Another day in the trenches, the past couple of weeks have been all about "repair the bugs, fix the errors..." y'know how it goes. It's not the most glamorous part of the job, surely, but hey, someone's gotta do the dirty work. Today was skybox repair... I'll say this much, you work in a business with certain tools for an amount of time, and you get used to doing things a certain way. You pick up after and some years settle down with a different toolset, then you have to re-apply all the techniques that worked in one way and turn them on their ear "let's see.. how do they handle it in here?" It's not bad, and it's satisfying to figure out how to do the, erm, translation - but yeah, at the 11th hour it's nice to have the fallback of "I know how to do this simple basic thing" and have it work like you usually expect. Well, when that doesn't quite happen, it's at least satisfying to discover a new way of doing things..
I was listening to the latest Games for Windows podcast today (well okay it was day old, but they released two this week, apparently) and it got me thinking. They were going off about how excited they were to be wrapped up with the new Team Fortress 2 (and associated titles), and remarking about how it really is such a great time in history to be a gamer, right now. So many big titles are being released during this period, in the wake of a pretty solid couple of years of steady releases (I think I was mentioning lately about the relative quality of "the big franchises"). It's true! Look at any release list between now and the coming holiday season and thing is just packed. Metroid just released recently, we got Halo 3, a new Madden just came out, Skate is reviewing well, the anticipated PS3 titles are on the horizon (Uncharted, Ratchet and Clank), I believe Ninja Gaiden just released on PS3 (yeah another rehash, but it's got it's fans) - Mario Galaxy and Smash Bros. are due shortly for Wii (as is wii fit.. hahahaha). Zelda Phantom Hourglass.. Bioshock, of course.. You already forgot but a new Pokemon swept the world a few months back, as did a Final Fantasy. Okay there were like 10 other big titles on my mind but I am having trouble dredging them up at the minute, but you get the point. Barely a year ago a new Zelda was released, and after the new year (spring?) it's expected we'll see the new installments in the GTA and Metal gear series. So, yeah, there's a lot going on, no surprise there. "It's a good time to be a gamer.." indeed.
But you know what? Listening to the enthusiasm of the crew of that podcast, it made me sort of sad. I used to be a huge fan of games... when I was a kid, that's what my life revolved around! I couldn't get my hands on enough gaming literature, never mind the actual games themselves! But things are different now. I am on the other end of things, and due to that, I see how it's all put together, bit by bit, byte by byte. I have seen countless games in various states of development, to the level now that when I look at any game, it is often the case that I see it as the sum of it's parts. The interface, the animation system, the recycled textures.. the tacked-on tutorials. The knocked-off features. The half-assed added on "bonus materials.." The road to hell is paved with the best of intentions, eh? Alright, I sound a little jaded, I have just seen a little too many projects for my years (yeah 'cause I am so OLD!) but more than that, I guess as games got more advanced, and numerous ---- it's been easier for them to fall into their cliche's. Which is fine, as I've noted above they are usually satisfying affairs for their audiences. I can't honestly look back at the games of years ago and say "oh yeah the games where you flew from the left side of the screen to the right side, and pressed a fire button? THOSE were so distinctive from one another!" It's true, there's leagues more depth now (though I will still argue, "not necessarily better..") But anyway, that's how it is - I am not easily swayed by games anymore. I used to race to the store to get my hands on the latest Sega Genesis title, I would stalk the SNES release lists.. I would nag the crap outta my folks for the newest SMB or Castlevania or Ghouls n Ghosts or Thunder Force for whatever holiday was coming up. I NEEDED that stuff! But I guess I have played "enough" games, I have jumped through "enough hoops." Recently I have picked up some of the titles that I never got around to playing during my childhood, out of curiousity.. yeah, some were fun, but my burning desire to wrap my hands around that controller is long gone, man. I won't lie, there's still games I have my eye on and stuff I want to pick up, but that "life or death" feeling has long since passed. If i had to give up my inventory tomorrow, I don't think I'd shed a tear (but to be honest, I think I would miss my gameboy Micro, a liiiiiiitle)
So then.. is that it? I am dedicated to my profession, my career.. and working in games still excites me, makes me happy. But are my days as a modern gaming consumer gone for good, for the most part? Yeah, possibly.. probably. Who knows, things could swing around and go in a different direction, but I think they've already started to in some ways (casual gaming, Nintendo DS, the surge in retro-gaming interest in the mainstream) and though it's all novel and interesting to me, I seem to notice I am still not spending any money on this kind of entertainment (and no, not pirating, either!) Nah, I think it's me.. my passion for that stuff has given way to my passion for the business end of it, the bigger picture.. the actual production end of things. Keeping tabs on the scene, the industry, the politics of it. I am not a suit or a BS'r, as those things go, but the real world weirdness of it all, the nuts-and-bolts seem so much more enthralling to me, so much more enticing.
Anyway, I guess we'll see. In the meantime I have the spirit of the previous age to keep me going, and plenty of backlog to enjoy in the meantime.. in my way. If Blaster Master 2 was properly produced, I'd be singing a COMPLETELY different tune, I am sure of it.