Metal Gear SurVives!

Metal Gear Survive, what a weird thing to happen. If this is the way Konami intends to get into fans’ graces, they’re way out of touch. A Metal Gear like zombie survival game could have done well with people, thou at this point the whole theme of the game is late to the party. Of course the game got a hatestorm against it, but I’m betting most of it has to do with Konami rather than the game itself.

Zombies in Metal Gear is really nothing special. We already had magic, cyborgs, burning space Soviets, magic AI from the 1970’s that sang and weird ass parasites that gave superpowers and gave humanity language. One could say that the puppets in Metal Gear Solid V were essentially zombies as well, so this whole this has a precedence in the series.

The whole thing really is par for the course at this point, really.

I doubt any fan of the franchise expected this sort of motion from Konami. Looking at the comments and reactions, most seem to have expected some sort of generic wargame where you would play as a member of MSF or the like, while others were expecting a Metal Gear remake. I bet staff at Konami were on some good shit when they came up with the concept for SurviVal. Must be leftovers from Kojima’s stash.

I can’t even be mad at the rocket-propelled arrow you see in the trailer, it’s stupid and useless thing. Just par for the course. However, it is apparent that SurviVe does reuse assets from MGSV, which should be expected but still manages to feel a bit cheap. As long as they can deliver a solid product, I guess.

That begs the question Who are the intended audience? I can see Konami wanting to sell this to the core fans, but they’re more or less completely hating the company at this point and would’ve called whatever product they had cranked out  shit no matter what. Unless said product would’ve been exceptional in their view. Zombie fans have become jaded due to the amount of media about them out there. Survival games are the most mass consumed genre right now, and we can thank Minecraft for that. In that sense, this seems to be a survival game using the Metal Gear name to further lift itself to the surface.

I did say that Konami would produce more Metal Gear games in the future, but never said they’d be any good. If they have more ideas under their belt how to win over the hearts of their fans, Konami really needs to go back to the basics with each of their franchises, and release that 3Ds Bomberman Hudson Soft had finished but not published. This sort of experimenting should left for later. Then again, this is no Pachinko: Akumajou Dracula Erotic Violence. Yes, that’s a thing.

But for now, it’s better to sit back with a good cup of hot stuff and enjoy the banter that’s going on. Konami has already received the initial feedback, again up to them consider how they want to proceed with things. It might even be that the revision done to Japanese gambling laws that in preparations for the upcoming Olympics may just force Konami to try concentrating on video game development more… unless their sports simulator section providers more dough.

As a sidenote, despite I enjoy the occasional slot games, goddammit Japanese slots are loud and flashy as all hell.

Review of the Month; the rest of Metal Gears

I honestly took too long to continue the previous Metal Gear review. This time it will fill both mecha design talk and review spot of the month, because this really has been a month where things just have gone all the wrong ways, and will continue to do so for the new few months. I’m also adding this and the previous entry to Robot related materials page you can access above the banner.

Anyway, we’ll do things like last time. Go through the games in release order and review them as-is. The Metal Gears in this entry are now considered to be unrelated to the main series games, thou seeing how retarded those design went in the end, I wouldn’t mind just shoving these in just because. They will be reviewed as both standalone entries, and how they relate to any of the mainstream series entries or to each other, if applicable. I will not go over Unmanned Gears here, as they’re not the title mechas, but I will include EXCELSUS in this one, because it didn’t appear in the previous entry.

Continue reading “Review of the Month; the rest of Metal Gears”

Designed freedom

Free roaming game design has been with us for a long, long time. PC RPGs tended to give the player whatever way they chose to approach a quest or a task in order to give an illusion of  that the player can do whatever he wants. Whatever came afterwards was tied to events, and sometimes the way the player approached these tasks decided where the game went.

Arcade games were different. Their strength always was in the strong design that kept the gameplay together and required to master the gameplay elements as intended. There was relatively little freedom of choice, if any.

Console games could take the best of both worlds, as with Legend of Zelda. While you were free to tackle the game in whatever way you wanted like PC RPG, it was tightly tied to the design of the game and progress structure, just like an arcade game. Hence it being an Action RPG.

With sandbox games like Grand Theft Auto and Sleeping Dogs being examples of relatively free approach in games. Sometimes it is advertised that you are completely free to play the game the way you want, but this isn’t really the case. For example, Metal Gear Solid V has a strict ranking system that essentially makes the player to play the game in few selected ways rather than truly appreciating the way the player would like to approach the missions.

