How I would Improve the Friday the 13th Game

The Friday the 13th series doesn’t have much life these days, at least so far as the cinema is concerned. It has nine years since the Friday the 13th remake tried and failed to breathe life back into hockey mask-wearing slasher Jason Voorhees. If it weren’t for the 2017 video game (aptly named Friday the 13th: The Game), the franchise would be all but dead.

Oh but what a game it is. If you’ve only ever played the 1989 indecipherable mess that was the Nintendo Friday the 13th, you may have written off the series’ gaming potential. Which would be a shame since developer IllFonic and publisher Gun Media have created a fan love letter to the series, complete with meticulously recreated campground levels.

When I first started playing Friday the 13th: the Game over Christmas vacation, I thought it was fun but frustrating. Months later and I’m still routinely diving into Crystal Lake, the Jarvis House and newly added Pinehurst. Clearly they’re doing something right.

That said, I do have some thoughts on how Friday the 13th: the Game can improve and, maybe more importantly, how these companies can keep financing their efforts. I know: Unsolicited feedback from a white guy – how original.

Being able to turn the male counselors into mock kid Jason

One of the most interesting aspects of gameplay in Friday the 13th: the Game revolves around killing Jason. Yes, it is possible (if unlikely) for the counselors to band together and turn the tables on their foe. This method is a multi-step process that involves summoning Tommy Jarvis, stealing a sweater, and knocking off a mask.

It is the second part where the potential issue begins: Only a female counselor can steal the sweater. This is to recreate the ending of Part 2 where the final girl pretends to be Jason’s mother, halting the killer in his tracks. It’s a cool bit of fan service to be sure and – as I said – really interesting gameplay.

Yet if there are no female counselors in the game, or if they have died, it prematurely closes the option to kill Jason. This is kinda lame. Rather than have Chad discover his feminine side, I believe I’ve come up with a solution that stays close to franchise emulation.

While only female counselors can steal the sweater, male counselors can cut their hair and mimic kid Jason (much in the way that young Tommy Jarvis did at the end of Part 4). This will require a procedure of its own. First, scissors. Every game would load with one set of scissors in a drawer. It would be exactly one item that would function much the same way as a pocket knife should Jason grab you.

Friday the 13th: the Game
Sure, our counselors are a little older but the effect could still work. Not like Jason is supposed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Once the counselor has scissors, it’s time to look for a bathroom, more specifically a mirror. After this is done, the counselor will need time (perhaps a button-pressing mini-game like car repair, except based on composure stat) to re-style his looks. After this is done, he now has a one-time opportunity to stun Jason, much like the sweater.

I believe this will add variety and further develop what already is one of the most interesting aspects of the game.

Adding a more open water level

A lot of perks in the game revolve around water – this is true for both counselors and Jason. While it’s a cool aspect to add variety, it feels pretty weak right now for one major reason: There’s not a lot of water on the current maps. Most have a shoreline in a corner or narrow rivers running throughout. I don’t have any solid numbers to back me up here but I wouldn’t be surprised if the average counselor spent less than 10% of his or her time in water.

This makes all those water traits kind of useless. When I can only equip three perks – who cares if one of them pluses my water speed by 99%? I’m never going to use that. Oh, Part VII Jason has excellent water speed… does that matter?

Friday the 13th: the Game
As things stand currently, this almost never happens in the game.

While one new level won’t entirely fix this problem, it will help. I would propose one of two options. First, the setting from Part 7: A New Blood. I would design that map to have a massive lake in the center – maybe with an island or two scattered on it. This will force counselors to swim for rapid transit or item retrieval.

Second option is the cruise ship from Part 8. Since this boat inexplicably sailed from Crystal Lake to New York (how did that happen?!), it would make sense to have supporting islands. The claustrophobia of the boat would also be a nice change of pace from numerous levels of open cabins and sparse woods.

More weapon variety 

I’m actually really happy that they toned down the amount of guns and machetes in the levels. I always wondered why a summer camp had like… literally a gun every few feet. While it could have been a commentary on the status of firearm worship in America, I doubt that’s what Gun Media and IllFonic were going for.

