Several people have posed a perfectly reasonable question:
If you hate STALKER so much, why do you keep playing it?
My last two posts have indeed been pretty harsh, but I’ve been focusing on the shortcomings. There are things to like about this game. It has fun elements to it and some parts are done well. Some parts are admirable for their attempt to try something new, even if they didn’t work out. This game is not your standard march through rooms of bad guys, gunning them down on your way to the Big Bad Boss. This game defies conventional genre definitions, it tries new things, and it obviously aspired to be something great. That it fell short is regrettable, but I think there are still interesting ideas in here. I’m willing to slog my way through the frustration to see the whole thing.
Another good reason to keep playing is because of the fans of the game. There are some people who really love this thing, warts and all. I’ll probably never enjoy it the way they do, but it’s interesting to see what parts of it worked for them. Just because I didn’t like something doesn’t mean it’s a failure or wrong. The wannabe game designer inside of me loves to study how people play games and what makes them fun. So, STALKER had elements that worked for Bob but not for me. Why is that? What core philosophy or goal differences do Bob and I have that gave us such different results? Are our goals at odds with each other? Could the game be designed in such a way as to work for both of us?
Someone else mentioned that I shouldn’t complain too much, since I only paid three dollars and seventy-four cents for the game. True, but most people paid about ten times that. The fact that I got lucky doesn’t change the fact that this game, bugs and all, is still sitting at retail for $30. I’ve been keeping that $30 in mind as I play the game. GSC (the developer, I think, although I can’t read Russian) and THQ (the publisher, I’m pretty sure) both deserve a good solid smack for putting this game out with so many bugs, but they also deserve some credit for breaking out of the FPS rut.
A final interesting note is that the game is from
Russia Ukraine, and as such comes at storytelling with a very unexpected flavor. Every culture has their own way of storytelling. If you watch a lot of Hong Kong martial arts movies, you’ll see stuff that western writers would never do. Movies with serious grim torture and goofball slapstick characters and a sappy love story, all mixed together like ketchup, fruit loops, and mint ice cream. These movies feel strange when you’re used to Hollywood. Hey! What genre of movie is this supposed to be, anyway? Likewise, the Japanese have their own conventions and attitudes which seem odd to me, but the differences are also refreshing. So, I was curious how a Russian Ukrainian sci-fi story would play out.
UPDATE: RPharazon points out below that the game is from Ukraine, not Russia, thus spoiling my trying-too-hard-too-be-clever title to this post.
Quakecon Keynote 2013 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
The Biggest Game Ever
How did this niche racing game make a gameworld so massive, and why is that a big deal?
The true story of three strange days in 1989, when the last months of my adolescence ran out and the first few sparks of adulthood appeared.
Fixing Match 3
For one of the most popular casual games in existence, Match 3 is actually really broken. Until one developer fixed it.
There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.