Would a free roaming game that emphasizes on the player’s own approach even have a need for a some sort of ranking system? For challenge missions and such yes, but outside that the system would need to be reward the way the player plays. It is supposed to be a free system after all.

The problem is a dynamic ranking system would be how to rank the different approaches. In a stealth game like Metal Gear it would make sense to give a penalty to the player for killing enemy soldiers, but with MGSV you’re the Big Boss and you call the shots. If you want to go in guns blazing, then you do that. It’s a valid method and was even demonstrated in Konami’s presentation. In this approach, shouldn’t the system rate the accuracy, speed and lack of collateral damage?

A problem with a dynamic rating system is how it would recognize the way its being played, but essentially there is no game that actually allows any sort of approach to the game. Ultima Online was the closest thing we’ve got. This is due to games being products that are always designed with a core idea. For a stealth game its stealth, even if would allow whatever approach. The game design would always push the player towards the designed method of playing. To go in guns blazing fits more Grand Theft Auto.

The solid nature of games is another thing that essentially prevents the player to do whatever they want. Games have a definitive beginning and end, and you can’t branch off those even with games with multiple different ends. While games may be interactive, they are not dynamic. What is coded in there won’t change. In Zelda you can’t side with Ganon. In Sleeping Dogs you can’t jump the ship and join the criminals.

It’s marketing speech when you hear that you are free to do approach the missions whatever way you want. You can do it, but don’t expect a high rank unless you manage to get around the system. A player who understands how he is ranked and how the system works can abuse it to their heart’s content as much as they want, thou most customers don’t give much weight or even care enough to put enough time into the game. Tool Assisted Speedruns are an example where understanding the game has taken to an absolute maximum. DS Brain Age’s TAS is an example how understanding how the game functions underneath allows player to essentially whatever they want.

No game allows you to approach itself the way you want to. The ways the game can be approached has been designed already and the templates are already in there. There can only be personal variations how these templates are then put into use. A game may have been designed to support multiple approaches with modifications and large amounts of options to choose from, but it may also have a core design that simply invalidates some of those approaches. The only game that’s completely dynamic in its approach are children’s games and traditional pen & paper games, where the participants give direct feedback to each other and change as the situation needs. This possibly ever-changing nature is something that electronic games can’t do without having a system that can allow such change or react to it. After all, neither computer or video games are reactive, that part is left to the player.

To compare with other media, movies are completely inert in their interactivity. What’s there can’t be changed and it can only repeated the exact same way. With games scenarios are often this way as well with the player giving them the dynamics to change with slight variations. Some games may emphasize on random elements with procedurally produced worlds or random placement of items and characters. It’s something, but far from actually changing or adapting to what the player is doing.

Long story short, if a game wants to allow the player to approach missions and task however they want to, and actually stick with this sentence, the games would need to be as reactive and mould themselves around those selections. Designing and programming such a game would be nightmare. Then again, most people seem to prefer the more tightly designed games, like the 2D Mario ones.

Review of the Month; design progression in Metal Gear franchise

[Update, 25.08.2015] This post has been awarded a Review of the Month status. It’s original title was Metal Gear; where old designs are more advanced than new ones

With Metal Gear Solid V coming to our way sometime in few weeks, I’m taking a topic from the backburner that I haven’t been doing even if I have planned this for some time. Let’s give a look at the designs and the design progression Metal Gear franchise has.

Let’s straight about this; the design flow in Metal Gear is screwed up. This is due to two things; Kojima’s own lack of desire to follow his established continuity and Shinkawa’s REX becoming a fetish that permeated the whole franchise, essentially making it stagnate to one design and its variants.

If you were to play the franchise’s main series in production order, the design progression would be valid and make sense. However, the moment you take into notion the canon order of events, things just sink into a black hole. This is due to apparent weird technological progression, where the 70’s and 80’s have better technology than in the 90’s. In-universe, that is.

