The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on May 23rd, 2010 at 10:30 am.

Sundays are for stomping around the Bristol Comics Expo. Which means that Fridays are for preparing in advance a post of the week’s fine (mostly) games-centric reading without including a link to some manner of piece of pop-music, then setting it to auto-post. It’s a miracle of science I do for you.

Failed.

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92 Comments »

  1. Matt W says:

    An alternative option for reviews: pare the actual review back to 2-4 paragraphs so it just performs its base function – letting me figure out whether or not I want to buy the game. Split the critical thought off into its own spoilertastic article when warranted. Drop anything that’s left.

    Current review format seems to be one part actual useful consumer information, one part describing how the game works in a way that’s not really useful for anyone, and one part criticism and analysis that’s trying not to spoil anything. This is, to my mind, inefficient.

    • bill says:

      Isn’t that essentially what the score/summary box at the beginning (gamespot) or end (ign) does?
      Pros: Good levels. Good Graphics. Good AI.
      Cons: Boring story. DRM.

      I see where you’re coming from, but a simple, factual, 2 paragraph review wouldn’t be at all interesting for me to read, and I’d totally just skip to the score.
      On the other hand, I don’t think all reviews need to aspire to being some form of original, thought provoking critical concept piece, and short reviews can be just as good as the 4 page ones.

      But a well written review is fun to read and gives you a good feeling for the game. Short factual ones wouldn’t.
      (but splitting one review into a Basic Facts page and an Analysis page might work).

    • Auspex says:

      Sometimes I start reading one of those overly long eurogamer reviews on a game I’m not /that/ interested and after a couple of paragraphs I look over to see there are 3 pages of it to go… I often stop reading.

      There is definitely a place for briefer reviews and they should be looked down on for not being incredibly detailed “papers”.

      This is one of the reasons why I still read http://www.teletext.co.uk/gamecentral . They are (or at least were) limited with the amount of review space they can provide, the result being decently written, yet nicely condensed, reviews on most games. Something which I find particularly useful for games I only have a passing interest in.

    • Matt W says:

      I love reading good reviews too, but I only ever read them for games that either I’ve already finished or I’ve decided I’m never going to play. My typical approach to a new game is to check review scores on Eurogamer, listen to recommendations from friends and then go back and read the Eurogamer review once I’ve finished it. I would love to have the interesting bits of long-form reviews split off into separate criticism that I can read, without the writer having to either avoid mentioning key points because of spoilers or add in “review” paragraphs which are irrelevant to the analysis.

      Upsides of this are that I can read a short review before buying which gives just enough info for me to make a purchase/no-purchase decision without ruining any of the joy of discovery, and then go back and indulge myself with criticism later. Downsides are probably that the reviews serve people with smaller budgets (who have to agonize over every purchase) less well, and that there’s no large proven market for this format AFAIK.

    • bill says:

      You mean the ofverly long Eurogamer reviews written by the RPS guys?

    • bill says:

      You mean the overly long Eurogamer reviews written by the RPS guys?

    • Bowlby says:

      Matt W, I could not agree more. Nothing wrong with long, in-depth reviews, but when I play a game I want to come into it with as little knowledge as possible, so I can formulate my own opinions without risk of being influenced by anyone else’s.

    • Arathain says:

      You can have both things at once by making reviews have an abstract, a one or two paragraph summary, just like you described, to accompany the main article. Writing abstracts is useful for the reviewer as well, because it forces them to crystallise their thoughts.

      I would never ever want to be without long analytical reviews, though. There’s many a game that the reviewer was unsure of that I knew I’d get a kick out of from the text of the review, and many a title that the reviewer loved that I knew to stay clear of. And hey, there are a lot of great writers out there, whose work I enjoy for its own sake.

    • Lambchops says:

      Thing was I could never quite get behind GameCentral. I liked the guys . . . but they just weren’t Digitiser.

    • Auspex says:

      @Lambchop

      I was the same, I actually stopped reading when Biffo left/was kicked out.
      Only started reading it when I was living in a flat with no internet but a telly, it suddenly became an invaluable source of games info.

    • TeeJay says:

      On his blog Dan Griliopoulos asks: “is this process applicable to reviews other than MMOs? Should all reviews be done this way?”

      …and then I said:

      “As a consumer I already use this process to decide whether to buy a game – ie. I read what gamers post on forums/blogs, alongside any traditional “professional” reviews. The professional reviews are often useful for all the condensed details, being the first into print and maybe for humour etc. but it’s the forum posts that I really pay attention to due to having a whole bunch of different opinions, the back-and-forward discussions.

      This still means a central role for games writers – to provide a focus and forum for discussion, attract a good community that will contribute to the discussion and the editorial and moderation role.

      A more general public might prefer the traditional long-form/essay games-mag style review, the single paragraph newspaper-style condensed ‘buy/don’t-buy’ review or a weekly/monthly ’round-up’/’best-of’ – but maybe these can all be constructed on top of the initial blog-community-crowd-sourcing.

      I’m not really saying anything new – this seems to be how things have evolved now already, from where I am sitting (ie. a consumer, rather than a writer), although it seems to have been more successful on newer independent blogs rather than the older sites or magasines maybe because they are actually designed for this and people have the expectation of interactivity/community/relationships/ownership. People’s relationship with older, corporate media seems more resentful, suspicious and antagonistic, even if it has tried to adapt to the newer style.”

    • Ben says:

      Game reviews are at once consumer reports and also critical reviews. I have often wondered why game reviews always try to wear both hats at once. I think it’s an inheritance via imitation of movie critiques, but that operation fails due to the price point of each. A movie ticket is priced as a cheap consumable, like a cheap meal. Meanwhile videogames are priced several times that, sufficiently so that for the majority of us, it’s not an impulse purchase. Ergo the reviews become more significant. People want to know if they’re throwing away money on this thing.

      At the same time, people are interested in videogames as something they can appreciate. I won’t start an “art” argument, but suffice to say folks wanna love their games. They would like someone to tell them if they will enjoy the experience.

      Those are two different points, and at times these are things that are at conflict, which means that a game review can be at conflict with itself. This is why people have been trying to put in summaries and subscores as they say if something is good in one way, but not as good in another.

      My personal recommendation would be to just separate the two damn things. The text of the review can be whatever the writer likes, bifurcated or not, but at the end there are two qualities enumerated: The consumer review (eg: Buy it / Rent it / Wait on it) and the artistic/aesthetic review (eg: Awesome / nice / meh).

