All About adam1808
My thoughts: including games, movies, books etc. All of which will be imparted when I feel like it. Any offence caused will be ignored or investigated with avid amusement and note-taking.
These blogs are rather like me talking, so don't expect pictures as I don't speak visual. As its a blog I'll assume you're reasonably literate (risky I know).
This is a weekly thing except for holidays, things are difficult and will remain so for the next two years so all I'll be doing is blogging and reviewing. Send me a PM if you ever want to game with myself, I mainly occupy my time with PS3 and my now playing list is pretty up to date so if you're playing the same stuff drop me a line.
Hope you enjoy. My online persona's are as follows: PSN: Deadlife47, Steam: deadlife47, Wikigameguides: Deadlife47, Youtube: Deadlife47, GiantBomb: adam1808
Dragon Age: Origins kicked off an oh-so-brief period in this generation where BioWare was getting the credit and attention that it deserved. For about a year, starting in late 2009, BioWare could do little wrong. DAO and Mass Effect 2, the one-two punch that showed us that BioWare could serve both its EA masters and its devoted fans in equal measure.
Looking back through the lens of Dragon Age 2, The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3, its been incredibly difficult for me at least to look back an remember anything about the original Dragon Age with a rosey-tint to everything. I've been doing this on and off with all of BioWare's more recent titles, checking in to make sure KOTOR is still as fantastic as I remember it being and reminding myself that there was a reason why I was never drawn to Jade Empire.
Dragon Age is the first of the games in my retread of BioWare's back catalogue that I've invested serious time into. With Neverwinter Nights, KOTOR, Jade Empire and Mass Effect, I've dived in long enough to remind myself of the flaws, the slavish adherence to the classic BioWare formula and the characters before pulling out in the fear that I might get sucked back in again.
DAO is the exception. I've been ensnared by a BioWare game for the first time since Mass Effect 2, I'd almost forgotten what it felt like. This is partly due to my previous experience with DAO. I'm not a member of the PC master race, but since starting a game with my elven mage "Rad" on the PC I've realised that my playthrough on the 360 was the inferior experience. Textures were rough, the framerate was rougher and one can only see so many radial menus in one game. The PC is the platform the game was designed for; it's prettier, tougher and easy to control, making what should have been a brief check-in a commitment to see it through to the end, all 60 or so hours of it.
Around ten hours in, it's finally dawning on me why Dragon Age Origins is secretly one of BioWare's best efforts. Nothing about the world, mechanics or story is particularly novel or original. Some elements like the relationship between the mages and the Chantry are intriguing, but on the whole DAO is unashamed homage to its D&D predecessors with a healthy dash of Lord of the Rings thrown in for good measure.
That's not to say it's not enjoyable. It's actually shocking how well DAO handles the "there's an unstoppable evil coming and we must unite a bunch of different groups together to help fight it" conceit given how poorly structured and paced Mass Effect 3 was, a game with essentially the same setup. How does one emphasise a terrifying threat? Answer: have it beat the good guys into a pulp in the first encounter. As lifeless and uninteresting as the Darkspawn are as villains, BioWare does a great job in making them seem unstoppable. The devil is in the execution rather than the fiction with BioWare and Dragon Age Origins is a testament to that.
However, you can play a game within Dragon Age: Origins. It's called 'Spot the BioWare cliche.' One point if you managed to predict that the young nubile Leliana would talk about 'forbidden fruit' by your third chat, another if you guessed Morrigan was going to be a party member before she even spoke because someone obviously put a lot of work into that character model. It's like watching a Wes Anderson film, so many elements are exactly the same yet you don't really care because you're enjoying it so much. Then again, part of the reason why I've stuck with DAO for 10+ hours can been because of how deftly BioWare shift between being formulaic and being adventurous. Characters end up joining your party without the obligatory fanfare that leads up to Archangel taking off the helmet or rescuing Bastila, dialogue choices are rarely a choice of altruistic, murderous or painfully unfunny. It's like BioWare knows you're fan, knows you've stuck with them, and is constantly throwing out curveballs that make you smile.
This doesn't mean that any of the flaws get much of a pass. They're generally minor in nature: the hilariously mute rictus of anguish my character's face portrays whenever something dramatic happens, the way a fight with a low-level bandit will cover you with the same amount of bodily fluid as a battle with a troll and the moments were clicking on a spell causes me to move it out of my hotbar, rendering it useless until I pause and dig through the skills menu looking for it. But if you think about the issues previous games from these developers had to surmount, these quibbles are all so very trivial.
