Can’t Get No

15 11 2007

Several annoyances on the job which I won’t discuss because Twoof Enjoys Not Being Fired For Blogging About His Job, as usual. But it does compound with other annoyances, as also usual.

I apologize again for being Rock Band focused, but what can I say… it does occupy a lot of my thoughts. And unfortunately I got confirmation that the “evolutionary, deep single player experience” that Harmonix talked up in interviews consists of… playing a bunch of songs until you’re done playing a bunch of songs. That’s it. No band logos, no NPC bandmates, no band NAME even, no decision making or RPG elements, nothing that makes the multiplayer-only BWT mode something special and unique. Instead we get Guitar Hero Redux.

Which is OKAY, and will be fun, but you gotta admit it’s disappointing that they had all these great features they deliberately omitted for anybody playing solo. And I’ve tried to express that point in my posting on the rockband.com forums, that it’s GOOD but could be BETTER, and I’m continually shouted at by fanboys who refuse to see the game as anything other than perfect and order me to “go make friends, n00b” and so on.

I’d enjoy being a gamer if not for other gamers.

If not for the e-peen waving contests, if not for the my-skillz-are-better, you-are-an-inadequate-person competition, if not for everything that takes the act of having fun and being entertained and turns it into some sort of personal struggle. I get zero respect because I have nothing they see as respectable… no PVP rating, no massive high scores, no achievement points or skill levels cleared, no landmarks of lewt, no ability to do six things at once, or whatever the game in question offers/requires of its Elite Players.

The only time I’ve ever gotten respect as a gamer is when I was DESIGNING games for NWN. Which was backbreakingly hard work to do all by my lonesome while holding down a 9-to-5 job, and I couldn’t sustain indefinitely. Ever since then, well, nada. (I don’t count Second Life as a “game” any more than I count the world wide web as a “game”, note.) It can be pretty disheartening, to say the least.

And yes, part of me realizes I shouldn’t care, that their opinions don’t matter and they’re all just a bunch of strangers. But the problem is in the modern gaming climate, you are going to run into this people All The Time. If not during online play (since games like RB only shine in multiplayer due to stupid design decisions) then during forum searching for information about the game. If you express an opinion that doesn’t match theirs, watch out. Better just to shut up and be anonymous than be inadequate.

There’s only two solutions I can see right now:

1. Tough it out and deal with the fact that I’m not going to fit in very well with gamer culture.
2. Paratroop into Darfur and get some REAL perspective on Internet Arguments(tm) within 5 minutes or less.

I’m kinda in the mood to live, so I guess it’s #1, although that’ll be harder than it sounds for awhile. Maybe post-launch when RB becomes Just Another Game and hopefully I find people to play with who aren’t judgmental trouser stains.

Edit: …oh, uh, and I heard RB’s DLC pricing plans and am okay with them and really looking forward to a lot of those tracks. To get to the point I was originally gonna talk about. Ehheh.

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30 responses

15 11 2007
loopychew

“Hi! Sorry about making this another Rock Band post, but I’ve got to talk about a lot of stuff that doesn’t have to do with Rock Band.” :-P
Again, I’m gonna point out that RB is a cooperative gaming experience (okay, there’s stuff like drum-offs, but anyone playing RB mainly for face-offs is missing the whole POINT), which is gonna make the multiplayer experience a different beast from what you get in other online games. People aren’t gonna bag on you because you’re playing on a lower level than they are, and if they are, again they’re missing the point. As long as everyone has fun (and it CAN be done in a non-competitive fashion!), then skill isn’t prerequisite.

15 11 2007
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

“Hi! Sorry about making this another Rock Band post, but I’ve got to talk about a lot of stuff that doesn’t have to do with Rock Band.” :-P
Yeah… that one kinda got away from me there. I figured I’d give a mention of my hassles and then move on to DLC and it became a full blown rant about RIJ Gamers.
Actually, I have a bad feeling that coop is going to make it WORSE. If you go online with anybody not already on your friends list, they’re going to mock you for not playing up to “their level”, and hate you for not keeping up “their combo” by you blowing notes. Basically you’re a drag on the score and unworthy to rock with them, etc.
That’s a lot of prediction and assumption, but you gotta admit, it’s based on the typical attitude one finds online. There, not too many people care about the fun, when there’s a high score to be obtained.
See also, South Park, Guitar Queer-O, in which Stan and Kyle have a breakup because Kyle can’t keep up with Stan’s scoring power.

