The Local Ditch Archives

More Clubbin’

Tripod.co.uk is getting on my nerves. Despite tweaking my code to get it looking just right, their shitty advertisements are screwing up my text and layout. If anyone wants to point me to a better server, please let me know.

The Club Sega section is updated all over the place. New reviews, more text, more general tweaking. There’s a lot of little things, so check out the dates on the bottom of the pages. They list the last time that page has had an update.

Updates:
Club Sega

Arcadia

Virtua Fighting HamsterRecently, it seems that I’ve been enjoying arcade-style games more so than console-only ones. In an arcade, the goal is to have a few minutes of fun and move one. Because a person won’t play a game again if it doesn’t have some redeeming quality, developers are forced to work out the mechanics and sort out what makes the game, “fun.” If they don’t, no one will play it, no arcade will want it, and they won’t make any money.

Maybe it’s my impatience, but I just want to get into a game and play. Cut-scenes can be interesting, but if I wanted to watch a movie, I’d put in a DVD. Ultimately, games are played to have fun. If it gets in the way or limits the ability to have fun, it shouldn’t be in there. I think arcade games are more focused and to-the-point for this reason. Too much fluff and a person just moves on.

I’ve been wondering about the existence of QTEs in games and whether it’s a good thing or not. Ultimately, a game is just a person pushing the right button at the right time. But is pushing “X” as soon as the screen flashes “X” really fun? People loved Simon, but it was more about remembering the order rather than just hitting things. Ultimately, I think QTEs are ways of getting the player to interact with the movie.

Console games tend to encompass the holistic gaming experience – movies, interaction, feeling a part of the whole game, rather than stripping it down to the bare essentials for five minutes of fun

Hope this is not… Chris’s Blood

Warning: rant coming up. I really wonder how people can read their lines for voiceover work and not question how retarded some of it is. Harrison Ford hated the voices that were added to Blade Runner and intentionally did them poorly, hoping that they’d never make it to the film as is. He wasn’t so lucky.

Could the same phenomenon be happening? Script, dialog, acting, and general voice work in games tends to be pretty bad. Maybe it’s just a recent thing, but having stories and characters full of incoherent names and items/locations just isn’t working. Is it so hard to speak like normal when a microphone is in front of you?

Maybe the world imagines games are for kids. Cartoons have more complex plotlines than some games. But more-so, they tend to have over-the-top voices with straightforward, two-dimensional characters that always have the right thing to say.

Resident Evil has notoriously bad voice acting, even worse than the B-movies it mimics. By the time the series hit number 4, it seems they’ve improved. The voice work still falls into the same traps as cartoons and good-versus-evil movies. The bad guy spouts off the same, “See if you can withstand this!” rhetoric while the hero gives a snappy retort. The written dialogue, the source, is not so hot to begin with. This seems to be the least of problems though.

The voicing itself is terrible. In VO: Marz, the dialogue pauses after every line. I don’t know if they didn’t figure out how to load from the CD (Ok, it’s clear they didn’t) or if the designers intended a lot of people to play the game on mute and read everything. The random pauses are extremely unnatural. Not only that, but many of the pauses are just in the way that the audio itself was recorded. Yakuza does the same thing. The sentence breaks and pauses are out of cadence, most likely because they were trying to synch up the English text with the Japanese character movements.

Talk to a person. Then, ask them to read a story to a small child. Notice the difference in their voice. It slows down and over-enunciates every syllable. They make goofy voices for each different character. You can see their eyes widen and their facial expressions change in an effort to communicate with the kid.

This is their videogame voice.

I can’t imagine that this is by accident. Maybe it really is that hard to be natural with a microphone in front of you. Not every game suffers this fate, though. Interstate ’76 had a good story and good voice acting to go along with it. But it may be the exception rather than the rule. After all, it was written by a former writer for Cheers.

Sitcoms may also be the problem. These shows are paced so that after every joke, there is a pause for a laugh. Dialog isn’t the most natural, as one person usually plays the “straight man” and sets up the joke while the other gets the line and the laugh.

I guess these same arguments could be made for televisions/movies as well.

On the last note, not every bit of dialogue in a game should be subtitled. If the option for it is there, that’s fine, but I don’t want to read every line before I hear it. Have it one way or the other, but not both. Most of us use our ears to listen and our eyes to read. Let’s take advantage of that and instead of focusing on the unfolding text, let’s watch the action unfolding and let our other sense take care of the words.

Lightning Strikes Twice

Two updates in one year? This hasn’t happened since ’03.

It seems I’ve had a lot brewing on the old brain, here’s a few snippets:

Hey, have a website like mine? Then let me know. It’s hard to find sites that aren’t part of a huge network (Gamespy, IGN, Gamespot, etc.) that actually have some content to them.

Digging through a bunch of old sites has caused me to ask a question: Why do so many 2-page sites have a forum on them? Was that/is that a passing trend?

Does Geocities no longer discriminate against “IllGAL ROMZ!!!!!!!!” I swear that’s what all of the game sites on that place have become.

So, with the announcement that NiGHTS is finally getting a sequel, I thought I’d check out the game a bit more. Actually, I’ve been digging through my old Dreamcast/Saturn library and finally getting through some games that I never did before. I finally saw the ending of Zombie Revenge (what a bummer), won a race in F355 Challenge, and I’m only one star away from unlocking everything in HotD2.

NiGHTS is one of those games that when I first played it, I enjoyed it, but I really didn’t get why some people were so fanatical about it. Let me put it this way, I wouldn’t go and devote my entire room to my hand-drawn NiGHTS artwork. Nightopians were alright, but they never really did much besides get in the way. Run through grab stuff, then run through the same course again in 10 seconds. Ok, it’s cool. The graphics are unique and some parts of the game are just downright creepy.

Now, I can see some more depth to it – trying to tie together huge links, changing music, Mepians and whatnot. These definitely add to it and it’s still a fun game, but I’m not seeing the huge “mind-blowing” experience. The game is based somewhat on the theories of Carl Jung, but I’m not seeing or feeling any extra depth added to the game that makes it feel more like an experience and less than a quick romp at the arcades.

Linkexchange is officially dead. Bought out by Microsoft years ago, it became bCentral, offering the ubiquitous FastCounter and banner exchange. Now, both are buried, meaning I’ve got to update a lot of pages on this site.

New/Updated Content: NiGHTS, Virtua Fighter 4 Evo.

Coming Soon: MBPT 3025 (finally?)