May 20th, 2010 by DanielRGT
There’s a lot of things I’ve learned these past few years. First, it’s that shoeboxes do not make ample shoes. In fact, despite their name, they are quite uncomfortable and difficult to wear.
Second, I’ve learned that making webcomics is a hard business to be in. When it comes to video game webcomics, there’s a certain art of being able to portray a punchline and some sort of message about the video game in question in about 3 or 4 panels. There are some sites that, with a very high percentage of success, complete this in a way that is truly spectacular (e.g. Penny Arcade). Then there are other sites, with one in particular having a negative percentage of success, that fall flat on their face and, if there really is a merciful God, those sites fall under.
Just kidding though, because bad webcomic websites never fall under. The creator has some disillusioned fans who, for whatever reason, have stopped taking their meds and found the awful webcomic as a source of…something. It can’t really be identified as entertainment because by definition, entertainment is meant to be entertaining.
Certain webcomics (and I don’t intend to name any here, but I will tell you the one I’m talking about rhymes with Patrol, Palt, Pelete) have been going on for a long time with no rays of light, no tunnels of hope, no possible chance to become, at any point, an interesting or humorous webcomic. On the contrary, their stubborn attitude towards their critique digs them farther into the ground of awful writing, awful drawing, and 4 panels filled with nothing but nonsensical text (Sometimes you can see smidgeons of what could possibly be art, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet).
I don’t claim to be an expert in webcomics, but I do know a funny and interesting webcomic when I see one. First off, we should go over some of the basics of what makes a webcomic interesting. Webcomics, much like you’re regular run-of-the-mill comics, involve the use of art and text to portray a funny joke, an interesting tidbit, or artsy-schmartsy something-or-other. That’s right, webcomics don’t necessarily need to be funny to be in anyway a good webcomic. If it’s interesting to a particular group of people, and one can see how one might feel that way, then overall it’s probably an ok webcomic.
The most well received webcomics tend to be the ones that are funny, because often times when one thinks of comics they think of the “funny pages” in the newspaper. This means that these webcomics follow a general formula. Generally there are 3 or 4 panels, and the first 2 (or 3) will be used as some sort of set-up or lead-in into what is eventually going to be a great punchline. Sometimes, punchlines can appear in the middle panels, and the last panel can be a sort of resolution or funny comment on it. Penny Arcade does this a lot.
Like I said, I’m not expert in webcomics so I’m being fairly (very) vague here. But even the common idiot can understand what I am trying to say. Namely, I’m trying to say that humor webcomics are meant to be in, some form or another, humorous. There is many a recommendation to do this, and here are just a few:
1. KEEP TEXT TO A MINIMUM
This is not to say that you shouldn’t use text in your webcomics, but really try and make every word count for something. There are so many comics that just have bubbles of useless text that really need not exist. There’s one in particular that if it removed it’s 4 panels of War & Peace sized text, it would improve significantly (mostly because your brain would not be melting because of the awful quality of writing).
Text is a good thing, just not in excess. If you have a lot of text, there better be a damn good reason for it.
2. BE FUNNY
It goes without saying that if you are trying to make people laugh, odds are you should try and be funny. Jokes have things called punchlines, which is usually the part where the person laughs. If you’re writing a comic and you’re not able to pinpoint the punchline of your comic, you are doing something wrong.
Also, when someone asks you where your punchline is and you respond with, “Every panel is a punchline!” You are most certainly an idiot and an awful webcomic creator and should probably find a new profession immediately (such as politician).
3. DO NOT NAME CHARACTERS ETHAN
That name really sucks, you know?
4. CHARACTERS (SURPRISE!) NEED TO HAVE CHARACTER
Characters (as their name implies) have character. What this means is that they have a personality, they have strengths and weaknesses. A character who is just some wacky, brainless, can’t-do-everyday-things is not a character, he’s a mentally challenged person that requires medical help.
This is not to say that I look down on mentally challenged people, but it’s never in good taste to poke fun at them. They can’t really help it, you know? To base a series off of an idiotic character who is completely incapable of doing anything right, much less string together a coherent punchline, is just in poor taste.
Also, to write this character as someone so stupid that, much like an amazing game of Tetris, all the blocks fall into place for them to receive countless royalties, treasures, and what pirates call “booty.”
