Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Battletanx

"When all else fails... get in a big tank and blow everything up!"

The second game that I will be reviewing will be a game that initially received a good amount of buzz when it came to promoting but over the years faded into obscurity. This game was released when the Nintendo 64 was still going strong and was still making quality games that could satisfy the appetites of gamers everywhere. This game did not present a novel concept by any means as the general concept of tanks blasting away at each other wasn't anything new. You go back in time before the Nintendo 64 existed and you will see games that featured a tank shooting something at obstacles or at another tank. Space Invaders is definitely one game that comes to mind as you controlled a laser cannon (but at first glace you would think it looks like a tank) and went left and right shooting missiles up at invaders from space. Space Invaders is very basic compared to the game I am going to talk about, though.

When I first played through Battletnax as a kid, I was amazed by how intense the game ended up being because I was just a laid back kind of gamer in the late 1990's. I was always in the mood for the more mellow kind of games such as Mario games and other cartoony games. However, I was always open to playing at least a couple games that were somewhat realistic in tone. You didn't have cartoony stuff here, although you are given animated cutscenes in this game. When I first got Battletanx as a kid I was excited and I couldn't wait to start playing the game. I was in the mood to play a game where I could blow up as much obstacles as I possibly could. Back then and even today I get a big kick out of blowing things up because I find great entertainment value out of such a concept. As I mentioned in an earlier article I saw a Battletanx commercial on TV and I found that commercial to be hilarious. It was a spoof on the Snuggles commercials and I couldn't help but laugh a little bit.

Now I am aware of the fact that in this day and age violence in video games is constantly a hot topic, but I need to remind people who are strongly against violence in video games of this one thing. Video games need to be (and should be) viewed as educational resources for gamers and for those who are close to the gamers. There are plenty of things in life that parents teach their kids that involve what kids should do, but look at the other end of the telescope for a moment. There are also plenty of things in life that parents teach their kids that involve what kids should not do. I believe video games can be either subtle or harsh reminders of what not to do in real life. Video games equal fantasy and that's all it is. That's an easy equation to figure out.

Anyway, let's review one of the hidden quality games made by 3DO, a company that is sadly no longer with us. I would love to have any ex-3DO employees contact me about 3DO products, and especially about the Battletanx series. I would like to have a discussion with someone who was close to the development of Battletanx in some way.

Controls - 18 out of 20 Points

From what I remember, Battletanx had basic and proper controls that a gamer could get used to. Operating a tank doesn't take rocket science for a gamer to figure out. The Nintendo 64 control stick was used for this game and you had the freedom of moving your tank around in whichever direction you wanted. Now the one thing that gamers will find different with tank controls in this game will be the Z button. In order to have your tank shoot at obstacles you will press the Z button, but that isn't the only button you press to fire weapons. Pressing the A button will allow you to fire special weapons that your tank would collect in a level. Pressing the A and B buttons together will fire a super weapon. These features alone are interesting and while it took me some time to get used to them, I eventually got comfortable with these controls. In some ways you can view these controls as intuitive and creative. It was basically something different.

The L button is pressed to change the view of the gameplay action. In the arcade setting only, the R button is pressed to locks turrets into position. The C buttons on the Nintendo 64 controller would be used to rail left, rail right or to rail off. When I played Battletanx I didn't find the controls of this game to be out of the ordinary, and especially not in a bad way. I got the feeling that the controls were different compared to other Nintendo 64 games but I found the controls to be fun to use. I never noticed any sort of hesitation from the controls to respond to an action that I wanted to perform. I don't believe the responses of the controls were always smooth but they were definitely good enough.  

The only real problem that I experienced when playing Battletanx involved the territories of the levels. Whenever I moved my tank into a specific area that could potentially isolate it, I would notice some sort of a lock up in movement. I noticed that when I boxed my own tank in, and let's just say for example a tight corner, it was somewhat difficult for me to get out of that trap. I don't consider this to be a big knock because it didn't hinder the fun I had in playing, but it is something that I have to mention.

