Friday, July 15, 2011

Gaming Biases

Speaking as someone from North America, something which has amazed me over the years is how we gamers here in the West take such a narrow-minded view of the world, the internet, politics and finance and how they relate to the world of online gaming. We tend to think that we here in the West all feel pretty much the same about such matters as payment plans for the games we play. We make broad statements such as "if a game is F2P then it sucks because if it were any good then it wouldn't be free". We go to websites and forums and leave comments as if we were looking at something that only we here in North America can see, as if the entire audience is made up entirely of Westerners from North America - we forget that there is an entire planet made up of worldwide gamers that can access the very same websites that we do. The internet is worldwide. With a very few exceptions anyone from anywhere can access the same sites we do. The only real barrier is that of language and being able to speak or read English, and of course many sites have several options which eliminate that barrier.

So why do we make statements such as "as soon as someone makes a F2P game that is actually good and successful, then maybe I'll try it out". Why do we seem to not understand that there are hundreds of great successful F2p games that have been around for years with huge dedicated fanbases of worldwide players? Why do we not join that vast universe of F2P games, or even acknowledge that they exist? Why must our narrow view of the world exclude the majority of online gamers as we embrace such a comparably tiny market comprised only of games created by Western developers?

There are many answers to these questions most of which are fairly obvious. This is not about the answers however but rather the question itself. Why are so so biased that we don't even ask ourselves these questions? It would be as if a gamer who only ever owned an Xbox and who had only ever accessed online gaming through the Xbox LIVE! network thought that's all there was and that no other gaming options even existed. Sure there are plenty of games for Xbox but it is just a tiny portion of everything else out there that exists. Only accessing content through Xbox LIVE may be enough for some people (and it IS actually) but for those of us who are more than simply casual gamers we need more. Much much more than a single platform could even hope to provide.

The online games created by Western developers for a Western audience of gamers might be enough for some, and apparently it MUST be as our myopic view of the world seems to exclude all else from our realm of thought. We'll just keep playing our Xbox or our subscription-based MMOs and ignore everything else and keep believing that everyone else does the same as we do. If somehow the news of something outside our simple view of the gaming world does happen to make it through to our attention we'll just dismiss it as something made by those "crazy Koreans and their grindfest mmo's" and go back to playing WoW or Rift or Eve or whatever the current Star Wars game is in fashion this year.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hellgate Global

I've played a bit, although I'm waiting for the dust to settle before really sinking my teeth in. The technical problems in the past few days since ob launched have been more than I'm willing to put up with, and I've been watching very very closely their twitter feed, fb page and the forums so I'm aware of the massive problems players are experiencing with the rollbacks, undelivered mail (including items purchased at auction house and cash shop), lost loot and lost levels after rollbacks/crashes and so on. I'm sure they'll get things running smoothly eventually, so I'm not sweating all the launch problems. It's pretty much to be expected although this has tended to be towards the far end of the spectrum of "failed beta launches".

I actually really like Hellgate, as a player of the original, and two things have struck me as an initial impression - neither of which are catastrophic flaws but more like little annoyances when comparing the Global version to the original.

(also, it really shouldn't be called "Global" since it's not, right?!)

The first thing is the dialog which wasn't great to begin with, has so obviously been translated from the original English into Korean and then back into English again that it's painful. Mind you that I have a very high tolerance for this so it's not a big deal but somehow I find it worse than most translation issues I've seen before, and I've seen plenty as I play many foreign games currently and in the past. Why don't they just used the original English dialog instead of the text that has been re-re-translated? Most people are not as forgiving as myself and are sure to ridicule and dismiss the game as a shoddy job by the localization team.

The other thing that really turns me off are the graphics which even at the highest settings are substantially worse than those of the original. Of course we knew that the DX10 mode would not be available in this version but even when comparing the DX9 mode of the original to the new version it seems as if the whole top tier of the highest settings of the current client is equal to the Medium settings of the original. It's more than simply the textures, it's the lightmaps, it's the shadowing, it's the bumpmapping and the detailed texture level and reflections - everything is set at Medium even when you crank everything as high as it'll go. I have the orginal game on one of my harddrives so I can make side-by-side comparisons, and all I can say is that hopefully a future patch will add improved graphics as the current client is frankly pretty awful. They really should integrate the DX10 mode as well, especially considering that even if they DID it would still have graphics that would be 3 or 4 years out of date.

Other than those fairly minor issues I'm looking forward to a hopeful future for the game. I don't like having to pay the extra $4 either - no matter how minuscule - it's more the principle of the thing, but that's a whole 'nother topic!