PS4 Conference: The After Party (Part 2)

My last post involved re-examining that Sony is in fact, an exhibitor trying to sell a product, rather than a magical candy man some of the PR bullshit would lead you to believe.

If You want to view paradise…

If You want to view paradise…

…simply look past the slave labor to view it.

…simply look past the slave labor to view it.

Yes, I had a lot of fun watching the conference, and I’ve already done an extensive job at posting the information, and doing so with honest enthusiasm. My newer posts entitled “The After Party”, are merely to balance my own equation. I’m at my best when dynamically divided, and I want analytic me to remind my over enthusiastic me to stay focused, and remember that this fun has context, and all sides of nonsense that coincide with it.

Coinciding Nonsense

Coinciding Nonsense

My first post revisited the truths Sony delivered, that may or may not be fully intact when the PS4 launches later this year. While I endangered my own righteous excitement and Sony’s bold claims using one fatal bear hug of judgement, I look else where to continue doing damage in this new post. Damage to both my own lofty expectations, and ridiculous hype on display at the conference in one fail swoop…

…in what I’m referring to as the Raditz Maneuver.

…in what I’m referring to as the Raditz Maneuver.

I find understanding and besting the competition involves a little self-sacrifice….from time to time.

In any case, while a lot of what Sony talked about had a sound theory, and only a questionable execution, many of the other ideas on display seemed to be just that, questionable. The theory was padded by thoughtful motivation, but the reality of the product, or the execution of said idea, may not even have been a pre-meditated thought in bringing the proto-display to our attention.

I give the pass to most of the games in the first half of the conference. Watch_Dogs still remains a savory delight, and Knack has the potential to be a killer app at launch. Drive Club and Killzone looked solid, and Jonathan Blow has a good enough track record to keep me satiated till E3.

Then…there was the not so game play heavy demo’s….and the spectacular lack of no game play to go along with it.

Pictured: Not Game Play.

Pictured: Not Game Play.

First off I’ll touch on David Cage’s presentation. The man is outspoken on his views in game design, so this display of cinematic bravado involving the Old Man tech makes sense, in one way. That is, in the way of explaining what the PS4 is capable of in theory. Considering his team Quantic Dream is still producing Beyond, their current project, which hasn’t even been given a release date yet, I wonder how unrealistically gun ho Cage should be about “The Old Man” in discussing near future possibilities to hopeful gamers.

Amazing and reasonable, the perfect fusion of game design.

Seen Here: Cage’s Next game, Beyond…amazing and reasonable, the perfect fusion of game design.

Launch windows are abusively pushed back, and Beyond doesn’t even have a set date yet. I use the game’s mention as a segway to theory vs. execution, and how one should be slightly more tame in their hype. David Cage has been known to romanticize technology, more so than his ability to provide timely upon it. The Old Man Tech comes off as a spiritual successor to his Alfred Molina model shown at a Sony E3 event circa 2005, by non other than…David Cage.

A demo used before the PS3 was out in 2005, to showcase a game (Heavy Rain) that finally came out for the system in 2009.

A demo used before the PS3 was out in 2005, to showcase a game (Heavy Rain) that finally came out for the system in 2009.

I will give Cage credit here. He knows how to craft an experience, and he didn’t spread misinformation on either demo. My problem with the hype pre-releasing is the false precedence it sets to the hopeful early adopters, and delivering on the theory vs. the execution. Should we really be hyping a system to come out in 2013, by discussing the game possibilities in 2018? What about focusing on the here and the now? Sony didn’t even want to discuss a price point, which is something we’ll have to be dealing with in 7 months time, but the visionaries can talk about something that may be possible half way into a consoles life span? Last time I checked, most video game launches are strapped as is for a constant stream of good titles to come out, so focusing on the honesty of what’s going to be immediately available seems like a wiser decision in terms of exciting potential day one buyers, as opposed to talking about a far off potential future.

Romantically discussing that which we struggle to understand.

How David Cage normally reacts to yet unexplored territory.

How David Cage normally reacts to yet unexplored territory.

Once again, I bookend my challenge of the obvious to a look back at a good track record. I know that Cage can deliver, just not necessarily within an exciting time frame. Others on show, weren’t quite as forgiven at a second glance. Capcom’s Panta Rhei engine looked fantastic, but the game Deep Down is reminiscent of so many other “look at this” tech demo’s posed as games to get the masses a’ sploding, but never ever getting enough gun power for the chance to ignite.

Remember getting emotional the first time you saw Milo? Peter Molyneux doesn’t either.

Remember getting emotional the first time you saw Milo? Peter Molyneux doesn’t either.

Deep Down already looks too good to be true, even leading me to believe we might be getting Killzoned. Considering Capcom’s abhorrent habits as of late, in scaring off good talent, and abusing the one’s they still have, I’ll be amazed if we ever hear about Deep Down, let alone see it performing on the same level of quality again.

They couldn’t get Resident Evil 6 right, but Capcom is assuring us that this is totally possible? Not even Dr. Wily would bet on this conceptually suspicious technology, and he made a robot called Wood Man.

They couldn’t get Resident Evil 6 right, but Capcom is assuring us that this is totally possible? Not even Dr. Wily would bet on this conceptually suspicious technology, and he made a robot called Wood Man.

Then there’s this guy

Yes, this guy.

Yes, this guy.