An argument that has been thrown around to explain this weird technological schizophrenic schism is that all this tech has been for black ops, and thus never seen in the daylight. This is more or less bullshit, as black ops technology has always seeped into real world, especially those that have made world a much easier place to live or have made incredible leaps in sciences. Like creating wormholes that are safe to travel for a human being without extra gear, or perfect holographic projectors, or batteries that can power aforementioned piece for immense amounts of time. These examples would not just vanish as they are beneficial not only to the people, but to governments everywhere. An example of this can be seen in-universe as well, with cyborgs becoming an everyday thing around MGS4 and further in MG Rising.

Speaking of cyborgs, it’s comedy gold in retrospect that Snake’s Revenge got panned by Solid fans because it turned Big Boss into a cyborg, a thing Kojima just went with Gray Fox anyway and other characters in the series. An example of duality, if nothing else.

In order to properly showcase how screwed the whole design deal is, we’ll use the production order of the games rather than the canon order of the story.

TX-55 Metal Gear, the first one until retcons
TX-55 Metal Gear, the first one until retcons

As Kojima based Metal Gear on western movies, so does the first Metal Gear reflect the American sensibilities when it comes to mecha. Without a doubt there’s a strong hint of Ed-209 from Robocop, just with less gasoline guzzling elements. As it was designed by the Japanese who had more or less no technical knowledge, the first Metal Gear looks like it could topple over if somebody shoved it. Top heaviness is nothing new to Japanese designs thou, and the more industrial look they were going with doesn’t make it more realistic.

Some do argue that Metal Gears are one of the more realistic mechas out there, but the best you can do to this is to laugh. This was the first of its kind, and everything that would come down the line would base themselves on it. Things that would carry over would be the placement of the main weapon on its right shoulder, the basic tri-pointed feet design where you have one toe back, two forwards, additional weaponry near the groin and armless design.

Metal Gear D, a solid evolution
Metal Gear D, a solid evolution

Metal Gear D is a perfect successor in terms of visuals. It takes what was iconic to the first one and gives it a wholly new flavour. It’s not a unique departure, but that’s fine for a direct sequel. Similar bi-pedal positioning, weapon placement is roughly the same and the overall silhouette is similar enough to be recognized to be in the same line. It’s a more refined, a more detailed design that, most importantly, gives an idea of progression.

Metal Gear D does have a stronger Japanese flavour to it, but it’s a bit more downplayed quite a lot thanks to the attention to the realism the wanted to have with it. It still looks top heavy, and the scrawny chicken legs don’t seem too trustworthy.

There was a mass-produced model in Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear G, but it never appeared in-game so we’re going to skip that.

Metal Gear Fetish Fuel
Metal Gear Fetish Fuel

Metal Gear REX was designed around the limitations of the PlayStation. It’s far blockier than either of the previous ones because of this, with more sleeker flats all around. While it shares bi-pedal similarities with the two previous Metal Gears, REX is a departure. The familiar silhouette is gone and replaced with a more bestial visage. This is not necessarily a bad thing at all, and the design does carry certain recognizable elements. REX is a departure from some of the ideas of how Metal Gear should look like, and shows that it doesn’t need to look the same as long as its gets the job done. Which is funny, as no Metal Gear has ever done their intended job properly.

Unlike the predecessors, REX’s body is more balanced. The large, wide and low key legs carry the two-segment main body in a far more ideal fashion. The feet change the toes a little bit, where it has two spikes in the front to give traction to said legs. This can be regarded as a solution to how the predecessors were a more rigid in design. Indeed, the way REX has been animated in the games makes it act and function like an animal to the extent on having it open and close its ‘mouth’ for roaring. It’s stupid really, and a sign how certain sentimentalities from Japanese pop-culture had already seeped in. Otacon’s line about things looking like his Japanese animes does apply the rest of the designs in the franchise.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that Metal Gear Solid was the first Metal Gear game many people played, not either version of Metal Gear.

MGRAY
Metal Gear Ray, a further departure

Metal Gear RAY’s design was to reflects that what a Metal Gear is became a fluid thing in Kojima’s head. The thing Metal Gear was supposed to be was a bi-pedal tank with nuclear capabilities, but authors can’t twist and give excuses to name anything however they want. As such, RAY lacks all of the established qualities it takes to be a Metal Gear, a thing that you can over analyse to fit Kojima’s intention for the narrative Metal Gear Solid 2 carries.

