Di­a­logue

EDGE - - SECTIONS -

Edge read­ers share their opin­ions; one wins a year’s PS+ sub­scrip­tion

Nomad

A few years ago, I went to both Cal­i­for­nia and New York for the first time. When I ar­rived I felt a re­mark­able sense of fa­mil­iar­ity, de­spite be­ing in places that should have felt to­tally alien.

It wasn’t just the recog­ni­tion of fa­mous land­marks – I’d been to Paris and Milan the same year, and didn’t get the same feel­ing at all. I re­alised that the rea­son I felt as though I’d been there be­fore was be­cause I had been to those places. I’d ex­plored the con­crete play­ground of Lib­erty City in GTAIV and the hazy land­scape of the West coast in Red Dead Re­demp­tion from the com­fort of my liv­ing room.

I might not have no­ticed it at the time of play­ing them, but these games had man­aged to evoke a sense of place far more than cin­ema or lit­er­a­ture ever could. That’s be­cause I ac­tu­ally felt like I ex­pe­ri­enced those en­vi­ron­ments, mem­o­ries which came flood­ing back once I set foot there for real. Rock­star had made mul­ti­sen­sory lo­ca­tions that I could ex­plore in a way that’s unique to gaming, and breathe in ev­ery­thing from the sound­scape to the pace of life.

I re­cently com­pleted Bat­tle­field 1 and was struck by a sim­i­lar ef­fect. Al­though I’d read books and watched films about World War I, per­haps shame­fully it was only af­ter fin­ish­ing the cam­paign in DICE’s lat­est block­buster that the full force of those hor­rors re­ally hit me. I hadn’t learnt any­thing new, but some­thing about the ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing the game meant that I was al­most moved to tears as I tried to com­pre­hend the ut­ter dev­as­ta­tion and sor­row that those poor men had to suf­fer a century ago.

I think the in­dus­try has reached a level of graph­i­cal and the­matic ma­tu­rity that makes agency mat­ter much more than it used to. There’s a new op­por­tu­nity for game designers to craft ex­pe­ri­ences that echo real-life places and events in more mean­ing­ful ways than ever be­fore. So maybe it won’t be David Cage that fi­nally makes the first game to make us cry, but a playable Siegfried Sas­soon poem in­stead. Joel Win­dels At the mo­ment we want to es­cape the abom­i­na­tions that manifest them­selves out­side of our win­dows ev­ery day, not evoke them when we’re try­ing to be en­ter­tained. Even New Donk City has us yearn­ing for the Mush­room King­dom right now.

The prodigy

Lately, I have be­come wildly out of touch with gaming. I have a huge back­log of games, I’ve be­come jaded with re­lease prices and DLC sched­ules, and I’m ten is­sues be­hind with Edge (sorry about that). I have re­sorted to snip­pets of Des­tiny and slowly crawl­ing my Light level up, which is now at 388. As is com­mon among the let­ters on this page, how­ever, my lack of gaming time can be at­trib­uted to one thing: the ar­rival of my first child, a beau­ti­ful girl, last year. Raising a child sounds like the an­tithe­sis of gaming, and that is mostly what I read in these pages, but I don’t think that is the case. All gaming folk should be well pre­pared for the task.

For a start, ba­bies are re­leased un­fin­ished. They will have bugs well into their first few months, will re­quire con­stant ad­di­tions in that pe­riod and they lack many fea­tures that they will even­tu­ally gain (I’d com­plain to the de­vel­oper, but that seems un­grate­ful). Then there is the ini­tial grind: chang­ing nap­pies and clothes, mop­ping things up, the con­stant rep­e­ti­tion for min­i­mal re­sults that just has to be done in or­der to even get to Level 1, which takes a whole year. Any RPG player can re­late.

But then you get into the core of the task, and it be­comes ad­dic­tive. New skills are added on a reg­u­lar ba­sis that change all the

“It was only af­ter fin­ish­ing the cam­paign that the full force of those hor­rors re­ally hit me”

di­men­sions: crawl­ing, gig­gling, teeth. The level of in­ter­ac­tiv­ity in­creases and the fu­ture sched­ule seems tan­ta­lis­ing. My girl has just started crawl­ing, but even­tu­ally she will walk, then talk, then start throw­ing things around and maybe one day be­come a tennis player. The po­ten­tial is huge.

So as she crawls along, reaches for a squishy an­i­mal and man­ages to grab it, I can see the task for the sim­ple pa­trol mis­sion that it is: a small step, but an­other step to­wards big­ger, bet­ter things. One day she will do the raid. Am­brus Veres Sure, sure. You will get in touch again once your daugh­ter starts teething, won’t you?

Black box

Well, there it is. Be­fore the con­fer­ence, I was all in. I wanted Nin­tendo’s full force be­hind it. Indies to flock to it just as they’ve done with PS4. I wasn’t ex­pect­ing a force of ma­jor third­party de­vel­op­ers, but at this point, it looks like the Wii U will have had more sup­port. And that’s say­ing some­thing. I wanted the Switch to be my main gaming sys­tem. I was con­tent with leav­ing my PS4 just for ex­clu­sives. Now, I’m think­ing of up­grad­ing to a PS4 Pro with the cash I’ve saved up and maybe pick­ing up a 2DS-style barebones ver­sion of Switch that ac­tu­ally comes with the good con­troller down the line some­day, on the cheap.

