Video Game Rhetoric: Why Do We Keep Calling Games “Incomplete” When We Really Mean “Sloppy”?

Video games get better and better as the years go by and we as consumers and fans reap the benefits of the advancements. However, as games continue to astound us and evolve, many problems begin to surface as well, namely how complete a game is upon launch. Since the inception of online patches and content updates, many developers have taken to release what is called “Day 1 patches” to their just recently released titles to iron out bugs and inconsistencies that may ruin a player’s experience. Furthermore, DLCs and expansions create an environment where developers could potentially release their base game with components missing just for the sake of marketing it as a DLC feature in the future. So it’s really unsurprising when you hear many gamers and consumers throw the word “incomplete” out there when talking about games that they suspect have these problems aforementioned.

This, however, brings us to the issue with today’s narrative when analyzing the content and quality of a game: We misrepresent said quality and content when we loosely throw “incomplete” as a part of our criticism. Now, we can safely say that there are several games recently released in the past year that are true to the definition of being incomplete, with No Man’s Sky taking the main spotlight, but many games which we misrepresent with being “incomplete” are far from it and are in fact just unpolished or just sloppy. The most controversial misuse of this language is most probably notable in Final Fantasy XV, a game that took over a decade to complete. Many fans and players found that the game’s story line was lack luster and the notion that content updates would be adding additional cut scenes and content to the base game to improve upon certain problem areas, specifically the game’s thirteenth chapter, seemingly made the game an incomplete disappointment. Now, although the notion of adding improvements to the base game through chunks of additional content that should have been in release may be a sign of an incomplete title, Final Fantasy XV in its entirety was far from incomplete. Although there were some serious plot holes that were encountered through parts of the game’s story, Final Fantasy XV still delivered a narrative that completely encompassed the adventures of the four protagonists. Sure, there were inconsistencies within their own stories, but the climax and conclusion gave closure to the overarching conflict of the story. The combat, although buggy and repetitive at times, provided a fast paced and complete experience altogether. The UI may have been somewhat sloppy, but gave the player a primitive sense of direction that lead them through the games various quests. “Incomplete” would definitely not be the word to be used, but rather an issue of lack of polishing and/or refinement; the game was sloppy with its story, but it was all there at least. You can even argue that the single player predecessor to XV, the Final Fantasy XIII series, was so horribly incomplete that it needed 2 sequels to give the players some semblance of closure.

It appears that the problem here is how much value we put into the quality of a game. If a game does not have X amount of features, or specific feature y, then the game is instantly a travesty and incomplete without said features. It is this kind of strange logic that forms the basis of No Man’s Sky controversial initial decision to not have an expansive multiplayer. Many felt, before the game was even released, that a lack of multiplayer instantly made No Man’s Sky a largely incomplete game. Now we know that, post-release, No Man’s Sky had a significant lack of core features aside from multiplayer that made the game the incomplete experience it was at launch, but even if all features were accounted for and the game was literally the console’s solution for the lack of Space Sim games, it would be considered an incomplete title purely because it lacked the one core feature that has been demanded of. Does a game deserved to be incomplete because of a developer’s choice to omit a particular feature? I would argue no because ultimately a game reflects the creative ideas of a team of people who wanted to manifest these ideas into their works. Of course player/consumer feed back matters, but to quickly shut down the content of a game by calling incomplete for the lack of seemingly arbitrary features seems a bit in the extreme.

To go back to the Final Fantasy XV issue, the problems with the game’s narrative  may have been larger than what i previously presented, and the story related DLCs do not help this matter. Some players believe that the open endedness of the story were made deliberately in order to accommodate some kind of paid content that would fill those plot holes at a real world cost. If that were truly the case, I would still argue that this is a matter of shady business making rather than an incomplete content, mainly because most-if not all- aspects that would constitute a full game were there. Now we can argue the meaning of a complete game, but ultimately it winds down to a complete story (beginning, middle/climax, conclusion), the main mechanic of the game (in XV’s case it was combat and exploration), and stability (controls, UI, bugs or lack thereof). Of course, more nuanced concepts and featured also contribute to the complexity of a game, but for simplicity’s sake I would argue these 3 features existing in a streamlined and seamless manner would constitute some kind of complete gaming experience. Many games we dictate as incomplete are actually very complete titles that simply fail to have either meaningful content, or engaging story.

