The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on February 12th, 2012 at 8:31 am.


Sundays are for waking up early in the freezing cold. It’s for contemplating the winter, and making a cup of something hot. It’s for remembering that there’s an internet full of people in nice hot countries, who are busy laughing in the sunshine. Bastards.

  • Why Devs Owe You Nothing, by Marsh Davies. “HL2 isn’t a service. Fans aren’t asked for repeat payment, and they are under no obligation to support Valve in any way. When they complain it has somehow been exhausting to be a fan, it is baffling. It is extremely easy to be a fan; you don’t even need to get out of your chair. And yet, that sense of entitlement remains, fed by flattery from social media, by the ongoing confusion over digital rights, by the increasing collaboration of developers and communities.”
  • One Life Left, the celebrity gaming podcast, features our own Kieron Gillen. He talks about computer games.
  • Who killed Rare?
  • On The Mountains of Skyrim: “The word we seem to have settled on is “epic.” Strictly speaking, however, “epic” defines an object in its entirety – originally derived from epic poetry. The concept of an “epic moment” is fundamentally a contradictory one. There is another term, rooted deep in literary and aesthetic theory that describes such moments far more accurately. As yet it has not entered the gaming vocabulary in any meaningful way. Now, however, the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, has provided a unique pathway for the discussion of videogames’ relationship with “the sublime,” for Skyrim both embodies sublime theory in its design, and evokes sublime moments as a creative work.”
  • Interviewing Richard Hofmeier (podcast).
  • More writing on Amnesia. Skyrim aside, I bet this game has produced the most critical writing in the past couple of years: “Scripted sequences are rarely an elegant affair for the player. It’s always a shame to see a designers hard work ruined because a player does something the designer didn’t take into account when designing the scripted event. So, generally, it’s far better to uses instances and toys that the player can then freely muck about with (see minecraft), than to bog the player down with an unessential linear script (which unfortunately Amnesia does). Ignoring the story – which Amnesia delivers badly – Amnesia does use scripting extremely well.”
  • A retrospective of Star Wars Episode I Racer, which made me realise how much time I actually spent playing that game. Weird.
  • How game developers and museum curators can worth together to make games: “That game, our most ambitious yet, is High Tea. It takes the form of a strategy or trading game in which the player adopts the rôle of a nineteenth century British smuggler active in the Pearl Delta during the 1830s, the decade before the outbreak of the First Opium War. The subject matter was taken from our wide-ranging exhibition about the history and culture of recreational drug use; High Society. The exhibition took an illustrative approach to its subject rather than a didactic or historical one, including both contemporary illustrations of the opium trade and a large installation ‘Frolic’ by the artist Huang Yong Ping, including a giant opium pipe.”
  • On RPG protagonists: “What is important is the idea of a player character and a player avatar. There’s only one fundamental difference between the two concepts: the character. The player character has enough character and history to stand on her own outside of your, the player’s, influence. This has parallels between the concepts of a traditional strong protagonist, which I’ll get into in a minute. The player avatar, on the other hand, has no meaning outside of what you put into it. It cannot exist in a vacuum, unlike the player character.”
  • Comrade Pixel Prospector sent us this video of 800 Amiga games, but also this article by Jeff Vogel: “It’s great being a bottom feeder. I get to lurk in my basement and watch the titans of the game industry punch each other silly far above me. I don’t work 80 hour weeks. I design my games to be writable in the period of time allotted, and I release them when they are actually ready.”
  • This article by Deborah Orr starts with all-too familiar stuff about online privacy, but ends up proposing how the “civilising” British identity can be resurrected for the net. A fascinating idea.
  • I’m buying this.
  • Lo-fi 3D printing.

Music this week is actually from last year, but it’s more Strange Old Man Music from the depths of England, I thought you might like Kemper Norton.

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310 Comments »

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  1. thestage says:

    lets not call skyrim sublime, thanks. while we’re at it, lets just not give gamers any other words to ruin at all. I’m sure out society was immeasurably enriched by the asinine usage of epic by everyone in regards to everything in every scenario and all, but if you try to extend the same grace to sublime, you’re just going to get a lot of bros making a lot of really bad references to a really bad mid 90’s band.

    • Tei says:

      But Skyrim is epic!, is probably one of the few games that can be described like that. It feel low-fantasy but is high-fantasy. Its very meaty, but you fight dragons. We need games like Skyrim to give the word epic his true purpose.

    • Prime says:

      Skyrim is sublime.

    • PhallicBaldwin says:

      Actually, Skyrim’s a cringeworthy Bethesda turd just like Oblivion and Fallout 3 were.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      I find that article somewhat bizarre – to allude to the Romantic definition of sublime (being something that is both terrifying and beautiful) and then apply it to gaming… well, we’re not quite there yet, are we? Skyrim in enjoyable and everything but I don’t think we should be rewarding the attrocious writing/story with ‘sublime’.
      I do agree that ‘epic’ is poorly used, however. Just through something being grand in scale shouldn’t earn it that badge.

    • Prime says:

      If you want to focus on Skyrim as merely an “atrocious story”, and I freely admit I’ve played through better (I also enjoyed Fallout 3 very much, although Oblivion was broken beyond redemption), then Skyrim is not sublime. The article, however, wasn’t really talking about Skyrim’s story, was it? It was talking about Skyrim’s ability to give players their own stories within it, about the way the landscape, the simulation, the effects, all blend to help create profound emotion within the player. The ability to connect with people so deeply is what the author claims is sublime about Skyrim.

      While playing, I’ve taken over 600 screenshots of the game’s many sights. I’ve spent hours simply walking through the game’s landscapes. I happen to agree; Skyrim is sublime.

    • Urthman says:

      Actually, talking about the sublime (in the Burkean sense) is a much more appropriate way of talking about video games than trying to evaluate them as if they were movies or books.

      Or if that seems too erudite a concept for video games, we could just follow the sci-fi folks and call it sensawunda.

      In either case, it’s something orthogonal to the question of whether Skyrim has an atrocious story or not.

    • omgitsgene says:

      Skyrim was epically sublime.

    • Kadayi says:

      Sublime seems a tad overboard. Still the internet is hyperbole central.

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      “Still the internet is hyperbole central”

      Not sure I agree – but what I do know is that it’s the most amazingly incredible thing – bar none – in the whole universe. Ever.

    • Wut The Melon says:

      There were a lot of things I thought Skyrim did badly, not just the story. Actually, I’d say it’s the opposite of what I mostly hear: Skyrim generally ranges from average to cringeworthy, but there are a couple of things it does – if that word is applicable at all to video games – sublimely.

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      AndrewC says:

      The writer of the article did well enough to keep to the technical definition of ‘sublime’. Yes, the internet will use the word as another euphemism for ‘I liked it’, like ‘awesome’ or ‘epic’- after all, the internet ruins everything, epically. Ignore it! There’s value in using the word.

      Especially the idea of ‘male’ and ‘female’ sublime, which the writer didn’t do much with (nb gendered descriptors are a bit embarrassing but hey, that’s art history!). The two are usually about domination over a landscape or losing yourself within a landscape – paintings of huge figures looking down upon a mountain range, or paintings of tiny figures, often in one corner of a lush, often pastoral, overwhelmingly huge landscape.

      Compare the ‘male’ sublime to the ideas of the power fantasy in games – like knowing you’ll be able to climb that mountain and kill the dragon in Skyrim. Compare the ‘female’ sublime to ‘immersive sims’, or being a low level character, having to run and hide, or simply seeing the world for the first time.

      There’s a lot there. So using the word ‘sublime’ is certainly useful for insecure gamers to be able to use academic language about games, but it’s also a useful link to previous studies into art so as to give us insight as to how we react to games emotionally.

      And it makes a change from mechanical, meta discussions about smithing being OP.

    • wssw4000 says:

      There is nothing sublime about Skyrim. The best words to describe it would be ‘big’ and ‘shallow’.

    • nootpingu86 says:

      I’m stunned. None of what people describe about Skyrim makes sense to people who’ve bothered with a sandbox game before. T-How’s open disdain for Morrowind should tell you all you need to know.

    • Kester says:

      It’s a close contest, but I too think limes are superior to Skyrim. It’s the tangy flavour wot does it.

    • Unaco says:

      @thestage…

      We’re terribly sorry. We didn’t realise this was YOUR language and that you are the ultimate arbiter of how it is used. Profusely do we apologise, you overblown, self important, pretentious, patronising bag of hot air.

    • Kadayi says:

      @ThinkAndGrowWitcher

      Whether it’s sublime it not is completely secondary as to whether you love it or hate it . That’s the really important thing we, strangers on the internet need to know. No need for explanations at to the ‘why’ behind your thinking. No lengthy explanations as to the things that endear you or enrage you about it (specifics be damned). Expressing your love or hate is what’s truly important.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Gotta love people who bitch about how it’s “stuck up” to try to keep words having useful, distinct, commonly agreed meanings, by conveying this opinion via words—something that is only possible because they have useful, distinct, commonly agreed meanings.

      Wouldn’t you rather grunt your disagreement?

    • Unaco says:

      @Lionsphil…

      Gotta love relics who fail to realise that the English language is alive… and that living languages grow, and evolve, they change. Words gain different meanings, meanings are softened or slightly changed over time. It’s how languages develop.

      Stick to a dead language… Latin or French… if you want a language that will not change, will not be embraced and evolved by its speakers. A language were you can have all of your rigid, commonly agreed meanings (what the f*ck does that mean by the way? Commonly agreed? Think about it a moment… Does EVERYONE agree to the same meaning of a word? Does it have to be exactly the same between people? Or can two people have slight differences in the meanings? How big a difference is allowed by your “commonly agreed” meanings?).

      In fact, why are you even using language? How did those words you use gain their “useful, distinct, commonly agreed meanings”? Would it be because PEOPLE, and not rules written in stone, define a language? If you don’t agree with that, don’t use words.

    • durruti says:

      and clearly patronizing articles about word meaning are _not_ part of that development…

      also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCSPQEj4Xo8

    • Unaco says:

      Which patronising article? I haven’t seen one this morning. The Skyrim/Sublime article is an article about video games, on a video gaming website, that discusses literary and philisophical theory… I think it really has to introduce some basics and some explanations, for the audience. But I fail to see how that is patronising. It’s educational, and quite interesting.

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      AndrewC says:

      I completely lost track of what everyone was arguing about several posts ago. I’m completely lost.

    • durruti says:

      my mistake, having not read it i had come under the impression thestage depicted the article accurately and completely missed he told us to spell skyrim without sublime… so… patronizing comments about word meaning (although i’m sure articles in this fashion do also exist even if you haven’t read one this morning ;)) are part of the development. i would go so far as to say rigid meanings (and insistance on them) are very much necessary for that development as kind of a backdrop at the least.

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      Lambchops says:

      @ AndrewC

      All I’m seeing is a lot of talk about how Skyrim can instantly transform from a solid state into the gas phase, which I can only assume is the latest daft attempt at DRM.

      I’m sorry I’ll get my (lab) coat.

    • Deano2099 says:

      @unaco

      While you’re right that English is a living, changing language, the presence of people who decry the desire to change certain words because they muddy, rather than enhance, the language is part of that development.

    • NAZIUFOCOMMANDER says:

      Sounds pretty Brave New World when people who have apparently never known any different think that staring at the carefully presented flashing lights on the screen is “sublime”. Go outside.

    • LionsPhil says:

      “All change is good; all lack of change is bad” is a pretty common piece of broken thinking, sadly. See also: game design over time, and any discussion about, say, cover systems, regenerating health, quicktime events…

      It’s probably part of a wider picture of assuming that the future is made by smart people, and the past was full of stupid people. People are very quick to play down and decry the efforts put into what we already have.

    • Unaco says:

      “All change is good; all lack of change is bad”

      Who said that? I certainly didn’t. But if you want to pretend I said things I didn’t to make yourself feel better, or to justify your bleatings, on you go. I’ll just ignore you. I don’t think you’re actually capable of an adult discussion… you firstly insinuate I’m some sort of Neanderthal or Caveman, grunting my disagreement, and that I’m not capable or deserving of language. Now you (possibly deliberately) fail to comprehend me and twist what I’ve said in order to denigrate me. Really not cool.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s like you’re not even reading the other posts in this “discussion”.

      Incidentally, one place the common ground for the meanings of words is recorded is a fantastic type of book called a “dictionary”. Try flipping through one some time. You’ll notice—if your brain is capable of making such distinctions—that not every dictionary agrees perfectly and none is truly authoritative (although the OED tries, bless), but that’s because “commonly agreed” is not the same as “dictated from on high by the Eternal Lord of Words”. They do, however, generally make distinctions between “epic” and “quite good”. I trust we don’t need to have a tiresome little argument about why that’s worthwhile, and saves us having to thingy thingies thingy things to thing our thingy.

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      AndrewC says:

      @Lion’sPhil How DARE you! My mother’s a saint!

    • Unaco says:

      So… Do these dictionaries just get made/published once, and then never change? Or do they get updated with new words and new meanings for existing words? I have no problem with having common meanings… Obviously it helps with things. But I object to the people who decry any deviation from these meanings, and so prevent the change and evolution of language.

      But go ahead, just call me stupid and be flippant.

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      Big Murray says:

      “I find that article somewhat bizarre – to allude to the Romantic definition of sublime (being something that is both terrifying and beautiful)”
      Both terrifying and beautiful …

      … Amnesia?

    • Urthman says:

      Sublime seems a tad overboard.

      Argh. “Sublime” is a concept, not a generic word of superlative praise. Skyrim might be a little bit sublime, very sublime, sublime in some ways but not in others, or not at all sublime. But just mentioning the concept can’t be “overboard.”

    • Kadayi says:

      @Urthman

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sublime

      Noun:-

      “the greatest or supreme degree.”

      That tends to be what I think of when I hear the word tbh. It’s akin to delivering a perfect score. Albeit I like Skyrim I can’t honestly say it’s perfect (it has a lot of flaws), so I can’t support the notion of it being ‘sublime’ accordingly.

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      AndrewC says:

      @Kadayi There’s this article, on the internet, that goes to great lengths explaining the academic/aesthetic definition of the word ‘sublime’ and then applies it to Skyrim.

    • thestage says:

      dictionary, pretentious, and thoughtless appeal to the mutability of language

      oh my, thread, who let the rubes in?

    • nootpingu86 says:

      The iffy use of “sublime” is the symptom of uninformed and poorly articulated thought. Not the disease.

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      jrodman says:

      Unaco, it’s quite simple.

      Language changes, yes.

      But that’s not an acceptable defense for completely and utterly misusing epic, or sublime, especially as the centerpiece for some purported reflective text, musing about the value of a work.

    • Unaco says:

      I’d contest the claim that it is “completely and utterly misusing epic, or sublime”, as far as he provides a definition (or an interpretation of that definition) and shows how Skyrim embodies/embraces that.

    • Kadayi says:

      @AndrewC

      I’m all for immersion in games, but the only way you could envisage anything as sublime in Skyrim is if that is all you’d ever known. Vs say the physical reality of the grand canyon, or the sheer mind boggling insanity of human endeavour to build an entire City in a lagoon in the middle ages, it’s not really remotely in the same league.

    • aerozol says:

      Semantics, the most sublime argument.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Skyrim never turned from a solid to gas. Did I miss something?

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      AndrewC says:

      @internetbatman I’m afraid you did. The same joke, further up the page. Good joke though! Lambchops shouldn’t have pussied out with the disclaimer at the end.

      @kadayi The history of computer games disagrees with you. It isn’t ‘real’, but we suspend our disbelief and immerse ourselves imaginatively in these worlds anyway – the effect is the same, or so similar as to have that similarity be extremely interesting in itself. You argument reduces to a rather cheap variant of ‘u r all basement dwellers’.

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      PoulWrist says:

      I have just under 80 hours in Skyrim. The story was decent, though I haven’t really finished it yet, the main-side quest was very disappointing with its 8 man castle storms and the game’s general disregard for the passing of time. Fast travel is blatantly instant, you don’t get a prompt telling you “it’ll take 5 days to travel here” but if you did, you’d just walk there yourself , because you could probably do it in under 1! The bizarre shallowness of the game is exposed through its own major ideas…

      However, I personally love dungeon crawls, and Skyrim has those abundantly. I liked the many quests, but they all felt so shallow, too brief for their own good, too non-consequential for anyone or anything. I understand why it is so, but I also am sadened by it.

    • DrGonzo says:

      ‘go outside’ or some shit.