Graphics - 16 out of 20 Points

For a Nintendo 64 game, the graphics in Battletanx were fairly solid. We have to take into consideration that Nintendo 64 graphics are obviously not the most advanced graphics out there, and let's think back to the time of the Nintendo 64. When we saw graphics like the set of graphics in Battletanx, we would think that they would be pretty impressive. Now there would be some glitches along the way during a playthrough of Battletanx. Whenever anything got destroyed we would see a lump of graphics stuck together to make up the remains of a tank, a broken down bunker or even  a collapsing building. A defeated tank was obviously nothing special to look at. In fact, I would recently look at a defeated tank and say to myself "Well, there's a pile of digital scrap metal!"

In all seriousness, though, one can make out what the graphics are in this game. For Nintendo 64 graphics they are well made and they come across as smooth enough to be pleasing for any gamer. Are the graphics a work of art? Not necessarily because there area  few animations within levels that were indeed slapped on like they were pieces of cardboard. The trees are the biggest example of this. Whenever your tank went right through a tree, the tree would fall down like a domino as if it were a Hollywood prop. I wouldn't consider this to be a bad thing, though, because I got a humorous kick out of it. If you are looking for a "real" tree, though, you won't get one in this game. Sorry, but no dice.

When it comes to rescuing the Queenlord in the fortresses, you can tell that this game was meant to have the arcade game feel. The symbol graphic representing the Queenlord would fit in perfectly with an NES or SNES game, and it feels somewhat out of place in an N64 game. This is more of a nitpick, if anything.

Story - 7 out of 20 Points

Ugh.

What I am going to say about the story may not be flattering, but honestly I am going to be kind to the story of the original Battletanx game in comparison to Battletanx: Global Assault, which the latter was absolutely atrocious. Every time I played Battletanx and specifically Campaign Mode, I never did play it for the story that was connected to Campaign Mode. Let's dive right in. The story of the game begins with your typical romance soap opera-like setting as Griffin Spade experiences an intimate moment with the love of his life Madison, his fiancee. There was nothing wrong with how this was first presented. You are shown the soft side of a guy who is otherwise an army leader with reckless abandon, which establishes some balance with the character.

The setting of the story is a post-apocalyptic world. In the year 2001, a virus has killed 99.99% of the females on Earth. Many countries go to battle for each other's quarantine zones, one thing leads to another, chaos spreads and nuclear war emerges. A huge chunk of civilization is lost because of nuclear war and as a result numerous gangs form to stay alive in their own designated communities. The few remaining females are held by gangs who have taken over small pieces of the world. Madison was taken away from Griffin Spade, captured by the U.S. Government in Queens, New York and taken far away. Now Griffin must cross the entire United States and find Madison before it's too late.

Where do I start pointing out the fundamental flaws of this kind of story? Number one, the story doesn't put women in the right kind of light at all, portraying women to be weak in general, which is not the case in real life. Thankfully, though, with the help of a cheat code, you could be able to play as the Storm Ravens, an all female gang, so that serves as a small remedy. Number two, handling illness epidemics in a video game story can get pretty complicated if you fail to go into enough depth about them. If you just go out and say "Look at this! An epidemic broke out! What will we do now?" then be prepared to have not as big of a bite in your story as you were expecting. Battletanx suffers from this because we only get animated pictures to serve as cutscenes. The game didn't have a lot of places to go with this, sadly.

When I dissected this story the last time I played the game, the believability wasn't there for me. It wasn't there as much as it should have been. I felt like the story had more of a feeling that related to "Things are spiraling out of control, but not everything has been destroyed yet", and I felt that general story development was a bit on the lazy side. The gangs were zany and off the wall, as it would be expected, and I did take an interest in some of the gangs, especially with gangs like the Nuclear Knights and Charlie Company, but I wasn't thrilled by others.

I give the story of Battletanx a low score not because of the idea behind the story since I believe that the idea itself is solid. I give the story a low score because of the overall execution. It just felt a little too out there for me to fully grasp the entire scope of the story. For me to think that the whole world got infected by epidemics and nuclear war is a stretch if the entire world itself can't be featured in the first game. I'm thinking about Battletanx: Global Assault's story again. I better quit while I am ahead.

