We’ve had a few side-bar conversations this past week outside of the confines of Gamentary.com. It happens. Get over it.

The topic has been GTA 5, but normally it’s been in the context of “what’s next for open world games?”. Every person you see writing here has played an open world game, and to that end, we each have a pretty unique perspective on what we’d like to see next from the genre. So, we’re moving from Gtalk and Whatsapp to Gamentary and sharing all of our hopes and dreams for open world games with you. 

Should games stick with the script they’re currently on? Are Skyrim, GTA, and Saints Row getting it done? Are GTA Online and Just Cause 2 multiplayer the way of the future for online, open world gaming? Or are persistent online-only worlds, like Day Z, Ubisoft’s The Division, or Bungie’s Destiny, more in line with what you want?

Friday, 9:18 am – Ricky

It’s Friday! Hooray! And a long weekend for Canadians too. More time for gaming and food and football!

Great conversations this week. I totally agree that the “single player open world” game is in danger of being transmorphed into an online bastardization. That said, I think there will always be an option for folks looking to play single player open world games. More and more games that would have previously been classified as “adventure” or “action” games adding in open world elements. Games like Infamous: Second Son is an open world single palyer game. Watch Dogs is an open world single player game. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is an open world single player game. The very first titles for the next gen are already scratching that single player open world itch.

However, I’m down with the way things are swaying. I’m interested in games like The Division and Destiny, where I could play it single player, but I will likely encounter other human controlled player characters on my journeys. Of course, playing with friends has always been something I’ve enjoyed. Sure, coordinating timing and the game can be tricky, especially when there are different timezones involved. But when that timing works out, the results can be magical and, as in matt‘s case, tough to put into words.

So, is the future of open world gaming a mix of single and multiplayer? Putting it this way, I think we’ve been living in the future since the days of Everquest and World of Warcraft. Granted, players in MMOs are encouraged to team up and take on the open world, but there are still options to play it single player. How will have “single player” games adjusted? Well, though I’ve never played Dark Souls or Watch Dogs, this concept of players “invading” my single player game is interesting, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

On an unrelated note, I GOT MORE RAM! I popped in a couple 8GB sticks worth of Crucial’s Tactical Low Profile 1600mhz RAM. These 16GBs of memory are above and beyond the 8GB of 1333mhz no-name brand stuff I had before. I did a couple tests in graphics-heavy Far Cry 3 and Company of Heroes 2 and was really impressed with the results. Coupled with my GTX 760 and i7 4770K upgrades, this machine is screaming through some of these newer games. I can wait to see what games like Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed 4 will look like next month.

Man, next month? Crazy how time flies.

Thursday, 11:16 am – matt

I have been lost in GTA online for the last week or so. I thought I would have a long write up featuring all the crazy action and chases with my homies but I cant.

im having a REALLY hard time conveying just how truly amazing this game this.

being able to play it and share the exact experiences with friends is unreal, I have not had as much pure wreckless fun as I have in my limited time with the game, and it just keeps growing as I rank up. INSANE.

watch out everyone because GTA 6 seem like it could be a persistent always on online experience, and this is the teaser! so needless to say ive captured my fun with my in game camera phone and will share them with all here.

friends

two buddies hanging out taking selfies on a rooftop

friends1

ricky bought a pigmask for robbing stores… and decided to keep it on,

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friend displaying the wreckage from a failed getaway attempt.

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Los Santos at night from the Atomic Blimp

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that’s a green jumpsuit…

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… and a rainbow parachute…

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oh, look, I have one too…

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weeeeee!

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ricky must have had fun parachuting in the city, before I chopped him up into bits with a helicopter

Tuesday, 8:25pm – Albert

To start, Gavin’s personal feelings about multiplayer, is something that I’ve come to agree with more and more. I think at any given time I could play a multiplayer game with any of my friends but that requires a couple of extra steps: 1. Coordinating – You have to coordinate. Numerous times (esp. with me on the West Coast), I’ve said, ALRIGHT, IM GETTING ON STEAM TOMORROW only to sleep most of the day and when I wake up it’s like 9pm on the East.

2. Time – Time is such a factor, I might only have time for 1-2 hours of gaming but when you play with people you might want to play longer, or they might bail out earlier and you’re done abruptly. Either way it’s a hassle.

3. Games Available – There are so many games out there that figuring out who has what game can be a chore. Also, unless we are all playing a game that we all know really well (i.e. none), we are spending a significant amount of time figuring out how to play that game. I’m looking at you Natural Selection, Medieval, etc.