      Poppycock! In this instance his use of sublime would be meaning it is the ultimate example in it’s field. By calling Skyrim sublime he doesn’t mean it is more beautiful or awe inspiring than the Grand Canyon, or whatever. It means compared with all the other open world RPGs for example.

    • Kadayi says:

      @AndrewC

      You’re seeing offence where none is intended. Walking out onto the ruined bridge of the Normandy was damn impressive in ME2, as was being in a building literally torn apart in the climatic battle in HL2:EP2 or running across the rooftops in Mirrors Edge. Even now I still get a thrill diving off the waypoints in Assassins Creed Brotherhood to land in the haycarts below, however despite all of these things I’ve witnessed and enjoyed in games I’ve never yet been overawed Vs things I’ve experienced in reality to the point of dumbfoundness. I can only express my truth.

    • Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

      Syrim is sublime, but the inventory system is sub-lemon.

      I’ve stopped playing, over 100 hours in, because I dread having to wrestle against the inventory, and that’s with SkyUI installed. Can someone please mod a bag system?

    • nootpingu86 says:

      If we’re going to use that word as a stand-in for awe-inspiring let’s use it for a game that actually cares about verisimilitude and using graphics tech from after 2007. I nominate Call of Pripyat (in spite of X-Ray’s roots in the early 2000s as a bit on the janky side and dated model animations or what have you.)

      I realize using Gamebryo is a huge obstacle to both of these goals, but when T-How claimed Skyrim was on an engine that “might as well be new” he was straight-up lying. He was also lying when he said the interiors wouldn’t be as homogenized, too, but who knows what they’ll cook up in the $50+ of DLC planned for later.

      T-How often has an axe to grind when Morrowind comes up — but for what, really? That game’s environments and set pieces were beautiful. They put the pale composite of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth and huge, lore obliterating ret-cons in Skyrim and Oblivion Bethsoft made to sell that aesthetic to shame. All I hear out of his mouth is jealousy when it comes to that game. He has nothing but insipid things to say about his games and the games themselves often teeter on the brink of that descriptor throughout.

      I can’t understand why people entertain his ideas about game design at all. Making the Xbox crowd’s idea of what 1986 LoZ would look like in 2005 is only a feat because it takes a lot of time. It’s an effort-grade caliber creative pursuit in light of what bethsoft did with Morrowind.

      Edited for more outrage!

    • jjujubird says:

      Count me amongst the “Skyrim is vastly overrated” crowd. Yes, the HUGE world and GORGEOUS environments will keep you playing for a while just out of sheer curiosity, but the combat is shallow, the stories are shallow, the characters are shallow. I need good gameplay and challenge in a game. Skyrim has neither.

    • nootpingu86 says:

      @jjujubird I agree with what you say about the gameplay. The maximalist, medicore bombast of Bethsoft’s games from Oblivion onward pervade even basic gameplay.

      I do have a soft spot for New Vegas though :\

    • McCool says:

      Goddammit, someone wrote the article on Skyrim and The Sublime I was wanting to write.

      Seriously, a lot of people here are confused by the idea of a word having two meanings. Current internet slang does not actually bother literary critics when they are discussing wether a certain piece should be taken as “epic” or not.

      Skyrim is sublime. In fact, I’d go even further, and say Oblivion is sublime, or as one moment of it. I touched upon this in my Beauty In Games ( http://gamingphilosophy.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/beauty-in-games/ ) a few years back. For all of its faults (and there are many), Oblivion is one of the few games to ever capture the aesthetic of the “sublime” in video games. The two Team ICO games are another.

      Btw, to the person who thinks it is ridiculous for people to find the sublime in a video-game, I guess it is just as ridiculous to find it in a work of oil on canvas? See Turner’s Hannibal Crossing The Alps (in person) for further details.

    • nootpingu86 says:

      For my part, I think it’s ridiculous to find the sublime in most games because of the content on display. The medium can do whatever the hell it wants, but more often than not it does very little.

      The content and aesthetic sensitivity of Team ICO’s games allows them to reach artistic credibility in a way few games do. They take one clever idea and follow through on it with amazing diligence and smarts. Along the way they utilize things from outside sources that are conceptually out of gaming’s league. The games do not become kitsch or boring at any point — they’re just there to play.

      Team ICO does not resort to the patronizing schlock that Bethsoft and their audience eat up like caviar. I like big, loud, dumb and silly games but I hold no illusions about their future as works worthy of serious consideration in terms of sheer beauty or storytelling – let alone as a meditation on the human condition or what have you. Skyrim isn’t even that fun to play, either, so damn it to hell. I mad.

      To the Bethsoft of Skyrim and Oblivion, and the guy in this article, the sublime is the sole distillation of long D&D sessions, concept art for the LotR films of the early 2000s and the dated technology of gamebryo gluing together generic, indistinct fantasy realms. So, yes, he is pretty ignorant for wanting to drop that particular adjective to describe it.

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    • Kadayi says:

      @McCool

      I didn’t say it was ridiculous, I just said it seemed a tad overboard. I’ve also never been over-awed by a painting either. I think nootpingu86 makes a perfect point. Computers are visually capable of amazing things, so it’s hard to be dumbfounded by them. That’s not to say you can’t be wowed or excited by them, but personally I’ve never been left speechless by a game.

    • nootpingu86 says:

      I definitely have been left speechless by a game’s aesthetics and SotC is a great example of it.

      Unfortunately for PC, the devs’ aesthetics are often the achilles heel of the platform. In Morrowind it seemed like there may have been a reversal of that occurring. The post-Soviet look of STALKER’s zone reminded me of all the melancholy beauty of the galleries on EnglishRussia when it came out. With the right graphics mods those games worked their way into my mind like few have.

      Fits and starts are going on now with indie devs but it seems like Braid came out and everything “indie” had to be hand painted, everything looks like a take on tempest 2000 or some such, or is cutesy stuff from newgrounds circa 2003. Devs need artists now more than ever and there’s always a one step forward two steps back thing occurring.

      Example: If DICE takes Mirror’s Edge in the direction it hinted at but never made good on in the first game (we have frostbite 2.0 to ensure it will this time, I hope) they will make something truly special.

      Human Revolution also looked distinct, had an ambitious art design, but bit off more than it could chew I’m guessing (the vast, two-tiered city of Hengsha with only one tier to explore..cutting the entire Montreal hub…yargh). The level design in some of the mission areas was pretty phoned in too. The DLC was easily the best mission in the game. Eidos Montreal oughta make more!

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Sublime is a perfect description of what Skyrim attempts to simulate, as you’d likely know if you’d ever studied the books that you’re pretending to have read.

      McCool nails the point exactly. Books are just words on a page, painting are just stains on canvas and neither can be sublime if code shaped into a game cannot.

    • Selix says:

      Blah. It doesn’t matter what the other shortcomings of the game are. The landscapes are sublime. When they thought about what kind of landscapes to produce they had effectively in mind what is signified by the word sublime. It’s not used as a word of praise but for what kind of intended atmosphere or feeling we are dealing with. It may may be a cheap version in your mind but it’s still what it basically comes down to.

    • Kadayi says:

      “McCool nails the point exactly. Books are just words on a page, painting are just stains on canvas and neither can be sublime if code shaped into a game cannot.”

      Whose disagreeing with that exactly Tom?

    • nootpingu86 says:

      @Tom & Selix – It arguably “tries” to be sublime and fails utterly at even being interesting to look at. Are we going to give Bethsoft startling amounts of praise based on a feeling their game only approximates poorly? “Well we get what you’re going for here, that’s good enough A+++ would play again”

      What does Todd Howard have to say about executing an idea?

      “A culture of collaboration, execution and results is the foundation of the studio.
      “The problems are solved by the culture that you have on your team,” Howard said. “Your ideas are not as important as your execution.” – Todd Howard

      Skyrim isn’t an ideas game. No one is going to pin that on them. But it’s also not fun to play or awe-inspiring, either. Maybe the budget is (sour grapes).

      The author of the escapist article can throw the word around all he likes but it’s not going to make the game ring any less hollow.

      What books am I claiming to have read here, by the way?

  2. Orija says:

    But aren’t fans the same folks who’ll be doling out money for HL 3?

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      Cross says:

      Correctly correctington. Developers don’t owe fans anything, except their bloody existence. That Valve has such a willing and waiting fanbase is surely more of a compliment than anything. You don’t reply to a compliment by ignoring the person who gave it to you, do you?

    • Joe W-A says:

      Sure, the developers are wealthy because people bought their products, but I’m not seeing how that means the devs now owe the fans. The fans got a product in exchange for their money. Surely that’s the end of that transaction?

      I don’t think the Call for Communication thing is a good example of an entitlement issue, since they were really quite nice about it, but there is definitely something weird that goes on with entitlement among fans. Personal example: I spent a year making an HL2 mod with some friends, for free, then released it for free, and people had hours of fun with it for free, and then got angry when we didn’t end up doing any content updates, saying we owed them. People who had played our game for hours didn’t feel they had gotten their $0.00 worth. I don’t get it.

    • Mattrex says:

      Developers really don’t owe their fans anything, except perhaps that their product functions as advertised. They don’t even really owe their fans their livelihood–they produced a product, which was then exchanged for money in a business transaction. In fact, they produced the product first, at considerable risk and expense to themselves, banking on the (correct) guess that it would be a product enough people would find worth their money to buy.

      If the players had given a bunch of money first, and Valve used that to fund development, then they’d owe people something, at least until they discharged the debt by delivering the product. As it is, the transaction marks the end of things–unless you think we live in a bizarro world where the self-contained sale of a product indebts the seller to the buyer in perpetuity.

    • NathanH says:

      Of course they have no legal obligation, but it is a reasonable argument that, if when releasing a product you communicate that there will be further products that complete the experience (in this case the story) you have a moral obligation to attempt to do this, or at least to admit that it’s not going to happen, or tell people when it’s going to happen.

      Personally I don’t really believe this, but then I don’t ever get so invested in a story that I would care whether it gets finished or not, so my opinion isn’t worth very much here.

    • Shortwave says:

      I just hated how one sided that article was.
      Sure in a sense they do owe us something because without us, they wouldn’t be who they are.
      But that doesn’t mean I expect anything either.
      It just seems silly to start a story and then take two decades to bother finishing it really.
      With that being said, I didn’t take part in said event of replaying it that weekend.
      I gave up hope so that I don’t get disappointed.

    • durruti says:

      joe, mattrex, it’s not that hard: the world is not a market, people are not consumers and/or producers, relations are not exchange. i know some people would like it to have it that way but what that’d mean is that some “self-centered jerks” would rant about other “self-centered jerks” all day long because their “self-centered jerk” meter would’ve been broken due to their own “self-centered jerk”ness. it’d be a vicious cycle of “self-centered jerks” and you wouldn’t want that, would you?

    • Mattressi says:

      Exactly; Valve don’t owe fans anything at all. By the same token, fans don’t owe Valve anything at all. So, while Valve don’t have to, under threat of legal action, do anything for fans; fans can simply say “sorry, you’re taking too long and we don’t appreciate being left in the dark, so we won’t buy your game”. But then again, how likely is it that people would actually boycott Valve when I’m constantly being told how I’m a horrible person for not buying a Blizzard game because it doesn’t have LAN? People nowadays honestly do seem to think that they owe their future money to devs in the same way that devs owe the creation of future games to their fans. People are morons.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I go out for a drink with a friend. We take turns getting them in. At the end of the night I end up buying the last round. I also bought the first round.

      At this point, my mate will probably say to me “I owe you a drink”.

      He doesn’t actually owe me a drink. There was no agreement in place, no contract, verbal or otherwise. We just went into the bar, I said “What are you drinking?”. We finished them he said “It’s my round.” And so on. He owes me nothing, I’m not entitled to another drink.

      But, if when we’re next out he doesn’t offer to get the first round in, then he’s being a bit of an arsehole.

      Valve owe their fans nothing, but by refusing to even engage with them about what the hell has happened to Episode 3, they’re being dicks. Just because they don’t owe use anything doesn’t mean that they’re automatically in the right.

    • alundra says:

      The increasing double moral standard of this industry is becoming really disgusting.

      Now it seems those who put food on their tables are not entitled even to the right to complain about the filthy pieces of unoptimized, drm malware ridden and bugged to the point of un-usability products they are putting out??

      Well excuse me, they expect me to pay $60+ for something they don’t want me to own and now I have to keep my mouth shut too??

      Self entitled much?? Perhaps as much as pirates themselves.

    • subedii says:

      Like shortwave said, that article was ridiculously one-sided, to be honest I don’t think the author even read the group aims on the Steam page.

      I mean I never signed up for the group myself, but I played HL2 for around an hour at the appropriate time, because hey, why not? It’s still a good game.

      The issue was never one of “forcing” jack all from Valve, or entitlement, just asking for some information as to what, if anything, is actually happening with the series because at the moment we’re stuck in a void. It’s gotten to the state where literally nobody even knows anymore whether the next title is even supposed to be Episode 3 or HL3.

      The reason I bring up reading the steam group is because I don’t go in for boycotts or any of that othyer silliness. But when I read it, it seemed fairly level headed.

      The entire trilogy of episodes was scheduled to be completed and released by 2007, and if Valve have decided to do other things for the time being, that is fine; all that we ask for is a basic response on the matter, and to let fans know whether or not the current story arc is scheduled to conclude at another point in time.

      In addition: This message is in no way, shape or form attempting to rush the development of the Half-Life series; in fact, most members agree that Valve should take the time needed to deliver a complete and polished product.

      In no way does this read as “gamer entitlement” to me. All people did was play a game. They didn’t cause any disruption to anyone, and caused precisely zero harm in any way, all whilst trying to get a constructive message across that they want more information. The fact that the author actually went out of his way to conflate this action with 4chan hacking Minecraft, review bombing games, or sending Ninja Theory death threats is… I’m going to be blunt here… it’s utterly stupid and wholly disingenuous.

      It’s at that point that you’re saying that any request at all is entitlement, and for that matter, that trying to draw attention in a constructive manner is cause for castigation. These things are not the same, and the author of the article was ridiculous to even try and draw that comparison. If you try and put all these behaviours and actions in the same category, then frankly your categorisation is meaningless.

      The piece reads as a reaction to some sort of inferno of fanboy angst and fury that simply wasn’t there. I could go on about the other issues I have with the article, but well, I’ll leave it there. I just think the article missed the point. I couldn’t tell you whether it did so accidentally or deliberately.

    • Fumarole says:

      Developers don’t owe fans anything, except their bloody existence.

      I bet you’d make a wonderful parent.

    • Chandos says:

      OK, let me put this in a marketing context. Fans = Loyal Customers. Or in other words and pretty much in every industry, customers whose loyalty you beg on a regular basis, by devising numerous marketing strategies and tactics to get them dancing around your totem pole, be it on facebook or your website forum, people whose permission you seek to send them emails about new product launches, people about whom you do your best to glean more and more information for your market research, people who you hope will spread your marketing messages virally and free of charge because it is the kind of marketing that money cannot buy.

      It is a bit hypocritical for any organization that fields a marketer to say they don’t owe anything to fans. Actually if you are a game developer I suggest that you try putting this in your email signature: “Disclaimer: We do not owe anything to you for your fandom. You paid, we provided, that’s it.” See how many fans you get with that attitude.

    • subedii says:

      I read this somewhere else, but most companies would freaking dance for a fanbase that is so interested in their products (And I’m sure this includes Valve), after so many years with pretty much no word on what’s happening.

      Even leaving aside the means used (wholly benign), to try and equate this in itself with being some terrible form of entitlement is doubly idiotic.

      If that’s truly the case, then the only actual alternative there is a fanbase that quite simply, doesn’t give a poot. Which nobody wants.

    • PhallicBaldwin says:

      half life 3 is gonna be f2p so you won’t actually HAVE to pay money unless you want to use the classic retro crowbar or have the companion cube hat and chel skin for alyx

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      That article was actually pretty terrible, unless it was actually a secret attempt to see how many times he could squeeze terms like “self-centered” into one blog post.

      It completely ignored the fact that Valve actively calls for fan feedback (how many devs give out their personal email addresses and tell the fans to hit them up with their opinions?). It also conflated politely asking for info on a product with angrily demanding an answer — something that actually would be self-centered/indulgent/absorbed/whateverhestartedusingonceheranoutofdifferentwaystosaythesamething.