Maybe one of the worst examples of why media PR can go completely bat shit insane without a proper rein in. If I accuse David Cage of romanticizing about technology, than Nate Fox is engaged in explicit adultery with concept.

Not exactly a game known for breaking down social barriers or breaking apart conceptual walls…hell, getting over a fence in the first game was hard enough.

The idea of bringing meaningful social concepts to light through gaming is important, and I think there’s room for a serious dialogue in the realm of dev and player interaction. I think this was an example of wrong place wrong time, as Nate Fox’s speech of Infamous: Second Son being inspired by his experience of being tear gassed was just very awkward, and poorly handled in the grand scheme of the game lead in.

Following the serious tone of being assaulted, to further building a melancholy message with “thousands of lives lost waiting in line” in reference to overbearing government security builds up to anti-climax. I say this as a response to all of this serious dictation,  directly leading into a segway involving “how everything would change if people started developing super powers”, which seemed akin to an attempt at a bad joke. At the very least, a disservice to both Nate’s experience, and the game itself. The entire exposition going from dead serious to a serious joke in about three seconds of time.

ps4 p4 wd 17

The same amount of time it took for Ubisoft to seriously grab my full attention with their Watch_Dogs presentation. No joke.

An air of disbelief palpable after the realization of an Infamous lead up being a dud, and some reflexive eye rolling  with the realization that Mr. Fox just made a mockery of his own intention and the game in one misguided swoop. Insult added to injury comes just slightly later into the conference, when Watch_Dogs, which has a similar concept, is delivered with more tame eloquence, and touches on the topic in a far more nuanced manner, and appropriate context.

I’m sad to say, but this kind of mis-directed hype is what turns pre-release tech conferences into a full blown Donkey Show within a single sentence.

“As you know, Square Enix is another major partner developing for the PS4”.

Seen Here: The gaming press reacting to the Square Enix portion of the PS4 press conference.

Seen Here: The gaming press reacting to the Square Enix portion of the PS4 press conference.

The Square Enix mention, and subsequent techo demo on display had to have been the least eventful section of the entire conference. With easily, the least informative, and least impressive tech on display, I’m surprised Sony didn’t just save themselves the time and replay the Final Fantasy 7 demo they did back in 2006. At least hyping that lie again would have reminded me of a time when Square as a company was actually worth a shit

Pictured: The Square Enix rep on stage at the PS4 conference being capture saying "Look what Square can do".

Pictured: The Square Enix rep on stage at the PS4 conference, being captured on camera  saying “Look what Square can do.”

Square’s tech demo didn’t look the best, they had no games to show off, and all of this information was coming from a company that routinely pushes me past the realms of gaming sanity. It’s very hard to respect a company that has been strangling it’s own creative merits to death over the past decade. I find it even harder to take seriously anything a company has to say about an upcoming game, when they’re singularly responsible for murdering one of the most highly regarded game series of all time single handedly. What they showed had little baring in the impressive, and was a conceptual mess. With confused direction and awkward concepts, everything on show was just thrown at the audience in a random attempt at trying to grab the lowest common denominator.

Also, a hyena.

Also, a hyena.

Honestly, I have full awareness of my bias towards Square Enix, and this is due in part to the reasons already stated. I bit my lip when trying to provide genuine coverage of their portion of the PS4 conference, and felt sincerely irked they were given as much press time. Their habitual dishonesty, and shallow attempts in video game development have reduced a once impassioned Final Fantasy fan to a hater of the illest kind. In fact, they are largely in part the reason I decided to throw this literary “After Party” following my regular PS4 write ups. This was in trying to shed light on how earnestly difficult it is to take some of these companies at respectful face value, when they’ve helped to degrade the over all culture of gaming, and have created such a poor track record of distrust in the first place.

Oh yeah, don’t forget their grand finale: an announcement of an announcement in the (possible) near future.

Oh yeah, don’t forget their grand finale: an announcement of an announcement in the (possible) near future. Whoopie fucking doo.

Honestly, I was going to mention Media Molecule’s unfortunate similarities to the Wii Music Demo from Nintendo’s E3 in 2008, but nothing matches Square’s sheer volume of disappointment and tenacity in doing so. Media Molecule has always had an air of soul about their development approaches, and their mission of “recording your dreams” is victim only to Sony’s rigid dictations in this regard, and the yet unratified nature of the Playstation Move controller to go along with it. MM still has the want to succeed, Square lost theirs a long time ago.

Well, that about wraps up the celebration for all of the majorly disappointing misgivings  of the PS4 conference from a conceptual stand point, and what an after party it turned out to be!

…Don’t get me wrong, I want to end this by saying I wish the developers well in carrying out their simple message of fun, however flawed it may be. I’m also severely excited about the PS4, and am eager to pick one up at launch. I just want to remind myself, and in turn, my gaming brothers, that blind acceptance often begets false prophets. If we don’t stop and take a second look, and even question the harsh reality of what has been presented before us, we will all suffer the consequences of observational neglect. Massive disappointment is a byproduct of extreme misjudgment and unchecked disbelief, both elements we have full control of, and are smart enough to use, if we so choose, on a regular basis.

The idea here is not about unneeded pessimism, it’s about healthy amounts of cynicism. Reality is going to be harsh, it’s when you start observing this fact, you can start appreciating the aspects of life worthwhile, and have more fun in doing so.

Happy Gaming.

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