RAY’s organic and sleek nature reflects it amphibious nature, and is an antithesis to REX’s blocky and sleek design, further playing into its whole anti-Metal Gear nature. It’s a bit over-designed, with the whole four-jointed legs and circles everywhere on its red-brown parts. It has much more relation to Zone of the Enders in this sense, and it wouldn’t take much to convert RAY into an Orbital Frame. The organic elements still had their function, as RAY had more nanotech in form of nanopaste that would fix its artificial muscles it used. There is a mass-produced model for the US Navy with complete reddish brown colour, dull point knees and far smaller tail. Otherwise the overall design is the same.

There’s Arsenal Gear too, which has nuclear capabilities, but it’s a goddamn underwater battleship and not a bi-ped. It doesn’t play in the frame what a Metal Gear is, however author intent tries to force the idea of changing warfare in with it. However, we will touch upon the Shagohod, because its design does play in how Metal Gears and their approximate mechanical designs formed.

Not really two legged, but a step towards it
Not really two legged, but a step towards it

The Shagohod, in many sense, fits as the first step towards what would become the basics of a Metal Gear. While Big Boss MGS games are basically just big retcons, the Shagohod’s existence doesn’t break anything in the design line as such. It’s a bit more traditional tank than a Metal Gear despite it being a screw propelled. Screw-propelled tanks were a thing, but overall their usage is relatively limited, but they can make decent amphibious vehicles that should be able to traverse difficult terrain.

Despite Shagohod not being a Metal Gear, it the same base elements that the first one established, as well as showing the first signs of REX fetishism. You can find the nuclear launcher on the right shoulder as usual, secondary weapons between legs, or screws in this case, with the radar dome placement on the left, which is a carryover from REX’s design. That’s not the only thing that Shagohod carries over REX thou. The two-segment design makes a return, and for whatever reason Shagohod can sort of stand up so that the tip of the screws are digging in to the ground , raising the level of the first segment. While the overall design looks neat, you are able to see how the first segment also resembles REX’s head segment.

Whether or not the Shagohod’s design represents the mid-1960’s is a good question. The angularity the first segment represents wouldn’t be widely seen until T-55 in real world tanks, but the second segment is almost too bulbous and shapely to fit any tank overall. Outside these the Shagohod almost could fit the era very well, if we take these very loose definitions and terms of general military science fiction into consideration. I would almost say that the Shagohod is almost the most sensible design that has come from the Metal Gear franchise.

Screenshots because RAXA lacks any properly well done renderitions,
Screenshots because RAXA lacks any properly well done render

With Metal Gear jumping to PSP, a mainline game would come down the line sooner or later. Like it or not MGS Portable Ops is a valid entry in the series. Metal Gear RAXA was a prototype for Intercontinental Ballistic Metal Gear, which we never see in action in the game itself, but we can assume the two look essentially the same. You would think RAXA would be free of influence from REX, but if you look close enough towards its middle section, you see the same T-shape head from REX repeated. At this point one thing is clear; the design progression in Metal Gear is not valid in its own universe. It only makes sense on a meta-level like this.

RAXA is once again a weird thing for a Metal Gear. The ICBMG is capable of nuclear strike for sure, but both of them move on four legs. Or rather, float in the air and fly. It’s better just to ignore what a Metal Gear is supposed to be and just go whatever is named as one. Then again, we could also ask why were all the powers so keen in developing a Metal Gear when every single one had failed before. Anyway, there’s not much to be said about RAXA, outside that outside its wings, it does follow a sensible continuation from Shagahod, outside the whole REX elements. There’s few bits that are a bit too advanced for its time even, but this being SF story, we’ll let that slide.

Moonlight walker
Moonlight walker

The Gekkou isn’t a Metal Gear, but as it follows the same design continuity as REX and RAY, we’ll handle it relatively shortly. The idea for Gekkous was to take REX’s head and modify it with RAY’s leg parts. MGS2 was the moment where Metal Gear as a franchise took itself towards more 2000’s science fiction with nanotechnology and semi-biological components as opposed to hard hardware machinery based ideas, and Gekkou juxtaposes the two into one being.

While there are few variations of them, like suicide Gekkou, the above example is as simple as it gets. It still carries some elements standard elements, like the radar dome on its right shoulder, thou it is far more in the centre than previously. There is also a sensor unit between its legs. Speaking of legs, there’s like six joints in there, which Kojima put in relatively heavy use on how the Gekkou’s move. Three toes also make a return here, just in different order than usual. Unlike the Shagodog, the elements from REX and RAY are very prominent, but that can be coined to normal technological progression. However, even then something more unique could’ve come from Gekkou’s than recycle and mash REX and RAY together like this. There is an idea in there, thou it’s up to individuals if Gekkou’s should’ve been more distinctively unique.