      Within one paragraph it had devolved into a rant about those damn entitled kids and their rock-and-roll music contributing to the decay of society.

      It’s a verbose (seriously dude, work on your prose style, you sound like Lovecraft) straw man of an article. We’re all in this to be a part of the conversation of gaming. It’s not about entitlement, it’s about communication of how we feel, and most developers actually appreciate it as long as it stays civil. And even when it doesn’t, I doubt they’re losing any sleep.

    • Premium User Badge

      jezcentral says:

      It’s a bit of a shame that RPS linked to it. I know we live in a world where clicks are the currency (in that they can be exchanged for actual currency), but I always thought Sunday Papers was a link to content that RPS thought was worthwhile. Of course, outrage (and all that entails) is the points of such troll articles, and I’m just adding to this by commenting on it, but bad show, RPS, bad show. :(

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      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      That the EG piece is so one-sided is not what’s so depressing about it, but that it’s so… petty.

      This piece here quickly cuts down the EG article, and points out that the entitlement problem isn’t really a problem at all.

      Two brief excerpts:

      Egregious entitlement now, according to Mr Davies on Eurogamer is people asking nicely for not really very much at all? For a single line on the development of a game that ended on a cliffhanger where a number of years later, the fans are unsure as to whether the series will reach a conclusion?

      And to deliver this message, they played Half Life 2 together. Lots of them. 13,236 people playing a game they loved to ask for a note on whether the series will be concluded…

      And:

      Being a fan is not just a case of sitting in a chair as the Eurogamer piece would have you believe, it’s a case of going out there and earning the money to buy the product, to support the developers, the publishers and whoever else has their skin in the game. It is the decision to choose us, to choose what we make, over something else where that something else might well be more food or a pair of jeans.

      It’s important never to forget that. This is not us versus them, this is us cannot do what we do without them. We should all remember that and respect that people choose our works and treat them with respect too. Because unlike being a fan, being respectful *is* something we can all do from our chairs.

      (But really, you should read the whole piece)

    • newprince says:

      I think that article hit a little too close to home for RPS readers ;)

      The thrust is correct, and people arguing, well, they owe us so-and-so because we pay them money is not a great argument. You give them money for games you like. As I’m sure you’re aware, Valve continue to makes games you guys like that aren’t Half-Life 3. So what are they doing wrong, and why is your opinion important at all? It’s not.

  3. Jerakal says:

    Wow, I can’t disagree more with the guy who wrote the first article calling the people in Call for communication entitled. We’ve said more than once that we don’t believe they owe us anything, we’re just asking a question for pete’s sake. We don’t even expect an answer.

    I hear that argument way too much, and it’s becoming tiresome. It’s like people don’t even read the message.

    • Prime says:

      Seconded. He’s conflated two things which appear related but in fact are qualitatively different – over egregious self-entitlement vs the simple desire not to be left hanging for something we’ve all invested in. The smug, self-righteous tone of the piece stems more from his own ego than any clear evaluation of the facts.

    • MuscleHorse says:

      Thirded. Entitlement is a problem, as seen with the strange boycott outrage of L4D2 or any number of free DLCs that Valve have delivered, but the Call for Communication was not that. The writer completely missed the point and I suspect didn’t even read the mission statement.

    • Medo says:

      Actually, I think we are somewhat entitled to an answer, since we bought HL:Ep2having been told that it was the second episode of a three-parter. Imagine if you had been told Ep2 was the conclusion of the Half Life story – I guess the perception of the game (not least in reviews) would have been different.

    • Prime says:

      In a way it’s similar to what would have happened if George Lucas had not made Return of the Jedi, but instead dropped into total silence over the future of the Star Wars story.

    • Antsy says:

      Its a dreadful piece of writing. He either missed the point of A Call for Communication or just ignored it completely. He speaks about DDO attacks and EVE Online and death threats but never tells us why he’s talking about them. He avoids talking about the fact the the EVE Online protest actually had a postitive effect on the game. I’ve read it three times now and still have no idea what he’s trying to convey to the reader beyond the fact that gamers have an entitlement issue. And never mind the fact that its written right on the back of a superior piece in EDGE magazine. Just awful.

    • Prime says:

      “I’ve read it three times now and still have no idea what he’s trying to convey to the reader beyond the fact that gamers have an entitlement issue.”

      He should be writing for the UK’s Daily Mail, a rag notorious for its ability to find imaginary menaces in society, expand them to absurd levels, and launch an all-out offence against them.

      Oh, and I’d stop reading now. 3 times is more than enough: you might damage yourself if you continue.

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      RobF says:

      Wouldn’t normally linkdump my own stuff but I wrote a counterpoint to the Eurogamer piece this morning:

      http://www.merseyremakes.co.uk/gibber/2012/02/insert-entitlement-exit-stage-left/

      From the quote mangling onwards, the EG piece is pretty horrid stuff and I couldn’t really cover everything I wanted to in a comment (plus, if I don’t get the shop in the next five minutes, I’m a dead man)

    • Alexander Norris says:

      People like him are also basically what’s wrong with today’s world. “Oh no, you gave them money in exchange for a thing! Guess that absolves them of any and all criticism you might have; please have your wallets ready to give them more money next time.”

    • Prime says:

      @RobF – what a beautifully written and entirely well-observed piece, Rob. What gamers do can be inspiring, and too many seem to forget this for the sake of negative-journalism. Kudos.

      @Alexander Norris – I’ve made the very same point further down the thread. Well said.

    • Kadayi says:

      Tbh it’s a troll article. The sole purpose of which is to piss a lot of people off (for daring to give a damn about an unfinished game franchise) and garner page hits. After all it’s a quiet month in games Journalism at present, and Tammy needs new shoes. Recognize it for what it truly is, namely the nail in the coffin of anyone with half a brain giving a damn about what Marsh Davies has to say in future with regard to gaming.

      @RobF

      A fantastic counterpoint.

    • MasterDex says:

      I have to agree. Marsh Davies would seem to want a placated audience that sit on their hind quarters and nod in quiet contentment as developers and publishers say “here, take this” while the media says “Yes, you want this”.

      People like Marsh Davies who are so far up their own arses are one of the reasons that we’ve seen such a drop in quality in certain titles this generation. He’s the type of guy who the publishers love because if even 10 people listen to what he says, that’s 10 people that will sit down, shut up and play what the media tells them to play. No, he says, developers owe us nothing. No, he says, you don’t have the right to open your uncouth mouth, even if it’s just to ask politely for more.

      No, Marsh Davies, we will not. We’re the consumers. If we don’t communicate with the industry then we do a disservice to the industry, even if that communication is filled with rage or passion.

    • MultiVaC says:

      Yeah, that article is truly ridiculous. The Call for Communication has been nothing if not polite. They have never said that Valve owes them anything; they are stating what they would like Valve to do. It’s nothing more than a request or a suggestion, showing that there a lot of fans that feel a certain way about this. “Frustrated” is a perfect word for it. Not anything hyperbolic like “tormented”, “suffering”, or “insulted”, just frustrated. What could be a more reasonable reaction to something you are very interested in being completely ignored without any clear reason? Nobody is acting like this is some crime against humanity. It’s a small thing and a small group of people are making a small effort to show how they feel about it. Comparing this to the DDoS attacks on Minecraft or death threats towards developers is just fucking obnoxious.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      Yes, the article covers several examples where the community *does* sort of own the game – like TF2 – and where the dev attitude *has* been wrong for not ackowledging the wishes of the community – EVE.

      But then admitting to that nuance does rather get in the way of your reacting to his piece about how communities can poison discourse with hyperbolic insults and threats with hyperbolic insults and threats.

    • Mattressi says:

      @MuscleHorse: where’s the entitlement in the L4D2 boycott? No one took legal action against Valve. Valve made it sound like they’d support L4D more than some people thought they did, so those people chose not to buy the next L4D game. How is that entitlement? They didn’t steal from Valve or do anything wrong – they exercised their right to NOT buy something. If you’re disappointed in a product, you don’t buy more of it. If you expected more from L4D, why the bloody hell would you buy L4D2?? I can’t understand how so many people can think that people are rude/entitled for choosing to NOT buy a game; as if their civic duty is to buy a game that they clearly don’t want. What the hell is wrong with everyone?

    • Archonsod says:

      The hilarious part is most of these comments simply prove his argument.

    • durruti says:

      i don’t get it, rob. your argumentation is beautiful at times when you directly show his self-contradiction, omittances or you extend from an expression of his. i really like the overall tone, too. but you’re not doing anyone a favour by pointing out millions of sold units of x or kickstarter funding of y – just after preparing to show how wonderful people are. kinda missed that target by a couple of miles. you’ve put mr davies examples in perspective, sure. but besides that charity thing (which is a little self-centered, too, after all)? tell you what, you will have a hard time making a positive argument to tilt over the “x-factor generation” claim, more so if you’re constrained to the subject at hand (game industry). that doesn’t mean you can’t make heaps of striking arguments against it… more so since you want people to elevate from the proposed “needy consumers” if you let your arguments follow suit and don’t limit ‘em on market inter- and transactions.

      @ andrew: weird, isn’t it? it’s not even a textbook case of preparing your final strike and best arguments by siding with the opposite view in the middle part. mostly because no arguments to speak of follow that middle part…

      @ archonsod: care to elaborate?

    • Mattressi says:

      @Archonsod: That people feel “entitled” to their right to freedom of speech and freedom to not buy something? I haven’t read any comment saying Valve should be sued or destroyed: just that people want to be let in the loop about the future of HL and that if they aren’t let in, then they don’t really care. Once again, developers are also NOT entitled to have people buy their games.

    • Kadayi says:

      “The hilarious part is most of these comments simply prove his argument.”

      @Archonsod

      I’ll second durruti in asking you to care to elaborate on that?

      You’ve already made a bloody fool of yourself further in the thread with regard to your comments about how difficult and time consuming writing a press release regarding EP3 would be (as if drafting an email was some monumental undertaking that required everyone at Valve to down tools for 6 months), still I’m interested to see how much further you can debase yourself out of morbid curiosity.

    • Premium User Badge

      RobF says:

      @durruti

      Well, I used me as an example precisely because in the grand scheme of things I’m pretty much a nobody, right? I’m just some guy who makes a few low end games of my own, chucks in a bit of advice on others that are invariably massively more successful and gobs off on the internet. Nothing special, yeah? Yet still, I made it through the first half of 2010 precisely because this supposed generation of selfish people aren’t that.

      I see stuff on a smaller scale go on every day from my little net observation post, I see people pushing and promoting developers, sending them off to do talks, paying for them to go and get their work out there, helping them out when they fall ill, charity fundraisers, charity longplays and all sorts of things that’s just so normal a thing they don’t get reported much.

      I use the sales numbers, really, just to draw attention to how minor a problem this supposed ruined generation thing truly is because if you’re (not you personally, any you) going to argue something is truly wrong with an entire generation, you’d better have something, anything of substance to back it up. Beyond a few outliers, it just doesn’t though. “I saw some people moaning in a comments section” doth not a generation damn which appears to be the entire foundation of the EG article along with a completely unfair hatchet job on the Call For Communication guys.

      I totally get where you’re coming from and you’re right, I should have elaborated further on the great things part. In my defense, I’d not long woken up and finished my breakfast and had two cats threatening to murder me if I didn’t go out soon and get some cat food.

      That’s my excuse and I’m sticking by it, yer ‘onor.

    • subedii says:

      @Archonsod

      I’ll third the other two in asking whether you’d like to elaborate.

    • sinister agent says:

      I agree with the article completely, and think Archonsod is right.

      Valve hasn’t released Half Life 3 because it’s not ready yet. They’re a company who make something, and if it’s ready to sell, they’ll tell people.

      Staging protests and writing open letters, however polite they are, is just ridiculously self-important. They make the bloody game, they’re not going to forget about it. Demanding status updates is just a waste of their time that they could spend making the goddamn game. Even if they decided to never release the game for some reason, that’s entirely up to them and they’re entitled to do that, even if they previously said they would – sometimes circumstances simply don’t allow you to deliver, however good your intentions.

      Let them get on with their business in peace. They don’t owe you an explanation for a decision they haven’t even made yet.

    • Mattressi says:

      Again, by the same token, no one owes Valve a sale. People are saying they want more communication – Valve can take it or leave it. Valve need to weigh up potential lost sales/community approval versus the need to be secretive. There’s nothing more to it.

    • Kadayi says:

      @sinister agent

      I do like it that one of the principal arguments from the naysayers is that having Doug Lombardi spend 5 minutes writing a press release clarifying the situation regarding EP3/HL3 is some monumental task that Valve can ill afford waste time on Vs important stuff like making this simply for the lulz: –

      http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=7375

    • Jerakal says:

      @ RobF Very nice article, so nice in fact that I thought I would share it with the rest of the CFC lads.

      The top rated comment in Marsh’s abysmal article is praising him for finally ‘standing up’ for ‘that’ side of the argument.

      Really?

      REALLY?

    • sinister agent says:

      I do like it that one of the principal arguments from the naysayers is that having Doug Lombardi spend 5 minutes writing a press release

      It takes a lot more than five minutes for a large company to decide what to say about its most famous upcoming game. Hell, some places could turn that into a week’s worth of meetings and administration.

      And either way, it’s still a waste of their time. If they had something to say, they would have said it already. They have an entire department whose job is to tell people about stuff, and they’ve said nothing. What does that tell you?

      But go ahead and ignore the point that they don’t owe you five seconds, let alone five minutes, just because you want it.

    • Premium User Badge

      RobF says:

      @sinister

      But the group would be happy with “we haven’t made any firm decisions yet, we’ll let you know when we have” or “we can’t say anything at this time but we’re listening to you”. The group the article is addressing even state that they don’t mind what the response is, just go on, say *something*. It’s a call for better communication.

      Which is entirely not how it’s painted in the article, so y’know, you can agree with the piece but it’s based on some hallucinatory version of what people are asking for not the reality.

      [sneaky edit] As John pointed out in his original piece about this, Valve send out PR blurb all the time over the tiniest things. Whether owed or not, it’s hardly a big crazy ask and I can’t fathom why you’d need to be so defensive over people asking nicely.

    • Kadayi says:

      @sinister agent

      Despite your protestations to the contrary I doubt it would take any more time or effort than it took them to fly in Nolan North and record the additional dialogue for the Skyrim space Core tbh. It’s not like it requires the entire company to down tools for a month, or that they have to consult with their publishers or shareholders. All the CoC people seem to want it just a status update. Other studios don’t seem to be nearly as reticent when it comes to doling out information regarding the state of play with their properties, so why the continued silence on Valves part? I don’t think anyone doubts that Valve are working on the game in some capacity, but whether we are looking at episode 3 or HL3 would be beneficial to know.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      Valve’s silence is a marketing strategy. They know what they’re doing. Look how well it’s working.

    • Laephis says:

      99 times out of 100, when you see the word “entitlement” on the Internet, it’s being misused in a ridiculous, pejorative sense. And it’s a pretty recent development, too, as I don’t recall this problem 5 years ago.

      I will say, however, that it makes a convenient indication to stop reading the article/story/comment and move on to something else more intelligent and worth-while.

    • sinister agent says:

      Despite your protestations to the contrary I doubt it would take any more time or effort than it took them to fly in Nolan North and record the additional dialogue for the Skyrim space Core tbh.

      …and? The fact that something else takes time doesn’t mean anything. First of all, doing both of those things will obviously take longer than only doing one. And second, they wanted to do that. They obviously don’t want to say anything about Half Life 3. And why should they? If they have said nothing, there’s nothing to say. “It will only take a minute” doesn’t change the facts that a minute is longer than nothing. Maybe you don’t value five minutes of their time, but I’m pretty sure they do.

      Will you spend five minutes doing a favour for me? No? Why not? It won’t take as long as making yourself a cup of tea.

      I don’t think anyone doubts that Valve are working on the game in some capacity, but whether we are looking at episode 3 or HL3 would be beneficial to know.

      Well yeah, I’m sure it would be nice to know. It doesn’t mean they’re obligated to tell anyone, though. And that’s assuming they even know for sure themselves yet, which isn’t guaranteed.

      Which is entirely not how it’s painted in the article, so y’know, you can agree with the piece but it’s based on some hallucinatory version of what people are asking for not the reality.

      The article is just using it as an example of a wider trend, and it’s surely undeniable that there’s been a noticeable rise of self-importance in many gamers in the last decade or so (and as the article touches on, in entertainment circles in general). Okay, it’s a mild example, far removed from the screeching brattiness or outright malice of some others, but the point is that there are that many people who seem to think that a company owes them an explanation. I think it’s a mistake to focus entirely on the Half Life example when the wider trend is very much there.

