some. Just make sure not to confuse my writing with his- he gets jealous. Of course, so do I, for the record.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thoughts on Narratives

Ever since games moved past the pure skill and guts stage of Contra and the story in games has become increasingly more important. Many times games are even graded down for having a shallow storyline. Some critics may be too hard for expectantly more than two dimensional characters out of every game. Typical stories in video games only serve as an excuse to kill things, jump around on platforms, and solve puzzles. Tetris Plus' story was a professor and his hot anime assistant are trapped in crypt and need to solve puzzles to survive and that’s all it needs, actually, it might have been a little too much story. Not every game is going to have witty dialog and real feeling characters like clerks or anything written by Woody Allen.

This being said, games that focus on story better blood well have good ones. Stories do have rules that need to be fallowed in order to qualify. Plot usually accompanied by a theme or several overtone themes. The plot is what happens. The Animaniacs, as the theme song announces, is about crazy siblings escaping from a water tower. Themes sublet and not so subtle are messages and ideas in the plot that are related to the genre of the story. Genre is the job class of movies and can be predictable because they fit the genre archetype. It isn't a horrible thing, being predictable. In Shakespeare's plays he gave away they end in the opening lines and if that wasn't enough constantly foreshadowed the ending. Tragedy, the protagonist dies-sad. Comedy, everyone gets married- happy mood, any sadness or discomfort from of a character is funny. Drama, about personal character conflict heavy handed with emotion- the mood is usually messy. Good stories have complex characters; they are not completely good, evil, smart, stupid, or any extreme. Like in DnD stats the idea is balance. A story can get away with a larger-than-life character if there is a huge glaring weakness. Superman is not a balanced and could only become balanced if his weakness was something more than magical items and kryptonite. The phrases cookie cutter or two dimensional (that I've used) mean that the character balance is stereotypical or there is no balance like the big strong character that is stupid. The protagonist, often referred to as the hero,

Enough of my expectations, to the point of Grand Theft Auto, The first game was focused on the sandbox. Do what you want and the character won't object because he is a mute pipit to your desires. This worked because in order have an character do the crap that we do in GTA they would have to have almost no character like cloud from GTA3, be a egotistical maniac like in Tommy Verceti, be deprived and conditioned like CJ, or be really Fscked up like Niko.