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20 thoughts on “Discussion: Monotony”
I feel similarly about monogames. I think part of the problem is I have neither the time nor money to be able to play one right now. MGSV? Didn’t even think about picking it up (and I’m a huge MGS fan). Fallout 4? It made me think “Oh, hey, I should really play New Vegas one day.”
I did just buy Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag in this latest sale. (Five euros! A steal!) I think this will be my strategy for the foreseeable future: wait 3 years, buy the game at a 95% discount. That way I can play it for an hour or two and then put it away forever, and not feel like I wasted my money.
It does kind of suck that I can’t be part of the “in” crowd right now – everyone is talking about FO4 and I can’t, everyone was talking about MGSV and I couldn’t – but this stuff blows over quickly anyway, and personally the best think pieces come out years after a game is released. By far the best writing to come out of the MGSV hype were the articles deconstructing MGS1, 2 and 3 years after the fact.
I do feel a bit sorry for any indie devs whose games released at the same time, though. It must be hard to get interest when most of the news outlets are clogged with that latest monogame. What frustrates me is that these huge games are generally the *least* interesting thing happening in the world of games at any moment in time.
Glad to hear health is at least not declining. Do whatever you have to to keep it that way. Barring, say, the lives of your loved ones, it is by far the most important thing in this equation, and vastly outweighs anything as nebulous as “writing output”.
Thoughts about Actias? I just played it. I loved it I LOVED IT I was confused it was over I don’t know what to think. I want to play all of Kitty Horrorshow’s work. Where did you hear about it? Was it that Offworld article?
James, I’ve had the Mass Effect trilogy in my library for a while now and I just bought DX:HR. These aren’t even mono-games but carry the same baggage for me. I can barely start then for fear of “wasting an evening” to pick up the basics. Another problem is if you leave them fallow and forget everything you learned when you pick them up again.
Switch this around to game journalism – what gets the views, pays the bills. People want to read about these games more and more. I think RPS is still doing FO4 articles as we type. The marketingsplosion does grab a whole lot of bandwidth.
I found Actias through research – I wanted to make a comment about Chyrza which Eric and I played for Counterweight last year and thought it was unfair to make a particular criticism if Kitty had moved on from the thing I was going to have a pop at. Actias still displays the same problem so it’s fair game. (this is for Chekhov’s Collectible)
Health: Seeing a consultant this week to try to shed more light on the problem. To be brutally honest: my energy/concentration is missing most of the time (this is a consequence not a symptom of illness) and it is difficult to shake the notion that it’s never coming back.
Fallout 4 is one of the stupidest games I’ve played in years, and I’ve played it for 80 hours, because I don’t have a relationship or children so I can do things like that.
first of all, do get well. having to deal with health is always hard, i hope you pull through quickly.
as for mono-games: fucking hell. i played dark souls for the first time this spring, and it was the only thing i played for almost two months. even though i haven’t been doing games journalism for almost two years now, i could feel the anxienty gnawing at me after a month. i have no idea how people do it.
but if any game deserves it, it’s dark souls. what a thing.
that cradle is also quite the quirky little fucker, innit?
Firstly, sorry to hear you’re still having health issues Joel. I hope they clear up soon.
Secondly, I love the term ‘monogame’. We’re polygameists, right?
Thirdly, that article was great. Now I want MGS V. Again.
James, I am one of the New Vegas players. It was that or Pillars of Eternity. I wanted some Avellone and co. action after several slow turnoffs from Bethesda (Morrowind, Fallout 3 and, earlier this year, Skyrim). New Vegas seemed like a good way of getting in on the Fallout 4 zeitgeist while avoiding the day one jank and launch price, making the most of years worth of solid mods and, ultimately, getting some much needed personality and life back into my RPG. So far, it’s not disappointed.
The thing is, I’m not really a monogamer. I’ve tried in recent years with the above games and the likes of The Witcher and Demon’s/Dark Souls, to see if I have it in me to stick to a given game for so long, and to see whether I’ll have an experience as potent as something like Gone Home, Brothers or Little Inferno. So far, I haven’t, really. My basic rule of thumb these days is that the longer a game is, the longer it’s got to outstay its welcome. Cynical, I know, but forged from experience! That said, I’d still like to play Pillars of Eternity and perhaps work my way through The Witchers.
“Another problem is if you leave them fallow and forget everything you learned when you pick them up again”
I left The Witcher for months and came back to it rather begrudgingly to finish it off and god bless CD Projekt for integrating a detailed journal outlining every development in the game. If it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I’d have carried on. Apparently, Pillars of Eternity has the same, a bit similar to Planescape: Torment I suppose.
Eric, you rock.
Funny you should mention The Witcher, Gregg–I loved the first one, and then with the second, they went and turned it into a videogame. I never made it past the first chapter.
I enjoyed The Witcher what it’s worth. I think my interest started to wane towards the end but I’m glad I came back and finished it.