For all its merits, Dragon Age Origins is still cut from the same cloth as the developer's previous work. It's just a more lovingly crafted, honed and refined BioWare game than its brethren. Their games' mechanics are generally serviceable, DAO's gameplay is quite fun. Their characters are often well-developed with their own specific dogma that you can help them out with, in DAO those issues are a lot darker without an obvious resolution. It's better BioWare, but for some reason it's not the game that I'm going to remember in the context of their glory days.
Mass Effect 2 is a flawed game. But it balances on a knife edge between being just another BioWare game and utter brilliance. Its shooting mechanics are stiff, the cover-system is awful and almost everything you'd associate with an RPG has been stripped out. It is, basically, the anti-Dragon Age in many ways. But, the highs of Mass Effect 2 are so high, trading the consistency of something like Knights of the Old Republic for a few dramatic moments that stand as some of high points of this generation for me.
Returning to Ferelden in optimal circumstances, knowing now what I didn't know then, Dragon Age Origins seems like the last hurrah for BioWare's past. From that point on, it feels to me like they struck out along a riskier path that involved them trading what they knew in the hope possibility that their writing talent could carry very un-BioWare like games. With Mass Effect 2, they caught lightning in a jar. Dragon Age Origins isn't lightning, it's the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and iteration and damn does it show. A friend of mine adores DAO, and I'm afraid I can't say I share his sentiments even though it has invaded my life in a way that it previously had not. I do however, respect it not only as a piece of art, but as a piece of craft.
Recall at this point, that little mention has been given to its sequel. That's because in my mind, I'm imposing a moratorium on Dragon Age 2 for everything other than discussing the proverbial "beginning of the end" or the analysis of EA's financial position. There's only one real Dragon Age game to have been released and its the one that wasn't churned out in 18 months by the B-team while everyone at BioWare and EA frantically tried to end the trilogy that was bringing home the bacon.
At least going back, I know for sure what can be done with sufficient time, enthusiasm and money in the hands of a studio that seems to have lost its way.
At the start of this generation, I came to Gamespot because it was one of about three websites that did decent video reviews. I wasn't one for reading hundreds of words on games and the sight of Jeff Gerstmann making hand gestures and saying "kind of" a lot satisfied all my requirements for gaming information.
As the generation progressed, so have my 'tastes' regarding the kind of editorial content I like to consume. We've all progressed from the video review to the livestream, from the 40 second gameplay clip to the hour-long demo and long-form writing about games is back in fashion. The question is, does Gamespot or any other gaming site provide what you want regarding gaming-related content?
Come November when the new consoles roll out, do you want a slick set of videos detailing every inch of each console's relative strengths or do you want some guy with an iPhone filming a hasty unboxing of a PS4? Because blogs, twitter, reddit and forums can get you the nuts and bolts of what's going on in video games faster and more efficiently than anything that professionals are paid to provide. If you're coming to a gaming site you're not just coming for editorial integrity and accurate reporting, you want something more than that.
What is that special something? Why are you reading this on Gamespot rather than on Eurogamer or IGN? You obviously came to this site in particular because it does something you like. What is it? And is that the sort of editorial content you want to continue to see in the future?
Personally I spend more time on Giant Bomb than I do on Gamespot because what I want out of my gaming-related journalism and content consumption is getting honest and frank opinions from people I feel like I know. I like to know what those knuckleheads are thinking about and because I identify with their tastes I find what they have to say about games interesting and insightful. The work that Gamespot UK does here also scratches that itch, delivering that same raw slice of personality-infused coverage that's both entertaining and informative that I find so appealing. I like long videos, lengthy editorials and terrible in-jokes in that order. That's what I want out of gaming journalism, but some people may prefer the exact opposite.
When this industry explodes again in seven months time with the excitement of a new generation; what kind of content, editorial or otherwise, do you want from the professionals?
I know how much my tastes and preferences for editorial content have changed over the years and I know what I want from the professionals in the years to come. I'm just interested in what you want from gaming sites in the future, especially when there are so many other ways for you to read opinions and find out what's going on in the industry without coming to a site about videogames.
This is purely a human interest piece on my part. I couldn't find a better way to express "content" so everything editorial or otherwise that a site like Gamespot does I've grouped under "journalism" so hopefully that all makes sense.
This is also technically not an editorial. However, somebody gave this soapbox to stand on so until they yank it out from under me I'll use it to ask these questions because I want answers en masse. Maybe someone important on this site will read your comments and make a few notes, maybe.
