‘What is the 11pm Report?’ you ask. ‘You morons! It’s not 11pm!’ Astute observation! The 11pm Report is a series of (roughly) weekly conversations between Shiggy and Pants written after 11pm as we try to make some semblance of interesting discussion sparked by recent gaming news. Think of it like a ten minute text version of the podcast, with less Doc What and more Pants. This week the duo talks going backwards in gaming and moves into a discussion about the hype train.
ShiggyNinty: It’s late again, but I want to talk to you about something I’ve been thinking about!
Pants: What’s on your mind this week?
ShiggyNinty: I’ve been playing through Metal Gear Solid 4 recently for the first time. I’ve owned a PS3 for a little over a year and the game for maybe 6 months. But after playing through Metal Gear Rising I felt I needed to go back and play it. Being a huge MGS fan I knew I was going to like it, but I’m amazed at how much I’m loving it. Years after the hype and initial excitement for it has worn off, I’m finally playing it and it’s nice not having everyone else talking about it at once. What I want to know is has this ever happened to you Pants?
Pants: I’m actually struggling to think of an example of something like that…
ShiggyNinty: Really? Not even if the game is 10 years old? Like something on PC from the “before times”?
Pants: I don’t tend to go back too far like that. Oh! Halo! Of course!
ShiggyNinty: The original?
Pants: Halo 3 defined my early 360 days but I’d never played the first two, so it wasn’t until Halo Anniversary came out that I actually went backwards. There’s one! I think I had the opposite experience to you, though.
ShiggyNinty: Really? How so? I’m curious to what you thought when you played it!
Pants: I was pretty grumpy about it. The level design was a bit too plain and repetitive, and I wanted to break my controller playing the Library level. But I guess that’s kind of what happens when you go back ten years in gaming. You see how far things have progressed. It probably was a lot of fun back then, but from my perspective of right here and right now as a first time player I didn’t really have fun with most of it.
It’s probably the same experience somebody playing the new Tomb Raider reboot might have going back to the original Playstation games. The controls are different, the level design is different. There’s just a lot that’s change and it’s different to go back to how things once were.
ShiggyNinty: Yeah don’t worry, most people had the same experience with The Library. At the time, Halo was something that redefined FPS and multiplayer. When you started with Halo 3, by that point it had been more refined and perfected, jumping back into the original Halo would have been quite jarring. I think for me with MGS4 it’s more that for 5 years I’ve waited to see how Snake’s story ended. I’ve played all the MGS games so I’ve seen the series evolve into what MGS4 became. I think our experiences, whilst similar also vary wildly
Pants: It sounds like it also helps that you have more investment in the series! You mentioned that it’s nice to be playing it beyond hype and initial excitement, what kind of difference is that making for you?
ShiggyNinty: I don’t have people constantly talking about the game and spoiling stuff mostly! I’m in my own bubble and every now and again I’ll pop my head out and let people know of something and then go straight back in. It really is just being encapsulated in your own world. Let’s you focus on the game rather than the chatter and the hype that comes with the game.
It’s making me appreciate it more.
Pants: Actually, I think I’ve had something similar to that with GTA IV. I played that long after the hype and I think I enjoyed it more as a result. But I wasn’t as wired into certain gaming networks at the time so I was generally in my own bubble anyway. In that regard it’s just nice to filter out those dissenting voices for a while, be able to judge the game on your own merits rather than the opinions of others.
ShiggyNinty: That’s the thing with MGS4, I’ve heard people praise and hate it for all these reasons, but I’ve gone in with an open mind and I’m loving it. Maybe the being a fan thing helps too. But what about hype and excitement with a game or product? Is it good? Bad?
Pants: It’s good and it’s bad. It’s good because you can be genuinely excited about something and wind up enjoying it. And if you’re thrown aboard the hype train because the people around you are hyped, you can stumble upon a gem of a game that you otherwise might’ve avoided (I bought Max Payne 3 in part because you kept going on about it). But the reverse of that is you can find yourself aboard the hype train because you want to fit in, to be relevant to a discussion – I had no intention of buying Sim City, especially with that trainwreck of a launch it had, but once the woes were mostly over and people were sharing their experiences and suddenly there was a sneaky deal to get it for $30 I was almost tempted to pick it up. Glad I didn’t, because I feel like it could have been one of those, play for thirty minutes and ‘why did I buy this again?’ kind of deals.
ShiggyNinty: I think Sim City is a good example. Imagine if so many more people bought it just on hype alone? I think hype is great in some cases, but when the hype carries over and causes you to be blinded to a problem, that’s when hype is bad. I love being excited for a game but you have to know when to forget the hype and listen to it.
Hype is a very powerful thing in the gaming world today.
Pants: So would you say you prefer to play a game long after the hype? Comparing your experiences with MGS4 to Revengeance, for example
ShiggyNinty: I’m not sure! I bought into the hype for Revengeance not because of Metal Gear, but the Platinum name. It doesn’t really bother me that much to be honest. A lot of games I’ve loved have been both playing it at launch and also later on. There’s no real requirement! What about you?
Pants: I’m a sucker for hype trains. To me it’s about shared experiences, even if you’re just playing a singleplayer game. When it goes well, like it did with Tomb Raider, it sort of adds this exciting energy to everything. I could see somebody tweet about their experience and think ‘I know what you mean!’. The idea that other people are enjoying something as much as you are sort of reaffirms your opinion of it.
The downside is when general consensus is that a game is bad, or disappointing. Assassin’s Creed 3 is a prime example of that. I think I was harsher on it than I should’ve been, and part of that is because of that general consensus going around (not to place blame on people, though). When you constantly read those negative opinions it kind of brings down the mood. You set yourself up for disappointment, you start seeing the problems other people are having – or looking out for them – where you normally wouldn’t have.
ShiggyNinty: Would you ever consider a “media blackout” when something like that comes out? Say avoiding the internet for a week or two? Just so your alone with your own thoughts?
Pants: I’d never be able to completely avoid the internet like that. Before a game comes out I tend to avoid most previews if I’m already keen on buying it, but I wouldn’t stop using, say, Twitter, once the game came out and opinions were popping up everywhere. I’m too dependent on the internet these days. Would you do that?
ShiggyNinty: I would try, but I’d fail miserably. God damn innernette.
I’m still in the middle of MGS4 and like I mentioned before, I’m loving being in the bubble. And after that I plan on tackling some more stuff in the backlog and staying in that bubble. It’s just nice being able to play a game every now and again and being contained to basically your thoughts. I’d encourage people to do it every now and again!
Pants: And when it’s over, you get to hear fully fleshed out opinions from others instead of initial hyped impressions!
ShiggyNinty: Exactly! It’s the perfect crime!