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Making My Own Battle Royale

By Tim Eisen on March 27, 2019 | Columns | Comments

Making My Own Battle Royale

The gaming industry is a savage one, both in competition between publishers and in the endless creative ways they invent to take our money. From WOW came the WOW clones and from Fortnite comes the Fotniteclones...or should I say the DayZ clones...or the H1Z1 clones...or the RUST clones...or the PUBG clones or....well, you get my point. Like sharks to chum big publishers; race to get a bite before the battle royale cosmetic cash shop with a “limited edition” whale gimmick gets gobbled up!

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I’m not here to bemoan large publishers, they are what they are. As Indiana Jones said, you can’t get mad at the scorpion for stinging you, it’s a scorpion. At least I assume he said it, and if he didn’t, he certainly would. It is the nature of the beast is what I/he means. They know what they are and the people that choose to work for them know the risks involved. Fortunately, we are in a bit of a technological Renaissance. Never before have we had so many options for entertainment and never before have game developers had so many options to get their creations to us. With the good comes the bad but overall independent games are thriving.

What I’m saying is, if you don’t like how big publishers treat their employees, don’t support them. Buy indie games or even games by publishers that treat their people better. The only language large companies speak is gains and losses, their religion is capitalism, their prophet - the digital dollar. The most powerful tool of the masses is our combined expendable income. Unfortunately, we are generally too disorganized to form any sort of leverage, although social media has certainly helped - one of the few things it’s good for. That and uniting the ignorance of the world into a single mass zerg of the dumb and assuring any advanced species that are watching that we definitely aren’t ready for hyperspace travel or light sabers.

I said digital dollars because so few dollars seem to exist on paper these days. Just look into any game’s cash shop, studios are always finding ways to manufacture their own currency. That brings us back to the latest limited edition seasonal offering to capture the faceless zerg of PVP gamers, Apex Legends, because I assume Alpha Icons was already taken.

Apex, like Fortnite before it, will be a game I hop in for a quick PVP fix. At a glance, it appears to have a bit more complexity than the Battle Royales before it. The graphics are nicer, the movement more fluid. The flight from the dropship to the map more epic. I know it’s not about the art, but isn’t there another way to get players into the game? Do all of these games have to drop you from a ship then pull out some sort of flying contraption?

The sameishness in this genre is gonna burn these games out faster than that song by those three blonde sisters in the late 90’s. Talented family, and wealthier than I’ll ever be...I wish I had a hit song in the 90’s. I would have written Outside but Staind beat me to it back when they were a rock band. Way before they hopped onto the Kid Rock aging rocker retirement plan and moved into country music. I guess that proves a country boy really can survive?

I’m sick of all the pandering too. Pandering and sameness. I want an honest, creative “Battle Royale”! Instead of action heroes, we could play as working class parent’s that are barely getting by due to stagnant wages that trickle hotly down onto them. Instead of flying in with a jet pack players could get vomited out of a giant kid but the vomit is also a river of cash! The players land randomly all over the map then rush, as fast as they can, to pick up weapons but the weapons are more realistic too! Every time you loot you pay a dollar and the weapon itself is loot boxes that shoot other deadlier loot boxes! One direct hit and your character goes bankrupt!

The armor would need to be as unique as the weapons. I’m thinking if you took a Nascar and made it into an armor set, that would do the trick. We are long past the point of keeping ads out of games, aren’t we? I say go all in! Why keep pretending? Skip the gaslighting and just do it already! Look at how games work now, the players don’t care. They will accept whatever cash scheme you throw at them as long as they get that dopamine fix. In the end, the last parent standing gets all the cash only to be picked up and eaten by the kid as their reward! Suddenly the camera pans out and it’s Dark Pub up on a castle overlooking the map, one mechanical tentacle dangles far below - inserted into the back of the kid’s head Matrix style. They were controlling the child all along!

I can see the e-tournament now. The winner gets a “limited lifetime” supply of fast food coupons and e-store credit only useable during the next season - which now lasts two weeks. Or maybe I’d just make Jedi Knight; Jedi Academy Battle Royale (JK;JA BR for short). Both concepts have boons and banes I suppose. One solid pitch meeting, that’s all I need to get funding for the Kickstarter to pretend I didn’t get funding and set dates that I have no intention of ever meeting. The promises, just think of the promises I could make, exciting stuff! That lack of Kickstarter accountability makes me think my idea has potential, and if it doesn’t, no responsibility taken! #YOLO! 

On a more seriousish note, I’m having fun in Apex Legends. It even feels like a mostly finished game! Like, if it launched tomorrow, as a whole game, it would be one - mostly. I know that is increasingly rare but somehow this game pulled it off. It’s a bit faster than my old eyes can track at the moment but I expect to catch up eventually. Intentional or not I get heavy Unreal Tournament vibes from it and that’s a good thing. Hopefully, they add other versus options eventually. Old men like me like to have some form of respawns so we can spend a bit more time playing and a bit less time loading into games.

Oh, before I forget, each class has a unique power and by unique I mean a power that other games have shown us but this game has it now too. Apex may just be peak Royale. If it’s one thing, its all the cool things from every game before it in one. It’s like playing an Andry Warhol is my point...or should I say David Bowie...or should I say Madonna, or should I say Lady Gaga, or should I say Miley Cirus or...you get my point. It’s familiar in a “pop culture having a BR moment” sort of way. I can’t wait for next season to begin!

Tim Eisen / I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry