Ask CVG Anything: The best character ever? Are zombies being overused?

Plus: Female protagonists in games, games you were gutted to finish

Ask CVG Anything does exactly what it says on the tin. We ask followers on the CVG Facebook page and forums to send in their best game-related questions, and do our best to answer them.


If you want to see your question featured in a future edition of Ask CVG Anything, either add it as a comment at the bottom of this article or keep an eye on our Facebook page or this forum thread where we'll be regularly asking for more.

Why has Microsoft's Indie Games been such a let down? They started off with such hope: Miner Dig Deep, I Made A Game With Zombies In It, Applejack, but they've hidden it and it's now just Minecraft clones and avatar games. With the indie scene on PC thriving so well, was a closed system always doomed, or was it just never going to make Microsoft money? - CrispyLog
Chris - It is indeed a shame, but if I'm being completely honest the vast, vast majority of those Xbox Indie games were a bit pish. I must have downloaded a few hundred or so trials since it launched and only felt inclined to buy a couple. One was The Impossible Game - which ended up on PSN - and the other was I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1. There were some other decent ones in there, but ultimately I think the overall lack of polish - and originality, as you point out - led to it being stuck away in the deepest darkest corners of Xbox Live.
Tamoor - Honestly? They stopped giving a shit, the quality of content now on there reflects their general attitude towards the whole indie games initiative.
Rob - It is a real shame, CrispyLog. My view is that Microsoft doesn't want to associate itself too closely with non-premium content. Also, building games for PC and smartphones has been such a recent success because of their high royalty rates, along with far less restrictions from platform holders, and a more flexible dev framework. The Xbox could feasibly replicate this, but the economics are so different on console that it probably wouldn't be good for Microsoft.

Who is the best game character ever? Well apart from Cool Spot, obviously. - El Mag
Shaun - Sentimentally, I'd say Link. With a critic's hat on, I'd opt for Niko Belic in GTA IV. He's both an alien and an underdog: a transplant from the former-Yugoslavia left to fend for himself in the status and money hungry streets of Liberty City. I think this dimension is what made GTA IV so memorable, and his story and background served to justify Rockstar's move into a darker, less comic depiction of criminality. Before, the excess in GTA's worlds were simply a truth - an embellished version of a recognisable reality - but with Belic it felt like we were exploring some of the reasons for that reality: desperation, poverty, alienation. Of course, it's a broad strokes depiction of an extremely complicated situation, but many people I know were encouraged to research some real world history after becoming attached to Nico.
Chris - Hmmm. Can't really argue with that, but I suppose I will anyway for the sake of variety. I'd love to say Mario but that's too obvious so instead I'm going to go with Guybrush Threepwood from Monkey Island because he's got ambition, a rapier wit and a variety of skills including swordplay, thievery and, er, treasure huntery.
Tamoor - Solid Snake. My entry point into the series was the Metal Gear Solid for PlayStation, but characters and the story referenced past Solid Snake's exploits; his relationship with Gray Fox, what he did to Big Boss etc., that all built him up as this total bad ass. I've loved him ever since.
Rob - Don't read too much into this, but I've always fallen for villains. Love Gannondorf, G-Man, Revolver Ocelot, Big Boss (kinda a villain, right?), and Striders. The enemies in BioShock Infinite are just amazing too; Handyman, Fireman and Motorized Patriots are just exceptionally well voiced characters. (Just to show I'm not a complete psychopath, I also adore Mordin and The All Seeing Vortiguant).

Why are there no space combat games? All these FPS games, yet space combat games could draw that crowd in and the multiplayer could be brilliant with different classes of ship and big capital ships, plus the dual analogue sticks on the modern controllers work great in the flying bit in Halo. - CrispyLog
Chris - Aren't there some already? Have a look at Evochron: Mercenary, FreeSpace 2, Freelancer, Vendetta Online and Infinity Online. We do need a high-profile console one though - before the arse fell out of LucasArts I would have hoped for a Star Wars one, what with the new films on the way.

The Remember Me developers have spoke recently about the lack of female protaganists in games and the reasons they gave as to why female protaganists aren't more popular. One of the reasons they gave was publishers think male gamers find it uncomfortable/weird to play as a woman. Do you feel uncomfortable playing a game as a woman? Personally I don't, never have and I've never spoken to anyone that has disliked or avoided a game because they had to play as a woman so where is this feeling coming from? Is it just publisher paranoia? - TheLastDodo
Chris - It's nonsense. If I've ever felt uncomfortable playing as a woman in a game it's because the designer have chosen to have her tits hanging half-out as if the game was constantly telling me "not only are you a hero, you're HOT too". When a female character's done right it's just as rewarding playing as them as it is playing as a male character, sometimes moreso because she's less likely to be a meathead. Mirror's Edge, Mass Effect and the recent Tomb Raider are great examples of this. The reason there are less good female protagonists in games isn't because men don't want to play as them, it's because it's usually less hassle and takes less effort to make the hero a testosterone-filled man.
Tamoor - Absolutely not, I think that is utter bullshit. Gamers have shown they enjoy interacting with strong, independent, not ridiculously sexualised characters in the past. But, of course, that group of people is much smaller than the group that prefers the burly space marine, and if publishers want to sell games those are the people they have to cater for.
Rob - I think the majority of CVG readers are pretty clued-up about games and are cool with trying anything. We're kinda the core of the core, who will play anything if it's good, so I'm not surprised you have absolutely no issue with female leads. The thing is, there's millions of 13 year-old boys who also play games, and it's probably true that a significant enough percentage of them want to play as super-tough shotgun-wielding vain-popping men.