Eric: Can you tell me why it is stupid? I’ve read practically nothing about the game. I’ve also never played a Fallout game in my life. (Internet gasps.) “they went and turned it into a videogame” amazing
Ketchua: I do so love that you are still around. You are, of course, how I caught wind of Cradle in the first place. It seems to have danced under the radar since release, so I’m definitely writing up something on it. I **really** like it but god it has some flaws. I tried sending a mail to the team for some questions but nothing came back from the press contact. I’ll probably just leave it at that and write my thoughts. Also, you have no idea how much I want to play Dark Souls. (Health stuff, thanks. Been going since August and getting worse, but having some good days in the couple of weeks. Fingers crossed. Always be hopeful.)
Gregg: Oh God, Gregg, I really wished I’d thought of “polygameists”. I would’ve won the internet for reals. I know what you mean about the shortform games being tight and perfect, and the longer epics tend to be… patchy. Shortform can be patchy too, but shortform is short, and the patches are far less glaring.
This comment on RPS is a wonderful flash of insight about losing your way after breaks in a game: “Isn’t high time a game is designed in such a way that, on booting it up after being away from it for a month or so, it pops up with a prompt asking if you’d like to quickly be shown how to play it again? Games like the original Half Life had a separate tutorial, meaning I could just visit that if I needed a reminder – most games nowadays insert the tutorial into the game itself, forcing you to have to either remember everything, or replay the first few hours just to get back into the swing of it.”
And on a complete tangent; I read Michael Thomsen’s A Review of Bloodborne based on 200 hours of Twitch and YouTube videos this week. I like Thomsen’s work a lot and there’s a lot going in this.
Weird. I don’t remember reading that article, never mind the comments, but that specific comment I do remember. What a great observation and suggestion.
Gregg, I cut it out and tweeted it at the time. First time I mentioned it on the site 🙂
Ah, that explains it!
Joel, let me join the chorus of people wishing you well. 🙂
Regarding monogames, I feel like the backlash against these has been growing for a long time. It’s certainly a discussion I’ve seen springing up a lot over the past few years. That could just be because I’ve spent those same years barking up the backlog tree and obsessing over it like an idiot.
Fallout 4 is ridiculous and glorious and I like it a lot. It’s a great thing to sink into and play. You can also short burst it, as I did last night (a ten minute run cut short by a car helpfully exploding next to me). But there’s nothing saying that, if you are indulging in a monogame, you can’t also indulge in some palette cleansers. C and I have recently tried out Human Resource Machine, and I’ve dipped a toe into Kaiju-A-Go-Go, not to mention the various mobile games that are great for picking up and putting down.
Not that I’m disagreeing with any of what you put forward in your newsletter, just observing that there is space between people with limited time who write about games and want small, discrete, highly rewarding experiences, and those who still regard hours of entertainment per currency unit as an ideal metric for purchasing one of their few games of the year.
I could try and make a case for some monogames also being unusually rewarding compared to smaller games in that you can sink into their mechanics and constantly find new, interesting and rewarding things, but really that’s not something I’d say about minigames. Obligatory Dark Souls reference goes here.
It is a bit irritating when a massively successful thing comes along and dominates the, haha, news agenda for a few weeks or months though. I remember having small internal tantrums when Destiny was new, seeing headlines on Eurogamer about some player exploiting a loot cave and thinking “who gives a shit!” Well, loads of people. Clearly. Big successful monogames make the tail wag the dog.
Completely agree re. lesser-spotted features designed to reintroduce players to games they’ve lapsed on. Whenever I encounter these they make me very happy. Gregg knows how I tend to flit between games, often with huge gaps between sessions, and remembering what the fuck is going on is an ever-present problem. I do try to be slightly more disciplined these days.
Fifth para: where I write “minigames” I meant “many games”. Fuck’s sake, Shaun. Clearly distracted myself, thinking about Dark Souls.
Joel: I’ve had a crazy year, so I’ve slipped off the grid a bit. I still read your stuff as regularly as ever, I’ve just been too hazy to actually say anything worthwhile. That’s a lie, actually – I’ve skipped the Talos stuff, because of spoilers and such.
As for Cradle – can’t wait to hear your thoughts. It’s one of the rare games this year that made me want to write about games again. Loved it to bits.
To be fair to you, that’s exactly what I did with The Talos Principle. It wasn’t the only game I played over nine months. From an individual perspective, there are multiple ways of dealing with the monogame. Indeed, they’re not generally designed to encourage people to 100% them, but rather to indulge in things you enjoy.
There’s a fascination in the vocal hardcore and much games media with 100% activity, the mono-game in sum, rather than slices of the game cake. And I think partly that’s because the slices are often not enough as a meal – lacking in some way. Like, I can’t imagine someone just playing GTA: San Andreas for the grindy gym mini-game. Good fucking lord. That felt like a blockage in my intestines as opposed to a genuine enhancement to the game.
But further, I guess what I find odd about this is that any individual only has a certain amount of entertainment time, and AAA studios are happy to put out games that try to make a massive grab for it. Everyone talks about it for weeks because it’s so huge and the mono-game appropriates play itself as a marketing campaign so huge it blots out the sun.
