The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on September 25th, 2011 at 9:25 am.


Sundays are for a breath of fresh air. They are also for sitting in a cold room somewhere in The West and meticulously combing through the internet for clues. Let’s see whether we can find any.

  • BitGamer’s Craig Lager has taken some time to investigate microtransactions. This is definitely an important topic: “There’s little point in diving into Korean MMORPGs that explicitly follow the ‘pay to win’ business model, as those games will be deliberately imbalanced to favour regularly paying customers. Western developers, however, claim to avoid falling into this ‘pay to win’ genre; which begs the question of whether they’re telling the truth or just selling empty promises. Thus, these are the games we’re going to analyse – flip the page to see the seven games we’ve chosen to look at.”
  • Tracey Lien on What Happens To Developers When A Studio Closes. This is focusing specifically on the increasingly difficult situation in Australian development: “Ideally there would be a healthy mix of large studios with independent development teams, but given the current situation in Australia, with another EA studio closing just last week, what is a developer to do after a studio closure? Is it a cue to leave the country for greener pastures? Do developers who have spent their entire careers making titles for current-gen consoles suddenly make the switch to mobile games? Or is it time to throw in the towel and opt for a career change?”
  • Gamasutra have had a go at “Charting Eve Online’s Evolution” and in doing so spoke to Eve lead Torfi Frans Olafsson. The interview contains quite a bit about DUST514. Olafsson said: “15 years ago, people wouldn’t have told you that somebody would care about as much about EVE as they do about an MMO. Or 20 years ago, before MMOs existed. We think the shooter market is ready for this. People want to do this. They have been assembling in clans, and they’ve been fighting, but never for a proper purpose — always for a position on a leaderboard, or some random achievement. But conquering the universe with tens of thousands of other people? That’s just mind-numbingly cool, I think.” If you own a PS3, anyway…
  • Lewis Denby takes the stage over at Eurogamer to offer up a retrospective on Rollercoaster Tycoon: “The first time you build a horrifically unsafe ride, it’s probably been by accident. You were too eager to open it to the public, perhaps, so you didn’t bother sending a train round in test mode first. You didn’t realise that you’d forgotten to join those two sections of track, or that it was possible for a train to get stuck on a hill, roll back down the way it came, and smash into the front of the one hurtling down the last drop. And you look on in horror as those screams of ecstasy become ones of mortal terror, before falling silent, a mass of smoke and flames billowing in the place where 32 happy lives used to be.”
  • The Brisbane Times has some interesting comment on Australia’s wobbly ratings policies, and the messages that games contain: “In the wise words of John Mellencamp, or maybe it was Malcolm X, “If you don’t stand for something you’re gonna fall for anything.” That’s one of the messages Fallout 3 teaches, and it’s one worth learning before you hit 18. It also teaches you not to drink irradiated toilet water unless you absolutely have to, which is important in its own way.”
  • Bohemia are blogging a lot at the moment, producing developer-authored articles such as this one about Take On Helicopter’s and animation.
  • Gamespy asks whether Diablo III should have been an FPS. Ha.
  • Games aren’t clocks.”
  • Gamefront argues that consoles “became shitty PCs“: “Last night, I quit playing Resistance 3 so I could download a firmware update so I could open the PlayStation Store so I could redeem an online pass so I could play Resistance 3.” I can’t help agreeing on that count.
  • VG247 go hands-on with Mass Effect 3.
  • Pixel Prospector made a big list of videogame documentaries.
  • DIROLab is throwing up a lot of good stuff in their research into “digital romance”.
  • “Clocks for robots”.
  • BLDGBLOG. Interested in anything at all? Then you should be reading that.
  • See if you can figure out who suggested I post this article on female sexuality in comics. To be fair, it’s pretty relevant across a lot of contemporary pulp media.
  • Sit Down & Shut Up.
  • This orbital Earth flyover is video of the week. Possibly the year.

Music? Well, Wugazi‘s 13 Chambers (Mediafire) is the greatest thing that has happened. Amazing.

Got a suggestion for a link? You can email me or tweet it my way.

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168 Comments »

  1. mkultra says:

    Good morning.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Good mornin’, good mornin’!
      We’ve danced the whole night through,
      good mornin’, good mornin’ to you.

    • fiddlesticks says:

      Good morning good morning

      Nothing to do to save his life
      call his wife in
      Nothing say but what a day
      how’s your boy been
      Nothing to do, it’s up to you
      I’ve got noting to say but it’s ok.

    • Griddle Octopus says:

      Good mornin’, good mornin!
      It’s great to stay up late!
      good mornin’, good mornin’ to you.

      My mum used to kick me out of bed with that song *every* morning.

    • diamondmx says:

      I want to know the silly songs that metal fans who become mums use to wake their kids up.

      Good morning, good morning
      GET THE F*** UP!
      {Incoherent screaming for 5 mins}

      I think it would be most effective.

    • rayne117 says:

      Good morning
      Look at the valedictorian scared of the future
      While I hop in the Delorean
      Scared-to-face-the-world complacent career student
      Some people graduate, but we still stupid
      They tell you read this, eat this, don’t look around
      Just peep this, preach us, teach us, Jesus
      Okay, look up now, they done stole your streetness
      After all of that, you receive this

    • Acorino says:

      - Guten Morgen! -
      Wenn der Wecker um halb sechs
      - Guten Morgen! -
      fröhlich sein Liedchen geigt,
      - Guten Morgen! -
      und ich mit dem linken Fuß
      - Guten Morgen! -
      zuerst aus dem Bette steig,

      wenn die erste Zigarette
      mir halb den Bart verbrennt,
      dann sag ich mir:
      “Hätt’ste bloß diesen Tag verpennt!”

      - Guten Morgen! -
      .
      .
      .

    • Jambe says:

      @diamondmx:

      I laughed heartily at that comment, thank you. I had been watching Metalocalypse, so I envisioned one of their crazed fans waking up her children with a hilariously OTT growl-athon.

  2. Inigo says:

    And you look on in horror as those screams of ecstasy become ones of mortal terror, before falling silent, a mass of smoke and flames billowing in the place where 32 happy lives used to be.”

    And then you do it again.
    And again.
    And again.
    And again.
    And again only this time you aren’t wearing any clothes.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I am mildly distraught that I cannot remember which machine my damn savegames are on.

      They may be buried somewhere in the disk image backup of an old Win98SE install before it self-destructed.

      Edit: Aha! Indeed they were. And people think I’m mad for data-hoarding.

  3. Brumisator says:

    AAah, nice, I was waiting for this …where’s sunday paper? Then I realised I’d woken up at 7 AM…on sunday…for no reason.

    Anyway, Getting people to be professional game journalists …when they dont know enough bout their medium, is just mind-boggling to me. I’m refering, of course, to that gamespy article.

    “my eyes were opened to an entirely new perspective on a gaming world. As a lover of first person games, the isometric camera system in Diablo III felt very unfamiliar”. Really, REALLY? out of all the genres of games throughout the ages, he’s only played call of duty? And he’s getting paid money to write about games?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Welcome to the internet.

    • Brumisator says:

      Damn you Jim, why is RPS warping my view, making the internet seem like a more reasonable place than it actually is? I demand you lower your editorial quality to mediocre levels immediately!

      You’ll be hearing from my lawyers soon.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah I have to admit that whole start was just a big “what?” moment for me. Seriously? I mean I realise people have biases but good grief you can’t have been gaming long if all you’re familiar with are FPS’s, even console-side. It pretty much explains the whole premise of the article, but not in a good way.

      To me it just raised the spectre of Alec’s piece on Syndicate and how everything doesn’t need to be an FPS, and made it all the more relevant. To a lot of the people playing games these days, THIS is their familiarity and what they will accept from a game, anything else and you get bizarre articles on a game that’s NOT an FPS? What sorcery is this?

    • Thants says:

      I assumed from the title that it was satire but then I read it and now I don’t know what to think anymore. Oh, god, what’s happening, where am I? I’m cold, so cold…

    • meatshit says:

      I refuse to believe that article was written as anything other than a deadpan joke. The alternative is just too horrible to comprehend.

    • Johnny Lizard says:

      He describes it as “unique”! Twice!

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I took it to be a joke because the first-person viewpoint was described as “more immersive”.

      So if it wasn’t a joke, how many people really think like that? I mean, I could understand if you’d never played a decent third person or isometric game, but surely a good game will be “immersive” and one of the signs of a poorly written game would be a lack of immersion no matter the viewpoint.

