Now That’s Why I Love A Best 2008 Ever! February

By RPS on December 3rd, 2008 at 12:54 pm.

Spooferific.

Remember the 80s? They were great, weren’t they? And 1968 was amazing! But who can forget 1471? Man, the past was awesome. All the cool historical events happened back then. Join us now as we spin the Giant Wheel of Time and see which portion of history we’ll nostalgically reflect upon. Ticka-ticka-ticka-tick-tick-tick… tick. Ooh, February 2008!

February 2008

Vince D Weller gets awfully cross.

John: I never meant any harm. Honest guv. But it seems I accidentally started a shitstorm I didn’t even begin to understand. Thank goodness we have a Kieron on board.

Kieron: The idea that anyone should be thankful for me is a little scary, but after John made a few jokes about turn-based combat looking odd Vince and I had an amusingly cross-purpose interview where we were both talking about different things. Still, anyone in videogames development should have cast a glance at the comments thread where dozens of disillusioned RPG-heads found a new hero. Around this time I was talking to Brad Wardell of Stardock, who noted that he was amazed no-one’s done a Baldur’s Gate/Planescape style RPG on a similar budgetry-approach to their Sins of the Solar Empire. The response in Vince’s thread, as well as basic common-sense, suggests he’s right. Maybe Age of Decadence will be it. There’s an observation I recall from a music writer – It may have been Simon Reynolds: that while dilettantes tend to make the best critics, fanatics make the best (as in, the very best) music. Vince is a fanatic, an RPG-activist before going developer and about as hardcore while being human as we can get. I hope he pulls it off – in the same way I hoped Jonathan Blow pulled Braid off – because if he does, it gives him carte blanche to tell everyone to fuck right off.

Jim: I’m really glad we were able to give Vince the opportunity to say his bit. One of the most encouraging thing for about RPS is the outbursts of passion that we occasionally play host to. More of this sort of thing in 2009.

Alec: I feel a little differently about this one. I entirely appreciate Vince’s passion, share several of his sentiments about the genre, and sincerely hope he can realise what he claims AoD will be, but I simply don’t think there’s any call to be that unpleasant about it. I didn’t find it heroic, and I didn’t find it hilarious.

Kieron: I’ve got some sympathy with you here, but… well, I’m not entirely on side with the, “You should like the creator” part of this. I actually think the idea that developers have to say the blandest things possible to avoid offending anyone is a much bigger problem than people being dickish in comments threads. People are always going to be dicks in comments thread – but any time a developer says even a mild opinion they’re dragged over the hot coals of internet flames, and gaming discourse is fatally weakened. If we accepted the idea that developers may be angry, spiteful, driven by their obsessions and as generally as unpleasant as human beings are, we could actually get somewhere. Vince is an extreme case, but people pushing the extremes widens the centres. They a climate where more reasonable developers can say what they’re really thinking without worrying about being torn apart, because they look at people like Vince and realise… Hey! He gets away with it.

Alec: Absolutely. But driven, forceful and illuminating doesn’t have to involve calling people names. I’d like to see an additional precedent set to see where outspoken opinions could take us – was genuinely worried this one was going to lead to a spate of indie devs screaming poison in interviews in the hope it’d get them more attention.

Epic sticks a finger up at the PC.

John: If you were going to try and pinpoint the moment when it all started getting silly this year, I’d say it was this. Epic’s declaration that they didn’t think the PC was worth developing for any more was only slightly undermined by their continuing to develop for the PC. But it began a year of mad outbursts from CliffyB “Don’t Call Me CliffyB” CliffyB that potentially did more harm to the PC’s perception than existed before he started. The PC gamer started having to defend him/herself against the lunatic suggestion that the format was “in disarray”, despite no evidence to make the discussion worthwhile. Hey Jim, why do you keep murdering all those cats? I mean, there’s no evidence that you are, but why do you keep doing it? Defend yourself, man!

Jim: Wasn’t me! Er, a genuinely odd one this. Epic are smart chaps, and then they go and make this kind of irrational noise. I’m hoping that they’ll be imaginative enough to think round the problems they’re currently perceiving, and to bring back some of their original magic to the PC. (That sounded convincing, right guys? Okay, next topic!)