(I leave it as an exercise to the reader to debate why MMOs don’t work in the same way as mono-game nuclear marketing incidents.)
The longer you eke out a game, I would guess the less likely you would be to “finish it” and just abandon it when it bores you, especially if you find it difficult to remember how it works between sessions.
And there’s another part of me which teeters around the mono-game being a more youthful pastime – I probably would’ve dived into this stuff ten years back. Whereas I like small stuff and lot of it, these days. Anything which requires too much effort for me is doomed. If the tutorial of a game is going to last hours, then it’s already failed. (That’s why I’ve never managed to get round to playing AI War for reals. I don’t think Gregg or I ever finished the tutorial battle. AI War is it’s own kind of mono-game: dedicated players can disappear inside for a loooooong time.)
Anyway, yeah. The mono-game is either the last brave hurrah of a tier of the vidoegame industry that is close to imploding, or the sign of the future of AAA – that, perversely, only massive games can ever justify the budgets.
It’s nice to slip off the grid. In recent months, my tweeting has been at an all time low and I don’t really miss it that much. Twitter circa 2015 doesn’t feel quite as fun as Twitter circa 2010. I just hope your crazy year is crazy good rather than crazy bad.
Something on Cradle is definitely coming. A game with oodles of depth that has been largely ignored is like a goddamn magnet for my typing fingers. I don’t have to worry about stepping on the toes of previous writers and just let rip.
Is ‘monogame’ meant to refer more to the swallowing-spare-time, or the dominating-popular-discussion thing? As someone without family demands and a strong anti-social streak, I still love large games for the former: I can dive in for a whole weekend or week of evenings, and really enjoy being so focused on a singular thing.
Though I’m also missing out on Fallout 4, that’s by choice, not circumstance. I felt that I got enough wasteland-themed loot collection when playing Fallout 3 to last me a good while, and I had no expectations that it’d have an interesting world (as opposed to environment) to explore as New Vegas did. And nothing I’ve read so far has suggested otherwise.
Nonetheless I still felt a slight nagging feeling ofmissing out on all the excitement, and dealt with it by first watching a friend streaming the opening few hours, and then firing up New Vegas again over two or three evenings to explore one particular faction affiliation that I’d not done before.
This is where I get to mention that I just beat a boss on Probability 0, right? Though my new high score of 28 is not as high as yours. The bastards that shoot red arrows up got me shortly thereafter–hard to believe they’re not bosses.
And sorry to hear about the health. Sleep is important, which I seem to be forgetting at the moment as I’m still up. (But: New high score on Probability 0!)
I don’t AAA or even AA really so the monogame thing doesn’t get me but it often does feel as though all my online game pals are chatting about something that I’m left out of. Often because I lost at hardware roulette. I’ve been feeling alienated from games sometimes because my laptop is so cranky–trying to play a racing game which is just some Unity thing and it’s literally running at two frames per second. And the getting sleep thing isn’t always compatible with sinking a lot of time into games at once. It seems like my biggest game thing is an emulator of a board game I had when I was a kid (copy has been retrieved and stored in my attic) which I guess is some serious nostalgia x hipsterism.
Been away for the weekend and now I’m back – let’s see what we’ve got down here!
Yes that’s the mono-game, as described by Tom Welsh. It does all come down to personal time commitments, which is why I suspect the mono-game is more angled at the younger gamer. It’s why I’ve never been persuaded to buy a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription: I don’t really have time to watch that much television, so those subscriptions would feel like wasted money. I feel like I cannot appreciate the mono-game without dedicating a good deal of time to them and I can’t bring myself to do that.
I think being caught outside the ongoing conversation about the latest big release is how it feels like to be one of the “so-called” non-gamers who look inside gamer culture only to see an obsessive hobby.
Nice work on Probability 0 because I’ve never managed to crack a boss! Such a tough game. I assume you playing on normal rather than expert?
My PC is really labouring now on everyday releases and I’ve started planning a new PC. I hate planning a new PC because if it’s going to be serving me for 5 years I need to get it right. And the whole upgrade thing is a joke. New graphics cards need a slightly different interface (PCI-E V3) to be utilised properly. New processor needs new socket, which means new motherboard. New motherboard/new CPU means new memory… yes, in other words, everything has to be replaced. Upgrades. HA HA. HA. HAAAA.
Yes, I was playing on Normal–I usually do although in some ways Expert suits me better as I tend to play games to survive rather than kill things to rack up score. This boss didn’t seem to have a ranged attack so I was able to spam stars at it as it came toward me.
Upgrading hardware is just not on the menu for me, at all. I did just solve the “Graphics all looks like random excerpts from other graphics buffer” glitch for Deep Under The Sky, though, by deleting every compressed archive that I had sitting on my hard drive. Why does this solve the problem? I don’t know. Deep Under The Sky is a nice one-button fire the bouncy thing at the other thing game, now that I can play it again.
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