Music - 17 out of 20 Points

Although the game may be lacking punch when it comes to the story, Battletanx carries immense power in the music. The soundtracks for Battletanx are very much memorable and they are definitely appropriate for the atmosphere of nuclear war. Anyone who has played the original Battletanx enough would pretty much memorize the soundtracks from one part to the next. The introduction theme of the game immediately lures players in and it's very catchy if you were to sit back and listen to it in full length. The soundtracks of Battletanx stand out on their own and separate themselves from other war-themed game soundtracks.

I get the feeling that these soundtracks were made to have some sort of cinematic presence to them, which is a good idea. The soundtracks did fit in with the cutscenes that featured the comic book-like animations. The soundtracks had the appeal of fun and upbeat music, and that is sometimes hard to pull off for a war-themed video game because serious tones are usually implemented in such games, including serious music. The soundtracks were laid back and welcoming and that is what a development should push for. Don't go over the top and don't aim for something so serious in a soundtrack. Catchy and upbeat will do the job just fine.

Another thing that makes these soundtracks pretty special is the fact that these themes don't have any lyrics to them. No lyrics at all. It somewhat makes me sad that some video games of this generation have to have soundtracks that are packed with lyrics. I feel that lyrics shouldn't be of mandatory use in video game soundtracks. I don't think there's anything wrong with just letting the sounds sing for themselves, so to speak.

Specifically pinpointing on sounds, the trumpet-like sounds in these soundtracks fit in so well like a glove. The sounds that you hear relate to military predicaments, armies marching out to the field of battle and engaging in a struggle. The music kept me interested in Battletanx, to be sure.

Replayability - 20 out of 20 Points

I find this score to be appropriate because I did thoroughly enjoy the experience of operating a tank and blowing stuff up with various kinds of weapons. However, the placement of the enemies in some levels perplexed me. The deeper I got into the Campaign Mode of the game, the more challenging the levels became, and this would normally be a great thing. Unfortunately, the later levels of this game sometimes threw me off, as in just when I thought I had defeated enough enemies to progress into opposing fortresses there would be more enemies popping up abruptly.


I loved the variety of the weapons that I could collect in this game. The many different weapons allowed me to develop a strategy for how to go about attacking my enemies. I knew what I had in my inventory and I had to base my strategy around what I had. You have to work with what you got, as some people say. I believe everyone would agree with me when I say that simply hearing the in-game female commentator say "Nuke Deployed" got gamers fired up into a frenzy. When the Nuke went off all sorts of stuff went flying, and the opposing tanks would go down almost instantly.

This game is mainly built for the multiplayer experience. Battletanx is a game that can be enjoyed in more ways if there are more than just one player involved. Battletanx has a Multiplayer Mode where up to 4 players can engage in combat. 4 players could choose which gangs they wanted to be and they could choose which setting they wanted to do battle in. Battletanx makes itself a very flexible option for replayability because of the fact that one player could choose to run the gauntlet of Campaign Mode or that one player could gather around 3 of his friends and have a blast in Multiplayer Mode. Some people would prefer to still play games like Battletanx only for the Multiplayer Mode anyway because that is where the fun is.

Battletanx left a lasting impression on the "blow 'em up games" genre because when you look at the more recent games you would notice some elements that are some sort of tip of the cap to Battletanx, even if it's accidental. Battletanx had an impact that grabbed gamers for a short period of time because of the upbeat pace of play. Once you began a level for any mode, you were in and you had to get those tank treads moving on the double. You would start firing all over the place in under thirty seconds. That is the kind of spark that makes gamers want to replay your game. Boom! Boom! Boom! There you were in the middle of a level defending your turf and protecting your army and there was no waiting period.

When you beat Campaign Mode in Battletanx would you want to play through Campaign Mode again? Well, there is enough motivation to play Campaign Mode again if you just want to sharpen your skills as a tank. Considering that you are an avid war game player, you would probably like to see if you could go through the Battletanx gauntlet again just for kicks. Really, though, the creme de la creme of this game is the Multiplayer Mode and that is the main thing that would lure any kind of gamer in to play.

