Let me share a time capsule of cringe with you. Every month, I go digging through the archives of the magazine I edit (Official PlayStation Australia) to find the most amusing and/or stupid opinions we had five years ago. I then place these fossils on display in the current issue and mercilessly take the piss.
For example, it's amusing to watch our month-to-month coverage of Duke Nukem Forever's resurrection. It goes from tipsy on nostalgia, to surly, to “uh...we're not sure if they can patch this crap before release”, to a huge vomit in the reviews section. Almost the exact same deal later on with Aliens: Colonial Marines.
I also love to revisit the satire Photoshop pages we created (called Insane). Most months they would be an advertisement for a dad-joke interpretation of a real product. “Cry, Sis” for example, pioneered the 'First-person shit-stirrer' genre where a younger brother protagonist hassled his elder sibling while staying off his parent's radar.
Had a lot of real-life experience to draw from here.
The Insane I'm focussing on today, “DLC: The Video Game”, was a little bit different from most. I can smell my fear in this one, and it's more than a little prophetic.
By 2011 we'd all accepted the odd micro-transaction in every other console game to be part of the landscape. By and large, publishers weren't being too overbearing with these – buy the Oblivion horse armour if you were OCD, shell out for the stripper boob code in The Saboteur if you're especially horny and stupid – that sort of thing.
However, the recent arrival of the Season Pass business model – present in the locally-produced L.A. Noire – gave me cause for pause. From that worry, I then did what I always do, extrapolate the concept to the most absurd version of it possible, and then apply shitty Photoshop skills.
Thus was born DLC: The Video Game. It was the AAA title in which you paid full price for the cruddiest on-disc contents imaginable. The publisher cut out all the best ideas and carrot-dangled them behind a paywall high enough to keep The White Walkers at bay.
Ho, ho, ho, it'll never get this blatantly awful. Right, guys? Right?!
The levels you got to explore in the game were bland husks. I also imagined a scenario where 'basic-edition' players, armed with wet newspapers and harsh language, were forced to face off against cashed-up opponents packing bee-firing attack dogs and Death Star Orbital Strikes.
It's also quaint that I thought cheat codes would still be a normal pack-in feature after five more years. Following the established formula, the on-disc cheats were quite useless: I honestly believe the masochist Dark Souls types would willingly opt into less ammo and invincible enemies. Maybe not a virus that bricked their PS3.
Whatever the case, the stupid pay-to-win landscape I envisaged is not looking so wacky and hilarious today. Same deal with the awful 'Dodgy Brothers Interactive' spiel at the bottom: “we've noticed a trend: you people will pay full-price for 75% of a game, even when it has a two-hour campaign!”
I also can't shake the feeling that I'll be re-reading this Kotaku article in another five years time. By then, basic common-sense and the indignation reflex of gamers will have eroded even more. Our foolish wallet-voting will have ushered in DLC: The Video Game for reals.
Man, I hope I'm wrong.
That said, I do also hope for a publisher to provide a “flatulent enemies” option in some future title. Free or otherwise.
And I honestly can't say what four-minutes-to-deadline-me had in mind when he typed in the words “porno explosions”. But I do like where his head was at.