      Would people demand the same of another company? I don’t think they would. Would it have happened ten years ago? Surely not.

      [sneaky edit] As John pointed out in his original piece about this, Valve send out PR blurb all the time over the tiniest things. Whether owed or not, it’s hardly a big crazy ask and I can’t fathom why you’d need to be so defensive over people asking nicely.

      I reject the idea that I’m being ‘defensive’, but I don’t take it as an attack.

      But you actually touch on another reason that explains exactly why Valve aren’t saying anything – the internet goes mad and pores obsessively over every bit of every scrap of data that comes from Valve. The day they announce anything about Half Life 3, the internet will probably black out. They’re not going to say anything until absolutely everything is perfectly in place – they can afford that luxury, and they’d be foolish not to. Saying something prematurely could force their hand, or even cause a backlash.

      They don’t want to say anything. That they’re not saying anything should make that clear. Why can people not just let them get on with it? They’ve trusted Valve’s judgement in the past, so why not now?

    • Premium User Badge

      RobF says:

      “The article is just using it as an example of a wider trend, and it’s surely undeniable that there’s been a noticeable rise of self-importance in many gamers in the last decade or so”

      Oh lord, no, although like a Littlejohn piece on European bureaucrats bending our cucumbers or something, the piece plays on that belief, it relies on reinforcing that belief and saying “eh, not like us, right? You, me, we’re better than that, yeah?” and we nod because we’re not that but we’ve seen it, right?

      But no, there isn’t this wider trend. It’s just that now we’re connected and we hear more views from a wider variety of people. Go back through the letters pages of magazines from the eighties, it’s *always* there. The only reason you’re noticing it more is that you’re exposed to more via the internet where any muppet gets a loudhailer and there’s no editorial control keeping the super muppets at bay.

      You know sometimes when you look at a comments thread and you think “holy fuck, car crash”? And if you step away and look harder you realise it’s two people on a piss fest being super loud noisy gits and most people are lovely? It’s totally that. Except the article is trying to make out that those two people are an entire generation and it’s a super massive problem and it just isn’t. At all.

    • Consumatopia says:

      If you don’t want to spend five minutes on something, that’s fine, but it’s ridiculous to pretend that it’s “a waste of their time that they could spend making the goddamn game“, when Valve has plenty of people doing things other than making said goddamn game. It’s simply not true that the opportunity cost of making the announcement is spending less time making games.

      Time has nothing to do with it–I’m sure they’ve spent more time making the decision not to make an announcement than they would have spent making an announcement.

      The larger issues are discussed better elsewhere in the thread, but this “time” tangent is total nonsense.

    • sinister agent says:

      @RobF

      You make some interesting points, and some arguments that I’ve made myself in parallel discussions on entirely different subjects. Perhaps I am just more soured by this as I am very cynical towards ‘gamers’ in general.

      Hm.

    • Kadayi says:

      “It will only take a minute” doesn’t change the facts that a minute is longer than nothing. Maybe you don’t value five minutes of their time, but I’m pretty sure they do.”

      Yeah you’re right, this is probably payback for that time everyone clubbed together bought a plane ticket and forced Gabe to go to Australia and play that guys game level. No doubt Valve were spitting blood over those lost days of productivity, and that’s why we can’t have nice things…..

    • sinister agent says:

      Now you’re just being childish. Trying following Rob’s lead and actually engage with what was said, and you might get somewhere next time.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Sinister

      Childish? I’m not the one here dreaming up elaborate excuses as to why Valve can’t possibly address a fairly simple and civil question put to them by their fan base. You haven’t presented one constructive argument yet that holds up to logical scrutiny.

    • MarcusCardiff says:

      @Sinister
      Nice ad hominem there, I guess that makes you a hypocrite.

    • sinister agent says:

      @Kadayi

      At no point have I said that valve “can’t” answer the question of what’s happening with Half Life 3. They simply don’t want to, nor do they have to, and that’s fine. I’ve made it abundantly clear that this is my view, and your response is to ignore most of what I’ve said, put words in my mouth, and talk about completely irrelevant things like Nolan North or Gabe flying to Australia. There’s a reason that I conceded when Rob used a reasonable line of discussion, but called yours childish.

      @MarcusCardiff

      I suggest you look up what “ad hominem” means before you use the phrase again.

    • Consumatopia says:

      @sinister agent, your original argument was “Demanding status updates is just a waste of their time that they could spend making the goddamn game.” Kadayi explained why that’s nonsense–the time at stake would be negligible. In no way would having the PR department spending a moment on this require programmers, artists, or writers spending less time on development or creative work.

      You then tried to change your argument–to “They simply don’t want to, nor do they have to, and that’s fine.” Which is the larger argument that people are having all over this thread. And generally doing a better job of it than you are. But the argument you, specifically, were making was one about time. And that argument fails.

    • newprince says:

      So let’s say Valve comes out and says: “Thanks for your concern about HL, however, we honestly don’t know the status of the series, we’re working on other projects, etc.”? I mean, sure, you called for communication, but if that press release came, people would be even less satisfied, I guarantee it.

  4. MattM says:

    Telling (and selling) only half a story is a bit of a dick move. I don’t think valve has any legal obligation to finish the Half-Life story, but I do think its fair for fans to criticize them for not finishing what they started. Valve chose to spread the plot over 4+ games and 10+ years instead of telling their story in one or two games and they also chose to put the series on the back burner. If they included endings then I would totally be on their side in this debate. Some stories are written as open ended and open to interpretation and plenty of games include a sequel hook, but the HL story just seems unfinished.
    I agree with the sentiment that its better to delay and release a polished game than rush it out the door, but that feels more like an excuse than a reason when the delay for ep3 is approaching 4 years.

  5. CaspianRoach says:

    Yeah, generalizing A Call for Communication for HL news with gamer entitlement is really far-fetched and is probably done for sensationalist press purposes. The guy is right on most of his points in the article, but not this one. It’s not really hard for Valve to say “nope we aren’t doing anything, the project is on hold” now is it? More to the point, why should we fish for advertisement materials? Shouldn’t it be the other way, devs holding our attention with announcements and all that?

    • noom says:

      Aye. Agree with him by and large but the HL3 thing is so entirely civilised and good-natured that I’m not sure how he conflates it with silly gamer-entitlement. The whole article strikes me as written by somebody with an axe to grind. It borders on trolling at times.

    • Jumwa says:

      “Entitlement” is a word that really gets tossed around a lot these days, I find. I thank American media.

      Used to be you called a rich twat who acted like the world owed him entitled. Now everyone down to a guy with a gunshot wound to the gut who expects medical help is entitled.

    • yutt says:

      @Jumwa

      Indeed. “Entitlement” is a right-wing media favorite here in the US. It has become popular again with Rand and Ron Paul coming into vogue among 20-30 somethings.

    • Mattressi says:

      The difference is that it’s generally used correctly in a political sense – someone who demands others to pay for their healthcare is “entitled”. There’s no way around it. No matter how much you want socialised healthcare because it can help some people (maybe, sort of…look at my country, Australia, and you’ll see huge waiting lines and horrible horrible hospitals), but however you justify it, someone feels entitled to have free healthcare. Hell, I’ve even heard people say it is a “right” – as if you can have the right to force other people to work for you for free! It is, by very definition, an entitlement.

      In the case of gamers asking for better communication, that’s them using the free market to get what they want. They say what they want, then Valve must make a decision about whether it’s better to remain silent or potential lose some of their customers. Nothing entitled about it at all.

    • Muzman says:

      It seems nitpicky but we should underline that ‘Entitlement’ in this context is actually shorthand for ‘Entitlement issues’, a horrible pop psychology term, and it hasn’t suddenly reversed its meaning.

  6. Inigo says:

    Wasn’t Jeff Vogel the guy who got shot in the face at the end of Saints Row 2?

  7. Jannakar says:

    I think Valve have settled on “If you have nothing to say, say nothing.” Which given the whole notion of Valve Time, seems as wise as the man who first said it.

  8. BobsLawnService says:

    The Call For Communication group are annoying and they do feel entitled to communication (Or why would they all be so passive aggressive about it?)

    Until money changes hands you are entitled to absolutely nothing.

    • Sami H says:

      No.

      The Half-Life 2 episodes were marketed as being a continuing series with a relatively quick turn-around between episodes, and a lot of people bought it on this assumption (remember that Valve were one of the first companies to do episodic content). And what have we had? 2 episodes released over a year apart, and then no news on the next ones for over 4 years. Not an announcement to say “we failed, this will take years to finish”, not “we’re bored of HL and want to make something else”, just nothing at all.

      People want communication because they have been promised something, put down money to support it on the understanding that it would be finished. This has not happened, hence people are pissed off. So yes, too fucking right they feel entitled to communication, when their past purchaces have been sold on a promise that more and more content would be released. Valve have released 3-4 games since Episode 2 and have another couple in development, so clearly manpower or finances are not an issue (especially with the money making machine that is Steam).

    • Koldunas says:

      I can never wrap my head around this general assumption, that unless there is money involved, it’s ok to act like a dick, be it a person or a company. Valve doesn’t owe anyone, but they are being REALLY rude.

    • John Brindle says:

      I joined the group and played HL2 the other week because I like playing Half-Life and wouldn’t mind knowing when I’m going to see more of it. Ooh, so entitled, etc

    • Kadayi says:

      @Bob

      When Valve mooted the whole episodic thing shortly after the release of HL2 in 2004, the intention was for the titles to be delivered with some degree of frequency, concluding in 2007 (one a year in effect). People bought into that idea and albeit Valve delayed episode 1 and then episode 2 (good old Valve time at work), there was some expectation that the next episode was in the works and would appear in a year to 18 months based on previous form. Still here we are four and bit years later and beyond one concept art image, nothing, nada, nix.

      Let’s put a bit of context here. HL2:EP2 came out in October 2007. Assassins creed came out in November 2007. Since then Ubisoft have managed to release three more Assassins creed titles. Since 2007 Bioware have released DA:O/DA:A/DA2/ME1/ME2 and ME3 is just around the corner. Bethesda have rolled out not on FO3 but Skyrim in that time (as well as a bunch of DLC). Visceral: Dead Space/Dead Space 2. CD projekt: The Witcher/The Witcher 2 the list goes on. EP3 isn’t even supposed to be a full a game.

    • Archonsod says:

      “The Half-Life 2 episodes were marketed as being a continuing series with a relatively quick turn-around between episodes, and a lot of people bought it on this assumption”

      Cigarettes were once marketed as a cure for emphysema. Homoeopathy is marketed as being able to cure everything from headaches to cancer. There’s a reason it’s called “marketing” rather than “facts”, and I’d worry about anyone who hasn’t noticed the difference.

    • LionsPhil says:

      So you’re saying we need to drag Valve in front of the ASA? ;)

    • Jason Moyer says:

      In the last 4 years Valve have released Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Alien Swarm, and Portal 2, not to mention a ridiculous number of updates to Team Fortress 2 and vast improvements to their Steam service. 2012 is supposed to see DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike Offensive. So it’s not like Valve have been sitting on their hands since the day the Orange Box shipped.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Jason Moyer

      None of which invalidates wondering what happened to something that was supposedly in the works prior to those things.

    • Urthman says:

      Not an announcement to say “we failed, this will take years to finish”, not “we’re bored of HL and want to make something else”, just nothing at all.

      I think Valve are convinced that saying either of those things (or whatever else is the truth) would ultimately create more ill-will between them and the fans than saying nothing at all. I’m not sure that’s wrong.

    • yutt says:

      @Archonsod

      I’m not sure which side of this argument you’re on with that comment. You’re equating Valve with the unethical marketing practices of cigarette companies? I wouldn’t go that far.

  9. Johnny Lizard says:

    To quote Bart Simpson – “They gave you thousands of hours of entertainment for free*. What can they possibly owe you? If anything, you owe them.”

    (Yes, HL2 wasn’t free. But the point stands.)

    • Prime says:

      They owe their existence as a profitable games development house. They owe their good reputation. They owe simple recognition for the fans’ continuing loyalty and willingness to love what Valve do.

      Times are changing. The games industry – like so many others – is changing. The internet is altering the relationship between Producer and Consumer at a fundamental level. These days you simply cannot have a relationship that only works one way, or is expressed solely through the simple medium of payment for services rendered. Ubisoft are currently being taught this at their cost. Valve themselves have helped to break down those walls but now should be allowed to hide behind them again because it suits their purposes and we’re just whiny brats?

      Look at crowd-sourced funding. Look at paid alphas. Look at all the little ways developers are interacting with their communities in ever closer and interdependent relationships. It works because their communities – their customers – are respected and in turn are rewarded with loyalty against piracy and with word of mouth – the very best kind of free promotion. Customers are no longer simple sources of discrete financial units to be harvested at will, they now have the power to make or break a product or even a franchise. This is a new business paradigm, one we thought Valve understood but their silence suggests otherwise. If Valve are smart then they should recognise that their silence on the Half-Life 2/3 matter is harmful, slowly becoming toxic. Fans have committed based on promises that haven’t yet been delivered. And to be clear – they’re not demanding the next instalment be released. They simply want something to go on, to be respected as more than walking wallets who will dutifully cough up the moment Valve suddenly remember that they like being paid.

    • Mattrex says:

      Valve did not crowd-source Half-Life 2, or fund it with a pre-paid alpha, or solicit community involvement in its development. For that matter, they don’t owe their positive reputation as a games developer to their fans–they owe their positive reputation as a games developer to the fact that they make good games. They didn’t take your money and run off cackling into the night. They put something on the shelf that you bought. And if they hadn’t made a really good game to begin with, no one would give a whit about what they were doing right now.

    • Prime says:

      Looking Glass also made great games but where are they now? No, Valve’s success can’t be solely attributed to the fact that they can code well. It’s Valve’s seemingly enlightened attitude towards the people who bought their games – in addition to those games being of such high quality – that has made them such a beloved and lasting entity in the industry.

      “They didn’t take your money and run off cackling into the night. They put something on the shelf that you bought.”

      Did you even read what I just wrote or did you just skim what you thought was important from it? Read that part again/for the first time about the changing paradigm between creator and customer and you’ll find an explanation for why I believe ‘you bought it off the shelf’ is an outmoded attitude and no longer applies thanks, ironically, to the company we’re now discussing. Simply restating the old paradigm does nothing to argue against my opinion.

    • Archonsod says:

      “They owe their existence as a profitable games development house. They owe their good reputation. They owe simple recognition for the fans’ continuing loyalty and willingness to love what Valve do. ”

      The vast majority of fans probably don’t give a shit. It’s simple human nature, generally in marketing you expect less than10% of people to feedback, because for most people if they’re happy with something they see no reason to shout about it. The internet hasn’t done anything to change this.

      It’s kinda what the article skirted around which would probably have been a point worth making. Valve have no obligation to respond to those fans, because if you take the number of fans who got behind the call for communication and compare it to the number of people who bought HL2, they’re such an insignificant portion of the audience they can be safely ignored. In fact, from a business perspective it would be incredibly hard to justify taking the time to email a response, let alone make an announcement.

      The problem with the internet is that it allows the minority who will bother to communicate to find each other. Once they do, it becomes quite easy for them to convince themselves they’re representative of your entire fanbase, and start making demands as if they were the 90% rather than 10%. Then they naturally get upset when they go unheeded, with a regrettable tendency to throw tantrums – hence why most people dislike it.

    • Prime says:

      If you don’t give a shit you can’t be called a fan, can you?

      And if you think the vocal minority of fans doesn’t count, look at the way the Green Lantern film was received and subsequently panned. You can bet the word of mouth spewing from the ‘vocal minority’ had a lot to do with why there isn’t going to be a sequel. Not the whole story, of course, but you’d be mad to ignore it, much as Valve would be mad to ignore a supposed minority of their own fans. Not that this ‘minority’ has been proven, or that they do not, in fact, share the views of the silent majority.

    • Kadayi says:

      ‘In fact, from a business perspective it would be incredibly hard to justify taking the time to email a response, let alone make an announcement.’

