The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on January 8th, 2012 at 12:52 pm.


Sundays are for planning the year ahead. It will contain victories. It will also, likely, contain videogames and many thoughts about them. So let’s make like we meant to go on and find victory in fine words about videogames.

  • Cobbett’s weekly Crapshoot remains one of the best sources of the worst of PC gaming. This week was something I’d never heard of, a Myst pisstake, Pyst: “Probably the weirdest part of the whole thing – other than that it sold well enough for a sequel to be on the cards – is the song that plays at the end. Goodman sings it, and it’s called “I’m Pyst”, but what the hell it’s meant to have to do with anything, I have absolutely no idea. It’s only King Mattrus singing in theory, nothing about it involves Myst in any way shape or form, and… well… listen if you dare.”
  • Eurogamer examine the issue of retailer-exclusive pre-order bonuses: “With that in mind we approached a number of UK retailers, publishers and developers to find out more about the process, why it happens and whether gamers are doomed to suffer as a result.”
  • The Economist on Vietnam’s latest contribution to PC gaming: “7554, as the new game is called, is set at the tail end of French colonial times and pits the Viet Minh against the European occupiers. The title refers to the date of Vietnam’s great triumph at Dien Bien Phu, on May 7th, 1954. The war, which began in 1946 and whose end that victory marked, sealed the fate of the French in Indochina. The final push, orchestrated by General Vo Nguyen Giap, who turned 100 last year, is still celebrated and nearly every city, town, even hamlet has a street named after it.”
  • True PC Gaming have a piece about Fallout: New Vegas, which is I game I keep meaning to play: “Obsidian’s thoughtful attention to the politics and economy of what would otherwise be juvenile fantasy is admirable, as is their skill at building a world. Though the writing is oftentimes spotty (particularly at the end of every DLC chapter,) there are more than enough moments of environmentally-told storytelling mastery that make up for it.”
  • Electron Dance has a few interesting thoughts on Neptune’s Pride: “We’re witnessing a case of survivorship bias. It is the epic game diaries that have sold Neptune’s Pride to the public. Sometimes fragments of aborted stories from the game’s forgotten victims will bleed through but engaged, committed players are the ones who write the meat of these diaries.”
  • Creative theft in Social games, over on Gamasutra.
  • When a console gamer is converted to the way of righteousness: “It amazed me how often my console sensibilities prevented me from recognizing the ways PCs make gaming easier. When I stumbled over controls I disliked I scowled in disapproval before realizing I could remap every key on the keyboard. When framerate started to dip I could make a quick stop in the options menu and influence a game’s raw performance — an absurd notion for a console gamer. And to those of you that have spent your entire lives preaching the superiority of a mouse and keyboard in first-person shooters: I see your point.”
  • Also at IGN: Why We Love Superheroes.
  • The Four Lenses of Game Making“: I am not sure how useful this kind of reductive analysis is, frankly, but there it is: “Rather than talking about games in terms of two lenses, I use four (potentially five, but I’ll come back to that). Each represents a common set of assumptions and predispositions that I often see in makers, and there are correlations between them which makes for an interesting (though perhaps deceptively symmetric) diagram.”
  • Also in game analysis news, Pete Collier on “compulsion loops” goes like this: “My definition of a compulsion loop is that it is a construct designed to keep someone engaged by marrying their action/s with an appropriate level of reward. But in essence it has been around forever, we just didn’t have a name for it. The greatest creators of entertainment have had an innate understanding of it since we all sat around the fire scratching our heads as Neanderthals. It’s nothing new. Different mediums achieve it in their own way, but all essentially reward for attention and effort and when this equilibrium falters the loop dissipates.”
  • A bit late, but here’s Shut Up & Sit Down Christmas special.
  • The connection between Metal Gear Solid and Grant Morrison’s run on Animal Man.
  • Cliffski’s “The Bite-Sized Hardcore” manifesto.
  • Phonograph talk about the connection between procedural generation and improvisation.
  • Eurogamer has a Far Cry 2 retrospective, which is odd because I was playing it this week, too.
  • Chris Dahlen on Dark Souls is worth a read.
  • From the depths of last year, but this post on the nature of “winning” in games is worth a nose.
  • I appreciated Kirk Hamilton’s round up of the best video game music over on Kotaku.
  • The best real-world photo bloggery I have seen this week.

Music this week is all appropriately midwintery dark, from The Haxan Cloak. I am loving the whole album, however. Just my cup of gloom.

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179 Comments »

  1. Brahms says:

    If you’re thinking of playing a game of Neptune’s Pride, don’t forget to consider Iron Helmet’s other two games, Blight of the immortals is nice because it’s largely cooperative, and Jupiter’s Folly is an interesting combination of both.

    • liqourish says:

      I’d honestly say that both Blight of the Immortals and Jupiter’s Folly are inferior to Neptune’s Pride, since they tone down the elements that makes Neptune’s Pride so special (and life-consuming.) BotI and JF are both fun games, but everyone should play NP at least once. It’s all you’ll want to play anyway.

  2. varangian says:

    Re the Fallout: New Vegas piece I can only endorse that. Whilst I played Fallout 3 and enjoyed it I didn’t think it made the best use of the scenario. NV does a much better job, bought if for about £3 in a Steam sale and have enjoyed it so much later acquisitions like Deus Ex:HR and Rage are still sitting there unplayed.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Creepily enough, I started New Vegas a couple of days back as well. It’s one of those RPGs that people will still talk about in the years to come. Best RPG of this generation, by far.

      Edit: Jim! Play NV! There’s a very good reason why Quinns’ WIT of NV had such a boiling comment section! ;)

    • Caleb367 says:

      New Vegas is definitely cult classic material. No matter the bickering, I’m old enough to remember when Fallout 2 came out and the hundreds of people complaining about it not being Fallout-y, not being ENOUGH Fallout-y, full of bugs, plot doesn’t make any sense, plot’s too serious, and the age-old favorite – low-level dumbasses getting smashed by supermutants and complaining “gaem suks”.

    • Wulf says:

      New Vegas was, quite frankly, one of the best written games in the last decade. And it stands up proudly as such. If you had a top 50 of well-written games from 2001 to 2011, then New Vegas would be near the top. Please, ignore those who seem to feel intellectually threatened by a decently written game (for whatever bizarre reason exists to them).

      It’s an incredible experience. And it’s a hallmark of what an RPG can be when the people developing it put their minds to it. To me, it stands head and shoulders above Skyrim, the Witcher games, and most other recent RPGs. Why? It’s brilliantly written, it has compelling characters, and the choices you make always, always matter. They’re not illusionary choices like so many modern RPGs offer. They’re real choices with some weight behind them. Some choices will disturb you, some deeply.

      Like I’ve said. The only reason I can even imagine hating on New Vegas is if you feel intellectually challenged by it… but I honestly hope that no one’s going to pay attention to such insecurities, and that everyone will be willing to give New Vegas a go. It’s simply fantastic.

    • Cerius says:

      No, isn’t. New Vegas has, while it is still better than the majority of other games, tons of writing related problems. Some Sidequests and charachters excel but it is in no way better than the majority of Obsidians catalouge.

      Granted it was one of the most down to earth games, so thats admirable.

    • NathanH says:

      I think New Vegas is definitely the best Fallout game, although I enjoyed Fallout 3 more.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Someone got it for me for Christmas. It doesn’t compare favourably against Fallout 1. It does compare favourably against Oblivion. When the Bethsda boat-anchor isn’t dragging it down to the depths, it can be quite compelling.

      Although the setting just won’t click for me. It’s a world of NPCs, where nobody thought to pick up that busted door lying in the middle of the saloon that’s been run for years because it’s baked into the world geometry and all we do is walk back and forth on a script and say “howdy” when within a given radius anyway. FO1 had some stronger excuses: less time since the war, lower graphical fidelity meaning lower expectations, but it still mmmostly had places people occupied look like someone was trying to actually live there.

      Also the whole concept of a scavenger economy that’s been going on for any length of time and yet buildings within the same town haven’t been picked clean? Things that scream “we’re just killing time until a player character comes along” and kick you out of the game.

      And then there’s this crap. If you ferret around in those shots the morality system is a complete farce too. Hardcore mode’s a nice touch for time pressure in the absence of failed water chips, though, even if a little easy to deal with.

      Disclaimer: Haven’t read the article, since probably spoilers. (That I think it might have something to care about spoilering alone puts it leagues ahead of Oblivion.)

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      The only reason I can even imagine hating on New Vegas is if you feel intellectually challenged by it…

      What manner of ameoba would feel intellectually challenged by Fallout (3 or NV)? Are there any interesting ethical choices on offer, nuanced characters or non-trivial consequnces on offer in either of the games? (I confess I got bored of NV just after making it into the city proper, but played though FO3).

      Frankly, DexRev is more interestingly written.

    • Kleppy says:

      Wulf, I played New Vegas for some 50 hours before giving up. I was is no way “intellectually challenged” by it. New Vegas to me felt more like a collection of random little vignettes, some enjoyable, some less so. For example, tryy as I might, I just could not accept a faction as ridiculous as Caesar’s legion seriously. Playing through the game, the feeling that was on my mind most was that this group was so utterly obviously made up by a person going “hey guys, you know what would be kinda cool? imagine if, like, you have the roman military in the post apocalyptic wasteland? isn’t that so incredibly original and fascinating?”

      Well, I didn’t find it to be any of that. It was mostly a completely unrealistic group, that is almost cartoon evil for some reason. Consider the rest of the enemies you face: mutants, drug addled gangers, robots, whatever. They all work within the fiction. None of them seem out of place or uncharacteristic of the game world.

      But then you have the Legion, and you have The Kings – an entire faction composed of absolutely identical looking Elvis impersonators, how hilarious – and you have dozens of identical looking dungeons, admittedly a problem in any open world game, a world which, 200 years or so after a nuclear holocaust which didn’t even effect the play area is still filled to the brim with broken furniture even in the most lived in areas, gunplay which isn’t exactly any fun (set guns or energy weapons to 90, aim for the head in VATS, autowin), useless companions, a range of frustrating bugs, and a game which, to me and obviously quite arguably, looked graphically less appealing than Fallout 2, and the niggling little issues all added up.

      I can of course see why people loved it. It’s an incredibly big game. It had at times some OK writing (though how anyone who has read even a dozen books in his life can claim the writing to be anything above OK is beyond me), and the quests were often quite fun and varied. There were some good characters in there, and I enjoyed it enough to play it for quite a while. I just don’t think it’s fair to say that it’s intellectually challenging. It’s a silly little video game, with silly video game cliches – what, Mr. Scientist didn’t see himself in any reflection for years to realize he isn’t a ghoul? – and the gameplay mechanics are at times very shoddy.