Metal Gear MkII and MkIII will be omitted because they can be summed as Metal Gear’s head as body, screen as launcher.

From left to right; Pupa, Chrysalis, Cocoon and Peace Walker
From left to right; Pupa, Chrysalis, Cocoon and Peace Walker’s two modes. Not to scale

While the AI Weapons are not counted as a Metal Gear, they are a design step. However, they all run on a relatively sophisticated Artificial intelligence, breaking whatever illusion you had about the design and technological continuity the series had. Still, they carry certain elements from past designs that make more or less sense, outside Cocoon. Cocoon’s just a big damn dumb tank with absolutely no redeeming value in itself. Its design is messy, overblown and something a five year old would like to see. It’s all around awful and they should’ve disregard this from the get go. Pupa, however, is basically a jacked up Shagohod. Now that makes sense, as it’s more mass produced version with a bit more streamlined with tracks rather than screw-drives. Extra weapons and the stupid boosters fir the overall design just fine.

Chrysalis can be seen as an evolution of RAXA, but it makes little sense how it flies. It also carries a rail gun, something that was supposed to be completely new and ground breaking for REX. At least this time they went away with the REX elements with both of these, resorting to a far more basic industrial look. It works and sets itself apart among the AI Weapons, and not just because it can fly. It may be a small thing, but switching the rail gun’s and radar’s placements is a change that gives it slightly more characters. Well, as long as you disregard that both of them are lifted almost directly from REX.

And oh, they all have Hatsune Miku singing as their voice. I don’t have anything against Miku, but vocaloid has no place in Metal Gear. Then again, the franchise has gone more or less full anime since MGS, so it’s easy to explain. Plus Miku was at the height of popularity at the time, and it seems Peace Walker was developed to cater to Kojima’s son. Metal Gear had gone from being a view of western action movies to a view of western action movies filtered heavily through Japanese pop-culture.

Peace Walker on the other hand is just weird. Carrying what essentially is Shagahod’s launcher on four legs that are resemble strongly armourless REX legs. The other box is a more traditional missile launcher. Initially it was supposed to look like REX and have a similar hangar, but that was reserved for ZEKE. Peace Walker is a strange mixed of bags. On one hand it’s pretty neat, but on  the other hand it’s absolutely retarded. The big ball there is basically its head and the AI pod seen on other AI Weapons reside next to it. The overall design is a lanky transformer, as the four-legged mode had to act like some dog or similar mammal, whereas the two legged mode acts like a theropod dinosaur, again making a connection to REX.

Oh lord...
Oh lord…

REX’s elements had been popping up everywhere after its initial appearance in MGS. Metal Gear ZEKE is basically where Kojima tells that games before that doesn’t matter, as ZEKE’s design was to look like on of the future Metal Gears, but older and rougher on the edges. ZEKE ended up being essentially a stripped REX. The design differences in details are plenty, but the silhouette could be mistaken by an unrehearsed eye. Weaponry placements, radar, the flat head minus the leg of the normal T-shape, legs, they’re all from REX. In meta this makes sense, but in continuity it makes zero sense. This Metal Gear we have here is essentially at the same level as REX in overall technological status, with more or less functioning AI and a goddamn rail gun. While the player has to destroy AI weapons over and over again in order to produce ZEKE. As such, some parts can be switched around to make it look less like REX, but the basic frame will always be the same. While that basic frame is balanced, it should just tip over because of that rail gun.

amiami wonfest
Metal Gear REX 3.0. Or 4.0, depends how you want to count it

Rex_Prototype[1]

With The Phantom Pain being released soonish, I’m not going to pretend this variant of REX doesn’t exist. This isn’t even funny, just sad. Much like ZEKE before it, this Metal Gear ST-84 is technologically more advanced that its two successors will be. It’s even got more technical design than REX had with vents on the sides of its head and relatively smaller silhouette, thou the changes make it more frontal heavy. Unlike REX, the ST-84 is unbalanced, but it will be animated to look like an animal again. Perhaps those two elements on either side of the frontal section are arms, so it can be four-legged again. Then again, perhaps those are arms for its humanoid mode. I’ll be leaving that image linked rather than outright posted if this turns out to be true, but I have my doubts. Why would you have a upright standing Metal Gear? The sheer amount of technology to make it more feasible without artificial muscles as with RAY and Gekkou is immense. It’s a much larger target as it is now with incredibly high profile and useless scraps around its body. If Metal Gear as a franchise tried to take itself seriously before, The Phantom Pain has made itself very schizophrenic with the harsh themes it goes for and… a goddamn humanoid Metal Gear.