Alec: Yeah, this was one of those flashpoints where it became clear RPS couldn’t solely be, “Whee! PC gaming!” There’s a community that’s hugely defensive of our proud platform, and one of its earlier champions being so dismissive and uninformed really hurt them. I can’t really say it bothers me hugely – while UT2003/4 was a good enough giggle, it’s been a long time since Epic did something that really interested me. That the feeling’s clearly mutual (i.e. me as “average PC gamer”) doesn’t seem a big deal. If someone like Valve started making the same noises – well, then I’d join the flaming pitchfork brigade.

Kieron: I think you’re really strong on the first half of this. As you say, RPS wasn’t created to be an organ for PC advocacy or defence, but it was inchoate comments like Epic’s which started expanding our terrain in that direction. Man!

We all start battling to be best at Kate Bush.

John: I remember having one go and beating both their scores first time. But I’m the cool sort who then just sits back, doesn’t make a fuss, and pretends he doesn’t notice when they immediately take back the lead. Still in first place in my ignorance!

Kieron: Was that around the time when they changed the scoring system? I remember Alec overtaking me then, and I couldn’t work out how he’d managed to jump several thousand points on mono on it. I was wondering whether he’d worked out something to do with missing a block to set up a big combo or something. So, getting my strength together, I went back into the game to discover they’d changed the formula so there were a different set of blocks, meaning you could score more. TOOK THE LEAD AGAIN.

I also gave Paul Barnett a fiver when he started ranting that he thought it was rubbish after buying it on our recommendation. RPS puts our money where our mouths have been. If we’ve been drinking.

Alec: Workman Kieron blames his tools again… Audiosurf took me over for a good month or so, and despite The Bush Wars it was very much about me playing it on my own, trying out a clutch of favourite songs to help rediscover why I loved them in the first place – a pretty profound difference from listening to them now because I know all the words and they’re on my iPod. Definitely one of the year’s best, and a game that felt targeted directly at me, with my geekiness for music and for tech. It is odd that I’ve not been back to it for months, but I’m quite sure I’ll hear some track soon and think “ooh! I wonder…”

Kieron: I actually wrote a comic inspired by playing Wuthering Heights too much in Audiosurf. It’s a game which inspired me, y’know?

Jim: When people talk about Audiosurf I just watch this video.

John: Oh my goodness, that video…

Kieron: I love her.

Alec: I love her more.


The staring eyes of Ken Levine
.

Kieron: RPS’ thin-images layout means that occasionally you’re forced to be inspired. Yes, I could have cut it out, reduced it and turned it into a cross-head with text and an illustrative head or something with Photoshop magic. IF I WAS ALEC. Instead, cropping to the eyes and starting another RPS running gag was the only sensible thing to do. Oh – local colour detail. That shot was taken circa Freedom Force in Bath, beside a wall with some WW2 bombing on, by the way. No idea how it became one of the official press shots, as it was totally taken by a Future photographer.

Jim: I once had dinner with Levine and had to sit uncomfortably close to him in the restaurant. He does have beautiful eyes.

Alec: There’s a national poster ad campaign for some mobile phone network – Vodafone, I think – featuring a photo of bloke who looks exactly like Levine would if you photoshopped his eyes to be bigger and further apart. Creeps me out every time I pass it.

Love is revealed at GDC.

Kieron: For the record, Love was one of the most widely linked and most-read RPS stories of all time. Not as much as Sporn, admittedly, but for those who think that people don’t want to read about Indie games it’s worth bearing in mind.

Jim: Fuck me, Eskil is clever. This is going to be awesome.

Alec: I love the look, but have to say I haven’t got a real sense of the game yet. Extremely curious to see more, but fear its beauty is so immense that it’s going to be a terrifying challenge to add mechanics which match that splendour.

February’s noteworthy games:

Conflict: Denied Ops, But Allowed This Joke A Lot

Kieron: Who made up that joke? Was it Alec? I think it was Alec. Good work Alec. My memories of it are somewhat conflicted. Most of me thinks I never played it. Part of me thinks I reviewed it for someone. That I can’t remember which it is says much about how interested or memorable Denied Ops was. But that joke was awesome, Alec.

