Categories: "Misc"

Story-telling in Games

  04:11:00 pm, by Damon   , 1293 words  
Viewed 4643 times since 03/08/16
Categories: Games, Misc, Analysis

This blog post would probably be out of the norm for the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages blog, because this is about soccer games, not fantasy RPGs. However, this blog post is not completely out of the line, as far as I'd think blog posts go. Sure, it's not about a Bethesda game or a game review, but it does offer forward insight into the roleplaying aspect of a game, I'd say.

Why am I making a blog post about Football Manager, then? How many gamer geeks like me who can tell more about Tamrielic history than our world's care about a niche soccer game where you look at spreadsheets and budgets? Probably not a lot, but humor me and stick around to the end, because I want to challenge the notion that there are some games that don't offer forward any value as far as story telling and emotionally driven narration go. With the right creative mindset, anything can tell a story if you want it to and slow down to truly enjoy the experience.

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Untitled Post (couldn't think of a creative name)

  01:24:00 am, by Damon   , 608 words  
Viewed 27544 times since 10/28/14
Categories: Misc

Alright, I'll say it. I came into The Elder Scrolls and UESP with Morrowind, I've looked at Morrowind more often than the other games, and the layout of the Morrowind namespace is something I'm absolutely in love with. If I could have my way, the entire namespace would become the standard for what our location pages should look like.

When you look at the Balmora place page from Morrowind., you get a lovely layout with a banner saying things such as "People", "Travel", "Notes", "Quests", etc, and the page goes on to describe the town district by district with a plethora of pictures to show off the life of the city and how it looks. The sections below it detail the people of note, detail roads leading into and out of town and where they go to, and the "Places of Note" section briefly taps on the nearest points of interest. Reading the page feels more like a guide than a wall of text, and the layout is clean and, thanks to the nav bar that functions as a table of contents, navigable... Something that can't be said about the other pages on the newer namespaces, which don't have a TOC, because it would look out of place with the as-is layout.

The Chorrol page from Oblivion is more in line with a standard article page, and it's significantly less detailed. It offers a brief mention of the districts in its sole descriptive paragraph, then it notes a varla stone's location in town and a note of the statue's resemblence to a real world one. Then the long wall of quests before finishing with the map.

Riften's page from Skyrim is slightly better, going into better detail about the locations in town, though it's a solid wall of text that doesn't have any breaks or any kind of flair to make it easier to read and look at before the standard table of residents and quests.

Don't get me wrong, the latter pages are functional as-is (or at least nobody has complained about the layout), but what makes these pages interesting to look at? What makes these pages navigable? They are lacking in comparison. When I looked at the Morrowind namespace when I first got into the series, I wanted to learn more, because the contents of the pages were so navigable and the pages helped to bring the towns closer to life. I was able to look at who ran the places, look at what each place was about, learn about the districts in the town, and even more!

I suppose I have no real purpose to pointing this out, and I suspect the manpower (or desire) to revamp a bunch of pages to fit an antiquated style isn't there, but I just wanted to bring up my bias towards Morrowind and how everything used to work, being one of those "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" guys. The style works in Morrowind, it exists randomly in the Daggerfall namespace, and Arena, I'm too lazy to look at.

Speaking of Daggerfall and the bare namespace, I have half contemplated working at least sporadically on it, though Daggerfall is such a challenging game that it's hit and miss whether or not I could get through the Privateer's Hold.

That can be the question that could be answered in the comments or on Twitter when this thing autoposts to it... Am I just a terrible player who can't do anything competently (which isn't out of the realm of possibility if you've ever seen me game) or is Privateer's Hold just ridiculous to get through for a lot of people?

YouTube Gamers

  04:27:00 pm, by Damon   , 953 words  
Viewed 27757 times since 10/07/14
Categories: Games, Misc

I am back with a random blog post that I have created, because... Well, I was bored and this seemed like an interesting opinion article to write, based on my own experiences in the world of YouTube Let's Plays, both as a spectator and former content creator (who might return to the game sometime).

If you watch gamers on YouTube, you'll see that all of them brand themselves as gamers and "Let's Players". Gamers, they are, but I have always seen a specific, distinct separation between different types of gamers. We have, according to my three categories, the true "Let's Player", walkthrough gamers, and entertainers.