It's been a while since I checked in with some of the good old personal stuff here on this blog. I've spent the last few days writing things that draw either extreme malice or congratulation from the users of this site and that's how I generally like it, but now I've worked out the urge to write about whatever comes off the top of my head it's time to organise the last few weeks into words.
If I take a step back and survey the past month, it's easy to recognise the fact that I'm following the trajectory of the educated schoolboy to the letter. Fresh out of high school, complete with long hair and no strong opinions on anything really, I've killed time getting fit again on the streets of Melbourne and Sydney respectively and painting the parent's house out of a sense of long-running guilt for weighing down their social lives for the past 18 years. It's the first time in 5 or so years that I've understood the term "holding pattern" in its entirety.
Leaving home is a strange mixture of excitement and boredom. On the one hand, as the occupant of a small terraced house with three other affable roomates in the centre of Sydney I can do anything and everything. On the other hand, there's very little to do prior to term starting. Of course I could frequent any number of establishments offering cut-price jagerbombs and freeflow beer (the natural habitat of the arts and social sciences student) but going out in search of damaged brain cells alone seems more sad than sitting alone playing videogames. It's funny how that logic works out isn't it?
The drain outside my window is blocked, so when it rains all day after a few successive days of oppressive heat as is often the case in Sydney the splashing of the drain is enough to keep me up at night. On days when it doesn't rain the neighbours fill that role admirably. Each night there are new voices, new clashes and bangs penetrating the plaster walls separating the terraces. As an Australian I'll happily admit that we are no a punctual bunch. As Orientation week starts to fade into the beginning of term, the late-arrivals outnumber all the rest and every door on the street is left open to fascillitate the moving of desks, chairs and 16-packs of Carlsberg.
In Singapore where I spent the last 4 years of my life, the noise of the city was a perpetual hum of air-conditioning and taxis ferrying businessmen from office block to marbled office block. Here, the sound of the city mixes bird calls with old diesel engines. I've come to like this about Sydney. It's a grimier, more down-to-earth city than its south-eastern counterpart with a sense of its own history that the other major cities of Australia lack. Or at least that's how I choose to perceive it. You make the most of your situation. Learn to appreciate the city you'll be spending the best part of five years in or be miserable.
Education, the reason I chose to be here in the first place, has been marginalised by the arduous process of moving. Each day the prospect of studying a set of subjects that I actually care about rather than a set of pre-ordained subject areas is at once exciting and terrifying. Who's to say if I do care once it all starts? Who knows whether all the energy poured into securing a great score was a finite resource, used up in the final push?
These are the questions you start mulling over when you're faced with the insurmountable task of washing your own socks. Why is that they dry slower than t-shirts? You'd think that on a washing line in the full glare of the Sydney sun that the smaller items would dry the fastest, but no! Socks and underwear maintain their uncomfortable dampness for at least an hour after the outer garments that the casual onlooker sees are as dry as a bone. The iron is its own separate issue. Without an ironing board I have resorted to a towel draped over the dining room table. I never notice creases but apparently they make one look shabby according to my mother, maybe she never noticed the curly mop I grew as a signal that scruffiness and I are best pals.
But washing and ironing and shopping and cleaning all need to be done, if only to stay part of the human race. In these new conditions of heightened responsibility for my own wellbeing and my security deposit, videogames have become my enemy rather than my respite. Damn you Civ 5 and your ability to suck hours out of my day. Firaxis are the finest purveyors of videogame crack. A game of Civ or XCOM may as well guarantee that I'll be doing without milk for the next day.
It would be nice to say "who knows what the future holds?" but I'm pretty certain it involves lectures, tutorials and learning to share a bathroom with three other people. As I'm still alive, not showing any signs of jaundice or infection and the house doesn't smell of decaying broccoli I'd say things are off to a good start.
Oh and it's "University". A college is a branch of a university, sometimes academic sometimes residential. Get it right guys.
My Recent Reviews
May 5, 2013 3:02 pm GMTadam1808 posted a new blog entry entitled Blood Mages and Mutes: A Dragon Age Origins Retrospective
Apr 2, 2013 2:04 pm GMTadam1808 posted a new blog entry entitled What do you want from Gaming Journalism?
Feb 28, 2013 10:01 pm GMTadam1808 posted a new blog entry entitled University, Sydney and the Terror of Unwashed socks
Feb 27, 2013 10:33 am GMTadam1808 posted a new blog entry entitled Chasing the Skyrim Dollar
Feb 24, 2013 12:20 pm GMTadam1808 posted a new blog entry entitled The Ten Best Videogames of this Generation