The 2003 Ely Awards Pt. 2

Last week saw the inaugural Ely awards handed out to some people who have, thus far, not shown up to collect their awards. You know, I went through a lot of trouble in having these made, and frankly theyÂ're starting to stink. We expect the winners to collect their prizes soon, or weÂ'll be forced to begin billing for storage charges.

People responded with great enthusiasm to the Elys, with some websites even creating their own awards in the same style, though not so cleverly named. IÂ'm sure those sites would contend that theyÂ'd been planning to give out their own accolades for weeks if not months, and that they are a much larger site that could kill us with their giant throbbing brains, but you have to understand that I have an ego to protect.  To that end I must assume that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I did also have two requests for this weekÂ's installment; o­ne by Mex who wanted me to mention the Dreamcast, which IÂ've just done, and another by Gorack who demanded I insult the Xbox somewhere to put the universe back in a state of balance. The Xbox controllers are large and unwieldy! I know, that was harsh, but it had to be said.

On to the awards!

The Elysium Word of the Year

Winner - Scatological – Man, doesnÂ't that word just scream class and intelligence. It sounds like the kind of word a very logical, thoughtful, and well considered individual would use to describe something very important. I can just imagine it being used in a business meeting: Well, the latest scatological indicators show a six-point-five percent increase in output! And of course the ironic beauty is that the word as defined refers to a preoccupation with excrement.

I danced a very small, very awkward dance when I forced it into an article.

Delivered properly o­ne can project an air of cultured refinement while speaking entirely o­n the topic of feces, and let me tell you thatÂ's not an easy combination to usually pull off. This was an obvious choice for word of the year.

Runner-up - Tangential – I chose tangential for runner-up not because itÂ's a particularly fascinating or obscure word, but because for about a month it ended up in pretty much every article I penned. It became so prominent that several people pointed out my preoccupation. So, not by elegance, but by sheer volume Â"˜tangentialÂ' takes the number 2 spot.

Best Game Ruined By Using Gamespy Matchmaking Software

Winner - Rise of Nations – Rise of Nations, or RoN to its friends, had no shortage of bugs, which was troublesome enough o­n its own. When this game first hit the stores, Certis would throw no less than three or four fits a day, frustrated simultaneously at his deep love for RoNÂ's stylish and complex gameplay – which, frankly, just outclassed him at every turn – but hampered by the fact that the game mysteriously crashed every few minutes. Had it not been for RoNÂ's oft delayed patch, which ultimately fixed almost nothing, itÂ's quite likely weÂ'd still be playing. Except, of course, for the miserably implemented Gamespy matchmaking interface.

I donÂ't know why Gamespy hates people who play games o­nline, but their disdain is not subtle. What was particularly troubling is how o­ne could compare the wealth of gameplay setup features that RoN implemented in its direct connect options, which we assume is the template upon which Gamespy defecated, to the dearth of options and dysfunctional remainders as illustrated by its public lobby.

The icing o­n the cake, however, was the release of the patch distributed exclusively through the Gamespy interface. I kid you not when I say this was probably the worst patching experience anyone has ever had. Available o­nly through an o­nline venue that could not seem to deliver the actual data, the patch system itself needed patching before the patch could be put to the game. Compound that with the indignity of players discovering that the patch – the real patch, not the patch to make the patch work - left them with pretty much the same problems theyÂ'd had before, and maybe some pesky new o­nes to add to the collection, and itÂ's easy to see why RoNÂ's marriage to Gamespy wins the Ely.

Runner-up - C&C: Generals – Generals wasnÂ't much better. Unless you enjoy random frustration, GeneralsÂ' multiplayer matchmaking system was as easy to navigate as a sinking boat o­n the crest of a tsunami. Having no way to track down and invite particular players into your game unless fate put you in the same public lobby, along with the general slew of complex counter-intuitive interfaces, Generals proved o­nly a mild improvement over RoN.

Best Tantrum

Winner - Electronic Arts (for refusing to use MSÂ's Live service with EA Sports Games) – I guess maybe I should be thanking EA and EA Sports for their predictable bullheadedness. Now, I wouldnÂ't dare dispute the incontrovertible success of EA o­nline concepts in the past. I know I still enjoy rousing games of Motor City o­nline, The Sims O­nline and, of course, Majestic, so any besmirching their obvious success in building o­nline franchises would be untenable. Still, if EA Sports hadnÂ't taken its ball and gone home, I wouldnÂ't have been as likely to play the ESPN 2k4 series of games this year over Xbox Live, and that would have been a real shame.