Based on gamers I've seen on YouTube and my own personal feelings, I believe the true Let's Player is one who plays the game purely for the joy of doing so, and videos can span episodes or series while including victories, failures, jumpcuts after a "You are Dead!" message that happens every few minutes, and they do the entire playthrough in a light-hearted way, typically coupled with their own giggling at their ineptitude and funny side stories that aren't always helpful to the progression of the game, but serve to keep the mood light when things are tense. The victory for the true Let's Player is not completion of the game, but the (mis)adventures that take place between Part 1 of the series and the last part of the series. The games played by the true Let's Player tend to be whatever the player will find entertaining, not what is necessarily going to garner subscribers, a view count, or so forth.

A good true "Let's Player" to use my opinions, would include YouTubers of the likes of Veriax, SorcererDave, and Miss Lollypop. Veriax and SorcererDave do remarkable thoroughly roleplayed and mostly in-character playthroughs of Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim, with the latter doing Fallout games and others as well, so those are good recommendations for TES LPs. Miss Lollypop is a player of The Sims series, with concurrent Let's Plays of The Sims 2, 3, and 4, if that's your thing.

The walkthrough gamers are into gaming for the sake of completion. They only post videos that show a game's mission in a 100% completion scenario. These gamers are down to business when it comes to their gaming, and will redo the same mission off-screen until they have the perfect completion of the game. The walkthrough gamer is its own special type of gamer, and one that takes a particular dedication to the game, because of the effort it takes to get perfect completion on a level of challenging difficulty. These gamers, in my experience -- though not necessarily all of them, tend to play the newest games to completion and then discard them for a new series upon their 100% completion of the main "Core" missions of the game. 

An example of a good walkthrough gamer I like is Centerstrain01. He's into the action games like Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, Hitman, and so forth, and he focuses on getting only a 100% completion of a given mission with a stealth walkthrough of the game, if a stealthy approach can be taken. 

Then there are the entertainers. These guys have a game on the background to be the background, and in many cases they enjoy playing the game, but the game itself is not what the point of the video is going to be, necessarily. An example of an entertainer is Nerd3, who by his own admission will edit to the comedy of his dialogue, rather than editing to the game footage itself, while scrapping entire videos that he doesn't find "funny" in the commentary department.

These Let's Players are excellent to watch if you want to watch them specifically for their commentary, and if you want to get a quick glimpse of a game, but don't particularly care for the intricacies of the game.

To use the example of Nerd3, he does his videos in 15-25 minute segments at max, with a lot of jumpcuts to string together his brand of comedy, which can be quite entertaining (sort of making up for the disorientation of  excessive jump cuts), and he tends to edit out the in-between content that doesn't directly help his progression of the game or his progression of the things he's saying. While he has at least one "Completes" series at a time going (with the aforementioned jump cuts), most of his videos tend to briefly touch the game and provide an overview, but seldom return to the game. Of course, over 1 million subscribers, which is tenfold or greater what the other people I referenced, show that his videos aren't bad, and numerous other entertainers prove that this is an existing marketplace to work in when it comes to YouTube gamers.

Again, while I am preferential to my definition of a true Let's Player when it comes to YouTube gamers and who I want to watch, all of these above listed YouTubers (Miss Lollypop in particular) are fun, easy to listen to gamers who play games of a wide spectrum and are fun to watch. We could get even deeper into the different types of gamers, but I feel like these are about as broad as I can explain things while keeping a reasonable sized post. And, these subsets can all clearly fall into one or more of these lines given, so they aren't hard to observe, even without the half-decade of watching Let's Plays that I have under my belt... And the few months of Let's Playing before I shut down the shop due to issues at that time in real life.

Anyway, I shall return in the future the next time I have a posting worth wasting 45 minutes on typing. Bye bye!

Damon's blogging again!

  01:13:00 pm, by Damon   , 602 words  
Viewed 5650 times since 06/16/14
Categories: Games, Misc

Hey, people who read the blog! After a few months of doing some utterly unimportant things - making a tumblr account dedicated to my gaming (which will remain unnamed as this isn't a spam post), taking care of chickens, looking for a job, and doing other stuff - I have decided I missed posting on the blog and needed to come back and love you guys!

I haven't really got anything interesting to say, though I plan to just start riffing for a few minutes and hope it comes out as an intelligent(ish) posting, so here it goes:

I missed all of E3, however I made it a special point to catch the presentation for The Sims 4, and I am really, really bloody excited for it! It looks like an all around improvement on the franchise!