I hon­estly am still reel­ing from the dis­ap­point­ment I felt af­ter watch­ing that con­fer­ence. I can’t be­lieve just how de­flated I am about Switch. There is just a pro­found sad­ness hang­ing in the air. At least Wii U games should be get­ting cheaper soon… Ben McManus If it helps, you’re just one of many to write in to share Switch-re­lated woes. We sus­pect, though, that the most dis­ap­pointed among us are only so down be­cause we’re all go­ing to buy it at launch any­way, what­ever the cost. There’s your Nin­tendo dif­fer­ence.

Foul play

I can’t be the only one who thinks that, as an in­dus­try, we’re get­ting ever closer to the end of con­ven­tional press con­fer­ences as we know them. Hard­ware and soft­ware an­nounce­ments aside, if the Switch re­veal event proved any­thing, it’s that the con­cept of an un­re­lat­able businessman spew­ing facts, fig­ures and in­ten­tions sim­ply doesn’t make for an interesting watch. Es­pe­cially when you con­sider the lat­ter, and the fact that some ti­tles these days aren’t in fact for­tu­nate enough to ever grace our screens (RIP

Scale­bound). Go­ing for­ward we need to es­tab­lish an al­ter­na­tive method.

Me­taphor­i­cally walk­ing into the Nin­tendo event I was hop­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence a fun and poppy show akin to the ex­cel­lent dis­play PlayS­ta­tion is able to de­liver au­di­ences ev­ery year with PSX. In­stead what we got was a very dimly lit and un­en­thu­si­as­tic dis­play with some very vi­brant trail­ers in be­tween, which made for an awk­ward shift in tone. Granted, there were lan­guage bar­ri­ers this time around and tech­no­log­i­cal work­arounds needed to solve them, but c’mon, the big three need to ask them­selves who’s more im­por­tant: share­hold­ers or fans? Aaron Pot­ter You prob­a­bly shouldn’t ask the ques­tion, be­cause you won’t like the an­swer. Sony’s ‘For The Play­ers’ line has served it well this gen­er­a­tion, but it didn’t help the em­ploy­ees of Guer­rilla Cam­bridge, closed now be­cause it didn’t show enough profit po­ten­tial.

The shamen

In a let­ter in E302, Leo Tarasov spec­u­lated that we can­not, in fact, be liv­ing in a sim­u­la­tion be­cause there aren’t enough glitches. Specif­i­cally, he cited the dumb be­hav­iour of non-player char­ac­ters in games; guards that ig­nore gush­ing wounds, for ex­am­ple, or Grand Theft Auto pedes­tri­ans that calmly stand in the path of on­com­ing jug­ger­nauts be­fore be­com­ing an obliv­i­ous, scar­let paste.

Surely, Tarasov ar­gues, if we were liv­ing in a Ma­trix-style fac­sim­ile, we’d see ridicu­lous be­hav­iour from non-player char­ac­ters and log­i­cal glitches all the time as the sys­tem strains to gen­er­ate a be­liev­able re­al­ity.

Well, in a year that brought Brexit and Trump, it’s pretty ob­vi­ous that ev­ery­one has been mak­ing stupid, il­log­i­cal de­ci­sions left and right, with­out the slight­est re­gard for their own well­be­ing.

It’s not just NPCs act­ing stupid, ei­ther. Con­sider the law en­force­ment in most games; if you bump into a passer-by in Red

Dead Re­demp­tion, the sher­iff will hunt you to the ends of the earth, but the same sher­iff won’t bat an eye­lid if you rit­u­ally slaugh­ter a pros­ti­tute in the town square. In my old saved game of Skyrim, there’s a city where the guards are still af­ter my head be­cause I tried to in­ter­vene in a mug­ging in 2012.

Do dra­co­nian law-en­force­ment tech­niques, im­ple­mented with lit­tle provo­ca­tion, and a cal­lous dis­re­gard for the rights of women in gen­eral and sex work­ers in par­tic­u­lar sound fa­mil­iar to anyone else? I’m be­gin­ning to sus­pect that the glitches in our Ma­trix are ev­i­dent, just slightly more sub­tle than we’d been ex­pect­ing.

I’m not say­ing that this proves I’m the pro­tag­o­nist of some vast, in­ter­ga­lac­tic ver­sion of The Sims, you un­der­stand. But it’s look­ing in­creas­ingly likely. Es­pe­cially if my let­ter gets printed. Luke Haines OK, now we’re just scared. Did we re­ally de­cide to award you a year’s free PlayS­ta­tion Plus sub­scrip­tion, or were we guided by some higher power? Ei­ther way, it’s yours.

Snap

Why in Hype does the ori­gin of the games get recorded, but you don’t show the in­for­ma­tion in Play? Richard Strat­ton You’ll be want­ing cheat POKEs with your re­views next. (Ask an el­derly rel­a­tive.)

Is­sue 302

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