      I don’t play video games for the story. I read books, I watch movies, even some TV shows, to get a satisfying story, witty characters, and a point beyond just “sword lost in cave. get sword. get reward.” However, the very best of video games can compare favorably to other media forms in their world building. E.g, GTA4, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the Zelda games, Baldur’s Gate 2, Planescape: Torment, Grim Fandango (the last two are honestly as good as, or even better than most books or movies, but they are the exception), The Longest Journey, Syberia… those are games who’s world craft is fucking light years ahead of anything I saw in New Vegas or Fallout 3. I just didn’t buy New Vegas. They couldn’t draw me into the world. Maybe it’s my fault. It may be that it wasn’t just my cup of tea. Cest la vie. But please don’t assume that people who don’t like it just don’t get it. It’s not Shakespeare, it’s not Dostoyevsky, it’s not Tolkien. It’s an above average video game, that gets a lot of praise for good reason, and a lot of praise because it’s made by Obsidian.

    • LionsPhil says:

      cartoon evil

      That’s Bethsda for you. I think they have all their antagonistic factions written by mental five-year-olds who think bad people do mean things because they’re intrinsically evil (much like D&D). I’ve just encountered the bloody Legion and the quality of the game has nosedived as a result.

      You know what else I miss from FO1? Using doorways to fire from cover. Oh that hliariously terrible Oblivion engine.

    • Kleppy says:

      Well it wasn’t made by Bethesda, but the point stands :)

      Even the very worst movies I’ve ever seen, I’m talking Book of Eli bad here, often had more believable antagonists than New Vegas, yet it gets praised for it’s writing. I suppose the one eyed man really is king in the land of awful video game writing.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The number of Bethsda-isms in the game make me think that they had more of a role in its formation than strict hands-off publishing, especially given they made its predecessor. Many of the things that are bad in FO:NV are bad in FO3 and Oblivion too.

      But yeah, we’re pretty much agreeing here.

    • Starky says:

      Like I’ve said. The only reason I can even imagine hating on New Vegas is if you feel intellectually challenged by it… but I honestly hope that no one’s going to pay attention to such insecurities, and that everyone will be willing to give New Vegas a go. It’s simply fantastic.

      And it is comments like this that make me dismiss another persons opinion of anything – I’ve not played NV yet (waiting for the GotY all in one DLC edition), so I have no opinion for or against – but by god i hate these kinds of statements.

      Be it film, novels or video games anyone who pulls out the “if you don’t like this you’re too dumb to understand it” card is the worst of internet douches.

      Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye.
      De gustibus non est disputandum [tastes are not disputable].

      I’m sure NV is a really good game, and I’m sure their are reasons for the praise it gets (which I’ll discover when my massive backlog of games allows and the all-in-one edition comes out), but that kind of dismissive, assholish comment really gets my goat.

      Especially from someone who doesn’t seem like he’s dumb enough to actually believe that tripe. though it would hardly be the first time someone smart has believed something incredibly dumb.

    • NathanH says:

      I remember reading something once that said something along the lines of “for pretty much every game you’ll be able to find someone who says it’s their favourite game and be able to give good reasons for it”. This struck me as probably true and worth keeping in mind. You can probably extend that the disliking games too.

    • Zwebbie says:

      Personally I rather thought the writing was New Vegas’ weak spot (mind, I never played Fallout 3). What it does do well is build a consistent world; you get to experience the NCR not from one spokesperson like most RPGs would have it, but from dozens of perspectives from across the entire Wasteland. They’ve got such a presence that it’s almost believable that you’re seeing a military operation. However, don’t ask me what anyone’s name was – despite having played it only a month ago, I’ve forgotten about most of the characters that actually inhibit the game. They’re very forgettable. I couldn’t appreciate its silly humour either. For me, at least, it’s one of those games that’s good while playing, but won’t live on as a shining beacon in memory.

    • John P says:

      cartoon evil

      You might change your mind if you keep playing. The Legion is initially presented as the obvious bad guys, with the crucifixions and the slavery and all that, but there’s a lot more to them. The land around Vegas is infested with bandits and raiders. The Legion-controlled areas have no such problems. The Legion works. You just need to be willing to give up your freedom and liberty for safety, which seems like a relevant choice.

      It might be easy to sit at your computer in a comfortable chair in a first world country and say ‘pfft why would anyone side with the Legion, this is unrealistic!!’ But consider what life would be like if you and everyone you know was constantly threatened by bandits who would cut off your head for the two bottlecaps in your pocket. And then imagine if an army arrived demonstrably capable of keeping you safe. If you seriously think you’d dismiss them out of hand as ‘evil’, I think you’re lying to yourself.

      You might not side with the Legion in the end, but I suggest it’s a bit hard to dismiss Caesar as ‘cartoon evil’ after he’s started discussing Hegelian dialectics with you.

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      ffordesoon says:

      I completely understand why people hate New Vegas. I also completely understand why people love New Vegas. Wulf is right about it, though, as ever, his elitist stance on it is somewhat cringeworthy. Here’s the reason why New Vegas is great, at least to me:

      -SPOILARZ AHEAD, OMG!!!11!!!-

      So there’s this guy who shoots you in the head at the beginning of the game, right? Name of Benny. He’s played by Hollywood Celebrity Matthew Perry, who is presumably a rather difficult man to get on the phone. The whole first act of the game is spent getting to New Vegas to confront Benny, whether to get revenge or to find out why or whatever.

      If you play as a woman (which only a certain percentage of players are going to do – let’s say half for simplicity’s sake), and you have the Black Widow perk enabled (divide the half that play as a woman by the half that pick that perk), you can walk up to Benny in his home casino and talk to him (divide the half that pick the Black Widow perk by the half that pick the direct approach – which, to be fair, you can presumably do as a man and/or someone who doesn’t pick the Black Widow perk, too). If you have Black Widow, a dialogue option appears that allows you to convince Benny that you’re attracted to him, because “they say girls like bad boys, don’t they? Who’s badder than someone who shoots you in the head?” Benny, being a rather stupid gent, buys it and invites you up to his room. He’s not that stupid, so he’s naturally still suspicious, but you can convince him you mean it (divide the half that do convince him by the half that choose not to). You have sex with him, and then you’re given the option of slitting his throat while he’s asleep.

      Here’s the thing: that’s not bullshit. It doesn’t go, “You try to slit his throat, but he wakes up and throws you off of him” or something. You slit his throat, and he’s dead for good. If you choose not to, he runs off to where the plot needs him to go anyway, but writes a letter to you explaining how you’ve managed to galvanize him into action, thereby recontextualizing his flight in a neat player-specific way.

      Now, if you do kill him, Benny – who, we have established, is played by Hollywood Actor Matthew Perry and would therefore be unkillable in any other game, including those by Bethesda – is dead for good, meaning that Hollywood Actor and Back-Of-The-Box Bullet Point Matthew Perry’s total vocal performance time in that playthrough is about four minutes.

      At which point you can go to another main antagonist’s place of residence and kill him too.

      -END SPOILARZ-

      Now, I view Bethesda’s approach as totally valid, too. But in terms of choice and consequence, New Vegas has the TES series – hell, and Fallout 3, and Bioware’s games post-KOTOR – beat without question. Because you aren’t allowed to decapitate Max Von Sydow at the sight of him in Skyrim.

    • Metonymy says:

      The people who like New Vegas are the ones who enjoyed the original fallouts when they were younger. I did as well, and I’m very glad that someone still wants to make a game like NV, but I’m also able to understand that FO3 was a substantially superior video game. (No Bethesda fanboy here, I thought Skyrim was a failure as a video game.)

      Some people want to listen to voice actors and experience some mature novelization, but we have to accept that this is the minority, and it is not the strength of the medium at all. For having no multiplayer and no emergent gameplay to speak of, FO3 still ended up being a triumph of exploration and atmosphere, which is an area that novels and movies, in their absolute prime, still lose to gaming.

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      ffordesoon says:

      Actually, if you’re not sick of reading my bullshit, yet, I would like to defend Bethesda’s approach a little too, because I think people dismiss that approach out of hand without considering why they choose to take that tack. It is not, in my opinion, down to the idea that Bethesda doesn’t want to “frighten the console kiddies with real choice” or some other such elitist nonsense. While I do believe that the advent of full voice acting is and has been a big reason for the simplification of RPGs in a lot of ways (far, far, far more than the popularization of console versions of RPGs), I believe that the specific difference between Bethesda and Obsidian’s work stems from a very simple difference of philosophy regarding the role of story in games between the two companies.

      Basically, Bethesda believes in the absolute freedom of the player even to the arguable detriment of the narrative, whereas Obsidian believes in allowing players control over their narrative even to the arguable detriment of player freedom.

      I know, I know. Let me explain.

      See, Bethesda games – TES games in particular – are, at their heart, power fantasies. You have a massive world to explore, and you can do whatever you want at any time, even if it directly contradicts something you did before. The narrative bits of Skyrim, for example, are reward engines as much as they’re narratives. Every square inch of Skyrim and Cyrodiil and Morrowind exists solely for the player’s benefit, and everything you’re not allowed to do is all about making sure you can still convincingly go anywhere and do everything you are allowed to do. Choices with actual consequences define you, yes, but they also limit your options. To choose X is to not choose Y, and so forth. This is why people of a certain disposition come away from Skyrim feeling as though it’s hollow and meaningless, whereas those of a different disposition are fine with not experiencing consequences, because they then feel paralyzed by the possibility of missing some content and can’t continue to play the game. They want to be free to do what they like and create their own story, to be able to say, “Hey, even though I’m the hero of Skyrim, now that I’ve got the Wax Key perk, my ultimate goal is to break into every house in the country and get ALL THE KEYS!” That facilitates a sort of role-playing, albeit not the sort of role-playing people on RPG Codex or in RPS comments threads really get into, because it’s as much about what you can get away with as it is about emotional engagement. Bethesda games are games more than they are narratives; the narrative bits are there to convince the player of the world’s, y’know, worldliness, not to force the player to choose Option X or Y. The point of TES in particular is to chuckle to oneself, “Ha ha, if only the Companions knew that I’m actually part of the Dark Brotherhood! Clever old me!”

      And that’s fine. At what they’re trying to do, Bethesda games generally succeed wonderfully, whatever their other faults. The reason Fallout 3 perhaps doesn’t feel as quintessentially Falloutian as New Vegas is because Fallout 3 is Bethesda trying to do Fallout and a Bethesda game at the same time, and those two styles aren’t always at ease with one another.

      Obsidian games hew much more closely to the classic Black Isle/Troika/Fallout-era Interplay conception of what an RPG should be – not surprising, since it’s more more or less the same group of people behind all the different names. Obsidian games are about allowing the player to influence a structured narrative as much as possible, and about acknowledging the player’s gameplay choices within that narrative. They’re basically the best choose-your-own-adventure books ever, with the player not just being able to choose X or Y at a predetermined point, but being able to live – and choose how to live – the adventure leading up to said point. However, there are two rather obvious tradeoffs to this approach that do put plenty of people off, despite how it might look to people who only read RPS.

