Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the May edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

Download my FREE eBook on the collapse of indie game prices an accessible and comprehensive explanation of what has happened to the market.

Sign up for the monthly Electron Dance Newsletter and follow on Twitter!

12 thoughts on “Discussion: Corrupted Memory

  1. Vice City was my first GTA and it’s still for me the one that felt best as a game, as in I had fun achieving goals and engaging with the mechanics in a goal-oriented way.

    I didn’t play much of San Andreas, just a bit at my brother’s place and never bought it because it felt a bit boring – too much busy-work, not much sense of place.

    IV had a better sense of place, a bit more serious in tone than Vice City and with famous dissonance between the ludic and the… oh god I can’t finish that sentence, just drink [hic]. But really, if Niko Bellic had not needed to murder hundreds of mens on the way to no longer needing to murder hundreds of mens it might have been a better base game – Niko was in many ways the most compelling character in any of the games I’ve played, at least in the early stages of the game.

    But but but…. please if you can pick up a copy of Episodes from Liberty City at a reasonable price give The Lost and the Damned a try sometime. The plot is much more coherent (Johnny is much more plausibly doing the things he’s doing for a start), some mechanics were improved (checkpoints, social management), Johnny and the gang were entertaining characters, and motorcycles! (because two wheels good, four wheels bad, I may be biased on this point). Gay Tony is also better than the base game and well worth a play just for the sheer hilariousness. And Ricky Gervais.

    V is a phenomenal effort at world building, and having three different characters was an interesting attempt at improving the way the story interacts with the world, but it all seemed to be trying too hard to be edgy. Again I ended up pretty bored.

    But V is also an amazing walking simulator, or driving simulator, or flying simulator, or submarine simulator, or…. Again, if you can pick it up at a reasonable price, give it a go for just that – play enough of the story to unlock the relevant mechanics and just go wander.

    I really hope that Rockstar can somehow recapture the magic of Red Dead Redemption in the upcoming sequel, but equally I hope that whenever they get around to VI they can take an amazing world like the one they built for V and write a modern story that just works in that world.

    Much more likely they will just keep going down the MMO track, sadly…

  2. Also thanks, I am enjoying the tweets of David Blanchflower, some lovely astronomical images in there although he does a lot of complaining about his twitter app not working which is a bit boring…

  3. Oh god, false memories. What a great name for it. The opening of Boogiepop Phantom makes me feel nostalgic for a place I never visited. Such a strange feeling to have.

    Saints Row 3 was the GTA 4 I wanted.

  4. kfix you had one job. Where is the recommendation for Saints Row 3?

    I actually have a copy of GTA IV bought cheap years ago but have never felt like firing it up. While something like Prey isn’t really an open world it is scratching some of that itch. I guess I’m not sure I really like playing the game for hours and hours on the. I’ll have to ask Steam how many hours I’ve invested in it so far.

    On story, yeahhhhh, I’m not sure that was ever the strongest point of the GTA series entries that I’d played. It was more a means to an end and the cutscenes always felt insubstantial, like trying to convey a story in a series of tweets. They did a good job of establishing arc, the monomyth, but not necessarily detail.

    But that’s GTA all over – it’s about a place, a city, rather than the incidentals. Do I want long cutscenes? Probably not. But if I found a story gripping instead of merely passing the time that would be different. Not even in Prey do I really give a god damn about the story. (I did in System Shock!)

    I checked *your* Blanchflower’s feed and it looked like a lot of “thank you “‘s today 🙂

  5. Ketchua – Boogiepop Phantom must surely be one of those Japanese games I’ve never heard of. For someone who loves Japan and lived there you’d have thought I’d be better on that front!

    It is distinctly weird having these memories from the perspective of inside a virtual world, when these games weren’t played in VR. I’m sure plenty of people must get that for Dark Souls which has an astonishing sense of place and drives the map deep into muscle memory.

    There you go, that’s the kind of Saints Row 3 recommendation I was talking about!

  6. I dabbled with Vice City shortly after my first GTA, IV, and it felt past its best before date so didn’t have the magic that people talk of!

    I’m still trying to get a bead on what I enjoy in open world games. As you know, I’m currently playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild and, yeah, it’s a very pretty game with a number interesting emergent systems but for long stretches of time not much interesting emerges from them. When it does, it’s pretty cool. There’s a lot of repetitive fluff and busywork though, which is a criticism I raised at SR3 and Brutal Legend. Granted, it’s unmarked fluff, but fluff nonetheless.

    I think that’s pretty much the crux of it for me: I prefer authored unique content to copy/paste filler. If I notice that I’m seeing the same things over and over I start to feel like the game isn’t respecting my time. And the bigger a game world gets, the more susceptible the design is to this kind of thing so that’s perhaps why San Andreas slipped down the fault for some of you.

