Party Hard is a rare kind of a game: a genuine dark comedy. Usually comedy in games is absurd in nature—think Monkey Island, Sam and Max, Stanley Parable, or Saints Row The Third—because the mechanics of any game are already absurd when taken at face value, so it’s a natural fit. What game mechanics represent are often pretty dark when taken at face value—casual murder, theft, and trespassing, to mention a few—and comedy helps undercut that darkness so that we don’t dwell on it. Be honest, did you even remember that the earth was destroyed at the end of Saints Row IV, or did you just remember that elaborate dance scene?
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Nearly all competitive games get “patched.” The NFL updates its rules every year. FIFA recently added goal line cameras to competitive matches. In fact, the only games that I can think of that don’t get updated are turn based, like Chess. Despite these small changes, the games themselves are rarely affected. This past year, the NFL updated a rule concerning running backs charging forward. Prior to this change, a player could run headfirst (literally) into an opposing player, but after the rule changes if the “crown of the helmet” made contact with an opposing player, then the runner’s team would be penalized. Despite a lot of buzz about this new rule, it has barely been called this season, resulting in little to no difference in the play of the game.
I think that this is an example of a “good patch.” It probably changed the way that players were coached to run with the ball, but ultimately it made little difference in the overall look and feel of the sport. This is because American Football has rules that are mostly set in stone. Since the advent of the forward pass, not much of the game has changed. Soccer, long known as “The Beautiful Game” due to its simplicity, has barely changed in a hundred years. Because the rules in these games are roughly fixed, the emphasis of competition is on putting together talented players, managers, coaches, and strategists in order to win.
While the concluding episode of Life Is Strange was recently released, we are only just nearing its conclusion with our discussion of the fourth episode of the series.
This week we continue to consider our commitments to certain choices made in the game and our revisions of reality and the consequences of both on the life of Max Caulfield.
Puzzles and horror make a curious pair. This pairing has a real history in video games. When one thinks of “old school survival-horror,” one often thinks of an environment with lots of locked doors, hidden keys, and esoteric riddles. But why was it so often this way? Was this a mutually beneficial relationship, one in which the stress of the horror made the puzzles more exciting and in which the methodology of the puzzles forced us to stay rational amidst the horror? Or were the convoluted puzzles included simply to pad out the game to a more marketable length?
We’re still a ways away from knowing if Activision’s purchase of King (makers of Candy Crush and all manner of games with “saga” in the title) was a good investment, but I can definitely see the logic behind it. If you take a bigger look at Activision-Blizzard, they’re more than just a Call of Duty factory or an MMO machine. They’re in the business of making experiences that are ongoing services rather than one-off purchases. Buying King gives Activision-Blizzard a shot at cementing that much sought after concept of “engagement” that is currently driving the video game industry as well as the overall technology sector.