The Gamer's Quarter

Some new uppity pdf-only (?) review/analysis zine thing. I was really amused by the Katamari Damacy article, was bored by the rest.

Anyone writing for this?

The writing is like GameCritics times three. Luckily for them, unreadable times three is still just unreadable. It has some decent bits of layout and art, but overall the design emphasizes how the articles go on and on. And according to the intro they’ve been working on it for something like six months. Good luck with that quarterly thing, dudes.

Wow. Someone finally put together all the bad things about the web and joined them with all the bad things about a print publication.

The staff’s a bunch of forum regulars at Insert Credit.

Sushi D?

You’d think that people trying to put together a ‘deep’ gaming zine would leave the stupid Clan Names and GamerTags at home.

They do use their real names in the actual thing.

Awesome, put PDFs on the web… !

Rough crowd!

Actually I thought your “bored by the rest” line was the most damning Jason.

Wow. Knew I was in trouble already in the Editor’s Desk section. People, it’s Gran Turismo, okay? He got it right once, but in the very next sentence he says Grand. C’mon. Also, if you love the Leguna Seca track so much, you should be able to spell “Leguna.” Edit: Actually, he does, because it’s “Laguna,” and I am an idiot.

The MGS3 review actually makes some great points about the game. The guy really does get why MGS3 is great, but also really hard to like early on. Too bad you have to wade through a page and a half of New Game LiveJournalism to get to it. Then it ends the same way after making a very lucid argument as to why MGS3 is so great. You will never, ever make finishing a videogame and putting it back in the case an emotional storytelling moment. Stop trying.

The Katamari Damacy piece is great. Again, the writer clearly loves the game and understands why he loves it. There’s the occasional gem of a line, too. “Dating sims, for example, are ‘quirky’ - though ‘aggressively virginal’ is probably a far better description…” “The breakfast crumbs sitting on a table become the architect of it’s eventual doom.” Nice. Shame about the “it’s,” though.

Resident Evil 4 may have had some good points, but most people will never know because the first page is all about “Wow, that RE4 sure is popular, huh!” and then he starts describing songs he wrote about SNES games, so I hit Page Down. Nobody asked you to bring your acoustic guitar to the game review, dude.

With the Jak 3 review, it is becoming more and more clear that this magazine is mostly a collection of meanderings the staff decided to write because they really like the games in question. All of them so far have at least partially hinged on “A lot of people think this about this game, but they’re crazy/wrong/ignorant/uppity!” I haven’t played much of Jak 3, so I don’t really know one way or the other about much of what the article says. However, I do know that the Jak series has only “refined” the platforming genre if by “refined” you mean “systematically incorporated stuff from Ratchet & Clank, with a brief and ill-conceived stopoff in GTA World.”

Now some piece about driving somewhere with someone’s brother and talking about finishing Contra or something. There are a lot of little bits in here that make me nod my head in agreement, especially the part about how one is more likely to give a retro game one game and move on, rather than sit down and try again. However, it seems to me there should be some kind of a point to the article other than getting me to say, “Yup, I do that.” I mean, I know I do that. Written confirmation that I’m not alone in the world is nice and all, but what were you trying to say in this article that I didn’t already know? The full level snapshots are cool.

Back to the reviews with SH4. “At its heart, it is questionable whether or not Silent Hill 4: The Room is really a Silent Hill game at all; for the first time, we are forced to ask ‘What is a Silent Hill game?’” Well, actually, we were first forced to ask that in Silent Hill 2, when we started it up and it had nothing to do with the previous game except for being set in the same town. So, basically, it’s already established that a Silent Hill game is pretty much whatever it wants to be. Second, SH4 doesn’t feel like a SH game mainly because it isn’t. Or at least, it didn’t start out as one. It was originally a horror game called Room 302, which was eventually co-opted into the SH franchise, probably because it didn’t have a prayer of selling otherwise. So yeah, his entire point isn’t really that meta so much as it’s accidentally insightful. This sort of damages the whole article, as he continually analyzes differences between SH4 and the other SH games, searching for meaning that probably isn’t there in the way he thinks. He also seems to like the game a hell of a lot more than I did, which is to say he puts it above “ugly as sin cash-in sequel whose primary gameplay element seems to be ‘backtracking.’”

SH4 Sidenote: The Castlevania reference is ruined if you actually point out that it’s a Castlevania reference.

At this point I realize I just can’t do this any longer, so I skim. PoP:WW is a departure but here’s why it’s totally kewl…shitty filler wannabe manga with forced gaming references…Chrono Trigger handjob…rundown of obscure arcade games that nobody except someone who grew up playing them would ever want to play again…overly autobiographical write-up on a PC shooter that actually looks kinda cool…

Sonic. Okay, I’m a Sega Whore, I’ll read it. Jesus, this magazine’s intros are longer than most other mags’ game reviews. I can’t believe he talked about “flow” for that long without a single “kiss my grits” reference. I think he actually nails the reason Sonic games haven’t been very good in terms of being Sonic games for the last six years or so. It stopped being about maneuverability and speed at all times and started confining Sonic to many of the same rules Mario has to follow. He also nails the reason all the extra characters in Sonic games suck (although he seems to be arguing in favor of them): “Why can Knuckles punch? To smash walls? Why do those walls even need to be there? Easy - to justify Knuckles’ punch.” Exactly. Since Sonic Adventure (maybe even Sonic 3), level design has been subservient to character abilities. It’s great that Knuckles can dig underground, but if you make me stop to use that ability, you’re ruining my flow, and you can kiss my grits.