Runner-Up - American Greetings Card Co. (for threatening legal action against Penny-Arcade) - You know I understand the basic concept of protecting your intellectual property.  Maybe American Greetings Card Co was even in the right by tossing about its big greeting card company weight around. Maybe PA shouldn't have abused Strawberry Shortcake by casting her as a disturbingly tempting dominatrix, but you know what? That little hussy had it coming!

Worst Concept For A Major Game

Winner - Counter Strike: Condition Zero – The heart of Counter-Strike beats as a team based o­nline game – o­ne of the first massively successful of such games – born from the legacy of Team Fortress or Tribes where two squads are thrust against o­ne another in violent opposition, with conflicting goals and an array of strategies with which to execute their plan. Condition Zero looks to be a paint-by-numbers facsimile of that game, barely a reminder of the greatness of the original as similar to its heritage as FalcoÂ's Rock Me Amadeus is to the actual works of Mozart.

And, I bet secretly, a great many people who worked o­n CZ before Valve snatched the job from under them would agree.

What makes our winner such a natural choice is the ease with which o­ne can imagine how CZ might seem like a good idea to someone who was remarkably drunk. It has a certain indelible logic to its core, however flawed that logic ultimately proves o­n even a cursory examination. ItÂ's like hanging out with your buddies drinking tequila shooters and playing poker, or euchre, or drunken Parcheesi and suddenly Mike – because the drunk guy with the big plan is always named Mike – leaps up and shouts, "LetÂ's drive to Perkins for pancakes!" Then you hop in the car and promptly drive into a tree instead. That is, I think, a nice analogy for the development of Condition Zero, except Mike jumped up and said "LetÂ's pawn off Counter-Strike as a single player game" and instead of driving into o­ne tree they drove into several.

Runner-up - The Matrix O­nline - Time may prove me wrong o­n this, but I doubt it. Again, I can easily imagine how the idea of making a Matrix MMOG seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean the setting is a universally accepted virtual space where millions of hapless morons donÂ't realize there are metal holes drilled into their real world bones. I just get a little fuzzy o­n how anyone stuck with the concept after the first meeting where designers tried to figure out what people would actually do. The problem, of course, is that most of the flabby battery packs inhabiting the Matrix have little more excitement in their lives than an agoraphobic housewife. The world of the Matrix is rife with all the boring mundanity of our world, o­nly its mudanity is characterized by a washed out green tint – so you know youÂ're in the Matrix - and it would seem thereÂ's really o­nly o­ne enemy to come in conflict with. And, of course, that enemy always kills you, unless youÂ're The O­ne. Now, my problem is that The O­ne is a tricky gameplay concept to implement when you want a few thousand players showing up (see: Jedis in SWG).

Best Sweeping Wasteland of Unyielding Emptiness:

Winner - AsheronÂ's Call 2 – I look back fondly o­n my time playing AC2. There was this field I liked to run through. Long tender strands of grass licked happily at my leggings as I bounded through acre after acre of greenery unburdened by such trivialities as interesting things to look at, cities, NPCs, or other players. AsheronÂ's Call 2 may not have been meant to simulate what it would be like to be the last person o­n the planet Â"… actually now that I look back over the story and concept of the game, I think that may be exactly what it was meant to do, so congratulations Turbine o­n a job well done. Never did I feel pressured to have conversations, interact, or really do anything but mindlessly press buttons that gradually made my character slightly different statistically speaking than he was before.

Runner-up - EVE o­nline – Maybe EVE o­nline got really fantastically amazing while I wasnÂ't looking. I admit, there was a helluva a lot of me not looking. If thatÂ's the case, and youÂ're an avid EVE o­nline fan, assuming there is such a person, then you should definitely shout profanities at your computer screen and maybe write a scathing comment about me in your diary. In other words, let it all out; just keep it to yourself. When I was there, there was a fascinating game about pointing at rocks and trying to get stuff that you couldnÂ't really do much with. IÂ'm not writing a review of the game here, so I donÂ't mind telling you that not o­nly didnÂ't I Â"˜getÂ' what EVE was all about, but after my hour or two of playing I came fast to the conclusion that I didnÂ't really Â"˜careÂ'. I will admit that it had a nice widescreen presentation. I think that may be why itÂ's o­nly the runner- up.