      Firstly, as players make choices and pick sides and define their role, the player’s freedom to experiment with different playstyles necessarily decreases, even when the player may not want them to. For example, in Alpha Protocol, if you try putting all your points into something besides Unarmed, Stealth, and Pistols, the game isn’t really balanced or designed for it, and it thus becomes less fun. This is what I mean when I say that Obsidian is focused on player choice (freedom within narrative) at the expense of player freedom (freedom within gameplay). The other problem – and this is totally subjective, but it really can be an issue for some – is that the player character is the main character in the story, not the god of the story. While most people like that in theory, I think, it can chafe in practice. In New Vegas, for example, I can’t join the Powder Gangers after I’ve gone and murdered a bunch of them, which is fine, but it’s not so fine that there’s no good gameplay way to deal with them besides running away and praying their aggro runs out before they catch up with me, nor is it fine that they’ll attack me on sight just because I didn’t agree to attack a town that helped me recover from a gunshot wound to the head. Say I help the town defend itself against the Powder Gangers; what, should I just watch the nice people potentially get massacred because I didn’t help them hold back the gang? Same with companions on Hardcore mode; should I not keep Boone around because I want to do his missions even though he always forgets he’s made of tissue paper and luck right when we’re knee-deep in Cazadores? What if I need Boone’s skills, but don’t want to get him killed? Am I just SOL without a whole hell of a lot of quicksaving and luck?

      Yes, it’s cool to me that my choices are meaningful and that I’m allowed to own them, but it can be frustrating, and not everyone gets off on that sort of frustration. Even I only do sometimes. And that’s fine. It would be boring if we only had Obsidian-style RPGs, just as it would be boring if we only had Bethesda-style RPGs. And that’s why I can’t get on board with, say, Wulf, even though he says a lot of stuff I really do agree with, and even though we generally like the same sorts of RPGs and both think Obsidian is the best RPG company working. Because I like Bethesda and Bioware’s “house styles” just fine, and want them to continue expanding on those rather than trying to copy someone else who’s better at it anyway. I think they could all stand to learn something from each other, to be sure, but I also understand where they’re all coming from.

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      ffordesoon says:

      @Metonymy:

      You’re one of those dudes? Aw, man…

      I’m afraid I cannot convince myself that narrative storytelling is “not the medium’s strength”, because that’s like saying a movie can’t be good if it has a lot of dialogue and not a lot of camera movement, because movies must be visually interesting. It’s an okay point from a theoretical perspective, but it ignores all the brilliant exceptions to the rule. See the article on the fallacy of “winning” for more on this.

    • LionsPhil says:

      You might change your mind if you keep playing.

      While I may hope so, I do not expect such. They’ve even got the anti-falsetto “sinister deep” voices of teenagers trying to pretend their voices broke. The whole thing is painfully bad.

      Also since I blew up wolf-features and his party with dynamite (“You’ve gained karma!”) I doubt they’re going to be in a talking mood. “Keeping the people safe from raiders” doesn’t mean “killing all but two of them for the evilulz”, so the “tough decision” here is just nonsense.

    • NathanH says:

      I like your posts, ffordesoon. In particular I have to say I get horrified when people suggest that Elder Scrolls games need to stop doing what they do and start emulating other games. I really enjoy what Elder Scrolls games do and nobody else really tries to do the same thing. That doesn’t stop me liking New Vegas.

      All the talk about “choice and consequences” in RPGs seems to be a pretty modern thing. I certainly can’t remember much of it from 20th century RPGs. I’m not particularly against the concept, but some people do seem to like putting it on a pedestal. So sometimes I see people saying it’s what RPGs are “about” and I’m left feeling a bit confused.

      I’d have to take issue with your response to Metonymy, though, since it takes the immediate “leap to comparison with movies” which I almost never agree with. But I’m a bit of an odd fellow for RPS; I think video games should be compared with other forms of games and play, not books and films which are in my opinion only very vaguely related.

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      ffordesoon says:

      @LionsPhil:

      Yeah, some of them are written well, but the best I can say about 99% of the voice acting in New Vegas – with the Caesar’s Legion grunts being by far the worst-voiced characters in the game (“KY-ZAR” sounds cool in Latin, but it sounds unbelievably idiotic in American English) – is that most of it is not actively offensive to me. You basically have to convince yourself that there’s more emotion than there is, or that everybody’s just very very stoic, or whatever. If you can’t do that, well, uh, it’s the three voice actors that Bethesda apparently keeps on retainer doing a bunch of different voices, as far as I can tell, so I understand perfectly how you could come to the conclusion you came to.

      While I understand the moral ambiguity behind Caesar’s Legion intellectually, the fact of the matter is that they’re a bunch of lunatics dressed up in Halloween costumes who nail people to crosses and have no sense of humor about anything. NCR, House, and/or oneself are the sensible options, really.

      @NathanH:

      Regarding your first point: thank you. I think there are a lot of people who forget that there are more choices you make in an RPG than narrative ones, and more systems at work than simple reactivity to your narrative choices. Those are important systems, to be sure, but they’re not the only ones. The negative reaction to Skyrim in the comments of the RPS Advent Calendar article on the game seemed to be based entirely on some sort of bizarre expectation that all TES games (and/or “RPGs”, as if there’s only one type) must be bastions of meaningful narrative choice, or else they fail forever. Which is a bizarre thing to expect, since no TES game has ever done that, to my knowledge.

      Regarding your second point: you’re absolutely right that the “judge games based on other media” mentality is bullshit, and I’ll freely admit that my analogy was weaker for it. I knew that when I wrote it, but I couldn’t think of anything better. My point, however, was not to compare games to films, but to point out the ridiculousness of the “manifesto mentality”, as the article on “winning” I mentioned puts it. It annoyed me that Metonymy said that we “have to accept” that narrative storytelling isn’t the strength of the medium, because that’s a call to abandon experimentation in every direction and accept one particular vision of the form, when all that matters is what works. I happen to think narrative storytelling is a perfectly fine use of the form, just as no storytelling at all and environmental storytelling are fine uses of it. What’s good is good. Let’s not get too hung up on embracing some Grand Unified Theory of gaming, because that imposes limits on something limitless. That, at least, is how I feel.

      Of course, my being an aspiring writer of fiction may have something to do with that, but I admit nothing. ;)

    • NathanH says:

      Siding with the Legion is almost as mental as siding with that nympho murdering vampire in Mass Effect 2, I reckon.

  3. Premium User Badge

    HermitUK says:

    Saturday Crapshoot is one of the few things I make a point of going over to PCG to read each week. Highly entertaining read.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Why, thank you sir.

    • magos says:

      Agreed, I can’t think of anything Mr. Cobbett has written that I haven’t wanted to read. His articles on Spiderweb Software’s games are more interesting than the games themselves.

    • Prime says:

      Only people who are wrong enjoy Mr Cobbett’s articles. They’re a pus-filled boil on the rectal canal of PC games magazine journalism.

      Myst is awesome!

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      I’m wrong!

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      I think Crapshoot was the main reason I put PCG in my RSS reader. I just love Richard’s writing and seeing what he digs out of the woodwork each week.

    • Nick says:

      Anyone who thinks Myst is a good game has questionable taste, so that explains your incorrect views on the excellent Crap Shoot.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Quickly edit your post to say it sucks and he’ll be officially agreeing. That’s legally binding.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Ha, it totally is this guy in Pyst: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Goodman

    • Urthman says:

      Unless Corbett can point to a game in the Myst genre that he likes, his opinion about it is as utterly worthless as my opinion about Starcraft, since I don’t like real-time strategy games.

      “Starcraft sucks because base building is always tedious and having to micromanage your units around in real time is a chore, more work than fun. Also, tech trees make my head hurt. What a terrible game. Anyone who likes Starcraft is wrong.”

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      So… like the last paragraph, where I not only say I enjoyed Zork: GI, I urge people to go and buy it right now because it’s awesome?

  4. Navagon says:

    With regard to 7554, not selling that game online is crazy. I don’t get why so many publishers from so many countries worry about piracy to such an extent that they leave practically the entire market to the pirates. Idiocy.

    As for launch DLC, I can see the counter-argument. But when you take it to Ubisoft’s trademark level of stupidity you know you’ve gone too far (unless you are in fact Ubisoft, in which case ignorance is bliss).

    • Caleb367 says:

      Is it just me or a Vietnam war game focused on the Vietcong instead of the n-th American-centric title sounds really really interesting? I mean, everyone’s seen the i-love-the-smell-of-napalm routine, a real time or turn-based tactical squad game focused on make do with whatever you got instead of shooting thousands of bullets and calling airstrikes sounds much more interesting that one Call of Duty: Vietnam Warfare Modern Battlefield.

    • Premium User Badge

      bear912 says:

      Color me interested in 7554, simply because of the story it tells, and the cultural significance of that story for the people who are making the game. My interest is a bit tempered by the uncanny mechanical similarity to Call of Duty, but there is certainly room for a compelling story and design. I’m keeping my eye on it, certainly.

    • Navagon says:

      No, I can certainly agree with that. One of the drawbacks of having an industry that is so afraid to take risks is the very limited number of settings we see in games, both in terms of history and geography.

      I think that this is one of the reasons why the Eastern European games industry has managed to broaden its market over the past five or so years and I see no reason why Vietnam can’t capitalise on the many gaps left in the market by timid western publishers too.

    • Skabooga says:

      That’s it is coming from a Vietnamese company, a game-producing sector I know nothing about, interests me. But seeing how slowly the character walks in that trailer, well, I felt frustrated just watching it.

    • bill says:

      Was it only me or did that article read a little strange. It felt like the writer was taking a vietnamese game and applying western business logic/markets to it. They talked about consoles being much more popular than PCs… i’d be surprised if that was true in Vietnam (but don’t know). They talked about not selling it online being a strange choice because most vietnamese want it to be (buy? play?) online, and then about how most vietnamese buy their games offline just down the street.

      Maybe that’s all correct for vietnam, but something read a little weird to me.

  5. Dominic White says:

    I’ve only just started on New Vegas myself, but I can second most of what that article says about it. It’s a helluva lot more of a role-playing game than anything Bethesda have done. Rougher than Skyrim by a fair few measures, but the linked mods (ESPECIALLY Project Nevada, which is a combined community effort to make the whole thing a tighter, more varied, more detailed whole that works better as both a shooter and an RPG, and works) go a long way to improving that.

    • Dreamhacker says:

      Exactly. As I have said before and will say again: Bethesda should sack their entire writing staff and use Obsidians writers for all their games.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep, I concur. If you’re looking for writing/choices then you need to look no further than New Vegas. It depends on what you’re looking for, but for me it comes close to being a ‘perfect’ game.

      Now, I mean, consider the xenophile you’re listening to, here. Normally I’d require some kind of xenophilic hook to catch my attention with something, and yet New Vegas gets immense praise from me without any of that. It’s simply incredible by its own merits. You don’t even need mods, really. They help, but it’s still a truly inspired work of writing and choice even without them.

