The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on May 29th, 2011 at 11:02 am.


Sundays are for psychic attacks on your enemies. Because indulging in telepathic warfare is time consuming, you might want something to read. Hey, here’s something now:

  • Totilo’s article on Jon Jacobs is one of those stories about gamers that is weird precisely because it is so human. The focus of the piece is on Jacobs’ attempt to immortalise his dead fiance in an online game, an Entropia spin-off called Next Island, which encapsulates her interest in the technological singularity that Jacobs, as a Kurzweil follower, hopes will be on us by 2045: “Jacobs considers what he did for Tina to be a partial gesture toward the opportunities of 2045. “Obviously, I can’t bring people back to life, but what I can do is draw attention to the way things are going and pay tribute in a way that was never possible before and, you know, extend an artists’ legacy through virtual reality.” The artist’s legacy aspect is important to Jacobs and, he believes, would have been to Tina. She was a singer, lending vocals to a European club hit called “To The Club.” And she had other songs, which can now play in Jacobs’ virtual world. He says that his son, now 11, wants his father to make quests for the virtual Tina to dole out to players.”
  • This is excruciating. Firstly there was this unfortunate editorial on the relationship between Warhammer 40k’s Space Marine and Gears Of War. And then there was this awkward apology for and partial defence of that bit of writing. Overall they add up to a grand lesson in the predictability of the Angry Internet Men, and also why no one should ever write anything on the internet.
  • Troy Goodfellow talks about “turning points” in strategy games: “I often return to the idea of strategy game as story telling, as one of a handful of genres where the outcome is not known and where, even if you are very good a game, you can spin a yarn about the struggles that got you to the top. The more I think on it, the more I think that it often comes down to turning points. All us amateur historians love the idea of turning of points in history. These are those moments on which the destinies of nations and men and women turn, where if the outcome had gone another way the entire course of history would have been different.”
  • PC Gamer’s Tom Francis has a go at defining what makes games good: “A few times lately, non-gaming friends and relatives have asked me: what’s the appeal of games? Good question! The people who don’t ask it seem to assume it’s something terrible, like bloodlust, or it’s some unknowable new drug they will never understand. It’s also a useful one for anyone involved with games to ask. It’s one game critics like me should be able to answer reflexively. It’s one developers should answer before they start making something. And it’s one gamers should probably think about before writing a one-star Amazon review saying ‘lol ass’.” It is bloodlust. But also, I think Francis is on to something with “feel”, I suspect it just need a bit more elucidation to make it clear what he means.
  • GameSpy’s David Wolinsky revisits Ultima Online: “But I know it also just isn’t possible to get a feel for everything UO has to offer in a month. I logged the hours, but I didn’t get any closer to even feeling like I had graduated from “newb” status. It would take me a year, if not longer. I got slightly more adventurous with my mage, venturing far out of town but unable to face down enemies alone; I’d flee for my life, stopping only to tame animals. I had a posse of two dogs, a cat, two rabbits, and a rat — and woe to any enemy who crossed our path. Actually, pity me: The animals would stay and defend me while I would run back to town huffing, puffing, and shrieking “guards.””
  • Cliff, did you write this post on How To Work Out Why A PC Game Keeps Crashing because you you knew it would do well on Google? Eh?
  • Ben Abraham points me towards this piece on Fate Of The World: “Even given some highly unlikely premises (“Hey, guess what, we’ve got unlimited fossil fuels after all!” or “As of today, the entire global population is united behind environmental causes!”) it’s still damn near impossible to get the whole mess under control. And while there’s a certain grim educational aspect to the choices you get to make and their unintended consequences, (Want to transition China’s transportation grid off of fossil fuels and over to electric? The manufacturing requirements will dramatically increase emissions over the short and medium term to do it!) the real fascinating lesson is what it showed me about myself.”
  • VG247 talk to American McGee about the new Alice game: “Have you seen the trailer for that Red Riding Hood film? I don’t know that I would consider that… There’s an episode of South Park that made me laugh because there was a whole Twilight thing taking over the school, and the Goth kids – the original Goth kids – were getting quite upset because they were being categorised as emo and Twilighters, so they had to go and destroy Hot Topic, the source of all evil.”
  • Eurogamer make an argument for the Top Ten Test Chambers In Portal 2.
  • Charlie Brooker says Hollywood shuns intelligent entertainment. The games industry doesn’t: “Portal 2 is essentially a demented series of puzzles – like being stuck inside a physics-based logic problem designed by the Python team; LA Noire is a trad adventure game. Adventure games used to be as close as gaming got to fiction. They started out as interactive text-based shaggy dog stories (a prime example being Douglas Adams’s fantastic Hitchhiker’s Guide Infocom adventure), transformed into point-and-click comedies (such as Monkey Island), and then largely went away for a while, as the gaming industry focused on gung-ho shooters aimed at teenage boys. The size, scope, and sheer self-assurance of LA Noire marks a major comeback for adventure games – for interactive fiction – and, potentially, a huge leap forward for wider acceptance of the medium as a whole.”
  • Our 19th-century correspondents sent us this story on how music-on-demand was available in 1892.
  • The Robot Librarians Of Chicago.

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227 Comments »

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  1. Brumisator says:

    To Cliffsky: I’m terribly sorry, for every time I read your name I think of Cliffy B and get terribly internet-angry…then I remember you are not the same person at all.

    • Premium User Badge

      BathroomCitizen says:

      Haha, I’m not joking, but I have your same mental processes!

      Cliffsky, you should change your name! :)

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  2. Teddy Leach says:

    For those interested, Project Zomboid has also seen its first alpha release for preorderers.

  3. Premium User Badge

    lurkalisk says:

    “Charlie Brooker says Hollywood shuns intelligent entertainment. The games industry doesn’t”

    Unfortunately, The majority of industries’ audience does

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      AndrewC says:

      Brooker was writing about the two biggest games of the year – LA Noire and Portal 2. Though, yes, you could argue that most of the big games of a year – specifically the GoW/CoD type of games – are powerfully dim.

      But let’s maybe argue that playing Gears Of War 3 Will involve more brainy/thinky/clever stuff than watching, say Transformers 3, just if we’re dealing with the shallow end of the pool.

    • JackShandy says:

      “There seems to be something missing from cinema: big budget dramas with panache, aimed at an adult audience. Where are they?”

      Inception was just last year, Brooker. You don’t need to ignore every relevant good movie just to buff up games. We have enough time in our lives to play games and watch movies.

    • Theory says:

      A year is 365 days, Jack. That’s a long time.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      I still think Modern Warfare 1 is underrated in that respect. It’s a lot more subtle and subversive than it gets given credit for. Shame the rest of the series has been so turgid.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      The AC-130 bit of MW1 has been hailed as a stroke of genius, an uncomfortable examination of the realities of war in the format of Desert Storm-style media coverage that the public usually sees. That was certainly my impression at the time: you drop bombs almost indiscriminately, you have no idea who you’re killing, and somebody’s making absurdly over-the-top comments in your ear. It’s brilliant and wholly unexpected.

      But it’s not entirely clear that the developers intended it that way. I’ve never heard any comments to that effect, and given that the vast majority of the audience probably didn’t “get it”…I’m not sure what to think.

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      frymaster says:

      in fact, though I can’t find the citation, RPS had quoted the developers in saying that they only did it like that because they thought it was cool :(

    • Steven Hutton says:

      I think for me the big moment was the opening sequence in which you’re executed in first person. For the rest of the game I kept flashing back to that scene when I was about to shoot someone or just after I shot someone and giving a little involuntary shudder at the thought of a life snuffed out. Managing to make the literally thousands of people I killed in that game retain even a veneer of meaning strikes me as quite an achievement.
      Not withstanding the game’s apparently genuine desire not to lionise it’s protagonists. At no point did the game tell me I needed to sympathise with the characters involved and a number of times hard fought battles and there was no heavy handed emotional back story telling me to invest in the plot. In general the story’s shallowness works in it’s favour leaving the whole experience disturbingly amoral.
      I’m also not someone who reads into authors intentions. In general you trust the art not the artist. It’s probable that Lucas didn’t really know what he was doing when he made Star Wars but that doesn’t mean Star Wars isn’t really good.

    • V. Profane says:

      Even if you accept Inception of an example of an intelligent mass market movie (It was PG-13 and lumbered with an hour exposition for the slow kids), it’s still only 1 movie; the MPAA rated 706 movies in 2010.

    • Nick says:

      “Inception was just last year, Brooker.”

      Yeah, what a fucking masterwork of drama that was…

      Oh wait, it was just another action flick pretending to be smart.

    • Kaira- says:

      “Oh wait, it was just another action flick pretending to be smart.”
      So, it was quite like Portal 2, then? With added action, of course.

    • Davie says:

      If both Inception and Portal 2 are too dumb for you guys, I’d love to know what you consider intelligent entertainment.

    • Nick says:

      Kaira..you can’t counter my statement by attributing to me something I never even mentioned, that doesn’t work.
      Portal 2 was a fun game with great comedic writing.
      Please tell me what was more intelligent in Inception than, say, The Matrix or eXistez? All I saw was big budget SFX and low grade psuedo philosophy in a borderline nonsensical plot.. and I really don’t get what blew peoples minds so much.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Wait, when did Portal 2 claim to be smart? I thought it was a comedy adventure game. It’s completely linear, it’s just meant to be a fun ride that makes you engage your brain a little bit more than the average shooter.

      As for LA Noire, self-indulgent crap. If that is the return of the adventure genre then it’s a sad, sad day.

      I don’t think there was anything more clever about Inception than eXistenz or The Matrix. But it’s impossible to deny all three of those action films are more intelligent films than Transformers or Avatar.

      It’s not that they are really amazingly clever films, it’s that they don’t entirely patronise the audience.

    • Kaira- says:

      @Nick
      I wasn’t really that much defending Inception as more of critizing Portal 2 (which you didn’t mention, as I actually just noted, my head is going all wonky today), which I have to admit, came through a bit badly, so sorry ’bout that one.

      Inception did have some nice things and details here and there, and was quite interesting as a whole, but it wasn’t very intelligent movie, unless we compare it to most of blockbuster-movies. The same with Portal 2, it had nice details here and there but to say it’s a highpoint in intelligent video games is… well, dumb, if you ask me.

    • Jahkaivah says:

      Inception was essentially an action film with a clever premise, and to that extent I would say it’s video game equivelant would probably be a decent though typical shooter with a clever story premise, maybe with some gimmicky gravity flip effects making it like Prey only better written.

      To that extent I would put Portal 1 and 2 as higher in the cleverness department as it kept it’s explodey actions for the last chapter and otherwise was more of a puzzler. And between the technology it uses, it’s style of humour, and it’s puzzles, they are games I would call clever.

      I do think Charlie Brooker is ultimately using the same fallacy that causes people to look down on video games (essentially ignoring the “90% of everything is crap” rule). But then that kind of helps to illustrate the flaw of said fallacy.

    • Nick says:

      Oh, no problem Kaira, it seems we broadly agree actually. I wouldn’t saying Portal 2 was anything but a well written, fun and funny puzzle game. It was what it was. Good.

      Inception is more intelligent than Transformers or Avatar, but that’s not really much of a feat as so are most forms of bacteria. It did at least try.

    • Angel Dust says:

      Jeez, does everyone (Brooker included) have short term memory loss or something? Off the top of my head: The Social Network, True Grit and The Town came out last year and I think they all fall under the purview of “big budget* dramas with panache, aimed at an adult audience.” I’d even throw Toy Story 3 in there, because it wasn’t 100% aimed at adults, it was as dramatically satisfying as all the above films.

