Monday, April 5, 2010

P.R.I.D.E: Movie-Based Video Games

Now, there is no reason to RANT if you don't follow up on it, so I have begun the "Post-RANT Idealistically Determined Exposition", or PRIDE. Essentially, I will look back on my R.A.N.T. post and either take a more explanatory/realistic view on things, or one that is far more radical if I felt I was out of line.

Obviously, looking back now, the rant was not angry enough - I find I actually agree with most of what was said. However, a few footnotes on the post:

First, games like Star Trek Online or any one of hundreds of Star Wars video games jump to mind. They did successfully, so what does this person mean when they slanderize all movie based video games? I think a point of clarification needs to be made: Games based off of IP's, or Worlds, do not fall into that category. Star Wars games produced after a trilogy, or Lord of the Rings games produced not based upon the movie but based on the land of Middle Earth, do not fit the definition.

Perhaps that was the point of the whole thing. Perhaps we can escape the downward spiral of awful. We just need to stop making games based upon all the pieces of the movie - the milieu, the idea, the characters, and the events - but just pick one and build from that. The easiest is obviously the milieu, and if we are to break the spiral then this is the way to do it, because milieu is a constant in both Card's MICE anagram (which could very well apply to movies, with maybe an addition of a Visual category) and my SPAM. But after video game tie-ins are taken seriously, one could retell the events from another point of view, or experience the character's adventures before or after the timeline of the movie. There is a world of possibility out there - all we need is for someone to take it seriously.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

R.A.N.T.: Movie-Based Video Games

I have a bunch of spare time right now, so it seems about time to start another category of post. This column I will hereforth label as the "R.A.N.T." : Random Acronymized Nettled Text. Yes, I did just Google an acronym for 'angry' starting with n. So bite me.

We'll kick off this column with something that has really, really irked me. Like, alot. A great deal. This is the Movie-inspired video game. Looking at such classics as E.T., whose 4 million excess copies helped cause the video game crash of 1983 and the majority of which ended up buried under concrete in a New Mexican landfill; or Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie, holding one of the worst video game reviews on multiple gaming sites; or even such recent releases as James Cameron's Avatar: The Game, it is obvious that developers do not take these games seriously. If we follow the post 1983-crash trend of gaming, we note that when developers do not take games seriously, players do not take games seriously, and so now even if a really decent game was released under a movie title, nobody would care.

The reason people actually make these games, in what seemingly has been forever, is because you can sell a few games on the wave of hype that follows a successful movie. You can also produce a game before a movie, and use it as a form of advertising - this is risky, however, because usually nobody will buy the game until after. Gamers don't buy movie-based games, and the hype-skateboarders don't have the hype to poon onto. Therefore most... scratch that, ALL, are just rushed drivel.

Why am I ranting about this? Why should I care that this market is so idiotically dull, when it is so easily avoided? BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL. I saw two different movies this last weekend. The one I just saw, literally a few hours ago, was 'How to Train Your Dragon'. Actually a very good movie. I'd recommend it - it's a high quality film, another reason that animation can now be seen as a 'true' movie, not a specific brand. Anyway, they made a game, it was crap like the rest with poor ripped-off fighting mechanics and weak yet highly-toted customization, and I despised them for it. Here they have an epic world, one with huge potential, yet they scrap it for a dead game. GG Activision. GG.

The second, Clash of the Titans, is just a flat-out awful movie. Do not see it. Seriously. However, it got me wondering what it would be like if someone did a movie based upon Ovid's Metamorphoses (basis for most modern Greek myth), or did a full 3D epic... literally... of the Odyssey. If someone took the visual style of a movie like that, did a God of War style action-adventure game with a fairly linear storyline but great game play, it could be a very fun game... and not only would it be fun, but the game would promote the movie and the movie would promote the game. It could be epic. To bad it will never, ever, happen.

Other things I hate about movie based video games: 99.99% of them are catered towards an audience under 12. Seriously. This is because they are more impressionable and much more capable of surfing the hype wave. That means those of us gamers that want to play on Pandora or Berk or wherever are SOL. Also, they are almost always placed exactly where they should not be. A successful video game will draw you into the world - not tell you the storyline of the movie set in the world the game should be about. Why in the world would you stage a game inside of a village that was just saved? Set it in a nearby village. A cut storyline - something the writers wanted to do, thought up doing, but then never got to implement.

A video game is a second chance for writers to tell a story they didn't get to - and a second chance to explain the world through another story. Not a chance to have you run through some muddied maze of puzzles between narrated bit of exposition that tell you about a story that doesn't matter, or a story that you already know.