Scheduling Updates

tl;dr: Right Click to Zoom is no longer being scheduled to Fridays but will now be released as I write them, hopefully with one every fortnight or so. Backlog Battle Reports shall continue on Mondays as always. Reviews should be coming soon, assuming I can finish a game to write about.

As you may have noticed if you check up on this blog for updates, I’ve not managed to put up a Right Click to Zoom for some time. This isn’t for lack of trying, as I’ve had two drafts that ended up scrapped, but it’s been getting to the point where the lack of progress on my part has been a source of frustration and even despair and anxiety. So it’s time to reevaluate.

Historically, I’ve never been good at maintaining schedules, yet I pushed this blog project ahead with that system anyway. Problem is, I hold myself to excruciatingly high standards that I simply cannot maintain, which in turn leads to a very self-destructive backlash. Furthermore, I didn’t have a job when I started this, and now that I do that added drain of time and energy is definitely affecting my ability to write when I go to do so. So once the schedule starts to slip, it keeps slipping, and I keep beating myself up over it, which just makes it worse… you get the picture.

A lot of this might not have happened if I didn’t reach the two scrapped drafts wall of Right Click to Zoom, but I did. As well as all of the above reasons, a big part of that stumbling was because I was continuing with topics that were either not personally interesting or else focused on video game publishers, developers, and the industry as a whole. I’ve set that precedent from day one, but honestly, that was a mistake. While I’ve certainly had things to say there, none of that has ever mattered to me as much as the actual video games do.

My favourite Right Click to Zoom so far has been the comparison between two Metroid titles, because they’re games I really enjoyed and I get to dive into them in depth. By contrast, getting frustrated at increasingly exploitative publishers (which has only gotten significantly worse in the weeks since I wrote those articles) is important to address but far less personally satisfying. Even worse, that Metroid article was the largest article I’d written at the time, but every RC2Z since has been about that length or word count, if not larger. The scope just got bigger despite my best efforts.

Anyway, rambling on the whys and hows aside, I need to look at rescheduling these articles. I’d like to keep making them consistently, but having that deadline just ends up feeling like a Sword of Damocles over my head, so I’m electing to remove it entirely. I’m going to aim to get a Right Click to Zoom article out every week or two, but until I get back into the groove it’ll probably just be a “when it’s done” situation. Feel free to harass me and ask when the next one will be though, as it’s a huge boost just to know that this project is being followed and read (and to this day there’s been not a single comment on this blog about them).

However, all that said, this is largely affecting just Right Click to Zoom articles as they take up significantly more time, effort and research to get right. Backlog Battle Reports are far more conversational and, really, are just snapshots of the games that I’m playing as I play them. They’re not especially time consuming or difficult to do and I like writing them, so they will remain a Monday night feature.

Finally, the third section of this blog project has been waiting in the wings for a while: game reviews. I’ve more or less decided on titles and formats and approaches to writing them for a while now, but so far I just haven’t written any because I haven’t actually finished a game since doing so. The only exception to this is Metroid: Samus Returns, and I didn’t feel the need to review that since I dove so heavily into it for Right Click to Zoom. So rest assured, reviews will be happening… I just need to stop being fickle and jumping from game to game. Expect to see reviews for Elder Scrolls Online and Grim Dawn: Ashes of Malmouth soon, at least.

I think that about wraps it up. If you’re still with me, thanks again for reading and being a part of this little writing project of mine. I’d still like to make it into proper games journalism one of these days, so every little bit of support and following I can get is a huge help. Do feel free to comment or message me however you want, and I’ll always try to get back to you. I’m verbose, but I don’t bite, really.


Right Click to Zoom — Addressing the Notion of Exclusion via Game Difficulty

Welcome to Friday’s late iteration of Right Click to Zoom, the more in-depth article side of this blog. Today’s topic is a follow up to the one that started this whole segment a month ago. Simply put, is video game difficulty excluding people? If so, is this a bad thing, and how should players and developers alike adjust?

Previously, I spoke about competency and professionalism in games journalism and touched on many of these concepts briefly, so it might be worth starting with that article if you’ve yet to read it. Regardless, the discussion has carried on in the month since, and it’s grown to the point that it’s time to address the newer parts.

Video games started their history by being fairly difficult, both by design and by technical limitations. Forget life bars or progress metres; it was usually you against the high score, with your progress being how much money you managed to save on coin-operated arcade machines. One hit was often all it took to end a run, and the backlog of extra lives usually wasn’t much leeway. That was how the games earned their money, after all.