Best Ultra Hyped Mega Game YouÂ've Already Forgotten About

Winner - Freelancer – Freelancer reminds me a bit of a bottle rocket. With a peppy fwoosh it lurched skyward to dizzying heights where it exploded in a most unimpressive pop leaving its tattered remains to drift lazily back to the earth. I liked Freelancer. A lot of people liked Freelancer, devouring it with something like ferocity – maybe more like a passing interest – and then paying it great attention right up until the moment that something else shiny came along. After years of frenzied hype and soap-opera melodrama, Digital Anvil was left like the guy who stays too long at the party asking if there are any more pigs-in-a-poke while the hosts look pointedly at their watch.

Runner-up - Unreal II – Have you ever been watching a movie where a beautiful actress that some dark corner of you has lusted after in a very deviant way for years finally bears it all, and suddenly you realize sheÂ's too damn skinny with bony hips and boobs that look as natural as coagulated lumps of Velveeta? Wait, where was I going with this?

Oh, right. This game is possibly the best example that a derivative game even in the most snazzy of outfits is still just a derivative game.

Game of the Year (Xbox)

Winner – Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic – I know itÂ's such an obvious choice that I almost hate giving it out. Still, KOTOR was pretty much a flawless RPG in its grand execution of style and gameplay. Well, sure, I didnÂ't much care for the last few levels, particularly as great boring repetitive swarms ambushed me in a deluge of conflict not matched since Smash TV. And, of course, the actual gameplay areas were a little tight as artificial boundaries popped up around every corner to funnel me in a very heavy handed way toward my proper goals. And, yeah, I pretty much saw the plot points coming from a mile away. And, sure, the actual pseudo-turn-based combat was a bit stilted. And Â"… hey wait a minute. I mean, yeah, KOTOR was a fine game, and I wish there were more of its ilk about, but maybe itÂ's not the second coming after all. It was pretty buggy for a console game, a trend they carried faithfully over to the PC I understand, and basically weÂ've gotten our Underoos all up in a tizzy just because someone managed to take a lock franchise like the Star Wars Universe and not botch it.

Congratulations KOTOR for being a game that lived up to our expectations, but IÂ've changed my mind. Game of the Year you are not. Welcome to Runner-Upsville!

The Real Winner – Project Gotham Racing 2 – This o­ne gets bonus points for coming out of left field and with relatively little hype just stepping up to the plate and hitting o­ne out of the park. With just oodles of replay value, a fantastic multiplayer element, insanely tight gameplay, and a thick coat of polish o­n top of an even better layer of polish and some nice chocolate icing, this game is a much better example of a game running o­n all cylinders.

Game of the Year (PC)

Winner – Railroad Tycoon 3 – You can all just go to hell if you donÂ't like it. Some people probably think these kinds of awards should be handed out to represent the consensus of the gaming public. Maybe those people should go start their own website and call it Â"˜Spineless Gamers Who Bend Like a Fishing Rod Reeling In A Marlin.orgÂ'. Or maybe they could have a big poll where they have forum users pick a better name, masking their lack of creativity in the guise of a contest, and then roll over like a timid Golden Retriever exposing its meaty undersides o­n command. Well I wonÂ't stand for that kind of complacency here in Maximum Verbosity (formerly Daily Elysium until that proved unpopular). IÂ'm taking a stand and telling you that RT3 was the best damn game out o­n PC this year, and if your scatological brain canÂ't wrap its effluent tendrils around that concept then you can just piss off.

So, IÂ'm a little defensive about my choice.

Still, in a year where a promised resurgence of PC gaming turned into a steady flow of perfectly average titles and unsurprising delays, this gem really managed to please me. And thatÂ's what the Elys are all about.

Runner-Up – Rise of Nations – What really bugs me about the poor multiplayer implementation and bugs I mentioned earlier is that it gets in the way of what was otherwise o­ne of the best games IÂ'd played in quite some time. A clever blend of varying gameplay styles, RoN managed to take the best of several genres, mix some creative genius, and produce a game that was at times absolutely consuming. It would have been a lock for Game of the Year had those other issues not arose.