These are but some of the things to keep in mind when making a webcomic. You might notice that, without mentioning any names, I have singled out a particular awful webcomic in this post. A webcomic so horrible, so evil, that words appearing on syndicated television could not describe it (though blaring profanities could!). A webcomic so awful, that it’s mere mention makes people see nothing but flashes of pure white rage before their eyes. A webcomic so dumb, that only the dumbest and lowest of human beings could appreciate it for what it truly is. A webcomic so poorly written, that Stephenie Meyer constantly dines with its creator on weekends to discuss awful writing, and all awful writing related materials. A webcomic so poorly drawn, that my artists rendition of a falcon (as in the bird) dressed up as a clown (as in the circus) is far beyond what this webcomic’s creator could ever produce. A webcomic so disillusioned that the creator has created a fantasy world in which he is great, wonderful, and awesome and all the others who critique his webcomic as horrible have no idea what they speak of. “They’re simply jealous of my genius,” is probably something he says frequently.
Yes you may have noticed I was singling this webcomic out. I have to respond, however, with a simple, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
May 19th, 2010 by DanielRGT
I read a fantastic article (and by fantastic I mean pile of dog shit) the other day written by a gentleman (idiot) over at IGN (Canada). The article, in layman’s terms, stated that sequels need to die out, and that if you like sequels you’re awful and don’t like games or support games for that matter. He then goes on to say how much he likes sequels, but just kidding they desperately need to die, seriously guys fuck sequels. (“Sequels killed my brother.”)
His big analogy to wrap up his fantastically written article goes something like this (Author’s Note: I am paraphrasing a great deal here, so this is not what he said word-for-word, but pretty damn close to it):
“I lived in some shithole when I was a kid. This place sucked, you know? Well, you don’t know so I’ll explain it. It sucked, it sucked forrealz. But I liked it, maybe because I was a stupid kid. It had this magical charm that places have when you’re a very unintelligent kid. I went back there years later to visit the place where I grew up, and I realized how awful it was. This has something to do with video games somehow.”
I’ll translate the above quote for you, just so you don’t have to go through all the painstaking work I ended up doing to decipher these hieroglyphics. He equates his shitty hometown to original versions that sequels are based off of (Example: Super Mario Bros.). He then proceeds to equate his “growing up and returning to his awful hometown” as how he, as a supposed “adult gamer”, didn’t quite feel the same spark he felt when he was a horrible child.
Now here are some reasons why this guy is an idiot (other than the fact that he’s blatantly one). First of all, his analogy (in case you didn’t notice) makes no sense. Not even a little really, in fact it’s not even related to what his article is about (which if you forgot, was about sequels to video games). His analogy really states this:
“Old games are great when you are a kid, but when you get older the old games are not as great.”
This would make sense if you were a crazy person, but it doesn’t translate well over here in sanity-land. Old games are great when you are a kid, and the majority of the time they retain their greatness into the future as well. Sequels, while containing similar characters, settings, and sometimes mechanics, are completely different games in their own right and (with the exception of how they relate to their prequel) should be treated as such. Super Mario 64 is astronomically different than Super Mario Bros., with the exception of the characters used.
Eventually, he brings fighting games into his argument bringing up the widely received game, “Street Fighter IV.” In his article, he reminisces of the days he spent playing Super Street Fighter II on his SNES (which if you think about it, falls under his veil of sequels that shouldn’t exist thanks to those Roman Numerals there) and how he had so much trouble doing his fireballs back in the day. Those quarter-circle forward motions were a doozy man, let me tell you.
Now with the newer addition, he says that he still has the same trouble doing those quarter-circle forward motions which, if you knew anything about Street Fighter IV, you would instantly recognize as bullshit because you can’t do much in that game without accidentally doing quarter-circle forward motions. This is one of the game’s actual downsides as it were, but either he has never played Street Fighter IV or he forgot that quarter-circle forward motions involve the joystick part of the controller, you know that stick that moves the character around.
I can easily get on board with what was probably going through his head when he wrote this article (other than the cocaine), and that is nowadays it’d be refreshing to see some original games. No doubt, original games are always exciting to see and they, if done right, bring something extraordinary to the table. The fact of the matter is, however, when an original game comes out the developers and publishers instantly recognize that a sequel would be received fairly well, and even if you put it up to a “poor choice” by that developer/publisher, a lot of the time it is what the fans want.