      This is useful when reviewing those games where those two points are in conflict. For example, Earth Defense Force for Xbox 360 is a cheap but fun game with great replay value despite it’s shoddy workmanship. This game rates a “meh” or “nice” aesthetically, but as a consumer review it’s a “Buy it now!”. The obverse of this is… Hrm, failing to think of a specific example, but let’s just say it’s that brand new game that’s supposed to be a lot of fun, but has a short single player and no multiplayer. Artistically it’s awesome, as a consumer report it’s a “Rent it.”

      Will anyone ever do something like this? I don’t know, because publishers would hate it with a passion when you rate their game as transcendent but not worth $60. That could hurt ad revenue. Also this system isn’t directly translatable to MetaCritic, which does drive linkage to sites. I don’t know if that’s something that editorial/management cares about, but I suppose it’s not that hard to self-generate a numeric out of the two points of consideration

    • Matt W says:

      For your second category, I’d suggest anything by Troika

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Ben

      I broadly agree with what you are saying.

      Just a comment about the price point of movies versus games: time/effort invested is also a key variable alongside money – some people just want to know if it is worth investing 50 hours of their leisure time. It is also an issue when deciding to travel to a specific art-house cinema. Some people have more than enough money (or can get very cheap/free games) and the limitation is that they only have X hours per week for gaming (or watching movies).

      Also both movies and games are things whose enjoyment can be increased by discussion before / during / afterwards and also provide ‘social reference points’ (a lot of activities are good excuses for socialising / forming social groups – ie ‘dual purpose’).

      You ask “will anyone ever do something like this?” – I think it is happening already. This site is one example (it has lots of different styles of preview / review / discussion / analysis / subjective-story-telling) and I’d argue that the ‘centre of gravity’ for games has shifted to blogs and forums – which cover the whole range from features, retrospectives, mass-discussions, technical reviews – even a gamesfaq walkthrough is a kind of ‘review’ in it’s own way.

      I’d guess that publishers just care about a) eyeballs and b) sales. Critical reception, the details of what is said is icing on the cake (same with awards – although if they don’t get some they can always set up their own award show) and probably more relevant to the developers and creatives involved. I’d guess that publishers are fairly agnostic as to whether gamers hear about there games via Twitter/Facebook or via long-form essays – whatever gets the name & buzz out there and turns into sales. Writers / journalists / editors on the other hand may be more interested in the format if they have gone into the business in order to write, rather than be marketing/advertising robots. Consumers will have their own range of individual preferences.

  2. Jimbobb says:

    Sundays are for…Lost finales
    (well, early monday mornings over here)

    I don’t know about you, but if they don’t explain how those Dharma Food Drops were part of their grand plan, I’m going to be mightily unimpressed.

    Sorry, I just had to get that out. As you were.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Now, I have a very busy week and won’t be able to watch the Lost finale until Friday. Am I going to have to keep off RPS until then to avoid spoilers?

    • Auspex says:

      I reckon you might have to keep off the internet.

  3. Sarlix says:

    RE: The Bristol Comics Expo

    It seems most weeks there’s something comic related, and it always makes me think about the time I woke up in a haze to find a comic called ‘Philbert Desanex 100,000th dream’ laying next to me. I immediately read through it and then fell back a sleep. When I awoke the comic had gone and I haven’t been able to find it since!

    My point being, if anyone should go to the expo or any other comic fair keep an eye out for this comic! it’s brilliant! Presuming that it actually exists of course, and I didn’t just imagine the whole incident.

  4. Wilson says:

    The article about the Aesthetics of Unique Video Game Characters was very interesting. I thought both the medic and heavy models looked very good.

    • subedii says:

      As soon as I saw the title, I knew there was going to be a heavy focus on Team Fortress 2. Valve’s visual design there was exceptional, both in terms of making the game visually unique, and having the design COMPLEMENT the gameplay. That last one is so important and yet it’s something that so many game developers miss. How many online FPS’s do you play, even now, where when the enemy is at a distance you don’t really know anything about them? Typically you need HUD cues to even tell which side they’re on (UT3 had to take this to the extreme, even having teams glow brightly neon at a distance otherwise you couldn’t tell which team they were on).

      Compare with TF2. The visual designs are clearly striking, but as soon as you see them, even at a distance, you know three things immediately:

      - Which team they’re on
      - What class they are
      - What weapon they’re using

      Even in a fast paced scrum you can easily pick out a medic, a pyro or a heavy, from their looks, and even from the way they hold their weapon. The last one’s gotten a little skewed with time and the addition of new weapons in the class updates, but in general it’s held.

      Now compare to something like BFBC2, and I don’t even know whether the guy I’m seeing is a medic or a soldier, and I depend on the HUD details to tell me which team he’s on. Perhaps that’s a necessity when creating a more “militaristic” shooter where people aren’t designed to stand out, but I still feel there’s more that could have been attempted with the visual designs for the multiplayer.

    • Koozer says:

      Medics have their fetching red berets, engineers wear balaclavas or blast shield helmety things, snipers wear ghillie suits and soldiers wear helmets. The TF2 characterisation is brilliant, but it isn’t as terrible in BFBC2 as you make out. MW2 on the other hand…

    • Arathain says:

      I was very impressed with the quality of all her designs, and her talent for realising them in 3D, which I imagine to be a non-trivial transition. I thought she nailed the female Medic in particular, and I loved her idea for the female Spy being something a little bit different. Also the keeping the silhouette of the Soldier, but providing a suitably WW2 female take.

      Valve? Got a future designer for you here.

    • Frosty says:

      @Arathain

      Seconded. Her approach was not only fantastic but the end result was quite something. The game industry needs more people like her desperately.

    • Arathain says:

      I should also mention I had no idea before today about the female Soviet snipers. What a great inspiration.

    • Sonic Goo says:

      The first time I heard of the idea of recognisable silhouettes, was when Blizzard did it in WoW. Each race there is recognisable from a distance as well. I guess some developers picked that up and others didn’t…

    • Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

      When I saw the sketch of a female Engy rocking a Dolly Partonesque look, I couldn’t help but smile.

    • Allen Yu says:

      I didn’t see an article about the aesthetics of unique video game characters; maybe you can correct me. I only saw an “article”(or “paper”) that was full of rambling bullshit about feminism/Marxism and happened to link some great screenshots of 3D models.

  5. bill says:

    BAT files rock. Bring back the bat file!

  6. Lambchops says:

    Lots of good reads this week. I’ll just quickly post some thoughts.