Overall Score - 78 out of 100 Points

There are no bonus points to give away here this time, but even so, 78 shouldn't be looked at as a bad score. I generally enjoyed playing Battletanx and I liked both the gameplay sessions of Campaign Mode and Multiplayer Mode. I was presented with a challenge that I could get into and take on without feeling too overwhelmed and I dealt with enemy AI that stayed on me and put me in check. When I faced opposing tanks head on I had to make a choice. I had to make a decision right there what I wanted to do, whether it was to blow the opposing tanks up to smitherines, collect power-ups to strengthen my tank or to go right after the enemy fortress and rescue the Queenlord. I wasn't allowed to just sit there and that was good for me to see.

If you have friends who would like to play some sort of chaotic competition, then Battletanx may just be the game for all of you. The Multiplayer Mode is the backbone of this game and 4 players can get themselves to play for hours if they wanted to. Ultimately, though, I am saddened by the fact that the Battletanx series took a turn for the worse in the second installment, Battletanx: Global Assault, and to no surprise, it was the story that anchored down the second Battletanx game. 3DO just dropped the ball with Global Assault and it didn't do the main character of the series any favors. Griffin Spade is a main character who had potential to be developed into a mainstay hero for the Video Game Industry if only 3DO stayed true to the formula of the original Battletanx game, but radical changes couldn't be resisted apparently.

Oh well. Maybe in the future Battletanx can be officially revived by a game publishing company out there and then expanded on? Wishful thinking, I suppose.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Discussion #5 - Player Vs. Player Competition

There are many reasons why we play video games. Sometimes we just sit back and play games because we want to have the feeling of accomplishing a solo adventure in a campaign mode that involves Player 1 only. Other times we we play video games because we need to since it's our job. Game testers would know what I am talking about since they spend countless hours playing games to find all sorts of bugs, glitches and errors. Here is one reason that I will highlight for this discussion. Gamers play video games because they enjoy the thrill of competition. Many gamers are very much of the competitive variety. They want to be challenged by the levels of the game but they also want to be challenged by their friends who are also gamers. Player 1 isn't always the only player in town. Player 2, Player 3 and even Player 4 can show up in town and the gameplay dynamics dramatically change.

What drives Player 1 to go up against Player 2 in certain games? Both players want to have the experience of going head-to-head against each other and they want to have fun playing the same game together. It is a universally accepted fact that video games serve as an outlet for people to socialize with each other and video games encourage one player to play with friends. Some games will require the full experience to be enjoyed by more than one player because otherwise the solo player would just be playing with 3 other computer players and I don't think that is preferred by any of us gamers. Interaction is the key with numerous gamers playing in the same game because you not only get different kinds of reactions to game events but you also get different points of view on the game. Player 1 may like a certain element of a game but Player 2 may be slightly more critical of that same element. Player 3 may love the visually stunning presentation of one part of a game but Player 4 may prefer to have the same presentation scaled back just a teeny bit.

Of course, we can talk about the essence of the multiplayer concept of games, and specifically co-op, but that isn't the core focus of this topic. We will specifically dive into the idea of one player competing against another. In the Video Game Industry there is a market for competitions between gamers and it is a bold concept for companies to explore because competitions do serve as a way to promote video games in general. Considering how popular the video game is competitions may be depended on to keep getting the word out on the game because the "Versus Mode" of the game drives it. Games that are developed for more than one player usually have a wider territory and the more expanded a gaming environment is, the better chance there will be for both Player 1 and Player 2 to enjoy the game. You expand the possibilities of more varying outcomes in a 1-on-1 game in Versus Mode than you would by just keeping it as a single player game. Variety is a basic and effective selling point.

Gaming competitions are held at certain times to test the skills of gamers and these competitions range from platformer game races to the more prominent first person shooter tournaments. Competing in games against other players is one motivating factor for some gamers because the competitions are a driving force. The curiosity of finding out just who is the best at a certain game is present with many gamers. Curiosity leads to creativity and naturally competitions will become involved in the creative process. Competing against another player is a challenge for a gamer. It's an obstacle that the gamer wants to clear.