      Like Gabe not spending hundreds of hours playing DoTA2 or perusing knife catalogues? (because you can never have enough knives) You make it sound like a press release is akin to parting the red sea…

      Valve were more than happy to put the time and resources into putting the space core from Portal 2 (replete with newly recorded Nolan North dialogue) into Skyrim then I’m fairly sure issuing an email press release on the state of play of EP3 isn’t the monumental hardship you make out tbh.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I have to second Prime here–computer gaming as we know it today simply wouldn’t exist if people weren’t getting strangely invested–immersed, if you will–in narratives. Why else would consumers actually pay money for software that requires them to work to unlock content? Valve wants players to have more than a transactional relationship with the games, if not with Valve itself.

      And I have to think that there are more people bothered by going years waiting for Half-life cliffhanger resolution than people paying attention to Portal ARGs.

    • nearly says:

      I’m in agreement that they owe fans nothing. They made the game under their own initiative, and I personally think it’s ridiculous to say that they owe the fans for being successful. Sure, they might not have bothered if they didn’t think the game would sell, but ultimately, they didn’t have to make it, release it, etc.

    • Chandos says:

      Archonsod: “In fact, from a business perspective it would be incredibly hard to justify taking the time to email a response, let alone make an announcement.”

      Then I guess Apple owes its colossal failures to Steve Jobs answering emails from regular joe customers. Seriously, you either know nothing about business, or you were born into a family of accountants.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Chandos

      Whats even stranger is that if you play through the commentary tracks of HL2:EP1 & EP2 as Well as Portal 1&2 you’ll find that Mr Newell readily gives out him email address and actively asks for correspondence. In fact over the years I’ve had a couple of responses from him and other people at Valve on various topics.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    This is also a nice bit of reading.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/feb/12/lucy-prebble-computer-games-playwright

    It’s a fairly standard (by which I mean we’ve seen this all before, not that it’s badly written!) “why I got into gaming” article aimed at non-gamers but there’s some interesting musings therin, particularly on whether the perception of games to non-gamers as “violent” is to do with a cultural shift towards the anti-hero as a protagonists.

    “What I think has changed is the prevalence of the antihero as protagonist, not just in gaming, but in entertainment in general.

    […]

    there has been a generational tendency to move the traditional villain towards the centre of the action. You see this in great art (The Sopranos) as well as more schlocky fare. There are many cultural arguments as to why this may be, including the maturing and souring of America as a global superpower and cultural hegemon and so in its self-representation, or the general, gradual decline in idealism that accompanied the end of the cold war. Whatever the reason, you’re more likely now to be playing the criminal than the law enforcer in games.

    I hadn’t really even noticed this until recently playing LA Noire, in which your character is an uncorrupt policeman in the 1940s and this came as such a shock to me that I kept trying to make decisions within the game that would get me into trouble, convinced that that must be the narrative’s way forward. In fact, the only area where violence is both plentifully available within the narrative and yet legally and culturally acceptable is, you guessed it, warfare, so no wonder they keep churning those games out. Perhaps it reveals more about us as a society than the morals of “gamers””.

    • Ezhar says:

      Yes, not sure how the Jim missed that. Don’t let it happen again.

    • Prime says:

      Another lovely article. More of this please, media.

    • Tams80 says:

      It’s really quite good.

      *reads that she doesn’t like the Wii* – Well I didn’t want your dolls anyway and you can’t have my Action Man to go with your Barbie!

  11. mckertis says:

    “HL2 isn’t a service.”

    Really ? Pray tell, what is it, then ? A product ? That I, or anyone else, can actually OWN ? And use it without being dependent on the creator ? And transfer to any person of my choosing at will ?
    Great argument, this.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s a funny little lump in the legal system that I believe still hasn’t been thoroughly hammered out.

      I think it’s technically a subscription you have within the Steam service; it just happens to be a one-time up-front payment one.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      Reminds me of the contortions that music labels are going through with regards to iTunes etc. From the point of view of the seller, they count as sales (so they can pay lower royalties to the artist), but from the point of view of the buyer, they count as licenses (so they can’t be resold).

      It really is time that either statute or common law stepped in and let everyone know the legal status of media downloads.

  12. Cinnamon says:

    I don’t expect much from game developers but sometimes it seems they expect a lot from me. Like money and caring about whatever they come up with.

  13. The white guar says:

    The author of the first article may have sort of a point, somewhere, too bad it spoils it all by going:”Damn kids, get off my lawn!”.
    Moreover, claiming A Call For Communication was intended to have an impact on valve’s development schedule(and that saying otherwise is naive) is too much of a speculation, and a slightly presumptuous conclusion.

  14. Premium User Badge

    jimbobjunior says:

    The self-entitlement article raised a few interesting point, but the assertion that fans asking for HL information are self-absorbed is wrong.

    One point that was missed when discussing the reason why gamers have this sense of sense-entitlement is the real investment that many games companies are asking from their fans. Pre-alpha funding and beta-testing represent a real investment from the gamer. When you are an investor in something, people feel they have a right to steer the product.

    If the kickstarter success this week is anything to go by, and crowd-funding becomes a real way of supplimenting development budgets, companies should be aware that they might have no publisher to answer to, but they are going to be answerable to thousands of mini-investors.

    • Mattrex says:

      Half-Life wasn’t alpha-funded by its eventual purchasers. There was nothing democratic or crowd-sourced about its development. People are looking at what Double Fine did this week and comparing that to a game developed when Kickstarter–and Steam, for that matter–was scarcely a twinkle in anyone’s eye?

    • Premium User Badge

      jimbobjunior says:

      I should have made it clearer that the first paragraph was unrelated to the second and third. Editing on my phone is a pain.

      You’re right, HL fans are in no way investors in the sense I described. Valve made an implicit (if not explicit? — research on my phone is hard) promise that HL2 would be a series of episodes making up a complete story. That’s why fans are getting upset. To them that promise has been broken.

    • Prime says:

      @Mattrex – again, you’re ignoring the larger implications of the way the gaming industry has changed. Your point is that because none of the Half-Life games were funded by new-era crowd-sourced models then they shouldn’t be held to the same standards as games made by that model. That view of things ignores the fact that in the same time period between Half Life 1 and now the entire background relationships between developers and their customers has fundamentally altered. I’ve said to you that Valve themselves were instrumental in helping this change come about – they revolutionised the way business is done for PC gaming, to the point where we regularly tell big publishers that they need to “catch up”. You can’t ignore this when looking at what the fans do.

      Valve are now in a deep relationship with a very loyal fan-base – deeper than most developers thanks to Steam – and the relationship between them and their customers cannot be held to the same cold, shallow standards as applied when Half-Life 1 was released. Nowadays customers have much more power than they used to. Developers and publishers ignore this at their peril. Technically Valve don’t have to say a word, but by not doing so they’re disrespecting the relationship they have enjoyed for so long with their customers, which all by itself is becoming harmful to them, a club to beat them with. The fans have asked politely, not out of self-entitlement, but because an entity they hold in high regard is now silent and only speaks when it wants something from them. No customer should have to silently accept this, not in this day and age.

    • Chandos says:

      @jimbobjunior: Great point. I think many people are entirely missing the issue here, focusing instead on transactional technicalities.

      The relationship between a business and a customer is exactly that, a relationship. This is business and marketing 101. The relationship needs to be built on mutual respect otherwise you won’t have a relationship for long. Companies owe not only their past and present to customers, but their future as well. When a business person talks about market share, it is not simply a historical statistic, it is also a projection that the business can rely on for future planning. Company valuations are based on projections of future sales, which are in no small part correlated to the captive audience or loyal customers that one might also call fans.

      At the end of the day, Valve are not legally obligated to deliver an Episode 3. They are not obligated to give a damn about their fans. BUT it is only in their best interest to give a damn if they want to hold on to their fanbase for the future success of their company.

      Otherwise they have every freedom to act with insolence and stupidity, and squander the fan support they have. Nobody can sue them for that.

      EDIT: Actually, Valve owes to the fans for voicing their discontent. Many companies in other industries would have to hire a consultant to figure out and tell them what the hell happened to their customer base when they find themselves staring at abysmal quarterly reports. Not everyone has the luxury of an advance warning like that.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Yachmenev says:

    I think the article about the HL2 is a truckload of bullshit. No, Valve doesn´t really owe the fans anything, but it really isn´t much they ask They have not demanded any input in the creative process, not demanded it to be released now, and not demanded the Valve changes anything in their priorities. They have just asked for a little bit of communication about it. And considering the cliffhanger ending in Episode Two, Valve wants people to stay interested, and for that, they have to give something back.

    It´s not somtehing that is in any way comparable to the The Old Republic or CCP situation.

    • mckertis says:

      “And considering the cliffhanger ending in Episode Two, Valve wants people to stay interested, and for that, they have to give something back. ”

      I’m not sure why they (or you) expected people to stay interested, after all, the original HL2, unlike HL1, had no story whatsoever, nothing was resolved, nothing was explained, all those hundreds of pages worth of storyline that were boasted by their writer, apparently went missing mid-way. Maybe someone smoked them, i dont know. It had gameplay in spades, and people want more of that. Story, though… what story ?

    • Rich says:

      “HL2, unlike HL1, had no story whatsoever”
      The world was beautifully realised and the characters were all brilliant. The story would have been great if someone had just told you what the hell was going on.

    • Kadayi says:

      “Story, though… what story ?”

      You mean the one about saving humanity from the tyranny of the Combine by getting to the stranded Borealis and stopping them from leveraging Aperture Sciences Portal technology to open up another inter-dimensional gateway since Gordon Freeman helped destroy their original one? That story?

    • Fathom says:

      Mckertis, were you not paying attention during HL2? The story is pretty implicit.

    • Prime says:

      Oh, there’s story alright, it’s just a very vague, poorly-explained, poorly written story designed to cobble together some above-average action set-pieces with some clunky scenes of NPC ‘acting’.

    • mckertis says:

      “You mean the one about saving humanity from the tyranny of the Combine..snip”
      “Mckertis, were you not paying attention during HL2? The story is pretty implicit. ”

      Saving humanity ?
      I guess we were playing different games then. In HL1 Freeman wasnt anything special, he was simply THERE. A person caught in circumstances. In HL2 he appears out of nowhere, thrown into a conflict with impossible odds, against barely explained and almost non-corporeal adversary with nonsensical goals. Also, for some reason he’s the freaking messiah.
      Another thing is, I understand the message of “journey is more important than destination”, but why the f, was it a bad thing to “board the express to Nova prospect” from the very start, if you eventually had to travel there anyway ? No plot reason was given at all.
      How exactly was humanity saved, as a result of the game ? What this result even is ??? Why make Freeman so special ? Where did Combine come from ? How does Ravenholm, and headcrab missiles in general, fit into ANY possible Combine plan ?
      There are so many questions, and unless you’ve read the HL Bible or something – i doubt you can tell an actual coherent story just from playing the game. There is no story.

    • Kadayi says:

      @mckertis

      That funny looking fellow at the beginning with the tie, you really need to pay attention to what has says in future: –

      Maybe listen to what Dr Kleiner, Eli, Mossman talk about as well whilst you’re at it.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Bit of a side not here but I’m feeling quite tempted to try a demo of at least one of Jeff Vogel’s games. Which is the best one to try?

    Edit: I should add that on first glace the Geneforge series seems most interesting to me, seems like it’s trying to do something a bit different.

    • mckertis says:

      If you favor great dynamic world and story, but can tolerate godawful combat system as a tradeoff – latest Geneforge.
      If you favor a rather generic classic RPG with good tactical combat – latest Avernum.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      Cheers. That just cements my inclination to try Geneforge. Generally with RPGs combat is something I tolerate rather than enjoy so regardless of it’s I’ll always feel like I’m putting up with it.

      Guess there’s no reason not to have a go at both of them though!

  17. Ridnarhtim says:

    I LOVE Episode 1 Racer. I’ve played that game insane amounts, it’s probably my favourite racing game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      So did I. I remember playing it on my Microsoft Forcefeedback Joystick and loving every moment of it.

      But the article and some of the comments say it was hard game? I remember the major flaw with it was how ridiculously easier it was to be miles ahead of everyone else. It also seemed to be very fixed, almost scripted, as the AI always finished in the same positions when you repeated races.

    • TNG says:

      I wouldn’t call it hard, although in the later stages you had to know the tracks very well before you could finish the race but when you did that, you would normally finish first.
      Terrific game anyway, one of the best gaming experiences I ever had, Star Wars or not.

    • westyfield says:

      I was thinking about Racer just yesterday, wishing someone would make a Kickstarter for a new one. I played so much of that game (also on a joystick, respect!) when I was young. The later races were really hard, probably due to my being seven years old at the time. I was distraught when the disc got scratched and we couldn’t find a copy in any shops near us. Then my dad bought me Racer Revenge for the PS2 and all was well.
      Such a good game.

    • propjoe says:

      Episode 1 Racer is my favorite racing game ever. I remember summers when a friend and I would spend what seemed like weeks alternating between that and X-Wing vs. TIE fighter. My fantasy game development project (assuming that I had things like talent and time) would be a high-def remake of Racer.

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      Ep1 Racer came with my N64 (it was that awesome black box with a small picture of a podracer on the front, looks sweet), and I’ve played it a ton. I do agree with it being difficult later on but, not a particular spike after the first tournament. In particular, those tracks that were on suspended platforms high in the air (might have been that Oovo VI planet) were extremely unforgiving.

      I still pick it up from time to time. The speed is its main appeal, and I’ve played few games that match it in that regard. (F-Zero GX perhaps, but that game never gripped me for some reason.)

    • westyfield says:

      Ord Ibanna was the one with the elevated track. Really annoying ’cause the low route was perhaps 4/3 the length of the upper one, so if you fell off the top you’d pretty much already lost. Oovo IV was the one on the asteroid, with the bastard meteorite storm that could randomly wreck your pod.

      Now I really want to buy an old copy and see how much of the other tracks I can remember. Pretty sure I could do the Boonta Eve Classic blindfolded.

    • Urthman says:

      The PC version was great. And yeah, the hard part was the later tracks where it was really easy to crash until you knew the track layout. You could usually win any race that you didn’t crash in.

      But man, that game was FAST! I can’t think of another racing game that gives you the feeling of YIKES I AM GOING WAY TOO FAST! that Episode 1 Racer had.

    • BoZo says:

      I’ve been playing Pod Racer on a N64 emulator for android on my phone and it’s just awesome. However, the later levels to get a bit tricky playing with on screen touch controls…

  18. Kadayi says:

    In the time in between the release of episode 2 (October 2007) and now, other development studios have not only released full games, but also released sequels to them (including Valve themselves). This notion that having left the story of HL2 on a cliff hanger with episode 2 the audience who have financed the series up to now are somehow ‘out of order’ to politely ask about some information regarding the state of play with respect to EP3 or HL3 (dependent on what route Valve are thinking) just seems like a case of trolling for page hits. Plain truth of the matter is Valve certainly don’t need to do a thing, but it wouldn’t do them any harm to say something (the presumption is the storyline continues in some fashion), and the thing that’s least of all required is for supposed game journalists to defend their continued silence and belittle others in the process for actually giving a damn.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lobster9 says:

      You buy the product on the table, not an investment bond in the next one. If you personally value your 30 bucks high enough to expect a pre-condition on the release of a future game, then you should wait until you have actual confirmation of that release. It may sound harsh to say you can’t trust the word of a company, but the games industry is a messy and unstable place, and plans change.

      Personally I am glad they aren’t releasing a Half-Life game until they can do it properly. Cliffhanger or no cliffhanger, I would rather it was an unfinished story than a crap one.

      People waited a long time for the Lucas prequels.. and I think a lot of them wish they were still waiting!

    • LionsPhil says:

      That a “buyer beware” mentality is perhaps a necessity is not a defence that this is actually the right thing.

      Also, while Valve aren’t really in that camp, it’s not uncommon for lesser-supported developers (indies, startups that need to prove themselves to a publisher or get dropped) to get sales from people going “it was a bit rough, but I’m buying it because I want to see what they do next”. It’s a pretty common sentiment in these here comments.

    • Acorino says:

      I dunno what people want Valve to say. Gabe has confirmed in many interviews that the next HL is still in development.
      I make the assumption that this means HL3 rather than HL2:E3, because the development time is now in the league of being as long as the one for HL2 or TF2…

    • Hematite says:

      @LionsPhil: Agree. Some of my favourite games are ones that were seriously flawed or incomplete and I’m personally happy to support those developers in the hope that they do something interesting again.