    On difficulty:

    I think Ed just rescued a sale there with that post. Having seen the trailer I thought; “that looks way too bloody hard at times” but the fact it’s split up into a normal mode and a mode for absolute fucking nutters has somewhat set my mind at ease.

    The VVVVV post is spot on particularly when he says “They’re a crazy dare you can’t help but accept, because you’ll always remember that you couldn’t do it if you don’t do it.” That’s exactly how I felt aboout it. As soon as I realised I was getting that little bit further I knew I could do it and because i loved the game I invested the time to do it. Then, since I’d managed to bloody do that it gave me then motivation to get a couple of the other trinkets which I personally found to be trickier (Edge Games and Prize for the Reckless spring to mind. Terry really is a bastard).

    On Mass Effect:

    A whole bunch of excellent articles on Mass Effect. I don’t really want to launch into a spoiler laden discussion right now but I will highlight one bit from the excellent Post Hype piece.

    “A better game would give players many more opportunities to fail, not fewer.”

    i entirely concur with this. Give me more immediate consequences, more oppurtunities to fuck up, more opportunities to regret my decisions. I also agree with that article about the missed opportunties with the potential outcomes of Samara’s loyalty quest, much in the same way I found myself nodding my head at kieron’s post here earlier in the week about the missed oppurtunity to make Jacob a really good character. I think it’s a testament to how much I enjoyed Mass Effect that I can see so many areas where it could have gone just that little bit further and turned an excellent game into one of the best games ever. I wouldn’t care if it didn’t show such amazing potential.

    On Games for Windows Live:

    It really is rubbish isn’t it!

    On reviews:

    Collating several peoples viewpoints? It’s not neccesarilly just like copying and pasting Metacritic. I’m off to read some of those RPS verdict thing-a-me-bobbies. Seem to remember they actually worked pretty well!

    • HarbourMaster says:

      Prize for the Reckless is tricky but GOD DAMN I still don’t know how I pulled off Edge Games. Don’t ask me to do again, please [sobs].

    • Wulf says:

      Edge Games was the hardest one for me, too. I think it was some form of clever behavioural conditioning, because now I completely despise Edge Games. >.> But I digress. It was definitely the most difficult trinket for me, the one I died on the most, but I got it eventually. The strange part is that I don’t have a clear recollection of how I managed it. My brain just tells me “well, you just sort of did, and that’s that”, I have a huge hole in my memory there. I must have totally zoned out when I pulled it off.

  7. subedii says:

    As much as I dslike GFWL (and really, it’s a lot), that article on GFWL difficulties was pretty much minor griping and not understanding how things work. It came across like that guy who posted on youtube about how Steam for Mac sucks, because he didn’t really understand a few of the basics of what it does and how it works.

    As far as I remember, by having Fallout 3 he should automatically have GFWL, he shouldn’t HAVE to redownload it. More importantly, this GFWL client is today integrated with GFWL’s marketplace. You access it in-game and get the DLC you want.

    I haven’t used it to buy DLC, but I have used it to redeem some free DLC that came with Batman Arkham Asylum (a couple of challenge maps). It wasn’t too difficult to achieve. Admittedly it could have been a bit more clear, but in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t particularly difficult to achieve.

    • Bowlby says:

      While the GfWL client in recent games now comes with an integrated marketplace, the one in place in Fallout 3 still requires you to download a separate client. I actually downloaded Op Anchorage using the GfWL client, and don’t remember coming across that many problems. The main thing I take issue with is the updates that don’t give you an ETA on how long they’re going to take to download and install.

      I also don’t like the bloat-y, cut-down XBL interface. I much prefer the new Steam – looks sharp; more professional.

    • Don says:

      The funniest part of the GFWL article, for those who haven’t stirred themselves to browse there, is:

      ‘Six years after Steam claimed the entire New World of digital distribution, Microsoft is still fumbling around trying to figure out how to use the internet. If this was a game of Civilization, then Gabe Newell is working on stage three of his spaceship to Alpha Centauri, and Bill Gates has just showed up to attack him with a catapult and a spearman.’

      I fell about at that.

    • jalf says:

      You know, if a gamer can’t figure out how to use GFWL, then GFWL does have a problem. And the problem is not “stupid users”.

  8. mister k says:

    I do feel like sometimes people learn the wrong lessons. VVVV is good and its hard, therefore all games should be hard. Assassins Creed 2 is good and its easy, therefore all games should be easy….

    • Bowlby says:

      I realise that surely almost all games have an element of pattern memorisation, but I’m pretty much done with this kind of purest trial-and-error gameplay. Essentially, for me, life’s tiring enough as it is without having to engage in this compulsory masochistic ego-stroking exercise. It’s good these sort of games exist, and I am partial to one every now and then, but most of the time I just want to relax and enjoy myself, without feeling inclined to smash something and shout at the screen.

    • pupsikaso says:

      You’ve missed the point of WHY the hard is good. It’s because it makes you practice, and by practicing you overcome a challenge, an obstacle. And THAT feeling is what makes it good. It’s what makes ANYTHING in life good. It’s why you feel great when you ace an exam, or when you win in sports. If you aren’t being challenged in anything you do, then as the article says you might just as well watch a movie or read a book to get a different, but related, emotional experience.

    • Arathain says:

      The lesson is so simple. Linear vs. open world, hard vs. easy, player driven vs. narrative driven, it’s all the same.

      Do what you do well. Everything else is personal preference.

  9. arik says:

    aryan crustaefarian?
    whats that?

  10. leeder_krenon says:

    the Make-Up weren’t a patch on Nation of Ulysses.

  11. Bowlby says:

    Ignore. Dupe post.

  12. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    “but how voice is use. Candid and entertaining.”

    use(d)?

    Do I get an achievement?

    • Auspex says:

      For spotting a Kieron Gillen typo?

      Hahahahahaha.

      …..

      No.

    • Arathain says:

      Yeah, I think that’s trivialising the achievements thing a bit far.

      We love you KG.

  13. Tei says:

    Another idea to make MMORPG reviews:

    Interview the “residents”. Visiting a MMORPG is like visiting a real place, you could do the obvious and try the local food, describe how good is the hotel, or you can ask the residents why his place is the best place ever.
    Most people is very smart in a surprising way, and will be able to read the in-between-lines message.
    This idea is a idea with more problems than a sphere has “sides”, but is a idea and is mine. If you disagree, don’t try to talk, lets fight on the mud!.

    • Auspex says:

      Are you suggesting that MMORPG reviews should be less reviews and more travelogues?