Competitions provide gamer-friendly environments and competitions create opportunities for game development teams to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their games. From the development team's point of view, if they see that the multiplayer aspect of their game positively balloons into a semi-phenomenon where many gamers all around enjoy then they will most likely take this into consideration when they expand
on the multiplayer aspect of a future installment. It was basically said in Rome in the ancient days "Win the people over" and the one-on-one competitions have won the people over. Of course there will be moments of trash talking and other related over the top actions in some competitions but that does come with the environment, and honestly some playful talk between competitive gamers can only perk up and rejuvenate the mood of the competition itself anyway.

One point I want to highlight is the fact that a gamer can get up for a competition. Gamers want to have as many opportunities as they can to prove that they can play games at least decently. Casual gamers are obviously not serious about getting into competitions because they just want to have a good time and play certain games that appeal to them. Hardcore gamers, on the other hand, are capable of getting serious about getting into competitions and while competing they come to realize that they play certain genres of games better than other genres. For example, a gamer may be awesome at playing in a first person shooter tournament but he will be anything but awesome in a puzzle game contest. Another example would be a gamer who is sharp at playing party games like Mario Party, and yet, he will struggle in racing game grand prix tournaments.

In the future I would love to see game development teams step it up in this department and open up more possibilities of live competitions between gamers. Development teams can bring in more customers if they see games in action in the form of a competition. Potential customers will get to see for themselves what a game is like if a tournament is hosted by the development team, the publishing company of by a video game convention. This would fire up hardcore gamers to play the game and attempt to go deep in a tournament while also encouraging casual gamers to give the game a try and possibly even buy it. I don't see where you could go wrong with such a strategy.

It needs to be noted that there are also two-on-two, three-on-three and four-on-four competitions in gaming but you are more likely to see these competitions in online gaming. Team based competitions have a ton of support and many teams have formed to go to battle. When a team of gamers come together to play a single game there will be some strategy involved since the team will discuss with one another what they want to do. The competition element doesn't begin and end with one-on-one but it can expand depending on how much the game development team wants to expand their vision of the game.

I would love to receive stories from people on gaming competitions. I am sure there are plenty of stories that are just waiting to be told and I would welcome these stories. If you feel like telling me any stories about gaming competitions you have been in just contact me. Contact information is in the Gazette Interviews section.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Promoting Your Product - Commercials

 Before we begin...

(singing voice)  "Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!"

To start things off, I certainly hope that everything is okay for those of you who have been anchored down because of the tough winter weather because we have endured quite an attack of arctic cold in recent times. Considering where I live, which would be in the Buckeye State of Ohio, the snow has been a heavy hitter and it sometimes reminds me of my favorite levels in some video games. Inspiration can come from anywhere and from any situation.

Anyway, the meat of this article will go into depth about one form of marketing for a video game. In the Video Game Industry the name of the game is to make money. That is one of the main goals of any game development team and when the wheels start spinning for the development of a game, the marketing starts kicking in at some point. Most games will have the opportunity to shine when it comes to showcasing what they can do and it will be up to the consumer whether or not he or she wants to buy that game. One part of the overall development experience is the PR, or public relations, side of the equation and it can be a pivotal slice of the pie. The game that you are putting out on the market has to stand out and appeal to consumers the moment you announce the upcoming release of your game The game is the carrot that you dangle over the gamer and the key is to make sure that that carrot is desirable for the gamer to get.

Television commercials, or in this day and age internet "e-mercials", represent one part of the PR slice and for some games these commercials can make or break them. The court of public opinion can be strong and the public needs to know what your product is about. Commercials for new video games will usually include general descriptions of the games while putting in enthusiastic and unorthodox twists in the action of the commercials. You have only a set amount of time to get the word out on your new game and you have to hit your target and send a clear message to your potential fan base.

What would you do exactly? What would be the overall tone of your commercial? What kind of game is your commercial revolving around? What is the theme you want to bring out in your commercial? What is the audience that you are targeting in your commercial? There are plenty of questions like these that you are going to have to answer and in just 30 seconds (or one minute, if you're fortunate) you will be able to put out the first looks of the development team's vision of the new game. This is basically considered an audition of sorts for your new game and the only way to make this audition memorable would be to make it entertaining. A video game commercial has to be entertaining and it has to grab the attention of the gamer, whether that its through quick stabs of comedy, abrupt flashes of seriousness or something upbeat and catchy that can make the gamer get up and dance.