The real issue here is that some developers may be able to get away with their sloppy execution of their titles because they can back that sloppiness up with day one patches, DLCs that are either paid or free, or even entire sequels to improve on the failures of their previous ideas. Incomplete games are definitely  a potential problem as well, but the number of titles one would consider incomplete seem to be moreso that those that actually are incomplete. The problem with this kind of rhetoric is that we immediate prescribe a biased mindset to others who want to experience the game potentially, which causes them to have very opinionated preconceived notions of a title without considering features in a more finite level. We don’t expect gamers to become academic analysts for each title, but there is a certain expectation to fully experience a game for the sake of the game instead of going into to said experience with some kind of expectation or hype that may be on the contrary to what the game actually is. This is possibly what contributed to No Man’s Sky, as the almost irrational level of media coverage the game had resulted in many creating huge expectations of a game that many forgot was made by a small team of indie developers. That does not excuse the game’s literal lack of features, updates, and news, but it does highlight the issue with how the gaming community tends to misrepresent games either through news or rhetoric or both.

Incomplete games exist and we should be wary and cautious of them. We should attempt to present the problems of these incomplete titles through our experiences and critiques, but we should also not simply throw the word “incomplete” around simply because some feature was not added or removed in the final product of a game. We shouldn’t immediately dismiss a game and call it incomplete because of sloppy or unpolished writing or story telling, but rather call out these flaws without imposing a mindset that a game is literally not a full gaming experience.

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Will Be Getting a HD Version in Japan This Year

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time will be getting a HD rerelease for the PS4 in Japan.

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time will be getting a HD rerelease for the PS4 in Japan.

The Iconic Star Ocean series will get its first PS4 HD rerelease sometime this year in Japan. Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Director’s Cut will b rereleased in HD as Ultimate Hits HD Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Director’s Cut,  and is currently a download only Japan exclusive release on the PS4.

The original Star Ocean: Till the End of Time was released in 2003 for the Ps2 in Japan, and later in the West, with the Director’s Cut having been released a year later for both regions. The original rerelease provided new modes to play the game as well as more playable characters, which the PS4 edition will also provide through Sony’s HD emulator. The HD elements of the game itself seem a bit lackluster alone, but considering that it’s a 14 year old game, we can’t expect it to be the most graceful HD touch ups out there. You can read more about the HD rerelease and see screenshots of the game via 4Gamer.

The pricing for Ultimate Hits HD Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Director’s Cut is still unknown and there has been no news on whether there will be an international release of the game yet. Considering the somewhat disappointing performance of their recent release Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, here’s hoping that we get to relive the classic adventure of Till the End of Time  once more.

A Retrospective: What Brought Me Back to RuneScape?

I came back to this  crazy old game, and so far it's been really fun.

I came back to this crazy old game, and so far it’s been really fun.

If you were an avid gamer in the early 2000s you would have definitely heard of RuneScape. RuneScape is the Free-to-play but really pay-to-play MMO experience almost every kid with an accessible computer had. The game itself was nothing to be particularly impressed about; the graphics we’re subpar to current titles of its time and the game’s frustrating controls and gameplay left little to praise. However, the ease of accessibility and initial free-to-play elements, coupled with the fact that many people within the same age group were playing the game definitely contributed to its popularity. I mean, even today, the game still holds a steady 100,000 concurrent players a month. Some of these players have been playing since the game’s inception in 2001. This game is literally older than World of Warcraft, the MMO that many attribute to be one of the best MMOs ever made! Of course with the rapid advancement in video game technology, games have gotten much more massive, much more complex, and much more in depth over all. RuneScape however has definitely shown its age, even with its RuneScape 3 graphics overhaul. The game just does not compete with other titles, so why is it that I almost felt compelled to come back to it after all these years of not playing it?