      It also has to be said that in film, you can do a lot more with a lower budget, what with not having to creating realistic looking people and locations from scratch. Films like Black Swan, Winter’s Bone and The King’s Speech can be made for bugger all (although we are still talking around $15 million) and even do great business. It also bears remembering that we are currently coming up to the summer movie season which means that the picking are going to be pretty slim at the cinemas for a while; it’s always during the last quarter that adult targeted films come out.

      *Now while we aren’t talking summer blockbuster budget numbers here, they all cost around $40 million which is no small amount of change and far outside the range of your indie productions.

    • Jake says:

      I have to admit I didn’t think Inception was quite as good as all that – there was just too much exposition and not enough imagination in the dream realms. However I think it is grossly unfair to claim that it is only pretending to be smart. I have not encountered another film with as much complexity and depth as Inception (except maybe Primer – man I really don’t get that film at all). Here is a rather glorious analysis of the philosophical aspect of Inception: http://bit.ly/j04P3D

      I think Inception is quite far ahead of any computer game at the moment in terms of inspiring intelligent debate, I only played LA Noire briefly but it didn’t seem especially thought provoking, though it was very well crafted. The last game that really made me think – beyond the relatively simple moralising of games like Dragon Age – was Silent Hill 2. Though I haven’t finished The Witcher 2 yet, high hopes there.

      Personally I am quite sold on the idea that Inception is an allegory for film making, with various characters representing different aspects of movie production – and with Leo playing Nolan. It’s a neat fit.

    • JackShandy says:

      Hey, you can argue Inception isn’t intelligent, but you have to at least acknowledge it’s existence as the big-budget Smart Movie of choice.

      The issue is more that Brooker dismisses it and other examples out of hand without even thinking about it. I’m sure you could make a good case as to why Portal 2 is more intelligent than Inception, but Brooker just gives a vague “Movies are pretty shit right now, aren’t they?” and then moves onto games without even answering his own rhetorical question.

    • Muzman says:

      A lot of smart things Charlie Brooker could say or should say do seem to get pushed aside in service of his crotchety bastard persona, presumably because it’s funny and it’s his schtick. It’s a bummer at times though.

  4. LordCiego says:

    “Overall they add up to a grand lesson in the sorry state of the actual game journalism, and also why no one should ever write anything stupid on the internet.”

    There Jim, I fixed it for you.

    • Nova says:

      Yeah, sorry Jim. I’m not even a Warhammer fan (more on the contrary), but Takahashi’s piece is just bad, and the “defence” isn’t much better either.

    • Basilicus says:

      You may disagree with the opinions set forth, but those are two pretty reasonable pieces.

      Takahashi’s particularly is simply an opinion piece, based on sitting down with the game. Agree or disagree; it’s not bad games journalism. I look at Space Marine and find it appearing somewhat superfluous on the market. I’d much rather have the strategy line continued or expanded if they’re going to spend that kind of development time on a new W40k project.

      Mastrapa could be very right that Space Marine is a grab for more attention to the franchise. I don’t believe he ever says this is a bad thing. I myself would defend the move. The franchise has quality titles that deserve more attention than they get.

      The claim is simply that Space Marine doesn’t jump out and grab you, and that it feels derivative of other sources. I’d say all the best stuff in any medium is derivative of other sources, but that’s another argument. I don’t think either writer blasts the project or calls it bad or uninteresting. They just offer some opinions on the nature of the game, which is their job. If you’d prefer journalists don’t do their job, come over to America – we’ve got these things called 24-hour news networks; you’ll love them.

    • Dontdrop says:

      Seriously Jim, that piece was just dumb.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I’m not defending them, I just feel a bit of sympathy for the horror of fucking up that badly.

    • Tatourmi says:

      Well, the piece in itself wasn’t that bad (Yes, it seems that the games have a lot in common. He should just have accused the mechanics and not the background and he would have been fine. The piece wasn’t ace in my opinion but wasn’t the worst thing I have ever read on the internet either) but the defense is incredibly patronizing and aggressive, and THAT is bad beyond reason.

      I mean: “Not suprisingly a flood of amateur nerd ombudsman flocked to his story to deride the writer for his ignorance.”.

      It is a nerdrage comment attacking other nerdrage comments (Some of which were pretty sensible, I am referring to the quoted e-mail in the original piece). To me, it looks like the author is almost in contradiction with himself on this one. He could have defended the article peacefully, highlighting the interesting elements and saying that they mattered the most, which was what the original author did, but instead he went somehow crazy and insulted everyone having answered the thread. That is not remotely defensible as far as I am concerned.

    • subedii says:

      Dean Takahashi’s article was tripe. What is valid is asking whether there’s room in the market for two games of a similar style (assuming that they are). What is completely invalid is the way he pretty literally accused Relic / THQ of ripping off Gears of War and trying to make an unoriginal me-too copycat. Something which even a cursory glance of 40K’s history, OR Relic’s history would prove unfounded because of the nature of the universe.

      For crying out loud, the article’s title is very literally “How many ways can THQ’s Space Marine game rip off Gears of War?”. This is NOT a case of misrepresentation of his intent.

      No, sorry, I really can’t defend that, and I don’t really have any sympathy either. He rightly got hammered in the comments for writing such an accusation. He was just plain stupid, I cannot say it any other way. He performed no research into the matter before penning such an accusation when it was the bare minimum he could have done. I realise it’s not possible to look up everything before you write it, but that is a very grave accusation to level at any developer, and not 5 minutes of searching would paint a pretty clear picture of how it’s wrong.

      I realise I may be coming off as one myself, but when articles like the Joystick Division one dismiss the response simply on the grounds “pretty vindictiveness”, it really is just justification for something so poorly thought out. Nor is the assertion that this is simply about “geeks” giving a free pass to 40K or something equally boneheaded, or that there was “no way” for Takahashi to know the background of the setting itself (and it is the actual background, not the freaking “nerd culture”). When you level an accusation that a dev is ripping off someone, by all rights you should truly understand the issue you’re talking about.

      What I genuinely can’t understand is why the defence in the first place. Even his “apology” is well, a political non-apology, he stands by everything he said and refuses to budge, no matter how ill informed. He apologises for being “vague” in a sad attempt to pretend he didn’t mean what he wrote, when he was clearly stating everything what he meant right from the very start. Nobody forced him to use the words “rip off”, “copying”, “copycatting”, or (be honest here) the clearly derisive tone throughout the entire article, he made those choices himself.

      It’s pretty evident there’s a problem when you’re literally expending more words justifying your stupidity than were used in the original article.

      EDIT: Basically in agreement with what Tatourmi said.

    • Vitruality says:

      I think that perhaps it shows why you shouldn’t write anything on the internet without spending at least five minutes doing some basic research first.

    • JuJuCam says:

      I read the first article up until the square parenthetical update and I was willing to accept that his tongue was in his cheek through most of it, as distastefully done as that was. Accusing any creative of plagiarism is pretty much the most awful thing you could probably say of them, and it was no surprise to me that he copped a significant amount of flak for that, even if I was willing to read a sarcastic tone into the most grievous accusations.

      But the follow up article and the update on the original article just made my blood boil, and I’m not a typical “Angry Internet Man”, most of the time if I have something vitriolic to say I’ll type it out, read it back, realise I’m being a twat and close the window without posting. But honestly, it doesn’t matter how many negative comments you receive there is no excuse for being patronising and condescending to your audience. The “You guys just don’t get him/me” attitude is gutless and immature and if this medium is to grow up and be taken seriously, journalists are as important as anyone at leading that charge, if not moreso.

      It doesn’t help that even in the update Takahashi continues to show his disdain for the history of games and general lack of research, most tellingly with his statement “Harvest Moon on the Nintendo DS — a game that debuted in 2005″ completely ignoring the history of that very franchise and its beginnings on the SNES almost ten years prior. I know games journos are constantly occupied with press events and demoing hugely anticipated AAA titles, but it took me all of ten seconds to wiki that info up. The internet is an amazing repository of information and history and it just boggles the mind that people still can’t just be correct about things that are fact based. Is it too much to ask that journalists check some god damn facts once in a while, even on an opinion piece? Or should everyone be reporting at the level of Fox News’ War on Videogames?

    • Bhazor says:

      Just reading the title of the article made me burst out laughing. Then the chain saw bit tipped me over the edge.

      The lesson is definitely not to write something stupid about a setting you have absolutely no knowledge about.

      That Joystick Division (might want to read up about what Joy Division actually means Mastrapa) rebuttal on the other hand is a disgrace. Takahashi admits he didn’t understand what he was talking about and Mastrapa goes into a lengthy diatripe about how the readers are meanyheads for pointing it out. I’d like to know of one other sphere of journalism where the readers are directly insulted for pointing that someone has said something stupid about something they don’t know anything about. Mastrapa if you want people to take games journalism seriously, don’t defend people saying stupid things about things they don’t understand.

      Also don’t write lengthy articles attacking your core reader base.

      Edit: Just found out something about one of Takahashi’s old reviews. It is… quite the thing. He did not know you could level up in Mass Effect.
      http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/2008/01/01/a_massive_mea_culpa_and_apology_for_a_bad_mass_effect_review/

    • President Weasel says:

      It was a sloppily written article and the lack of any research showed. Not the end of the world, but it seems fair enough for people to point it out – you’d hope people would comment about a cleverly written article, and that some of them would be pleased enough with it to post elsewhere and direct people to it, so you’d have to expect the same for a bad piece as a good one. Put something on the internet, and people are going to see it – and some of those people are going to have opinions.
      Internet response does seem to always be turned up to eleven, true; something is either the Best Thing Evar or a Terrible Crime Against Everything.
      His defence of the piece, to paraphrase harshly, was “I’ve been getting paid for turning up and looking at something and writing whatever immediately springs to mind for fifteen years, I’m not going to start doing any research now” which does rather make things worse.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I’d like to know of one other sphere of journalism where the readers are directly insulted for pointing that someone has said something stupid about something they don’t know anything about.

      You should read the kind of responses that Glenn Greenwald gets when he tears apart prominent “journalists” of American politics. Many still make posts arrogantly sneering at bloggers, etc.

      A classic from Joe Klein: “I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who’s right.”

      http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2007/11/26/klein/index.html

    • DK says:

      “Takahashi’s particularly is simply an opinion piece, based on sitting down with the game. Agree or disagree; it’s not bad games journalism. I look at Space Marine and find it appearing somewhat superfluous on the market. I’d much rather have the strategy line continued or expanded if they’re going to spend that kind of development time on a new W40k project.”
      It’s “not bad games journalism” because the state games journalism is in is atrocious. When the defense of a badly written, sensationalist, objectively FALSE article and journalist is “but that’s just the way the field is” then you need to throw that field in the bin and start again because somewhere along the line the field FAILED.

    • qrter says:

      The problem with Takahashi’s piece isn’t so much his ignorance, which is just a bit embarrassing, but the snotty tone of his conclusions. That’s going to set people off, doesn’t matter if you were just giving an opinion or not.

    • meatshit says:

      I’d just like to point out that saying “It’s my opinion” does not give you a free pass to say whatever you want free of criticism. An opinion is a lot like an argument, in the academic sense of the word, in that it needs to be supported and ultimately based on facts if it’s to be worthwhile. If much of the supporting arguments and facts they’re based on use faulty logic or are just wrong, then the opinion is wrong as well. That’s not to say “It’s my opinion” can’t ever be used, just that it can’t be used to brush away charges of faulty logic or incorrect assumptions.