It wasn’t until home consoles arose from the arcade scene that we started to see games with the kind of progression that we’re more familiar with now. Technology advanced and games were now able to feature stories beyond barebones excuse plots. Rather than being the semi-infinitely repeatable levels of Pacman and its ilk, games had clear beginnings and endings that were quite different. Concepts like tabletop RPGs were ported to video games with titles such as Dragon Quest or Ultima, giving more consistent worlds.

Most importantly, they introduced means of progression and power development that was based on more than just player skill. Suddenly, it didn’t have to be how accurately you timed your jumps or how well you dodged, but it could instead be about which items you’d collected or what level your characters were. The differentiation between those two concepts of player progression is something that deserves its own article, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

Continue reading “Right Click to Zoom — Addressing the Notion of Exclusion via Game Difficulty”

Right Click to Zoom — The Value Proposition Issue of ARPGs

Welcome to this week’s iteration of Right Click to Zoom, the more in-depth article side of this blog. Today I’m going to be talking about the growing concept and issues of the value proposition of games, particularly how they relate to hack-and-slash action RPGs (referred to as ARPGs for the remainder of the article).

The idea of a value proposition is simple: it’s the idea that a product, in this case a video game, presents itself in its entirety and then asks the consumer for the purchase price. A user deciding that the game is too expensive or doesn’t offer enough gameplay, longevity, or some other criteria is saying that the proposition fails; it’s not worth the value they’re asking.

A number of these concepts can be applied to video games as a whole, but I’m going to relate them back to this one genre for the sake of the article today. This is largely because they are a kind of game that can fall into this discussion fairly quickly by the very nature of how they play. To demonstrate what I mean, let’s start with the poster child of the hack-and-slash ARPG genre: the Diablo series.

The original Diablo is one of the more iconic games of its time, releasing nearly a year before the first Fallout game and simplifying the oft convoluted RPG genre down to a more accessible format. The huge, complex and intricate worlds with fiddly systems of the Ultima series and its ilk were instead reduced to a single town. From this town, you would descend into the catacombs beneath the cathedral, diving deeper until you reached Hell itself to defeat titular demon Diablo.

While still gaining power through traditional level ups, much of your character’s strength came from the randomised loot that would drop as you explored. Some drops were guaranteed from quests that would appear within the dungeon, but they too were randomly assigned; not everyone would find the quest to kill the Butcher or the Skeleton King in their run. You could play through it multiple times and still discover something new, and the same character could become wildly skewed in power. This became the core of the hack-and-slash ARPG: the loot.

If Diablo popularised the concept and genre, Diablo 2 refined and polished it. More character classes, more intricate and variable skill trees, more in-depth storytelling and world building, a bigger world to explore and play with… but most importantly, more loot. Winning a whole slew of awards and quickly becoming the fastest selling video game in history at the time, Diablo 2 opened up the genre to more people than ever before.

The inclusion of additional difficulty levels encouraged repeat playthroughs with the one character. Combine this with a strong multiplayer aspect and options, and the game saw continual play for years afterwards. Arguably, that is where the problems inherent in the modern day perception of the genre began, and few points can highlight this better than the launch of the next game in the Diablo chain.

Continue reading “Right Click to Zoom — The Value Proposition Issue of ARPGs”

Right Click to Zoom — Competency and Professionalism in Games Journalism

I had intended for the first iteration of this segment to be on an entirely different topic, but after this recent controversy arose within the games journalism community, I felt it prudent to start here. It’s current news, it’s better to talk about it now, and it will hopefully segue into a good mission statement about what I’m trying to accomplish with these write-ups.

With that said, welcome to Right Click to Zoom, the more in-depth article side of this blog. Today’s topic is “competency and professionalism in video game journalism”.

Allow me to begin by asking a question: if you go out to eat at a restaurant, you want the chef to know what they’re doing, yes? They don’t necessarily have to be world-class gourmet chefs, but if your food comes out uncooked and smelling foul as if the kitchen didn’t know what a stove was, you’d have issues with it. You would complain, take it back, or perhaps leave. When you go out to eat, that is the desire you would have of your chef: competency.

This can be applied to just about anything we do in our lives. We don’t want people unskilled and untrained to be repairing our cars, doing our taxes or running our stores.

Why, then, is it so hard for people to apply this to video game journalism? Continue reading “Right Click to Zoom — Competency and Professionalism in Games Journalism”