299: The Bolshevik in the Borderlands

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The Bolshevik in the Borderlands

"Mainstream" games can be popular, profitable - and pretty damn brilliant. Maybe it's time you let yourself enjoy them.

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Now I feel really stupid for not looking into the visual cues of Borderlands more deeply. Initially I thought "Huh, okay. He's looked into this waaay too much". But I thought about it, and... well... you're right. I do wish they could've brought story more to the fore, but it would've clashed with the gameplay (much like Bulletstorm's serious moments, for example, are mixed in with the comedic gameplay and other comedic elements).

As for Tannis, I always was deeply moved by her journals. They're funny, but it's black humour. You're essentially laughing at somebody losing their mind, and it's unpleasant when you think too much about it.

Looking back I kinda like borderlands

But I just foudn the shallow NPC interation off putting plus its a little bland in single player

but I did love the world and the charachters

Jonas Kyratzes:
The Bolshevik in the Borderlands

"Mainstream" games can be popular, profitable - and pretty damn brilliant. Maybe it's time you let yourself enjoy them.

Read Full Article

Ah, yes, the old "if people like it, it can't be good," chestnut. I appreciate hearing an indie developer speak up against it.

It's the same old thing that's been happening in the music scene since forever: a no-name band is loved by local fans, makes it big, and the fans abandon them as "sell-outs." The elitist fan that punishes the success of the band.

A game like Borderlands actually does a better job of conveying its art than many "artsy" games, as is the case with many movies. It puts the art there and allows you to find it, if you're looking... but it doesn't beat you in the face with it. There's an age-old idea that those who truly have power don't have to prove it. I think the same is true for artistic merit.

Interesting to hear an anarcho-communist's look on things. They don't get sucked in from the mainstream vibe, but at the same time they see no harm in liking it, as long as you aren't doing so just because the corporation tells you to. Such an interesting look on life...

I've always loved borderlands. I remember seeing the huge bones and thinking "I glad THAT thing is already dead..."

Jonas Kyratzes:
The Bolshevik in the Borderlands

"Mainstream" games can be popular, profitable - and pretty damn brilliant. Maybe it's time you let yourself enjoy them.

Read Full Article

Four pages of pure pretentiousness, I'd say I admire you but there was just too much of it to find it funny.

I should realy finish this game someday....
I did like the game, dont get me wrong, but I never saw any depth in the game other then the gameplay itself (lets exclude tannis, since her audiologs were golden in so many ways)

Im glad to see that I missed things about the narrative, but I still feel like they could (and maybe should) have given more thought into the story and characters...

You sir, are preaching to the choir. I never played Borderlands, so I cannot personally comment on it's artistic merit.
However I will say that, you of all people should know that Art is entirely subjective. If you see Borderlands as a Masterpiece, good for you. But, in my honest experience, it is a complete and utter waste of time to tell people "What they Should and Should not consider Art."

It's as Flemeth from Dragon Age: Origins said "We Believe what we want to Believe. It's ALL we EVER do."

I love the self-deprecating humour in this article.

In the audio logs Tannis is hinted to be the reason that your character is actually on Pandora and she is by far my favourite (second only to Dr Ned) character.

Her logs really give you an insight into what life is like on Pandora as she is slowly driven more and more insane through boredom, loneliness and the spooky environment. Her voice gets slowly more manic and faster in speed as the logs progress, subtly at first till day 653 when it is rapid fire lunacy.

After listening to her logs I took a closer look at most of the other NPCs and realised that most of them are insane to varying degrees. You character is implied to be insane too.

Tannis' Audio logs are here in full:

I didn't really like Borderlands all that much, mostly because I got bored with how the gameplay quickly became routine, but I did appreciate it on an aesthetic level, and this article furthered that for me. The dusty wastes, twangy guitar notes, and those remains of civilizations both ancient and recent really do paint a picture of a world that deserves another look, but if Gearbox were to do a sequel or spinoff or whatever, then they really need to pump a little bit more life into it. I'm not referring to NPC interaction, though that would have been a bonus, but more variety to the missions, and at least show people who are not quest-givers, to give the world a bit more flavor (like that starting town that only has one guy, where was everyone else?).

Also: loved the alliterative title. Nice touch.

The best part of borderlands was the back story, however in the game, everything was so bland and grindy that i got sick of it. But I do want a new one, but it needs to give more wieght to the story!

I love Borderlands...I still play it religiously, so I might be a little skewed.

One thing that kind of bugged me though were all the criticisms that the world wasn't too involving (ie, the NPC's, town areas, socio-economic whathaveyou) BUT I felt that was the point, your not Gordon Freeman out to save the people, your an asshole treasure hunter/mercenary. You don't give a damn about any of them, even less their problems.

quality is not measures in money or success, finally some contributor who knows it and is able to face the facts that usually those follow as well.

It is possible to have good mainstream games. But most are like god of war 3, pretty screenshots to sell copies, and fluff for gameplay.

