(W)VGCW returns!

So, VGCW has ended in an appropriate style, and its “developmental” show EDBW has followed suit.

However, Women’s Video Game Championship Wrestling has continued, and they’ve gotten around WWE 2K17’s lack of a create-a-story mode in the following way:

I’d been advocating doing something like this, but it’s still a little jarring. Oh well, it’s the best they can do given the technology and in-game resources that they have.

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Urban Dead

I loved this game, and was fortunate enough to play it at its height. But I can also see the reasons for its decline.

The free browser zombie game Urban Dead was an example of player-driven gameplay. With no NPCs, humans and zombies could organically fight for territory, set up groups and plan battles with real consequences. It was a unique and fun experience.

It was also a horrifically and inherently unbalanced game that managed to give both sides gigantic advantages, in likely unforeseen ways. Individual humans could do far more than individual zombies. Zombies essentially cannot communicate in game at all, and it’s far easier for a human to build barricades than a zombie to destroy them. In individual play, a human can do a lot more.

However, groups of zombies are more or less unstoppable. Because they can just stand up after being killed, in a weird “DETERMINATION”-style system that preceded Undertale by a decade, the only method of actually beating them was to outlast the willpower of the players controlling them. And zombie metagamers turned the in-game communications weakness into a strength, setting up out of game networks.

Because of the PVP nature of the game, any balance changes were bitterly contested, making the community an often unpleasant place. This, combined with the inherent limitations of the game, made the playerbase drop.

There are other factors, most notably the game being incredibly beginner-unfriendly. But its balance was, in my opinion, the biggest reason.

Now, it’s exacerbated. A human can hide in a heavily barricaded building and be safe in normal play (too bad there’s little to do), to a ridiculous extent. Yet with even malls being virtually empty, a small organized group of zombies can attack with basically no resistance. Like its namesake, the game is reduced to shambling on.

But it was fun in its heyday. I remember playing it when I was younger, finding it through (what else) Spacebattles.

Changed Tastes

In some ways concerning fiction, I’ve become far less judgemental. In others, I’ve become far, far more so. In some cases, it’s authors I used to like becoming bad, in others it’s me changing in tastes and sophistication, and seeing them as bad.

Three “rules” remain for me:

  • The more something is hyped, the more skeptical I become.
  • If something aims low, I will be less critical than if it aims high.
  • I will find criticism of everything, even stuff that I like. But fiction without pretense is critic-proof.

Not just the FE Battalion Anymore

My crazed mind continues.

So instead of stuffing the Fire Emblem cast into one battalion, I spread them out all over other units. This I’ve found is a little different than the battalion idea, in many ways for the better.

  • I can sideline physically incapable units.
  • I can go across all levels, rather than from “private” to “Battalion commander”.
  • I can make the protagonists argue amongst each other about strategy in ways that they couldn’t as small-unit commanders.
  • From a meta example, I can put them in different technology levels in a way that’s easier than “Hey, you’re WWII cavalry now, then you’re a Gulf War battalion, now you’re a modern light infantry one!”
  • Pegasus knights as pilots, anyone?

Book cleaning

So, I’ve been helping my mother move, and have been cleaning out my old books. A lot of memories returned. Good books, bad books, and everything in between.

The in-betweens are getting tossed.

  • Legitimately good books are occasionally going with me. I was keen on saving Stephen Baxter’s Exultant, one of my formative science fiction works. And save it I did.
  • Legitimately mega-bad books all stay with me too.

The books getting removed are mostly mediocrities, or ones from series I no longer have an interest in but did back in the day-the embarassingly large number of Warhammer 40,000 ones certainly qualify.

VGCW Grand Finale

So, VGCW has had its ridiculously incredible End Game. After a lengthy Q&A session and behind-the-scenes look, it wrapped up.

I don’t blame the creative staff for stopping when they did. Viewership was declining, the WWE 2K14 server cutoff meant that they had to stockpile content, and the wrestling (no pun intended) with the interface of a rushed yearly sports game.

In fact, the behind-the-scenes look showed that despite the server cutoff, they still had characters not used yet. This seemed to confirm my suspicion that the characters were getting in each other’s way. They were also becoming more in-jokey. While the non-famous, non-wrestling characters played a big role in the series’ theme, I can understand why they’d be daunting.

And as I wrote before, the novelty was wearing off, especially when it was the same dated game. The plot was what made it-and broke it. Not only was it increasingly hard to set things up in 2K14’s engine, but the improvised nature (especially since, unlike real pro wrestling, matches were not predetermined), made things hectic. A big example is in Season 12, where the villain stable kept losing, thus not being a serious threat.

So, it’s probably best that the series ended when it did, and the End Game itself was a masterpiece.

It’s weird

It’s weird that I can rattle off a huge number of books I found bad, but when, in a conversation, it came to recommending ones I legitimately enjoyed, I had to struggle a bit.

Maybe I could recommend books I found enjoyably bad or mediocre to see if others liked them unreservedly?

Coiler’s Crazy Colosseum (Celtic Centered)

As it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I have this Celtic themed fanon fight.

cloverforbattle

Clover (Payday 2)

vs.

hollyforbattle

Holly Short (Artemis Fowl).

 

(I’m guessing Holly will win because of her superior technology and magic, but the Payday Gang have done so much crazy stuff that you can’t count Clover out.) They’re thematic contrasts as well, with Clover as a notorious criminal and Holly a policewoman.

Arcade

Ah, Arcade.

Arcade, one of the Marvel villains ideal for one story, yet utterly unable to work in anything beyond it.

arcadesb

Arcade, for most of his existence, was/is a normal human in a bad 70s suit and giant bow tie who builds deathtrap amusement parks called Murderworlds and has an inexplicable ability to capture superheroes and plop them in there. Appearing in the second-rate title Marvel Team-Up, by all means he should have been a one-issue wonder who would be “lucky” to be a victim of the Scourge, a character created to eliminate “embarrassing” villains.

Instead, the legendary Chris Claremont liked the character and used him as an X-Men villain, and he became a B/C-list supervillain, even earning a place in Marvel Ultimate Alliance.

There have been multiple attempts to make Arcade a “serious” threat, the largest and most recent being the Hunger Games/Battle Royale ripoff Avengers Arena. None have worked. How could they work? It takes so much effort to force a character whose gimmick is ridiculous even by comic-book standards that one might as well make a new character or use someone more appropriate.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Thankfully, the version that I call “Classic Arcade” is an ideal ‘filler’ villain that almost any low-mid level superhero can face. The amusement park gimmick can make for some interesting visuals, and Arcade rarely facing the heroes directly means his reappearances aren’t quite as contrived as-well, everything else about him.

The Ultimate Alliance appearance uses Arcade well, with his presence being an excuse to have a carnival level and some extra-hammy voice acting.

Even crossovers can work-there is nary a Marvel crossover I’ve come up with that doesn’t involve the other crossover characters being tossed into Murderworld.

VGCW update

I still like VGCW, but I’ve gotten a little less insistent on it. I think the novelty of seeing characters flop around in a badly programmed game has worn off.