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X-Mas Special: A Dear Santa Wish List

Feature Article by ESCMAG Staff
December 25, 1999

Dear Santa —

We’ve been good this year. Damn good. We didn’t riot at Woodstock or buy any Kid Rock CDs or make too many snide comments about Daikatana. So, because we’re sure to be on the Nice list, we’ve put together a list of things we’d like to see under the tree on Christmas morning.

Action figures: Please, please won’t somebody find a home for Guardians: Agents of Justice? Okay, maybe that project is dead for good, but the idea of a strategy superhero game is, well, super. Most of us pretended to be Batman or Spiderman or their cohorts as kids, so the thought of a well done super-powered game just makes us want to giggle with glee and tie on a towel-cape.

Board games: We love turn-based strategy. Too often, real-time strategy degenerates into charging the other guy with scads of weaponry. Turn-based games, while less connected to real-time battle, let us truly poke and prod the limits of the game’s artificial intelligence — and the limits of our own. Better yet, let the individual gamer decide, as with titles like X-COM Armageddon.

Good stuff like the kid next door: We’re tired of being jealous. Heck, doesn’t jealousy lead to the Dark Side, or at least the Naughty list? So when game companies build and test their games on supercomputers, we get all cranky because they don’t run as well on our less-extravagant systems. So give us more games designed for average systems. The typical gamer — and we’re talking folks who buy computers for almost no other reason than gaming — is too often left with chuggy, frustrating gameplay because it’s just not possible to always have top-of-the-line specs.

More books: Plot is slowly becoming more important in computer gaming — just look at the excellent atmosphere created by the audio logs in System Shock 2 or the scripted events in Half-Life and Opposing Force. It’s a good start, and leaves us wanting more. Let’s see more compelling stories in all genres of computer gaming.

No lumps of coal: If anything, gamers have proven their patience. We will wait years for the latest chapter in an epic adventure or a highly touted shooter from a proven game guru. So why rush the product onto shelves and be forced to issue patch after patch? Why run ad campaign after ad campaign for what’s essentially vaporware? Far better to delay the project another six months and get the bugs out — the resulting love from gamers will override all of the grumbling heard while the game was in production.

Shiny Apples instead of candy canes: Apples instead of candy? Are we kidding? Well, not our resident Mac heretic …er… expert. With the recent resurgence in the company that once held the gaming throne in the ancient early 1980's, more cool games are on their way to the Mac. In fact, many have already arrived to the once-reclusive, anti-gaming environment that chief Apple eater and "Toy Story" fan club president Steve Jobs opened to many, many formerly cynical game developers. What's the wish here, then? To keep those games coming… we've only begun to get addicted to them.

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