To put it simply, it’s because it’s very simple and casual, and because I am now able to enjoy the premium benefits that child me could not. I typically would be playing Black Desert Online as my dedicated MMO (currently taking a break from it), which is a very demanding and complex game to play. Black Desert Online requires my full attention, having me make sure all my combat skills, life skills, and finances are in top shape to upgrade and prepare myself against a player killer or guild event. With RuneScape, I rarely have to concern myself with any of that, as leveling is so enjoyably simple that I can almost play it without needing to pay attention to my game to level up. Most skills require very little in terms of full attention to level up, meaning you simply need to point and click to get levels going. Combat is also ridiculously simple to manage and level as well, with certain monsters being able to grind out en masse with very little in terms of input. I mean, you can literally let your character auto attack enemies that assault you, meaning you can take it to an area with hostile mobs that do little damage and let your character attack without stopping, with the only concern being health management. The entire game is grounded on simple grinding; there’s no need for troublesome party creation or timed farming/grinding at all.

Ultimately, RuneScape appeals to my childhood drive to be the best. Many of the skills in RuneScape are arbitrary at best, but the ranking system, coupled with the complimenting effect of skills almost demand that you level all your skills to the highest possible. The game’s simplicity and very low learning curve just makes you feel like you’re playing more of a time killer game than a fully dedicated MMO, and that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s a great change of pace for me to be able to play a very manageable MMO without the constant concern that I won’t be able to make a guild event or miss the timer for a boss grind or loot run. It’s great to know that the simplicity of the game can allow me to just log in and get some leveling in with friends and, if I get bored, go player killing in the notorious Wilderness.

That’s not to say that RuneScape is without any faults. As much as the childhood appeal of RuneScape brought me back to it, much of the games mechanics have almost resulted in me rage quitting. One of the major issues that absolutely infuriates me is the control scheme for the game. RuneScape takes a point-and-click approach to its gameplay, and it does this very horribly. Trying to get your character to go to the designated location is extremely frustrating, as the AI will decide to take the most illogical path to the location instead of the simpler, more straightforward path. This makes questing even more difficult than it already is because some of the quests require that you make precise movements, otherwise you fail or get set back significantly. With regards to questing, RuneScape’s system for it is far from perfect. You have interfacing bugs that prevent you from marking the quest starter on your map at times and even when you do make it them and begin the quest, your quest manager will sometimes not track progress, even if you already finished off the first few stages of a quest. Aside from the bugs in the quest tracking, many of the quests are horribly convoluted and terribly paced. Some quests take hours to complete and not due to its difficulty, but rather due to the fact that RuneScape never really implemented an effective means to track and guide players to the next location for their quests. Sure, some could argue that the lack of guidance adds a level of challenge to questing, but the lack of a clear way point and ambiguously written dialogue for some quests makes the overall experience more a matter of just dealing with it rather than a challenging and more classic take to quest giving in RPGs.

Despite all that, I still find myself logging in everyday, even if its for a few minutes, just so I can relax and see the levels coming in. The fact I can just get on and hang out with friends while we do mindless grinding that directly benefits us without the need for scheduling is fantastic. Even though there is not immediate need to do so, there is also a dungeon crawling in RuneScape (a premium skill of course) which is surprisingly light as well. There’s no need to wait for a party or set up times to do these dungeons, you just hop in and hope to get some crazy xp and loot. RuneScape at its core is the most barebones MMORPG experience you can ever have, and nothing about that is a bad thing considering the crazy demand for some of the newest MMOs today. It’s good to know that this relic of a game can still entertain new and old members alike by providing a simple gaming experience that can work through their work/school/life schedule.

Report: Pokemon Go Update Will Add 80 Generation 2 Pokemon This Week

Niantic finally releases gen 2 Pokemon out in the wild in Pokemon Go.

Niantic finally releases gen 2 Pokemon out in the wild in Pokemon Go.

Although its popularity has definitely weaned since its explosive launch, Niantic finally gave Pokemon Go players a treat with the announcement that they will finally be adding an actual content update to their augmented reality game. Later this week, Niantic plans on releasing an update for the once immensely popular Pokemon game that will make available 80 different Pokemon from the Johto region. They will be discoverable just like the other monsters currently available through exploration. New mechanics, outfit options, and evolution items are also planned to be released in this update, as stated in the following Niantic statement:

While catching Pokémon, Trainers can use two new Berries—the Nanab Berry, which slows a Pokémon’s movements, and the Pinap Berry, which doubles the amount of Candy received if the next catch attempt succeeds. Trainers will also be able to customize their avatar’s appearance with a new selection of hats, shirts, pants, and other items. Additional items will be available for purchase from the in-game Pokémon GO shop.