Jim: Did anyone actually play the game in the end?

Alec: John’s joke, in fact. I reviewed it some magazine, but the write-up was attributed to someone else. Much as my Dawn of War: Soulstorm review was attributed to one ‘Kieran Gillen’ in the same mag. Anyway – desperately mediocre if passingly enjoyable game, which would have been a whole lot better if its two unlovable central characters hadn’t tried to do the Lethal Weapon antagonistic bromance thing. Better voice-acting that Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2, mind.

John: My joke! Mine!

The Club

John: Our very first ever Verdict. Aw.

Alec: Still hoping someone takes the same concept and makes it joyously OTT. The right ideas were there, the crazy exploding heads were not.

Penumbra: Black Plague

John: The sequel to the impressively decent Overture was a splendid step forward. Taking Frictional’s engine to where it belonged – combat free, physics puzzle heavy, it was spooky and inspired. The lighting alone was spectacular, which would normally be a horrible geeky thing to say, but this was a game all about atmosphere. It did it rather well.

Alec: I’ve played the first, but not this. Again, it’s on the list. I didn’t think the first game quite pulled off what it was aiming for, but it definitely had the right ingredient potential of physics and menace that I see no reason why this follow-up can’t be marvellous. God, I’ve been especially negative today. Sorry. The cat chewed my foot at 5am, so I’m tired and grumpy. More so than usual, that is.

.

86 Comments »

  1. Gladman says:

    I have also been doing a bit of my own retrospectivness by looking at the first episodes of GameTrailer’s bonus round and seeing how what they said compare today.

    They did pretty well.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    Vince D. Weller’s interview remains my RPS-highlight of 2008.

    Thanks, Vince. THINCE.

    Alec’s opinion on that shitstorm seems to be little more than “Why can’t we just get along?!!!!! :((((” which is hardly likely to have Vince changing his ways any time soon. Long may he continue.

  3. Malagate says:

    February was indeed a good month, and I’m not just saying that for my own selfish reasons, long may the rps verdicts live.

  4. Meat Circus says:

    Love: Yes. Jim’s piece had me as agape with anticipation as it seems to have him. Still haven’t played Penumbra: Black Plague, even though I went and bought it.

    Soon, my pretty.

  5. Pod says:

    “Written by RPS on December 3, 2008 at 12:54 pm.”
    ooo

  6. Blaxploitation Man says:

    I hope AoD is such a huge failure that all the people from NMA and RPG Codex Vince has been herding around turn on him and devour him alive.

    I have FURY and PASSION! So that means no-one can disagree with me!

  7. Meat Circus says:

    Vince stopped posting at the Codex, ISTR mainly in protest at the levels of ‘ironic’ racism and homophobia present.

    If you think think that makes him a bad man, so be it.

    I think he was worshipped as a hero at NMA until his Fallout 3 review which pointed out that for all its stupidities, it’s quite good in places.

  8. Colthor says:

    Vince sounded reasonable enough to me. Sarcastic, but what’s wrong with that? It’s funny.

    I’d forgotten about AoD. Hopefully it’ll live up to its turn-based promise!

  9. Ian says:

    Incidentally, Kieron never did tell us the difference between an RPG and a shooter, the cad.

  10. Blaxploitation Man says:

    I smolder with generic rage.

  11. Chris Evans says:

    They best talk about the Pathologic pieces in the April edition :D

  12. Lu-Tze says:

    I love her most.

  13. Klaus says:

    I hope AoD is such a huge failure that all the people from NMA and RPG Codex Vince has been herding around turn on him and devour him alive.

    I actually laughed out loud.

    Vince stopped posting at the Codex, ISTR mainly in protest at the levels of ‘ironic’ racism and homophobia present.

    ??? I’m not getting the ironic part, I see quotation marks. I’m just not getting it. Why would that be ironic on a videogames messageboard.

  14. Meat Circus says:

    @Klaus:

    Um, I’m suggesting it’s not ironic. They’re just pretending it is.

    Scare quotes, isn’t it.

  15. Benjamin Finkel says:

    I’m surprised you lot didn’t talk more about Sins of a Solar Empire in this post. It was a good game, an interesting lesson in game budgeting, and at the time the focus of many an RPS post.