      Possibly one of the only two Gamebryo games that doesn’t require mods to become better (along with Dragon Knight Saga).

    • Nick says:

      I think Civ IV was gamebryo too (and it just required official patches!)

    • NathanH says:

      I prefer the current Bethesda style for the Elder Scrolls games, but the Obsidian style works better in the Fallout setting.

    • Premium User Badge

      HermitUK says:

      Not only the writing, but the range of choices with actual consequences (though granted in many cases not til the end of the game) in quests is brilliant too. Skyrim’s quests really lack that, which is a great shame – there’s been several quests in Skyrim where I found myself thinking “But if this was me, I’d go do X instead of Y” and the game simply doesn’t offer the option.

  6. Premium User Badge

    bear912 says:

    I rather like Myst, so my sentiments towards it are much warmer than Cobbett’s, but I still found that Crapshoot an entertaining read.

    I heard about 7554 a while back (from Ars Technica if I recall correctly) and went on to investigate it. I’m simultaneously interested and puzzled by it. I’m interested by the cultural significance of the story it recounts, one which I confess to having very little familiarity with. I’m always interested in hearing the stories of others. I’m puzzled, in a sense, by the fact that the developers seem to have constructed an uncannily faithful recreation of Call of Duty’s mission style and gameplay mechanics. It seems, in many ways, to represent a Vietnamese Call of Duty clone.

    I’m also looking forward to reading the Far Cry 2 retrospective. ‘Twas a remarkable game, even with its share of problems.

    • Wulf says:

      Myst was wonderful, wasn’t it? I loved it from the first entry, too. And really, it only got better as technology got better, because they were able to tell greater stories, they were able to show you more alien worlds. My favourite of the series will always be Uru, because Uru offered perhaps the most starkly strange worlds of the lot, but every Myst game holds a place i my heart.

    • Prime says:

      Myst was awesome! One day I’m going to write a killer article on why every games journalist who hates it is utterly wrong, being a massive snob, and probably just being a bit of an arse too. Then I’m going to spend the rest of my days popping up under their Internet-noses repeatedly posting the link to it.

    • I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze says:

      I guess you can count me in the Myst Series Appreciation Society, though more in the case of the latter sequels than that of the original Myst. It’s interesting how divisive the Myst phenomenon has been. I see even reasonable, articulate journalists, like John and Richard, resort to name-calling and open mockery of the series’ fans. That seems to be the Modern Warfare effect. What’s annoying about the Myst is that the fact that it once upon a time sold better than the bible is used as some kind of irrefutable indication that this is the best that videogames can offer, the finest expression of interactive media. Obviously, no way. They are simply occassionally beautiful, evocative first-person point and clickers and even Myst 4, which I think is the best game in the series, contains some insanely frustrating parts. I mean, the Spider Chair? What were they thinking? And don’t get me started on some of the puzzles in Uru. Brrrr.

      Allright, long story short, John, Richard and others, I forgive you for calling me (yes, me personally, I know it) a moron of questionable taste for deriving enjoyment from Myst games because I understand what the Modern Warfare effect can do to a person. For I am kind and insightful.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      The Myst games are beautiful worlds. They are also crap games.

      All the beauty in the world can’t excuse the fact that the games just are not fun at all. As a matter of fact, for me, it’s the beauty that makes them more frustrating, because all I want to do is explore the goddamn pretty world, and they had to go and make a game out of it with those ridiculous goddamn puzzles. Atrus, you unbelievable douche, I just want to take in your dumb island, not find a little bit of metal piping that goes somewhere across the island from the place I found it!

      Create a Myst where you just walk around and examine the lovely space, and we’ll talk.

  7. Dominic White says:

    That Far Cry 2 article lends further evidence that no other game has created a greater split in opinion between ‘People who write for games sites’ and ‘People who comment on articles written for games sites’. No shortage of people claiming that the game was an unplayable trainwreck in the comments box, and they seem to be the comments getting the most upvotes.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      The complaint that bugs me the most is “AI which can always see you at 300m away and hit with pinpoint accuracy”, as I’ve put over 50 hours into various games of FC2 on difficulties right up to the highest and have never noticed this happening.
      Some of the enemies do have good eyesight, but so do you as the player so it’s only fair. I suspect most complaints of this nature come from people who think using crouch means they’re in ultra-invisible stealth mode, regardless of if they’re otherwise in the middle of a plain on a sunny day singing a couple of verses of La Traviata.

    • Yosharian says:

      I think it’s an awful game, I don’t understand why it gets any attention at all. There are so many bad gameplay mechanics in it that it’s hard to know where to begin explaining why. The few good aspects of the game are far outweighed.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, the stealth in the game works great. Yes, an enemy can see you a couple hundred feet away if you’re standing in plain sight, because YOU’RE STANDING IN PLAIN SIGHT.

      Do anything to break line of sight – just ducking behind a rock for a second – and they’ll have no actual idea where you are. Manage to relocate to somewhere else while they’re still looking, and they’ll come and check the rock first.

      And honestly, I thought almost all the core gameplay was excellent. There were possibly a few too many checkpoints between core mission objectives, but that’s just padding, not a crippling flaw.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Yeah, the AI is pretty much perfect in this game (except that it has a tendency to murder you all the freaking time, but that is also part of the emergent narrative in FC2: He who fights monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster, and you become one trough neccessity), although it is a shame that they don’t use the fire mechanic against you.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      The issues I had with FC2 were that it was a waste of an open world, rather than with the combat mechanics, which were fine.

    • pepper says:

      I love FC2, and my experience has pretty much been the same as the writer has, the foolish first buddy that gets killed when he is about to leave the country..

      what I’ve mostly noticed with FC2 is that people either hate it or love it.

      I must say that it indeed was setup for so much more then it delivered, it felt like the developers never could make it into the game they wanted it to be.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Far Cry 2! Far Cry 2!

    • Sassenach says:

      The problem I found with Far Cry two was that it was a very good open world shooter, but the structure it had was unintuitive and, worse, dull. Who you were working for and who your friends were never seemed to connect up overall. This worked into the ‘war is hell’ aesthetic the game was going for (which I thought it pulled off rather well), but didn’t make for much of a game.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      FC2 was brilliant, and stands up magnificently today, even 3 years later. Only a handful of games can say that. In fact, Homeworld 2 and Risen are frankly all I can immediately think of in that same vein in terms of both mechanics and graphics being superior years after.

      Yes, the respawning checkpoints sucked mega balls. But it was easily avoided and all together unimportant to the over-all breadth of the title. The hair raising thrill of a silenced headshot in the dark of night without alerting everyone to the raw fuck yea of opening up on a fuel depot with a mounted 50 cal is what FC2 did best. I hope the third does it all again, even better.

    • Wulf says:

      Frankly, New Vegas had the same amount of division here. So much so that about four pages worth of comments disappeared at one point. I’m not sure whether that was a bug due to the comments system overloading at the sheer amount of comments there (there over ten pages on the old comments pagination system, which would mean well over twenty on the new), or whether it was heavy moderation.

      But everyone disagreed! There was only the odd voice in agreement but they had no reason for it, as was quickly pointed out. So there were a few trolls. But never before have I seen such a large body of people united under one, single cause commenting on RPS. It likely brought in a lot of hits for the site, but at the sae time I’m surprised it didn’t make the site fall over. The dissent was loud and, aside from one or two voices, completely unified.

      When it got too much for RPS, Reddit and other threads were opened about deleted comments and censorship. True? I don’t know, but they’re out there if you look for them, and there was a chorus of support there as well. This was perhaps this site’s darkest hour.

      Now, I haven’t said anything that should get me moderated here, so hopefully the comment will stand. Especially since everyone at RPS should be as aware as I am of the complete truth of my words. I don’t lie. I’m not good at lying. And it’s pretty obvious when I’m trying. Anyone who was there could back up what I’m saying, here, and those Reddit threads still exist out there. It was truly the darkest of hours for RPS and I’ve never seen such a pure, untainted division between article writer and everyone else.

    • qrter says:

      Who you were working for and who your friends were never seemed to connect up overall. This worked into the ‘war is hell’ aesthetic the game was going for (which I thought it pulled off rather well), but didn’t make for much of a game.

      That’s actually what I liked about the game – the highest bidder is your friend, until another bidder comes along. While you’re playing the game, you start realising you’re not just playing a mercenary, you’re playing a coldblooded sociopath, who only thinks about making money and absolutely nothing else. It turns out you’re a horrible sociopath hunting down another horrible sociopath.

      You could say this is the case in most shooters, but this game doesn’t try to hide it, it knows this is the case and although it doesn’t rub your face in it, it won’t deny it if you ask.

    • Jimbo says:

      Far Cry 2 was fantastic. Ubisoft Montreal have put out a handful of great games in the last few years (AC1, 2, Brotherhood, Prince of Persia 08, Far Cry 2), and I don’t think any of them have really got the credit they deserved.

    • Prime says:

      Far Cry 2 was awful. It lasted about an hour before I scrubbed it from hard-drive never to darken my sight again. After the sublime Far Cry 1 this was a huge disappointment.

    • GreatGreyBeast says:

      I think there was a big gap between what FC2 looked like in previews, and what it really was, and that’s where the split happened.

      I was incredibly hyped for it, because I’d just played STALKER, and this looked like a similar concept in a more beautiful landscape from a big company that could iron out all the bugs. And when I started it up, I got buttered up even further by the opening sequence (in the cab), which was amazing. But then… oh, so much disappointment. Repetitive, repetitive, repetitive, and fake. And repetitive. And pretty. And repetitive. Really, I think the biggest problem is that it’s just too long. Even when I started to enjoy something (rather liked boating), it could always be killed by doing it 10 more times. And does the ending reward you for all that work? No. The ending is the worst part of all. Ugh, I need to go think about something else – FC2 always makes me angry.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      Far Cry 2 would be the best FPS I’ve ever played if it wasn’t for Half Life 2. Best map ever seen in a game. The sun. The weapons exploding in your hands. The wildlife running beside your buggy. The brutal way you heal your wounds. It even tried to solve The Curse of the Quicksave with the buddy system. Very rarely for a game it actually had something to say about the real world (the West need to stop screwing Africa over in case anyone didn’t get it)

      Edit: Forgot to mention the superb ending. Won’t spoil it.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      @ Wulf
      Why should people disagreeing with the writer make for a “darkest hour”? Quinns wrote what he thought. People disagreed. What’s the problem?

    • Premium User Badge

      bear912 says:

      Car Fry 2! Car Fry 2!

    • Yosharian says:

      @GreatGreyBeast Yes, yes, what you just wrote. That sums it up nicely.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      But everyone disagreed! There was only the odd voice in agreement but they had no reason for it, as was quickly pointed out. So there were a few trolls.