With that, the mainline Metal Gear games come to a full circle, as Metal Gear V leads into Metal Gear. I’ve been saying since Metal Gear Solid 2 that there needs to be a remake of Metal Gear 1 & 2 because of how the narrative has changed, new events and technologies have been introduced that do not mesh well with the previously established continuity. Big Boss’ games are essentially big retcons in themselves, and despite MGS3 and MGSPW being pretty decent games, one can’t ignore how laughably bad the continuity is between the older and newer titles. It would have taken a lot from Kojima to stay restricted with what he had done in the past, but as we’ve seen along the years, he is a man who does whatever hell wants without caring one bit how that affects anything else, even if it is a franchise he became famous for.

There are Metal Gears in the franchise that use elements from all the ones seen above. Some are more unique, some are just convoluted. We’ll most likely return to those some other day, starting with Metal Gear 2 from Snake’s Revenge.

X logic is awesome, when used properly

Have you ever wished you could fly by yourself like Superman or have some other ability that’s beyond the human reach? I’m sure we all have something like that. Fiction, of course, has always offered us a way to live those fantasies to some extent, but out of all media games really is the only one where we are able to take control of that power of flight. Well, you can always argue that base jumping and the like gives you the feeling, and I wouldn’t argue against that, but that’s more controlled falling than actual flying.

Games stray just enough from the traditional medias with its interactivity that it allows everything to be possible and be enacted by the player. In Super Mario Bros. we have a cartoon fantasy land, where we can travel through pipes. Sure, we can find a big damn pipe and walk through it, but we won’t find an underground cavern filled with shiny golden coins floating in the air. We don’t question this, because it’s comical and functions well within the setting and the logic it uses.

Similarly, Metal Gear Rising has cartoon logic to itself too. Same goes to the rest of the Metal Gear franchise, but in different degrees in different games. Some are worse in this regard, as it’s almost like they build a cohesive semi-realistic world and then just drop the ball with nanomachines or overtech robots or functioning artificial intelligence in the 70’s. Anyway, in MGR you are able to cut pretty much anything and anyone, because the logic allows a cyborg ninja to have an infinitely sharp blade. The explanation doesn’t make any sense, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we can go our way out and slice that big hunk of junk into hundreds of itty bitty slices.

Call of Duty, the first one, on the other hand is grounded. While it has some elements that are necessary because it is a computer game after all. Nevertheless, there was a lot of research done to stick with the realism of the war. Hardcore fans and historians of course will notice all the mistakes and errors in the maps, and so on, but these are mistakes in the world, not in the more realistic logic the game employs. You can’t travel through pipes, you can’t slice everything you see, but you need to conserve your ammo and advance with care.

Of course, we have games that wholly just ignore most what things are considered realistic and go town with it.

The recent Transformers Devastation trailers and gameplay footage looks like your standard Platinum game, which may can be a positive or a negative thing depending whether or not you like their games. The game has things that simply are there that I didn’t consciously notice, because TFD functions wholly on cartoon logic. Things like Autobots accelerating in air for a pursue attack and Optimus Prime’s trailer suddenly appearing when he does a burnout in the air and smashes immediate enemies with it.

Cartoon physics and logic is more often than not fun to employ in a game, because they allow both the developer and player to do things they couldn’t before. It’s a more honest way to break the laws of real world in fiction than Star Trek Voyager’s endless streams of technobabble about absolutely nothing. Hell, Voyager’s technobabble was so bad that they contradicted each other and the most basic science wrong more than once. It’s not even entertaining. You can argue that the other at least tries to explain with the in-world logic what’s going on rather than taking the easy way out with cartoon logic and science, and I would agree with this if it wasn’t fucked up. Star Trek, the original series, tried to keep itself somewhat grounded and did screw up more than once, but there’s something that a show like Star Trek has to remember; it’s television. It needs to be well scripted and it needs to deliver the information. While TOS managed to make threatening scenes and their technobabble work as a device and convey how screwed they are, Voyager’s same scenes are incomprehensible babble about absolutely nothing. While games have similar scenes as well, they’re more about the action of the player rather than the passive watching of a scene.