    • blind_boy_grunt says:

      or perhaps he’s seen the huge amount of comments every article on rps about pewpew-isation of old classics get and decided he wanted in on it. Whatever the reason i refuse to believe that this is his actual opinion. I refuse! I don’t want to live in a world where this article is real (and a world in which marketing people could actually be right, that people want their games only as egoshooters. This kinda reminds me of “last action hero”, where the kid starts dreaming about schwarzenegger as hamlet, because the actual play is so boring and stupid, why i don’t know exactly)

    • Sinomatic says:

      I always wondered what would happen in games journalism when times moved on to to the point where AAA manshoots were the only basis for the writer’s formative games experiences. The shuddering, I can not stop it.

      (Seriously though, it *is* a silly, deadpan joke, right? Right?)

    • RF says:

      I thought the Gamespy article was a joke but then it wasn’t and I wept tears of blood and asked the Great PC God to take my life in order to forgive shitty game’s journalists of their sins.

      He did not. He said their sins were unforgivable.

    • JuJuCam says:

      “It boils down to the old MMO method of combat”

      I feel unclean after reading this article. Mainly because I know there’s a particular type of gamer who is reading it and nodding. And there are more of them with more money than those of us who need a breathmint because we vomited a little.

    • Chiller says:

      I think it’s a deadpan joke. But I also think first-person-ness adds to the immersion, and I greatly prefer that point of view over the alternatives.

    • Mattressi says:

      It has to be a joke – he said his “Diablo veteran” friend said that Diablo games never get very difficult. Maybe this ‘veteran’ simply used one of the many item hacks going around, but Diablo was quite hard on Nightmare and absurdly hard on Hell unless you just ground (grinded?) for days on lower difficulties so that you never had to face a challenge.

      I mean, seriously; how the hell is isometric perspective less challenging than FPS?? Does this guy’s friend really think that Oblivion was harder than Diablo 2?

      He then goes on to say that he likes games with a challenge: what challenging games have been released since isometric games went out of fashion?

      I also liked how he said that DIablo’s gameplay boils down to the “old” MMO method of combat – obviously MMO’s predate isometric games. I mean, Everquest was released in 1999 – that’s got to be the oldest game in the world, right?

    • Koozer says:

      Look, this is like neutrinos seemingly going faster than light: sure it looks like the evidence is there now, but it’s completely unfeasable and breaks all known and confirmed laws, and is more likely an error. It is just impossible the article is serious.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Well I have to agree with that part. Diablo was never difficult. It was grinding until your numbers were bigger than their numbers and then you can kill them.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      The funny part is that on his twitter, he claims to not like older games because of the graphics, and then mentions XCOM, Syndicate and Fallout as reasons why we should be considering D3 in first-person.

      Seems like he’s missing out if he can only enjoy AAA releases released in the last couple years. Crazy. Also scary, especially when the biggest current competitor to FPS conversions is Facebook style games.

    • Aquamarine Jesus says:

      If only today were April 1 the world would make sense again.

    • Bret says:

      I thought it was some of that famous deadpan humor.

      Until just now. Is it alright if I start sobbing?

  4. CMaster says:

    Yeah, it’s a real shame (with respect to that “consoles are shitty PCs” article). I mean, PCs are a lot more stable, a lot quicker to boot up than they used to be, and Steam provides a community service comparable to XBL for Steamworks games. They also now easily connect up to your TV (although it’s the TVs that have changed, not the computers) But they still don’t start instantly, or have a “just pop in and go” functionality – it’s just that neither do the consoles any more, with mandatory patches, increasingly extended start-up times, and increasingly more prone to crashes.

    He does however, miss out one big console advantage: Compatibility. If I walk down to the shop and pick up a game that says “Playstation 3″ or “XBOX 360″ or “Wii” on the box, I can know that when I take it home and plug it in, it would work on my machine (well, except I don’t have a PS3 or 360). Pick up a PC game and you never know if it will work with your setup or not.

    • 1R0N_W00K13 says:

      It’s ironic you bring up compatibility…what about backwards compatibility? You can get a large number of games from 1990 to the present day to run on the PC with either no effort at all or a simple patch/fix; something which will never happen with consoles. At least with the 360, I know for a fact their backwards compatibility with the XBOX is sporadic at best, and although I’m not sure of PS3-PS2 compatibility I know if I wanted to play a PS1 game I’d be out of luck.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Oh, those PC titles will work. I may have to sift through dozens of online help forums and DOSbox tutorials, but it’ll work. Shadow of the Horned Rat, Fahrenheit, Sid Meier’s Gettysburg, Master of Orion – all have challenged me and fallen beneath my elite researching skills.

    • subedii says:

      True, but I’d say that’s actually been supplanted in some ways by the cash game peripherals. Whether it’s a few years ago with the music game crazy and all those freaking expensive plastic instrument, or today with the motion control phase.

      Then again, I guess that was always the case as well. But I don’t remember the Nintendoscope taking off in such a big way as Kinect apparently has.

      I am always wondering though, whether we’re ever going to see an equivalent again of the N64′s RAM pack. If we ever get modular consoles, man the whole false dichotomy of console-PC gaming is just going to get all the more silly.

    • CMaster says:

      @Iron Wookie.
      Interesting point. You’re right Windows/DOS based gaming has a huge, mostly accessible back catalogue, the way that the consoles don’t. But it still keeps the core point of not knowing. I know PS2 games will play on my PS2, or my early-gen PS3. I know SNES games will work in my SNES. Will my old CD copy of TFTD work? (Yes, but with random crashes outside of DOSbox). Will my Master of Orion work (mentioned by Drake) – last time I tried, on XP – yes. Although I had to find a floppy drive (oph, not good backward compatibility there). Will my Beyond Good and Evil work? (Much more recent, there’s a gamecube version that is apparently very good, and will run on the Wii). No, actually. The DRM doesn’t like 64 bit OSes, and the game crashes out at the end of the installer with no explanation.

    • 1R0N_W00K13 says:

      Whilst I agree it often is no mean feat, you can get a helluva lot of games to work properly with 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7 if you’re willing to sift through a forum or two for advice. There’s always a few fatalities with new any new OS but it’s remarkable that I can clean install a game like Unreal Tournament and have it run on 64-bit 7 with no issues whatsoever.

    • subedii says:

      There’s another problem with that though, which is that once a console generation is gone, it’s gone. When the hardware breaks it can often be fairly hard to get a replacement SNES or Dreamcast to play those old games (and even more inconvenient to dig them out to plop in front of the TV usually).

      It wasn’t so bad with previous generations, maybe it’s just my perception, but I feel as if current console hardware wears out faster than previous generations. Everyone knows about how flaky the 360′s been in terms of needing replacement, but even the PS3 hasn’t exactly been a rock of absolute solidity either.

      Basically I guess I’m saying that there’s a flip side to that coin. PC-side you’ve got the questionable backwards compatibility of new hardware. Console-side you’ve got the questionable survivability of old hardware. That SNES cartridge may just want you to blow into the connectors a few more times, but is your SNES still around and in good working condition?

    • 1R0N_W00K13 says:

      Except one can be an informed choice and another can’t. If you buy a new console you have no idea of how long it’s going to survive. Before you even consider buying an older PC game you can trawl the internet to check for any compatibility issues and be pretty much certain if it’ll work properly.

    • aircool says:

      The one big advantage that consoles have is the need for developers to actually work really hard to get the best from the hardware. The downside is that they can never be arsed to make decent ports to the PC.

      It does annoy me slightly when you play what would be a good game if they’d (the devs) had just bothered their arse to optimise the game engine, be it a console port, or a PC only game.

    • rottenspiel says:

      I’m pretty sure that’s true only for people that are stupid, lazy or both. Otherwise you have no excuse for not knowing if a game will work for you or not, if you have Internet access.

    • subedii says:

      @ aircool:

      Yeah I’ve been reading a fair amount lately about how the Crysis console port actually runs really well. And all I can think is, if they can actually get a very good facsimile of Crysis running on med-high running on console hardware at 720p, and with (depending on how you view it) 512 MB of RAM, doesn’t that just mean that a large part of the high end system specs requirements was pure and unadulterated lack of optimisation?

      It just irks me all the more with Crysis. A game that eventually sold 3 million copies, Cevat Yerli complained about how it should have sold more along the lines of 5-8 million (Gears of War territory we’re talking here), and this became yet another story back in 2008 detailing the death of the PC platform with the usual glee. And the thing is, all along it may have actually been accessible to a frack-tonne more people if they actually had done this optimisation instead of brute-forcing all their solutions and saying it was OK to keep adding to the system requirements.