      Would you mind just speaking for yourself for once?

    • Arglebargle says:

      FAR CRY 2: Great engine, use of space. Terrible game.

      They knew it too: the lead mentioned in interviews that things like the respawning issues came up in Beta, but they just couldn’t fix it in time. Really?? Never fixed it. Dropped the game like a hot coal. If they’d released a modders kit, this game would probably still be selling well. Such promise, such stupidity.

      All sorts of bad design mechanics, and questionable design decisions. Big split on this seems to be between the folks who just revel in the nuts and bolts of the fighting, vs those who are interested in the game’s gestalt. I was totally put off when I discovered that there was absolutely no difference in playing a Tonton Macoute merc and a Spetznaz vet merc. Having a checkpoint respawn before I was out of sight of it. The malaria mechanic. It goes on and on.

      If they’d just let the players fix their screwups….

    • bill says:

      This is all making me want to try it!

      It occurs to me that in most other art forms we don’t really expect everyone to agree. Some people love Boyzone, some are indifferent, some hate them. That’s music (and books and movies and art). Yet for games we are always surprised when opinions differ.
      As game reviews often focus as much on mechanics/tech as on story/content/style we tend to judge games more objectively than other art forms. Not that that is actually possible.

    • Highstorm says:

      Every time I’ve tried to play FC2, it’s ended in a great amount of cursing and frustration. The constantly respawning checkpoints, or the way everyone in the world wants to shoot you immediately upon sight (shoot first, ask questions never) despite giving the illusion of an open world (and thus not a corridor shooter where you’re expected to shoot everything), and the goddamn jeeps chasing you down after you’ve moved ten feet in your own. Blargh!

      And yet it received so much praise from sites I used to (IGN) and now do (RPS) trust. I figured I had to be playing it wrong. I’ve tried several times again, usually anytime I see one of those glowing retrospective articles, but the same stuff smacks me square in the jaw. And it hurts. “Not for me” seems to be the moral of the story.

  8. Premium User Badge

    JohnArr says:

    Holy crap that rocket factory link is amazing – straight to the reference folder. Thanks Jim!

    • subedii says:

      Would certainly be good reference material for Stalker 2.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      And Half Life 3.

    • coldvvvave says:

      GSC had their office in a former military factory, so I think they have more than enough materiel to work with. Not to mention that every damn city in former USSR has it’s fair share of abandoned whatever-objects. You don’t even need to break the law as the girl from the link.

    • Skabooga says:

      Between these photos and the vintage Soviet science magazine covers posted a few Sunday Papers back, I have come to the conclusion that Russia is living in the coolest future of us all.

  9. pignoli says:

    Um yes, action/reward has been around forever, but I’m afraid we do have a name for it – Operant Conditioning. Pretty basic psychology I’m afraid and certainly not something we need a new phrase to explain. Am I missing something here? The article is well into tl;dr territory for something that looks like it’ll be teaching anyone with even the most passing of psychology knowledge how to suck eggs.

    • Wulf says:

      Doesn’t look like it, does it? I mean, there’s a lot of basic psychology that goes on in games.

      But never… and let me state this clearly, never underestimate the ignorance of some people.

      I recall when I pointed out that Blizzard, like Zynga, were using classical conditioning and social engineering in order to hook people onto such a cycle. A mix of peer pressure (your friends are playing, so you should play too), and never offering a sense of culmination or completion to a character that they went to lengths to ensure that the player would become personally invested in.

      By not offering a sense of climactic fruition through an ending, which clearly denoted the end of an experience (in this case, the game), they could keep promising and teasing that eventual ending, and they could keep people playing the same content until the next expansion pack came out based upon this trickery. That and the mix of peer pressure kept people in the game and paying for the subscription longer than they otherwise would have.

      It was essentially preying on the weak-willed, those who could not put a game down until they’d reached the ending, or those who could not leave until their friends (who were waiting for that ending) had. And there are a lot of weak-willed people out there. I can’t really support shenanigans like this. This is why I have so much praise for Cryptic’s and ArenaNet’s approach of having each story arc have a clearly laid out beginning and ending. But I digress.

      It, of course, got shot down by some loud, obnoxious person who was absolutely convinced that social engineering was a ‘made up thing.’ And made up by me, no less. So yeah. Learn to expect this.

    • Starky says:

      No Wulf, you get shot down because your opinion is a wildly exaggerated flight of bullshit – you’re not getting ignored or “flamed” because you’re just to smart and you pointing out these things angers the lesser folk – but the truth is, the truth you don’t like to face – is that you’re fanboism and bias causes everything you say to become almost comical hyperbole. Sometimes I really think that you’ve created this Wulf persona to knowingly troll, because in other topics and posts you seem like an intelligent well informed person, you just don’t seem dumb enough spout some of the things you do. Especially in any Blizzard/WoW/Guild Wars related topic.

      Of course no one with any degree of intelligence is going to deny that WoW uses basic psychological “tricks”, social engineering and reward mechanisms to entice gamers to keep playing. It’s a bloody game of course they do, every game in the history of gaming uses these methods to some degree – bloody monopoly uses them. they are the basic tools that create interest and enjoyment out of people – every form of activity people enjoy usual involve poking at the same psychological tools. Social status/appearance gains (level, prestige achievements, even character appearance), task reward mechanisms (XP, loot, achievements so on), peer-pressure, social community ties, competitive instinct driving the basic desire to achieve and win.
      The handing down of clearly defined goals and the tools to achieve them.

      Tools gaming has been using from the very first days of gaming.

      Now I’ll not deny Blizzard did it well, or in later expansions a bit ruthlessly – but so did Guild Wars, so has every RGP ever made.

      Blizzard advertised WoW from the very start as a never ending game – they were open from before the game even launched that there would never be a “cinematic end”, it’s a bloody MMO, no MMO ever has had a end. They may have stories that open and close, and WoW is no exception to this.

      Hell out of every MMO, WoW is the only one that has drastically altered it’s world because of in game events [cataclysm] – even Eve as much as it has changed is still much the same in many ways as it was day one (it’s expanded outward with changes, rather than evolve inward).

      But hey, continue to believe yourself some kind of “strong-willed” morally superior for resisting these “shenanigans”.

      You’re of course right that for many people “peer-pressure” (or to be more exact, social ties and friendship – something you may have issues with I understand) kept them playing WoW longer than they would have, I was one of them, I was knowingly one of them, and it’s nothing to do with been weak willed.
      it’s not giving up an addiction, or refusing some kind of drug – it is a choice. A choice between the social ties, friends and responsibilities (you may have) in a community and the enjoyment (or lack of) you gain from continued time in a game.
      It’s a testament to a game that it is enjoyable enough to attract players for such long periods that actual communities that cause that kind of internal debate can happen in the first place.

      No, psychological tricks and hooks in gaming are not an issue – without them gaming would just not be enjoyable.
      The only manipulation in gaming I do find worrying is statistical progression arcs that plagues casual gaming (pay 1 in game currency, to win 2 IGC, then it costs 2 to win 4, then 6 to win 12, but if you pay $1 you can get 50 IGC, and unlock a new thing that lets you pay 10 to win 50… so on).

    • Yosharian says:

      I’d just like to say that I think Wulf is completely right in this particular case.

      (I think it is a problem with MMOs in general though)

    • Highstorm says:

      I hate “thumbs up”, but I’ve severed all of my thumbs (three) and mailed them all to Starky.

  10. noom says:

    The Haxan Cloak seem mighty agreeable. Shall have to pick that album up at some point.

    This might be up your street Monsiour Jim. Something I’ve been loving lately.

  11. Chicago Ted says:

    What, nothing about Katawa Shoujo?

    • Chicago Ted says:

      Yeah that one’s pretty good

    • Harbour Master says:

      For those who don’t know what Katawa Shoujo is, then from Lange’s piece:

      About five years ago, on the message board 4chan, a Japanese artist posted a charming but strange concept illustration. The picture depicted five girls, envisioned as the potential love interests in a Japanese-style visual romance novel. So far, so ordinary, but there’s a twist: all of the young women had a unique disability. One was blind, one deaf. One had no legs, another, no arms. To round out the cast was a burn victim with half of her body scarred from fire.

      It takes a special kind of indie developer to look at that illustration and think: yes, we are making that game. The developer who gelled around this idea is called Four Leaf Studios. The game is called Katawa Shoujo.

    • MaXimillion says:

      Would love to see an RPS article at least mentioning the release, the game deserves attention even outside 4chan and japan-related websites.

    • Tams80 says:

      I can’t even download it as I can’t access torrents. =( I guess I’ll hvae to wait for the next few months…

    • MaXimillion says:

      Here’s the mirror that I used, seems to still work:
      http://download.oversubs.org/%5B4ls%5D_katawa_shoujo_%5Bwindows%5D%5BC3798628%5D.exe

    • bill says:

      Does it deserve a mention? It would be impossible to mention every japanese game featuring anime schoolgirls with a fetishistic twist.

    • MaXimillion says:

      Considering the quite special circumstances surrounding it’s creation, the fact that it’s very tastefully written (even as far as actually good VN’s go, not just in comparison to pure sex romps), and that’s it’s available for free, yes, I do believe it deserves a mention.

      And it’s not a Japanese game.

  12. Unaco says:

    Jas Purewal had a good open letter on Game Piracy this week, over on EDGE.

    To those who defend game pirates.

    Controversy, I know. But it’s Jas Purewal, so it’s very reasonable and well written controversy.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It’s interesting but he completely misses a major point. The argument that piracy is not a lost sale does not depend on people buying it later as he seems to think. The overwhelming argument is that most pirates either can or will not pay for the product they download. Certainly not at the price of a brand new game.

      And this depends on a crucial distinction. Piracy is not a concrete loss like physical theft. When you steal a physical item you are not only taking it for yourself, but you are taking it away from a retailer that paid for it and preventing them from selling that item in the future. He doesn’t explore that at all. He also doesn’t go into the massive difference between downloading and uploading.

      He also talks about how great Steam is and how he favors market solutions, so I find it shocking that he did not mention the following interview:
      http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/story_type/site_trail_story/interview-gabe-newell/

    • magos says:

      I’ve always found the lost-sale argument a little odd really. It’s clearly the prime reason for wanting to stamp out piracy, and yet there seems to be a massive financial disparity between the cost of recouping a lost sale, and the amounts requested by publisher’s legal representatives when letters get sent out.

      I personally have no problem with pirates being asked to pay for what they’ve stolen, but CDP’s representation have apparently been requesting 750 euros in reimbursment. Given the circa 50 euro price point for the game itself, I don’t fully understand where the extra 700 comes from. It don’t cost THAT much to send out a letter.