15 11 2007
cmdr_zoom

I’d enjoy being a gamer if not for other gamers.
I hear ya, man.
I might not still be playing CoX (and I am still playing, honest) if not for finding quality playbuddies like the Crew.

15 11 2007
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Yeah, no way in hell would I still be in CoX if not for the Crew. Even if I’m pretty middle of the pack when it comes to performing at least there’s respect all around and support. If all I had was PUGs and soloing I’d have gotten bored/frustrated a long time ago.

15 11 2007
chiave_trust

“If at first you don’t succeed… you fail.”
Not exactly Rock Band, but still within the general “rhythm” or “music” genre: Dance Dance Revolution. Now, I enjoy the games; however, I am also a (relatively short) female and due to various physical problems ( I rather like the ability to breathe) can’t go any higher than say, six feet or seven, which is smack in the middle of “Standard” mode.
I get dirty looks in the arcades because of the interplay of these things. I don’t suck, but I’m not OMG TOP SCORER either. I have lots of friends who are gamers, to various extents; but bluntly, I’m not as coordinated in some respects, or I don’t have a custom-built system to play the BEST MOST AWESOME games (Halo 3 and Team Fortress 2 come to mind). And so not only am I left out of the circle, but when I try to join in in games I CAN play to some extent, I’m disrupting the flow of things – I’m “just a n00b”.
So I hear ya, man. I hear ya. Not only is it a lot of prediction and assumption (not just by the gamers, but by supporting industry, I’d say), it’s also vicious circles, and hence the Portal quote.

15 11 2007
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Middle of the Pack is a lonely place…
Doing 6 or 7 footers is hardly n00by. It’s just not l33ty. Finding friendly fun at that level of any gaming sphere is tricky, because you squish n00bs too easily and get squished by l33ts too easily. Neither like you as a result.
We need a support group or something for Ordinary Gamers. People who just wanna have fun, have a few skills to rub together, but aren’t in it for the bragging contests.

15 11 2007
loopychew

Re: “If at first you don’t succeed… you fail.”
I was thinking, the DDR community in Geneva is full of experts (okay, not necessarily SoCal tourney-level, but we’ve got a good number of regulars who pass catas and pies without blinking) who spend tons of time trying to get others to play (we get tournaments at all levels) that it never really occurs to us to look down on others.
It really sucks that people can be so effing elitist. Sure, there’s fun and a sense of accomplishment in besting a rival, but whatever happened to the pleasures of helping other people improve their game, or watching other people laughing and having fun?

15 11 2007
loopychew

Does Quickplay keep track of global high scores?

15 11 2007
chiave_trust

Re: “If at first you don’t succeed… you fail.”
In response to this particular bit, it could also be location – I played DDR on the East Coast of the US. Granted, I’ve a lot of experience with different songs, and like to get people to play; but there’s this… ingrained perception that “OMG it’s soooo hard and those people up there are passing omg I don’t know how their legs can move like that”. Ambivalence, mixed in with elitism, I guess? Still, ugh.

15 11 2007
chiave_trust

Re: Middle of the Pack is a lonely place…
I believe my train of thought stopped first at DDR, and then moved on to things like Halo (and other FPSes) and then to City of Heroes. For me, it’s troubling to see that “mediocrity” is unacceptable; this binary thinking of “You either suck or you’re l33tawesomecakes”. Double points either way if you’re female, handicapped, or whatever. (You’re either *better* than everyone else to compensate, or you get teased mercilessly if it affects your gaming style; example, not being able to play certain games because of controller/key config or coordination).
Hrm. A support group for Ordinary Gamers? How would this be?

15 11 2007
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

There are global leaderboards, but they’re basically useless. Only 100 people can be in the top 100, even, out of the THOUSANDS of people who play. And saying “I’m ranked #24914 on Welcome Home!” is meaningless.
I largely ignore those things… but some people don’t. ScoreHero.com is a site DEVOTED to this kind of e-peen junkie syndrome. They have special tracking systems just for figuring out how close to flawless your score runs are and compare notes on how to get more and more l33t.
I’m not gonna say they can’t have their fun, if they find that fun, but I’d hope there’s room for OTHER, less-perfectionist fun in this world too without being considered a troglodyte.

15 11 2007
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Re: Middle of the Pack is a lonely place…
Basically, a group of people who do Okay in games, and are Okay with that, and have fun being Okay together. …it sounds like a horribly dull concept but it is counterprogramming to the hardcore gamer social circles.
Still, I have enough craziness on my plate right now, so I don’t think I’ll be trying to administrate an online gamer community of ANY stripe. That way lies madness.
Speaking of DDR and disability, never try to be disabled and play DDR online. It shows a little icon if you’re using a controller vs. a dance pad, and any controller users are called names that make X-Box Live trash talkers look like saints.