While too many top tier weapons is a bad thing, I hope they enhance the number of options for mid tier and low tier weapons. The branch is awesome but it needs company. So I propose three new weapons:

  • a paintball gun: Made famous in Part 6, this rapid fire projectile could temporarily blind Jason if enough shots hit. The blindness would work like the blooper ink in Mario Kart 8, physically obstructing the screen. Jason players could always wash the paint off in water. While it won’t do much damage, it would be a terrific irk weapon.
  • Dinner plates: I see them on every table, stacks of projectiles. This would be the lowest tier ranged weapon. Counselors could hurl plates at Jason, hoping with enough direct hits to knock him down or at the least stun him. Stun chance percentage would increase based on the number of direct hits. Plates would come in stacks of five.
  • A rake: This weapon would function purely as a push-away. Counselors could prod Jason from a distance, not doing much damage but keeping him from getting close. Given that they just increased the number of throwing knives, this would be a cool chance to highlight their effectiveness. Jason would also of course eventually just break the rake.
Friday the 13th: the Game
How funny/frustrating could this make potential matches?

Monetization methods to support continued updates 

Now here me out here fellow players: Games cost a lot of money to make and maintain. Not everyone can do what Minecraft did. Gun and IllFonic have, to date, done an excellent job of keeping their Kickstarter promises and delivering a slew of free content. There’s but some monetization but it has been limited to a couple dollars for costumes and kills.

I want them to build on that. Keep the Kickstarter promises free, obviously but augment them with DLC to justify their continued investment. The counselor costume variety is terrific – keep it coming! This nature of superfluous paid DLC is the best as it doesn’t make those who can’t afford feel like they’re at an unfair disadvantage.

To this end, I have a few suggestions:

  • New Jason starting screens: Currently, Part 3 Jason greets players every time they load the game. While he’s cool looking, some variety might be nice? Charging a dollar or so per main menu Jason seems reasonable. Again, no one needs it but I might fork over some money to customize my game further.
  • Roy voiceover:  If players select the Part 5 – or Roy – Jason, they still hear Pamela Voorhees droning on about killing kids and making them remember and bla bla bla. Honestly, it would be cool to hear someone else. While Dick Wieand may not want to return to voice his character, it would still be cool to hear someone play Roy. Dialogue could be more focused around vengeance and his little brother and things like that. I would definitely pay at least $2 not to hear Pamela every single game.
  • Part 5 Tommy: Designing models is expensive and getting voice actors is also not cheap. These two factors together explain why we only have one version of Tommy Jarvis – the Thom Mathews Part 6 version. Having John Shepherd’s Part 5 incarnation (or even an adult Corey Feldman) would add some awesome variety to the game. But for free, it doesn’t make sense – not on the developer’s side. I would be willing to pay for a new Tommy, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
  • A Kane Hodder Jason costume: While Savini Jason remains locked away forever (single tear), they could add another cool/funny Jason to the game. Kane Hodder. That’s it, no costume, no mask (well maybe some kind of mask for gameplay purposes), just the famous Jason actor. It would be a fun extra and technically wouldn’t violate their policy of not charging for Jason.
Friday the 13th: the Game
Obviously buying the likeness rights to Kevin Bacon will be expensive but I would be willing to help invest in that cost.

Adding in a way to report bigotry/hate speech 

One last quick thing: there needs to be a way to report players who are bigoted assholes. I was playing as Jason one night and came across a kid. I could tell his age because of his microphone – I could also notice an accent. But I think, whatever, all races and people are scum in the eyes of Jason Voorhees so I’m going to go after him.

As soon as I kill his counselor, this other one appears and starts shouting the most vile, hateful crap I’ve heard during gameplay. Honestly it made me feel awful for having offed the kid’s character. I hope he didn’t think I agreed with any of the shit this “adult” was saying (I didn’t have a mic at the time so I could not vocally voice my disgust).

I made killing the bigot my next priority but I didn’t feel like that made it right. People like that should face consequences for spewing vile garbage across the internet. Jason may kill people but even he isn’t that much of a monster.

A report option please – I never want to be in that situation again.

Friday the 13th: the Game
Social Jason Warrior (would also pay money for whatever that looked like)

So there you have it, just some thoughts on improving the game. Obviously I’m not alone in having suggestions – just hop on the Forums to see more. If you haven’t played yet, give Friday the 13th: the Game your time and money – especially if you’re a fan of the film franchise. It may be a mess, but it’s a fun mess.

