I think this is a very appropriate topic for a 1st blog post. I'll also touch on a little background, what I'm going to be doing with this blog in the future, and why I started it in the first place.
All my life I've been playing video games. I remember the first gaming device I had was a lime green Gameboy Color that I received from my parents for Christmas in 1998. It came with Pokemon Red Version and I later got Yellow version. I was in love with that thing! The early Pokemon games were far from perfect (looking back now, you can really tell), but little me didn't care at the time. Back then, these games were a vast world full of new experiences and creatures I had never imagined before. To be able to go practically anywhere and catch and train any of these creatures was amazing to kid me. The sense of adventure that the Pokemon games gave me sparked a flame that continues to stay strong to this day.
If you didn't pick Charizard for your starter, why did you even get this version?
I of course moved on to other games and other consoles as they came out. The Gameboy Advance and Xbox 360 are probably my favorite two consoles of all time. I put quite a few hours into the Wario games and Dragon Ball Z games for the GBA, and I can't count the number of nights I stayed up far too long playing Halo 3 on the 360 with neighborhood friends. "Just one more!" was said many times on those nights. I got my 360 one Christmas in high school, and soon after I was begging my parents to upgrade our internet to a high speed plan so I could play online. I had quite a few games for the 360 and PS3 that I played online, but the game I spent the most time on in high school and in college was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I remember spending many days playing Skyrim on my laptop while my girlfriend played it on my PS3 in the same room. Maybe its best Skyrim wasn't co-op because I was far better than her at the game. (She's much better at rpgs now!)
That 360 lasted me well through college and I never got rid of it. I’ve since built myself a PC and bought a Wii U, but I can’t wait to get a Switch sometime soon. Maybe I’ll get a PS4 or Xbox 1 as well. But I’ll always remember that lime green Gameboy Color, even if I’ve lost it between moves. Thanks Mom and Dad! Through your gift of that Gameboy, you started a lifetime of playing games, which would eventually evolve (get it?) into making games.
Narrative in Games
The thing that I think stood out the most during the 360 era was the direction American games started to go towards, in terms of their narratives. (I say American here because I know eastern games have been very narrative focused for a long time. Unfortunately, I haven't played many eastern games.) I think the most notable example of what I mean here is Bioshock, released in 2007. Where do I start? This game is such a masterpiece, I could probably write an entire blog post about it. Maybe I'll get to it one day. Anyway, I remember my play through of Bioshock pretty well. It was such a compelling shooter/rpg (one of the first of its kind) due to its variety of unique weapons and abilities at the player's disposal. You could go about any enemy encounter from so many different angles, especially later in the game when you've unlocked more plasmids and weapon upgrades. You could go in guns/plasmids blazing, take a more stealthy approach and pick off unaware enemies, use the environment to your advantage, or hack some turrets and cameras and sit back to watch all hell break loose. You could even frenzy a Big Daddy and and let the splicers chip away at its health before you move in for the kill.
The not so great city of Rapture.
If you for some reason haven't played Bioshock and are still planning to, please skip to the next section of this post, trust me.
The most notable aspect of Bioshock however, was its story and the way it was told. Bioshock's story is one-of-a-kind and can never truly be experienced to its fullest a second time. It turns the whole idea of games inside out with its twist, which addresses the concept of player choice and control by essentially saying the player was never in control, and in fact was being controlled by the main villain of the game, Frank Fontaine, and his nemesis, Andrew Ryan. What I find so interesting about this reveal is the way this twist went for the untouchable, the concept of player agency. This is something that no game (at least that I know of) had done before. You see, up until Bioshock, it was always understood that the player was playing the game and his goals should align with that of the main character. Nobody ever stopped to question why the main character should do what the player is making him do, but Bioshock did exactly that. It asked the question, and answered it too. It shattered the fourth wall in the most spectacular way, but without the cheeky look to the camera or pausing for a laugh track that is so common in fourth wall breaks. The Bioshock twist turned an already awesome shooter/rpg into a game about games in a way that I've only seen once, maybe twice since (Gods Will be Watching and Undertale, if you're wondering).
You are now in a spoiler-free zone!
To be able to be transported to another world and experience everything it has to offer is a truly amazing experience. You can do things you would never be able to do in real life. But it's not just about being in a fantasy land. A game can get you to think or feel things you wouldn't normally. It can teach you about something you never knew, or expose you to the real problems that others face every day. Just like other forms of media like books or movies, games allow the developer to put the player in someone else's shoes. I want to be able to provide these kinds of experiences for others, just as many game developers have done for me. This is why I decided to start making games.
There are many things that Bioshock did right, which resulted in an absolute masterpiece of a game. The way the story and game play blended perfectly together and complemented each other in the best way possible is something I could only ever dream to achieve. Which is exactly what I've set out to do. I know my first few games won’t be all that great, but along the way, I’m determined to learn more skills and improve my practices to get me ever closer to my goal.
I want to make games that use their mechanics intelligently and uniquely to form a cohesive experience. I want every element of my games to feel important. I want to make games that challenge what it means to be a game. I want to make games that make the player happy, sad, or think about things a little differently than they're used to.
These are my dreams, and I hope you'll stick around while I chase them.
About the Blog
In addition to making games, I have also decided recently to start this website/blog. I intend to use it a for a few different purposes. First off, I made this website to promote my games. Second, I want to be able to communicate more with those who follow my game development, and hopefully gain more followers doing so. Lastly, I plan to use this blog to organize my thoughts both in general and those related to games and game development. I think doing all this will help me build a following for my games and allow me to get better at analyzing games and learning what makes a good game. I plan to post at least one of these long types of posts every month, along with periodic shorter posts for development updates and general thoughts related to games. I may have to change the frequency of my posts while I try to get a good rhythm down, but this is what I'm going to be aiming for to start with.
If you have any comments, questions, or anything you'd like to see me write about, please leave a comment below. If you like what I have so far, please subscribe with your email so you can get updates when I post. Thanks for reading, and I hope you liked it and want to come back for more!