Therefore, I am also like Gavin where I have 0% interest in any MMO. The last one I played was Everquest. It was fun while it lasted. I think Simcity might have actually been the last “multiplayer” online-only persistent world game I played. Boy was that a fuck up. Ricky and I both spent over $100 to really spend about $5 worth of time. Depending on online servers blows. It’s not working. Latest example is GTA V Online from what I have been reading. I have already beat GTA V And the next logical step is to get into online but I just don’t care enough. I’m sure it’s amazing, but based on my lifestyle I might never fit the mold that games are moving into.

This topic is quite timely because I have moved on from GTA V and onto State of Decay. State of Decay is fucking awesome. Of course it’s a step down from GTAV in terms of polish, story, … everything except concept. The concept of SoD (as it shall now be called) is great. Open world zombie game. Something like Dead Rising but without the ridiculously stupid timer and some cheap plot like “Get zombrex from your daughter”. It deals with dynamics of moods between people, looting houses for resources, setting up and moving bases, setting up traps, and the constant threat of death of zombies. It is much like … PROJECT ZOMBOID (you bitches – I have it on steam now). Anyways, the point of me bringing up SoD is that it is a great open world game. World is amazing and it’s a great single player. NOW, I hear Undead Labs (the creators) were actually using that as a test to create an MMO with a persistent online world. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! DEAR GOD WHY? Why turn everything from a single player experience into multiplayer. I’m worried for the future of Skyrims and what it means. Why are we moving into the constant need to be multiplayer? Co-op sure. Or a separate experience. But replacing single player into only multiplayer is something I hope is not a trend.

Skyrim, GTA V, Saints Row, Just Cause, State of Decay (for now) are all great examples of single player experiences that are amazing. There is no need to turn it into a multiplayer only game.

This is what I want (and it’s probably why Ricky put this topic up): I want a zombie game where the zombies behave like in Dead Rising. Where you can do silly things to zombies but they are always a threat and scary. Much like what the movie Zombieland was like. I want the world to be massive, cities to be polished, cars to be awesome to drive, etc like GTA. I want the story to be compelling like the Last of Us but also quests to be similar to Skyrim where you make the quests and you can pick and choose what you want to do. And I want all that using the concept of State of Decay where there is depression, anger, real emotional feelings in survivors (ala Project Zomboid again). So according to Ricky what I want is “EVERYTHING”. Just mix all the games into a big jug….

ANYWAYS —

I really enjoyed Heavy Rain (JAAAAAASSSSOOOOOONNN) a lot. It was the first game my girlfriend and I played together and were heavily invested in. There were moment into the game where I had to stand. Great overall. I’m interested in seeing how the game does but at this point, i’m not heavily invested in purchasing at the moment. I’m glad to hear Ellen Page and William Defoe do great performances. A little part of me feels that Last of Us kinda ruined some steam that this game had by all the “HEY IS ELLIE BASED ON YOU ELLEN?” And then to have her come back to Twitter peeps and say “Douches, that’s this chick….”. It’s too bad because Last of Us was probably the way to go for Ellen.

So – with all that being said, i’m going back to State of Decay. Until XCOM: Enemy Within is released.

Tuesday, 1:40pm – Gavin

Well, I’ll hit our topic for the week first and foremost.

  1. I want the worlds in which I play to be persistent.
  2. I do not want to have to go online for anything in order for those worlds to be persistent.

I’m not a multiplayer guy.  I respect and appreciate what some of those games do, but I’m not at a point in my life where something like Day Z really appeals to me in anything other than an academic sense.  I’d maybe want to try it once or twice, but it’s not something I’d buy, and that kills.  MMOs do nothing for me, and if that’s where the future is headed, then I don’t want to go there.  If you give me a single-player, completely offline (beyond whatever DRM we’re implementing at this point) persistent open world, then I’m all about it.  Just Cause 2 hit that mark well for me, with the exception of the generation of non-mission-critical friendly and enemy NPCs, but the enormity of the world and depth of the systems required that they sacrifice those somewhere.

Again, I understand why they couldn’t, but I always thought that Skyrim would be spectacular if Bethesda was able to keep corpses and carcasses in the game after you reload.  Something of a monument to my savage brutality, that kind of thing.  Deus Ex 1 and 2 did this, as have all of the Splinter Cell games I’ve played, but a) finite number of enemies, b) minimal open world beyond the hubs in DE, no open world in SC, and c) a necessary system for stealth mechanics.