A commercial for an upcoming should highlight the features of the game that deserve to be highlighted. The most important features of the new game have to be shown because these will be the features that the gamer will get to used to after he or she buys the game and starts playing it. The features of the new game that are shown in the commercial are the selling points and they will drive the sales of your new game in one direction or in the other. Development teams need to know what the people want and they need to understand what kind of features various types of gamers are looking to sink their teeth into. Not every single gamer's interests will be catered to and that is impossible given the wide range of video game genres, but whatever the development team is targeting they need to be aware of the audience they are making their specific genre of game for. In basic terms you need to know your territory. You need to know your territory well.

I can recall classic video game commercials that really appealed to me such as the old Crash Bandicoot commercials, the Nintendo 64 Super Mario commercials, a couple of Nintendo 64 Bomberman commercials and plenty of sports game commercials, and particularly Madden Football. I have general interests as a person and those general interests have nothing to do with video games, but if I catch sight of a video game commercial that not only appeals to my interests as a gamer but also to my general interests as a person in some way then it's a win-win situation. I generally like the idea of a cartoony character throwing bombs at objects and blowing them up (Bomberman). I generally like the idea of an energetic animal running through loops and bouncing off springs (Sonic the Hedgehog). I generally love watching sports (Madden, MVP Baseball, NHL Hockey, etc.) so I will more than likely buy at least a couple sports video games just to take in the sports experience.

When a commercial is made to promote your product, if you want to make your customers laugh, then put in some comedy that your audience can relate to. If you want to appeal to the goofy comedy kind of gamers then use goofy comedy. Allow your main character to pop his eyes out in surprise when something goes wrong in the commercial. Let there be humorous chaotic events happening in that short window of time. Goofy commercials usually have the freedom to be creative commercials.

If you want to make your commercials serious then make sure you keep it at a balance. There's reasonably serious and then there's over the top serious. You want your serious commercials to grab the attention of the consumers and make them say "Whoa... What I saw was just awesome!", but you don't want to overwhelm them. Doing too much in promoting can sometimes cost you plenty. You want to capture the feeling that your upcoming game is going to have but you don't want to force the issue. Consider the movie trailers and that right there is a blueprint to start with.

There is also the mysterious toned video game commercials which are rarely used unless for special reasons. It takes a certain amount of strategy to effectively pull off the mysterious commercial because you are met with the task of still sending the message of what your game is about, but you also have to cover other aspects of the new game. You want to reveal to your audience the general foundation of the new upcoming game but at the same time you want to keep your audience guessing. For example, the commercial will show only a few lines of text that could sway into different directions as to what the gamer is going to experience with this new game. You present a variety of options right off the bat with this strategy and you get gamers talking.

"Welcome to a little known paradise...

Where all appears to be well...

But eventually you'll come to see...

That nothing is what it appears to be!"

It's easy to build on lines like these in a commercial since the development team and the marketing team know what the exact context of the video game is. If we put the gamers in positions where they can playfully guess what the upcoming game is about while continuously sparking their curiosity along the way with more advertisements, a few hints and subtle revealings, then you can expect to make progress. You can expect to keep the buzz going if a commercial like this one is properly handled.

Above all else, and this is important, deliver on what you promise in your commercials. Whatever the content your upcoming game has stay true to that content and don't distance yourself from it. If you promote multiplayer action for the game then actually have it in the game. If you promote a wide variety of mini-games for the game then showcase mini-games. Honesty is the best policy and honesty is the best way to make a profit. Now let me leave you guys with a tagline spree of promoting for a fictional new game. Enjoy.

"In a world where everything is cliche and unimaginative...

One man aims to turn frowns upside down!

Prepare yourself for a nail-biting, heart-pounding adventure...

Filled with out of ordinary events and super cool plot twists!

Did we mention that we are gonna break the 4th wall? Yeah! We'll do that too!