When it comes down to it your article is saying that great mainstream games are made IN SPITE of the whole "industry" process and not because of it.

Fallout 3 was a decent game that where going "mainstream" removed much of what made the originals special. Whereas the campyness in F2 was there to contrast the darkness of the post nuclear setting in F3 the campyness was the setting itself.

STALKER is one of my favorite games and it had a 10 year development cycle where it was obviously a labor of love and not built with commerce in mind.

I wondered why I enjoyed playing Borderlands, then I realized it was like FFXI, except Borderlands is less tedious because it doesn't fluff itself out with unreasonable travel time.

But the mainstream games industry has produced some truly, truly great games.

Wow, that really called for a 'There, I said it'!

Who knows what will happen to you now you've expressed that Iincredibly unique and individual opinion!

This has truly never been said or believed before!

Alongside InFamous, I cite Borderlands as the poster boy for everything that has went wrong with videogame design since 2006.

One man's shit is another man's chocolate I guess.

Great article, if a bit obvious (not the Borderlands part, but the point about the mainstream).

But anarcho-communist? in what universe would this ever work? thats like saying you are a pipe-dreamer.

Trent_Steel:
Alongside InFamous, I cite Borderlands as the poster boy for everything that has went wrong with videogame design since 2006.

One man's shit is another man's chocolate I guess.

inFamous is still more fun than games like

Your Grandmother Is Depressing or Pointless Anxiety 2: The Return of the Big Sad

and if a game fails to be fun then it has failed to be a game.

this is something the AAA ALMOST ALWAYS gets right

seems that a lot of articles this week are basically provoking the escapist community at large what with the "You Wish You Were Casual" article and this article

Azaraxzealot:

inFamous is still more fun than games like

Your Grandmother Is Depressing or Pointless Anxiety 2: The Return of the Big Sad

this is something the AAA ALMOST ALWAYS gets right

and if a game fails to be fun then it has failed to be a game.

seems that a lot of articles this week are basically provoking the escapist community at large what with the "You Wish You Were Casual" article and this article

This is provoking in what sense...? He made the joke 'Pointless Anxiety 2: The Return of the Big Sad' at the expense of the 'pretentious' indie developers (like himself), and then went forward to praise the level designing, environmental story-telling and fun combat of a AAA title. He's even championing the 'fun' part by saying that art and fun aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

Talk about something going 'whoosh' over your head... -_-

Raiyan 1.0:

Azaraxzealot:

inFamous is still more fun than games like

Your Grandmother Is Depressing or Pointless Anxiety 2: The Return of the Big Sad

this is something the AAA ALMOST ALWAYS gets right

and if a game fails to be fun then it has failed to be a game.

seems that a lot of articles this week are basically provoking the escapist community at large what with the "You Wish You Were Casual" article and this article

This is provoking in what sense...? He made the joke 'Pointless Anxiety 2: The Return of the Big Sad' at the expense of the 'pretentious' indie developers (like himself), and then went forward to praise the level designing, environmental story-telling and fun combat of a AAA title. He's even championing the 'fun' part by saying that art and fun aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

Talk about something going 'whoosh' over your head... -_-

no, i get it. fun and art don't have to be exclusive. but most pretentious indie fans don't see this.

i keep trying to get "fun can be an art form in and of itself" pushed into people's heads, but people seem to want to argue that

My problem with Borderlands wasn't that it had a story. My problem was that they had a story that was trite and poorly executed alongside some of the worst hit-detection and mechanics I've seen in a long time. If you're going to have a story that forces me to listen to some random woman chirping in my ear all the time, then at least have the decency to make it good. Otherwise build your setting and leave it at that.

For God's sakes, find other ways to simulate RPG statistics in an FPS than "hits at random". Make the crosshair/cone wider the less skill I have in the weapon, and make it expand further at a faster rate. But if I can line a headshot up, then that bullet should hit the God damn head and not the rock five feet to the left.

Borderlands is a good game. But just because it's a lot of fun despite its flaws doesn't mean it is a great game. Good thesis, bad example.

I always found the things you could learn about Pandora from the environment to be some of my favorite parts of the game and some of the NPCs are pure gold (Moxxie and General Knox are my favorites). Interesting article!

ccesarano:
For God's sakes, find other ways to simulate RPG statistics in an FPS than "hits at random". Make the crosshair/cone wider the less skill I have in the weapon,

Borderlands already does this.

ccesarano:
But if I can line a headshot up, then that bullet should hit the God damn head and not the rock five feet to the left.

Have you ever rolled a d20? Just saying.

As for the article itself, the point for me where Borderlands went from being a good game to a great game was the second I walked up to Tannis in her jail cell and took the time to read the graffiti on the walls. That one room was the piece of storytelling that I had missed in playing the game that tied the entire game's narrative together in one neat little package. It's a really well-designed room, and whoever proposed it deserves a small raise.

And, yes, the scratchings do bear some slight resemblance to The Ratman's wall scratchings in Portal, but that doesn't make them any less appealing.