      My grumpiness about HL2 stems from the fact that they promised a story but have only delivered cliffhangers, which is different from releasing a game ‘as-is’, at least in intention if not in result.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Acorino

      Albeit Gabe has talked about ‘the episodic model not working’ it still wouldn’t go amiss for them to out and out say ‘There won’t be an episode 3 after all, but we are working on a full sequel which will conclude events fully, but it will be some time yet’. That way at least people aren’t left hanging about the state of play, even if there’s no ETA.

  19. jimjam says:

    Devs dont owe the fans anything…. But the devs owe it to themselves to grow their target audience and entice more customers.

  20. Fathom says:

    First article is the biggest load of shit I’ve read in weeks. Guy could not have missed the point any harder.

  21. Premium User Badge

    mpk says:

    RE Star Wars Racer: for the launch of Episode 1 on video (back in THE DAY) at the video rental shop I worked in, I dressed up as Darth Maul and we played Racer all day with the customers. Anyone who beat me got a free Episode 1 rental.

    No one beat me.

    NO ONE

    mwahahahahhahahahaha

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Cool idea. :) I can imagine that playing the game for a whole working day gave you some Sith-like racing skills (or did you get to keep the money and upgrades earned from previous victories? ;) ).

    • westyfield says:

      Damn, that’s awesome.

  22. Carolina says:

    Ah, Eurogamer fishing for clicks with controversy yet again. Apart from Digital Foundry, why do you guys keep caring about what they say? That site is garbage.

    By the way, HL2 might be a product, but it’s an incomplete one. I don’t really care about the “A Call for Communication” Steam Group, or about Half-Life for that matter —I didn’t even play HL2: Episode 2, after the abysmally stupid ending of the first one—, but Valve promised something that wasn’t delivered: a full sequel, a complete story, delivered in three chapters.

    They might not be contractually obligated to release an ending to the sequel, but it’s surely a dick move to its followers to leave them hanging for 14 years to bring a conclusion to the story.

    At this point, I’m surprised that some people still care about it. In my case, if the damn thing ever gets released, I’ll wait until it gets a 75% discount on a Christmas Sale or something to buy it.

    • Fathom says:

      It’s like if Peter Jackson fumbled around for years after The Two Towers to release Return of the King. It’s morally shitty.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I think I’ve probably missed this, or forgotten, but why is there an expectation of a 3rd one anyway?

      Is there some unfinished plot at the end of the 2nd on or something? Did they specifically say it’d be a trilogy, or that they’d be a 3rd one?

    • Kadayi says:

      @Hoaxfish

      Yes it was always talked about as a trilogy. EP2 ended on a cliffhanger and there was a clear line of action that was required of you (as Gordon freeman) to bring resolution to events in the final part.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Ah, Eurogamer fishing for clicks with controversy yet again. Apart from Digital Foundry, why do you guys keep caring about what they say? That site is garbage.

      Because RPS are shacked up with them.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      Eurrogamer is a mixed bag. I tend to find with both reviews and articles that it pretty much comes down to who is writing it or what the aim is.

      So although it does throw up a lot of controversy seeking opinion pieces it does to a large degree make up for it through more considered and informative articles, to cite a recent example this piece on Rare was a good read;

      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-02-08-who-killed-rare

      Overall there’s still enough good stuff on there to keep me checking in.

    • Acorino says:

      I actually was rather shocked by how poor this article is, I think it’s a new low for Eurogamer. Their news reports were alway poor, but their articles and reviews were mostly of a good standard.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah, I have to admit that over the years the articles coming out of Eurogamer have just seemed to be more and more deliberate flamebait.

      It’s a subjective thing of course. I can’t say that with any definitiveness, even of the current article. As much as I feel it was deliberately attempting to be a self-righteous call to controversy, it’s impossible to discount the possibility of it being an authentic opinion.

      At the same time, it says a lot to me personally when I’m finding that coverage on freaking Kotaku of all places, even with all its hanging article headlines, tends towards less outright flame-baiting for page hits.

  23. bill says:

    The article on Characters vs Avatars was certainly much better than that similar one last week.

    • NathanH says:

      Yes, it is really good. The writer understands that the different methods serve different purposes. It inspired me to write a few paragraphs about why I think Commander Shepard is one of the best-written protagonists in an RPG, but RPS has eaten them :-(

    • Kadayi says:

      @NathanH

      email rps, it’s likely the span-o-tron 3000 ate it. It has a habit of doing that on a whim. I find it’s best to write things in notepad and copy paste.

    • NathanH says:

      Yeah, normally I copy whatever I write and if it doesn’t appear then I can post it later. But I forgot to do it this time. I don’t really think anyone will particularly enjoy reading my opinion, so I can’t be bothered to try to get it back.

  24. nootpingu86 says:

    That Eurogamer article is a by-the-numbers hit job on this topic, replete with the media-manufactured trend of Gen-Y’s narcissism being an obstacle to any genuine creative endeavor.

    The reality is developers do, in fact, owe me a good, functioning game when I plunk down the cash and buy it – for some creators this is a more challenging feat than others. There’s no privilege being invoked when I express my displeasure with any aspect of that, either. Consumers critical of the creative direction developer(s) take aren’t the same ones making death threats over console wars or whatever it is goes on out there on GameFAQs and youtube comments. Developers can make what they want, and often do, with little regard for that silliness.

    I can’t emphasize enough — the ululations of fanboys shouldn’t muddle the credibility of any criticism from fans. Game development isn’t a one way street where consumers play what they’re told to buy, either, and I hope no one honestly wants that! Defining the boundaries of legitimate criticism from the get go ought to be the only priority here. Maybe it’s the sorry state of language arts education or poor critical thinking skills youths have to begin with that fosters it — let’s educate, not resort to shaming and generalizations. Even then, the crazies will still abound and ignoring what they have to say is always an option.

    But yeah, if game devs actually had a thin skin for any of the fanboy craziness I’m sure more sob stories would slip out about the plight of the sensitive game devs who just want the public to love them and the monstrous toll fame and recognition takes on them. Also hookers and blow – we need more of that glamor and decadence going around. We’ll know gaming’s finally made it then.

    • durruti says:

      word. but it feels soooooo great when you can dismiss the rare relevant critique, put it in a sack with all the opinions and stuff and beat it like there’s no tomorrow. that i’m assuming at least, too boring a practice for me.

      let’s talk about the lack of critical thinking i’ve encountered among “grown-ups” and even older folks though… ;)

    • subedii says:

      the ululations of fanboys shouldn’t muddle the credibility of any criticism from fans.

      Dead on. And you can usually tell when an article is trying to be a hit piece because this is precisely what it will do: Dismiss any valid point by conflating it with screaming rage occurring elsewhere.

      On the internet, as in life, you’re ALWAYS going to find rage over any topic. Making that the focal point in order to pour on the castigation and claim some kind of moral high-ground, when the subject at hand doesn’t go that route is a pretty telling sign or what your actual intentions are with the article.

    • nootpingu86 says:

      I’ve found that the internet has amplified every awful thing humans do to a degree that most people are no longer willing to engage in rational discourse. The parade of news outrages on my RSS reader makes it seem like the world outside my door is much more indifferent and potentially threatening to anything I do or say in it besides punch a clock.

      It’s very easy to lose perspective when every evil in the world is up there, meticulously documented for your perusal in real-time. It’s almost a given that one becomes shrill and intolerant (or starts trolling, smug in the assurance that at least you’re entertaining yourself) if you attempt to participate. The problem is, at least a plurality of the population feels just as exasperated about the state of affairs. They do not share their opinions with the hate machine at all and oftentimes abstain from voting (here in the US 60% voter turnout was unprecedented for a modern election in 2008). The studies on web analytics and internet comments show it’s about 1% of people with terrible opinions making most of the noise in the comments, a vastly disproportionate amount of whom are from dominant social groups.

      As it relates to a gaming fanbase devs might want to implement a comment screening system on parts of their sites that allow open feedback. I’m reluctant to say moderators because often times they come from the ranks of the fanfolk. I think devs willing to take that dynamic into account will end up making the best games, really.

  25. DiamondDog says:

    You know, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say if Valve said tomorrow that yes they are making HL3, it would not take long for the fans to once again start complaining that it’s taking too long.

    Where is it, you said you’re making it, just a screenshot, please just a trailer, why no trailer, I hate you Valve, please just one image, where are the previews, have you abandoned it, why have Valve canceled HL3, let’s all play HL2 until Valve release a screenshot to prove they are still make HL3.

    When fans get to the stage they have with Valve games, there is no sating them. Just ask George Martin.

    (Outside of being a provocative jerk, I think it would be nice if they just said yay or nay)

    • Prime says:

      That’s a separate issue, but the point is a good one. It shouldn’t be a barrier to receiving any word whatsoever, though. Just end the silence, Valve. What’s the problem here?

    • Kadayi says:

      I think the bigger issue Valve face is that through their continued procrastination on delivery they’re in danger of allowing their most famous franchise to fall into cultural irrelevance, in the same way Duke Nukem did.

      Silent protagonist with bagful of guns might hold some worth to the likes of you and I, but to younger gamers who have never played half-life 2 let alone the first game (14 years ago) there’s less meaning to it, and as a game style is has aged quite a lot. Similarly for all the high praise thrown at the advances Valve had made with Source over the years, there are far better looking game engines out there that are both visually and spatially more capable (Frostbyte 2/Dunia/Cryengine, etc, etc).

      With Half-life they were leading the pack, but since then I think they’ve been usurped by other studios in terms of product & sales and it’s only really the great success of Steam that has kept them in the limelight. Sure they make good product, and come up with some great fun games, but I don’t feel they’re really setting the pace any more.

    • Prime says:

      “but to younger gamers who have never played half-life 2 let alone the first game (14 years ago)”

      Sad, but true, Kadayi. There was a similar moment of incredulity in that Leveling series RPS ran, when someone designed a homage to HL 1’s test chamber in the game they were collaboratively making and none of the young players recognised it. One of the landmark moments in gaming lost to history and irrelevance. Gordon Freeman isn’t quite in danger of going the same way as the Muppets just yet but that moment can’t be all that far away now.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Prime

      I don’t think they are quite in Duke Nukem territory yet, but they are dangerously close. One of the great problems with the medium is that as the technology is rapidly advancing and in game interactivity becomes the norm it doesn’t take long before things do age, and not in a particularly graceful manner either.

      I think there’s a strong argument for developers to re-imagine past projects to keep their legacies relevant (in a similar way to how Crystal dynamics re-imagined Tomb Raider with anniversary), and it always surprised me that Valve didn’t latch onto this with Half-life 1. I’m sure eventually Black Mesa will finally shuffle out of the shadows and props to the people who worked on it over the years, However it wouldn’t of been a loss leader to have commissioned either gearbox or turtle rock shortly after the release of HL2 to fully remake the original using the newer engine.

    • DiamondDog says:

      I’m not sure that’s something Valve can control though. As the industry and audience gets bigger and bigger it’s going to get increasingly harder to find touch stones we can all identify with. I hesitate to invoke the ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore’ terms, but the fact is there is a huge audience of CoD players for whom HL, Mario, Quake or X-COM (random examples) hold almost no meaning other than being part of gaming history. We view them as giants that influence whole swathes of the games we play. Other peoples shared history starts with the first Modern Warfare. I’m not trying to make a judgement on that. It’s just we have come to a point where we can have millions and millions of WoW or CoD fans that share none of our giddy joy at seeing Thief on GoG.

      Even if Valve had kept us fed with more HL and made sure it was still in the public conscious all these years, for many it would still be irrelevant. It’s not CoD.

      Another point I’d make is I think Valve are perhaps genuinely worried that they could end up with another TF2 on their hands. Do they want to release images of HL3 on Source, only to realise a year down the line that the engine is just too old now, and they have to start again.

      The HL franchise has been built up in the minds of its fans to such an extent now that to release anything less than a game changer would feel like a let down.

    • Kadayi says:

      @DiamondDog

      As a third act EP3 pretty much writes itself. You travel to the Borealis with a forlorn Alyx in tow. She gets captured at some point (either by the combine or an onboard version of Glados). You acquire a portal gun. You solve some puzzles. You battle some combine forces. You solve some puzzles whilst battling combine forces. You rescue Alyx. Mossman dies having made her peace with Alyx. You both solve puzzles whilst fighting the combine. At some point your gravity gun gets merged with the portal gun and you are able to shoot the remaining combine forces into SPACE!!!, Which destroys both the gun and Apertures portal technology in the process, but not before you face off with the last remaining combine advisor and give him/her/it a damn good twatting with your crowbar. Cue big hug from Alyx, cue inappropriate comment about repopulating the world from Dr Kleiner, cue G-man turning up and telling you that he is your father, cue face to black and roll credits. Cue fist punch from player and …..relax.

  26. GallonOfAlan says:

    I used to love clueless articles complaining about the Duke Nukem Forever ‘hype’ despite the fact that 3DR barely trickled any information about it out at all over the years, and any hype and speculation was from fans and gaming sites.

    • LionsPhil says:

      3DR did a fairly normal level of hyping, really; they did release the usual bolshy E3 trailers. But, yes, that did fall off as things dragged on and the whole sandstorm of idiotic hype beyond the norm is thanks to that ever-present curse upon anything good: the fan.

  27. Hoaxfish says:

    4chan held their Vidya Gaem Awards yesterday (streamed):

    and numbers: http://vidyagaemawards.com/results.php?votes

    It was pretty good, though a lot of it was what you’d expect from them.

  28. Unaco says:

    That Marsh Davies article is brilliant. I don’t think I could have read more ‘right’ words this morning, unless I’d read an encyclopedia. Well done that man!

    • durruti says:

      how many ‘right’ words are we talking? 3? 4? also do you take coherence/context into account or just grammatical accuracy? :D

    • Prime says:

      I sincerely hope you’re joking. If not, perhaps you belong among the EG commenters, Unaco. It’s quite eye-opening how many there seem to be lapping up the rhetoric.

    • Unaco says:

      What? I have a difference of opinion, so I don’t belong here? I’m of this ‘other group’? What are the traits of this other group Prime? Why are they other? Why does this opinion of mine mean that I don’t belong here? What sort of opinion should I have to belong here?

      I like the article. It makes sense to me. I agree with most of what he says. I’m cool with other people disagreeing with me… I’m not going to insinuate that they are somehow different or alien to me. Or that they must be joking and they couldn’t possibly feel that way. It’s a disagreement on something… not a definition of ourselves.

      For me the article strikes a decent balance. That Developers do have to be aware of their communities (the CCP criticism and their mea-culpa, PopCap and Baking Life), but at the same time ‘fans’ or customers have to realise that not everything to do with a game/dev is theirs (Minecraft DDOS, death threats to DMC devs).

    • Kadayi says:

      @Prime

      EG comments system is all about mob rule. If you write anything faintly contentious you’ll get voted down. There’s no room for discussion there, and like most sites there’s a group for whom disagreement with the writers is somehow akin to a sin.

    • Prime says:

      @Unaco: I certainly didn’t mean it as a permanent “gerroff RPS”, please don’t think that for a moment. Having said that…judging by some of your other comments on the thread you do seem a bit grumpy today. Would you like to step outside for a hug?

      I was merely suggesting that if you were serious in your opinion – and you are – that you might find it more to your liking to be over there than here, where there seems to be more purveyors of your opinion going about. I’ve been quite pleased to find I’m in general agreement with most of my fellow commenters – that doesn’t happen often! Folks here seem to be generally disgusted with this indefensible piece of sensationalist journalism. If by the article “striking a balance” you mean the balance of the axe-wielding maniac then, yes, it succeeds admirably. But I’ve read more balanced and sensible polemics in the Daily Mail.

      @Kad – thanks for the tip. I’ll stay out of their way. Mobs are never good news (except in Minecraft).

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      I agree with the article also. It’s obviously playing a bit of devil’s advocate at the start with comments about ‘the X-Factor generation’, but the core points are still valid.

      Comments like ‘we pay their salaries’ make me angry: traditional game development is an investment by a publisher (or developer, if they’re self-funding). If you buy the game then you’re helping them recoup their investment for that game, but that’s a one-time transaction – when they start working on their next game it’s a brand new investment with exactly the same risks.

      Likewise, people that complain about ‘lazy developers’ producing buggy games need to realise how the industry works. Publishers enforce release dates (NOT the developers), so if the game gets behind schedule or unexpected bugs turn up then the developers have to work OVERTIME to still meet that deadline.

