Five years ago I did a post about Minecraft. It’s by far the most popular thing I’ve ever written on this site not because it was particularly good (it actually kinda sucks), but because something like 35% of the internet is dedicated to Minecraft.
Incidentally, the second most popular post I’ve written was about Disney buying Star Wars, so, y’know. Popular things are popular. That’s SEO, kids!
In my old post I made this foolish declaration:
No, I haven’t started playing Minecraft nor will I. The game, if you can call it that, seems like a gigantic time suck. It’s the sort of thing I could get into if I had unlimited time on this earth and didn’t feel guilty about such things.
About a month later I bought the game.
A lot has happened in five years – even just to Minecraft. Notch did not make the game open-source. He sold it to Microsoft for buckets of money. The game has continued to receive updates and is now available on pretty much every electronic device with a color screen. Minecraft merchandise is in nearly every retail space that sells stuff to kids or nerds or nerdy kids. And apparently there’s a movie in the works possibly with Steve Carell.
I hope he’s playing Steve.
I don’t really care about any of that. Minecraft has become essentially one thing for me: a replacement for Lego, K’nex, and all the other building toys I grew up with.
You know what? I was right. Minecraft is a huge time sink. In five years, I’ve gone from not playing at all to building all of this.
My buddy Joshua and I recorded a spoiler-filled discussion about Horizon Zero Dawn which would probably be the hottest new video game at the moment except then Zelda happened (and it’s really good too).
The short non-spoiler version is that Horizon Zero Dawn is very, very good and you should play it if you have a PS4 and like action games, open world games, sci-fi, giant robots, good fiction, and/or pretty landscapes. It’s gorgeous. The story is great. Fighting giant dinosaur machines is awesome. The initial reveal trailer from E3 a couple years ago showed a lot of promise and this game delivers on all of it.
Well it took much longer to get this out than I wanted. It would have been released sooner if not for a few personal and professional matters that delayed things. And also that fight with the printer. Yeah, that story was about me trying to print the script for this video.
I have a lot of ideas for future Debug Mode videos: games I want to talk about and topical videos too. I’m even contemplating covering some movies or TV shows. I’ve got a lot of partially written scripts. A lot of footage captured.
I was working on a completely different subject but then Cities: Skylines came along and I knew I had to cover it. As a longtime SimCity fan, I was super disappointed by the 2013 entry in that series and Cities: Skylines is this amazing game because it fixes nearly everything that the other game got wrong.
Back in November I had the softest of launches for an occasional web show about video games (or whatever else I want to talk about – it’s my show) called Debug Mode. The first episode was about Call of Juarez: Gunslinger for no particular reason other than I thought it had an interesting narrative structure and it wasn’t already talked about to death.
I’ve done a few videos about games before and I’ve wanted to do something more structured and regular for a long time. Now that everyone and their little brother (especially their little brother) is making video content about games, I thought it would be the perfect time to saunter into a crowded medium with opinions of my own! It doesn’t help that I don’t have a particular “angle” or easily distillable style. In fact I haven’t really found my style yet and I suspect that will take some time. Then again, most of the games commentators I really like don’t fit into short, easy descriptions either.
So I played Watch Dogs this week. Fun game. Doesn’t live up to the hype of the original E3 demo, but nothing could. Still, as far as open world games go I like it better than average and it does feel somewhat unique.
There were a host of little things that bothered me about my experience, however. And since nitpicking is so much more fun than vaguely praising something, I’ll be doing a bit of that to start.
The story is probably the main thing that doesn’t quite work. That’s because, as with so many games, the gameplay and the story are at odds. Some high-minded people refer to this as ludonarrative dissonance. Not me, of course. I’m never pretentious.