Sometimes, I sit down with Call of Duty and play it for few hours because it’s a legitimately good game. I want something that’s a bit more tied down. Sometimes I just launch Doom or pop in Nuts & Milk for the opposite reasons.

Both extremes are not anything to scoff at, and more often than not it’s best to employ both approaches when creating a fictional world at least to some extent. Of course, the logics may colour the works to some extent with realistic approach having a more serious tone and comical ones with more gleam in their eyes, if we’re allowed to generalise a bit. When speaking of games, perhaps the visual striking difference between Transformers War for Cybertron and the upcoming Devastation gives off a good example what sort of difference the approach on the logic can make. One is dark, gritty and portrays lumbering robots with a raw feeling, the other is filled with colours, slightly tongue in cheek and absolutely honest about the fun it wants you to have. Some would say the other is more adolescent than the other, but that’s something that’s a bit more on the side of personal opinions than anything else. After all, it’s all dependent on how the work itself is.

Different take on customers; People love clowns

Every hundred posts we take a different stance on customers and industry. Except something different from the usual.

One thing that is absolutely stupid with customers is their inability to realize who owns rights nowadays. It is the person who pays for them. In the creative industries, more often than not the company owns what the people produce. This is largely a standard in the creative industries. Movie companies own the rights to the movies they produce as they pay for the writers and directors to make them these products. This applies especially to video game companies, where they employ people to create these games. It’s their damn job. It has always been about money and it will always be about the money. You own what you pay for. Except Steam users.

People are saying Konami is taking Kojima’s baby away. That is nothing short of horse shit. Kojima may have been the creator behind Metal Gear and yet you need to remember that it has been a job for him. He did it because he was employed by a company to make games for them to sell to the customer, not for himself. If you want to own what you do, you make it yourself. Now Kojima has all the possibilities to exercise his freedom to put  a new company and have free hands to do whatever he ever wishes. Of course, it may end up being absolute shit, as any and every creative person needs to be reined in to cut the excess far and rot off from the product and fry it to perfection.

The whole recent thing about Konami’s and Hideo Kojima’s downfall is an example where there is an idol worshipping cult following one man and his wish to make money on the expense of these cultists. These people have been sucking Kojima’s dick to the extent that Kojima has been waging a power struggle with Konami, that much is evident from the recent events. It’s easy to see how Metal Gear games have been eating most of the budget Konami has been able to sustain, and seeing how Konami almost became Kojima the Company, it’s no wonder either one would’ve fallen.

Do Kojima’s fans even know what he does? He has been mainly the idea guy behind the products that carry his name, the guy who directs and writes them. He has been in the role that is essentially a project leader and less the person who sits down and makes the game, i.e. programmer most of his life. Don’t be mistaken, his contribution is important and vital, but he would never had the products without the people who actually got their hands dirty with the games. Then of course you can question his writing, as it is cliché as hell and extremely derivative from Hollywood movies. Of course, you can even question if the Solid series is even all that good when you have hours upon hours of FMV, a prime example being Metal Gear Solid 4 with its laughably small gameplay time compared to the insanely long movies. It’s no wonder his ego has grown across the years with the fanboys backing him up every time, while other projects have been killed in order to save money for Kojima’s next brain art. Konami could release that ready Bomberman game and make good money, but it seems that at the time they didn’t care about that franchise.