Holy God this is a long article. Back to scanning.

One of the writers tries to justify his anime porn fetish by writing a translation guide…absurd GTA:SA review in which the game is repeatedly and ridiculously compared to MGS3 and the writer at one point says that American game developers “[try] to offer freedom over liberty,” whatever the fuck that means… pretentious back cover poem. “We have seen the enemy and it is EGM.” No, I think your primary enemy is the difference between “your” and “you’re,” guys. You might also want to try including a review of a bad or maybe even average game next time. Yeah, it’s harder to write with passion about a game that sucks, but hey, that’s part of the job.

Sum total, these guys have some good points and some real insight to share in several places. However, couching all that in pretentious first-person drivel (which they’re really not good enough to write in an entertaining manner) makes it hard to get to the interesting stuff. I’d be much more inclined to read this thoroughly if I didn’t have to wade through the bullshit at the beginning and end of every article. Stop trying to Create a New Paradigm and just write stuff that someone will want to read. Also, get a copy editor.

Though the entire post is excellent, this single line is outstanding.


New Game LiveJournalism

(Spews coke)

There’s a Castlevania reference in SH4?

I got the biggest kick out of this, found in the Comments on that site:

when can i see a print issue for sale? Also, can i subscribe to it so i just get it in the mail every quarter?

Bauman, Morris, and Green better jump on this guy quick before he gets away.

I don’t get it, the thing is made to be printed…but they use a screen-render font? Why release anything in PDF ever?

I can see maybe trying a new distribution system that involved locking the file so the average computer semi-literate wouldn’t know how to share it with his “friends” but I still don’t see how it would work, make money, or be of any use to anyone.

I have the misfortune of dealing with a lot of transfer and encryption headaches at work, and PDF is one of the many, many moronic technology choices handed down to us by our US Government. MS file passwords, PDF encryption, Entrust keys, that entire path is a dead end, for every new tech there’s 5 tools to crack it. I hate dealing with fonts, with pdfs, with encryptards all over the internet (but especially on .gov sites)…as a long time unix sysadmin, I sincerely wish MS would acquire and/or conquer desktop publishing as a market so I could just foist the whole problem off on the help desk.

It was obvious from day one (I can’t even remember when day one was…anyone know when White Wolf first put up their website? 96? 97? That was the first pdf I came across) that pdf files were a temporary technology, something adopted by publishers who wanted a clear reproduction of their text materials, and over time Adobe has improved their compression to the point where you got a better quality image than jpg and smaller than gifs and bitmaps and so on, but at this point, if you don’t care about security, shouldn’t you just be printing to .png files? Any browser can read them now, and the near-lossless compression is better than pdf anyway. Even if you like security, PDFs are useless, modern programs can strip out the protection in about 3 minutes for even a large file. It seems the only value to pdf is to force the end-user to read the same font you wrote the document in (which png would do as well).

So let’s pretend these guys are as smart as the locals and they decided to make a quarterly publication so they’d be compiling a bunch of their best writing for other people to enjoy in a digest format…why? People don’t go on the internet only 4 times a year, and they don’t read 100 consecutive pages of anything when they do. Whether I care for this writing style or not (meh), I think there’s enough content there for them to put something up every couple days for the same period of time. If they got greedy they could yank the archive every 90 days and try to hawk it, but given the low, low price of text storage and transfer, they’d have a hard time justifying it.

…that Verdana font looks brilliant integrated into the OS at the right pixel size, I went through a tutorial to get it working on linux and it was pretty impressive, but as you can see from the gamer’s quarter pdf file, scaling’s a little iffy.

Yeah, PDF security is a joke. I had a PDF that I couldn’t append to, so I ran it through a PDF to postscript convertor, back again, and appended to my hearts content.

Is Gamer’s Quarter actually longer than Keil’s post about Gamer’s Quarter? If so, yikes.


Ninety-two pages, 2 columns wide. Articles are 3, 4, 5 pages per, done with Adobe InDesign, though you can’t really tell: it looks like they were done up in Word 6 and run through PDFWriter 3. It’s like using a cracked copy of Photoshop to touch up a gif widget.

The article names are brutal: “This is Not A Metal Gear Review

It’s Not a Metal Gear Review Any Self-Respecting Person Would Publish.

I think college professors encourage this kind of writing because they’re so bored with reading 100 of the same paper every semester. I remember making some metaphor with wolves and moons for Macbeth but dropping it after the term paper’s introduction, and the guy complained because I didn’t carry it through to its conclusion. To this day I’m sure the paper would have been better if I never put any metaphors in it, and I was always kind of sad the old drunk couldn’t bring himself to call me on it.

So the Wolves and Moons Clause of Bad Internet Writing says these jokers need to come up with new titles for their articles, ease up on the fluffy introductions, and stop hiding behind aging presentation formats before anyone will take them seriously.

It’s not a bad name for a review website, though, They could still do something useful with it.

…edit: didn’t close a tag

I don’t think my post would even qualify as a sidebar in Gamer’s Quarter. I could pad it a bit with an anecdote about taking a hypothetical trip to Miami and maybe tie in the time I tortured a lizard to death with how exterminating reptilian vermin in RPGs makes me feel like a bad person and a vengeful god at the same time. That might get me some space in the letters column next issue.

I thought I hated New Games Journalism but you guys really hate New Games Journalism.

“New Games LiveJournalism” is a keeper though.