      In this case, Takahashi’s argument boils down to “Space Marine rips off Gears of War because they share many stylistic features and Epic came up with them before Relic.” Or to put it in argument form:

      P1: GoW and SM share many stylistic features
      P2: Epic came up with them before Relic
      C1: Therefore, Space Marine rips off GoW

      People can legitimately disagree on P1 because it’s ultimately a value judgement. However, P2 is blatantly false because Dawn of War came out 2 years before GoW and is based on an IP created a couple decades before that. If P2 is false, then his conclusion is unfounded and should be disregarded.

    • Shmoo Mentality says:

      While this controversy about internet silly men does provide a basis for “ARGH! Games Journalism, she is RUINED!” melodramatics, perhaps that the spectrum of outrage goes beyond mere nerdrage can also provide us with a bright light of optimism. That Takahashi has been called out for more than just transgressing against the 40k fandom but also against the precepts of basic journalism shows that there are still some basic decencies expected from games journalists. I have hope yet that we can learn from and build upon this.

      Besides, as TillEulenspiegel touched on previously, this shirking of job responsibilities happens all the time in American political journalism, and that’s a field that is still taken very seriou–oh wait.

    • bhlaab says:

      I’m not defending them, I just feel a bit of sympathy for the horror of fucking up that badly.

      His “fuck up” was deciding to get paid to write about a topic he knows nothing about. And the response that it’s soo pompous and grating for readers to expect “facts” to be “correct”…

    • Nallen says:

      It’s fair to call him a hack, right?

  5. StingingVelvet says:

    That Warhammer article is truly terrible, not because of comparing the games really but because he compares the style of 40K to Gears of War and bluntly says 40K is copying. He specifically mentions large space marins, chainsaw weapons and other such things… stylistic things that 40K certainly did first, and that are not really game related.

    I don’t think it’s too much to ask for some basic research from so-called journalists. His “apology” basically says he meant purely on a gameplay level, but the article doesn’t bear that out at all.

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      HermitUK says:

      I thought the article seemed oddly premature – he explains he’s not actually played the game, only watched a demo being played to the press. It could still turn out that Space Marine as a game is an average Gears derivative in 40K clothing, but it seems too early to condemn it. For that matter, Gears is one of the most solid third person shooters from recent years. You could do a lot worse than (successfully) using it as a template.

      Course, we have already seen games like Quantum Theory attempt the Gears formula and fail fairly spectacularly. The author is presumably a big Gears fan, and with his lack of knowledge of Warhammer in general it’s not too hard to see why he leapt to Gears’ defence.

      That aside, it’s a poorly thought out piece in general. His point about the targeting reticule in particular made me chuckle. Might as well call out every FPS ever for copying each other’s crosshairs.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Let’s be fair, they’re not really similar on a gameplay level either. As Dr. Ashen once said, “Gears of War: early-evening-hiding-behind-boxes.”

      It shouldn’t be too much to ask that journalists do a little research, but, unfortunately, that just doesn’t seem to happen too much.

    • bill says:

      and generally the gameplay is nothing alike either.

      BUT, I do have some slight sympathy for the man – the problem with the internet is that one person can’t know everything about everything – but one person can certainly be derided for not knowing everything about everything by all the people on the internet who happen to know about that thing.

      This tends to mean that all comments descend into nit-picky snark and fights and any good points in the article (not this one, a little the follow up) get lost.

      It’s like Quinns Witcher2 review, where half the comments are about how he got the name of the starting city in BG2 wrong.. as if that then immediately invalidates everything else he wrote.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Quote from the article:

      -“First, this post is not research-backed journalism. I walked into a room, looked at a game, and offered what I thought about it. I’ve been doing that professionally for around 15 years.”

      It summarizes the whole mess. Non research-backed journalism is a plague nowadays, in gaming as in everything else. It’s not journalism if there isn’t some part of deontology. That someone could promote this as a valid excuse for a crappy article and back it up with the fact that he’s been doing it for 15 years is kinda revolting.

      Seriously, actual journalists – with a sense for ethics – should be most worried about this kind of stuff, because it just place gaming journalism on the same level as regular, non-informed-internet-crap coming from the average joe.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      What gets me is that he’s been paid to do so for 15 years.

    • mrjackspade says:

      The article mentioned absolutely nothing about gameplay. It was all based on how the aesthetics of SM were copying GoW.

      “Seriously, actual journalists – with a sense for ethics – should be most worried about this kind of stuff, because it just place gaming journalism on the same level as regular, non-informed-internet-crap coming from the average joe.”

      Precisely, and RPS should be criticizing the piece and not defending it.

    • Starky says:

      In my experience 90% or more of so-called-journalists, gaming or otherwise, the only real difference between them and the average Joe off the street is their flair for language (writing ability) and insider position.

      Some of them aren’t even talented writers, they’ve just somehow lucked out, or come from another field where they brought some fame or readership.
      Journalism in large part has gotten to the point where some guy/gals blog/youtube is often better informed, better researched AND better copy than the garbage produced by paid professionals, who lets face it for many of them only care about word count, not word quality.

      I’d wager that is why most of us read RPS regularly, because it isn’t just the same press release spouting, paid-by-the-word garbage that killed-dead so many of the once great magazines and publications (gaming or otherwise – music magazines are the best example of a massive dive in quality over the past 10 years).

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Same as it ever was, I think. You can’t worry about it, you just have to get on what with what you are doing and do it your way.

    • Starky says:

      Maybe, but 10 years ago when I was a teenager it seemed much easier to find good writers and good informed articles in solid publications. Maybe my barrier of quality was lower, maybe as I’ve gotten older the publications I used to get weekly/monthly have shifted from my interests.

      It just seems like it takes a lot more time investment these days to find decent journalism, but most of all consistent journalism.

      Most major gaming sites fill endless pages with utter crap, then every few weeks (maybe even once a week) publish something truly good; something worth reading and most of all worth thinking about instead of just consuming mindlessly.

      I think honestly that is your greatest success with RPS, that RPS is consistently above average.

    • Rond says:

      the problem with the internet is that one person can’t know everything about everything

      I must say that it’s exactly the other way around. The benefit of the Internet is that one person CAN know everything about everything. All collective human knowledge just a keystroke and a click away. When you’re writing an article, be so kind to do some research. All the more so it takes mere seconds.

    • CMaster says:

      @Jim
      With regards to Journalism in general, across all fields – I don’t think its the same as it ever was. Total spending on PR has risen dramatically – every organisation and their dog lays out a good amount on PR these days. Equally, newspaper/magazine/etc sales have all been shrinking and the Internet doesn’t pay as well, so less Journalists are expected to respond quicker. The end result is that I think PR representatives and companies dictate coverage a lot more than they used to.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “I think honestly that is your greatest success with RPS, that RPS is consistently above average.”

      Haha.

    • The Hammer says:

      “Maybe my barrier of quality was lower, maybe as I’ve gotten older the publications I used to get weekly/monthly have shifted from my interests.”
      I think it’s down to this more than anything. I was looking through some old Playstation mags of mine yesterday, from as way back as 1997, and despairing at some of the writing in them. In particular a Final Fantasy IX re-review that read like it was geared towards the eyes of very, very young children.

      As an adult now, it’s glaringly obvious that the quality of writing in those magazines was massively polarised. There was a fair amount of really good stuff, with humour and warmth, but sitting on the opposite page would be an awful shitheap of an article. Didn’t really realise it as a nipper.

    • mcwill says:

      Problem is, Starky, 10 years ago you were 10 years younger and 10 years more easily pleased. Me too.

      As for the article and the follow-up… the article is just A.N. Other “I don’t have a fecking clue what I’m talking about” journo wittering on. Plenty of that around, kinda difficult to pick up much nerdraeg about it. The follow-up, though… what a spectacular heap of snotty, privileged shite. He might as well have said “WE ARE WRITERS, YOU ARE JUST THE AUDIENCE, SHUT UP AND EAT OUR WORDS YOU PATHETIC GEEKS.” Absolutely no real attempt at engaging with the issue at all. I’d like to say “completely unbelievable” but, of course, it’s sadly not.

    • WaveOfMutilation says:

      What amazes me is that this guy still has a job writing about games after he wrote an article blasting Mass Effect for being far too difficult only for someone in the comments sections ask how he’s been assigning his skill points. To which he responds, “What skill points?”

    • The Hammer says:

      Hahaha, do you have a link to that, Wave?

    • Mattressi says:

      Hammer, here’s a link to Kotaku talking about it (I know, Kotaku suck, but I’m too lazy to search for more): http://kotaku.com/339632/takahashi-amends-mass-effect-review

      Just google the guys name and “mass effect” and you’ll find heaps on it.

      Seems like this guy is simply an absolutely horrid games journalist, who knows very little about games and very little about journalism. Best off ignoring him IMO.

    • bill says:

      @Rond:
      Yeah. But we can’t google everything in everything we ever write. We’d never get anything done.
      And we tend to only research for things we don’t know – but if we don’t know that we don’t know, how can we know that we need to find out?

      It’s like the way all our highschool textbooks tell us that airplane wings work because the air pressure is lower on the longer side, because everyone knows that. But it’s not true. But no-one thought to research it because they didn’t know they needed to.
      Or like the way Quinns knew the starting city was called Amn so he didn’t bother to check it.

      As for journalism, i think the three main differences between journalism and blogs are training, accountability and EDITORS!

    • Basilicus says:

      That Mass Effect stuff is pretty damning, but it’s not like Takahashi didn’t reasonably thoroughly address the source material argument, among these statements like:

      “In fact, this universe predates the existence of Gears of War, so you might argue that Gears of War copies Warhammer 40,000.”

    • mazzratazz says:

      “For those who overlook it like me, the Talent tree is visible under the Squad menu.”

      O.O

      Words fail.

    • nayon says:

      It’s not like Gears of War was the first space marine themed 3PS… That article was terrible, and I can’t believe he used “I just walked into a room and compared two games without doing any research whatsoever” as a valid excuse.

      Also, I like how he says “This is not an apology where I say “I’m sorry” when I really mean to say “fuck off.”” and then he writes this huge statement that’s more like a passive aggressive assertion than an apology.

      The response article is really terrible too. Saying “you’re all a bunch of angry nerds” doesn’t invalidate the points of the commenters. It’s just a troll technique to steer the conversation away. That belongs in a forum post, not in journalism.

    • qrter says:

      Ha ha, I didn’t realise this was that guy again!

      Oh lord, that makes this even more embarrassing.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      “ROCK PAPER SHOTGUN IS THE MOST ADEQUATE GAMING SITE I KNOW” — a guy

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Wow, that Mass Effect stuff makes it so much worse. I never read about that since I ignored the console release of that game as much as possible so I wouldn’t start crying from rejection.

      Why would anyone care about the opinion of someone who could completely miss leveling in an RPG? Who still hires this guy?

    • Premium User Badge

      Nogo says:

      Frankly I find the article terrible because it’s completely lazy from all angles. He refutes his own arguments. He dances around his, perfectly valid if not entirely vapid, conclusion and he attempts to throw THQ and Relic under the bus by essentially calling them plagiarists and money grubbers.

      No shit media converges towards large markets. Thanks for being a dick to Space Marine to bring that shocker to light.