      There’s a concept in game development called ‘crunch time’ – it’s enforced overtime (usually working weekends, longer hours, and even overnight) that development studios use to ‘catch up’ if they get behind schedule. If a game is released and still has bugs, you can bet that those ‘lazy devs’ have been working non-stop crunch time to try to fix those bugs and are likely to continue doing so until at least the first patch.

    • subedii says:

      @ Kadayi: Yeah I noticed that myself (regarding EG comments). It doesn’t matter if the criticism of the article is well worded and polite, the act of disagreement in itself is pretty grounds to get downvoted into oblivion.

      It’s one of the reasons I like RPS. I’ve had plenty of times when I’ve disagreed with what’s been written here (like with Jim over Crysis 2), but that hasn’t been an automatic grounds for castigation, it just becomes another discussion as long as it’s decently worded and not just a rage / rant post.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Dave Mongoose

      You make some fair points, and I agree that often people do malign developers unfairly (and it annoys the shit out of me when they do tbh).However in the case of Valve, they did make some public statements with regards to the time line for delivery of episode 3 that they’ve overshot by a considerable margin (the whole episodic adventure was supposed to be wrapped up in 2007).

      @subedii

      “Yeah I noticed that myself (regarding EG comments). It doesn’t matter if the criticism of the article is well worded and polite, the act of disagreement in itself is pretty grounds to get downvoted into oblivion.”

      It’s frankly depressing, and I’m really not sure why they went with the voting system at all as it doesn’t seem to serve any great purpose. Having been on the Obsidian boards today and looking at the kickstater thread I can appreciate how a ‘like’ comment could be useful (when you don’t necessarily have the time to articulate your support), but it seems nonsensical to allow the opposite. You either like something or you don’t.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Likewise, people that complain about ‘lazy developers’ producing buggy games need to realise how the industry works. Publishers enforce release dates (NOT the developers), so if the game gets behind schedule or unexpected bugs turn up then the developers have to work OVERTIME to still meet that deadline.

      I think when people complain about “lazy developers” they have more in mind smaller projects where the developer and publisher are the same people or person. Generally, there’s not any reason for customers to look into the sausage factory here–we don’t have to know exactly how the internal politics are ruining the games, all we have to know is that the games are, in fact, being ruined, at least when some publishers are involved.

  29. Tams80 says:

    Star Wars Episode I Racer was amazing.

    High Tea looks interesting. A setting I’m interested in and the type of game that I used to be obsessed with. There was this one pirate trading game that I had a demo for and played it again and again and

    I couldn’t agree more with the Deborah Orr article. It sure is nice to have a free market, but that market by being free should take some responsibility by having standards. It might already have standards though, but they certainly aren’t ones I agree with.

    Jeff Vogel’s article is also interesting. Finding a niche, making a living, pricing and piracy are all things in the article I have similar stances on.

  30. Hematite says:

    Argh! ‘Why Devs Owe You Nothing’ article makes me angry. Hulk smash!

    Three points: first, the article is crap; second, Valve have produced HL2 as an incomplete work; and third there’s a very good psychological/sociological reason why fans keep on demanding news on HL3.

    First the article. It’s mostly an article about how some kinds of games DO belong to the players or have a concrete financial investment which signifies an ongoing business relationship. That’s actually moderately interesting to talk about, but then there are some tacked-on paragraphs saying that there’s no ongoing business relationship for HL2, so fans can fuck right off, and puts an inflammatory headline on the top to get pageviews. And look, it worked! Internet outrage! Ad revenue! This article is a troll and has lowered my opinion of Eurogamer.

    Next, why fans are upset about HL3 (or the lack thereof). When people trade things they expect that the trade will be fair and complete, and will rightly complain about breaking the spirit of the agreement even if the letter of the agreement has been followed.

    For creative works, the spirit of the trade is that the work will be a complete and satisfying example of what it was presented as. This is a problem for things like films and books where the customer can’t tell if it’s any good until they’ve already consumed the work, and also for normal computer games. That’s where ratings and reviews come into play, to help customers find out if a work is any good before they consume it. In general it’s a system that works well – a few people will ‘take on for the team’ and see a new movie, and if it’s terrible they’ll complain about it to everyone else and the movie will suffer and justice will be done.

    For examples of this in computer games see Duke Nukem, Deus Ex: Invisible War and Dragon Age 2, off the top of my head. They were all vaguely disappointing games that were expected to be great – they were released, got a bad reputation, and suffered for it in sales. This is fine, and you don’t see fans pestering the developers about those games except for some moderate whining about damaging the brand and jeopardising future, better, sequels.

    HL2 is different though. It was released to critical acclaim, but ended on a cliffhanger. The gameplay was complete, but the story was definitely not – not even simply open ended, it stopped dead at the moment of the player’s victory leaving pretty much every question unanswered. This is a problem for the analysis of value in the game – if Valve had said right then that HL2 was done and there would be no resolution the critical reception would have been much harsher and HL2 wouldn’t be recognised as the classic it is today – “Great gameplay and world building, shame about the crappy story that goes nowhere. Maybe Valve can do better next time with a new franchise?”

    That’s not what happened though, of course Valve were planning a follow-up to complete the story, and as such HL2 was judged by different criteria – “Great gameplay and world building, and I can’t wait to see where the story is going! 98/100″. They played the ongoing story card, which got them out of a hole for HL2 but got them into a social contract which extends beyond the end of the game. So now they’ve sidestepped the usual mechanism of critical review for their storyline, but still need to fill that obligation for a complete and satisfying work by finishing the story properly in a sequel.

    Valve seemed to be doing OK up until they went quiet after the end of episode 2: the story had been progressing and looked like it might be wrapped up properly (or rather left open-ended rather than on a cliffhanger) at the end of the trilogy of episodes. But no – once again there’s a cliffhanger, and now the entire storyline from HL2 and Ep1 and Ep2 is left hanging and incomplete.

    The common argument against complaining about this is that the various parts of HL2 were enjoyable experiences in themselves and represent excellent value for money. This is actually true, but regardless of how the games excelled in some areas they haven’t delivered on the implicit promise that there would be a coherent narrative which is eventually resolved. We may have got much more gameplay than we paid for, but we got less story and so the spirit of the trade has been violated.

    So why the incessant whining about news of Episode 3 or HL3, whichever it might be? If there is no conclusion then the fans have been cheated. The natural response to being cheated is to badmouth the person who cheated you so that their reputation will be ruined and nobody else will be taken in by them. I think it’s actually remarkable that Valve still have such a good reputation – most people are still hopeful that HL3 will turn up eventually, but as time passes with no news the mood of the fanbase is going to sour. There’s even a perceived obligation for the wronged party to complain – if you get cheated and don’t make a big deal of it you can be seen as weak and unreliable because you won’t stand up for yourself or, presumably, anyone else.

    That’s the root of their (very real) obligation to their fans – they’ve created it for themselves by continually deferring the end of the story to future episodes, which it now seems may never eventuate.

    It doesn’t just happen with computer games either. George R.R. Martin was getting a lot of it before his most recent book, inciting Neil Gaiman’s “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch” post in his defence. In general I agree with Gaiman, in that authors need to work at their own pace and write what they would, not what the fans want and when they want. But there is an obligation to finish the story you started, eventually, in some way that makes sense.

    I think Valve have already pawned their credibility when it comes to episodic content – if they tried to release Portal 2 Episodes now I think we’d see a public that was very reluctant to engage with the ongoing story even though they might buy the episodes just for the new puzzles.

    If they don’t finish off the HL2 story I don’t think they’ll ever get that credibility back. They could probably recover it through a short Portal crossover dlc with some fun mixed portal/gravity gun gameplay as long as they finish the damn story!

    For comparison consider Lost – it was a long running episodic series full of cliffhangers and hooks which, it was implied, would all be explained one day. But it dragged on and on, and then they were all actually dead or something and blah blah wave hands. Fairly early on, in the second season I think, the writers actually promised that the survivors hadn’t all died in the plane crash and were experiencing a trippy afterlife. So much for that, and now they’ve ruined it for everyone – who could take another similar show seriously, after Lost failed to deliver on a proper conclusion?

    For a more positive example consider Great Expectations. Charles Dickens wrote it as a serial, releasing a chapter at a time. It’s a great story full of adventure and excitement, and it even all comes together in the end with a big revelation and a plot twist!

    So clearly the ideal situation is for Valve to wrap up HL2 with a satisfying conclusion, their reputation will be secure and all will be right with the world. If they just leave it to go stale(r) they’re retrospectively sacrificing their reputation for producing good products and ruining the ‘episodic story’ market for everyone with a high-profile failure. Ouch.

    But saying that it doesn’t really matter, or is only because of ‘entitlement’ is just wrong and speaks of completely misunderstanding the issue.

    • Prime says:

      “That’s not what happened though, of course Valve were planning a follow-up to complete the story, and as such HL2 was judged by different criteria – “Great gameplay and world building, and I can’t wait to see where the story is going! 98/100″. They played the ongoing story card, which got them out of a hole for HL2 but got them into a social contract which extends beyond the end of the game. So now they’ve sidestepped the usual mechanism of critical review for their storyline, but still need to fill that obligation for a complete and satisfying work by finishing the story properly in a sequel.”

      I’m frankly astonished buy how seldom this fact is brought up when talking about Half-Life 2. The game was released as a first instalment, not a complete work in itself. That, right there, may be the prime reason why I prefer Half-Life 1 to 2: the first game was a complete and satisfying whole.

      Some excellent points there, Hematite. Thank you.

      Oh, and also Battlestar Galactica as well as Lost. Another show that promised so much but whose notoriously disappointing ending revealed that no-one writing the show really had a clue where the story was going.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      This did make me smile.

      “It doesn’t just happen with computer games either. George R.R. Martin was getting a lot of it before his most recent book, inciting Neil Gaiman’s “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch” post in his defence. In general I agree with Gaiman, in that authors need to work at their own pace and write what they would, not what the fans want and when they want. But there is an obligation to finish the story you started, eventually, in some way that makes sense.”

      So when you say you generally agree with Gaiman’s position, you mean “I disagree with it entirely”.

      KG

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      This is the first good rebuttal to the article that I have seen, because you point out that HL2 is a special case. Too many people have had an all-or-nothing attitude to the points covered.

      Your point about review scores being influenced by the expected continuation of the story is interesting, but I seem to remember that the sudden ending of HL2 was still criticised by some? I’m not sure if the episodes had been announced when the game first came out.

    • Hematite says:

      @Prime:
      Thanks, I liked your Empire Strikes Back reference earlier – if Lucas had left the franchise hanging with Luke fleeing sans hand and Han frozen in carbonite there would have been an outcry. Once that trilogy was complete of course there was a lot of fan interest in a continuation of the story, either by a follow up trilogy or the prequel trilogy, but I don’t think anyone felt like they were being short changed, just hopeful that there would be some more Star Wars in the future.

      I think the same thing will happen if/when HL2 gets wrapped up, which will put Valve in a much better position to either continue or leave the franchise without disgruntling their customers.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @Kieron:

      I think there’s a difference between “the author has an implied contract with his fans to finish the story” and “the fans are allowed to nag, shriek, and otherwise harass the author until he or she fulfills said contract.” In Martin’s case, he offered updates–even sample chapters–on his website, so it’s not like he just completely abandoned things or remained silent. If I recall correctly, he actually started over one time with the most recent book after he couldn’t figure out how to get it to work in the way it needed to for the plot to flow. That’s all we knew and all we needed; it would have been a small subset of people who found that explanation unreasonable. Valve doesn’t say much at all.

      What I find odd about it is that the criticism isn’t really directed at fan behavior, but at the fact that fans have the audacity to ask at all. Anyone who’s ever had to work with the public should know how annoying it is to answer the same question over and over, but if people enjoy your work so much that they keep asking about it, maybe you should try to get things moving. It’s not like they put a gun to your head and made you start writing in the first place, and it’s not like they haven’t paid you for your labor. It’s the author who establishes a relationship with the readers, not the other way around.

    • Kadayi says:

      @KG

      “So when you say you generally agree with Gaiman’s position, you mean “I disagree with it entirely”.”

      No I think he’s acknowledging the validity of Gaimans points, but he’s also recognizing that it was Martin himself who made promises regarding delivery of the books. Similarly when the HL2 episodic model was unveiled there was a talk of it all being wrapped up in three parts by 2007. That Valve pushed back the release date on EP1 and then on EP2 I think people have been accepting of, but we’re a good few years on since EP2 now and bar one piece of concept art there’s been nothing forthcoming from Valve, the same can’t be said for Martin who at least kept his fan base informed as to the state of play.

      Why the need for secrecy? It’s not like Valve have to worry about share prices suddenly dropping? Hell, most other developers are reasonably frank about things even if they can’t be specific (Mirrors Edge 2 for example).

    • mckertis says:

      “Oh, and also Battlestar Galactica as well as Lost. ”

      Thank god i found both these shows, frankly, repulsive, and didnt watch further than a half a dozen episodes.

      “if Valve had said right then that HL2 was done and there would be no resolution the critical reception would have been much harsher”

      I disagree. There are examples of shows that end on incredibly high, dramatic cliffhangers, and people love it. As long as you finish on a really high note – you can shut the door with as much power as you want. Shin Mazinger, my god…

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      “There is an obligation to finish the story you started, eventually, in some way that makes sense” is the exact opposite of Gaiman’s point. That’s his point. *There is no obligation*.

      KG

    • Hematite says:

      @KG:
      Probably my fault for mentioning a nuanced opinion as a side note in a wall of text. Bear with me while I explain myself.

      I’ve carefully read back over the original post and I don’t think I’m in a contradictory position. There could be some follow up explanation I’m not aware of which throws it into a different light, but it was a long time ago now and I didn’t keep up with the internet tempest it generated.

      Unless I’m mistaken, NG doesn’t directly address the question of whether readers are allowed to expect that a series should be completed one day. He specifically mentions and argues against the expectation that an author should be working on the next book instead of doing other stuff, and on a shallow analysis of the post, most of the words are about letting authors work at their own pace. I absolutely agree with him on this – I want my favourite authors to write the books they want to write, on their own timeframes. In fact, I want exactly what NG wants:

      “I would rather read a good book, from a contented author. I don’t really care what it takes to produce that.”

      I don’t care that Valve are making other games in the meantime. I don’t care if HL3 gets released in 2017. If Valve said they were abandoning Half-Life I would be hurt, but I’d rather they do that than refuse to mention it until everyone has forgotten who that guy is with a crowbar in one hand and a PhD in Theoretical Physics in the other.

      In my post I spoke in very definite terms about obligation, contract and expectation from fans, because I wanted to be clear about what I was saying. I put in the reference to NG’s post on the subject to, I hoped, reinforce the understanding that I’m on the authors’ side – I think the authors should make what they want, but if they string the fans along they’re risking not only their own reputation but the credibility of their professional group to finish a narrative and Valve need to address it somehow.

      NG’s post is written in milder terms and the contrast with my post probably doesn’t help to clarify my position. I like to think that we’re arguing in opposite directions from the same premise – he says that fans shouldn’t expect authors to work for them, while I would say that authors should expect fans to be upset if a work isn’t completed. But I agree wholeheartedly with him on all the specifics, except for the possible reading that it’s ‘OK’ for an author to drop an ongoing series part way through.

      At the risk of going on at too much length, I should probably respond in particular to this part, which I think is the clearest disagreement with what I’ve been writing:

      You’re complaining about George doing other things than writing the books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you.

      I have said that there’s a contract that the story will be finished. A social contract, not a legal one*. Do I disagree with NG here? I’m not really sure, it depends whether he’s as certain about ‘eventually’ as he is about ‘every waking hour’.

      But I have reason to think that he would agree with me, at least slightly (bold emphasis mine):

      I blew a deadline recently. Terminally blew it. First time in 25 years I’ve sighed and said, “I can’t do this, and you won’t get your story.” It was already late, I was under a bunch of deadline pressure, my father died, and suddenly the story, too, was dead on the page. I liked the voice it was in, but it wasn’t working, and eventually, rather than drive the editors and publishers mad waiting for a story that wasn’t going to come, I gave up on it and apologised

      Valve don’t “have to” finish Half Life, but with any work there is an implicit promise that what is started will be completed. If HL3 never happens I will consider that promise broken. What does that mean really? Does it matter? Is it ‘entitlement’?

      * I expect GRRM has a legal one with his publishers, something Valve are pleasantly free of. In fact, you could argue that the publisher’s legal contract formalises the social contract because it’s good business sense. That’s not the point I was going to make though.