15 11 2007
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Re: “If at first you don’t succeed… you fail.”
Yeah, even when someone’s trying not to be elitist, elitism can naturally evolve through observation.
What’s the common public’s perception of DDR? That it’s hard as hell and impossible to play. That’s because it LOOKS hard as hell and impossible to play, especially when local arcades are packed with cata grinders. Even if they are friendly people, and wave over strangers and even offer up sacrificial tokens to get them started, the stranger just saw them bust out, like Drop Out or Legend of Max or whatever the heck is hot right now, and the fixed image in mind is “DDR is insane-o hard”.
This is something the Wii is getting right. They know their image has to be one of open play… accessible, easy, approachable. The games themselves can have their hardcore difficulty modes or score competitions as long as there’s a visible, blindingly bright neon sign saying “ENTER HERE” as well.

15 11 2007
chiave_trust

Re: Middle of the Pack is a lonely place…
Madness? BUT THIS IS OTAKUDOM!
…or “gamer-dom”. Whatever.
Re: DDR: Really? I’ll have to watch out for that then. Ugh… now if it weren’t for my self-image issues, I could actually enjoy playing amongst friends! x.x

15 11 2007
chiave_trust

Re: “If at first you don’t succeed… you fail.”
It also depends on what genre of games you enjoy; I happen to enjoy certain games that aren’t as well known over in the States (visual novels; the Phoenix Wright games are simplistic examples of these, and I’d include some of the Persona/Shin Megami Tensei games as well).
But are these Games? Nuuu. These are “sissy” games. The games you play, can lead to more of the perception-circle, I think. (The industry as a whole fosters this, I think, especially in computing; but it depends on the company. For example, Nintendo and the image of the Wii, even though it’s derided as too n00bish or fitting for children by some circles.)
So there’s the common / public perception of certain types of games, as well, I think.

15 11 2007
loopychew

Re: “If at first you don’t succeed… you fail.”
At the peak of my DDR career, I was this 230-pound lardass who managed to floor everybody when I played. (Indulging in my petty side, it was always awesome when significantly trimmer people who didn’t know me would snottily let me use the machine. My normally timid demeanor around strangers aided the effect as well. Watching their jaws drop was always hilarious.) I never understood why more people didn’t think, “if THAT guy can play the game like this and not suffer heart attacks, so can I!”
Also, I’m not sure it ever has anything to do with location so much as it does community. When we first founded the DDR club, we were all n00bs at the game since it was just introduced in Geneva. The home mixes weren’t incredibly available, so we spent tons of time hanging out at the arcade, looking for people to play with, and I guess that just never stopped.

15 11 2007
Anonymous

Part of why I continued watching your blog after you moved on from NWN was because I thought you were a really creative person in general (as opposed to just a really creative mod maker) and your opinions on gaming were in line with my own.
I have issues playing MMORPGs with hardcore players because I cannot multitask. I have ADD. It’s hard enough for me to concentrate on ONE thing let alone several at once. Even if it’s PVP and all I have to do is one thing while listening to people on Vent I have a hard time, because if I concentrate on what I’m doing, my brain tunes out my team, and if I listen to my team, I have to stop what I’m doing. So I absolutely understand what you mean.

15 11 2007
raigne

And I’m not entirely certain why I’m logged out…

15 11 2007
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Even without ADD, I have similar problems. My reaction times and focus aren’t the hottest; I don’t have the lightning reflexes needed for fighting games beyond an instinctive fight-or-flight level, certainly not enough to know when to use what combo and how to execute it successfully. (I rock on Chun-li in OLDschool SF2 because she’s all instinct… bounce, position yourself, use a single button attack or mash, etc).
I have the same problem in COH PVP. I just can’t figure out what’s going on and how to react to it fast enough; everything happens a mile a minute and one third of a second can be enough to end up with you dead as a doornail, with everybody jousting all over the place. My only successful character in PVP is Charly and that’s because the pet AI does a lot of the work for her.
It’s tough being a non-excellent gamer. Logic would dictate that most people are non-excellent, but the online sphere tends to distort and magnify populations, to enhance the presence of the Awesome and downplay everybody else. Avoiding discouragement is a game in and of itself.