What is even more stupid is that the fans seem to think nobody else could do a Metal Gear game, which is absolutely laughable idea. There are four examples of Metal Gear games that have little to none to do with Kojima and all have been taken in with great acceptance. Snake’s Revenge was first sequel to the MSX Metal Gear and was met with high praise. Fans have done pretty good job by rewriting history with the Internet, but they don’t stand a chance against people with memory, much like how Zelda fans want to rewrite Zelda II as some sort of awful game and a black sheep of the series, despite it being a huge success. It’s only the younger fans in both series who are pushing this kind propaganda, because that doesn’t fit their world view. The AC!D games had nothing to do with Kojima, and despite their different gameplay nature they sold relatively well considering they were on PSP. Portable OPS was the first Metal Gear game that was met with incredible hatred from the fans because Kojima’s name wasn’t attached to it, showing that they are easily swayed if one person isn’t associated with it. The game tried to shove home console Metal Gear on handheld and suffered from it, and its follow-up Peace Walker is actually less a Metal Gear game than its own thing. This brings is to Rising and how the series has changed with the time. Every game series, outside certain exceptions, have changed significantly throughout the years and will continue to change. There are times when new franchises are made under the same overall brand name, much like how Solid is different from base Metal Gear, so is Rising from Solid.

If you want to talk about game series that have sucked after the original creator has left them, consider the following; game industry sees constant staff changes. A creator may be programmer early on, but later kicked up to become a producer, thus having less to do with the actual production of the games than their overall visage. Miyamoto is a prime example of this. We know of his interviews that he made some coding in Super Mario Bros., but after the he most likely never has touched a line of cone, but has been directing them. Nevertheless, Mario games without Miyamoto’s involvement have been more or less big successes, especially the Game Boy Mario games.

Metroid is a series where you had the original creator killed by a car accident and was given to a whole different company to produce a 3D Metroid. We can argue whether or not the Metroid Prime series is better or worse, but we can’t dispute that at least the first game managed to deliver top notch 3D Metroid experience.

Then you have Mega Man, a series that had its original creator not even being involved after the initial design phase. Inafune has stated that Mega Man as a concept and design was ready before he was brought in to take it to the end. Inafune has been the person working longest with the series, and yet the most important changes to the series and its success should go to those who have worked under him. Then you of course have Minakuchi Engineering and Inti-Creates, completely different companies from CAPCOM, making excellent Mega Man games with Inafune in the producer’s seat. Minakuchi Engineering did better job with Mega Man IV and V on the GameBoy than CAPCOM’s own staff with Mega Man 5-8, or Inti-Creates with 9&10. Of course, people love Inafune and were willing to give thousands for his totally original piece of work that would have been produced anyway, and it ends up looking like crap.

Devil May Cry is an example, where the high staff changed after the first game, and then proceeded to make the best games in the franchise. DmC by Ninja Theory is the exact opposite, where people who didn’t give two cents about the customers or about the franchise got free hands to butcher it. You can mostly put that on Inafune and his wanting to have Western developers to make CAPCOM games. Thank God that Irregular Hunter X FPS game never came to be.

But of course, consumers want to idolise those people and think they are their friends. Of course they act like they’re the customers’ best buddies, because that’s good PR. They don’t care about you, they never had. They only care that they can keep their work and get your money. It’s business, it’s work. You have to make a living. It’s easier to become superstar developer with immense amount of fans looking up to you, as this give you leverage over the company you work for. A cleaver customer would be able to see through all this and look at the product itself rather than the clown marketing it to you. Fan boys are willing to dish their money into anything these clowns slab their name on, even if the product is laughably poor and that’s just sad. Of course, you are completely free to enjoy poorly made products, nobody is taking that away from you.

It’s a common kind of psychological phenomena, where the customer thinks a company or an individual is their friend because they make speeches or advertisement that promote a product in a way that hits the spot with them. It’s a well planned show, a rehearsed one. The words are chosen carefully as are the expressions and movements. It’s a show. All they care is to make a product good enough to make that living.

But of course, the customer rarely can even make a difference between a designer and a designer. Ask them what design is, and the chances are they’re either making shit up or call it art. Of course you can ask them to define something more specific, like what is product design, visual design, production design, service design and so on. Design is a mess, so it’s no wonder only those who work in the industries can get what design in itself encompasses. This of course has the trouble of customers and companies making shit up like responsible design, which is more or less a mindset that should be included in any design than its own field.

Outside graphic and visual designers, it’s more or less uncommon to see the designer to do the actual work himself. In production, like with games or movies, you have loads of people working on the product and you should never underestimate the amount of work these people do. It’s a collaborative effort through and through, and it is a travesty to see one person getting all the credit. But hey, why should the customer care? All they want their product and to have nice clown to love.

I’ll be honest; it feels a bit weird to “celebrate” 500th post like this, but it’s already a tradition. Next time; Nintendo NX and how Nintendo is doing on the rights tracks again.