Onion Headline Syndrome

I like The Onion, but I rarely find myself reading much of it because the full text rarely improves on the headlines. You might need to read the first paragraph to see where they are taking the joke, but stringing it out for 1000 words does not add much to the first 5 seconds. (I might take this as an object lesson, but look at me go, still typing.)

Syp finds the same problem with Star Trek Online, I said the same thing about LotRO skirmishes, and many of us have said the same about Borderlands and Torchlight: it is great at first, but there is not all that much improvement or variation over time. (I do credit the two single-player games for having interesting boss fights mixed into the repetition, where MMOs tend to rely on even more repetition, even in tank-and-spank bosses.) I appreciate being able to get 95% of the benefit in 5% of the time. Portal did that brilliantly and then ended.

: Zubon

Non-MMO inspiration banished to the first comment.

7 thoughts on “Onion Headline Syndrome”

  1. This is what brought me to the topic, although at the last minute it turns out not to be an example. I think it has a great opening:

    In the comic book that [Human Target] is ostensibly based on, Christopher Chance isn’t just a bodyguard, he’s a master of disguise who protects people by actually assuming their identity and luring their would-be killers into striking so he can spring a trap. It’s an aspect of the character that [the writers] used to explore complex themes of identity, loss of self and betrayal in the incredible (and extremely underrated) Vertigo run…
    …stripping away the theme that defined the character in the comics … begs the question as to why they took the name at all. Sure, it’s a great title, but does a Vertigo series that was canceled for low sales really have the name recognition that brings in viewers?

    and then goes into mock examples of in name only comic book shows. The examples are okay, but you get the joke well before reading them all. And then the last one is a home run.

  2. I completely agree on the onion reference and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with things like skirmishes and torchlight. But I would argue that at least the act of killing things in Borderlands is actually fun and no different to any other fps. The problem that a lot of MMOs face is that the basic fight mechanics are boring so the only way to drive players onward is by rewarding them with goodies for doing the boring ‘click on enemy and AFK kill them’ scenario 1000 times.
    I’ve been doing the same thing in fps’s since Doom but on a basic combat level it still hasn’t got boring – borderlands manages to wrap up that gameplay with a nice psuedo-MMO layer metagame.

  3. On the flip side, people read the Enquirer, Globe, Sun and other weekly rags just to figure out how they came to the conclusion on the headlines. Proof yet again that balance (Yin/Yang) exists in the universe. “Scientific proof and pictures of the Yeti in this weeks issue” (Scientists have been unable to prove that Yeti’s do not actually exist and we have a picture of what an artist’s rendering of a Yeti showing might actually look like)

  4. I’d say doing skirms over is more like going back to the Onion the next day to read the next batch of headlines rather than reading out the whole article. Bite-sized carnage ftw. They get exponentially more zany with other folks too.

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