    Ben

  16. Klaus says:

    @Met Circus
    Alrighty, I was just slow on the uptake. Thanks.

  17. Pags says:

    Vince D. Weller is going to save RPGs, that’s all I’m sayin’.

    But yeah, february sucked mostly apart from being the month I was granted the legal privelege to get bladdered.

  18. eyemessiah says:

    Who do you all love? Bonnie Tyler or that dude’s girlfriend?

    EDIT: Yay for editing.

  19. The_B says:

    I would hazard to guess both.

    And I still say I was using the Staring Eyes on my blog first, dagnabbit!

  20. John Walker says:

    Sins is getting its own far more detailed coverage, never-you-worry.

  21. Hypocee says:

    The other kind of irony – sarcasm with her makeup on. ‘Ho ho ho, look it ther horrible things i can say, it is funny because i are joking!’

  22. Brother None says:

    I think he was worshipped as a hero at NMA until his Fallout 3 review which pointed out that for all its stupidities, it’s quite good in places.

    Say huh? I asked him to do the NMA review exactly because I figured he’d give it fair time (and feared that I couldn’t – a fear not without its grounds but perhaps overstated in hindsight, I think Fallout 3 is a good game, much like Vince). Not everyone loved his review for NMA but to imply it somehow hurt the respect he gained at that community over the years is a bit silly.

    Heck, my editorial before that review (the “Capital Wasteland: Revelation review”) made similar points about the game being good and even having great parts. I haven’t been lynched on NMA yet…as far as I know.

    I hope AoD is such a huge failure that all the people from NMA and RPG Codex Vince has been herding around turn on him and devour him alive.

    If it sucks, it sucks. I like the way he thinks but it’s his first game, we don’t really know yet if he has the touch. I’m not sure how much NMA will care (it’s only one of the many non-Fallout titles we follow on the peripheries, and usually when they suck we just forget about them quickly (The Fall, Metalheart), they just miss the extra rabidity for non-Fallout titles), but the Codex will have a field day if it indeed sucks.

    On topic: I’m not sure if you went over this with the first post of this series, but is there any explanation as to why the banner for the PC year 2008 would contain a 2009 PC release, as well as a lazy console port (Fallout 3). Is that woman from GTA IV promotions (I recognize the style but not the picture) – if so, I hear that’s a pretty badly done port as well…not exactly the top moments of PC gaming. Lazy ports have always been one of the big problems of the platform.

  23. Helm says:

    People can be direct and opinionated without being trolls. Haven’t you had enough of trolls on the internet? It’s much more difficult to behave with respect towards strangers online than not to. Negativity shouldn’t be applauded even if it’s more interesting for the reader than the lack of.

    While I understand the point about neutered game developers not saying what they think because they fear reprisal from amongst many sources, the angry internet men, I am not sure an angry internet man being a developer is something one should get behind of just because it’s novel.

    Vince Dweller’s game might be good, I really hope it is. However its design seems to rest upon assumptions on why other developers do things differently that are as entrenched as they are dubious in their origin. Where does all the hate come from against ‘stupid fps gamers’? Fanatics might make wonderful art sometime, yes, but reactionaries rarely do. The difference is that a fanatic doesn’t care what other people do, he knows he’s got something and he’s going to show you it. A reactionary has developed his beliefs in contrast to what the (insert derogatory term here) people do. Great art might come from passion, but it doesn’t often come from disdain for otherness.

  24. Ian says:

    @ Brother None: It’s more about RPS’ year and things they’ve talked about and/or have been/are excited about over the course of 2008, methinks.

  25. Meat Circus says:

    @Brother None:

    Lazy ports are definitely one of the things undermining PC gaming at the moment. Of course, when they undersell on the grounds of shitness, it gets blamed on the P-word.

    Lose/lose.

  26. Jockie says:

    I loved reading the Pathologic pieces also, i bought it and everything. But sadly i had no clue what the hell was going on and didnt get very far.

    I may have to give Audiosurf another shot, i keep getting emails telling me that my high scores on obscure songs are getting dethroned.