It is unknown whether the Johto region legendaries will be added as well in the update. You will, however, be able to evolve certain generation 1 Pokemon to their generation 2 evolutions, such as a Scyther to a Scizor. This has been the much needed update for the Niantic game as active users for Pokemon Go have significantly dropped since launch. Many attribute this drop as a result of lack of content updates on the developers end to increasing the difficulty spike in the game to levels that many found undesirable. Some still find themselves upset that neither trading nor player versus player battles, which are the bread and butter of the Pokemon series, are still not features available to the game. Hopefully the release of the generation 2 Pokemon will be enough to bring back former players.

Nintendo Announces Season Pass for Breath of the Wild, DLC Dilemma Resurfaces

How will Nintendo handle their implementation of a expansion/season pass in their latest Zelda title?

How will Nintendo handle their implementation of a expansion/season pass in their latest Zelda title?

The problem with DLCs in modern gaming has been a constant problem for many players since their popularization around the PS3/Xbox 360 release. While expansion packs, if done correctly, are a welcoming addition to the base game, paid content that provides a small feature or pointless cosmetic items have always sparked heated debates on the point of having DLCs at all and the worries that the industry is falling into shady money making schemes through these downloadable content. Nintendo’s recent announcement that the new Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, would have a season pass that would provide new areas of exploration as well as new game modes was met with mixed responses, both because Nintendo is now following the norm of having downloadable paid content such as this as well as the concerns that the paid content is even worth purchasing at all.

The Zelda expansion pass will come with two DLC packs. One adds a unique hard mode and a Cave of Trials similar to that of the one in Twilight princess. The other claims to add a new dungeon and original story on top of the base game’s adventure. There’s also a smaller incentive for getting the game, which is you being able to make Link wear a shirt with the Switch logo on it, which for some reason is a thing. What is particularly concerning isn’t so much the fact that Nintendo has opted into this DLC trend, but the fact that you can’t buy either of these DLCs separately; they’re either bought together or you get neither of them. This is extremely annoying because of course the first dlc content is virtually unknown as to what the “hard mode” entails and the Cave of Trials feature really isn’t worth nearly half of that 20$ price tag. The second dlc, which feels more like an expansion shows a lot of promise, but the fact that you cannot purchase that content separate forces the buyer to get a seemingly unknown and minuscule content addition just to acquire something resembling a proper expansion pack.  When it comes to a game with a scope like Breath of the Wild, you can definitely expect there to be new expansions that can build the open world elements much more, as Bethesda has done with their Elder Scrolls and Fallout series for years. However, as it appears, these are the only two planned releases for the game as DLC, and only one appears to actually provide additional content that further explores new areas and story, which seems bizarre for a game that has been hyped for these past two years to be this new massive open world to explore

This only highlights the DLC dilemma that has plagued the gaming community for years: Why should we invest even more on a game we paid full price for? Consumers expect to have a complete product for use/consumption, but all of a sudden you’ll have DLC pack after DLC pack adding things into the game that could have been very easily implemented in the base game as a core feature. Expansion are a bit more tricky to problematize because often times expansions are meant to…well expand further from the base game and add new lands to explore with actually new meaningful content. However, a “hard mode” feature or “new game plus” feature seem like things that should have probably been worked on during the actual development of the base game than something that would just be worked on after release. When it comes to paid additional content, consumers want to make sure that whatever they are paying for will provide an addition to their gameplay experience in the form of additional story, exploration, mechanics, etc. not clothing items that serve virtually no purpose other than for cosmetic purposes or features that were either promised or expect to be in the base game, but were not implemented for one reason or another. Supposedly the purchasing of DLCs benefits the developers to help create more content for their games, but for the case of Zelda who has a gaming mega company like Nintendo backing it up, financial support shouldn’t be a problem, especially considering the massive popularity of the long running series.

Considering this is Nintendo’s first attempt to have a expansion pass with a major title, we will have to remain skeptical until we actually get our hands on the game and experience the content that the pass will provide us. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will release on March 3rd for the Nintendo Switch and the pass will be available for purchase the same day.

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