Disappointment World

(Cube World, Pt. 1)

It’s been awhile, but I guess I’ve been pretty disappointed in a lot of things and haven’t really found much inspiration, or, I guess more appropriately, I don’t really want to write about the things that have disappointed the hell out of me, in my opinion, they just don’t need that much focus.

A long time ago, long, long time ago, I kinda used to draw a certain amount of strength from the areas in which things around me were blatantly flawed: pointing those out, and in general, calling people on the bull was my go-to. It’s just, that all changed early last year. I had something happen to me that’s affected my mind, and as a slightly related note for later, my memory, but by and large, the biggest thing, is that I just don’t want to focus on things that could be better.

I’m sure everyone is aware of the inherent contradiction with that state of being: everything, always, can be better, but even worse, today, by a lot of standards, things should be better.

Of course, I’m not here to talk about personal or social problems; nah, this is much more conceited and self-indulgent than that. I want to complain about video games.

So I was ludicrously disappointed by ArmA 3’s Contact DLC – shooting at aliens is bad and you shouldn’t do that okay; the scripted entities will punish you. I think my previous post about the DLC kind of expressed: there’s a solid, if stupid, direction that could’ve gone in. By and large, however, almost anything would’ve been better than that. So one would think I should be pretty prepared for what happened over the course of this last month:

Cube World has been released to previous owners prior to a September 30th release.

Up until the 23rd, I was pretty tentatively excited. As I mentioned, my memory isn’t really as solid as it was prior to two years ago – and before that, it wasn’t excellent – so when I heard that Cube World was actually releasing, I slowly had a flow of memories start coming back to me that I’m quite fond of. Originally, the game listed inspirations like Legend of Zelda, but in that age, when everyone was talking about Souls-style inspiration, Cube World had some facets of it which were absolutely the sort that itself dredged up memories of Zelda games.

A little red sailboat, huh?

It was a breath of fresh air, as the inspiration from which Cube World was originally derived, seemed truly to be of the sort that had a genuine appreciation, and it wasn’t just Zelda-inspired because the game was a fairly blatant rip off of the top-down Zelda format: Windwaker, in particular, evolved mechanics like gliding with a cucoo from Ocarina of Time into something the player could use all the time, supposing they had magic.

That said, Cube World absolutely faded from memory for a few reasons, first and foremost, Wollay, the game’s developer, essentially disappeared off the face of the Earth after selling the game initially, largely as he puts it, because of a DDoS attack. Now, for those of us who remember that dark age, a year after the end of the Mayan calendar, there’s one fairly obvious criticism that could be made about Wollay’s action in this regard: to get DDoS’d then was, by and large, to have sort of made it – regardless of any stress the situation may cause, a DDoS was a pretty passing occurrence for any number of games, services, sites, and more around that time.

Even if it broke him, that should’ve been confirmation that he’d made it – the number of people who were downright excited they’d squeezed in between DDoS attacks and bought the game should’ve made it clear there was some hardcore support, should Wollay have sought a shoulder to lean upon. Maybe I’ve been on the internet too long that I’m reading into things I shouldn’t, but I think that every now and then, once in a great while, when someone feels something very strongly and as a whole is a net positive, the very way they write or speak, shows it. Every now and then, something on the internet makes someone beyond happy, they express that, and it bleeds through.

That was what it was like to read comments from the people who did get the game.

The past is the past, however. The game, while fairly incredible in its core gameplay loops, was quite rudimentary. Not in the sense so much that it basic, so much as it was incomplete. There were a number of systems which I’ll talk about later that absolutely felt solid and great, especially in a post-Souls era where “player skill” was making a definite comeback in the wake of a console generation’s worth of bland shooters.

The primary complaint I would’ve leveraged at Cube World at the time was that for a game with no definite endgame (quite a similar situation to Minecraft, of which, given Cube World’s voxel nature, was often the most frequent comparison) with the actual content of the game mostly just game-meat, that is, core gameplay loops, there was a long list of things I absolute wanted, and wasn’t going to get (even after six years).

It was still remarkably strong, however, and at it’s core was actually the foundation of something that would come much later, too. Remember my earlier comparisons to Zelda? Well, here’s where my earlier whinging about losing some of my faculties came in: most people who have experienced Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild talk about a honeymoon experience with the game. Myself? I could never get into it. Breath of the Wild was, essentially, an experience that was far too similar one which I had had four years prior, but didn’t offer anything that substantial.

Combat had some cool nuances, but it was weighed down by the active discouragement to fight, repetitive progression, and a complete let down as a whole when it came to dungeons. The parts of Breath of the Wild that truly came together in spite of this, were the fleshing out of preexisting mechanics, and two (sort-of) new concepts for the series: the ability to climb most any surface and the ability to glide from anywhere.

These were also the core traversal mechanics of the main topic, Cube World, and while there’s definitely some notable differences, these largely boil down to mostly stylistic design choices, they really ought to simply just be seen next to each other:

Now, I should note that the gliding in the Beta (where the above is from) is far different than the gliding that used to present in Alpha. In general, it’s far slower. People had taken the gliding in the Cube World Alpha to extremes.

That brings us further along to today, and Cube World in its current state. Breath of the Wild has gone and past to critical acclaim, but through it all, Wollay toiled away silently at Cube World. Here and there, there were tweets that presented a far different game than the one we see today, but somewhere between January and mid-summer of this year, Cube World as it was presented in those tweets, was essentially given one of those classic eleventh hour reboots.

It really isn’t a lie when I say that I think my brain, in particular, has been hurt enough that I’m drawn more towards experiences that are a net positive rather than a net neutral or worse, as I’ve really just talked a lot about the nice things about Cube World:

I had my Breath of the Wild honeymoon with a voxel game, and that experience is really only good the first time. I mean, it’s a honeymoon.

So, where do we get into the real disappointment? Well, see you next post.

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