      If so I think agree.

      Though I will consider it so more to make sure I haven’t frivolously thrown away the opportunity for some mud fighting.

    • jeremypeel says:

      As Kieron has talked about at length before, the New Games Journalism is influenced in part by travel writing. And as one of many options in writing games reviews – which is, incidentally, what it was always suggested to be, rather than a replacement to ‘traditional’ games journalism – I reckon New Games Journalism is a pretty suitable style for MMO reviews.

      I also really like Tei’s suggestion of interviewing ‘residents’ – perhaps not as part of the review proper, but as seperate elements to complement it. Perhaps even in BOXES on the SAME PAGE, like wot they used to have in them physical magazine-things they used to have in the olden days. HTML doesn’t seem to allow for much inventive editing, sadly…

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      >> This idea is a idea with more problems than a sphere has “sides”, but is a idea and is mine.

      Not sure if it has that many problems. After all, reviews have been constantly shrinking in relevance with the years. Not so much because we lack good journalists, but because the constraints of the current gaming news business gave back a lot of power to game publishers. We can’t really expect a free press if a review with a 7/10 or more is a sureshot way to keep receiving code from those publishers… and free invites to shows, exclusive press releases, and what have you. Whereas a 6/10 or lower… well, good luck.

      Or maybe that’s what you mean by “problems”. Because it’s probably not a very good idea to any game publisher if they allow their gamers to speak up, from within the context of the game. Outside they’ll fiercely defend the game they play like it was their mother, but inside the actual game they spend most of the time complaining about what piece of crap it is.

    • jeremypeel says:

      @ Mario:

      “Not sure if it has that many problems. After all, reviews have been constantly shrinking in relevance with the years.”

      So you’re suggesting there’s no real problem in attempting to find the best format to review games because games reviews are as good as dead anyway? I know you’ve already written more than most in defence of Quinns’ recent MMO review situation, so please don’t take this as a personal attack, but I have to take issue with your sentiment here.

      You’re right that the privileges-for-good-reviews thing is a genuine, deep-set problem – even as a music section editor for a student paper I’ve had my fair share of free festival offers in exchange for publicity – but I think there are more publications with integrity about than you suspect. Sure, if you’re reading Gamespot, spy, IGN or Official Xbox Magazine reviews then don’t expect a balanced score, but I can’t recall reading anything in PC Zone, PC Gamer, Edge or the rest of the quality gaming press tainted with the sickly-sweet stench of scores-for-prizes. It’s the way in pretty much every sphere of journalism.

      Also, I don’t believe publishers have any control over what the players say about their games – after all, isn’t that what spend all our time doing here? Frequenting internet forums, often all I’m able to find is negative comments about games. I doubt if the folks over at RPG Codex could agree on a single game they all enjoy.

      Please correct me if my assumptions are wrong, but I can’t imagine there are many people here at RPS who have lost all faith in the game review as a format.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Well, jeremy, it’s really not easy for me to say anything else when you come to realize that the debate around reviews relevance is today and open debate. When you hear things like “the independence of gaming news publishers is today a problem being hushed down the corridors of this industry”, or “gaming reviews should be seen just as a form of entertainment”, you know there is a problem. You just can’t avoid it.

      Now, I do agree this doesn’t necessarily permeate the whole industry. But I’m forced to generalize if I want to avoid starting putting names on this comment box (which really, I have no actual problem doing, except out of courtesy). In any case, I don’t tend to ignore problems by recognizing the good work in detriment of the bad work. My way to approach a problem is to expose the bad work and comment on that. I expect people to know the differences between “most” and “all”; “probably” and “for certain”; “usually” and “all the time”, “I think” and “I’m sure”. If they don’t, quiet frankly, I don’t want them reading or hearing to anything I have to say.

      So the actual good work is usually irrelevant to me, when I want to comment on the bad one. Anyone who knows how to make that separation and agrees to the notion that, just because I don’t mention it, doesn’t mean there aren’t any good work around (and sometimes even from those I criticize), gets my Knows How to Read Medal. When I want to speak of the good things being done, it doesn’t occur to me to mention the bad ones. Neither anyone listening to me expects I do that.

      As for publishers control of what players have to say. Sure they don’t have any control. I don’t want to imply they do. It would be a little weird. But if I did, let me clarify:

      Assume you are at the head of a gaming news magazine and want to start a new type of piece in your magazine. Because it involves interviewing MMO players inside their playing environment, you need to ask permission to the publisher. It would be a breach of the EULA otherwise. Now, let me know if you think many publishers wouldn’t just flat out refuse or put you on hold for a long time until they consider the ins and outs of what you are asking them.

      Now that’s one. For another…

      As you probably are very well aware of, a gaming community behaves very differently within and outside the game. I happen to agree that the best way to gauge an MMO success and, by extension its quality, is done with the help of that community. But do you agree that their answers and their behavior will be very different whether you do it live from within the game or outside by gauging user comments and response to a game? I mean, I’ve never seen so much criticism about WoW weaknesses from outside the game in gaming reviews and public forums, as I’ve seen from within the game. If you allow me the extravagant exaggeration, it’s almost a case of WoW players hate the damn game with a passion. Well, they don’t, of course. But their criticism there is the most pure of all. It goes into the very core of the game design and it’s not fueled by loyalties or fanboyism. Because there they don’t feel they have anything to prove to the opposition.

      As for Quinns’ review, let me make a clarification. It’s not so much a defense of his review (although I do confess I respect his and many others work greatly. I still believe in gaming journalists and that hasn’t changed one iota since the days of Crash back in the 80s). But instead it is an open attack on gaming news publishers. On what I perceive to be a growing lack or disrespect of deontological rules, an ever growing disassociation from their reader base fueled by a corporate-like PR attitude and an increasing choking of journalists independence that sometimes borders the unethical.

    • Arathain says:

      *throws mud at Tei*

      I would love to see articles like you describe. Long-time players of an MMO are going to have a totally different take on why they play their game of choice than a reviewer. You’re going to a virtual place, so why not ask the people? I could give lots of well thought out reasons why City of Heroes is my MMO of choice.

      It is, however, an article you can apply to a game that’s been running for a while, and is not useful at all as the sole basis of a review, even for an expansion to a long-running game. From my time on gaming forums the players are notoriously bad at predicting the effect any given set of changes will have on the game overall. They’re often a conservative bunch, with a very specific set of desires and preferences. I’ve seen changes that were good long-term widely decried on the forums short-term.