  27. unclelou says:

    I am finding people use the “lazy console port” insult a bit carelessly. Fallout 3 doesn’t belong in that category. I must have seen it used for every game this year, be it Mass Effect, or Grid, or, well, Fallout 3. One day developers will stop making any effort whatsoever if it’s all labelled the same, anyway, whether it’s a complete disaster like Resident Evil 4 or a just the odd, negligible interface niggle.

  28. Klaus says:

    …the P-word

    If you say it, this thread will gain 500+ comments within an hour. Maybe…

    Personally I like trolls, I think it’s good to point out when someone is ridiculously stupid/selfish/naive or what have you. But, I’m biased as I partake in a bit of ‘trollery’ here and there.

  29. Brother None says:

    I am finding people use the “lazy console port” insult a bit carelessly. Fallout 3 doesn’t belong in that category.

    It doesn’t? Other than being an unstable game on many PCs (yes, including when it’s not the PC’s fault), it has major issues with keys not being remappable (you can not remap closing PipBoy into anything other than tab), keys not being mapped to their logical interface points, let alone being remappable to there (M for map, I for inventory, you know, the industry standards for years), the bizarre fact that F1-F2-F3 open the three submenus (just like in Oblivion) and that this is not even mentioned anywhere in your guide or tutorial, the fact that fonts are still too big and oddly enough something as simple as smaller font sizes and bigger menus in bigger resolutions was doable in one day by modders but never occurred to Bethesda…

    I’m not sure what else to call that than “lazy”. I mean sure, it could be worse, it could make my PC explode whenever I try to run the game, but it’s like Bethesda just looked at the keyboard on PCs and went “hang on, this has more buttons than the Xbox 360…let’s do the logical thing and not use any of them!”

    It’s more about RPS’ year and things they’ve talked about and/or have been/are excited about over the course of 2008, methinks.

    Makes sense, what with the whole lil’ schoolgirl act concerning Mirror’s Edge. Still looking forward to playing that. And GTA IV once they fixed it.

    Lazy ports are definitely one of the things undermining PC gaming at the moment. Of course, when they undersell on the grounds of shitness, it gets blamed on the P-word.

    Lose/lose.

    Yes.

    I loved reading the Pathologic pieces also, i bought it and everything. But sadly i had no clue what the hell was going on and didnt get very far.

    I wish the translation project didn’t look as dead as it does. Pathologic is a great game, truly something special and I loved it when RPS covered it, but it’s not exactly a forgiving game, and the shoddy translations don’t help.

  30. Klaus says:

    I have to agree on the Fallout 3 commentary, Although I don’t mind the big font too much. I can see how it would annoy people and the smaller font modification looked pretty nice.

    the bizarre fact that F1-F2-F3 open the three submenus (just like in Oblivion)

    Christ, didn’t even know you do that. I just went to check that out. I didn’t know you do that in Oblivion either. lol, thanks.

    I’ve always ascribed it to carelessness instead of laziness, but one can argue that carelessness is just a product of laziness. meh.

    Also, does anyone know whether Mass Effect for the consoles feature the overheating bug? And also, does the patch for Mass Effect (pc) resolve this bug?

  31. shon says:

    When I get new music, I tend to imagine the songs as Audiosurf tracks. It is a great game for a music lover.

  32. Brother None says:

    I have to agree on the Fallout 3 commentary, Although I don’t mind the big font too much. I can see how it would annoy people and the smaller font modification looked pretty nice.

    I wasn’t overly annoyed, but fact is that to fix the dialogue interface in Fallout 3 is a miniscule effort. It’s really, really easy to do (not to sell our modders short). I just can’t wrap my head around why Bethesda wouldn’t.

    I get where Uncle Lou is coming from, no worries, but I’m not going to compliment Fallout 3′s port just because it’s not as horrible as it could be. I’ll compliment ports that really are well-done to the point where you don’t notice you’re playing a port, like BioShock, but to my mind, if we all start patting Bethesda on the back for a job well done on the PC port, that’s just encouraging publishers/developers to put in minimal effort for PC ports much like Bethesda did.

    In that sense, I find it weird that the critical reception for Fallout 3 on PS3 was critical of the quality of the port whereas this seems to be less of a factor for Fallout 3 on PC (except for Edge)

  33. Klaus says:

    I don’t get the lack of item descriptions in the game myself, but some great person modded it in.