    I can’t really relate to your fake memories. You’re right: that is weird 🙂 I can certainly relate to game music evoking sensations in me though, whether it’s the warmth and safety of Serenity in Resident Evil 4 or the bleakness and dread of the Miasmata and STALKER title screen music. (Now they’re two open world games I can get behind.)

    I find the way that music stokes the mind, specifically with videogames, fascinating, because you occupy those spaces and they occupy your mind for so long, and the music often plays so much that it leaves an indelible mark on you, for better or worse. And I think you only realise this some time afterwards too, which explains the very strong reactions you see in YouTube comments under older pieces of game music. I know that’s nostalgia, but it’s nonetheless potent in these dosages!

  7. Gregg, I dunno. GTA:SA just seemed too big, it was incompatible with our historical experience of GTA of getting to know a place inside and out. It was just so big. Most of the missions in Los Santos kept you busy in a small area so not even the missions got you out and about.

    Some of the music from 8-bit games of the 80s I still find myself humming along too. Like the M.U.L.E. theme tune, or Archon, or this one in particular from Alternate Reality: The City. (Whenever I get into the right mood, Alternate Reality will be the next “addendum” to the Where We Came From series.)

  8. kfix you had one job

    Heh. I know the latter ones are supposed to be good, but what I saw of the first one put me off the series, so far anyway.

    On your corrupted memories, the various GTAs are the games that have messed with my head in a very specific way – if I go out on a street after playing a GTA, I get an amazingly strong urge to drive like I do in the game. That is, over kerbs, bins, pedestrians, sideways around corners etc. That hasn’t happened with any other game, even games with similar driving. Not sure why, but it’s faintly disturbing when it happens.

    The closest I’ve come to an experience like yours is when out in the desert near Coober Pedy where they shot Mad Max 2. When I saw that view I didn’t remember that movie, but I felt an intense nostalgia that I realised after a few minutes was memories of being in the south of the Red Dead Redemption world. It felt quite odd at the time, and I still get a bit of that just looking at the photos.

    Blanchflower update: Moon is pretty.

  9. kfix, I never saw the first Saints Row but I can vouch for the sheer entertainment of the second. The map is positively loaded with missions with some of them remarkably stupid!

    Oh and I played GTA III when I was living in Japan. After my first few sessions I had one particular bizarre experience commuting to work one morning. I recall distinctly getting off at Ebisu station and during the 5 minute walk to my office building, felt this enormous compulsion, a constant urge, to grab the doors of cars passing by as if to engage in a carjack. Tetris effect to the MAX.

    Nice moon, but my Blanchflower had a different take.

  10. Ah, I did not know there was a word for that. I blame you, though, for making me visit the Tetris Effect page on TV Tropes.

    Of course, thanks to the TV Tropes Effect I somehow ended up here and learned that a distaff was not just a stick to hold wool. So that’s improved my life, thanks.

  11. Joel, close, but no cigar. It’s a young-adult-novel-turned-anime, but it’s definitely Japanese, as you can obviously tell. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I’m glad I watched it. It might not be the same thing, since I wasn’t actually inside – in a different way than your not being inside – but it does have the same effect on me.

    Have you dabbled with VR? I found it strangely dull. Apart from the rollercoaster stuff, which evoked the same involuntary response actual rollercoasters do, only on a smaller scale. But I didn’t really feel more there. Maybe I’m just too cynical for that kind of thing. As Christian Donlan once said, I never really needed more than “You are standing in a forest”.

    After you’re done with SR3, make sure you give the fourth one a go as well. It’s like Machete 2 – you think there’s nowhere to go from there, yet they somehow turn it up to 11. You can skip Gat Out of Hell, as far as I’m concerned.

  12. kfix – I fall into the trap sometimes of doling out jargon and assuming every one must know by now. This one of the reasons the book takes so long. HEY I’D BETTER EXPLAIN THIS BECAUSE NOT EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS IT. And repeat.

    I’ve had some interesting experiences in VR but nothing that made conferred a sense of The Future of Gaming (TM). I tried Deep in Rezzed a couple of years ago which was interesting and we tried out Cardboard at home. It feels unnatural I guess, because it wants so badly to make you feel present, but you can’t walk around like you can do in real life, unless you play a Vive game (which I haven’t) and that has heavily restricted holodeck walls…

    I’m working through Prey which, as is typical for a AAA game, is taking me forever. I probably want to switch back to smaller fare after this or, who knows, maybe I’ll take on Blighttown.

Comments are closed.