Bastion: fortress, mainstay, stronghold, awesome game
August 18, 2011 § 3 Comments
Now I don’t believe in advertising. It’s not my thing, per se, which is one reason why I don’t have ads on this site (also: I would earn about 10 cents on a good day). See, one of my problems with the current day’s economic environment is that it’s based on an endless cycle of increase. Being content is not good economic strategy, especially from the position of a retailer/creator.
I don’t want people buying my stuff, I want more people buying my stuff. I had this conversation with my manager at work, where we ask for emails to send out inane promotions (in full defence of my work, the promos actually aren’t that bad. For what you give us, you get way more back). The conversation went:
M: Good job John, we made our email goal for this month!
J: But Holy Hell did we just barely make it. And that was a busy month. And we had an email raffle going that wasn’t actually supposed to happen. And we had to cheat and put our own emails in the running.
M: Yes, but that’s the past! Oh, and by the way, we need to increase our email collection by 10% this month!
J: But August is less busy than July!
M: Yes, but that’s the only way we’ll keep growing as a business!
I’m being mean to my Manager, who doesn’t exactly get any say in how many emails we collect, but the point is basically how it was presented here: if we’re not growing, we’re dying. There is no place for relaxed goals or for being passive: we must attack.
But what does that have to do with advertising? Because of the need to grow, businesses often try to manufacture desire (OH MY GOD NOVEL POINT I AM A GENIUS) and I hate it when that happens. I don’t mind being introduced to cool things, but I prefer it when I can evaluate it for myself or have someone I trust do it for me. That’s one of the reasons why Boing Boing is my homepage: it often tells me about cool stuff through word-of-mouth (/word-of-internet) rather than seeing it on a billboard over a lonely train track.
I completely approve of advertising when it’s word of mouth, because it’s not trying to manufacture desire. It’s cool things being shared among people because they think the other person will like it. That’s why I approve of Penny Arcade’s ads. They vet them before they show them on their site, so if you see one for League of Legends, it’s because they really like the game. I like that, because I have nothing against stores, retail, or the promotion of certain products over the other. I just want some sort of fantasy-land where people choose what they like and buy based on informed decisions and prior experience. It also helps that word-of-mouth is a very good way to get people convinced about things.
Ahem. Long story short, I am playing Bastion and enjoying it immensely. Not only is it a cool game that is fun to play, I love it because it is devoted to story-telling, which in case you haven’t noticed, is something that I’m rather fond of.
Do you hear that sultry voice? That is the narrator, and not only does he make me want to drink bourbon until my voice is as smooth as gravel, he narrates your actions throughout the game. Now, while you think that might get boring, I’ve played it for 2 hours (yes, a game I looked forward to, pre-ordered, immediately bought the soundtrack for and have had for two days, and I still have only found 2 hours to play it. Busy, busy, busy) and he hasn’t repeated himself once. His little asides help the story progress, but also add life to the characters. I picked up the musket and started blasting with it, and the narrator commented on that. It adds a whole level of immersion and story to the game that just makes it work.
I grokked it in its fullness when there’s a dream sequence and the narrator explains the character’s background while you fight off monsters left and right. They aren’t telling you story that’s escapable through a text box or a screen you can ignore (looking at you, Dragon Age), it works that story right into the playing experience. The game and story aren’t two elements of a shared creative object, they are inseparable.
It’s gesamtkunstwerk at it’s highest, and I love it. Oh, and the soundtrack is pretty damn sweet, just going to put that out there.
Why did I do all this? Because I like Bastion, and if you like stories and cool video games, I think you will too. It’s cheap, the company seems cool, and games are pretty much the best thing ever. Except for stories, because seriously, at some point I’ll want to make money off the stories I tell.