    • jeremypeel says:

      @ Mario,

      I agree that taking a holistic approach to talking about problems isn’t necessarily the best way to go; like you say, when making an argument about the negative of a subject, attempting to collate all the positive things about it can be an irrelevent and confusing waste of time. I also can’t really express enough how happy it makes me that there are people like yourself letting the general public know about the lack of independant gaming news and the knock-on effect that has on game criticism as a whole. I simply don’t share the same conclusion that, as a result, our debates about the form games reviews should take don’t have “that many sides” – as long as corruption-free games journalism exists in some shape, I think these discussions will be worth having. Particularly if Tei is in them.

      As for the issue of extracting permission for interviews with MMO-players from wary publishers, I did misundertand what you were implying there! When you put it like that, it does seem to be a potential problem. I am curious though, surely there isn’t anything actually preventing MMO players from talking to the press about their gaming experience outside the context of the game? I suspect you’re more up to speed on EULA regulations than I am.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      >> I simply don’t share the same conclusion that, as a result, our debates about the form games reviews should take don’t have “that many sides”

      Well, I do have to agree with you. I did eventually diminish that aspect. I concentrated on the word “problems” on that Tei’s quote, and didn’t try to put in a disclaimer to what I essentially agree is the many sides to an agreement of what a correct review should be.

    • Wulf says:

      @jeremypeel

      Aaaactually… CSS and every browser capable of properly rendering CSS (everything but IE6) can do exactly what you suggest, we could have boxes in the middle of text. In fact, I could quickly knock together a demo with aligned boxes with text that wraps and flows around it, with text and pictures in those boxes if you like. It’s easy.

      Problem? The Internet has no bleeding nads, none at all. Everyone’s afraid of offending the particularly half-witted IE6 users who don’t know better, who haven’t upgraded their software, and probably get ActiveX based viruses every other day thanks to their technophobia and luddite ways. :p So a huge chunk of the Internet is stuck back with IE6, and only a few sites are brave enough to go past that.

      But really, CSS can do some truly astounding things. The possibilities are there, and they are boundless. It’s just that mainstream site designers are boring and spineless. I always prefer a site that uses the latest trickery and presents IE6 users with a big, friendly “UPGRADE YOUR DAMN BROWSER ALL READY, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!” image instead of trying to be IE6 compatible.

      Take a look here if you’d like to see some great CSS in action: http://www.csszengarden.com/

    • Wulf says:

      Addendum: One of the better instances of IE6 users being told to bugger off and upgrade is this…

      http://www.werewolfhaven.net/ie6.html

  14. Wulf says:

    Just two things, this week. VVVVVV I feel is one of the most important games of the decade, and it can’t receive enough praise, and even better was that Kieron nailed why in his Wot I Think. Even better is that this article carries on with this motif and explains just why it’s so damned special. It’s that whole fairness thing. VVVVVV can be easy in places and ridiculously hard in others, but it’s never unfair, and due to that I realised that any deaths that occurred were my own fault, and not some fault with the game’s controls or levels (like could be said about so many games which have unfair challenges).

    Edge Games, for example, was one of the hardest rooms for me. It took me forever to get that gem, and I was even aware of a way that I could’ve cheated to get it, but I wasn’t going to do that, I just persevered, because when I finally got the damn thing I wanted to be able to say that I did it, and I want to call what came before a learning process, but one that didn’t punish me for learning. And that’s the trick with VVVVVV, it’s so ridiculously hard in places that when you do achieve something, it makes you feel incredible. And yet there are no artificial barriers in place, there are no lives where if you die you go back to the start of a level, and there are no continues which would have you restarting the game, there are checkpoints in every room, so you can throw yourself at a challenge until you get it.

    And this is what I want from more games, I want this feeling of challenge, sometimes seemingly impossible challenge, but also total fairness. In fact, the other day I even found this in Champions Online. I’m not sure whether it’s my build (I don’t think it is), or whether they’ve been smart and adjusted mob energy levels to be similar to what they were in open beta (this seems to it), but I threw my level 31 character at a lair of stuff filled with level 39 to level 41. I only died once, on the boss of the lair, because I did something incredibly stupid which was entirely my own fault. And that felt amazing.

    Why can’t more games have ridiculous challenges that are never unfair? I suppose it’s because that magical balance is actually hard to achieve, but I implore indie developers who might be reading to look at VVVVVV as an example. You can make your game hard, you can make it horrendously hard, though you might want to make it easy in some places to give your players a break and something easier to do in places if they want to take a vacation from challenge, but you can make some parts seem impossibly hard, as long as you’re completely sure that those parts are fair. And when you do that, your audience will first absolutely despise you and then afterwards love you for it. That is the hallmark of a great game, where you both hate and love the developer at the same time.

    Moving on, I all ready knew about that interview, of course, as I know about everything Guild Wars 2. If you just want a good news source with the highlights of all these interviews and the news ArenaNet are releasing, I would urge you to subscribe to Sabre Wulf’s channel. Sabre Wulf releases a new episode every time there’s news enough to warrant it, and those shows cover every single tidbit of knowledge released. If you subscribe to that then you can be as generally appraised as I am.

    Guild Wars 2 though… so much excitement. How can I not be? It’s everything I’ve ever wanted from an MMO. It’s got a living world, it’s not based on traditional, staid fantasy, but something more vibrant and fantastic, it’s got some bloody amazing non-human races (especially the Charr, the Charr are completely amazing), and… well, I’ve said all this before. But every bit of news makes me more excited. The only single thing that disappointed me was the loss of the companion system, as that sounds like it might have been fun. But going with their dynamic events and the scaling thereof, I can see why they went the route they did. As usual, ArenaNet knows best, and I trust ‘em. They’d just better bloody include the white tiger fur patterning for the Charr. >.>

    • Heliocentric says:

      I would read your comment rss if such a thing existed.

      Really? I found vvv… A little trite and indulgent, but i’ll admit i didn’t give it long.

      I think my “everything in multiplayer” and “choices not twitches” have infected my enjoyment of games too much, but i accept they are mutually exclusive diseases.

    • Auspex says:

      I loved the levels in VVVVVV but hated all the aimless roaming around required to find the next level.

      I got so hopelessly lost and frustrated after the first few levels that I stopped playing and I’ve never gone back to it.

      You may just have convinced me to give it another go Wulf.

    • brog says:

      Auspex: you do know you can bring up a map, right? enter or tab or some such key. so it’s not so much aimless roaming as a directed search of the map space.

      the exploration was my favourite part of v^6. i too prefer games to be about making decisions rather than perfectionist performance.