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You think itÂ's over. You wish it were over, but itÂ's not over yet. There are still a few more awards to be tossed around, not the least of which are PS2 Game of the Year, the Ely for overall Game of the Year, and the PeopleÂ's Choice Award which will be handled in the forums!

- Elysium

Comments

The Xbox controllers are large and unwieldy!

Yeah! Chew on that, Gates!

Freelancer was an excellent choice. I had already forgotten it as well as the 5 people who told me to get it but suddenly stopped because they had forgotten it as well.

I'm taking a stand and telling you that RT3 was the best damn game out o­n PC this year, and if your scatological brain can't wrap its effluent tendrils around that concept then you can just piss off.

Elysium has once again insured that Gamers With Jobs will never be quoted on a game box. And RT3 was probably just the sort of game that could use a few snappy quotes on its box. Publishers regularly beg us to slap a scrumptious quote like

"Britney's Dance Beat is a rocktacular tour-de-force that keeps it real from the tizzle to the bizzle!!" - Gamers With Jobs

into our reviews. Unfortunately, I think Elysium made Pyro code something into the site that slips words like scatological and piss into the most rocktacular parts of our articles just so we can remain "alternative" and "edgy".

Yeah, you guys are "edgy".

By "edgy" I was referring to the fact that we remain consistently on the very edge of existence.

"Britney's Dance Beat is a rocktacular tour-de-force that keeps it real from the tizzle to the bizzle!!"
- Gamers With Jobs

That quote made piss and scatalogical things happen in my pants.

I like the Xbox controller...

Me too!

Oh yeah, don't forget The Gamespy awards. Railroad Tycoon 3 = 10th place!

Gamespy earned some respect (*gasp*) for handing out 'Strategy Game of the Year' to Strategy First for Combat Mission II last year though.

I like the XBox controller S. The normal one's feel pretty akward in comparison.

...barely a reminder of the greatness of the original as similar to its heritage as Falco's Rock Me Amadeus is to the actual works of Mozart.

That wasn't very nice.

one by Mex who wanted me to mention the Dreamcast, which I?ve just done

Yes! I'm famous! I'll be signing autographs from 6 to 8 today.

I played Majestic. Yes, it pretty much sucked. Once the shiny novelty wore off, it was boring as hell.

Railroad Tycoon: "You can all just go to hell if you don't like it."

I guess I'll see you guys in hell.

Hrm some more thoughts on EVE, I have been on and off on this game for 3 months now, despite everyone warning me of it. What I have seen so far is that the concept of skills versus levels plays out great. I prevents you from just going leveling. However one thing I found while playing this game is that no matter how good your conecpt it, at the current time it seems gamers are just not ready to embrace an online roleplaying game. The developers gave this game more than enough opportunities to become Elite online, but as it stands it seems gamers are not interested in this type of gameplay.

Winner - Scatological – Man, doesn't that word just scream class and intelligence. It sounds like the kind of word a very logical, thoughtful, and well considered individual would use to describe something very important. I can just imagine it being used in a business meeting: Well, the latest scatological indicators show a six-point-five percent increase in output! And of course the ironic beauty is that the word as defined refers to a preoccupation with excrement.

Scatalogical is truly a fantastic word, I must agree. Here's another word that is also scientific and related to poopie (teehee): coprolites. Coprolites are "fossilized human feces." So you can use it in combination with scatological: "His scatological interests include the study of coprolites."

I learned the word as a grad student in archaeology. As you can imagine, it's quite useful now that I'm a web developer.

Hmm, I don't know, coprolites sound like something you shoot up in a videogame.

Railroad Tycoon GoTYR? And you call your self a gamer! DOWN OLD MAN! IF there aren't things blowing up or being killed it cannot be GOTY.

I begrudgingly bought my wife Uru for Christmas. Begrudgingly because, how can this shiny package of 3D puzzley clickliness be called a game, where there's no killing (unless you count jumping off into the Myst, which I did...twice).

And don't forget "spurious." It sounds vaguely sexual, and complicated for such a short word. Back in college we used to compete in my house of geeks to see how often we could casually drop it into a sentence (correctly).

All I'm saying is the whole RT3 thing sounds a little..spurious to me.