The Personal Is Always Important

So Rob showed me RWBY, a CGI animated series that fuses video game and anime styles. It’s by Monty Oum, and thus has quite a pedigree. I found it enjoyable if needing fleshing out, and did enjoy the use of game stylings a great deal – there’s a very definite Suda 51 vibe that appeals to me.

But what was weird in watching this fan production by a fan favorite is that I found my reactions were odd. How was I to judge it considering its pedigree? Considering it’s audience-friendly involvements and previews? Considering it wasn’t from a big company?

It reminded me when I saw Pacific Rim, which is a giant love letter to mecha films (both military and super). I mean I knew I liked the idea of it, I like what I saw, but my reactions felt strange. On one level it was totally targeted at . . . well me. On the other I wanted to judge it as I would any film.

Then I thought about Rogue Legacy, which I noted “spoke” my language. It was also a personal experience, and one that made judging the game different because that was the very goal.

I was not judging these things based on artistic merits entirely. I was evaluating them in a series of contexts like who did them, focus on the audience. It was very personal. Oh sure there were merits I could note, but in many cases they came down to merits that existed in a personal/social context.

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Gaming’s Tower of Babel

A few weeks ago I discovered Rogue Legacy, a brilliant indie game that instantly became a time sink for me over vacation. I even reviewed it at NerdCaliber. No, I haven’t finished it – yet – but it is a fascinating study in getting a game “right” in a way where people “get” it. Also I want to finish it but I started a new job . . . and Cubeworld.

Rogue Legacy is a fusion of several elements:

  • Roguelike randomness (deriving from the early random-dungeon game Rogue).
  • Sidescrolling castle exploration of the “Metroidvania” type (reminiscent of some Metroid games and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night)
  • Brutal difficulty common to both of those games and popularized in the hardcore games Demons’ Souls and Dark Souls.
  • An aesthetic reminiscent of other hardcore games, Ghosts and Goblins and Ghouls and Ghosts.

Basically you go into a randomly generated castle, explore, die, and then a randomly generated set of ancestors are available for you to take on the journey again to get far enough to win – usually after a lot of descendants.

Now if you’re a gamer like me, you’re already responding to rods like “Roguelike” and “Metroidvania” and “Hardcore.” My choice of words – and Rogue Legacy’s ancestry – speak to powerful and popular concepts in gaming. In short, Rogue Legacy’s designers speak the language of people like me, and a language with years of history. They know what some of us want and how to do it and communicate it.

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