    • Chaz says:

      My main reason for building a new games PC and coming back into the PC gaming fold had nothing to do with the hardware or any such thing, it was just about the games.

      The reason I opted for an Xbox instead of upgrading my PC several years ago was because I thought the PC gaming scene had become rather tired and stale. The biggest new release at about that time was Crysis and it seemed like just another in a long line of FPS’s that required yet another bank breaking hardware upgrade, and I decided enough was enough. By comparison, to me the consoles seemed a much more bright and happy place to be at that time. Sitting down on my couch to play these big budget bright colourful games like Gears of War, Crackdown, Halo 3, Fable 2, Mass Effect, GTA 4 etc, seemed like a world away from sitting at a desk in front of my dull PC and its little 17″ screen which had struggled to run games at even a mediocre setting. The ease of use of meeting friends and playing games with them over Xbox Live compared to the incredible hassle of trying to get us all together and working over Teamspeak and joined into the same games via the interent when on the PC just seemed like another good reason to give up PC gaming at that time. I suppose I should add that most of my gaming buddies had also already migrated from the PC to the Xbox.

      And now back to the PC, and the main reason is yet again the games. The games on the Xbox just seem to have become stuck in mire of sequals and even new IP’s are generally safe and uninspiring with a feeling of homogeneity about them. Whilst on the other hand I have watched the PC gaming scene gradually pick itself back up over the past few years and it seems to be once again playing to its strengths with lots of weird and wonderful niche titles, helped I think in no small part by the growth of the indie scene.

      So for me personally the platform isn’t so much the issue, I just want good games to play and I want variety too.

    • Griddle Octopus says:

      Got OnLive here yesterday and it solves a lot of problems.
      (If your connection’s good and the servers are empty. Mine’s shit and they’re full. So it rarely even starts. )

    • Moni says:

      @aircool RE: Crysis optimisations. I think it’s a bit unfair to say Crysis wasn’t well optimised. The changes that allow the console versions to run with similar performance is the result of 3-4 years of research. I think it includes completely rewriting the lighting system.

    • Xercies says:

      Actually Crysis was terribly optimised, even i could see that and I had a rubbish system, now with a system like mine its even clear to see how Crysis is badly optimised for any system.

    • frymaster says:

      the problem with these “the game isn’t optimised” discussions is that what it boils down to is basically “I can’t move the slider as far to the right on this system as I can with other games, proportionally speaking”

      The problem is that on some games, the slider goes further. I have only now got a system that can play crysis with everything on max. But here’s the thing. Apart from if I glance at the FPS, I actually can’t tell the difference between the settings I used to use, and the max settings, because there’s diminishing returns at the higher settings.

      That being said, console games are always going to be more optimised for the hardware because you can optimise for hardware. On the PC, you have a lot less guarantees of what capabilities the user’s hardware has. But still, the quality of crysis on console is noticeably lower:

      http://www6.incrysis.com/screenshots/crysis_pc_dx10_high_vs_console.png

    • Mark says:

      For the most part, gaming on consoles is easier than on PC. It’s not been raised yet but I suppose it’s worth me mentioning that the PS3′s update process is shocking bad compared to the 360′s. To then extrapolate from that unfortunate experience to “consoles have just become shitty PCs” is unfair.

      I can rent or borrow Gears of War 3 from a friend and slip into my machine, and it does work (barring the 30-second 2 meg patch download). I don’t need to install it. I can just start playing. How do you do this on a PC? Oh, right, you can’t. Do I have to worry about graphics driver updates? No. Do I have to worry about hardware compatibility problems? No. Do I have to worry about opening ports for each game I install? Nope.

      Yes, there is DLC and and DRM, but that’s an industry thing, not a console thing. Yes, there are day one patches and season passes and Gold subscriptions, but that’s because there actually exists an online infrastructure to access new content, where one didn’t exist before. And yes, console games won’t look as good as on PC, but hasn’t that always been the case anyway? These are the costs associated with a console generation which has rapidly evolved into something probably neither Sony or Microsoft could have wholly predicted.

      I’m not trying to prove one system is better over another, but from where I’m looking from, this generation has leaped so far ahead of previous one in so many respects, and still has the advantage in terms of accessibility, yet this guy is complaining because a patch took too long to download and he has to enter a code every so often?

      tl;dr: everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.

      /anti-rant rant

    • DrGonzo says:

      Gold isn’t there because of decent infrastructure. It’s there because they can charge for it and people foolishly pay.

      I agree that consoles are easier to use. But they certainly aren’t cheaper or more reliable. In the last 4 years, I’ve had to replace my Pcs motherboard after it died and also the graphics card it took with it. Since the 360 came out I’ve had to replace the entire console 3 times.

    • Starky says:

      Yeah I’ve been reading a fair amount lately about how the Crysis console port actually runs really well. And all I can think is, if they can actually get a very good facsimile of Crysis running on med-high running on console hardware at 720p, and with (depending on how you view it) 512 MB of RAM, doesn’t that just mean that a large part of the high end system specs requirements was pure and unadulterated lack of optimisation?

      No it doesn’t – because there is a thing about computer graphics – it doesn’t exist on a linear increase.
      It exists on a something closer to a parabolic curve.
      A game might run on medium at a nice 30fps – but doubling the CPU and GPU processing available will not double the noticeable graphical fidelity.

      At the level of realism we’re at, small and barely noticeable improvements cost a massive amount of computer resources – adding something like ambient occlusion and 2xAA to a game like Crysis might take as much GPU power as everything else the game requires (as in 50% of your GPU speed is used just on those 2 settings), and only adds a small bonus to the screenshot quality (and then only if you zoom in on a section) – and may be almost unnoticeable in play.

      This, more than any other reason (more than consoles life cycle, more than asset production cost) is why PC graphical increase has seemed to slow for us gamers.
      Massively powered PCs could push higher resolution textures, with better AA at higher resolutions, have more particles, better shadows and sharers – basically more of everything – and it really wouldn’t make that much of a difference – we humans with our piss poor (relatively speaking compared to most species) vision could just not tell the difference.

      It’s why art design is much more important now – the next step towards photorealism is a massive one.

      Simply put, gaming has managed all the broad strokes of realism – and like a painting only the small fine details are left to fill in – details that you won’t notice unless you inspect the work with a magnifying glass.
      And like painting, abstract is often more attractive to our eye anyway.

    • wengart says:

      @ Mark
      With the advent of Steam and other DD stores the upkeep requirements for PC gaming have gone down dramatically. I can buy a game and be playing before I would be able to make it to the store and back, and I get it at a significantly lower price. Once the game is downloaded I double click its icon on Steam and the game literally just works.

      Also who are these people who have to worry about compatibility, driver updates, and open ports. I know absolutely no one who has ever had to deal with any of that stuff, much less keep it in the back of their mind when purchasing games.

      I think there is a huge ingrained view of what PC gaming is and what it requires, and the majority of it isn’t true in the slightest.

  5. Burning Man says:

    I WANT A “WOT I THOUGHT OF MY WEDDING” ARTICLE

    Wait, scratch that.

    I DEMAND ONE. How else are we supposed to shower John with congratulations and off-colour jokes?

    • aircool says:

      I suspect the thumb-sized bald patch on the top of his head is preventing him from writing such an article ¬_¬

    • Tams80 says:

      And puns. DON’T FORGET THE PUNS!

    • JackShandy says:

      Yes. Then I could post comments like “This wedding reads like a 7.5.”

    • LionsPhil says:

      RPS only gave positive coverage of the wedding because the church have paid for full-page ad-space, etc.

    • JackShandy says:

      “Sounds like a pretty good wedding, pirating it now.”

    • DiamondDog says:

      It’s a shame that the only way the vicar will do the ceremony is with a constant connection to God.

    • BooleanBob says:

      “It’s obvious that this wedding was competently put together, but when I take a closer look at the white dress, the confetti, the choral soundtrack (to say nothing of the anticlimactic disco finale) – c’mon, guys, derivative much? The bouquet-toss may have hinted at the creators’ hopes for a sequel, but if this showing is at all indicative of their ability to push the genre in new directions, my recommendation to readers is to give this one a hearty ‘I don’t’.

      5/10″

    • Arathain says:

      DiamondDog, thanks for that laugh. That was great.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      The ceremony was clearly a port from another format.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Since marriage is basically sexual DRM, we decided not to cover it.

      KG

  6. Rii says:

    It’s funny how Jim Sterling complains about console gamers having meekly acquiesced to Project $10 (aka Project 17%) before then going on to sing the praises of Steam aka Project 100%.