    • Kaira- says:

      Asking the price of the game itself is simply put stupid. It’s nothing, it’s a pat on the back: “hey now that you tried our game and perhaps even shared it forwards, it’s time to pay that 50 euros, right?” 750 may seem unfair price, but well, so is the act of piracy. It works as a deterrence and as a punishment. Then again, in most countries, I believe, it’s not a punishment in itself, as the case is settled in civil court. On the other hand, I’m no lawyer and expert in law, so…

    • magos says:

      Yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be a deterrent. And yet, in spite of these letters being in existence for a few years, piracy is still ‘destroying the industry’. So it can’t really be a deterrent, can it?

      I think what I was trying to propose was a different way of trying to combat pirates directly – an attempt to recoup the retail cost of the game (plus administrative fees), perhaps with the threat of escalating costs and pursuit of a civil case should the initial, lenient request be ignored.

    • Wulf says:

      Why oh why don’t our law letters work, oh why oh why must this be?

      Okay, so here’s a thing: IP spoofing. Even the tech-stupid can get in on this. Not IP spoofing? Well, it doesn’t take a genius to log into a nearby unprotected router. Got a bit of intelligence? It’s really not that hard to hack a WEP protected router – and I’d bet you that at least 30% of the routers in the UK are WEP protected. According to a US friend, it’s worse there, as he’s surrounded by unprotected routers and WEP routers.

      Thus… what happens is that the likelihood of the correct person receiving the letter is greatly reduced. Thus the pirates are laughing and it’s highly possible that a person who doesn’t like pirating will receive a scary letter. Now, let’s say you’re not a pirate. If you receive a scary letter about pirating, you may decide “fuck it” and opt to even pirate that developer’s wares in future, out of spite.

      Letters like that are exacerbating the problem and making the situation worse, because the chances that a letter like that would make it through the right letter box are fairly damn low. And even if they did make it through a letterbox, a pirate could claim innocence based upon the above.

      It just doesn’t work. Better methods are needed.

    • Prime says:

      “It’s interesting but he completely misses a major point. The argument that piracy is not a lost sale does not depend on people buying it later as he seems to think. The overwhelming argument is that most pirates either can or will not pay for the product they download. Certainly not at the price of a brand new game.

      And this depends on a crucial distinction. Piracy is not a concrete loss like physical theft. When you steal a physical item you are not only taking it for yourself, but you are taking it away from a retailer that paid for it and preventing them from selling that item in the future. He doesn’t explore that at all. He also doesn’t go into the massive difference between downloading and uploading.”

      No, it is a lost sale. Look at it this way: Company develops game expecting a small fee from the customer to play it. Customer decides instead to pirate game, and does not pay anything to the Company.Customer now owns copy of game. Company has not received any money from that customer. Ergo: it is a lost sale, from this bottom-line perspective. They’re not worried about the fact that the customer may not ever have been meaning to pay for the game. All they care about is that someone has a copy of their game without paying the fee being asked for. A copy that should, by rights, have been sold to the customer.

      The concept of theft is too narrowly defined, and doesn’t apply to digital data. The mere fact that you can copy something 100% accurately makes any prior definition of theft entirely meaningless. Piracy is the correct term for obtaining a piece of data without paying any fee to the content creators or their distributors. If a person has in their possession a piece of pirated content then regardless of the intent to pay or not pay that is a lost sale to the content creator.

    • Archonsod says:

      I believe the argument is something along the lines of “you shared it to 100 people, so you’re going to pay for those 100 copies”.

    • Tams80 says:

      @ Prime. It’s not a lost sale if the pirate never intends to buy the product.

    • NathanH says:

      My vocabulary can’t quite express what the “lost” things is in piracy. It’s a bit like this, the distributors have the power to deny you access to something unless you give them money. If you bypass this denial, you’re not necessarily denying them the money, but you are denying them their right to not let you have their stuff. So it’s like… a lost restriction? I dunno.

      Personally I find the lost whatever argument is too murky to get into. I prefer a more straightforward approach. The system requires some people pay money for stuff, or the system will collapse and there will be no stuff. If piracy is OK, then you’re still going to have to have some people who pay for stuff and some people who don’t. This imbalance is a bit unfair.

    • Arglebargle says:

      I first saw Dragon Age: Origins on a friend’s computer. It was a pirated copy. I liked it so much, I bought two copies. A friend saw it on my computer and bought it also.

      Where is this going to show up on their oh so clever balance sheet?

    • Premium User Badge

      RobF says:

      I don’t think there’s anything reasonable about rating peoples concerns on a scale of 1/10 based on your own prejudice, personally.

      It’s a horrible article, it’s antagonistic towards players, its conclusions based on “well, I’ve seen no evidence of this so hah” for the most part, the most egregious part has thankfully been pulled from it where it stated outright that if you disagree with the ACS Law route then you agree with piracy (“blunt but true” it read) but still, it’s a piece that serves little purpose than to minimise peoples concerns in favour of what is best for corporations.

      The nadir of the piece coming with “we just need to write better letters”. Yes, that’s it. When engaged in a clearly abusive act, you just need to rephrase your letters so they read a little less abusive. Not stopping the abusive act or to condem said abusive act.

      Which coming from a lawyer involved in games, is a lens I can sort of understand even if I do horrifically disagree with it. What I don’t understand is why Edge would print abusive ill researched sub IGN tattle like this.

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      @NathanH
      “The system requires some people pay money for stuff, or the system will collapse and there will be no stuff. If piracy is OK, then you’re still going to have to have some people who pay for stuff and some people who don’t. This imbalance is a bit unfair.”

      You may criticize your vocabulary, but I think you’ve absolutely nailed it there. I’ve been trying to find a way to describe exactly this aspect of the piracy problem for bloody ages.

      I are not the good at words writing in sense that make way.

    • InternetBatman says:

      @Prime
      The problem is that the argument automatically assumes that the people downloading the games would have bought it if there was no other alternative. In other words, pirates are not necessarily customers.

      If a pirate does not have the means to pay (either having the money or in the case of teenagers, access to a credit card), then they never would have bought it in the first place. Similarly, many pirates (I don’t have the source for this) are ravenous consumers that consume outside their means. In that case they buy what they can and sometimes more, but still download to meet their compulsion. Also, some people are cheap and will never pay for their consumption.

      People are consuming what they shouldn’t, but they very well might not be consuming what they would buy otherwise. The difference between a divergence in a company’s expectations and an actual lost sale is huge. The act of theft, no matter what the scale, is harmful to the victim. The act of piracy is not harmful on a small scale, but is very harmful on a large scale because it creates a culture where people do not pay for things they should pay for.

    • Ritashi says:

      Logged in to comment on this, because I keep seeing this crap about piracy not being a theft because it does not equate to a lost sale. The simple fact is that it does not matter whether the pirate would have bought a copy or not. The pirate has no right to own a copy of a game they do not buy. The fact that a developer may not have lost money due to the pirate is irrelevant. The fact that the developer may have in fact gained money due to the piracy is irrelevant. Piracy is something that has to go beyond some understanding of money being lost, because it is impossible to accurately determine the actual loss of potential revenue. It is, however, a very clear breach of copyright, and the simple fact that it is possible to own a copy of a product which no one at any time was given proper royalties for undermines the entire structure of the modern creative fields. The idea of a copyright is how we could move away from the patron structure. Without any penalties for breaching it, we are relying solely on generous people to choose to give money through the proper channels for new products. That is frightening.

      I should clarify the above with another point, and that is that game developers really do not have the tools to combat piracy. They can put the best security imaginable on their games, but there simply is no security system they can use which cannot be hacked, outside of keeping all the actual software on an external server (which could be made extremely secure), but that is not an option for most games. The letters sent out are not useful, and are generally bad practice, if not entirely illegal in several countries. Game developers do not have the right to punish anyone. They have a right to reclaiming any loss of money that can be proven, but the exact amount of money lost or even whether money was lost cannot be proven. The problem is that game developers want to react against the obvious injustice of piracy, but do not have the tools nor the right to do so in a meaningful way. The only organization which has the right to do so is a governing body, which is why we need better laws that clarify things like piracy in this new age of computers and internet. Right now no one has any idea what the rules are when it comes to software, and that is a pretty significant problem.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I have to second RobF–there’s nothing reasonable about it at all. Yeah, most of the time pirates don’t spoof their IP, and most of the time connections aren’t stolen. That doesn’t make it any less of an injustice in the minority of times when either of those are true and innocent people get threatening letters.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      “there simply is no security system they can use which cannot be hacked, outside of keeping all the actual software on an external server”

      Isn’t this exactly what’s going to happen? See Diablo 3. It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens with that title. If it sells well and doesn’t get effectively pirated other devs will have to take notice. They’ll sacrifice customers with unreliable internet to gain extra sales from people who would have pirated it (in their heads that is, I don’t know if it’ll work or not)

    • Muzman says:

      Ritashi: No one in this exchange even mentioned the ‘not theft’ distinction and even people who do bring it up don’t equate that with it being ok. Quit moralising to the ether.

  13. Sassenach says:

    From the Eurogamer piece on retailer exclusive DLC:

    I think that without bricks and mortar retailers playing a part in the way that games are sold and marketed it would be a worse world for us all. If it’s entirely digital then discovery definitely becomes more challenging.

    Are they engaging in an exercise of purely abstract rhetoric? In which universe do retailers sell anything that doesn’t have a considerable marketing budget? of all the nascent products that have appeared since the advent of steam how many of them can claim brick and mortar as the reason for their success? I expected wild flights of mendacious sophistry, not outright falsehoods.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      I was almost physically sickened by this piece. He quotes Jonathan Hayes’ blatant lies and posturing, and then calls the guy altruistic. He quotes David Jaffe as saying, “Pre-orders really drive the success of games now.” Jaffe then calls himself a layperson(with an assumed lackluster education on the subject) in the NEXT SENTENCE. He goes on to guilt trip consumers by assuming that we say and think devs are “greedy ****s.”

  14. OrangyTang says:

    Re: ‘Winning’ in games

    I never understand (and it winds me up for some reason) when people say they “beat” a game. You don’t ‘beat’ games, you complete them or finish them. A game *wants* you to finish it, wants you to experience it in full.

    Sure, you beat the various challenges and bosses along the way, but that’s not you pummelling the game into submission, it’s engaging with the game at it’s own level and (hopefully) having fun with it.

    Ernest Adams puts it well in his ‘what kind of designer are you’ article ( http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2902/the_designers_notebook_what_kind_.php ). A good game *should* be like a Dungeon Master, throwing challenges at you pitched at just the right level to struggle but overcome them.

    The adversarial attitude of gamers who ‘beat’ games is, I think, unhelpful and creates unhealthy environments like Xbox live where all anyone cares about is the end result, not the journey, with all the smack-talk, glitching, hacking and cheating that implies.

    • Fumarole says:

      Thank happenstance I’m not alone!

      I wrote a rant about this very thing many years ago on another forum and was only met with derision.

    • fiddlesticks says:

      What about Nightmare mode in Doom and Doom II, where the developers specifically announced that they didn’t fully test it upon release and therefore made no guarantee that you could actually complete any level? Surely, finishing that should count as “beating” the game.