Console Buying Guide for the 2014 Holiday Season

Well it’s that time of year again. Yes, November: where everyone is thankful for what they have and no one wants anything more than to spend time with their family and enjoy a nice meal together.

Look at those wonderful artificial smiles! What a - wait, are those french fries on the table? What is even going on here?
Look at those wonderful artificial smiles! What a – wait, are those french fries on the table? What is even going on here?

Nah, I’m kidding. Christmas is around the corner and I live in America. It’s time to buy sh*t.

Specifically, let’s talk video game consoles. It has been a year since the release of the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One. It has been two years since the release of the Nintendo Wii U. The eighth generation of home video game consoles is officially upon us. So which one should you buy? Every fanboy out there will tell you why “their” console is the best. But let’s take a serious and unbiased look at what each console currently has to offer and what their near future plans are.

Trying to talk to most console owners.
Trying to talk to most console owners.

Let’s start with the big dog, the current best-seller.

PlayStation 4

How much: 400 bucks. Get it, it’s like a hundred for each generation of PlayStation!

Is that Price likely to fall: Possibly. Right now the PS4 is selling like hot cakes so do not expect a price drop in the next three months. That said, the Xbox One just lowered its price (again) so you never know. If fortunes change for Sony, expect that price to drop.

Games: Current exclusive titles are Basement Crawl, Driveclub, Infamous (First Light and Second Son), Killzone Shadow Fall, Knack, Resogun, and that’s it. Not kidding, those are the full list of true exclusives (not out on any other platform) that the consumer can currently purchase for the PS4. This is the best-selling console in the world right now.

There’s More Coming, Right: Yes, if you sell that many units, developers will make games for your system. The PlayStation 4 may have a lackluster exclusive library at the moment but that is going to change. The question is: will it change before the system hits $350?

There’s Other Games to Play: Sure, the PS4 gets most large AAA releases and has an impressive independent library as well. There are games to play, most of them can just be played on other, cheaper, hardware.

I own a PS3, does that matter: Not really. The PS4 is not backwards compatible. There is talk of a streaming service to play certain titles but at the moment, it is not close to completion.

Not sure how they're doing it but it is hard to argue against Sony's success.
Not sure how they’re doing it but it is hard to argue against Sony’s success.

Xbox One

How much: Currently, it is $350. That said, this system was released for $500 only a year ago.

Is that Price likely to fall: Less than impressive sales numbers have fueled the rapid decrease in price. Who is to say that Microsoft is done cutting the cost? Do not expect it to drop again before Christmas.

Games: Current exclusive titles are Crimson Dragon, D4, Dance Central Spotlight, Fighter Within, Forza Motorsport 5, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Killer Instinct, Powerstar Golf, Shape Up, Sunset Overdrive, Xbox Fitness, and Zombie Driver. That is the current lineup of true exclusives available to the Xbox One.

There’s More Coming, Right: Yeah, the Xbox One is far from dead. Sure, the system has not had a great first year but Microsoft is a very large company with a lot of money to spend. Do not count them out yet.

There’s Other Games to Play: The Xbox One gets the same library of large releases that the Ps4 and other systems enjoy. They do not have the same level of indie development however, at least not yet.

I own a 360, does that matter: No. The Xbox One is not backwards compatible. Do not hold your breath for Microsoft to change this.

Xbox One is having a very similar identity crisis that the Wii U suffered through in the year following its launch.
Xbox One is having a very similar identity crisis that the Wii U suffered through in the year following its launch.

Wii U

How Much: $350.

Is that Price likely to fall: The Wii U has yet to have a major price drop. I would not expect this to change before Christmas. That said, with the Xbox One price drop, it is likely that Nintendo will lower the Wii U price tag within the next year.

Games: Current Wii U exclusives include (but are not limited to) Bayonetta 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Hyrule Warriors, The Legend of Zelda: the Wind Waker HD, Pikmin 3, Mario Kart 8, and ZombiU. This system has been out the longest, so a full title list is here.

There’s More Coming, Right: It is Nintendo so you can expect their continued support and library of famous franchises.