  34. Ted says:

    AoD is vaporware, plain and simple. That game will never be released. He’s been promising imminent release of that game so long that he’s about halfway to Grimoire levels of vaporness. So Vault Dweller aka Vince D. Weller should just be ignored.

  35. Brother None says:

    As far as I know Vince has never promised imminent release.

  36. unclelou says:

    You make a few very good points, Brother None – thinks like the font size are a problem in many games, though. In Neverwinter Nights 2, it’s so tiny in a high resolution that you can hardly read the text, for example. Of course the big font in Fallout 3 is a result of its console roots, but the general problem “silly interface issue that would have been easy to fix” is a universal problem.

    As you mention Bioshock, that was (and still is, not sure) plagued by terrible mouse controls/acceleration. That is much more the sign of a “lazy console port”, and a much bigger problem, I’d say. I’ll let you call FO3 a lazy console port if I can call Bioshock one. ;-) And let’s not even talk about Dead Space.

    My point being: Fallout 3 is far from a perfect port, but much of the stuff is so much worse, or with more serious problems, that I’d hesitate to put Fallout 3 in such a list, as it gives a wrong impression of a game’s problems – but then, our definitions of “lazy port” might simply differ.

  37. unclelou says:

    Oh, bw., great feature, guys. Looking forward to the rest of December.

  38. John Walker says:

    When I made the banner, Mr None, I was a) spoofing the Best Week Ever banner, and b) picking images from the most talked about games of 2008. It’s primarily intended to be funny/silly. Clearly I have failed you, and I can only apologise.

    I’m not quite sure how FO3′s PC problems has become a subject of discussion in this thread – I’d suggest it’s not entirely relevant to the matters in the post. Let’s save that ire for November’s entry, eh?

  39. Pace says:

    So Alec has a cat too? Altogether too many cat people at RPS.

    (Oh, and as unclelou says, great feature!)

  40. John Walker says:

    Only Kieron doesn’t because he’s not cool enough.

  41. Pace says:

    That’s one way to look at it.

  42. Dan Lawrence says:

    Kieron should get a cat immediately.

  43. Pace says:

    That would be one way to look at it.

  44. Meat Circus says:

    @Ted:

    As far as I can tell, Vince has never claimed that AoD would be anything other than “done when it’s done”. He certainly hasn’t claimed any kind of soonish release to my knowledge.

  45. Rain says:

    Thats the only way to look at it.

  46. Meat Circus says:

    I have a cat. He’s a miserable fat old fucker.

    Funny how we become more like our pets over time.

  47. Tei says:

    Gears of War whas a huge dissapointement to me.

    After a few minutes, the maps where small and repetitive, the control stranges, graphics are dull (everything gray and reusing assets like crazy?). The spawn system was a hole in the ground, how lazy is that? is posible to invent a worst system than that?
    Maybe is fun as something else (MP, coop, etc), but as a singleplayer game make no sense to me.

  48. Kieron Gillen says:

    I rent in London. Pets aren’t an option, if you like housing options.

    KG

  49. Acosta says:

    Hey, another rant about how evil is Vince for being passionate about something. While I am with Alec about not loving the calling names part, I really enjoy Vince views and attitude. That interview was awesome because it was an actual discussion and not a simple Q&A, Kieron is spot on when he wish more developers were like that, most interviews in this industry are a PR snorefest.

    Vince’s Fallout 3 was fantastic and balanced, he actually saw an improvement over Oblivion and had no problems to acknowledge at the same time he criticized what he didn’t like. I will never understand the attacks he gets from some some readers, but I guess that having strong opinions always lead to that.

    And Love is going to be awesome, go Jim! Boo Alec!

    By the way, just a suggestion, when you finish your fancy time travel I would love to hear a little about your own opinions and experiences about this year in RPS, highs and downs and that kind of stuff. I’m really delighted to see RPS growing (even if that means more angry internet men at the comments) and I persoanlly would love to hear your take on that.

  50. RichP says:

    Pets aren’t an option, if you like housing options.

    So that’s why you had to get rid of the beard. *rimshot*