    • Wulf says:

      @Heliocentric

      The first few levels are purposefully easy. They even give you a trinket or two just to let you feel as though you’re accomplishing something, but this isn’t representative of the rest of the game. It’s basically there to ease you into it, and the trinket is like a bloody drug, you know, the first one’s always free. :p But with the other trinkets you really have to work for them, like in the cases of Edge Games and Veni, Vidi, Vici, which our own KG wanted to punch Terry for. And that’s exactly the feeling a good game like that should engender, you hate the the developer for the bloody impossible challenge, and yet you love them for it at the same time.

      But yes, none of these challenges are within the first area of the game, because that area exists to help you get to grips with the flipping mechanics. In fact, there is one gem in the second level that’s notoriously hard to get (got that one on my second try, though), but you may not know about that gem/trinket/whatever until later on in the game, once you’ve learned to study the map and see the hidden things you’ve missed. That’s another key point with VVVVVV: observation. You really have to pay attention to the map and see how it uncovers. Every area of the map is reachable, and if you have a section that you haven’t been in, then you just don’t know how to get there yet.

      Finally, there are plenty of choices in the full version of VVVVVV because it’s connected by an open world map which is just a little bit Knytt Stories-like, and again, you use the map to traverse this. The choices are in which order you choose to go after the levels and trinkets, since you can start with even one of the most difficult levels yourself. In fact, I believe you can even go straight to Veni, Vidi, Vici right after the first level, when the world map opens up. If you see a trinket you don’t know how to get, you don’t have to get it then, and I didn’t. Some trinkets I left to myself as later challenges, because I could see where they were on the map, anyway.

      Coming to that, that’s another neat feature of VVVVVV: if you complete the game without having found all the trinkets, that is, if you beat all the levels and the final level, the Scientist of the crew uses the knowledge they’ve amassed to scan for the energy signatures of the things, and then you can go back and take a bash at any trinkets you purposefully missed, in whatever order you like. Furthermore, to make hopping around easier, you can teleport to any transporter on the map, and once you’ve beat the game you can get beamed back to the ship at any time, too. All of this is to cut down on mindless wandering and to let you pick and choose how you go about things.

      So it’s all there, but I don’t think the demo (or the first level, before the world map opens up) was really representative, and I don’t think that did Terry any favours.

      @Auspex

      That’s actually understandable, I felt like that for a little while at one point until I mastered the use of the map. The game has a truly great map, and understanding it will provide you with all that you need. One thing to keep in mind is that the world wraps, so if you go out the right end, then you can come in the left end. If you keep that in mind with exploring, and realise that some things at the left end can be accessed by going in the right end, you’ll have no trouble accessing anything.

    • Auspex says:

      @Brog/Wulf Yeah I knew there was a map but it just looked like a big rammy of pixels to me…
      Planning on offering VVVVVV my full concentration tonight.

    • Auspex says:

      Just completed VVVVVV.
      Thanks a lot for the reminder and the map-based advice guys.

      2:03 hr
      9/20 trinkets
      993 deaths
      (half of those deaths were on the level guiding that bloody blue guy across the platforms and “the final challenge” level)

    • Wulf says:

      I really recommend going after the other trinkets, though.

      You don’t see the secret ending until then, and the secret ending is both amazing and hilarious.

    • Auspex says:

      20/20!
      Amusing but not sure if it was worth the rather annoying and painful cramp I now have in my right ring finger…

  15. Chris K. says:

    FYI: On the Media (onthemedia.org) had a fairly lengthy piece on accessibility in videogames, particularly commenting on Dragon Age’s high accessibility. Surprised y’all didn’t mention it, but probably off y’all’s radar. Audio available for a d/l (Podcast feed for convenience) and transcript tomorrow.

    • Arathain says:

      I heard this by chance in the car. It’s really worth a listen.

  16. Ozzie says:

    I thought Spelunky was also always fair…well, at least as far as I made it. I never had the feeling that the game was at fault for my failure.

  17. Frosty says:

    On the Mass Effect piece I agree for lots of reasons. I don’t really like Garrus (for lots of reasons, many of which are more personal) but I did feel that he did what you said no matter what. More so then any other character. I get that you were meant to be his mentor but he felt so unreal in how easily he was affected by your decisions.

    ME1 was not as guilty of this I feel; partly through the altered chat system that the article mentions and partly because you can find yourself losing Wrex if you fail to make your conversation decisions wisely.

    I am guilty of being one of the people who was complaining about some of the punishments Bioware hands out though. Mostly because I lost Mordin, which I could accept if I felt I had made a mistake. I still don’t think I did. If they’d killed Mordin for a better reason then I would have accepted it.

  18. bill says:

    Played the demo of VVV… got to a point that involved too much annoying repetition and gave up.
    Maybe I’m flawed, but I didn’t enjoy anything in the game enough to make me want to keep repeating the same section over and over.
    Possibly, if i have time or if I’m involved in the game world then I’ll force myself to keep playing the same section again and again (ninja gaiden Alma battle, later missions in driv3r, etc..). But not often.

    Case in point. Got Gish in the indie bundle… spent 30 minutes trying to get through the 3rd level, but you have limited lives, the controls are frustrating at times, and if you lose all your lives you have to go back to the first stage. Did this twice, then had to turn off the PC and go to work.
    That’s 30 minutes of my life I feel like I totally wasted. I could have done something else and I’d have gained something from it.
    I don’t like ending my play session with a feeling that i’m wasting my time. Now I have 30 minutes to spare, but I’m not sure I want to try Gish again, because it’s going to feel like WORK, and I’ll be thinking the whole time “if i don’t clear this level i’m going to have wasted this time”.

    totally disagree with everything in the difficulty article.

    • pupsikaso says:

      Care to elaborate why you totally disagree with everything in the difficulty article?

    • Heliocentric says:

      Woah, we must have synced our brains or something. I got stuck on the first (might be only) level where you are chased by the invincible floating enemy who can ignore all collisions, by merit of being a gasious boss encounter.

      The the bastard level made give up when up until then only option pickups had made me pause for thought.

      I even adopted using a pad after once giving up on the gish demo years ago, but the bullhockey boss encounter which enforced a speed run ruined it for me.

    • Wulf says:

      It’s completely unfair and illogical to lump VVVVVV in with the likes of Gish or Ninja Gaiden, though.