Provided a game meets my basic requirement of “am I forced to interact with other real-world humans in this game?  No?  Then I won’t refuse it outright”, I view open worlds as falling into one of three main categories in terms of tone (not necessarily physics or mechanics):

  1. Realistic – think GTA IV and V
  2. Fantastical – think Skyrim, Fallout, Fable, Witcher
  3. Absurd – think Saint’s Row, Just Cause 2, and to an even more absurd extent, Garry’s Mod

I’m personally more inclined to hit the Fantastical out of those three.  Absurd games can get old quickly, and somewhat ironically, I find it more difficult to lose myself in a realistic open world.  I’m very willing to suspend my disbelief at my own leisure, but I live in a realistic world every day – I’d rather be a godless killing machine riding a dragon than a godless killing machine riding a Chevy.  The fantastical, and occasionally the absurd, are more desired environs for my escapism.

Anyway, moving on.  Beyond: Two Souls had some negative reviews come out when the gameplay footage first leaked.  Beyond the character animation, I have to acknowledge that I know next to nothing about this game, and that’s part of the problem.  I don’t know if it’s relying on its gameplay or its story.  If story, then fine, you can get away with fudged mechanics to tell a story.  My most recent example of this, To The Moon, was little more than a point-and-click game, but it served to tell a fabulous story.  When fudging story for gameplay, the classic example of this is, of course, a Mario game.  But if you’re forgoing gameplay and story in favour of theatrics?  That was one of the biggest complaints about Metal Cutscene 4: Sons of the Cutscenes, and Final Fantasy has been going through that for generations now.  Character work is good, but think back to the last example of excellent (or rather, heavily-focused) character work in games – L.A. Noire.  Honestly, do you really hear people talking about LAN as a great game these days, as something of a timeless classic?  Not really, and this certainly isn’t to suggest that every game needs to be the best game ever made, because then you get into dangerous territory where “good” isn’t good enough.  But if you’re going to focus on something unconventional like that, you need to hit it out of the park because you can end up spending a huge chunk of your budget on two big-name actors and not have enough to pay your writers, your play-testers, etc.

Bottom line, B:TS does nothing for me.

Over the weekend, I finished playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  I could go on for hours about this game, both positively and negatively (but mostly positively), but I’ll keep it short.  Graphics?  Ass.  Story?  Forgettable.  Gameplay?  I have never played a more stressful, terrifying, and isolating game in my life.  I hate scary games (as I came to learn during my playthrough of this one) but I have to give serious credit to Frictional.  They took some of the most basic tropes in horror and made them effective, unpredictable, and genuinely frightening.  The insanity mechanics that this game implemented add a crazy dimension that really just make the game, and the inclusion of such cacophonous music is fantastic.  The enemies themselves sound disturbing, but they’re not anything new.  The enemies are disfigured and horrifying, but you’ve seen worse in a Silent Hill game.  But the way it’s all woven together, it’s a masterpiece of horror.

Tuesday, 11:37 am – Ricky

I’m still dodging the topic this week in favour of letting others dive in first – annnnnnyyyy minute now…

I will say that my first hour with GTA Online was pretty OK. I had to go through about 45 minutes of character creation and tutorial missions before having a chance to play with my friends. It was pretty frustrating, as I was on a short timeline, but with that process now behind me, and the taster I got just before logging off for the night, I’m ready for more open world online fun.

The big release for the week is Beyond: Two Souls, what has to be one of the final PS3 exclusives before the next generation PS4 is available next month. Reviews are definitely mixed, but here’s what I’ve gleaned from scanning them: This is an improvement technologically and gameplay-wise over Quantic Dreams’ last release, Heavy Rain. The performances by Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe are great. The story is forgettable, bordering on bad. It seems to be focused more on theatrical action sequences than character development.

Based on the above, I’m ok with that approach: If the controls have been improved since Heavy Rain, which it sounds like they have, I’m happy to lean more heavily on gameplay vs. story. Some reviewers seem to like the story, so perhaps that’s just a personal taste thing. Actually, don’t all reviews rely – at least a little bit – on personal taste? Let’s say that I’m not chomping at the bit to play the game, and certainly not one that I’d break my Challenge for. But I won’t be throwing my PS3 in a trash pile either. It’ll be a game I look to get on the cheap next year. Unfortunately with many heavy hitters already out for the Fall season and more on the horizon, many gamers will probably take this approach, which could spell trouble for the future of Quantic Dreams.

Monday, 8:21 am – Ricky

I’m going to let some other crew members jump in here first.

My weekend was pretty tame – no gaming for me, so I’ll have to make it up during the week!

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