Shaun - I certainly do not feel uncomfortable playing as a female character. It's possible that video game publishers are wary of departing from the action film hero archetypes many games draw so heavily on.

If the whole gaming industry ceased to exist tomorrow what would you do? Put more time into another hobby maybe, or do some much needed home decorating, or would you be interested in starting a boyband? - Barry316
Chris - I really don't know, because my footballing days are behind me! I don't think I'd be a newspaper journalist so I'd probably get an office job. During summers while I was at Uni I worked at the Community Service department of my local council in Scotland (as admin staff, not an offender!) so I'd probably go back to that. Needless to say, I hope the gaming industry doesn't cease to exist tomorrow.
Tamoor - I've got plenty of fallbacks, I'm a big lover of comics, manga, anime, movies, digital art. More than enough alternative things to become obsessed with. I am still interested in starting a boy band though...
Rob - I'd write a book. Probably about the death of video games.
Shaun - If the whole gaming industry ceased to exist tomorrow, I'd probably breed cats.

Last Saturday was Record Store Day- an international event focusing on independent record stores and featuring as a range of special album releases which are only available on the day. It was started as a response to Comic Book Store Day, which is much the same arrangement, except for comics. My question is, do you think there will ever be a Games Store Day? Would it be a good idea? Do we even need one? - beemoh
Chris - It does sound like a good idea but I think I'm right in saying (and please do shoot me down if I'm wrong) that indie comics and indie albums are cheaper to make than indie video games. I suppose there's always the occasional Humble Indie Bundle, but it's really just a different type of industry because you already have freemium games, while you can't really get freemium comics or albums.
Tamoor - Free comic day is the best! But as long as games still cost as much as they do to make, that won't happen. The best we can hope for is that more platform holders and publishers adopt Valve's strategy of frequently holding sales.

Do you guys feel that zombies are overdone these days? I certainly do. Half the games that aren't even zombie games seem to have zombies in them to some degree, even if they're just an enemy that acts like a zombie. Don't get me wrong... zombies used to be cool, and I love me a bit of Left 4 Dead 2 or Dead Rising 2 now and then. But it's just getting too much these days. - TerrorK
Chris - I'm a huge horror film fan so zombie movies are my bread and butter, but you're absolutely right. Zombies - in both films and games - are just lazy and unimaginative now. It seems to be that every amateur filmmaker who wants to make a horror film does a zombie movie because they're easy to do and don't need clever imagery or creature effects, and any game developer looking for something to make their game 'quirky' puts zombies in it because everyone loves zombies, don't they?
Yes, everyone does love zombies. Everyone loves chocolate too, but if someone made you eat a hundred bars of chocolate in a row, chances are you'd like it a lot less. Chances are it'd be a long time before you ever wanted to eat chocolate again. That's where I am right now with zombie games. However, I'm sure a few years now the metaphorical chocolate incident will have become a distant memory and I'll start craving Curly Wurlys again. If you follow.

Tamoor - Yeah, I'm about done with zombies. Well, I'm done with zombies in the shooter context, maybe zombies need to branch out into new genres. Dance Dance Zombie please.
Shaun - Yes, zombies are overdone - DayZ excepted. Zombies are an easy fallback for developers because there's little need to invest too heavily in enemy AI. Staggering idiots with no projectile weapons are a cinch compared to, say, soliders who aim, duck behind cover, flank you etc.

What was the last game you finished and felt down afterwards because it had to end? I just finished Deadly Premonition and will miss the crazy world now it's over. - El Mag
Chris - Super Mario Galaxy. Every single level in that game was a work of magic and when I realised there were no more I was properly gutted. It's rare you get a game where every single level offers something completely new, and there were some mechanics in that game that were introduced for a single level then just tossed away, mechanics that were so good other developers could focus entire games around them.
Tamoor - DmC. Still my favourite game of the year (sorry BioShock).
Rob - Peace Walker. Spent 90 hours on that and loved most of it. Epic boss battles are an easy way to win me over, so the fact it had about fifty of them (I'm counting the tank and armoured vehicle battled) I was really chuffed.
Shaun - Dark Souls. I stopped playing games recreationally for a couple of months when I completed it. There's nothing like the world of Lordran.