    • mmalove says:

      To be fair, some of the games themselves use the language “beat” in self reference through achievements or narrative to describe completion.

    • Wulf says:

      And what about MMOs designed after the Everquest formula (including Blizzard’s)?

      I know most games want you to beat them, this is a point that I completely agree with you on and would sign a waiver to that effect, but to say that all games desire to be beat is, indeed, completely incorrect. Some designers even develop games that can’t be beat, some stop developing a game because they think that gamers won’t get past a certain point. (Jet Set Willy, I think?)

      So there are examples of games that want you to experience so much and then be left hanging, either out of some masochistic desire for difficulty, because the developer didn’t want you to be able to finish the game (thus they could be lazy about developing the rest of it), or because they want to get you psychologically addicted to their subscription based game (and offering a way to beat such a game would be exceedingly detrimental to continuing subscription rates).

      I mean, I recently watched some videos about the worgen stuff in WoW (they got my attention, but not eough) and… what did I see?

      - We’ve lost our city!
      - We’ll retake our city!
      - Shit, that didn’t work, let’s run.
      - We promise the dead that we’ll retake our city one day!
      - Really, we will.
      - We return as stupidly high level characters!
      - We do a lot of fighting!
      - We will retake and move into this city one day!

      See? That’s the thing. Reclaiming and moving into Gilneas as a city would, of course, be the ending. With the Forsaken forces driven out and the lives of the Gilneans becoming better for it, Gilneas is a bustling metropolis again. Greymane won. The end.

      Except that doesn’t happen.

      So, intrinsically, there are some games that don’t want you to complete them, for whatever reason.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I think it really depends on the game whether I “finish” or “beat” it.

      A game such as Arkham Asylum, in which the protagonist is essentially trapped in a situation and whose only goal is to survive that situation, feels like a game that you “beat;” it’s posing a challenge above all else, even if it is fairly linear, narrative-heavy, and not really all that challenging.

      Compare with Arkham City, in which the same protagonist never feels trapped and whose primary goal is to complete a linear narrative, but who can explore and fool around to his heart’s content; that’s the kind of game you “finish.”

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      “The adversarial attitude of gamers who ‘beat’ games is, I think, unhelpful and creates unhealthy environments like Xbox live where all anyone cares about is the end result, not the journey, with all the smack-talk, glitching, hacking and cheating that implies.”

      I live in hope that one day we’ll move past the point where commenters feel the need to indulge in mindless console bashing in order to establish their hardcore PC gaming credibility. I think that’s unhelpful and unhealthy.

    • MondSemmel says:

      If it’s a difficult game, “beating” it sounds like the most appropriate description for it. For example, I have gone quite far through Super Meat Boy, but I still haven’t yet beaten it completely.

      On the other hand, for games like Diablo 2 (the end of the story doesn’t have much to do with the end of the game) or Beyond Good & Evil (it’s all about world, story, and experience, and it’s not really that difficult), it feels more as if I “finished” them than “beat” them.
      In general, the higher a game’s difficulty, the more the word “beat” feels appropriate to me.

      And who says that the most appropriate level of difficulty is one that rises exactly with increased player skill level? Some games are perfectly justified with a “brick wall” approach – “You thought this level was hard? You haven’t seen anything yet”. Perfect example (for me): Super Meat Boy.

      Similarly, who says that a game necessarily “wants you” to finish it? My favorite response to this is Jonathan Blow’s concern that in that case, you can never make difficult puzzle games, because they have to be made in such a way that every player can complete them. For difficult puzzles to exist requires that they may not be solved by everybody, every time.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It depends on the philosophy of the game and how concerned the developers are with you finishing it. You complete Half-Life 2. You beat VVVVVV or Give Up Robot.

    • Skabooga says:

      So, what everyone is saying is, if it is hard, then you can beat it. :)

    • mondomau says:

      Llweyn : Touchy. Why do you assume it’s console bashing? Xbox live is arguably the best example of the kind of adversarial attitude the commenter is describing (and to my mind, it truly is). The point could just as easily be made using PC examples (Aimbots in MW/BF, achievemen/item farming in games like TF2 an some MMOs), but the more (in)famous Xbox live probably sprung to mind that little bit quicker.

    • Highstorm says:

      Perhaps I’m just stupid, but the terminology of “beating a game” always seemed derived from “beating the final boss” to me – the way most old school (8-64 bit) games ended. Games may have changed since then, but the phrasing persists.

      Never ever had the image of someone physically beating on a piece of software entered my mind. It’s a humorous image though, so I may hold onto it.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    RE: Why We Love Superheroes; I myself have never been a big fan of them. The very essence of them being “super” and better than human means there’s very little about them that I feel I can identify with. The fact that they’re supposed to be a cut above the rest of us and that they usually wear ridiculous outlandish outfits, always makes them come across as a bunch of arrogant posers to me.

    I’d much rather read about or play characters that are just like the rest of us; ordinary people forced to deal with extrodinary situations, as opposed to extrodinary people doing extrodinary things. Give me an everyman character I can identify with so that I can share the highs and lows of their story as they struggle against adversity.

  16. coldvvvave says:

    From the Rocket Factory link.

    >Now the Russian government is harassing her.

    Oh noes! Why would they do that! She was just breaking and entering into a private property! Monsters!

  17. rockman29 says:

    Dark Souls ftw :D

  18. Premium User Badge

    Biscuitry says:

    Both sides will call me a heretic for this, but I’d prefer hybrid shooter controls: a stick for movement and a mouse for aiming. Perhaps my keyboard needs a Nunchuk.

    Of course, that doesn’t make me insane enough to shell out upwards of £40 for whatever gaming peripheral Logitech or Razer are pushing this year.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I agree with this 100%. Either a nunchuck or an analog stick on the keyboard. I loathe dual analogs, but I do think that they provide a greater fidelity of movement.

  19. Wulf says:

    I think that some people must feel intellectually threatened by Obsidian (due to it being almost entirely a stable of highly intelligent writer-folk who could run word-rings around the people who’re writing about them), I suppose that if you write, they write, they write better, and you’re mildly disconcerted by that then it becomes hip to people who have a large opinion of themselves to have a go at Obsidian.

    Of course, you can be a writer and not have an ego so massive that you need to attack every good bit of writing out there, especially when it’s one of those rare videogames that is written well. Though, come to think of it, I remember more than a couple of Bloodlines reviews attacking it for being slipshod in the writing department, rather than going after the bugs (which were by far a more valid concern in that game).

    To me, knowing how good both New Vega and Bloodlines are, attacking either just speaks loud volumes about the insecurities of the people writing, more than anything else. It’s almost like they’re screaming about how much it bothers them. That, because they are writers, they have to be incredibly critical to anything else which is writing, since it is not their writing. It makes me sad that there are writers like that, but there are, and that much is painfully obvious.

    It’s also worth noting that some journalists who think of themselves as writers will be less willing to attack dumb, poorly written games because they feel less threatened by them. I’ve seen that pattern too many times as well, it’s a shame. I really don’t know why this affects writers more than it does, say, artists. Artists love seeing the work of others, they always do. What is it with certain types of people who write that makes them egotistical jerks?

    This will continue to happen as well, pretty much every instance we see of a well written game is going to be dismantled by someone thinking that they’re being clever by showing how flawed that writing is when compared to their own. But as I said, to me it only speaks loudly of personal insecurities.

    • qrter says:

      Creating such an obvious straw man isn’t going to convince anyone, Wulf.

      I mean, I like Obsidian’s work, but your argument basically boils down to “you just don’t get it, maaaan”.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s Wulf. He deals with his insecurities by accusing others of having insecurities.

      Turtles all the way down, man.

    • Unaco says:

      Indeed. It’s a Wulf-ian argument. If you don’t agree with him, it’s not because you have a different opinion, which is as equally valid as his, or different tastes or interpretations. It’s because you are Racist, Xenophobic, close minded, ignorant, prejudiced or intellectually challenged. We can’t possibly have valid criticisms or concerns about these things Wulf has deemed ‘Quality’… if we do, it’s not because of any ‘truth’ in those concerns, it’s because of our insecurities.

      Either that, or Wulf just wants to label any dissent as due to our problems, and not problems with the things we dissent about.

    • Agnol117 says:

      I enjoy the manner in which this completely negates the possibility of criticizing Obsidian’s writing on the premise that it is weak by saying that if you find it weak, you’re just jealous.

      I enjoyed the writing in New Vegas. It was, on the whole, above average and in some cases even outstanding. But in other cases, the it wasn’t, and to ignore those cases in favor of praising the game seems dishonest.

    • NathanH says:

      Another plausible possibility handily dismissed is the thought that some people might not consider “it is a good game” and “it has good writing” to be particularly strongly linked…

    • Wizardry says:

      You’re right, Wulf. I’m sure all game writers and journalists cry themselves to sleep at night over the excellent quality of Obsidian’s writing. However, what you fail to mention is that game designers piss themselves laughing over the diabolical decisions Obsidian repeatedly make when shitting out their stories games.

    • DiamondDog says:

      Wizardry goes up against Wulf in tonight’s blockbuster film, Humility: Something Other People Have.

    • Starky says:

      Why does that fight (Wulf vs. Wiz) put me in mind of a kid smashing 2 bobbleheads together, while making sound effects?

      Edit: Internet I love you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7vIzKkJv-U

    • greenbananas says:

      Wow, it’s a sad day when someone’s argument/opinion is no longer considered sound basis for a for a discussion. When someone goes to such lenghts to make a point (yes, even when it’s someone like Wulf who seems to enjoy being particularly verbose), to dismiss any discussion on it so utterly on the basis that it’s not proven scientific fact, seemingly exclusively because you dislike/disagree with the person in question is… I’m not quite sure how to put it, but I expected tolerance, at least. Maybe I don’t know him/her/it as well as you do (although I doubt I’d react in such a manner if I did), maybe this is some private joke I’m not getting (apologies if so), but c’mon, you’re free to ignore the post if you’re not interested in the discussion. Why not do just that if you’re not going to offer anything that indicates you’d like to further the argument on hand?

      Oh and that opening line’s raison d’etre is to reflect my ??!? at the manifold times a potentially interesting discussion is averted because of an inability to discuss opinion, because one of the people involved would rather nitpick the contents of a metaphor rather than the point in question, or any other number of usually daft reasons.
      The hairy midgets down Portugal way have a good expression for such cases: Desconversar (to “untalk”).

      @Wulf

      On the subject at hand, I’ve never been witness to the criticism you mention on Obsidian’s work, although how you describe it reminds me of a particular phenomenon; the impressively heavy-handed criticism of the quality of a pop song’s lyrics, by critics as well as the general public. It’s a judgement I find rather meaningless, different sensibilities and all, but then, it’s one you’d expect of a band’s most hardcore fans and it should be expected of fans of Obsidian’s work. One thing I’ll give you though, it doesn’t really belong in a review at this point in (gaming) time, given the game in question’s peers.