Button mashers! This game's for you!

Unmundane: Escape From The Status Quo!  Coming out on Playstation 4!"

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Discussion #4 - Downloadable Content (DLC)

In recent times a certain phenomenon has emerged in the business of video games. Just like with any other business, the Video Game Industry is out to make money and there are many avenues that video game companies will take in order to make money and retain their financial status. Business can get rough at points and when companies need to make a profit they tend to get creative with their marketing. When a video game is put out on the shelves of a big store like Wal-Mart, it is either going to sell very well, sell at a decent rate, sell at a mild rate, or it won't sell well at all. It is up to the gamers to decide for themselves what games they would like to buy when they look through the game library and depending on the marketing that is handled by companies, gamers will lean towards certain games that appeal to their interests.

What is the recent phenomenon that I speak of? Well, there are plenty of video games out there in this day and age that rely on online connectivity and interactivity and there is a feature where gamers can go online and purchase add-ons to their favorite games. The concept of Downloadable Content, or DLC for short, was created in the late 2000's in a time when gaming technology became more advanced and efficient. Game developing companies use DLC as additions to the overall gaming experience, additions that were not available to the gaming community at the time of the finished product's release. Gamers are required to pay just a little bit more money to acquire DLC additions and they are allowed to experience extra content that is meant to expand the lifespan of the original game.

The concept of Downloadable Content rests on the foundation of a company presenting a new option for the gamer to play through a game that he or she already owns, but also providing a meaningful alternative to existing options that the gamer may not want to use all the time. In a single video game, the act of diversifying is needed so that the experience doesn't fade into dullness. For some games, Downloadable Content provides flexibility because it isn't limited to just one choice. Downloadable Content doesn't usually give the gamer just one more option and nothing more. A wide variety of options are usually put on the table for a DLC package to encourage consumers to buy and to add to their game.

There are reasons why Downloadable Content exists. First off, DLC is used to give the development team relief. Schedules can be very rough for development teams and not every single bit of content can be put into the original game. There are deadlines that development teams must meet. They must get games out on the market by a specific time because the wheels are always moving in game development. By the time one game project is finished it doesn't take long for the next game project to begin.

Secondly, and this is probably the most harsh reason, development teams implement DLC packages to make more money. The Video Game Industry is a business and if gaming companies aren't making enough money to support their daily operations, then they are going to fold up their tents and fade away. As long as the DLC packages come at fair and reasonable prices, then gaming companies should have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, this aspect of Downloadable Content can be mishandled in a variety of ways and it can turn into a bitter subject for gamers to tackle. Sometimes questions arrive in the form of "Why do I have to pay -blah- amount of dollars for the DLC?", "Why wasn't something so simple like this add-on added in the original game?", or even "Why is this DLC package necessary?"

Once gaming technology arrived at the point where DLC became a viable option for companies, game development plans have been tweaked to work around the DLC concept so that priorities could be sorted out and the developers could focus on the most important aspects of the original game. More often than not the things that are featured in DLC packages happen to be ideas that game developers may have originally had for the game but were put aside in favor of what eventually was made official.

One thing that must be considered would be that Downloadable Content is only optional. It isn't mandatory for gamers to purchase. If gamers don't want to buy DLC then they don't have to buy it. DLC is a "Take It or Leave It" kind of situation. It all comes down to how appealing the DLC package is. If a DLC package appeals to you enough then you would probably want to buy it. If a DLC package is something that you question and it's something that you are hesitant about then you will either ask for more information or you will consider not buying it. DLC is mainly a reminder about a gamer being practical with his or her money.

In closing, DLC packages work for some gamers and DLC packages don't work for others. This is really a subjective issue. DLC is just another option for gamers to explore if they want to continue their gaming experience with a game they really enjoy playing. Gamers generally like to have options available for them and it is important for companies to handle the distribution of options properly. DLC is something that can't be mishandled because of the economic impact that affects gamers. Reasonable prices for DLC packages are the key. You can't aim too high and you can't aim too low.

The one thing we all really need to mentally download would be discernment as gamers. Now that's content that's good for the mind.