Sunday, May 17, 2015

Open Letter To Chair Entertainment

Dear Chair,

(never thought I'd ever type that particular sequence of words)

I am writing to you today to ask a favour of you. You see, your company developed one of the absolute best video games last generation (no, sorry, not Undertow). The game to which I am referring is of course Shadow Complex. Shadow Complex was easily the best Xbox Live Arcade game at the time of its release, and in this (not so?) humble gamer's opinion, still is (maybe tied with Geometry Wars and Puzzle Quest but I digress). Let me tell you a little story:

I have been gaming since the late 80's. I grew up on all of the same games you all (hopefully) did. Namely (duh), platformers, shmups, adventure games and beat em ups. You all probably have your favourites from these genres, and many of them will likely differ from mine. However, one thing we definitely have in common is a love for the old school archetypal game designs of the eras bygone, one of the most prominent, and criminally (yes, criminally) underused being the so called “Metroidvania” (“Castleroid” to some, but they are from the wrong side of the tracks, so we can do as the government does and simply ignore them) design. Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are the two most well known games of this type, but of course there are many more (just not enough). Clearly, you fine people noticed this travesty and decided to capitalize on the oversights of others far less badass than thou and release to the world a brand new game using this game design philosophy.

So, on August 19th, 2009, you released Shadow Complex and the response from both gamers and critics was overwhelmingly positive. The sales were great (despite that unfortunate little trial version exploit that you wish we would have forgotten (we didn't, but I bought the game, so don't worry)) and Chair Entertainment (now a subsidiary of Epic Games, ching ching!!) was on the map. All well and good, but how do I fit into this story, you ask? Well, I am glad you did. See, to make a longer story long, I, as I stated earlier, have been gaming since the late 80's, and while I still love gaming, I definitely fall into the rose tinted glasses nostalgic old school gamer camp. Games, for the most part at least, just do not satisfy, excite, challenge or engage me the way they used to (with few exceptions) (Bayonetta, anyone?). And then you came along and holy **** I was 12 years old again! 

Your game was $15 but I am telling you now (sorry, fellow cheapskate gamers) I got way more out of it than most $60 titles and would easily have paid $60 for a retail version (but I am glad I didn't have to)). I played it and played it and played it. The only other arcade titles to rival my gameplay time are Geometry Wars 1 and 2. Shadow Complex didn't just rekindle the old love for games, it lit a damn inferno inside of me. I was alive again. I wasn't just playing through the game, I was experiencing it, the way I used to. It used to be that almost every game gave me this feeling. The last two generations, however, the dimly lit ashy remnants of this fire are rekindled perhaps once every year or two. It's really a sad story. I should sell it to you sometime. I digress, however. Let's talk less about me so we can can get back to me, shall we?

So, where was I? Oh yes, feeling. Ninja Gaiden (2004) did this for me (as did my all time favourite game, its enhanced version, Ninja Gaiden Black). Geometry Wars and to a slightly lesser extent, Geometry Wars 2 did as well. Resident Evil 4, Bayonetta, Ninja Gaiden 2 (sort of), Shinobi (3DS), Bloodrayne Betrayal, well, let's stop there before I disprove my own thesis ;) The point is, Shadow Complex is in elite company and is one extremely special game. And so I come to the favour:

I humbly (ha!) ask of you to please, please stop working on whatever the hell it is you're doing that's not Shadow Complex 2 (probably In$inity Blade 3), give up some extra revenue for something far more precious: pleasing me, and develop Shadow Complex 2. In all seriousness, you guys are sitting on one of the most innovative and true to the medium intellectual properties held by any development studio. Forget 'cinematic experiences' and all of that b.s. You guys made a gamer's game, but contrary to publishing houses' opinion, you made one that brought in the “long paper, son” (copyright Joe Rogan). Just as Sony had to learn the hard way with Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, you learned that old school design philosophy does NOT necessarily mean sales disappointment. I honestly applaud you all for taking that chance.

~applause break~

Really though, thank you. Video games mean more to me than they should, due to some unfortunate circumstances during childhood/adolescence, and I have had a sad little lump in my throat over the last decade or so as I watched my beloved hobby simultaneously expand and yet grow stagnant. Homogenization is the trend of the day, as are 'cinematic experiences.' The days of me really and truly connecting with a game on an emotional level are ironically drawing fewer and farther between in an age when developers are making emotional engagement their number one priority. Isn't that ironic? (Age and nostalgia both play a role here, of this I am acutely aware). 

I ask of you, no, I implore you (via not so subtle emotional manipulation; shrewd, eh? (yes, I am Canadian)) to please, please stop doing anything that is not conducive to making Shadow Complex 2 happen and just start working on it already. You know you're going to eventually, so why wait? It's like sex. The 'special' one is over. There's no longer a reason to wait (if ever there was one) so just do it again already!

Sincerely (and with a twinkle in my eye),



Tell magx01 and the rest of The Thoughtful Gamers what's on your mind!