For me, personally, the build video that was released a few weeks ago on the Sims YouTube channel is my favourite piece, because while I love building, I absolutely loathed the building system in The Sims 3. I have never been able to make houses precisely how I want them, because I have to do so much minute tweaking with an interface that, in all honesty, isn't the most ideal and intuitive part of the game. Don't get me wrong, it's not horrible, but it's certainly not the most ideal arrangement that could be done. The new click and drag tweaking that has been introduced to the Sims and building modes looks incredibly clean and doable, in addition to the other tweaks, such as the ability to click and drag to move whole rooms, clone them to reuse elsewhere, etc.

In other news, I've been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I've had it on my MacBook since 2011 or 2012, but I've not actually played it much. The game is clunky (but that's to be expected given its age), the graphics are poop, and the cars move like paper planes in the wind, but it's got a fun story and it's fun to explore and shoot up a fictionalised Miami... And sell what I assume is cocaine out of an ice cream truck to make money. Gotta get the kids addicted early, right? The earlier they start, the more years they have open to do it than if they started as middle-aged men!

All joking aside, drugs are bad.

And, there are no children present in Vice City... In fact, the only underage children in the Grand Theft Auto franchise are Mary-Beth an infant who looks like a pixelated burrito when she's always wrapped up in that blanket in Vice City Stories - and Jill Von Crastenburg, a child celebrity who is only ever referenced, and not actually encountered.

Anyway, Vice City is still a pretty fun game, though I haven't beaten it yet... Or ever, for that matter. I typically only do a handful of missions and then just run around. For instance, I have a save on Grand Theft Auto IV and on San Andreas, and each save gott just far enough to have the entire map explorable, then I just explore, drive cars, and cause trouble. It's pretty fun, although I need to do some missions for the Rasta dude who keeps text messaging me, because Niko is almost out of money for guns in GTA IV.

Anyway, I've become aware that I say "anyway", like, way to much. Just like those people who, like, say "like" a lot, which really annoys me. I'll be back to talk some time in the future. I'll try not to go many months without a post again. Love you all! 

A Wiki In The Age Of Reddit

  01:12:00 pm, by   , 568 words  
Viewed 3212 times since 04/08/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls, Misc, UESP

I originally penned this post back in September of 2013 and left it as a draft. It's interesting that I saw the same things then that Damon sees now. It makes me wish I had posted it back then rather than wait until now.

UESP is the best Wiki in the world when it comes to The Elder Scrolls games. How do I know this? When Dave (owner and founder of UESP) went to the Beer Garden festival and spoke to the creators of The Elder Scrolls Online, they told him they used UESP as a source. That’s right. When they couldn’t remember something, or needed information, one of the places they turned to was the UESP Wiki! Besides that being crazy cool, it is also telling of how well put together this Wiki is. Major props to everyone who has worked on the Wiki. Phenomenal work.

So where do we go from here? The world is changing, evolving, getting faster and more connected. Gone are the days when established sites were first to get the scoops, releasing them on a time table. Instead, rumors and news swirl around at a hundred miles an hour on sites like Reddit. Creators are actively engaging their supporters directly through Twitter. Projects that would never have seen the light of day are now getting fully funded through crowd-sourcing their capital at sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The world is getting smaller and more interactive at a blistering pace. Can a Wiki keep up? Is it still the best way to relay information to the masses demanding it? Are cold hard facts enough for a generation who has grown up questioning whether there is such a thing as truth? I don’t know.

When UESP started back in 1995 as The Unofficial Daggerfall FAQ, the web was just getting started. Sites were popping up left and right. They were written in HTML and maybe AJAX. They didn’t change very often, and most weren’t open to public commentary, let alone public editing. When the format of the UESP changed to a Wiki in 2005 (ten years later) it was a huge leap forward. It opened the floodgates for anyone with information to create, edit and improve the information held in the site. It has worked well thus far, and is still effective in being able to deliver its content to its audience, but what of the future?

We are two short years away from the twenty year anniversary of the UESP as a whole, and the ten year anniversary of it as a Wiki. As with anything, if a site stays unchanging it can easily become outdated and irrelevant to the world around it. Don’t get me wrong. I love the UESP and use it exclusively for my Elder Scrolls games information. My question to you, as a userbase, as co-creators of this site, is what should the UESP look like in the future? Is the Wiki format powerful enough and engaging enough for the generation that are just now getting online, or playing their first Elder Scrolls game? Will UESP change? Should it change? And if so, how? These are all questions that need to be asked, thought about, and answered. I want UESP to be around for my kids and grandkids to enjoy, and I want it to be a place that they would enjoy coming to.

The question remains, and needs to be answered.