This stems from the fact that a lot of the time, severe originality is a “turn-off” as it were to gamers. Familiar mechanics, setting, and gameplay put the gamer at ease and create an environment that is easier to have fun in. Games such as Katamari Damacy (which if you haven’t played, is extremely wacky and Japanese) are so vastly original that some gamers may think, “I’m not sure what’s going on here. This is fucking insane.” They’d rather sit in the comfort zone of Mario or Link, knowing easily what to expect from the game: platforms and pigs.
This doesn’t mean sequels are bad though, in fact they’re healthy. Sequels, if done right, bring something new to that series and are either executed great (e.g. Kingdom Hearts 2) or executed poorly and end up falling flat (e.g. Every Sonic Game after Sonic Adventure). These slight alterations to the series open the doors to change and originality, which eventually create great original titles that may not have been able to be received as well earlier, but can now be received with open arms.
So, as the title of this post says, I really wish video game reviewers would ask themselves this particular question:
“What exactly is a game?”
Part of me really feels that video game reviewers end up having to play way too many video games to do their job, and as a result almost get desensitized by it all. They’ve lost touch on what a game really is; a form of entertainment in order to achieve the abstract concept known as “fun.” Nowadays, gamers get split up into two categories: Casual and Hardcore. To me, what type of gamer you are is irrelevant. A game either appeals to you or doesn’t, there’s no such thing to me as a game that is strictly casual or hardcore.
Sequels, while unoriginal, fall under the category of game. You can bring up all the questions you’d like on whether they should exist or not, but the fact of the matter is the only question that really matters is if those games are worth playing; if they are fun at all. If the answer is no, then maybe you could make the argument that the game shouldn’t have existed, or maybe it could have been executed a little better, but if the game is outright fun there is no reason to ever think that a particular brand of games should die out, even if they do seem unoriginal to you.
I understand that with reviewing gamers comes great difficulty, as well as timing issues. Reviewers are often playing lots of games in a short period of time, and this brings up whether or not they can fully appreciate the game or not. Sure, you can have a “first impression” as it were, but I don’t think you can fully enjoy the game outright having a deadline impending.
I don’t expect for this article to change much of anything (especially considering the audience for this blog being to people I know), but it’d be nice to see less articles proving how asinine video game reviewers can be, and more showing how they truly understand what a game really is.
May 19th, 2010 by DanielRGT
There’s a lot to be said about Castlevania. There are castles, certainly, and on top of that some obscure and unidentifiable substance known as “vania.” On top of that, there’s Dracula (or his surprise twist of a son, Alucard), Death, zombies, ghosts, zombie-ghosts, ghost-axemen, axemen-zombies, medusa heads, and fishmen.
It was certainly an original game when it came out for the NES, but when people go around spouting how good these games were, I get a little confused. The first source of my confusion stems from the fact that all old castlevania games, without fail, are fucking awful. I mean it, they’re really bad. Like any movie with Pauly Shore bad.
The old games, using a mixture of brilliant game design and mechanics, bring together the best parts and memories of falling in pits of water (and subsequently dying), attempting to hit some unreachable enemy (Spoiler: He can hit you), getting hit by random flying medusa heads or other related projectiles and falling in previously-mentioned pits of water, and attempting to jump across a chasm that was specifically built to harbor your doom.
Actually the only thing these games really have going for them, which is probably why people enjoy them so, is because of their exceptional music. It’s actually beyond exceptional, but I don’t want to spend several lines having a figurative boner over these tunes, so suffice to say the music is excellent. Which brings me to why I believe people play these games.
Good music in a game has a powerful effect on people. There are games I have played longer than I really should have (such as Castlevania) because of their music. Hell, I will sometimes even leave the game on, not move my character, and go and do something else because I want to listen to the music.
This does not, however, tell me that the game is good. If the game is a piece of ass, the music will not suddenly turn the game into a masterpiece. On the contrary, I feel pity for the game because it had such good music but was left to be a miserable pile of shit that not even its own mother could love.
This does not explain, however, why people like old Castlevania games. Pretty much everything before Symphony of the Night is an awful game and should feel awful, but you will see over and over again how much people liked the first Castlevania, how Castlevania 4 is the best game ever to have existed ever always, how Richter would look so cool in my apartment.
I’ve got to tell you I’m sick of it. Good music does not make up for poor gameplay and horrible jumping mechanics. Actually the only old Castlevania game with okay jump mechanics IS Super Castlevania 4, which is probably why people tend to enjoy it so much. It’s not a very good game, but even a pile of dirt will shine gold if compared to the previous piles of excrement you saw earlier.