Vanity Gear

WoW introduced game mechanics to accommodate players' want to have vanity gear.

WoW introduced game mechanics to accommodate players’ want to have vanity gear.

First of all, welcome back to everyone (myself included). This blog took a backseat as I went through some life-stage changes. That said, I’m back to share with you some thoughts that have been bubbling for the last few months. Again, we’ll be talking about MMO’s but this time, I want to switch gears to the RP side of things. I understand that not everyone takes RP as seriously as others but I think everyone can appreciate the idea of vanity gear – gear that looks “good” on your character without necessarily providing the statistical benefits of say best-in-slot items.

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2012 was a good year.

2012 was a good year.

The other day, I re-watched a great episode from the folks of Extra Credits on the Aesthetics of Play. Don’t have 10 minutes to watch it? The summary is this: we shouldn’t categorize our games by mechanics (FPS, RPG, etc.). Fallout 3 and Portal aren’t FPS games even though they are a first-person shooting style game. So instead, let’s use the eight core aesthetics defined by Hunicke, LeBlanc, and Zubek:

  • Sense Pleasure
  • Fantasy
  • Narrative
  • Challenge
  • Fellowship
  • Discovery
  • Expression
  • Submission (Abnegation)

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Likeable Characters

I was in the shower today and I started thinking about all of the characters that I’ve loved. First, I started with those in video games – but then I started to think about TV and movies. Surely there has to be some underlying themes here: common elements that just make us (or maybe just me?) love these fictional people.

First, let’s start with my favourite character of all time… Frog from Chrono Trigger.

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I had a discussion this morning about transmedia gaming. Specifically, we were talking about Defiance – a new game by Trion with (almost) novel idea: your actions in the game will affect a TV show. Of course, Extra Credits did an episode on this general idea so this was the first resource I grabbed.

And then I really started to examine the idea and think on it. In my opinion, there are a few really great things this could accomplish but there are also a lot of pitfalls that Defiance might face – and with it, the idea of transmedia gaming as a whole. Remember, when a company invests and hypes up a novel game idea and it tanks, it spells doom for the rest of the company. The Consumer is a fickle beast and it’s not easy to forget.

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I love super heroes. Ever since I was a kid, I would look at the clouds and dream of being Superman. I wanted to stop crime, save lives, and have the world love me. Years later I would later understand that Superman was a product of society and the reason I liked him so much was because he and I were so similar.

It was like looking into a mirror where your reflection only shows you very specific aspects of yourself, zoomed in incredibly close for analysis (consciously or otherwise).

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Assassin’s Creed is one of the series that I really do love – and that love goes beyond just expressing my Canadian¬†patriotism. But after the third (I guess technically fourth) instalment¬†(Revelations), I certainly have to say¬†something about the direction of the series now.

Mostly, I want to talk about disharmony in games.

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I’ve heard it for years: JRPG’s are dead. I heard gripes of FFXII, heard the complaints of FFXIII, and I personally suffered through way too many hours of The Last Remanent. And you know what? A lot of what’s said isn’t without foundation. But is the franchise dead? Have we eked out what’s left of this cow? Should we all just turn our attention to Western style RPG’s (Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur, Borderlands, etc.)?

After playing The World Ends with You, my answer to these questions is a resounding no. Here’s why.

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