There’s Other Games to Play: Here is Nintendo’s Kryptonite zone. The company has long-held strained relationships with many third-party developers. While the Wii U has a strong library of first-party titles, expect to miss out on many of the larger releases.

I own a Wii, does that matter: Yes. The Wii U can play every Wii game in existence. You can also keep using your old wiimotes for certain titles.

Super Smash Bros for Wii U is the big holiday title this year from Nintendo.
Super Smash Bros for Wii U is the big holiday title this year from Nintendo.

3DS

Please see my article on the New 3DS to know my thoughts on whether or not you should buy one this holiday season.

3DS has a huge game library and is backwards compatible with regular DS games.
3DS has a huge game library and is backwards compatible with regular DS games.

PlayStation Vita

What the heck is a Vita: It is the Sony portable system.

How Much: At least $215.

For a Portable: Yeah, they’re not kidding.

Is that Price Likely to fall: The PlayStation Vita has not sold well since launch, selling roughly only 4 million units since launch. Sony may very well drop the price further if they continue support.

Games: Vita exclusives include Army Corps of Hell, Bullet Girls, Killzone: Mercenary, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, Phantasy Star Nova, Silent Hill: Book of Memories, and Touch my Katamari.

There’s More Coming, Right: Sony has not discontinued plans for the PlayStation Vita so expect a sprinkling of games to come in the future.

There’s Other Games to Play: A full list of all titles playable on the PS Vita can be found here

I own a PSP, does that matter: Yes, so long as the title was downloaded and not physically purchased, it can be played on Vita.

Sony is trying to keep the Vita alive by integrating more with other hardware.
Sony is trying to keep the Vita alive by integrating more with other hardware.

A Gaming PC

How Much: A good PC can be built for as little as $300. Completed models usually run between $500 and $1000.

Is that Price Likely to fall: As newer and better PCs are released, prices fall accordingly.

Games: Pretty much everything you can think of, from now back through the last twenty years, provided it has been updated on services like Steam and Good Old Games.

There’s More Coming, Right: The PC will receive pretty much every major release going forward.

There’s Other Games to Play: The system also has an unmatched selection of Indie games. Provided you ever finish reliving the nostalgia of a back catalog that spans decades. Oh, there is also modding.

I already own a PC: Keep it upgraded and in working order and you can play anything.

Yeah, it is tough to argue against that library of classics old and new.
Yeah, it is tough to argue against that library of classics old and new.

So there you have it. As a non-PC gamer, I will say that I believe a gaming PC is by far the best option out there for those looking to play the most games and spend the least amount of money. Yes, the system itself may cost more initially but thanks to services like Steam, games are available at a fraction of the cost. For a gamer looking to play every major release out there, I recommend a gaming PC and a Wii U. Nintendo’s series are the only thing guaranteed to skip the PC market.

For those out there not tech savvy and not wanting to spend a ton: the 360 and PS3 are still supported systems. They receive practically all the same big releases as their next-gen counterparts.

How most PC gamers see themselves.
How most PC gamers see themselves.

 

Double Dipping: Why No Backwards Compatibility is Bad for Console Gamers

I never thought I would say this but: Sony and Microsoft could learn a lot from Nintendo… at least when it comes to backwards compatibility. True, the Big N is totally lost when anything internet-oriented enters the table (why is Mario Kart 8 the only first-party game to possess online multiplayer?) but they understand the importance of allowing players to retain the past generation of gaming. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are out and, at the moment, the lack of backwards compatibility does not appear to be hindering hardware sales (stopped me from buying either). Yes, this is an issue that the public appears to have deemed as not very important. That said, it does matter: no backwards compatibility is a bad for the consumers and, in the long run, it is bad for the console industry as a whole.

Nintendo is the industry leader in terms of backwards compatibility. Sony comes in second, with Microsoft trailing as an indifferent third.
Nintendo is the industry leader in terms of backwards compatibility. Sony comes in second, with Microsoft trailing as an indifferent third.

When new consoles come out, it generates excitement (hype) in the consumer market. Companies need this excitement – it is what compels otherwise level-headed individuals to fork over hundreds of dollars for buggy just-released systems with no real game library to speak of. Excitement is generated by the NEW: NEW graphics, NEW gameplay, NEW experiences, NEW games. Part of that also used to mean a trade up: time to get rid of the old console and replace it with a new one. This encouraged brand loyalty as a person with a PlayStation 2, for example, could (initially) replace it by simply buying a PlayStation 3. All the old games still worked and less room was taken up on the shelf. Out with the old, in with the new.