      There’s a lot that’s odd about Obsidian, from how they seem to be resented by peers and some journalists, to the fixation critics and public alike have with their games’ bugs (a fixation not present when dealing with other studios *cough*bethesda*cough*) among scores of other kinks, but truly, I think it adds to the charm. It’s that one company that, even though nobody realises it, everyone’ll miss when they’re gone. Although a universally praised new game and IP by them could (and should) have been made by now.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      greenbannanas: what argument? The statement “everyone who dislikes Fallout: NV is an intellectual weakling and not nearly as cool as me”?

      That deserves an argument?

      Trying to be more constructive – Alpha Protocol is the great lost RPG of the last few years – integrates choice and consequence into the narractive much better than, well, pretty much anything else I can think of. Shame the mechanics were so lame.

    • MD says:

      @greenbananas: Speaking as someone who has defended Wulf in the past against the “tl;dr”, ‘sincerity-and-openness-and-effort-are-uncool’ crowd, and as someone who approves of his verbosity and passion, I have to say you seem to be missing a big chunk of what’s going on here.

      I don’t know if it’s a reaction against one too many negative responses, but Wulf has repeatedly shown a tendency to insult and belittle others — often pre-emptively — for failing to share his opinions and tastes. Maybe when you see one example of this, and the ensuing responses, it seems like a bit of a pile-on. But seeing it in context, I think you’d struggle to blame everyone but Wulf for the direction taken by many of his comment threads lately.

    • MD says:

      (Note that I said ‘everyone but Wulf’, not ‘anyone but Wulf’. I’m not suggesting that every response he receives is justified or acceptable.)

    • greenbananas says:

      @Funky Badger
      “What argument? The statement “everyone who dislikes Fallout: NV is an intellectual weakling and not nearly as cool as me”?”

      The observation that some people appear to feel threatened by Obsidian’s “writing prowess”, or that are gamers that seem to enjoy Fo3 more than NV because of it aren’t viable or interesting possible discussions to come from that post? Colour me ignorant on Wulf’s antics but I’m not ready to dismiss all of his points just because his/her/its argument was strongly worded. There’s absolutely no need for any reader to take every expression/word used personally and/or at face value, particularly when there’s an interesting point being made.

      @MD
      Well, it’s not really a matter where I can say that I’ll take your word for it, even if it seems I should. I reckon I could be “defending” an absolute cretin but think I should let the person in question speak for his or herself and make up my mind on it then. Your advice is heeded, though.

      I just took what happened as yet another sign that people in general nowadays seem too quick to dismiss something based on a tangent, that they’re too concerned with political correctness to the point of nausea, that they’re completely incapable of dealing with someone else’s opinion. Apart from other spoiled ‘net discussions, it reminded me of that whole “Clarkson wants strikers shot” thing you might have noticed, and the people that didn’t like what he wrote’s incapacity to either not take what he wrote literally, or to dismiss it because, for instance, “the author’s just some daft cunt”.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mo says:

      @greenbananas:
      But that’s just it, it’s an “observation”. You’d think in five paragraphs Wulf would find the time to find a quote, article, some sort of evidence to support his “intellectually threatened” hypothesis. But no.

    • Thants says:

      @greenbananas: “If you don’t like the same videogame as me you’re a terrible person” is not an opinion I’m terribly inclined to accept. It’s not Political Correctness Run Amok to suggest that you don’t call everyone who disagrees with you a close-minded idiot.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Foosnark says:

    I like what I’ve heard of Haxan Cloak, but eMusic doesn’t have them, Google Music doesn’t have them, and Amazon has only a $31 CD which is out of stock.

    Anyone got a clue where I can find their stuff at a reasonable price, preferably as a (legal) download?

  21. Premium User Badge

    shoptroll says:

    The DLC article was interesting but the situation still sucks I think for consumers. However, it did seem like more companies released the pre-order DLC after the game released than last year. So that’s progress I guess?

  22. NathanH says:

    The article about the four lenses was quite interesting and seemed to me, the sort of person who normally snaps “pretentious” at such things, to be quite sound and well-reasoned. Although it did leave me wondering “so what?” Also the suggestion that the best answer lies in the middle seemed a bit of a leap. Sometimes extremes make total sense.

  23. Max.I.Candy says:

    I absolutely love reading every Dark Souls article i see.

    As one of, or maybe even the single, most memorable gaming experiences ive had, Its ironic that it was a console that provided this pleasure, and not my beloved PC platform.

    Right now I’m playing a different game, but I’m always looking forward to the day I’ll continue my adventure in NewGame++, or maybe rerolling with a Deprived and adding to the challenge.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I got a PS3 for Christmas, and Dark Souls is easily the most disappointing title I’ve played for it. I knew going in that it was hard, but based on the critical reception (to include user reviews and general word of mouth) I assumed that there would be something more to it than extreme difficulty: interesting character development, engaging combat, something. But no, the mechanics are obtuse and clunky all around. Character development is like Diablo but with even more (largely inscrutable) stats, abilities are mostly purchasable only from merchants (who are mostly locked away behind hard-to-reach places), and the combat is awkward at best. The only selling point is that it’s incredibly hard.

      I greatly prefer the Monster Hunter approach to difficulty: you aren’t going to see everything the game has to offer (or even finish the lightweight single player story) unless you have a fairly comprehensive grasp of the game mechanics and have spent some serious time building up your strength, but we’ll start off slow and make sure you have your bearings before we take the gloves off (Barroth, anyone?).

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      so you couldnt get to grips with the combat and think that its difficulty is its only selling point?
      sounds like you didnt get far enough to experience all the game has to offer, but i dont want this to sound like i’m making fun of you for that, i just wanted to make a post on how much i enjoyed the game.

    • Dominic White says:

      The game has one of the deepest action-RPG combat engines ever made, a very well fleshed-out setting that tells you backstory without making you read lore-books or listen to exposition (a flooded underground city, with a pile of trampled corpses still clinging to a locked outer gate? Grisly, and explains why there’s a lot of vengeful ghosts around), and some of the best pseudo-medieval architecture I’ve ever seen in a game.

      It’s hard, but it’s also fair. No worse than the original Castlevania 1. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aip2aIt0ROM – In fact, it has more than a fair few similarities. It also has the cleverest, most unique multiplayer I’ve ever seen.

      And the skill system is nothing at all like Diablo. Also, almost all skill trainers move into either the Firelink Shrine and Anor Londo (which you can teleport freely between) once you find them, aside from a couple of notable characters who have their own agendas beyond helping you out.

    • Heisenberg says:

      @ Drinking with Skeletons
      “The only selling point is that it’s incredibly hard.”

      Not much i can say to that without sounding like a patronizing asshole so i wont bother (ooops)

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      @Dominic White

      Awesome video dude.Luv the Snacks Vs Highclass Dessert analogy.

    • bill says:

      As someone without a PS3 and no way to play it, i have to say that every Dark Souls article I read really annoys me. (and yes i have now stopped reading them).

      Because I have yet to see anything written down that explains what makes this game so special. I know it’s hard, and that’s about it. It’s clearly special in a way that cannot be put into words, because no-one has bothered to put it into words yet.

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Dark Souls is great because it doesn’t bullshit you or waste your time by explaining itself. It just says, “Here’s the game. Figure it out.”

  24. Premium User Badge

    PoulWrist says:

    Please do target=”blank” on these articles .(

    • LionsPhil says:

      That would mean we can’t open them in the same tab if we wanted to. It’s better overall if you open them in a new tab if you want them in a new tab. Love the middle mouse button. (Or the Ctrl/shift/whatever-click.)

    • Thants says:

      Yeah, it’s annoying when sites do that. When I click a link it opens in the same window. When I control-click it it opens in a new tab. Changing that is only going to make it do what I don’t want it to.

    • bill says:

      web designers don’t do target blank any more because it’s bad for usability and annoys users. I think they mostly stopped in 2003. It might have been 2004. It was just after we stopped with the blinking text.

  25. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    It seems when I post on RPS, there’s only a 50/50 chance of my comment not being eaten up and disappearing forever. Not sure if I can be bothered any more.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It has the worst spam filter known to man.

      Why recaptchas and “report spam” buttons aren’t good enough for RPS, I don’t know. Sorry: are too good, since those more-or-less work.

  26. hermpesaurusrex says:

    I remember Pyst. I got it for free from Heat.net. Parroty interactive made it. Their other game Star Warped was way better.

  27. Sunjammer says:

    Giant Bomb`s quick look of DCS A-10 is also worth checking out
    http://www.giantbomb.com/quick-look-digital-combat-simulator-a-10c-warthog/17-5490/

  28. Premium User Badge

    Arathain says:

    I loved the Best Music thingy on Kotaku. Thanks for posting it. Some great music to reminded of, and some fantastic stuff I haven’t heard.

    I really appreciated finding a writer who actually knew a thing or two about music to write it. It makes the article and the comments from the artists far more interesting.

  29. BooleanBob says:

    “We’re witnessing a case of survivorship bias. It is the epic game diaries that have sold Neptune’s Pride to the public. ”

    Good piece, but I feel Joel could have run with this a bit more. I feel there’s a kernel of this survivorship bias running through basically the entire game diary/NGJ scene. Only with the additional danger that a writer who feels it necessary to spice up their diary – be it to offer a more rounded narrative, or oversell the emotive experience derived from their session of the game- isn’t just selling his or her readership the strongest ‘surviving’ experience of that game, but an impossibly strong one, leading to enthusiastic but ultimately regretted purchases, and disappointment all round.

    • Harbour Master says:

      Interesting – something I’ve wrestled with and had an oblique discussion with Calunio about. We spice up the writing to make the words compelling but at some point it’s no better than tabloid journalism with its lurid headlines. Where is that line that shouldn’t be crossed?

      You’re right that it’s connected to the sense of NP diary syndrome I was referring to – more focused on the backstab and the game than what it is doing to your life. I dropped out a line from the article hinting that game journalists are the ones who can easily wrap their life around something like Neptune’s Pride but that felt a little unfair and not all diaries are by games journos – not least of which mine which still encouraged people to go Iron Helmet themselves up even though I was honest about the game’s impact.

      Maybe someone can expand on this to the larger theatre of game journalism.

  30. Davie says:

    I love how the Economist article on 7554 straight-up states that it will fail financially because the PC is apparently a tiny market. They may have a point in that forgoing digital distribution due to inflated piracy worries is a bad move, but then they go on to say that piracy is making it legitimately difficult for developers to make money in general. Kind of sounds like the author just jumped on the first PC gaming market stereotypes they could find without reviewing any actual facts.

    • bill says:

      I do wonder if the economist is applying western markets to asian countries. I have no idea about vietnam, but in many developing countries PCs are more popular than consoles, due to piracy and also due to the insane prices of consoles over there compared to incomes.