      And the entire thing becomes entirely ironic because he wrote an article and headline that are fully intended to generate page views using the exact marketing and “me too” business practices he derides.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      The games aren’t similar at all!

      For one thing, in Gears of War, you hide behind chest-high walls like a wuss even though you’re in power armor. You’re also still easily sniped. Spacemarine, on the other hand, you bodyslam chest high walls and kill things. And kill more things. Always, with the killing of things. Bigger thing? Kill that too.

      Spacemarine looks to be fun. Gears of War was not fun.

  6. Cinnamon says:

    I’m absolutely sick of comparing games to films even if it is Charlie Brooker talking about it. LA Noire turns me off because it seems so derivative of movies.

    On the other hand I liked Troy Goodfellow’s piece on the power of strategy games to have points where the game changes without over scripting. I think that the conclusion that action games don’t do this very well is both wrong and right. Some single player strategy games are very scripted and deterministic to the point where they seem more like puzzle games. The action game that I think of when I think of this subject though is Half-Life 2. Many of the dramatic moments are highly scripted which can be impressive first time but, hold on to your hats, I personally look back on them and think that they were pretty much nonsense and more than a little contrived. What I remember are those points where it was me and the AI opponents trying to kill each other, when I’m low on health trying to figure out how to use the map and weapons to come back and win.

    • GenBanks says:

      The point isn’t that it’s like a film… the point is that they’re confidently and self consciously ‘video games’ yet supersede Hollywood in artistic merit.

    • Cinnamon says:

      LA Noire seems to me to be pretty self consciously going for a movie type experience like most of these high profile Rockstar Games titles. I don’t really care any more if games supersede big budget Hollywood movies. Not my thing.

    • Urthman says:

      Unless La Noire (shouldn’t it be Le Noire?)* is an enormous leap in quality from everything Rockstar’s ever done, I seriously doubt it’s better than a good Hollywood movie. Is it really better than Chinatown, or even LA Confidential or Usual Suspects?

      Rockstar’s stories are good for games, but barely above average compared to movies.

      *a joke.

    • JuJuCam says:

      To me it’s unfortunate that Rockstar published LA Noire and handballed some of their tech to Team Bondi, because it makes the feeling that it’s another themed skin on GTA like Red Dead Redemption unshakeable. Which might make certain people less inclined to give it a go, which would be a damn dirty shame, because this game is years ahead of its time in adventure gameplay.

      Tycho pointed it out at Penny Arcade, but it’s clear to anyone that plays the game: The action sequences can be repeated forever and there’s even a setting that makes it possible to skip them altogether if you fail too many times. But if you miss out on evidence or if you conduct a shitty interview, the game will just carry on leaving you feeling like the dumbest detective in LA. I completed one case successfully and the case closed screen pointed out that “The bartender at the Crystal Palace would have liked a chance to testify”. The Crystal Palace hadn’t even unlocked as a notable location to visit in my playthrough of that case! A detective game that will allow you to not only not visit a location but not even discover that the location is accessible and still give you enough evidence to charge the guilty perp is entirely unheard of in my experience. I mean, for all the talk of multiple paths and multiple endings, I don’t recall any RPG or adventure game with this much branching and this much grey area between success and failure.

      Yes, it is almost too cinematic and at times it feels like someone wrote LA Confidential: The Series for HBO and then decided to build a game around it, but then again it’ll occasionally pull a trick like that that makes you wonder what would’ve happened if you asked the right questions to the right people, and you realise the stories that come out of it would never be possible in a passive medium.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nogo says:

      I never bought the whole “is it better than?” line of thinking. If you like noir and especially LA you’ll like LA Noire. It’s the game that likes the things you like! Sure it can be fun to talk about the merits or stumbles of each incarnation, but trying to decide which is better is like ranking your friends on a strict hierarchy.

      In fact, after beating LA Noire I went to my library and picked up some Ellroy after his name came up in reviews, having only read Chandler and Lethem previously, but still hungry for some sun-baked intrigue.

      Don’t be a Dean. If someone likes Gears of War why wouldn’t I be happy to see a fresh, but similar take with Space Marine?

    • GenBanks says:

      Charlie Brooker’s point is that Portal 2 (or LA noire) as a game is better than a lot of the rubbish that gets released on screen as films… He never says that the two mediums should overlap or compete. He just says that as an artform to be taken seriously, video games deserve at least as much attention as films.

  7. GenBanks says:

    It’s great to see Charlie Brooker write such a big gaming article in the Guardian. Loads of people are going to read that and ask their game-playing kids/relatives/friends ‘hey, what’s portal 2/LA noire’ and bring gaming a bit closer to being an acceptable conversation topic :)

    • Dubbill says:

      Noire was covered on Radio 4’s Front Row this week and again on the Saturday Review last night. It’s great to see games being taken seriously by ‘grown up’ arts and culture shows.

  8. The Hammer says:

    Heh, the Warhammer-compared-to-Gears of War backlash reminds me of the time RPS previewed the beta of Warhammer Online and said it was a bit like WOW. Cue lots and lots of angry comments and – curiously, considering Game Workshop’s nationality – some insults towards the British.

    :(

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/09/06/a-dirty-word/

    • Premium User Badge

      HermitUK says:

      Which is funny, because in a lot of places the game was very much a WoW derivative. I enjoyed my time on it (but not enough to shell out for a sub), but I still wish Mythic had created something that really stood apart.

      Still, Orcs and Dwarfs clashing over one of the Tier 1 public quests on an open RvR server remains one of my best MMO moments from recent years.

  9. aircool says:

    At frist, reading Dean Takahashi’s article on Space Marine, you can see why a lot of people reacted the way they did. However, reading the whole artice (and some of the other article’s Dean has written), you can understand his point of view.

    After all, LoTRO was a rip off of WoW, yet the backstory predates WoW by about half a century, whilst WoW ripped off GW’s Warhammer Universe (as did all Warcraft games), it didn’t stop it from being better than WAR.

    Saying that, Mr Takahashi could have saved himself a lot of bother by stating that he knew nothing about the WH40K universe, although after 15 years of being ‘in the business’, it’s difficult to believe that all the 40K games ( eg; Dawn of War I & II, from THQ, the same company releasing Space Marine funnily enough) have slipped under his radar.

    • steviesteveo says:

      I think his best move would have been to avoid the “I’m sorry you didn’t understand me” update to the post.

  10. Brumisator says:

    Also, Game development is a worldwide industry. Hollywood is one big shithole in one place.

    Were I a film maker, I’d be extremely offended by films as a medium being summarized as “hollywood”.

    • Angel Dust says:

      Indeed. There are many brilliant films being made each year, far more than brilliant games, and some of them even come from the USA! Protip: they aren’t the ones in 3D or with numbers after the title.

      While I’m happy that games like Portal 2 and LA Noire are being made and getting attention, we all know that the video game industry churns out more than its fair share of vapid, uninspired shit. I mean, I’m pretty sure there is a massive audience overlap between the people who queue up for the latest military themed whack-a-mole shooter and those who await Michael Bay’s latest explosion filled opus.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      He’s talking specifically *about* Hollywood, though, meaning mainstream film production, and then comparing it with *mainsteam* game production – of which Valve and Rockstar are representative.

    • Kaira- says:

      I agree. And to be honest, about 95% of video games have next-to-none artistical merits, being about manly shooters who shoot other men or something along those lines.

      Edit:// And especially in the mainstream of video games.

    • Angel Dust says:

      You’re right Jim, but I would still say that the ratio of goodness-to-dreck is the same for both mainstream industries. Valve and Rockstar are about as representative of the industry as a whole, as Pixar (who I’ve always thought as being a Valve analogue for the film industry) and, I don’t know, Christopher Nolan are of Hollywood. Which is to say they are unfortunately not the majority.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I think it’s more complex than ratios of good/crap, though. The issue seems more that games end up exploring new things *because* they get both new technology and new mechanics to do it with. What I am interested in, from games and films, is new experiences, new imaginative things to make like more interesting. Games are simply producing more of those right now.

      What Hollywood has at its disposal is the potential to produce more interesting stories on more varied subjects, and it routinely fails to do so. That’s not to say that there aren’t genuinely imaginative films being made, just that its less obvious than it is within games, and probably for good reasons.

    • Xercies says:

      Thats funny i thought that mainstream gaming was becoming a lot more bland ever since MW came out, all the games coming out have either homogenised as gears Of War style 3rd person shooters or MW style First person shooters. You can see that in the example of the newer games in series like Splinter Cell and Call Of Juerez or Medal Of Honour.

    • Gpig says:

      LA Noire didn’t exist last year, but I feel like every movie out of Hollywood this year also existed last year if that makes sense. It’s a new experience. For this reason reviews of LA Noire focus on mechanics rather than going over much of the plot while a review of an actual film noir movie would be almost exclusively concerned with the latter. I don’t think it’s even comparable to new genres of movies being developed. If movies could somehow cram more words and situations into 90 minutes than was possible the year before they would finally be approaching the type of impossibly dense growth that distinguishes videogames from all other mediums.

    • Mark says:

      The article seemed to me a bit too eager to prove the relevance of video games while cutting corners by making an unfair comparison. I thought it was lazy, and I like Brooker’s writing on the whole.

  11. Angel Dust says:

    Did that dude, writing the defence for the Warhammer piece, really say that he has concerns regarding Relic being able to deliver narrative as well as Epic can?
    *shakes head in despair*

    • ran93r says:

      I had the same thought, I’m not a frothing Relic fanboy by any means but there is nothing in Epic’s recent history that has had any kind of decent narrative/story.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      Epic games have storylines?

    • CMaster says:

      While Relic are in contrast famed for having created one of the most evocative stories in gaming history. Admittedly, that was over 10 years ago and they’ve never reached those heights again, but it’s still better than Epic have ever managed.

    • mcwill says:

      Hey, you’re not allowed to point that out, you fanboy scum! Anyway no-one cares about Homeworld now and how dare you be angry about things on the Internet. Honestly, people who read games journalism disgust me.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      I think the Dawn of War games have had pretty strong narratives. It’s been a while now but I seem to recall the story in Dawn of War 1 being really quite interesting. With the main character having to struggle with the fact that he destroyed his home world (rather than let it fall into enemy hands) and dealing with the possibility that he might have to do it again. I mean it wasn’t Citizen Kane but it blows Gears of War out of the water.

      I also took issue with the articles complaint that if I’m going to get angry when people say things that’re just painfully stupid and misinformed I should stop reading games journalism. I’m not going to stop reading games journalism. I am going to stop reading adventurebeat. Or I would if I ever did.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah I have to say, I was impressed with Chaos Rising, because I actually found myself interested in the story that was playing out (and even how you could shape it through corruption). Even though it was largely just between-mission talking heads, they managed to portray something fairly well fitting to be a story in the 40K universe. It’s a naturally bombastic and over-the-top universe, but I was still drawn in to wondering what would happen next, which is pretty rare for an RTS.

      They didn’t quite manage that in Retribution, but that’s largely because of having to write for 6 different sides. Even then, I thought the writing was often fairly well done for things like the Eldar campaign, even if it was all stretched.

      Basically I actually have a decent amount of hope that they’ll be able to deliver something in-keeping with the 40K setting with the new game.

      And really saying anything positive about Gears of War’s joke of a narrative… that’s just… yeah.

  12. bleeters says:

    The automated library is frightening. It looks far too much like the facility in Futurama where old people are stored by robots when they turn 160.

