Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mentioning Games and Supporting Games

On the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog you may have noticed plenty of mentions that I make toward video games that are very popular to the masses. There are actually plenty of video games that I mention that I not only don't own but also don't 100% approve of. What do I mean by that? I mean that with the games I mention, such as Ace Attorney in the last post, I am not trying to encourage readers to just get up and buy such games.

When I talk about the Ace Attorney games I happen to point out that there are some interesting game mechanics in these games. However, there are a few issues I take with these games that have nothing to do with the theme of being in a courtroom. Some of the things that make up the Ace Attorney games come across to me as being completely unnecessary, and for the life of me I don't know why such jarring decisions that are made by Capcom are not noticed right away by gamers.

It's one thing for me to mention the good points of a video game, but it's another thing for me to actually whole-heartedly support a video game. This is how I can break down this post into a TL;DR format.

I generally like the idea of a chubby Italian plumber jumping on platforms and achieving his goal of protecting or saving the princess. I just don't always like how that goal is achieved. Nintendo doesn't always execute ideas the way that I kinda view them, but hey, that's just me thinking as a scriptwriter. A blue hedgehog running through loops and stopping a fat scientist from taking over the world sells itself in many ways. It's just that I don't always approve of how Sonic the Hedgehog gets the upper hand on Dr. Eggman.

There are some Mario games and Sonic games that I simply don't own because I don't (and won't) have the desire to buy them. There are some key factors of games that are deal-breakers to me, and no matter how cool I find the lead character to be in these games, if I don't like the core content of the game, I'm not going to invest in it. It's just that simple.

Some of the reasons for me not owning certain games just can't be explained on platforms like this blog. Those reasons extend far past the realm of just being a gamer, and I think I should just leave it at that.

I can take inspiration from any video game and pinpoint the best qualities of that game so that when I start developing my own custom game, I can reference the game I got my inspiration from. No harm in that. I just can't completely duplicate the feeling of said inspiring game, because otherwise I'd fall into that same trap of being like everyone else. As a content creator you have to find your own way. You have to find your own voice. You have to make something that stands out and says that "Hey! My dev team and I did that! That thing represents us!"

Now with all that talk out of the way, I will let you guys know that I am planning on taking some pictures of another gaming event that I'm going to very soon. Keep your eyes out for those pictures because it may just be the kind of interesting thing gamers are looking for!  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Who Done It?: The Creativity of Mystery Games

The iconic courtroom index finger point
Raise your hand if you are familiar with old classic mystery story characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy and Tin Tin. Raise your hand if you're at least familiar with crime drama TV shows like NCIS, CSI, Law & Order, JAG, etc. Raise your hand if you have played mystery-themed video games.

I'd probably get a ton of hands raised for the last part.

It's easy to figure out one core reason why mystery-themed video games resonate with gamers. Even to this day and age, in 2016, mysteries still remain as an interesting form of entertainment for people. It's just that in recent years it has become apparent that game devs can pull off making fun video games based on mechanics that allow players to search for clues and find out who did what to the victim.

There are the usual suspects of mystery-themed video games such as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and to a lesser degree Professor Layton. Solving a mystery is generally very rewarding to the player who manages to figure out who committed the outrageous murder. The emotional investment is there as well as the emotional payoff, to know that you have seen an entire case through and that you found out what the end result to a certain situation was.

One great ingredient to this recipe is that as the player who has the tools of a case laid out in front of you, you are basically put on the spot. You are given the task to think all parts of the crime out, play them out in your head and then draw the conclusion that you think will be right. Even if you're not right, the learning experience of practicing your detective skills remains.

I admit that I once had the desire to create a video game based on the mystery theme. However, I've always made it a point to never let these kinds of game ideas to wander off into dark horror themes. I have always liked the "Who done it?" style of storytelling, no matter what kind of theme is being used in a video game. Even if you're progressing through a platforming game, if I can see mystery theme elements in that game it will raise my curiosity.

Consider the element of interacting with other characters besides the character you control, and you can tell right away that you're in for a unique experience solving a mystery because you know there's the chance that a character you're getting to know could very well be the killer. That abrupt sense of dread that you get when you put 2 and 2 together and realize that the character you kinda felt sorry for was actually the one who did it. Now you have to backtrack, get serious again and take down the suspect once and for all. Stuff like that in storytelling can be simply amazing if done right.

For the record I don't like all of the gameplay elements that are involved in games like Ace Attorney and Professor Layton. However, the few gameplay elements I do like are certainly those that I would like to build on for inspiration if I were to dig into making my own mystery game. In fact I have one angle I would like to take the mystery game genre to because I feel like this angle hasn't really been dissected enough. You have your courtroom dynamics and your roundtable discussions, but there's something else I would like to expand on.

Some of the strongest forms of character development in video games can come from the mystery genre. Once you complete cases you realize the growth of the character you control. You get that feeling that your favorite character is progressing as a detective or lawyer (or general crime-fighter), and that he or she is working toward a climatic payoff down the road where he or she will just settle down at some point.

Yeah, I'd have to say that solving mysteries can still be rewarding even today. The twists and turns alone should be enough to not only get people thinking, but to also make them come back wanting more suspense.