      First of all, the other games mentioned all had unfair barriers to progression in the form of lives and continues, this is something that VVVVVV does not have. It’s a completely fair game because it gives you a checkpoint at the start of every challenge, and if you fail a number of times you’ll never have to go back to the start of a level or start the game over.

      The only barrier to continued play in VVVVVV is player ineptitude, but it’s not an impossible or even a particularly hard game. I have poor sight, and because of that I have terrible eye-hand coordination, and thus sluggish reflexes. Regardless, I made it through the game and acquired all the trinkets without really feeling any sense of frustration from it. If you don’t have the patience to get good at the game, well…

      I suppose the game could use an anti-difficulty option? I mean, if you’re frustrated with a puzzle, you just press a button and it skips the puzzle for you, but with the kind of game that VVVVVV is, what’s the point in that? i suppose I could sort of understand wanting that, and I suppose that if VVVVVV had any truly (instead of seemingly) impossible challenges then I would see the need, but… well, I don’t know, really.

      I guess some games just aren’t suited to some people, but again, this is a reflection upon the lack of patience and skill on part of the player rather than the game, because if a game is completely fair (as VVVVVV is) then the only flaws can exist within the player.

    • Lambchops says:

      Yeah I’m with Wulf on this one. i too gave up on Gish out of frustration (another thing that is making me wary of buying Super Metboy). I loved the concept and was having great fun for a while but thanks to the lives continue system I just found my progress impeded.

      Whereas with VVVVV I was able to work through my ineptitude. I was frustrated (I have trouble believeing that anybody wouldn’t be at least a little bit frustrated at some point!) but i was never disheartened. That’s a tough sweet spot to reach but VVVVV managed it and for that I can only applaud it; though i certainly understand that for other people their desired levels of difficulty and frustration may lie somewhere else. However I think VVVVV’s generous checkpointing and optional extras just places it that little bit further ahead of the likes of Gish.

    • Wulf says:

      I think that’s exactly right, really. Though I have to be honest, I was never really all that frustrated by VVVVVV, even when it comes to Veni, Vidi, Vici. I have a foul temper on times, but only when I think something was unfair. Whereas with Veni, Vidi, Vici I was pretty much inventing random swearwords (much to the amusement of the person I was talking to on Skype at the time) and laughing about it.

      I can radiate hate towards a game if I think it’s being unfair, and I got that with Gish and Prinny, but only because they want to punish me for not being immediately amazing at their game, and why should anyone be immediately amazing, why should someone be punished for not being so? That’s why VVVVVV is the template for similar games to follow, really. You want to teach someone how to play your game, not have them think of it as a shitty, needlessly frustrating game. After all, that’s the kind of word of mouth that won’t help your game sell.

      And really I’m not sure if Super Meatboy will be as successful as VVVVVV either, and my fear is the same as yours, that they’re going to punish the player for not immediately being good at the game, and that’s just not the sort of game I want to play. I mean, VVVVVV can be considered hardcore, but it’s never unfair. And that’s the thing, Gish is hardcore like VVVVVV but it’s also completely unfair, because should you do something stupid and fail at something, you might be presented with a huge setback, and that’s not what I want from that sort of game any more. I’m not the stupid kid I was, so I’m not going to sit there and play levels 1 through 8 (or whatnot) 59 times until I get the game in muscle-memory enough to reach level 9.

      If games like Super Meatboy are targeted at an older audience, then they should really do away with lives and continues, and base the game around a balance of difficulty and fairness.

    • bill says:

      Been thinking a little more about it. It’s not exactly that I disagree with the article. It’s that it doesn’t apply to me. People seem to think in different ways and enjoy different things.

      I probably lumped VVVVV in with Gish cos I was feeling frustrated with it at the time. I tried it for another hour, still couldn’t get past that level-set with the number of lives given and the randomness, uninstalled.

      However I still put a lot more effort and time into trying to play Gish than I did into VVVV. I put a lot more effort into Ninja Gaiden (which isn’t unfair imho) and Driv3r (which definitely is). So while unfairness is a factor in the frustration, I don’t think it’s the main element.

      VVVVVV is essentially a game boiled down to one element: Challenge.
      Most games tend to include other elements: story, atmosphere, characters, character-building, items, exploration, beauty, art, etc… The small part of VVVV i played was just challenge. Almost like going back to the game design of something like Space Invaders.

      Clearly that doesn’t appeal to me. Or it isn’t why I play games.
      That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a challenge in some games, or get a good feeling from overcoming one (Ninja Gaiden boss again). It’s also not so say that I can’t take failure, or give up too easily. I played one of the last Driv3r levels over 150 times to nail it. I replayed lots of 30 minute X-Wing missions after getting rammed by a ship 2 minutes from the end. It took me a week of evenings to crack Alma.

      But all of those games had other elements that kept me interested and trying. I was more involved in their worlds, or their stories, or the atmosphere, or I enjoyed the basic mechanics (driving, flying, whatever. ). Even Gish, which has frustratingly random controls, I liked the basic idea and WHEN it worked I enjoyed the mechanics. I wanted to see more and what came next.

      VVVVV didn’t have that effect on me. Maybe because it was a free flash demo, but probably not. From what I’ve heard it has great checkpointing to reduce frustration, but that didn’t really matter because I had no motivation to keep playing. I wasn’t involved. Challenge alone wasn’t enough. So I gave up at the first small hurdle, which was undoubtedly a lot easier and fairer than other games I’ve kept trying at.

      Then again, there are clearly some people for whom challenge alone is enough. The people who want to perfect a game. They people who do the crazy speed runs on Youtube. That has no appeal for me at all.

      Not for VVVVV particularly, as I agree it would defeat the point, but I do think a “skip this section” option that comes up after you fail the same section 10 times would be a good idea for most games. It doesn’t take much common sense on the part of designers to realise “hey! This guy is replaying level 18 for the 143rd time… maybe he’s getting a little annoyed?”
      IMHO, I’d do it like Dark Forces. Where you could drop a level down to a lower difficulty if you got stuck, but then go back to the higher difficulty for the next level… so I could get past the sticking point. But then it left a big ugly “easy” sign in the levels list, so when I finished the game I went back and re-did those levels on a higher difficulty, this time with no problems because I’d had more practice.

      This kind of thing overcomes annoying difficulty spikes (that are often different for different players) and allows people to continue improving their skills and then come back when their better prepared..
      If Gish had done that then I might still be playing it, and I could be experiencing some of the (probably) cool levels and puzzles that the developers spent ages making.

  19. Wednesday says:

    I think Lambchops has the truth of it. Mass Effect 2 is a game that flirts so closely with greatness that the fact its merely an excellent game overall is that little bit infuriating.