  13. Om says:

    “I walked into a room, looked at a game, and offered what I thought about it”

    And this is what passes for journalism these days? Surely there is some responsibility to ensure that the thoughts published via a mass medium (sort’ve) are coherent and actually make sense? I know next to nothing about Gears or War or Warhammer but that article still smacks of stupidity. Even if its not as bad as the apology

    • mcwill says:

      “Saw a screener for Citizen Kane yesterday. Is it really necessary for every movie to look the same as Gone With The Wind? I hear it’s all to do with a skateboard or a sledge or something. Anyway, RKO have no history with bringing out impressive storylines at all.”

      And the follow-up:

      “I am amazed at the vicious response by Citizen Kane fanboys to my friend’s article. Honestly, how could he have known, do you expect us to actually watch things before we write about them? You people are just looking for something to be angry about.”

  14. World One Two says:

    That palaver over Space Marine is depressing. Disregarding the fact he’s right (the game was clearly pitched as “40K does Gears of War” — borrowing the style of a popular title to tap into an existing demographic), the issue is really about our ability, or lack of ability, to engage in civilised discourse on the subjects we hold close.

    If someone expresses negative opinions about something I like, I don’t have to take it as a personal insult. I can listen to their point of view, appreciate where they’re coming from, respect them, and perhaps modify my own position based on what they say. Or even if I disagree entirely, it’s no biggie.

    The alternative is basically to be a zealot, which is boring and rubbish.

    On another note, that Ourobonic Plague stuff is beautiful.

    • mrjackspade says:

      You could start by reading the comments in response to the piece, many of which are informed, articulate, and cover the key points very well. I am no warhammer aficionado but it’s clear to see that the author of the piece had no idea about the IP – his main points were to state that Space Marine is a copy of GoW because of the in-game *aesthetics* (big men, big weapons, chainsaws etc) without mentioning anything about the gameplay (which is infact totally different).

      It’s incredibly bad journalism, and very bad writing. Just disappointed to see RPS being really defensive about it…

      “Overall they add up to a grand lesson in the predictability of the Angry Internet Men, and also why no one should ever write anything on the internet.”

      Not really. Just don’t write terrible, half-assed stuff.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I didn’t mean to come across as defensive, actually. It’s excruciating because it’s such a facepalm moment for everyone involved. I mean I DO feel some sympathy for him, but not that much. When the apology is longer than the original article, well, you fucked up.

    • World One Two says:

      This is what I mean. I did read the comments, I just disagree with you. Rather than bothering with attacking the overall validity of the journalism, just say specifically what you don’t like, then we can have a discussion based on that.

      For example, you reckon he’s saying Space Marine is a rip-off purely because of the chainsaws and big men. I don’t. I think he’s saying that Space Marine has taken some of the trappings of the 40K universe and transposed them onto a framework very similar to that of Gears of War. Yes, chain-swords (or whatever they’re called) already existed in the mythos, but if memory serves they gave you +1 close combat attack or something in the table-top game. I think the author of that article was pointing out how the idea of the chain-sword has been appropriated for use in an identical way to GoW. And I think he’s right.

    • Rath says:

      The article reads as though what Dean Takahashi would basically like is a Space Marine game that respects the 40K lore while not utilising massive armour, chain swords and hordes of enemies being chopped into a fine red paste. What does he want you to do, play the game from the aspect of a servo-skull?

    • Lilliput King says:

      World One: He spends a hefty portion of the article talking about the concept of a ‘space marine’ being a rip off of GoW. There is little room for discussion, there. Similarly, he criticises the aesthetic and the setting for the same reason. He’s just wrong, is the problem. There’s a possible argument to be made on the gameplay front, but that’s not the one he made.

    • Cradok says:

      Word One Two: That’s approaching the 40K universe strictly from the perspective of game rules. But right from the very start, 40K has been much more than just rules – with the rulebooks and sourcebooks usually skewing towards story and background rather then actual rules – and there’s always been chainswords gruesomely hacking things apart.

    • Jumwa says:

      I can sympathize with his position, as he’s a games journalist, not a games historian. His job is to write on games in a context relevant to his readers, and despite the rather angry Warhammer fans reaction, not many people are familiar with the series, and it has no games of this genre in its backlog to compare to. Whereas Gears of War is popular (apparently, though I’ve never played it).

      That’s not to defend him entirely, even I can see issues with the article. Just saying I can sympathize.

    • mrjackspade says:

      World One Two: “Rather than bothering with attacking the overall validity of the journalism, just say specifically what you don’t like, then we can have a discussion based on that.”

      Firstly, I have. In fact it makes up a large portion of my post: “I am no warhammer aficionado but it’s clear to see that the author of the piece had no idea about the IP – his main points were to state that Space Marine is a copy of GoW because of the in-game *aesthetics* (big men, big weapons, chainsaws etc) without mentioning anything about the gameplay (which is infact totally different).”

      But let’s talk about his article. Dean’s article goes something like this: There is a game called GoW which has been out for ages. There is a game called SM which is about to come out. SM is obviously a rip off of GoW for these reasons: big men, chainsaws, blood splatters (??), guns which shoot in a similar way, big hammer which rips off Halo (lol?), little grunty bad guys (orks – which obv rip off LOTR). These points, as pointed out many times, are invalidated by the fact that the SM IP has been around since the 80s and GoW itself is greatly influenced by it.

      “I think he’s saying that Space Marine has taken some of the trappings of the 40K universe and transposed them onto a framework very similar to that of Gears of War. ”

      Please quote something from his article which implies this? Where does he mention the gameplay being similar? As many people have pointed out, SM is very arcadey and based around getting as many gruesome kills in gruesome ways as you possibly can. Gears of War is all about cover, and tactical shooting. The only ‘framework’ similarities I can see are the fact that it is third person, it’s in a sci-fi setting, and there’s a great many bad guys that you have to kill.

      It would have been OK if Dean admitted that he had no knowledge about the warhammer IP (15 years in games journalism?) and that the piece was rushed and not very well thought out, but instead he admits freely that: ”… this post is not research-backed journalism. I walked into a room, looked at a game, and offered what I thought about it. I’ve been doing that professionally for around 15 years.”.

      Lols.

    • World One Two says:

      I hope it’s going to be a cool game, and there’s more than enough freedom within the universe to do a third-person shooter and for it to feel in keeping with the lore. I hope they learn from the successes of Gears of War, taking what obviously works yet innovating and refining at the same time.

      But if someone finds the similarities they’ve witnessed so far to be depressing, I think it’s cool they write an article about it. That sort of criticism keeps developers on their toes, stops them getting too lazy and derivative.

      And for the record, I agree that the article was badly written and painted its scene with overly broad strokes. I appreciate some of what he says though, and my issue is more with the anger of the responses than their content.

    • Sassenach says:

      But if someone finds the deficiencies they’ve witnessed so far to be depressing, I think it’s cool they write an article about it. That sort of criticism keeps writers on their toes, stops them getting too lazy and derivative.

    • World One Two says:

      Too right! I don’t get the anger though. It’s just about the anger.

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      Daiv says:

      Dear Games-Journalists-Who-Aren’t-RPS,

      In these days in which anyone with a keyboard can write and get a global audience, the research is what differentiates you from the comments on YouTube that think Doom II is a rip-off of Halo.

      Anyone can spew uninformed opinion. You’re supposed to be professionals.

      Sincerely,

      Daiv

    • Premium User Badge

      Nogo says:

      Sassenach: He didn’t explain why they were deficiencies though. He just pointed to some things that feel similar and expected to pass that tripe off as writing worth money. He didn’t say anything. He just wrote a bunch of face value “durr” with an intentionally inflammatory headline and acted all shocked when people got inflamed.

      And of all things to pick to raise the banner of “don’t derive, cash-ins bad” he picked these two games and now? The 5 year old “brown-gray shooter” meme is more succinct and intelligent than that whole article. It’s just lazy, and based on the reaction and vitriol it’s not doing anyone any good.

      To enter a real conversation about the whole thing I’ve been trying to scare up a lecture posted on RPS that talked about the similarities of Saving Private Ryan and Gears of War in terms of experience. The section I’m thinking of specifically discusses the “roadie run” i.e. the feeling of running between cover while under fire and how Cliff Bleszinski doesn’t know what it’s like to get shot at. Basically SPR solidified a representation of being shot at and now we’re stuck with that interpretation because it became thrilling and popular enough to enter our culture at large. People are familiar with it for good or bad. That’s something that needs to be understood for the same reason why space bar is usually jump.

      GoW refined the culturally ingrained idea of the future marine using a tight and fun shooter with all the machismo and bravado inherent, but in a self-serious way. If Relic does this right it could take the piss out of GoW in an appropriate fashion. because GoW tip-toed around the simple fact that these characters are here to stomp on others while thinking up racist nicknames for them. SM’s lore embraces the high-fiving-in-the-guts-of-your-weak-enemies-because-holy-fuck-we-rock-go-us. It’s great that Marcus and Dom don’t like the idea of killing an entire species, but I’ll be damned if that’s not exactly what they’re trying to do the whole time.

      So yeah, I wish Dean had delved into the interesting and potentially exciting differences, with perhaps some trepidation about possible kowtowing, rather than being lazy by saying they both have bulky armor and silly weapons. I don’t need to read words to figure that one out for myself.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Jumwa,

      Sorry, but I can’t sympathize. Even if Warhammer as a series is “niche” compared to Gears of War, it is simply not sufficient to walk into a room, see a game on the screen, and automatically assume it is “ripping off” another franchise that you’re vaguely more familiar with. In fact, it is NEVER sufficient to make a comparison when you’re wholly unfamiliar with one of the two things you’re comparing.

      There are plenty of things that I am not knowledgeable about (Warhammer actually being one of them), but when I come across a game that I’m unfamiliar with that is part of a series that I’m unfamiliar with, I don’t run my mouth that it’s “plagiarizing” something else that I actually do know about. Saying “not very many people in his audience don’t know about Warhammer anyway” isn’t really a valid excuse, sorry.

    • Jumwa says:

      His wording was undoubtedly strong, but I don’t know of any games journalists who will refrain from making comparisons to other existing games if one is apparent. And I can definitely see why Warhammer having a cosmetic use of Space Marines that predates others isn’t excusing of such comparisons. Warhammer might’ve come first, but when was made into a WoW-clone style MMO it was no less relevant there.

      I’m familiar with neither of the games being compared to one another (Gears of War or Warhammer) and I’ve certainly not been present to see the new game in action. I couldn’t claim to say the guy was wrong on his comparisons until I gave it a try myself, so all I can say now is that I can see reasons for why he would do so based on the limited information I have. Or at least sympathy for all the angry responses he’s gotten that are quite an exaggerated reaction. It’s not a lot of sympathy, but it’s some.

  15. Vandalbarg says:

    From that Charlie Brooker article, in the comments;

    “in games there is practically nothing beyond the big development houses.”

    I understand many people don’t know or aren’t interested in indie games but to state with such authority despite such ignorance is hilarious.

    • Meat Circus says:

      Everyone’s so fucking stupid and wrong, but they always do it with such wonderful authority.

    • bleeters says:

      Guardian article comments sections tend to resemble youtube with better vocabulary, unfortunately.

    • bob_d says:

      The fact that it’s increasingly not the case that game development is done by large studios really makes that statement problematic.

  16. Meat Circus says:

    That Charlie Brooker article is gut-clenchingly terrible. Didn’t the man used to write not utter, obviously laughable bullshit about games? What happened?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It’s not so bad.