Microsoft marketed the Xbox One as the "one" device you would need in your living room. Yet it isn't even the "one" device to play all of your Microsoft games.
Microsoft marketed the Xbox One as the “one” device you would need in your living room. Yet it isn’t even the “one” device to play all of your Microsoft games.

Without backwards compatibility, brand loyalty goes out the window (in theory, fanboys are oh so devoted.. for some reason). On the face of it – this sounds like an advantage for the consumer: everyone is now free to buy the new system that best suits their needs. Really, however, this is a tiny plus compared with all the drawbacks. The advantage shrinks even further when the two systems’ specifications are compared (they are remarkably similar in every way).

So you have to buy a new system… and if you still want to play older games… you’ll have to keep your old one. Sucks for space but that’s not a huge deal. There’s still great NEW games coming out. New games like this one:

LAST1And this one:

91jwO5PCReL._SL1500_And this one…

To be fair to the Master Chief Collection: four graphically remastered games is a pretty good deal.
To be fair to the Master Chief Collection: four graphically remastered games is a pretty good deal.

You see my point – there are a lot of re-releases coming out. Hey, that’s okay though as both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 possess killer exclusives that can’t be played anywhere else. Exclusives like Titanfall – wait, no, exclusives like Watch Dogs – nope, not that one either, exclusives like Wolfenstein… not that one. What is an exclusive for the new systems?

We have the critically panned Knack for the PS4.
We have the critically panned Knack for the PS4. Also Infamous: Second Son – to be fair.
And Killer Instinct for the Xbox One... a game that will ever be part of gaming's infamous misogyny.
And Killer Instinct for the Xbox One… a game that will ever be part of gaming’s infamous misogyny.

But obviously systems get more games the longer they’ve been out. This is not an article to bash the lack of exclusives. The problem with the re-releases is that they encourage double-dipping. Companies have found a way to charge $120 per game ($60 on the past-gen, $60 on the next-gen). Obviously, not every re-release is like this. To go back to Halo: the Master Chief Collection, some of those games are very old and packaging them all together is convenient for Halo fans. Let’s talk about Grand Theft Auto V though. That was one of the last great titles released for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Now, it comes out for the next-gen with improved graphics:

Upgraded for all your Deer Hunter needs.
Upgraded for all your Deer Hunter needs.

This game is a recent release and, while a graphical update is nice… is it really another $60 nice? I’m sure many people will answer yes, of course it is (it’s NEW after all). For everyone else – what’s the big deal, right? So idiots spend another 60 bucks, who cares? You can still play it on the old consoles… until you can’t. Remember when Microsoft shut down Xbox Live on the original Xbox? Is there any reason to think that that won’t happen again – no. It has already happened this generation with Nintendo shutting down the online services for the Wii and DS. Microsoft and Sony will eventually pull the plug on online support for their old machines. It probably won’t happen within the first year or two – but it will happen.

That is very bad for the consumer… but why is it bad for Sony and Microsoft? Well, consoles have competition from another source. You think that graphics update to Grand Theft Auto V looks nice? Well, check this out:

GTA-V-Vs-GTA-IV-PC-Version-Visual-Comparison

Consoles cannot win against PCs, at least as far as graphics are concerned. It is simply much easier to upgrade the graphics card in a computer. You know another advantage of PCs: you can play games you bought eight years ago on a new PC. In the backwards compatibility arena, computers are killing it. They have the power, the games, the gameplay.

But they’re more complicated!

Yes for now but consider this:

This doesn't look much more simple...
This doesn’t look much more simple…
... than this.
… than this.

Consoles are losing the advantages of being consoles, without gaining the advantages of PCs. The industry will have to adapt or die, and no backwards compatibility is a move in the wrong direction.

PC gaming giant, Valve, is poised to enter the console race. This could be the largest newcomer since Sony unveiled the PlayStation.
PC gaming giant, Valve, is poised to enter the console race. This could be the largest newcomer since Sony unveiled the original PlayStation.