    Lack of respect for gamers is endemic throughout the AAA industry at this point. Fortunately there are alternatives.

    • Unaco says:

      Steam and ‘Project $10′ or whatever are not equivalent. Because he complains about and doesn’t like one, doesn’t mean he has to complain about and not like the other. He can, in fact, sing its praises and like it. Because they aren’t equivalent.

      As for respect, pains me to say, but Wulf got the right word for it on the ‘Hoopla over Steam’ thread, as far as summing it up in one word (I din’t read the whole thing, just the first word really). Valve/Steam respect their customers.

    • Rii says:

      Well, no, they’re not equivalent: Steam(works) is much worse.

    • DrGonzo says:

      That’s your opinion, you feel entitled to something for no good reason. And the vast, vast majority will disagree with you. It’s fine for you to hold that opinion. But don’t confuse it with fact.

    • Kadayi says:

      One begins to wonder what horrors Gabe Newell inflicted on Rii on his visit down under all those years ago….

    • Rii says:

      Ah, and these would be the people Jim Sterling spoke of -

      … Some of us, in a phenomenon that resembles Stockholm Syndrome in a few alarming ways, have even begun to sympathize with the aggressors in this relationship …

      Again, right sentiment, but neglecting the fact that such individuals are far more commonly found on PC.

  7. Moni says:

    I tried to read the Gamespy Diablo 3 article as an ironic jab at genre-hopping sequels. It wasn’t very amusing, they didn’t even make a joke about “visceral-ness”.

    • Hematite says:

      It does read like some kind of elaborate troll, doesn’t it?

    • Freud says:

      The “It took just three hours before I’d hacked and slashed my way to the main storyline’s satisfying conclusion, but in that short period of time my eyes were opened to an entirely new perspective on a gaming world.” seems to indicate it is some kind of joke. But without the funny part.

  8. PixelProspector says:

    Thanks for mentioning the big list of docmentaries :)

  9. CMaster says:

    Wow that Brainy Gamer article is wrong. From the first few lines: “The primary function of a clock is to tell time. We may admire its appearance or the intricacy of its inner-workings, but the moment it ceases to function, its value diminishes for most of us.” – while obviously a non-function clock is useless, in the real world, people pay more for less accurate clocks. They’ll pay more for a sundial or clockwork grandfather clock than they will for a quartz oscillator, radio controlled wall clock. They’ll pay more for a swiss-made clockwork watch that loses minutes in a month, than for a quartz-based watch that is rarely wrong. Odd perhaps, but it shows that perhaps they misunderstand what people want from clocks.

    Secondly, the assertion that a game can still be good if the gameplay elements are bad. That it might express itself through the story cutscenes, or the art styles, or what have you. Well at that point, why aren’t you making a movie then? Or a piece of sculpture, or a canvas print, or even an explorable 3D world that isn’t a game? Equally, why shouldn’t people demand that the gameplay is done well, when it clearly missteps in many ways? I’ve got a lot of time for the idea of “high concept” games, where the more important thing is for the game to get across a certain aspect of experience, than for it to be valve-styles tested into “Fun” regardless of how well it represents what it sets out for. But that’s different to just bad, clunky attempts at what it is trying to do. (Also, I love it when Valve do test to death to maximize fun as well – I just see a chance for something else)

    • sinister agent says:

      Semi-relevant, I used to work in a cathedral, and one of my favourite things about both that and living in that town was that whenever the bells chimed the hour, everyone in the vicinity would look at their watch.

    • aircool says:

      I paid about £9000 for a clock that loses about 4 minutes a year. Fortunately, it came with a free car.

    • Apples says:

      A sculpture, movie or print doesn’t just lack gameplay, though. It lacks any interactivity at all. I’ve played plenty of games where the gameplay was lacking, but interactivity alone was downright necessary for the story and themes to function properly and assume their proper context. The thing is, there are always game reviewers harping on about how gameplay is the only important aspect of a game – and yet when something like Silent Hill, Morrowind or Deadly Premonition comes out, with fairly awful core gameplay, everyone raves over it. People vehemently insist that gameplay is all that matters… until it suddenly isn’t, and then nobody attempts to explain how that could possibly be.

      Those games would not have been as effective as films; Morrowind relies on feeling like a part of the world through interaction with it, Deadly Premonition relies on the player’s interaction to build up the York/Zach dynamic, etc.

      Personally I am firmly of the belief that gameplay is not the most important thing. The gameplay, I think, should certainly be entertaining – but more important is that it match up with the themes, setting, and message of the game as a whole. Setting, character and plot are not pretty bits to drape over the ~important gameplay~, they are the things the gameplay should serve. I realise that’s an unpopular opinion, but I don’t really care. Down with gameplay!

    • Strontium Mike says:

      Or maybe the themes, setting, and message of the game as a whole should be there to serve the gameplay? After all it is a game long live gameplay!

      Seriously I’d rather play yet another WW2 game with great mechanics, pacing and controls than the most original new game with an unique narrative, characterization and themes ever seen if it came with boring derivative gameplay.

    • Xercies says:

      Or maybe this is kind of a radical idea, but when you make a game you think of both the themes and story and the gameplay together so you can intertwine them. I know thats crazy talk!

    • Apples says:

      @Strontium: “After all it is a game long live gameplay!” Won’t argue with your feelings about games (I’d rather eat my own arm than play another WW2 game, no matter what), but the ‘It’s a GAME so it must be about GAMEplay!’ argument is silly. The quality of a film is not to be judged entirely by the type of film it uses; a painting is not to be judged entirely by the type of paint it uses. The name of the medium is pretty irrelevant. Sure, video games started with raw gameplay, but that doesn’t mean they have to remain like that.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      It’s time to stop fetishizing mechanics as the defining aspect of game design.

      That was the funniest bit, because it’s arguing against a simple factual statement (game mechanics are the defining aspect of game design). If you ask most any tabletop game designer, the mechanics/rules are the game. Everything else is fluff.

      That’s the whole point of game design; any academic definition will agree. The mechanics are what make it a game, rather than something else.

      You can judge something as a multimedia experience or whatever if you want. But I’ll keep on judging games as games.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Till

      It’s particularly deranged because the author seems to think he’s proposing something new and innovative, as if most of the gaming media, and most gamers, weren’t just as easily distracted by shiny objects and melodramatic writing as he is.

    • sinister agent says:

      The quality of a film is not to be judged entirely by the type of film it uses; a painting is not to be judged entirely by the type of paint it uses. The name of the medium is pretty irrelevant. Sure, video games started with raw gameplay, but that doesn’t mean they have to remain like that.

      You can’t be serious.

      Gameplay isn’t what material is used to make the game. It’s what makes it a game at all. Your analogy is completely meaningless.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      @ Apple never said the game should solely be judged on it’s mechanics but I’d say that the choice of filming a movie or a tv series is much closer to the choice of game mechanics than the choice of film stock. Having two hours to tell a story versus six split across six episodes really changes how you go about plotting everything out. Same with mechanics, the choice of what type of game you decide to make will affect every design decision. Or at least should it should.

      @ Xercies Yes games like anything that combines several elements are more than the sum of their parts and each part is important and should work well together but depending on the medium one element is always going to stand out above the others. If it’s good it’ll raise the whole thing up, bad bring it down. When critiquing a comic book you wouldn’t judge it on it’s story, dialogue and characters and ignore the art would you? I mean what’s the most important part of a comic book? Sure a book with great art but poor writing and plotting etc is little more than a coffee table book but a comic book with great everything but crap art might be a great story but is it a great comic? For games that one element is the mechanics, otherwise why are you even making a game in the first place? Couldn’t get into film school, got tired of having your novel rejected?

    • Apples says:

      @SinisterAgent: you missed the point. Obviously gameplay and film stock aren’t analogous, and I’m not trying to say they are. I’m saying that I’ve seen loads of people before try and pull a smug “GAMEplay = GAME” wordplay argument based on what the medium is called, when that’s irrelevant. In retrospect the initial comment probably wasn’t meant strictly like that, but I have genuinely seen people saying it before so :T

    • choconutjoe says:

      Lots of circular reasoning in this thread. Games are defined by gameplay ‘coz if they weren’t defined by gameplay then they wouldn’t be games?

      Even if you accept a priori that games are defined by gameplay, then the only conclusion to draw from this is that the term ‘game’ is a complete misnomer for those things which I buy on Steam and read articles about on RPS, since so many of them are obviously not about gameplay.

      This, it seems to me, is the broader point that the author was trying to make. That what we call video games have clearly progressed so far beyond their ‘gameplay’ roots that’s it’s unhelpful to insist on analyzing a video game in the same way one might analyze a board game (or any other type of game). Despite sharing a common root, they’re often simply two different types of thing.