    • World One Two says:

      I appreciate his sentiment. Just not, it turns out, most of his actual content.

    • Gassalasca says:

      I think you’re forgetting he’s writing for a very mainstream, wide non-gaming audience there.
      I don’t think it’s crap, but it’s definitely Brooker turned to an audience… different from us.

    • Rush Ton says:

      Yeah I don’t think Brookers not trying to preach to the converted but rather point out to those who may have overlooked games what kind of experiences they are missing out on.

  17. Zwebbie says:

    On Dean Takahashi’s Gears of Warhammer 40k editorial: let’s turn it around. Let’s not say that Space Marine rips off Gears, which is obviously impossible, but that THQ was looking to make a Gears-esque game and found the Warhammer 40k license to be very suitable to that, thanks to the undeniable similarities. That, I’d be willing to believe.

    • World One Two says:

      That’s cool.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      But is that a problem?

      Third persons shooters was not invented by GeoW, but they did come to a lot of peoples attention. I can’t see a problem with wanting to make a similar game, and using an IP like 40K for that. Heaven knows that the 40K fluff is more interesting than ‘bros fighting wars’ in GeoW.

      That said, I don’t really have any interest in SM, despite me being a silly 40K fanboy. It looks decidedly to be not my thing.

    • Unaco says:

      Yes, there’s nothing wrong with that way of looking at it. But Zwebbie, that is NOT what Takahashi said in his piece originally.

    • mcwill says:

      Quite. Much as someone pointed out earlier, the guys behind WAR ripped off a hell of a lot of WoW mechanically, but it worked fairly well because, of course, pretty much the entire Warcraft mileu is a thinly veiled Warhammer Fantasy copy. There probably needs to be a new word for games that rip off their setting’s primary copyist. At the current rate, it looks likely to be “GWism”.

      This is what GW get for being totally retarded with the video game rights for their titles over the last 3 decades, I suppose.

  18. Sparvy says:

    Is LA Noir really worthy of such praise? I have heard so many complaints about plot holes, bad writing and gameplay where you are essentially pixel hunting for clues through the city.

    Perhaps my friends just “didn’t get it”. With no PC release on the horizon I guess I wont know.

    • World One Two says:

      Yeah it’s cool. Definitely flawed, but it gets a lot right as well. And mostly I like that it’s a really, really major release that’s actually quite mature and intellectual. So far none of the characters have been screeching lunatics of the kind usually so common in Rockstar games. Which is refreshing.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It’s an adventure game!

    • World One Two says:

      Richard Cobbett was right though, it’s not noire. 1940s police procedural, maybe, but hard-boiled, bitter and cynical it is not.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yes, it’s not noir in any meaningful sense.

    • Sarkhan Lol says:

      What if I turn my saturation down all the way?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      It does seem like it should have a “play in Black & White” option. (Maybe it does and I just haven’t seen it.)

    • goosnargh says:

      It does.

    • World One Two says:

      Yeah, the B&W option is duff. Looks washed out and cheap.
      …Was going to type something about chiaroscuro and scenes drenched in shadow there, but I don’t want to come across as a /complete/ wanker.

    • Mark says:

      It is completely an adventure game with wonky third-person shooting and slightly less wonky driving. What sets it apart is the tone, level of acting, incredible graphical fidelity of the characters’ facial animations and world detail. To me it feels a bit like Max Payne with regards to the maturity of the subject matter, and the way it’s presented.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      “…Was going to type something about chiaroscuro and scenes drenched in shadow there, but I don’t want to come across as a /complete/ wanker”

      Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that…

    • Teddy Leach says:

      I wonder how many of us would have understood what ‘chiaroscuro’ means. I do, because I’m a photographer, but it’s not a very widely used term.

    • Bhazor says:

      @ Richard Cobbert

      So which games would you say get Noir right in terms of tone and direction? Because I’d say Grim Fandango did it best not only in terms of art direction but in actually telling a far darker story than LA Noire does. Handles character death and the betrayls with real class and the bit in the lighthouse for example still makes me cry and probably ranks second in my all time favourite moments in game writing with the sensory museum in Torment being first..

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      If someone uses a word you don’t know, you google it and find out what it means, then appreciate the fact that you learned a new thing today.

      Go on, you can be a complete wanker if it makes me more educated.

    • Schadenfreude says:

      Discworld Noir is probably the noiriest game I’ve played. And one of the best detective games too (manipulating the clues in your notepad like inventory items was genius). Someone should do a write-up on that.

      Cobbers! Crapshoot that badboy!!

    • World One Two says:

      @Malawi Frontier Guard

      Well what I did was pretend I wasn’t mentioning chiaroscuro, while actually underhandedly mentioning chiaroscuro. Which secretly makes me twice the wanker I would have been if I’d just mentioned chiaroscuro. Oh well, eh.

    • Premium User Badge

      Nogo says:

      “I have heard so many complaints about plot holes, bad writing and gameplay where you are essentially pixel hunting for clues through the city.”

      I’m thinking your friends just didn’t get it. The game telegraphs quite well what areas have items, which ones are important and tells you plainly when you’ve exhausted an area. It even has what amounts to a limited hint button that is anything but stingy. Basically the game is entirely unapologetic about hiding things from the player which makes it a bit difficult to properly grasp.

      I’ll let Tycho cover the rest in his short post: http://www.penny-arcade.com/2011/5/20/

      And yeah, it’s totally not noir. It’s in the same hemisphere, but let’s just say I was waiting the entire game to get screwed over forcing me to become a scorned, whiskey soaked PI, and that never happened.

    • Bhazor says:

      @ Schadenfreude

      Oh how could I forget Discworld Noir. It really is a great game and the notebook mechanic was ripped off pretty much wholesale for LA Noire, which is fine by me because it’s such a great system and deserves to be stolen by everyone. And yes it is a better detective game than LA Noire. There’s no terrible action sequences for a start.

      Maybe its just because I’m a Discworld fan but Noir is probably my favourite adventure game. Not the best but definitely the one I remember most fondly. Rob Brydon is also excellent in it.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Actually Discworld Noir was quite a few years after

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_on_the_Mississippi

      which did the whole notebook + words from the notebook thing a touch earlier.

      Also the real jerks are the people who are withholding RDR and LA Noir from the PC for zero reason.

  19. Paul says:

    No news about Obama being gifted Witcher 2 (because it is better) ? :-)

    • pandora says:

      If it’s a witcher meme then will I get an explanation, please? Seems I hang around random sites on the Internet too little these days.

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      Pandora –
      No meme involved here(not yet, anyway). Polish PM gave the POTUS a collectors edition of the Witcher 2 during Obama’s state visit to Poland.

    • pandora says:

      @Ignorant Texan – Thank you, I thought I’ve seen the “better” part before, so I assumed it is some spawning meme. Also, now I’m sure I should stop working (with occasional skim through one or two favourite websites) and catch up with news instead, as even though I’m Polish I haven’t seen the news about Obama’s new game before a quick google a moment ago. :P

    • Nick says:

      It will be amusing if he gives it to his kids to play.

    • Bhazor says:

      Fox News

      “Obama announces support for Scoia’tael. Further evidence of secret leftist affirmative action?”

  20. Unaco says:

    I read the original Dean Takahashi piece, but not the comments (they were predicatble). Mr Takahashi was incredibly insulting and disrespectful to THQ and the Developers of ‘Space Marine’ in his original post… Insinuating they had copied everything for the game, mechanics and gameplay, style, Power Armour, bulky guns, chainsaws, the blood splatters (seriously), guns shooting, and the use of hammers. He even insinuated that they’d stolen Orcs from Tolkien. Reading it was painful, and his apology doesn’t make it any better.

    If all he was saying was that the games were similar, then all he needed to say was “Space Marine and GoW are similar, in the same way GTA and Saints Row are similar.” Yes, it appears Gears of War has maybe solidified a new genre of video game, but that doesn’t mean that everything that comes after it is a GoW clone.

    • Salt says:

      “First, this post is not research-backed journalism. I walked into a room, looked at a game, and offered what I thought about it. I’ve been doing that professionally for around 15 years.”

      He goes on to talk about the Warhammer 40,000 lore as if it only exists in video games, and that Harvest Moon’s first incarnation was on the DS. I guess 15 years of professional games journalism isn’t long enough to have met the SNES, or experience one of the biggest forces in modern non-video gaming.

      I can confirm that this is not research-backed journalism.

  21. JayTee says:

    Have to agree with the Fate of the World piece, it’s ball-achingly hard. I finally thought I’d cracked one of the missions, only to have China go totally titsup on the penultimate turn and go down to a life expectancy of sub-40 which bombed me out of the game. Gah!

    It’s still a frustratingly fun game however, and each time I play it I figure out more of the subtle interactions between the various bits of the game. How exactly all the sources of fuel interact, how easy it is to crash and burn the economy by failing to shift away from a coal based industry as the coal runs out, and so forth.

    • nullspace says:

      Fate of the World is far from impossible, but:it is complicated enough that you won’t win on your first try. It will take some trial and error just to find out everything that is available to you, and you’ll still be surprised by what can go wrong.

      Part of the problem is that some of the short/easy scenarios are actually harder than the main “realistic” scenario.

      I think some of the most effective tactics are:
      Tax everyone that you can.
      Propaganda is more effective than humanitarian aid. It stops protests and riots by lowering expectations rather than actually fixing anything.
      Stratospheric aerosols. Blotting out the sun is the fastest way to stop rising temperatures and prevent the runaway feedback caused by high temperatures.

      At least that’s my dystopia.

    • Pinky G says:

      The Black Operations that are available to you are amazingly scary. I never knew this game gave you options like that. The game has gone up on my excel spreadsheet from a 4 to a 5 now. Im not one of those players that delights in destruction at all but the game elevates itself to ‘being gritty’ from being a bit hippy, and I like the ‘gritty’ genre alot (aswell as others)
      Also, I recommend this program tonight on BBC.
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b011k45f/All_Watched_Over_by_Machines_of_Loving_Grace_Love_and_Power/

  22. Premium User Badge

    Daiv says:

    The Portal “best test chambers” article is surprisingly hard to read, mainly because I had difficulty working out which test chamber it was talking about. I guess perhaps I didn’t pay enough attention to the lighted boards by each test chamber? That’s why I sometimes find it hard to discuss P2 with a friend – you have to describe it in terms of “that chamber with the messed up cubes and the chasm and the reversible light funnel”. That seems to me to be the only part of Valve’s meticulous and relentless information presentation that wasn’t both subtle and unmissable.

  23. Lewie Procter says:

    Dean Takahashi is doing something right.

    That is the single most linked to article I’ve seen over the last week. It’s been everywhere.

    • bill says:

      Which possibly sums up the big risk in having all journalism follow the blog format.

    • Om says:

      Hence the major problem with online ‘journalism’. Which is actually not necessarily restricted to games journalism

    • Urthman says:

      If that’s really your definition of “doing something right” then I’m deeply, deeply, disappointed, Lewie.

    • Starky says:

      Internet Journalism is often synonymous with “trolling for page views”.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      I simply mean that having written that article will have rewarded him with a lot of traffic. I’m not saying that I like the article.

      Edit: Basically what Starky said. If his goal was to write something that was objectionable/controversial to a large group of people, in order to get attention, he succeeded.

    • subedii says:

      Unfortunately, I don’t think that was his actual intention. I think he was just genuinely being stupid there.

    • Bhazor says:

      @ Lewie

      And we fell for it. I feel so cheap.