16 11 2007
lirazel

It seems that the issue here is the competitive nature of the way we play games. I am reminded of a close friend of my husband’s–I’d never met him before, and we picked him up on the way to their college reunion. His chosen way of introducing himself to me was a long, boring story about the stock day-trading he’d done that day, and how he’d done so much better than a couple of other people. Which struck me at the time as a video game with real money.
Thing was, he was unemployed at the time, so the only glory in his life was beating people at day-trading.
Now, I’m not beating the tired and imaginary horse about the social skillz of gamers. But I do think that competition and cooperation are BOTH natural human activities that bring us pleasure. And if you look at the MMORPGs that are really making money, they support both. A game that’s purely based on out-scoring people can only support one mode of being, even if you try to make it into a “personal best” sort of thing.

16 11 2007
jengagne

Yeah, the attitude you describe in the original post is what keeps REAL casual gamers (me for example) away from becoming interested in more than one or two non-solo games. In my case, a few MMOs over the last several years.
So if I felt like picking up a game to be serious about, I’d probably go for CoH/X again. Assuming you guys were still around, that is. But… I don’t. Yet anyway.

16 11 2007
jengagne

Re: Middle of the Pack is a lonely place…
Nice icon. :D
As for the topic at hand… it sounds kinda cheezy to have to have an “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” group for gamers, but 2f is right; that’s how badly the current hardcore attitude would need deprogramming.
I doubt it could ever integrate though. It’s just jocks and nerds all over again.

16 11 2007
jengagne

It’s not just downplaying everybody else — I’d argue that the overall culture + frustration factor is filtering most of those people right off the game. I’d say it takes a fairly rare sort to stick with it even after they hit the lower-than-leet glass ceiling of their skill level.

16 11 2007
jengagne

Agreed with all you’re saying! The day-trading competiton is an excellent analogy to the kind of gaming in this post.
Even in MMOs though, unless you consistently find a team with the right attitude, they aren’t thinking about cooperation as a way to fill in the gaps in each other’s _skills_. At most they think of cooperation as a way to fill in the game-required gaps in each other’s uber-leet flavor-of-the-month hyper-minmaxed build.
These sorts of folks just get pissy if you don’t play that role in a technically perfect (or whatever they would consider perfect) manner 100% of the time.
I mean, more than once I’ve been booted off a pickup team just because the team leader didn’t like/understand the powers I had chosen for my character. Crap like that is not the sort of treatment that keeps people enthused, you know?
(My leaving City of Heroes wasn’t related to that factor, though. I had a huge crop of excellent understanding teammates constantly available, which was awesome! I just had more focus elsewhere in my life and hobbies, that’s all, and it was rendering me SO out of practice that there wasn’t much point. I mean, I couldn’t even remember the _movement_ controls, I was there so seldom, heh.)

16 11 2007
shachihoko

Re: Ordinary Gamers
I would so totally join a group like that … I don’t know if “support group” is the right phrase, but I get the rest of it. “We’re not here to win all, we’re here to HAVE FUN!”
And as I’ve commented on several occasions, I simply do not have the time to dedicate myself to s33k!n9 l33tn3ss in any single game (or series). So I play the games I enjoy, I do however well at them, and I tend to stay the hell away from online competition because whoever’s out there probably has put a lot more time into honing their mad skills than I do.

16 11 2007
Anonymous

How about option 3:
http://www.bioware.com/bioware_info/jobs/positions/austin_writer.html
Get a job at Bioware or somewhere similar writing games, so it no longer has to be a *second* job?

16 11 2007
raigne

This was what I liked about Guild Wars. You can play by yourself. You hit the level cap pretty fast, so less grinding. You can do a little and come back later. And alot of the other people in the game are the same way, so you can usually find a PUG that doesn’t expect you to be hardcore awesome. It’s pretty easy to find a guild that has the same attitude. I have yet to find another MMO experience like it. I fear trying out WoW, because I know no one will help a newb, and it requires an insane amount of time to play.

18 11 2007
fizzley

He was actually already offered at job at Bioware and he turned it down for several reasons (lack of job security, didn’t want to ruin his hobby by making it work, etc.).
I just heard that you can only get so far in Band World Tour unless all band members are playing on at least Hard difficulty. That kind of sucks, since while I can play on Hard/Expert, very few of my friends would want to do anything above medium.
I guess it’s okay as long as you can unlock all the songs.

18 11 2007
fizzley

Sorry, the article where I read this was:
http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/836/836118p5.html

19 11 2007
jengagne

So now I guess the take-home message for Rock Band is not just “get some friends you loser” it’s also “get some LEET friends. joor teh sux”?

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