I stopped reading when he said he enjoyed borderlands. Although I very much dislike a lot of games, i.e. CoD, Assassin Creed 1&2 for some reason I like brotherhood though, not because of multiplayer, Homefront, many many others, but at least I can see the appeal of the affore mentioned games. Borderlands is just downright awful, it has no story, no niche gameplay element and the only gameplay it does have it "Go here, Shoot this," no variation, bad vehicle controls, terrible enviornments, terrible art style (though admittedly, someone else may love it, art is personal) A teribly scewed difficulty in that it's all as easy as wearing clothes, the items are placed so you never run out of ammo or grenades and if you have a friend who is as bored by it as you, he'll come on for 5mins and give you all his shit, unintuitive menus, character selection comes down to "Which one looks nicer" need I go on?

it is the worst game I've ever played and I've played elf bowling.

Good article. Definitely appreciated the self-deprecating intro, hehe.

You make a lot of excellent points, although personally I would not consider Borderlands a "mainstream" game. I think as compared to a lot of other shooters and RPGs, it's more on the fringe of mainstream.

The only thing that pissed me off about Blands really was their use of the crappy gamespy buddy system which made it more difficult than it needed to be to play with other people you liked. That and the endless tedious fetch-quests. Gather 500 of this item for no reason! Ok!

The irritating thing is that a lot of the complaints about "mainstream games" is really code for "mainstream games I don't like". Take Dead Space, for instance. Innovative title, EA really threw their weight behind marketing it. And it was a wild success. And then those same gamers turn around and complain about the prevalence of CoD. Funny thing is, a lot of those same gamers love Battlefield, despite the fact that there are almost twice as may Battlefield games as CoD. In fact, CoD has to include their cheapjack cell phone games just to catch up to Battlefield's numbers.

Not that I'm saying anything against either series, mind you. Just pointing out the double standard. What's more, CoD is still wildly popular, which means the complainers seem to be vastly overestimating their number, and underestimating their own vocalness, if that's the word I want.

We now have two things in common a enjoyment of quality games and Marxism; its good to see fellow members of same socio-political frame of minde giving credit where its due and not just blasting the system or industry.

I'm glad to see an indie dev coming out and saying "Hey guys, the mainstream games are actually still a lot of fun." These days, it's almost expected that indies have to shun all popular games, and only play a select choice of games off ModDB. It's not entirely unlike the music fans who "only like music no-one else has heard of"

On Borderlands, I thought it had some fantastic narrative design. The game had as much, or as little story as you wanted. Yes, you could go around and blast space bugs willy-nilly, but actually listening to the storyline allowed for as much involvement in the story as you liked.

For me I think that it depends on the developer. Some developers can make really amazing games if they don't take themselves too seriously. But if they do, they end up suppressing the charm of previous titles. Look at R*. San Andreas was awesome, crazy, and very goofy. When I saw that gta4 was going to be a more serious game I just figured they were trying something new and I just hoped that it worked as well. It didn't. They tried too hard to be grownups like some teenage girl throwing a 'dinner party' and it just came across as being pretentious. They need to just go with their strength and that's making goofy games. Unfortunately they're really sticking to the drama and it's not getting better.
As the same time, I would hate to see Bioware try and make a goofy game. While R* comes off as pretentious, Bioware would probably come off as being sophomoric and stupid.
Devs just need to stick with their strengths: if they're good at the nutty games, they should make nutty games/if they're good a the serious games, they should stick to them. Sure there's room for every kind of game but I don't think there's any one Dev who's capable of making every kind... Well.
There's a reason Robert Rankin doesn't write romance novels.

Boarderlands was in my eyes a very good game. The story portrayal is actually one that kind of requires the player to look.
I think that players just don't have the same qualities of interpreting environments around them. I agree, Pandora had more story then what the player sees if he/she just goes about the main detail of just completing quests. You are never told that the planet was once prosperous, there was an environment teaming with life once on that planet, or what caused the instability which sent civilization to the shit hole.
But there is also some obvious humor points as well, Tannis going insane, and a personal win with me when I found Ludicrous Speedway (best Space Balls reference ever.)

The way the author tries to make it seem like saying that great games exist is such a radical comment seems almost like a backhanded compliment to the industry rather than any sincere respect.

EXACTLY!

This is EXACTLY how I feel about borderlands, and what I have been trying to tell people!

I love Borderlands and the characters made it even more enjoyable. Tannis is hilarious with all her insane ramblings and Scooter was actually pretty funny too at times.

I try and tell people how awesome this game is, unfortunately the people I know are not that much of a fan for this type of game, yeah I know you have to search for the good stuff, but it's totally worth it.

Through out this entire article I couldn't help but picture a near future where I walk into a game store and have a cashier in skinny jeans and a bad hair cut scoff at me because I'm buying the latest copy of "killin stuff" because it's just corporate drivel. Then he tells me he could tell me what kind of games he plays but I wouldn't have heard of them. Having gone through this more than once at the record store it made me giggle.

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