  24. brog says:

    From the Charlie Brooker piece: “And before you whine about the solitary nature of games”
    Wait, what? When what what whoa?! Games have always been a human thing, they’re entirely about people interacting together. We’ve had this weird diversion recently where the interaction is of a delayed nature (human designs game, then human plays game – extreme turn-based play), but WHAT? Did anyone seriously think that’s all of what games are?

    • Steven Hutton says:

      Guardian readers

    • Nick says:

      “Games have always been a human thing, they’re entirely about people interacting together.”

      What?

    • brog says:

      Nick: Board games date back at least 4500 years, and more physical forms of play much, much further. Animals engage in some form of play as well. Solitaire games were extremely rare before videogames (and most videogames are fairly social still). To describe games as being by nature solitary is.. it’s not even ignorant, it’s just utterly bizarre.

    • Nick says:

      Yes, I know about boardgames, but surely he is talking about computerised games?

    • brog says:

      I’m not sure why that should be assumed, but even so, they’re not a fundamentally different thing.
      Console games are extremely social – people play together on multiple controllers – and the most popular PC games are online multiplayer, right? Solitaire videogames are a minority – and even those are very human and become community activities.

    • Nick says:

      “I’m not sure why that should be assumed”
      Because the whole article is about videogames? “The Games Industry” is in the title and doesn’t refer to people playing hoop and stick with each other in the 1900s. I mean he only explicitly says video games about 5 times in the article.. you did read it didn’t you?

      Its only in more recent years that multiplayer has supassed the popularity of single player games, which was where my what came from in relation to your statement which was what I percieved to be about videogames as that is what his article was about.

    • brog says:

      (Far too many words devoted to a single silly line, but hey, it’s Sunday and I’m really busy waiting for something to happen, so I’m going to continue arguing. Please don’t take me too seriously!)

      It shouldn’t necessarily be assumed because he’s talking about the essential nature of games. A computer is just a piece of equipment that can be used in a game, like a soccer ball or a deck of cards; using this equipment doesn’t change the essence of what it’s being used for.

      In recent years the technology enabling multiplayer videogames has gotten a lot friendlier, but I continue to assert that multiplayer has been really big throughout the history of the medium. Arcades were very social places, with nearly all games being two-player, and even the ones that weren’t had social elements (i.e. high-score tables). All the consoles have supported at least 2 players, and I’ve been playing networked PC games since I was very young. Counterstrike’s been huge for over eleven years – I wouldn’t call that “recent”.
      (Also note that every game listed here was multiplayer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_video_game)

    • JackShandy says:

      “Its only in more recent years that multiplayer has supassed the popularity of single player games”
      That’s absolutely false. The very first video games ever made were multiplayer. The first single-player games were designed to make multiple players compete for high-scores. We didn’t start with Half-life and then slowly realize we could make Pong.

      Human V Human is the default state of games. It just happens that we’ve recently invented the technology to make proxy humans to interact with a player on a human’s behalf. They do it pretty poorly, of course, but it’s a better solution than having the game designer drive to everyone’s house to play against them.

  25. westyfield says:

    That library thing is awesome, but I have one question. Why not store the books in the bins with the spine facing outward? That way it would be even quicker to find a book in a bin.

  26. bill says:

    I think my problem with comments on the internet is that the response is always so hostile and negative.
    It’s very very rare to read ANY article on the web that doesn’t get negative comments. I’m sure you could write a “white is white” post and you’d still get lots of people posting negatively and arguing it was black.

    It’s frustrating, because a fair share of comments can be useful and informative, but often the overall feeling i’m left with is negative and depressing. It’s like hiring someone to follow you around, and everytime you enjoy something they start telling you how bad it was and how dumb you are for enjoying it.

    Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and not everyone has to agree. But, for example, when i used to read a game mag (or any other mag or paper for that matter) i could just enjoy the article. Now I always gain a critical mauling free with every article. And the most depressing thing is that it can be kind of entertaining, and hard to resist joining in. It’s like the addictive guilty pleasure of gossip or picking on someone weaker.

    I just installed the CommentBlocker addon, and my web seems a much friendlier place – even if i might now get mislead by a few incorrect articles.

    • Balm says:

      What about comments here on RPS? While there are disagreaments and arguing, median temperature is comfortably warm (big thanks to moderators i assume).

    • World One Two says:

      A solitary lifeboat bobbing on an ocean of bile.

    • BeamSplashX says:

      I like that better than “consistently above average” for the page title.

      P.S. Gears of War is a kill.switch rip-off! Teeheehee! Mischief!

    • Premium User Badge

      tomeoftom says:

      I think it’s because with a really great article, you feel as if everything has already been said (and said well), and it’d be kinda banal and pointless to say “great read!” or “this was really nice”. It’s a shame the way it works out like that – unless you have something uniquely of your own to share, oftentimes people will only comment when they have an issue with something in the text. Worse than this is that short of a silly rating system, there’s not many good metrics for gauging response to a piece other than comments. I’m going to do both a symbol and text sadface :(.

    • Rii says:

      @Balm: “While there are disagreaments and arguing, median temperature is comfortably warm (big thanks to moderators i assume).”

      Way to insult the readership there. =/

    • bill says:

      RPS is on the whitelist, as it’s usually pretty good. There are a reasonable number of snarky comments (but at least they’re usually funny) but there’s also a high proportion of friendly helpful people.

      Though it’s telling that the two stories that got 95% of the comments are the chance to bash a guy for his lack of 40k knowledge, and the chance to complain about exceptions to booker’s movies vs games arguments.

      No one has commented on half the other articles – the ones that were uncontroversial or positive.
      (I rather liked Mr Francis’s good-game criteria myself).

  27. Basilicus says:

    Enough about Takahashi. Sure, he’s controversial, but let’s talk about something even more important. Most important, even! Let’s talk about:

    FATE OF THE WORLD

    For instance, it’s hard as balls. What region of the world do you usually sacrifice first?

    • Hematite says:

      Well, the game has changed quite remarkably with each patch (now you can specifically transition away from coal, instead of fudging it with carbon tax and support for renewables!), but I always open by sending some muscle to North Africa so they don’t revolt and destabilise the other regions while I neglect their cries for medical aid, and strictly enforce a one child policy in India and raise their education level but ignore the crippling food shortages.

      Then I pamper Oceania and Japan to prop up their quality of life and hence research output and take no action against their flagrantly wasteful and polluting lifestyles because there’s, like, only five people there anyway and china produces more pollution in one turn than they will during the entire game.

      And I feel terrible about it.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Is it actually possible to win the scenarios? I don’t believe in a no win outcome.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Yes it is, but it’s CLOSE to impossible.

      Utterly depressingly sad part is, that’s what makes the game so realistic.

  28. Robert says:

    That Space Marine article, the comments: MY EYES, MY EYES! SOMEONE UNDO IT!

  29. Balm says:

    David Wolinsky, like many others, holds that phone wrong way. UO wasn’t made for soloing, chalenges of it were made with the collective in mind. It’s like console-cheating your way in portal 2 co-op maps alone and complayning that some puzzles are impossible to solve (BTW, did anyone tryed to solo co-op chalenges alone? Not “I control both robots in split-screen mode” alone, but “1gun2portals” alone).

  30. phenom_x8 says:

    there’s some interesting article wrote at bit-tech about 3d here : http://www.bit-tech.net/news/hardware/2011/05/23/bit-tech-3d-week-begins/1
    The most interesting part is here http://www.bit-tech.net/gaming/pc/2011/05/25/indie-developers-talk-3d/1 I think!
    Indie dev feels that 3d is just another gimmick that will dissapear shortly! And I agree about it!

    • Markachy says:

      I have to disagree massively. For me 3D adds far more to the gaming experience than any update since the invention of dedicated graphics cards! The world feels so much more real and tangible in 3D. I feel its a much better upgrade than some higer-res textures and shiny water effects.

      Ever since getting the 3DS, when I play PC or console games they feel so flat and boring in comparison. It feels like I am playing on a 2D canvas now rather than a 3D world. I reckon 3D will be a massive part of the next generation of consoles (and thus for PC games too). I hope it will be. Zelda Ocarina of Time 3D is my most anticipated game this year (after DX3) simply because the 3D will make the world come alive in a way that higher polygon counts never will. The thought of Portal in 3D makes me weak in the knees! It adds little to films, but much to games.

    • DK says:

      Sorry 3D is a horrible horrible fad, and it’s a miracle the film industry managed to somehow bring it back from the dead. Which is where it was when it died in the 90ies. It’s not a new idea. We’ve tried it 20 years ago – it sucked then, it still sucks now, but now there’s a bigger PR budget.

    • sinister agent says:

      I assume your cheque’s in the post, Markachy.

    • Markachy says:

      It did sound like a commerical, didn’t it? Seriously though, 3D is brilliant in games when it is done properly. In Ghost Recon, there is a map which has water flowing down a hole in the ground, it looks spectacular when the camera pans across it.

      Whereas a game like Street Fighter, it doesn’t add all that much to it. Depends on the genre and the perspective.

    • Zenicetus says:

      There’s an interesting article on today’s New York Times site — “Hollywood Starts to Worry as 3-D Fizzles in U.S.” It’s starting to look like it might be a short-term fad, and the suits are panicking.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/30/business/media/30panda.html?hp&gwh=A840FD5D62BCF24D72050C6C1040236D

      I don’t know if this has relevance for gaming, but it might be part of an overall trend. Personally, I’m not that exciting about looking at 3D in a box in front of me. I’ve always felt it wouldn’t be worthwhile unless it was full immersive VR, where you’re “in” the environment instead of staring at something on a screen in front of you. Affordable VR was promised years ago, but like flying cars, it never seems to get much closer.

  31. Markachy says:

    That Warhammer 40k article is almost as poorly written and researched as Quintin’s Fallout: New Vegas Wot I Think! At least that guy had the decency to write an apology ¬_¬

    • BeamSplashX says:

      I disagreed with Quinns’ WIT of New Vegas, but I disagree with your statement even more. Wot I Thinks have the decency to carry an air of subjectivity about them that doesn’t vilify people with contrary opinions (though it can be damning of devs, but they can hopefully take it).

      As for Takahashi… eh. Regardless of facts, his writing is pretty bland. Necesita más ingenio is what I would say if I knew more Spanish, but I had to look up that ingenio meant wit. Needs more wit, is what I’m saying.

    • CMaster says:

      Quinn’s WiT of New Vegas was pretty out of line. His claims of it being lazy and “phoned in” are pretty evidently wrong, especially when compared with Fallout 2 and Fallout 3.
      Course, he was free to dislike it, and his comments about New Vegas feeling kinda empty do hold true. I’m not sure that they’re really comparable. Quinn’s claims weren’t down to a lack of knowledge about the subject (unless he really hadn’t played any Fallout games at all before). They were about him misreading things, about it not being the game he was expecting or hoping for. In contrast, the Space Marine article says “GoW and Space Marine are exactly the same because of these aesthetic elements” and cites what are classic elements of 40K that have been around for years and doesn’t actually address game play at all. In fact, if what Relic have said so far is to be believed, Space Marine will likley play more like God of War than Gears of War.

      Although in some ways it does suprise me that Quinns never made any further comment on said infamous review. He didn’t just say he disliked the game, he insulted everybody involved in it. Seems perhaps unsurprising then that it got the reaction it got. (Although seeing people carrying on about it in every article for months was pretty tedious and unmerited).