  20. Ricc says:

    On the topic of difficulty and the Post-Hype article, just spotted this on the Frictional Games (Penumbra / Amnesia) blog:

    Experience and Live – Not Compete and Beat
    http://frictionalgames.blogspot.com/2010/05/experience-and-live-not-compete-and.html

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Wow. Excellent pic, Ricc!

      I wished this was more discussed. I think what the author insists on is on more… hmm… contemplative(?) gaming experience. An ability to stray from normal challenged-based actions and simply explore the world, deciding for ourselves when and how we progress through the game. No plot-binding, without that necessary meaning we can’t have a plot to go back to. But essentially a never-ending game that can be played outside the plot where events and characters around us evolve based on our actions. A truly interactive fiction — in gorgeous 3D, if you please.

      I think I spotted such a game when recently Evochron Legends was discussed here on RPS. The official description of the game, surely seems to indicate that much. It, of course, as limited reach being that this is mostly a game about trading and space travel. But in any case, while I did install it and have gone through a few tutorials, I’m still yet to actually start playing the game as others things got in the way. In any case, Evochron stroke me as offering total freedom from plot-centric devices, a never ending experience and simply the possibility of ignoring the necessity to trade and just go out manning my ship from planet to planet.

  21. sfury says:

    “Six years after Steam claimed the entire New World of digital distribution, Microsoft is still fumbling around trying to figure out how to use the internet. If this was a game of Civilization, then Gabe Newell is working on stage three of his spaceship to Alpha Centauri, and Bill Gates has just showed up to attack him with a catapult and a spearman.”

    Hahaahhahah… this is brilliant! :D

  22. Paul B says:

    The Guild Wars 2 piece, also made me very excited about its release. If they (the designers) can move the MMORPG world on from the kill x creatures model we currently have, and make the game world more fluid and dynamic, then I’ll sign up for it.

    It’s true what the article says, most quests in MMORPG’s are walls of text you never read, just clicking through for the objectives, the game world never changing (with everyone fighting over the boss loot drops). It’s nice to see a MMO company trying something new. I’m not sure even the Cataclysm reboot for WoW, will go this far.

  23. Gassalasca says:

    I finished VVVVVV twice, and it’s likely to be my game of the year, but I haven’t tried going for all the trinkets. I generally have an aversion to collecting such items in games. I’m considering going back, this time going the whole nine yards, secret ending or bust!

  24. Jahkaivah says:

    The trick with MMO reviews is not to limit yourself to a couple of weeks to play it before giving a verdict, when WoW released it was showered with praise for doing things that were completely thrown out the window when the endgame was reached.

  25. DaveyJones says:

    “…wondering whether it’s some attempt to dial the PC back to the days of having to fiddle with your .bat file to make a game work”

    So I take it the RPS crew haven’t been fiddling with the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. alpha build lately… ;)

  26. Magic H8 Ball says:

    Mario Figueiredo said:
    Not sure if it has that many problems. After all, reviews have been constantly shrinking in relevance with the years. Not so much because we lack good journalists

    Ha!

    Gaming journalists may be good journalists, but they usually don’t know Final Fantasy from Final Fight. They are good writers and reporters, but when it comes down to actually reviewing the game, describing it, they’re at a complete loss. And in a way, it’s their literary education that gets in the way; instead of keeping to the dry facts and analyzing the game, they get lost in flowery descriptions of their own experience. And that is worthless to me as a reader, unless I have exact same tastes as the reviewer himself; I don’t care that the game was scary for you, but describing the way in which the game achieves the scary is relevant as I can relate it to my own preferences. Games are still being treated like movies – a lot of rambling about immersion, atmosphere, art and whatnot and hardly any mention of what makes the game – mechanics, the boring numbers, underlying system, gameplay elements, algorithms. But writing about all this takes either education in game design or analytical mind – the former is still in infacy, the latter is almost unheard of among people who write for a living. That’s why we end up with game reviews being mostly “It was fun!” with the author not even being able to pinpoint why it was fun and what would make it better.

    • Lambchops says:

      Yeah, but if you condense a review down to just mechanics and so on then you’re writing for a different audience. Ie the people with “an education in game design and an analytical mind.” Indeed I’m sure some of that writing must be out there somewhere and very well researched and insightful it probably is. it just wouldn’t work on a mainstream review website though and would just lead to “What the fuck is this shit review, DULL” type comments from their wondefully lovely leadership. For once they’d have a point. More fact reporting based writing can inherently just be a bit of a chore to read; as anyone who has read through lots of scientific papers can attest!

      There’s a place for writing about more technical aspects and a place for writing about experience. Combining the two is far more tricky and is another niche audience in itself (probably a niche that would strongly be represented by readers of this blog!).

  27. Hyoscine says:

    That song is amazing! The perfect antidote to listening to We Can’t Be Contained too many times.

  28. Ben says:

    The article on female character design is great, and it’s definitely true that artists both in games and in other media (okay, my dorky ass means comics and comic strips) just draw a stock female character and change superficial details to distinguish them.

    One of the most awesome bosses in Muramasa: The Demon Blade is Raijin, the game’s take on the Japanese thunder deity that you’ve probably seen in a few other games, like Pocky and Rocky. She’s rendered as female, and as soon as I saw her I thought “wow, the artists didn’t just draw the stock female body from whatever “intro to the human figure” book is their fave and then slap on a differentiating hairstyle. She’s huge, very muscular, she’s got back, and has tree-trunk-like thighs that put Chun-Li to shame. By contrast the traditionally accompanying wind god Fujin is a short, slender wisp of a god. Very interesting, and it implies they have a latent romantic relationship.

    Add all this to the fact that Raijin still seems to be intended to be attractive, what with her “boss fall down go boom so you can smack on them for a while without fear of reprisal” routine looking like nothing so much as an honest-to-god spanking (not exactly working against the female video game characters as sex object thing, admittedly) , it presents a mix a bit more complicated than the typical hot chick whose only “personality” to speak of, if any, is that she can do anything a man can do, dammit, hence the practical ponytail. Cleavage is also practical.

    Also Muramasa is awesome. Not a PC title, of course, but it seemed relevant!

  29. Allen Yu says:

    That feminist tripe would have been much better if left as a Deviant Art post.

  30. Allen Yu says:

    Way to go, censorship! Way to keep control! Keep those rightwing opinions out!

    Way to go with the captchas, by the way; that makes it really convenient to attempt a comment three times