Like many video game aficionados, I’ve wanted to make video games for a very long time. One thing I’ve learned from working in a video games retailer for many years is that everyone has opinions on the games they play. More so, most have their own ideas clinking around their minds for their own games (Most of which… well, they aren’t too good). Likewise I’ve had many of my own ideas tumbling around my easily distracted brainspace. I am constantly pulling out one of my many notebooks to revise or continue ideas for level up systems, fantasy/sci-fi settings, or whatever else comes to mind; sometimes even poetry (Go ahead: Call me a sap!). At any rate, this compulsion leads me to take advantage of my employee privilege to be able to take a game from the store home to play from an academic standpoint. I’ll play a game just to see how they do certain things (i.e. level up system, camera, combos et cetera). I’m writing this because there was one such game that I’ve been wanting to play for some time now and just played the first half-hour or so.
This game would be: (wait for it) … Venetica! Okay, so I know your’e wondering: “What the hell is Venetica? I’ve never heard of that!” Well, to answer your inquisitive mind, Venetica is an RPG set in “a fantastical Venice.” You play as Scarlett who, within the amount of the game I’ve played so far, has lost her would-be husband to assassins who’ve attacked her village. She dreams of Death telling her to find the infamous ‘Moonblade’ which you learn later is fabled to be able to kill the undead. You learn that her parents mysteriously dropped her off with the woman she was raised by, and that she somehow doesn’t quite die so easily as being stabbed in the back. Now, all this sounds great and all which was part of the reason I picked it up. The main reason I picked it up was for the fact that I had never heard of any of the companies listed on its covers. These include: Rombax Games (which seems to be a subsidiary of ZOO Games), Deck 13 Interactive, and dtp entertainment AG. I continued then to peruse my way through its instruction manual, which held my first clue (originally overlooked, of course) that this games production value was very low. On page 12 of Venetica’s instruction manual you’ll notice that there’s a screenshot to show the layout of the game’s HUD that has a whole section on the right cut off.
The meat and the potatoes (POH-TAY-TOES!). Earlier tonight I finally get home from work and am able to load up the game to try it. The game quickly introduces the story and basic gameplay mechanics. Now I had already gone into the menu to up the sensitivity, my usual minhag, but the camera was unbelievably disorienting. So I quickly drop it down to 35 percent, which seemed most comfortable. This game has you starting the combat using a fire poker which does little damage, and I’m still not sure if there’s a ‘Block’ button (I probably wouldn’t use it anyway). After getting used to the annoying camera and clunky combat, I make it through the intro to a somewhat open part of the village that was attacked the night previous. Everyone is telling me how I should leave since the assassins were all looking for moi. I’m still walking around in a night gown btdubs. So I get some clothes that I basically stole from the blacksmith’s daughter, and begin my adventure through the surrounding area. I quickly find someone who was mentioned in the town that I have to help out of a fight. Next, I come across a house that two relative are squabbling over to get the will from the house. I talk to them and they warn me that their uncle was a trickster and that there would probably be a puzzle to figure out. Under their feet are blatantly protruding square step-stones (we’re in the middle of the forest btdubs) that I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to interact with. I quickly give up on that venture. I walk around the woods a little longer when I come across a couple assassins that I imagine will be an easy encounter. They weren’t, despite my having found a better sword. I die. The ‘You Died’ screen showed up making me think: “Oh, well I’m sure the game automatically saved at some point.” Next, the ‘Load Game or Quit’ screen shows up and guess what: NO SAVE! Not even an autosave after the opening cinematic or even the tutorial section. And to think: I was really excited to see how the level up system was laid out, and I really wanted to see where her dad and Death were going to come into the story. Oh well, too bad.
I guess my whole point in sharing this experience is in hopes that I will never forget it for the future when my skills are more ‘leveled up’ and I can make a game. To the indie game developers out there: No matter how awesome your level up system is or your super awesome Do-Hickey Do-Dad of super Phantasmagorical Elephantiasis is: DON’T FORGET THE BASICS! If your controls suck, or your camera fidgety, or your story bland and boring, I won’t want to play it. And even more so, this game truly makes me feel that once I gain those previously mentioned skills that I lack,; That I WILL make some interactive experiences of Badassery that you (people of the interwebs) will LOVE…. hopefully.
So with that, I shall bid you a fond adieu… Now to get back to refreshing my gmail inbox hoping for some hate mail…….
– Koshr: Signing Out. . .