Yesterday I teased a big Nintendo themed blog post, but there has been multiple things troubling my mind today and I’d rather share those with you today. Don’t worry, the other post is still alive and well and will bounce itself onto here really soon, but today there are more important matters. I hope you’ll take the time to really sit down and share this with me, as it is something that happens every day in nearly every facet of our lives – regardless if you allow yourself to realize it or not. It’ll make you think to the deepest part of your being, and there are simple things you can do to better this situation for yourself and for others as well.
First off, I want you to head over to another blog to read an article that was written last night. For some of you it might be obscenely titled, but please give a thorough read – following the links in the article as well, so you can see the true nature of this situation (head to article by clicking here). This is this first thing that has bothered me today, and I have no need to spend my time writing about it when Pete Davison has already done a great job doing so, but it will further relate to the situation I’m about to write about.
For my non-gaming readers, let me start this by telling you that when the gaming community speaks about Indie Developers, we are talking about very small, independent companies that develop videogames. These companies can employ as few as themselves singly, putting all the developing, marketing, publishing and other factors upon themselves alone – a daunting task. But, these developers aren’t burned by publisher oversight and demands, or have to fear their Intellectual Property (game) being taken from them in the process. Today we find many of these developers create some of the most intriguing games, and for many of us hardcore gamers, we follow these small developers like deranged sheep, because they deliver – not rehashing the same tired gameplay formulas over and again, but developing new and innovative titles that are so refreshing in the current gaming industry that’s primarily build upon tired clichés.
This brings me to FuturLab and their incredible shooter that recently released on Sony’s PSP/PS3 Minis digital service, Velocity. For those who may not know, the Minis service is one that Sony host to allow indie developers’ to release smaller titles at a cheaper cost to both the developer and consumer – it’s a great, yet somewhat limited platform for these guys to start out on. This vertical scrolling shooter brings a fresh teleporting gameplay mechanic into an already solid bullet hell shooter — called this because the amount of enemy projectiles on the screen that need to be navigated through can total up into the hundreds, or is some extreme cases, into the thousands. Using the quick means of teleporting, you’ll find yourself quickly blinking around the screen blasting enemies from all directions, but eventually, you’ll even find yourself teleporting all throughout the maps to solve puzzle sequences as well. It’s furiously fun, and offers a ton of depth in one of the longest standing genres in our industry. If the campaign isn’t enough for you, there’s a ton of unlockable content and extra levels to test your piloting skills in, and trust me, you’ll need to bring you’re A-game here, because some of these are tough as nails – just like they should be.
Velocity is a great game that has received extremely positive reviews. At Push Square, we (Sammy) reviewed the game with a well-deserving 9/10, and it has even been awarded several perfect scores from other notorious sites. Heck, Velocity even won our Game of the Month at Push Square for the month of May 2012. Yes, it’s that good and you can purchase it yourself right now if you’ve got a PSP, PS Vita or PS3 handy on PSN for $5. I promise, it’s a purchase you won’t regret.
I did start this article off with a bit different mood set, so let’s get to the meat of what happened here. The head of FuturLab, James Marsden did an interview with another great PlayStation exclusive website, The Sixth Axis, and in this article Marsden offered a few of his honest and respectful opinions on the PSP/PS3 Minis platform. In it he spoke about the lack of Trophies – stackable digital achievements for PS3, PSN and PS Vita games that are linked to gamers’ profiles – online leaderboards and the lack of demos for gamers to try the games before purchasing. I’m not going to go into detail with all of these, but in my opinion, every single one of his points are extremely valid and are ones that I share an equaling opinion on. These features would’ve only helped his game to sell even more than the 80,000 units Velocity shifted in the first 3 weeks after release, and brought even more value to his already incredible game. I’m a fan of online leaderboards and I’d love to have the chance to top the leaderboards on Velocity, but sadly, the Minis service doesn’t allow for it. Anyway you spin it, FuturLab has been a highlight developer for the Minis service and brought it into the limelight unlike any before them with Velocity and their previous title, Coconut Dodge – another fantastic title you should try if you haven’t yet done so.
Here’s where things started falling apart. This article at The Sixth Axis was well written and respectful, but then the other journalist starting picking it up and doing what some seem to always do: add their personal spin to “liven” it up a bit. The next thing you know, articles started popping up with titles something to the degree of: “Developer FuturLab Claims the Lack of Trophies Is the Reason PSP Minis Failures.” This is clearly not what Marsden stated in the interview, where his complete statements were:
“Lack of trophies in minis is probably the single biggest turn-off for most gamers. At least that’s the impression we get from feedback on our games.”
“Minis don’t have any online leaderboards, a feature that’s common in some of the most addictive games because they keep people coming back.”
”If trophies, online and demos were included in minis, it would make sales rocket, as there are some gems on minis, and perfect for the PlayStation Vita.”
Clearly, he said no such thing, and he even went on to speak praises of how his company has developed a wonderful relationship with Sony throughout their years working together. Thankfully, many in the industry share his sentiment on these issue and Sammy even put together an article at Push Square sharing that we agree with him too. What it all boils down to is a little thing we like to call constructive criticism. Giving your respectfully honest opinion on whatever it is to help someone – in this case Sony – strive to make something better in the future. It’s how we learn to grow and should be welcomed by all. I personally ask for direct personal criticism on my published writings from my editors. Why? Because by hearing it directly with an open and accepting mindset allows me to understand my faults and where I need to improve. In turn, this helps me to become a better writer, which is a good and pleasing thing for me.
But many do not share these views though and choose to lash out in anger. Many gamers cowardly hide behind their online avatars, and write vile personal attacks towards any and everything they don’t agree with. If you read the articles I sent you to earlier, you’ve witnessed just how disgusting these attacks can be when some of these people organize against a cause they don’t agree with. Guess what though? Some of these attacks were aimed at FuturLab today over this interview, or better yet, the articles that unfairly took it out of context for their personal gain. I’ve followed FuturLab on Twitter for a long time and I can tell you first-hand, James Marden was very humbled by Velocity’s great critical reception. He’s reached out and done multiple interviews with numerous websites, even doing an early interview with us at Push Square (grab the killer exclusive Velocity Wallpapers there too!) and just being an all-around nice guy online. He obviously meant no disrespect from his statements, and definitely didn’t deserve the unwarranted comments he received from them.
So what does all of this mean though? Well, it means that we can see just disrestful many people truly are when they can hide themselves behind an mask. All one needs to do to witness this firsthand at any given time is to only hop online on the latest Call of Duty title and listen to the filth these kids spit at each other – it’s sickening. But we can change this. We only need to learn to respectfully disagree with each other. You never know, you just might learn something in the process that you didn’t know while doing so — maybe even have a change of heart. Also, parents need to get off the couch watching American Idol and spend an hour or two playing games with their kids. Mainstream games’ today – likely all of what your kids are currently playing — are developed so that most all of them can be picked up and played by most anyone with a lick of sense. Nintendo has tons of games that are great for families to play together. Granted, it might take some work for some of you to become adjusted to the controls, but that’s perfectly OK. Just be patient and have fun. You’ll get better at it and your kids will learn to enjoy playing games with you, but you’ve got to actually got to be the adult and put forth the effort to reach out to them. It’ll make your relationship with your children better and help you to grow stronger as a family and teach your children to respect others while gaming. Yes, gaming can do just this if you reach out and try for it. Before long, you might even be blasting and teleporting you way through Velocity like a pro if you keep at it!
Gaming does have its dark, villainous side to it and it’s been depressing me today, but that’s all can change with me and you. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get this change started today!