Goodreads review • The Paleblood Hunt

The Paleblood HuntThe Paleblood Hunt by Redgrave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A methodical and engaging opinion piece about the lore of the video game Bloodborne.

It’s no longer a secret that what initialled proposed to be a game about Victorian horrors being hunted down, turned into an incredible addition to the Lovecraft mythos halfway. Lovecraft being Lovecraft, this meant the game’s mechanics, concepts and characters all took on an additional meaning without it necessarily being clear what that meaning was.

As in Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, Bloodborne tells its tale through bits and pieces carelessly thrown out into the world. Redgrave takes the notes, letters, item descriptions and utterances and moulds them into something a bit more cohesive. I wouldn’t say definite; it clearly leaves room for interpretation. But Redgrave’s own interpretation is actually quite beautiful, both in assembling it and its conclusion. Occasionally there are larger leaps of faith, yet they feel acceptable.

Unless From Software itself ever takes the lid off, we might never know exactly what Bloodborne is about. Which is fine as it becomes a game inspired by Lovecraft. But for all those seeking more closure, The Paleblood Hunt comes recommended.

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Nioh is an ode to the Soulsborne

Nioh

It has taken a suspiciously long time before anyone attempted to emulate the success of Demon’s Souls and its offspring the Dark Souls series. Only two years ago did Lords of the Fallen take a somewhat random stab at it (and died). From Software’s own Bloodborne was so similar that it spontaneously generated the “Soulsborne” genre name and wasn’t even regarded as a competitor. Maybe it’s simply too difficult a task to fill From’s shoes. Would be kind of poetic, wouldn’t it?

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“Satanism” in Dungeons & Dragons

It’s still insane to realise that there was a time that some people thought that a form of improvisation theatre combined with some game rules, dice, pens and paper made for effective Satanic rituals with dramatic results.

But the cartoonist Jack Chick saw only evil in Dungeons & Dragons. Chick, a publisher of evangelical Christian comics, penned a tract called “Dark Dungeons” that portrayed D&D as a game of Satanism and witchcraft. In Chick’s story, a witchy (and pretty sexy) Dungeon Master brainwashes her innocent younger players, recruiting them into a coven and teaching them to cast spells on their parents. One player, Marcie, becomes so upset when her D&D character dies that she commits suicide.

Source: Why Everyone You Know Now Plays Dungeons & Dragons

“The Problem with Video Game Luck”

Luck, RNG (“random number generator”), or chance is now an incredible force within games. As a child, chance is fascinating and somehow rolling dice seems to still convey control. Games like Ludo and Game of the Goose lose their shine as children become more experience and discover the true amount of control in rolling dice.

Of course, in video games the equivalent of dice rolling is done behind the scenes and things become a lot more stressful. Somehow not being able to throw the dice yourself makes humans incredibly suspicious of the process, often crying wolf without reason:

“When I was working on online games, it was nearly impossible to convince certain players that the results weren’t rigged in some way. People came up with elaborate theories about how beginners were given better results so as to rope them into subscriptions, or veteran players would be rewarded with better results for their patronage, and so on.” At one point Kapalka published huge files, revealing hundreds of thousands of simulated die rolls, to persuade skeptical players that the results were truly random.

Source: The Problem with Video Game Luck

It reminds me of the collective cry of anguish with the release of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords years ago. This simple match-3 game used the results of your match to influence a role-playing game and then switched the game over to your computer-controlled opponent.

A bizarre effect popped up in that players (me included) experienced the computer-controlled opponent’s moves as “cheating”. It always felt like your opponent had better moves, or could somehow take a peek into the future and see what upcoming new blocks could be used. A match-up leading the computer-controlled opponent to perform multiple moves felt infuriating, while the times it happened to you constantly felt like catching up.

In contrast, World of Warcraft has generated multiple instances of people swearing they could influence the chances of getting a certain item by performing certain “rituals” in the game, leading to in-game superstition. (Another similar effect is people believing that Down+A helps them catch Pokémon more effectively in the eponymous games.)

The thing I’m worrying about a bit, is how generations of people growing up on these games and their systems will experience real-life “luck”. Are they setting themselves up for permanent frustration?