      One could always argue then that it’s wrong to call them video ‘games’. Although I’d point out that most of us have no problem understanding that the word ‘cupboard’ can refer to things that don’t contain cups, or that saying ‘the head of a company’ doesn’t literally imply that the company has a gigantic face on it. Given the extraordinary ambiguity in all natural languages, games that aren’t about gameplay hardly seems like too much of a stretch.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      Okay my comment seems to have been eaten.

      @ choconutjoe if it doesn’t have mechanics then it’s not a game. No if’s and buts no game play no game, no circular logic there. Now game mechanics might not be the highest priority for some people, but that’s probably why the industry is in such a creative rut right now. While graphics have been constantly improved mechanics have plateaued. Too many people are more interested in making art rather than games.

    • Apples says:

      @Strontium: Ridiculous statement. Graphics are not the only component of games apart from gameplay; good graphics do not make games into art; good graphics do not mean bad gameplay. I don’t think a focus on gameplay means more creativity, either. I think at some point you do have to recognise that people get different things out of games, and you shouldn’t let one aspect dominate games to the exclusion of everything else just because it’s your favourite thing. Also nice reverse snobbery, implying that trying to create art is a bad thing.

      I imagine everyone going on about gameplay would be appalled to know I would like D&D if it just didn’t have all that tedious gameplay. Using your imagination and weaving a story in a fantastical setting through interaction with other people? Cool! Oh, you mean I have to roll all these dice and look at all these rules? Never mind…

    • Chris D says:

      @Strontium Mike

      “If it doesn’t have mechanics then it’s not a game.”

      Um, no actually. The word game can refer to something like football or chess but it applies at least as much to cops and robbers or cowboys and indians. Most computer games are descended from both mechanics and imagination in varying degrees. You don’t have to like games which place a higher priority on theme, atmosphere or setting but you can’t claim they don’t have as much right to be called games.

    • choconutjoe says:

      @ Strontium Mike
      if it doesn’t have cups then it’s not a cupboard. No if’s and buts no cups no cupboard, no circular logic there.

      See? It doesn’t work. The meaning of words just doesn’t work that way.

      You’re welcome to only use the word ‘game’ for things that have gameplay. But there’s no reason for the rest of the English-speaking world to do the same. Also, you’re going to have to invent a new word for certain types of meat ;p

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      The word game can refer to something like football or chess but it applies at least as much to cops and robbers or cowboys and indians.

      And? All these things have rules. Without rules, it is simply play, not a game. The rules make it a game.

      To anyone who’s confused, or to anyone interested in game design, I would strongly recommend Rules of Play by Salen and Zimmerman, MIT Press.

    • Apples says:

      Any kind of interactive computer program will have ‘rules’, if only ones that govern low-level things like movement, because that’s the way a computer operates, but that doesn’t make it a game either. Presumably a game should also have some kind of goal that you must achieve within those rules (although then you get into problems with games that do not have very defined goals, like Creatures or Electroplankton). Even so, if we then think of something that has rules and goals, like a murder mystery game or children playing cops and robbers, the rules and goals (the gameplay) are not the most important things about those games. Yes, some games have very strict rules and goals and are played for the enjoyment of operating within those rules. Other games have lax rule frameworks that are a setup for other things, like social interaction or storytelling. I’m not sure that that somehow makes them ‘lesser games’ or ‘not games’.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      @ Apples What ridiculous statement? choconutjoe said games have progressed, but I said no only parts of gaming has progressed and gave an example I did not say that all gaming was only graphics or gameplay. And you don’t set out to make art you set out trying to make a good game. And if it’s a really good game it’s probably also art but you don’t make a good game by ignoring the one thing that defines gaming.

      @ Chris D If it doesn’t have mechanics it’s not a game. If you download something from Steam that has computer graphics and narrative and no mechanics then you’ve downloaded an animated movie not a game. Even cops and robbers has a mechanic, if you give two kids a police hat and bandit mask and one kid puts on both and then they sit down to colour in their paint by numbers are they playing cops and robbers?

    • Chris D says:

      @TillEulenspiegel

      That’s true provided you’re prepared to take a sufficiently broad definition of rules. If you don’t have rules you don’t have a game, sure but I don’t think you could argue that rules are the point of games like cowboys and indians, and hence if we’re going to equate rules with mechanics you can’t argue from that that all games should be about the mechanics either.

    • Chris D says:

      @StrontiumMike

      “…if you give two kids a police hat and bandit mask and one kid puts on both and then they sit down to colour in their paint by numbers are they playing cops and robbers?”

      They are if one of them is pretending to be a forger and the other is undercover. Sorry, couldn’t resist that.

      I feel we may be in danger of falling into an argument about semantics so, if I may take the liberty of restating your argument as I understand it, you would say that mechanics are the defining element of games therefore they are the most important element of them. Is that a fair summary?

      To which I would say that while mechanics (for a sufficiently broad definition) are a necessary component of games that doesn’t necessarily make them the most important element, sometimes they’re just there to facilitate the story or the experience, as in cops and robbers.

    • choconutjoe says:

      It seems to me that people are misconstruing the nature of the debate. What’s in question is not the status of rules in ‘games’ like football or chess, it’s whether or not computer ‘games’ are so different from these other types of ‘game’ that they can’t be analyzed in the same way (i.e. in terms of mechanics).

      I think that the point of the original article is to argue that, in some cases, they are different, despite their common heritage. There are plenty of examples of computer games which are not appreciated because of their mechanics but because of other factors (often factors that have no parallel in football or chess).

      The fact that we use the term ‘game’ for all of these things does not constitute a counter-argument. People happily use the same word to refer to different things. You wouldn’t confuse the foot of a mountain with the foot in your shoe, for example. This is a point about semantics. If you’re confused about this, you need to read a book on semantics, not a book on game design.

      As a side note: Anyone is free to argue that anything lacking rules is ‘play’ rather than a ‘game’. As a piece of technical terminology, it’s an entirely coherent definition of ‘game’. But in terms of everyday language, the words we use simply don’t work that way. The fact is, we call them computer games regardless, and that’s unlikely change in the foreseeable future.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      Any form of interactive media has a method of interacting, (beyond fast forward, stop, rewind and next buttons) call that method rules, mechanics gameplay. It dominates how you interact with that medium. It is the difference between Final Fantasy The spirits within and Final Fantasy X. Since there is more than one type of video game, as much as first person shooter fans would disagree, there is more than one set of mechanics/rules/gameplay. Not everyone likes the same methods of interacting, not everyone plays the same type of interactive media. So how the bloody hell is mechanics/rules/gameplay not the most important defining method of judging such interactive media? If you are judging between two shooters then yes narrative, themes, characters are more important but if you are looking to choose between buying two Star Wars games you are going to go with the one that has the gameplay type you prefer.

      So if a developer creates and markets a game within a certain game genre they are going to get judged within the conventions of that genre. If the game doesn’t adhere to and advance that genre then it should have been marketed differently.

    • Zwebbie says:

      I agree that a bit more distinction between games and other digital interaction would be handy. I’ve always liked to think that games, in the pure rule-based sense, can’t be art. Art needs to have a hermeneutic base, whereas a game can be calculated for optimal results.Art isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about interpretation.

      The conflict with Ebert then arises from the problem mentioned here, that we’re claiming a lot of things are games when they’re not, or not entirely. A lot of elements of video games are movie, text, installation art, architecture, music, sculpture, and so on. Dear Esther, for example, is mostly digital installation art, if you ask me, and barely has any elements of game, if any at all.

      Interactivity, at any rate, isn’t a hindrance to art in the slightest. The oral tradition is by its nature interactive, and a poet would add or leave out parts of an epic depending on the reaction of his audience. Plenty of medieval plays asked the audience for response. Interactive installation art is older than Roger Ebert himself. It’s ignorance to claim that to be a dividing line.

      It gets a bit difficult with ‘games’ like Jason Rohrer’s Passage. Its purpose comes from rule based interaction, but it’s not skill based, and doesn’t train you in any way. I wouldn’t call it a game, but it’s open to debate.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      The problem is that a bunch of art students have jumped on the coattails of the game industry and get in a hissy fit when their product is judged by the same standards the rest of the hobby abides by? Is it the fault of the uninitiated that every thing that’s available on a computer and interactive (and not an app) is lumped in the game category? When even the damned creators label their output with silly shit like first person narrative game?

      Between bean counters that won’t approve any type of game that isn’t already in the top ten and wannabe artists the real ‘game’ designers are slowly getting squeezed out of the industry.

    • Apples says:

      @Strontium – YOU would pick a game based on genre/gameplay. Other people might not. I wouldn’t, because I have no particular interest or attachment to any of them, except inasmuch as some genres are conventionally more conducive to the things I enjoy, like adventure games having a lot of character interaction. Even as a kid, I would play games like Unreal because I liked the art and music and atmosphere, and just cheat through all the gameplay (combat, solving puzzles etc). I will struggle through any type of gameplay, no matter how rubbish, if there’s something else that grabs me about the game – but if there’s nothing besides good gameplay, I’ll get bored and stop playing very quickly. So if it came down to two Star Wars games, I’d pick the one that was more about exploration, narrative and character, no matter whether the exploration was in the form of an RTS, FPS, etc.

      Again, consider that other people have different ideas about what they want from media. I can always cheat through a pure gameplay section, but I can’t add good worldbuilding or dialogue. Trying to make all designers focus on gameplay first and foremost will remove a lot of things that other people enjoy.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      You might not, but consider the level of outcry at games like Fallout, XCom, Syndicate, Jagged Alliance changing genre, consider articles like the gamespy one do you really think you are in the majority? Different people want different things from media, yes that is why media is marketed under different genres. A game has rules/mechanics/gameplay otherwise it isn’t a game, do you know why choconutjoe’s cupboard is still a cupboard, because even if it doesn’t have cups in it it still could store cups. The fact it can store other things doesn’t negate the original definition. But if interactive media has no mechanics/gameplay then it doesn’t fit the definition of a game, you don’t then redefine the definition of gaming. If you create something new give it a new name, like with Machinima. If RPS covers a Machinima then people will know what to expect and judge it accordingly. If on the other hand RPS says here’s a great new mod for game x or a new game from developer z they are going to have certain expectations.

      Going back to the article Movies might of evolved but they still fit the original definition, they are still at heart a collection of pictures that produce the illusion of movement, the movies are very much like gaming the technology has evolved beyond the first pioneers wildest dreams, the amount we can do with the medium has increased exponentially, we can use the medium to create complex stories. We’ve added in different media to increase the experience, there are different types for different tastes and trying different things. But still at heart the are the same medium they still fit the original criteria even though they’ve expanded on the original definition. Likewise newspapers still carry news (the quality of which is debatable) and are still printed on paper, online newspapers are simply that, we’ve added a descriptor to distinguish them from their paper counterparts but that’s only a transitional name more commonly we are coming up with new names and new definitions.

      Video gaming was chosen to describe the medium, because we were playing games on video consoles, if you are not playing a game then it doesn’t fit within the original definition. It is a new medium call it iART call it whatever but don’t call it a game, don’t market it with games don’t redefine gaming to include it, because all that does is cause confusion and ultimately lessens both gaming and interactive arts.

    • Apples says:

      OK, I can agree with that. I’d be just as happy as I think you would be if minimal-gameplay narrative-heavy interactive things were not lumped in with pure-gameplay things. I’m not sure it will ever happen, since most people are not so invested in the semantics and will just agree that things like Angry Birds or Guitar Hero and things like Heavy Rain are basically of the same ‘stuff’. If it does happen, it’ll probably be like comic books vs graphic novels, where one is just seen as a pretentious offshoot of the other, most people call them the same thing, and there’s no clear difference between them. But yeah, I’d like it to happen.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      I’d say it’s more a question of lexicology than semantics, this is a new subset of interactive digital media, we lack a proper vocabulary to describe and discuss it. So we are borrowing from gaming which so far has been the dominant form of interactive digital media. This also causes people to lump it in with gaming. Video gaming doesn’t need redefining but interactive digital media does.

    • choconutjoe says:

      “do you know why choconutjoe’s cupboard is still a cupboard, because even if it doesn’t have cups in it it still could store cups. The fact it can store other things doesn’t negate the original definition.”

      That really isn’t it at all. Making up explanations as you go along won’t work.

      There are millions of things that could store cups, we don’t refer to them all as cupboards. Putting cups into a suitcase wouldn’t make the suitcase into a cupboard (and putting a suit into a cupboard doesn’t make the cupboard into a suitcase). The point is that words are defined by the way they’re used, something that is fluid and changes over time. A few hundred years ago, the word ‘silly’ meant ‘blessed’. In English, the original meaning is lost entirely. This is a typical example of a process occurs all the time in all the world’s languages. The word ‘game’ is no exception.

      This is why any argument that goes “This thing is called X, the word X means things that have property y, therefore this thing must also have property y” is a circular argument.

    • Winta says:

      Here’s my interpretation of the debate about what games are – after some thinking, I came up with 4 sub-categories of these things we use to call “games”:
      - ‘True’ games – with clear game mechanics and clear goals. They are all about their gameplay at the core. Think most sidescrollers or multiplayer shooters for clear examples.
      - Digital toys – things like Minecraft, that is, with their own rules, but no goals. Interactive physics games nad virtual constructors fall within this categorie.
      - (Role)playing environments – virtual or imaginary worlds, where rules are only provided as tools to weave the story with. Cardboard RPGs should be here, as well as physical roleplaying or LARP sessions,
      - Digital installations – mostly static worlds, used to present player with some idea or artistic expression. Think Dear Esther and similar mods.

      Note that these can be combined at various degrees, so not all games fall neatly into one of these categories. Besides, there’s a portion in the equation that depends on how the player chooses to experience the game and put what he or she has to use. For example, Minecraft (a toy, according to my classification) can be used as a roleplaying environment if players are willing to do so. Thus, developer’s intentions + player’s approach = player’s subjective, unique experience with the game.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      @ choconutjoe Now who’s making things up as they go along? A cupboard was designed to store cups, a suitcase wasn’t. A cupboard is still the essential basic same design as when it was made to store cups, a suitcase still isn’t a cupboard. If you ask someone to point to a cupboard they aren’t going to point to a suitcase. The usage of the word hasn’t changed, the use of the item has. Words evolve, modern examples would include cool, bad, sick, but like silly these words aren’t describing a medium.

      We have a definition of video game, we have a definition of a game, we have a yard stick to judge games by. These new media products do not fit those descriptions, they do not measure up well against the yard stick. Yes we could change the word game to encompass this new media, it’s been done in the past but usually through misunderstandings and has often led confusion. Redefining video games bringing a new quality standard without the emphasis on gameplay, will just hurt gaming. There’s no need to do that, that is not a natural evolution of language.

    • choconutjoe says:

      Ok Strontium Mike. Clearly my attempts to give you a linguistics 101 aren’t going to work. You seem to be convinced that you’re already well versed on the subject, despite committing errors that a first-year undergrad student would understand are wrong.

      At no point have I argued that we need to redefine anything. How you or anybody else defines the word ‘game’ has no bearing on the argument of the original article. The whole point of banging on about cupboards was to show the fallacy of getting caught up in the definitions of words and having a discussion based on circular arguments of what things are called, instead of trying analyze what things actually are.

      You’ve demonstrated this point admirably.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      No the article is about making excuses for bad games by changing how we judge games, how is that not redefining gaming?

  10. aircool says:

    Why doesn’t is surprise me that the only P2W game in the article is an EA game? You can’t even be called a cynic anymore when you’re trashing EA because they are utter bastards.

    I can’t imagine anyone playing a game which has a P2W element as the only people who’ll be playing it are those who are prepared to pay-to-win.

    I play MMO’s quite a bit, and they’re the most common game using a F2P model. I’ve spent a bit of money on virtual goodies such as costume pieces, mounts and the like. I don’t need them to play the game, but they’ve always something I’ve enjoyed having, be it the super-enlarger gadget from Champions Online (which you can post to any character you have, so it’s not limited to one toon) or some simple trinkets in WAR. I’m quite happy with the current model demonstrated by Champions Online (yet again) where a subscription (or lifetime account) gives you more flexibility compared to the F2P accounts, but no P2W advantage – on top of that, I’ve still spent money on costume unlocks and the like.

    Are we really stupid enought to be conned by a P2W game?

  11. Johnny Lizard says:

    The microtransaction article is very good at explaining why you shouldn’t play the free version of Battlefield, but dear God, if you’re going to use graphs, do it properly. The graphs in that article are horrendous.

    Does the pie chart mean that there are no cosmetic items in BF:P2W at all? Why did he not make a graph that WASN’T too big to post instead of expecting people to draw their own? And if your bar chart of means doesn’t convey half the information you want to convey, why not use a type of graph that does? Amateurish.

    (Surprising, since Bit-Tech is generally pretty good for graphs.)

  12. Cinnamon says:

    Reply fail.

    I think that cmaster has touched on what I don’t like about the clocks analogy article It seems to be crowing that if someone likes a game where the gameplay does not work with perfect precision or is not as complicated and intricate as other games in the genre then it proves that gameplay is nothing and the least important thing about games. Sometimes we love gameplay when it is simple or has kinks and oddities because then it has more personality.

  13. MattM says:

    I think the micro-transaction article missed an important point. Some games technically allow you to get everything without paying, but the amount of grind is such that you will spend hundreds of hours trying to get that item. I have been playing spiral knights. If you want five star gear (pretty important for the end game stuff) you had better either pay up (about $20 to craft a set) or invest about 200 hours repeating the same content over and over.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Yeah, this. What offends me about games like that isn’t that you can pay to have an advantage over other players (real life is kind of like that), or that other people are walking around with stuff they bought rather than stuff they “earned”. It’s that the developer has an incentive to make parts of the game boring so that players will avoid them. How could anything be more wasteful than that–a video game that you play to avoid playing?

      I guess we need a pithy phrase to explain why those games suck. How about Free-to-Grind?

  14. Vanderdecken says:

    What is it with Quinns taking his shirt off on video? Not that I’m at all objecting… ¬_¬

  15. Lyndon says:

    “why aren’t you making a movie then?”

    It’s a pet peeve of mine but that’s the most often repeated, and most idiotic sentiment I read on gaming blogs. I can watch a film and admire the acting, think the camera work was shit, but still think the film was worthwhile.

    “But why aren’t they making a play?”

    I can listen to a song, and admire the lyrics, think the guitars are a bit shit, but still think the song is worthwhile.

    “But why aren’t they making poetry?”

    See how dumb that opinion is when you apply it to other mediums? It’s because all art forms are the sum of many parts and just because one part is a bit wonky doesn’t invalidate all the other good work. Planescape Torment would be a shit movie, Okami would be a shit movie, Shadow of the Collosus would be a shit movie. They’d also be shit books, songs, interpretive dances, or breakfast cereals. They’re all good games, and who cares if they’re a bit rough around the edges in a couple of areas.

    Essentialism is silly, games are more complex than that and thank fuck for that.

    • MattM says:

      I think a proper adaptation of Shadow of the Colossus would be pretty awesome. It has the right amount of story and visuals that would work very well on the movie screen.

    • JackShandy says:

      What, “Bloke kills a bunch of big monsters in succession”? You’d have to change it a lot.

    • Lyndon says:

      I disagree for a couple of reasons.

      One of the pleasures of that game is the way the atmosphere slowly gets under your skin, and it does so by allowing you to explore that world. How could a film achieve that same effect? Well for starters it would probably need to move very slowly, in a way that would actually be quite boring on screen. But if they tried to speed it up and make it more cinematic, then you’d lose what makes it special. Games like SotC breathe in a way film can’t.

      On screen the characters would also be far too simplistic, so again you’d run the risk of boring the audience or you’d have fill in the blanks which would ruin the simple minimalist charm of the narrative. Games like SotC allow us to project onto “simple” characters in a way film can’t.

      The two mediums are just so fundamentally different, that any “proper adaptation” is impossible. You could maybe make something that was relatively faithful, and perhaps even decent but it wouldn’t hold a candle to the original. It’s rather like adapting a book into a film. Sure you can do it, and it doesn’t have to suck, but something is going to get lost in translation.

    • JackShandy says:

      Have you seen Stalker (the film) Lyndon? Films can let a space breathe if they try hard enough.

    • Chris D says:

      I reckon a Shadow of the Colossus film could be done. You’d want to cut it down to maybe two or three monsters, probably show more of the backstory up front, and add in a sidekick or two so there’s someone to talk to. You’d probably also want to give the guys riding in to put a stop to it a bigger part and spread them throughout the movie.

      If it was me I’d want to make sure the fights weren’t purely action sequences but were character moments as well, probably make it so key to defeating the colossi would be sacrificing something important or breaking a boundary (honour, compassion, loyalty). Play up the “Why doing anything for love isn’t necessarily a good idea” aspect. It’d be a slow slide into darkness with perhaps a moment of redemption towards the end, or not.

    • Lyndon says:

      @JackShandy

      TBH I kind of hate Andrei Tarkovsky’s films. Too slow, too boring. I honestly think videogames do that stuff way better. I’d totally hate a slow arty SotC film, I mean sure other people might dig it, but I’d still be sitting there thinking, ‘this would be less boring if it was a game’.

      An interesting comparison would be Once Upon a Time in the West, which I’d describe as boring but awesome. In that case that’s a film where I dislike some of it’s “filmic” elements but still love it for a combination of non-filmic stuff (story, score, acting etc) and filmic stuff (cinematography, editing)

    • JackShandy says:

      Fair enough, Lyndon. Confession: I never got through Stalker, the film. I would totally be into a game where you trudge around a shitty landscape with a dog, though.

    • Llewyn says:

      @JackShandy: Isn’t that Fallout 3?

    • Burning Man says:

      @Chris D

      That’s… not SotC anymore.

    • Chris D says:

      @Burningman

      Why not? Same theme, same story arc, same plot beats. It’s not a one to one conversion but no adaptation into another genre ever is.

    • Consumatopia says:

      “Planescape Torment would be a shit movie, Okami would be a shit movie, Shadow of the Collosus would be a shit movie.”

      In that case, “why aren’t you making a movie then?” has a pretty good answer, doesn’t it?

      It’s definitely not the case that every good game must have fun, addictive gameplay. If “why aren’t you making a movie?” is a rhetorical question, then, yeah, that’s stupid. But as a genuine question, it’s a pretty good one–it’s much easier to make a movie than a game (interactivity is hard), and often it’s less time-consuming for the audience as well. The economics of films vs. plays or recorded music vs. poetry go in the other direction–a film can be watched by pressing “play” rather than paying a bunch of actors every time someone wants to see it, and the audience for recorded music tends to be larger than the audience for poetry.

  16. Tams80 says:

    That Orbital Earth flyover needs some music.

  17. JackShandy says:

    No comments on the article about Developers closing shop?

    All I can say is that going through a game design course in Australia is terrifying right now. Lot of my lecturers are ex-pandemic people; Matt Ditton’s my course convener, actually. One of them told me that it goes like this: You get in a bunch of talented people, you make a good game, you release it. Within the gap between that and the time when the publishers knows if it was successful, everyone is laid off.

    Pretty ironic that the high aussie dollar is such a massive problem.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      The way THQ laid off the guys after the rather successful launch of Homefront was quite unsettling, wasn’t it? And quite ironically enough, they replaced them with another studio whose latest game sold as many copies as Homefront did.

      I’m very curious about this recent failures of the AAA market. Not to mention quite interested about Epic’s latest direction of working on smaller projects with smaller teams after Bulletstorm failed to recoup (for good reasons, though) even the development costs.

    • Shuck says:

      It’s not just an Australian problem, either. Here in the San Francisco Bay area, which used to be a center for AAA game development, most of the AAA studios have shut down. The remaining companies are Facebook and phone game developers largely, which use fewer workers and are more precarious, in terms of job stability. I see a few AAA studios pop up elsewhere in the US (where the cost of living is lower), but getting a job there would involve moving 2000 miles (and when the studio collapses within a few years, moving again, because that area won’t have any other studios). That seems to be the lot of the modern game developer – you either work on the edge developing games on the indie level, or you resign yourself to moving from country to country to keep working.

    • Psychochild says:

      Actually, the SF Bay Area thing is easy to explain. Everyone works for Zynga now. As a developer acquaintance of mine said about so many game developers working for them, “Zynga was paying Web 2.0 salaries instead of game industry salaries.”

      We’ll see what happens if Zynga’s recent troubles lead to them not being able to keep everyone on the payroll….

  18. pakoito says:

    Stopped reading the DLC article when they guy said LoL does not sell ingame advantages. Guy knows shit about MOBAs and how every hero *matters*. Maybe not as much in the oversimplified streamlined bland MOBA experience that LoL is, but it is a big no-no in DOTA2 or HoN.

    • Starky says:

      And the HoN fan, LoL hater strikes again, you just can’t let a post that in any way involves LoL without throwing out an insult can you?

    • Koozer says:

      I nearly replied to his comment, but I thought “No! I’ll be strong! I’ll ignore – Oh.

    • Starky says:

      I probably should have too – but alas…

  19. GenBanks says:

    That Wugazi album is great.

    Oh and many thanks for organising the RPS meet-o-chat on Friday! Was great to meet you all! (-the token american guy)

  20. magnus says:

    Ah, it’s the point where I urge people to listen to Nurse With Wound/Grails/Neurosis again and fail miserably!

  21. airtekh says:

    I’m delighted to see that Bitgamer’s microtransaction investigation exonerated TF2.

    As a regular TF2 player I was always going to be biased, but I genuinely believe that the microtransactions have not ‘ruined the game’, as has been claimed. It’s nice to see someone independent to come to the same conclusion.

  22. propjoe says:

    From the Microtransactions article: “You can buy two real-world, gold-plated monocles for less than the price of a pretend one in EVE: Online.”

    I just might have to do that now.

  23. Myros says:

    Just as a related topic to micro-payments etc I’d recommend Neal Stephenson’s latest book “REAMDE” (spelling error is intended). A 1000 page book about a gaming company doesnt come along every day :)

    • Harlander says:

      There’s micropayments in Charlie Stross’ Halting State too. It’s also pretty good. Haven’t read REAMDE yet

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      You’re not the first to recommend it. Sounds great, and I love Stephenson.

      KG

    • Arathain says:

      It’s a super-clever title. I look forward greatly to reading it. Being a big Stephenson fan helps.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      I’m reading it now. I’m on page 100 or so, so very early in the book, but I’ve already had to groan a little. I mean, I’m a HUGE Stephenson fan and have devoured everything else he’s written, and I’ve no doubt I’ll love this book too, but he’s not a gamer, and it shows. He’s clearly done a lot of research, but he gets these little things wrong.

      For instance, early in the book he describes how the protagonist logs into his character and walks around a quest hub (a “home zone” in the terminology of Reamde) A couple of people ask him to go questing together (so basically an LFG then), and instead of telling them he’s not interested, his character casts an invisibility spell, to the astonishment of the people asking him to go questing.

      This just feels wrong on so many levels. You wouldn’t expect people to reply to you just because you ask them to quest with you. The default reaction would be no reaction–dude may not be looking at his chat window, may willfully ignore you, may not speak your language, whatever. Had his character just walked on, no one would have thought it weird. Then, “invisibility spell”? Come on. Even if there was a spell that’d turn one player invisible to an allied player in a quest hub, this would be part of the game and something the other players would know about. So the reaction would be somewhere between “cute” and “dick”. No way would they be visually / readably astonished. Even if he’d just vanished into thin air and there was no such spell in the game, they’d probably shrug and chalk it up to the servers being unstable.

      There are certain expectations of permanence in real life that just don’t exist in video games.

      FWIW, Stross got it much better in Halting State, but he made similar mistakes from time to time. I’m starting to realize that being a gamer means having expert knowledge that is non-trivial to acquire for non-gamers.

      You’re all experts!

    • Thants says:

      I haven’t got REAMDE yet but his last book, Anathem, was fantastic.

  24. DigitalSignalX says:

    On the Mass Effect 3 Article, though nothing new on the actual game there, the comments raise a good point about EA’s Origin service. This will likely be their “Big Push” title for the network since they know everyone and their dog will be buying a copy of ME3. Curious how that will all play out for them, and the “please respect us” segment of gamers.

  25. Froibo says:

    How come in the micro-transactions data, they didn’t include ‘runes’ in LoL that give small stat boosts that can be purchased in store?

    I.E: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=9892&d=1260760579

    You can earn these by playing the game, but it still is a definite encouragement for pay-to-win, even if the benefit is slight, they do have tiers which exponentially increases price for the bonus received and you can have 30 of them which do add up. I don’t have too much experience with LoL so I can’t really make a good judgement on how it really effects game play, but I am confused as to why it was ignored completely in an investigation of buyer advantages in free-to-play models.

    • Koozer says:

      It’s because it is impossible to buy runes with money, only in-game points (IP). The number and quality you can use is also limited by your summoner (account) level. Honestly they only make a difference when you know what you’re doing, if everyone had access to all runes for cash at level 1 I doubt it would make a massive amount of difference.

      We’re talking bonuses like +75 starting health (doesn’t scale), on top of around 500, and that’s with 3 Quintessences, the biggest runes there are. It’s a couple of hits at level 1.

    • Froibo says:

      Ahhh okay that makes sense, thanks. You still have to consider that when people purchase other things that they will have freed up more points they can spend on runes. The whole system made me feel funny when I learned about it, regardless of the payment method. I don’t like the idea of any ‘earned’ tree or abilities influencing the actual mechanics of the game.

  26. dadioflex says:

    Hellgate was a sorta Diablo FPS.

    • Dominic White says:

      And it recently came back as an F2P title, and just got an expansion the other day, adding Tokyo to the game.

      It’s actually rather good now.

    • Arathain says:

      Really actually? I love a good Diablo-like, and I need something to scratch that itch. I thought the reboot was somewhat negatively recieved.

      On topic, I’m playing Din’s Curse at the moment, which is great. It does, however, not quite hit the ARPG spot, lacking as it does a crucial quality- it isn’t relaxing. Especially not when half the town is starving, and the other half keeps dying wandering into the dungeon to look for mushrooms, and I’ve stumbled into a trap that’s dumped me down three floors and I can’t find a gate to get back and the monsters are a bit on the tough side and I’m running out of healing items arghh… like that.

    • Dominic White says:

      75% of the problems with the game were down to the business model at launch, really – boxed full price + subscription for a Diablo clone? People didn’t like that one bit, and understandably so. It was also rushed out, buggy, and outright unfinished in some places, which amounted for the other 25% of the issues.

      Now it’s F2P (well, kinda – it’s $4 to unlock Acts 3-6, $2 to unlock Tokyo, although you CAN buy those with in-game cash quite easily, and the unlocks are account-wide), the former isn’t an issue, and it’s been very heavily rebalanced (mostly for the better), and with the worst bits cut outright, so the latter is largely addressed too.

  27. TsunamiWombat says:

    I.. Did..did.. is that gamespy article serious?

    • Fuxalodapus says:

      Unfortunately yes. From the Editor in Chief of Gamespy, no less.

      Here is Jeff Green’s excellent reply to that author.

      Advise other peoples not to bother giving Gamespy click throughs by clicking on that article link…

    • Fuxalodapus says:

      A new
      meme
      appears.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I say. That is quite the response. I approve.

    • AndrewC says:

      It is impressive how the seething vitriol of fanboys can make even the biggest idiot seem sympathetic.

    • LionsPhil says:

      If you’re feeling sympathy for that dolt, I think you get to stand in the “big idiot” corner with him.

      This isn’t “he said a thing I didn’t like about that game I am fanatical about”. This is a critical research failure in journalism.

    • AndrewC says:

      He was writing an article from the point of view of young, modern gamers who are used to first person stuff. Gamers who he thinks are his target audience. It’s REALLY easy to see a rational point of view for his ‘woah, it’s not an FPS’ nonsense. And any amount of idiocy absolutely does not justify the response of death by a thousand passive aggressive weasels.

      My post was not about his behaviour, it was about everyone else’s.

  28. Josh W says:

    That thing about comics seems to be about breaking through that old paradox for feminists of:

    “I’ve created this character who wants to do everything these guys want her to do, so what she does is empowering, for her and perhaps women in general.”

    It’s only hard because people want to talk in terms of freedom, not morality.

    Freedom gets cancelled out, because the character really does want to do it, and people have to talk about other issues, like displaying inner life, multilayered character etc. They want to say that this character should be exploring all their potential, becoming a person who is not just materially independent but distinctive and fully realised. A person who is complex and needs time to be understood, not someone who just follows a stereotype and who’s internal state is irrelevent.

    I know a lot of feminist people who agree with that, but feel uncomfortable saying it. They don’t want to be preachy with real women who choose to perform as sexual stereotypes to gain advantage, or just prefer it, because that’s their choice. But when a character does it, in principle the same thing applies; it’s their choice. I’ve seen people talk about this over and over, and second guess themselves and tie themselves in knots, because they want to say something they don’t feel they have any right to say; that these characters are shallow, conformist and uninteresting, and a bad model because people should be complex and interesting and seeking their own unique agenda.

    There’s also the problem of implicitly assuming a relationship to the audience, assuming that the reader is interested in women and wants to see them show off their bodies all the time. Coming to the realisation that you are not the target audience can be quite annoying, or in the sense of it seeming to say something about you by implication, quite insulting.

  29. Mirdini says:

    I still find this somewhat stunning:

    “You can buy two real-world, gold-plated monocles for less than the price of a pretend one in EVE: Online.”