    • Vinraith says:

      @CMaster

      And let’s not neglect the screenshots, several of which seemed to go out of their way to be unrepresentative or dishonest. The agricultural compound (with greenhouses and multiple fields) shown as a single near-empty field springs to mind. I don’t know what was going on there, and Quinns has done a lot of writing since then that I’ve really enjoyed, but if I didn’t know better I’d accuse that article of being a deliberate hatchet job.

    • Lilliput King says:

      The casinos really were empty. The strip really was desolate. The ‘crops’ really were half a dozen half empty 3m square plots of corn that wouldn’t keep two families going, let alone an entire civilization. It was a pathetic effort visually which pervaded the game, and it grated. It was a perfectly rational complaint.

      I challenge you to find a screenshot of those casinos which would paint them in a better light.

    • DAdvocate says:

      @CMaster I feel the source of Quinn’s antagonism with New Vegas came from the many bugs. With New Vegas using the same engine as Fallout 3 there is no excuse for the numerous engine and storyline bugs evident in the initial release. It gives the impression that they just didn’t care, and that fed through into Quinn’s impressions of the rest of the game world.

      New Vegas is a superb game, but to enjoy it the player must invest a great deal of time and effort. Unfortunately in Quinn’s case, if you feel that the developers don’t care, it’s difficult for the player to care, which means the main attraction – exploration – becomes a chore.

      As for Quinn’s apologising, please don’t forget that the “WIT”s are subjective opinions, everybody loves political satire until it’s targeted at their beliefs.

    • Nick says:

      “With New Vegas using the same engine as Fallout 3 there is no excuse for the numerous engine and storyline bugs evident in the initial release. It gives the impression that they just didn’t care, and that fed through into Quinn’s impressions of the rest of the game world.”

      Complete bullshit.

      There are so many wrong things about it its hard to know where to start. How about the fact Fallout 3 is still a buggy PoS to this day? Or that it was a team of developers with no experience in using Bethesda’s (crappy bug ridden) engine? Or that in general the more vast and complex a game is the easier it is for bugs to get in there, in all those multiple dialogue and quest triggers and whatnot?

      Tbh, New Vegas is more stable and less buggy than Fallout 3, but no one ever mentions how bugged out Bethesda’s games are, or Bioware’s, just Obsidian because everyone knows they make broken games, right?

    • Markachy says:

      I was half-joking with that comment to be honest, but I do think there are a few similarities. It wasn’t the fact Quinns hated the game that annoyed me (why should it, its his opinion), or the photos etc, but the comments he made at the very start, about them not giving a fuck. It enraged me, mainly because that is so utterly utterly wrong, and showed a serious lack of knowledge regarding the history of the Fallout series and of Obsidian. The Warhammer guy showed a similar lack of knowledge (or naivety) about his chosen topic of discussion, and paid for it in the form of many angry internet men abusing him and earning his chosen website more money as a result of all the hits…hmmm, wait a sec…

      Obsidian are a developer whose passion for games shines through all their releases, more so than pretty much any other developer in my opinion, and belittling their efforts with a crass, unfounded, ignorant accusation in the first lines of a review really was unnecessary, and given the scale and popularity of this website, could do real damage to them. With great power comes great responsibility, not lazy journalism!

    • meatshit says:

      Like I said above, an opinion needs to be supported to be worthwhile. Just saying “this game sux” and leaving it at that is completely worthless. If you say “This game is bad because of reason A. Here are some examples of why I think reason A is true.” but the examples are misrepresentative or the reasoning is faulty, then the opinion is similarly worthless. I think the argument over Quinn’s review should stay dead, so I’ll leave it at that.

    • Lilliput King says:

      I thought the first lines went too far, though I did find them amusing. But how exactly are they ignorant? A ‘serious lack of knowledge’? I assume Quinns is aware of Obsidian’s origins, but even if he isn’t those origins don’t necessarily mean they’d put the required effort in to do a good job.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Quinn’s claims weren’t down to a lack of knowledge about the subject (unless he really hadn’t played any Fallout games at all before). They were about him misreading things, about it not being the game he was expecting or hoping for.”

      I dunno… maybe this is an American gamer’s perspective, but I got the distinct impression reading his NV review, that it was written by a foreigner who had never experienced the American Southwest in person, and didn’t know it actually looks like that. Also, since NV borrows heavily from classic Western movies for the theme, those themes require vast lonely vistas for the lone hero to be traipsing around in.

      In that respect, I felt it was an opinion based on lack of knowledge. If he just doesn’t like empty vistas, that’s fine, but the WIT didn’t read that way. It read like he felt the devs were being lazy by not crowding more stuff together like the DC wasteland in Fallout 3, a much more urbanized area. That’s an opinion based on lack of knowledge and research, in my book.

      The other complaints, like the sparsely populated casinos also seemed a bit too much like whipping on a creaky game engine, which obviously isn’t up to representing Assassin’s Creed busy streets. The game engine is still good enough to tell stories and create interesting situations. And it’s not that hard to rationalize a low population in a post-apocalyptic environment. That’s just a case of beating a near-dead horse for the hell of it, because you’ve formed a preconception that the devs are lazy for creating environments are too “empty.”

    • DAdvocate says:

      @Nick You are correct in that some of the bugs are relics of Bethesda’s errors, however once Oblivion agreed to produce New Vegas, they must take responsibility for the finished product.

      It is a rather strange claim you make that other developers are not criticised for their buggy games, I can only assume a degree of fan rage is in effect. The difference with New Vegas is that it is fundamentally only an expansion pack, they had an implemented engine with assets on day 1. This allows them to start testing their work immediately which should have resulted in a highly polished experience.

      @Markachy The obvious deficiency in testing (such as the missing typewriter) is the equivalent to a writer/journalist not editing their work and thus justifying the phrase “phoning it in”. It may be a tad over the top but producing entertaining content requires a degree of flamboyance. It is unfortunate the excellent work done by the designers was unfortunately let down by the QA manager.

      @Zenicetus I suspect the complaint about the empty vistas was the result of a lack of enthusiasm for exploring. It was easy to miss quests or important characters if you didn’t spend the time speaking to everyone.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Zeneticus: A low population can’t be rationalised because the game relies on a high population for the plot to make the first bit of sense. How the fuck does Mr. House intend to squeeze enough cash to re-start civilization from the two brahmin herders that occupy the strip? It’s the difference between him being a genius and a complete buffoon. The game just isn’t consistent, visually. You can say that isn’t Obsidian’s fault, but what does that change? It’s still a valid criticism of the game.

    • Alphabet says:

      It was a full-price game that had a ridiculous amount of game-breaking bugs on release. I think both companies got off lightly.

    • Mark says:

      I have no leniency when it comes to Obsidian regarding lack of polish. They consistently produce buggy games, and I think that shows a disrespect to the people who buy them. I also don’t accept that it’s the publisher’s fault, because Obsidian have worked with several publishers, and each time a buggy game is the result. And the common factor? The developer. There was also the story last year coming from a disgruntled employee about the poor management of Alpha Protocol (shaky, I know). Basically, all signs point to the fault being with them.

    • Zenicetus says:

      NV isn’t the only game that’s had a plot the game engine isn’t up to fully representing. Where are the actual teeming hordes of refugees trying to get into Kirkwall at the beginning of Dragon Age 2? You just see a few people milling around at the gate, and the actual city (once you get inside) doesn’t look very populated. And that’s a more modern game engine.

      I suppose it’s just a different way of seeing things, but I thought the near-empty big casinos in NV helped portray the sense of loss for a once-glamorous world, where people were struggling to rebuild. If the game engine could have put the actual crowds of modern Vegas in those rooms, I don’t think it would look right for the post-apocalypse setting. But it seems like that’s what Quinn was expecting for some reason, just because it says “casino” on the outside.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Zen: Or maybe that was what he was expecting because that is what the game tells you is going on, despite appearances.

      And I know that other games have the same problem. Some other games also don’t have the problem. What does that have to do with whether the problem exists?

    • bill says:

      I think many people are, as fanboys tend to do, reading too much into that WiT. As someone said, everyone likes jokes until you disagree with them.

      Most WITs are written in exactly the same style – half joking, half train-of-thought, focusing on small details and interesting anecdotes rather than analysing the whole thing for Graphics, Gameplay, Sound, etc.. That’s why we like them, isn’t it?

      To me, who has no particular interest in Fallout one way or the other, it didn’t read any different to any other WITs. So I was, and still remain, surprised at all the complaints that appeared in the comments.

      No one has to agree with his view, but it was his view, expressed in an entertaining way that’s consistent with the style of this site. Let it go.

  32. Fumarole says:

    That SM/GoW article is comedy gold.

  33. Fumarole says:

    Re: the Robot Library of Chicago – the hospital I work at has a fleet of robots for delivering goods around the building. Attempting to ride them is not recommended.

  34. Pointless Puppies says:

    The Warhammer piece is fascinating, in a train-wreck sort of way. I can’t imagine how any games journalist can possibly feel comfortable publishing such an inflammatory article blatantly insulting the developers simply because their game (of which said journalist is completely unfamiliar) looks KIND OF like this other game that is rather more familiar.

    Then there’s the apology, which sounds less like an apology and more like a stream of consciousness, constantly at a conflict with himself whether or not he ought to actually apologize for his inane drivel. “Yes, I kind of was subjective about it, but I’m not TOTALLY wrong. I mean, I WAS kind of wrong, but then again I wasn’t. I mean, I WANT to apologize, but I don’t want to actually admit I was wrong”.

    And then there’s the follow-up. Ah yes, the follow-up. Suffice to say, if one feels the need to dig a fellow journalist out of a hole he is in, it does rather validate the complaints, doesn’t it? Additionally, I fail to see how generalizing the comments as petulant whiners in any way furthers any kind of discussion. Looks like that particular author dislikes it when people correct fellow journalists. Makes you think how they can possibly call themselves professional when they’re paid to write something, invite people to comment by offering a comment box on the bottom of the page, then turn around and call repeatedly call people “geeks” when said commenters call out lapses in logic and objectively wrong statements.

    So, to the authors of both those articles I present this humble advice: Accept criticism or stop being a journalist.

  35. Premium User Badge

    Oozo says:

    Talking about “feel” in games: Wordy and lingerling on the obscure as it is (I love his writing for it, btw), Tim Roger’s taxonomy of different styles of “friction” is fairly interesting as well. Jim, if you haven’t read it yet, it might be worth musing over: http://kotaku.com/5558166/in-praise-of-sticky-friction

    That said, Tom Francis’ article surely is interesting, and like him, I’d hope to see other bloggers try their hands on it. At the same time, the burned child that I am is always a bit careful when it comes to taxonomies of appeal the way they are presented here; the danger of this “system” being dumbed down again to something that has numbers attached to each of the categories and calling it a day, is looming somewhere on the horizon.

    I think it’s more useful as a mindset, or a set of “lenses” (Jesse Shell-style) that you can apply while thinking critically about a game – even though the proper review/analysis should go further. (Something that Francis acknowledges himself.)

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yes, these attempts to break down things into “fundamentals” can be useful, but each proposed method of doing so seems to me to be useful for a specific purposes (making games, writing about games, writing about games in an academic way, etc.)

  36. SuperNashwanPower says:

    I always liked Charlie Brooker. He is like a funnier and more annoyed Adrian Chiles, and who doesnt love Adrian. Bless ‘im.

    Perhaps Charlie might not feel so complemented by that comparison. Hopefully he is not reading this. I meant it in a nice way.