    • Hematite says:

      @KG:
      tldr version:

      NG definitely argued that there’s no obligation to work on fans’ timeframes. I argue that there’s an obligation of politeness for the author to let his fans know if the series will ever be completed.

      Would you care to cite something where I definitely disagree with NG after so boldly claiming that I disagree with him entirely?

    • Consumatopia says:

      It’s actually kind of a problem with Gaiman’s original article that it blurs the distinction between calling for something eventually and immediately.

    • Kadayi says:

      @KG

      “I blew a deadline recently. Terminally blew it. First time in 25 years I’ve sighed and said, “I can’t do this, and you won’t get your story.” It was already late, I was under a bunch of deadline pressure, my father died, and suddenly the story, too, was dead on the page. I liked the voice it was in, but it wasn’t working, and eventually, rather than drive the editors and publishers mad waiting for a story that wasn’t going to come, I gave up on it and apologised, worried that I could no longer write fiction.”

      Even Neil Gaiman understands communication (even if it’s bad news) is better than no communication.

    • Chris D says:

      Here’s Gaiman’s full blog post.

      http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

      And here’s the bit where Hematite disagrees entirely

      “You’re complaining about George doing other things than writing the books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you.

      No such contract existed. You were paying your ten dollars for the book you were reading, and I assume that you enjoyed it because you want to know what happens next.”

    • Hematite says:

      @Dave Mongoose
      Yeah, I think you’re right that the abrupt ending was noted at release time. It was a long time ago now and it’s hard to remember! The important point being that it was such an abrupt ending that it demanded a follow-up, and in those days there would have been every expectation that it would reach a proper conclusion, even before the episodes were announced. That’s what Valve are risking at the moment too – if they don’t finish of Half Life eventually nobody will believe them next time they start an ongoing narrative.

      @Consumatopia:
      Yeah, it’s a shame he doesn’t make that distinction. I’ve always felt sorry for ‘Gareth’ as well, poor guy found internet fame as ‘That Guy Neil Gaiman Ripped To Shreds Over George R R Martin’ even though he wrote a very polite letter asking if, in NG’s opinion, an author had an obligation to work on a book that fans were expecting.

      Not that I think NG meant it like that! But quite a lot of it is to ‘you’, being an abstract person on the internet, which can easily be taken as referring to Gareth, particularly the opening soundbite:

      Look, this may not be palatable, Gareth, and I keep trying to come up with a better way to put it, but the simplicity of things, at least from my perspective is this:

      George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.

      I feel like it’s something that NG had been wanting to say for a while and he got Gareth’s email at the right time.

      It needed to be said too, and it’s still relevant – this is way back in the days before minecraft blah blah entitlement blah blah why is Notch getting married when water is still broken blah blah. I think it will keep being an issue too, particularly as the recent alpha funding/kickstarter environment matures and some of the joyful investors start getting, at best, finished games which are perfectly good but not quite what they were hoping for.

    • Hematite says:

      @ Chris D
      Thanks, maybe I should have linked to the full article and addressed that point if I was trying to argue honestly.

    • Urthman says:

      *There is no obligation*.

      Are you really saying that, as a writer, you feel you have impunity to end a story with a big “TO BE CONTINUED” without incurring any actual obligation to continue the story?

    • Kadayi says:

      “Are you really saying that, as a writer, you feel you have impunity to end a story with a big “TO BE CONTINUED” without incurring any actual obligation to continue the story?”

      Seemingly so. Although in KGs case Marvel comics might take exception.

    • Hematite says:

      Offtopic, but I’ve been meaning to read some of Keiron’s stuff since he’s sort of a celebrity around here.

      Can anyone recommend a good place to start for someone who hasn’t been following comics for 10 years? Keiron, if you’re still around? Guaranteed sale if you just tell me where to start reading.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Chris D picks up the important bit.

      Gaiman does lots of other stuff, talking about himself and how he thinks of fiction – which are the bits which Hematite are agreeing with. Which is fair enough. Gaiman has a very sensible balanced head which tries to think of the fans. To be honest, I lean to his corner of the argument as well. But that’s my choice. And his choice. And that word “choice” is key.

      The key, core idea he front-loads – which Chris quotes – and is the underlying point of writing the essay. Namely, you bought the thing. That is the thing you bought and nothing else. He hits it first, and he hits it as hard as he can.

      Yes, clearly I can get why you may feel like you want more. Who wouldn’t want the next part if they dug the last part? But you have to stomp down on it, because it’s the first step on the road to being a character in Misery. And no, not the writer. Or the sheriff. Or his wife. Or the agent. You know who.

      Obligation is a strong word.

      I wrote a book called Phonogram. There’s two collections of it. The story doesn’t end. We didn’t say “To be continued” but there’s clearly more of the characters which needs to be resolved. We couldn’t do the third part due to all sorts of financial nonsense. If we were “obligated” to do it, we’d have done it any way and Jamie would have starved in the street. Because we were obligated to do it. Because we had no other choice.

      That didn’t happen. So it seems we *weren’t* obligated to do it.

      Phonogram didn’t make enough money. Song of Ice & Fire, obliviously, made all the money in the world. But just because it made him money it doesn’t magic that “obligated” into existence. He could just think “Christ – this story is shit. I can’t face continuing any more”. You can count the great unfinished works in the library, which is a shame, but it’s *life*. Once again, we return to Misery. Thinking he *has* to write the next book is a half-inch away from thinking a writer should only carry on writing your favourite character, after they’re sick of it.

      Basically, you think a writer is “obligated” to do any of this basically means you see the writer as your slave.

      And the key difference in what you note about Neil abandoning a story is that he’s not talking to the fans. He’s talking to the publisher and editor, the people who he’s actually *in a business relationship with*, which would almost certainly – knowing what a smart operator Gaiman is – would have an actual contract there. These are fundamentally different things. And they are also based on his choice. To pick up Kad’s point, I am in a contractual relationship with Marvel to write books. I’m not in one with the readers.

      So, yes, Hematite – what you’re talking about is the absolute definition of entitlement. It’s the equivalent of if RPS just stopped updating news every day for you to demand we come back and do it. And as much as you may wish for something, it doesn’t mean that you get to expect it.

      Sorry to be so strong with this.

      Regarding my work:
      Phonogram: The Singles Club is the second volume. Ignore what I said above. It stands alone, and I always recommend people read it first. Seven stories set in a single night at a single nightclub, which all interlink into a larger structure. Urban Fantasy based on the idea of Music=Magic, using the metaphor to illustrate the real effects music has on people. It’s the award winning one, and has more than its fair share of tattoos.

      In terms of Marvel, the recently released first Journey Into Mystery is where I’d direct you. It’s a pop-Sandman set in the Marvel Universe, staring the recincarnated Loki, trying to avoid becoming as woefully one-note evil as his elder dead self. The critically best received of my marvel books, and has more of its fair share of girls cosplaying the lead and doing fanart.

      KG

    • John Walker says:

      Let’s smash Valve’s ankles with hammers!

    • Hematite says:

      @KG
      I’m really sorry we’re still apparently disagreeing about this, because basically I agree with everything you said and everything NG said. The only reason I can think for it is that I simply haven’t explained myself well enough.

      Obligation is a strong word. I may have done myself a disservice by choosing it over a synonym, but I certainly would have used a synonym and I wasn’t expecting a sunday afternoon blog comment to come under such detailed scrutiny. I intended to convey that there is a relationship between authors and fans (which is specifically not financial), and that the relationship is reciprocal. It’s a wishy-washy fuzzy-wuzzy social relationship, and it’s different between every author and their fans, and is created by the author and their fans as they interact.

      Well, ok, I feel like I’m just indulging in exposition for the audience, and I think the audience have all left now anyway.

      To cut another wall of text short, my point is that, rightly or wrongly, fans expect certain things from authors. The leverage they have is that if they are dissatisfied they will stop being fans, and so the strength of the fans’ influence on an author is equal to how much the author likes having fans (barring unnecessary references to kidnapping and mutilation).

      When I said ‘obligation’ I mean it in the sense of a promise (a word I also used) rather than the immovable cosmic force you seem to be reading it as. The obligation (promise) is for the author to behave in the way which the fans have come to expect, and the penalty for breaking that obligation (promise) is that the fans will go somewhere else.

      So referring specifically to Half Life, Valve’s fans expect that Valve will behave as authors generally do, and finish what they started. To dash that expectation is to risk the author-fan relationship. Valve are in the enviable position of not being contracted to finish the series, so that relationship (and incidentally, the piles of money they would inevitably make) is their only obligation and the obligation is only as strong as their desire to keep fans.

      (As an illustrative aside, Neal Stephenson frustrates the hell out of me with his habit of ending books by simply stopping writing. I’d prefer that he wrapped everything up neatly, but now it’s accepted as part of his style, the fans expect it and it’s all cool.)

      Basically, you think a writer is “obligated” to do any of this basically means you see the writer as your slave.

      Really, when you say this it makes me think you’re not actually arguing against me, you’re arguing against all the other random crap that people say on the internet. Either that or you’re one of those guys who thinks it’s slavery to take turns buying rounds.

      And the key difference in what you note about Neil abandoning a story is that he’s not talking to the fans. He’s talking to the publisher and editor, the people who he’s actually *in a business relationship with*, which would almost certainly – knowing what a smart operator Gaiman is – would have an actual contract there

      This is true, and I’m sure he does have a contract with them. But if it was just about the contract he wouldn’t feel bad about breaking it. “Tough, contract’s broken. I’ll accept the default.” The relationship is the thing, and he apologised because there’s a relationship which he wants to maintain. This is the kind of obligation I’m talking about.

      Re: Phonogram and Marvel, thanks for the recommendation! I started The Sandman with The Doll’s House and it worked out brilliantly, so I’m not afraid of jumping in the deep medium end and then going back to the beginning later.

    • Kadayi says:

      KG

      When you order in pizza and it doesn’t turn up after 15 minutes as stated do you think the Pizza shack doesn’t owe you an explanation as to it whereabouts just because you’ve not yet handed over the cash?

      http://uk.gamespot.com/news/half-life-2-episode-one-gold-two-dated-three-announced-6151796

      “Valve divulged little in the way of information about Episode Three, saying only that it was the last “in a trilogy…that will conclude by Christmas of 2007.””

      We’re a good few years past 2007 now with no conclusion to that trilogy. So I don’t see what’s so unreasonable or unpalatable to people about some fans of a particular franchise openly wondering what’s happening at the end of the day. It’s not that they are demanding the games release. They just want some form of status update from Valve as to the state of play regarding that missing pizza they’ve been salivating for all these years.

      Personally I’m more worried that by the time it does turn up it might be a bit stale and moldy and not really live up to expectations Vs the Pizza other franchises are now delivering (which would be a terrible shame imo). But still that’s another issue.

      Anyway once DoTA2 and CS:GO are out the way perhaps we might see some announcement.

  31. Bhazor says:

    @ Marsh Davies

    Or a developer can do what their fans ask for and get $1,500,000 of pledges in a couple days. A developer ignoring their fanbase is not good for anyone involved.

    • subedii says:

      Yeah to me that seems like a pretty big hole in the theory.

      Consumers want to consume, developers want to develop. They don’t exist in separate bubble realities from each other, they feed into each other.

      As many as the examples are of game devs trying to please a hardcore fanbase too hard and sacrifice sales in the process, there are equally many examples of games where the devs went in completely the opposite direction, completely ignoring their fanbase, and ultimately releasing a game which sacrificed its USP’s only to its own detriment.

    • Kadayi says:

      Indeed. Naysayers aside (who motivations to pooh pooh everything frankly amuse me) I honestly can’t see what it’s costing Valve by releasing a constructive statement regarding the state of play of EP3/HL3 to meet the request of the CFC group. Valve are a private company, they’re not beholden to shareholders, there’s nothing negative that’s going to come out of it financially (people are just curious) and it would engender a lot of good will and press (just like Gabes trip down under that time did).

  32. copernicus_phoenix says:

    Don’t like the repeated bringing up of the supposed ‘entitlement’ attitude of the younger generation. I mean, we’ve spent all of their money on things like our own education and public services, and are now in the process of expecting them to pay for themselves and for us. Doesn’t seem right to criticise them as well.

  33. sincarne says:

    Thanks so much for the pointer to that book! I finally saw Stalker yesterday and loved it. (Most folks in the cinema didn’t see so enthused on leaving, though.)

    If you haven’t read Roadside Picnic, I’d recommend tracking it down. Purest distillation of the writing advice “show, don’t tell” I’ve ever come across.

  34. Shooop says:

    There’s that magic word again, “entitled.” Interesting article but it swings far too much to one side.

    The only thing a game company be it developer or publisher, is entitled to do is make a product that works and if it doesn’t refund you for it.

    There’s nothing preventing fans from being excited about a series enough to ask for news of sequels either. They are not entitled to one, but there is absolutely no reason why they can’t ask for one. If they’re being rude about it then that’s just bad manners and they should be ignored.

  35. Rii says:

    It is true that devs owe gamers nothing. It is also true that gamers owe devs nothing — including payment for having experienced their work.

    Only when these complementary principles are accepted by all parties can we evolve a more harmonious relationship between artist and audience than the poisonous stand-off that exists today.

  36. Vinraith says:

    HL2 isn’t a service.

    Valve and Steam assure me that it is. That’s why I have to ask permission every time I want to play it, after all. If it were a product, I’d have paid for it and it would just be mine.

    • Acorino says:

      True.

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      The point of the ‘product not a service’ argument is to say that you’ve only paid once. Paying once gives you permanent* access to the software as-is, with patches and free updates being a bonus (in terms of the transaction).

      Steam could offer pc game ‘rental’ where you pay per day and can cancel the agreement, but I don’t know how successful that would be for games that aren’t MMOs.

      *Permanent as long as Steam is around, that is, but given how well it’s doing I don’t see it going anywhere fast.

  37. Rii says:

    I think the most interesting angle regarding Rare isn’t that that Microsoft bought them, but rather that Nintendo sold them. On the face of it, at the time, it seemed ludicrous. Now it seems almost prescient.

    Did Rare suffer from the absence of Nintendo’s ‘guiding hand’ as the article intimates, or did Nintendo see the decline coming and that’s why it let them go? After all, it’s not like Rare’s late record at Nintendo was entirely unsullied — see Starfox Adventures and Mickey’s Speedway USA.

    • Premium User Badge

      RobF says:

      I think Ninty sold them because Rare had near exhausted the world’s supply of big eyes.

  38. Premium User Badge

    jaheira says:

    As a marketing strategy total silence seems to have worked quite well for Valve. They’ve spent nothing at all hyping HL3 and they’ve managed to raise expectation to levels of near insanity. Nice work.

    • subedii says:

      That’s pretty much a danger in itself. Managing expectations is also a part of this, because such super high expectations typically cannot be met. Duke 4 Ever is a case in point, even if it WAS good for what it was trying to achieve (which it wasn’t), the game model that D4E was trying to make good on was one that a lot of the gaming public had already moved on from, and onto other things.

      It’s because of managed expectations that HL2: Ep1 and Ep2 didn’t have to shoulder the burden of being massive revolutions in the way that the transition from HL1 to HL2 was. Everyone knew they were just getting a refinement of the formula.

      With episode 3? I’ve lost count of the number of people mooting it as now being Half-Life 3, and again, expecting that massive revolution that may not actually come. And that can be pretty harmful for a game as well.

    • Hematite says:

      Personally I think that Valve have painted themselves into a corner with (HL|Ep)3 – they’ve waited so long that if they released another episode on par with Ep2 it would be a disappointment because the industry has moved past that kind of gameplay. If they jump straight to HL3 they’ll need to have a new hook (like the gravity gun was in HL2), and they’ll somehow have to work around the story getting disjointed at the end of Ep2, because they can’t really continue the narrative directly into a new engine without busting everyone’s suspension of disbelief.

  39. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I can’t speak to Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, but Viva Pinata, while great, was a deeply confused game. It seemed to be a children’s game, but the obsessive, complex, and subtly grim gameplay of luring, caring for, breeding, and culling livestock wasn’t something that I see a lot of young children really enjoying, and I imagine a lot of adults looked at the box and assumed that there wouldn’t be anything for them there.

    Frankly, I think they would’ve been better served to have made that just one half of the game and had an essentially separate mode in which you took your pinatas through Pokemon-style RPG battles. It would’ve given the garden-building more purpose and replayability. You could have created items that weren’t merely cosmetic or monetary in nature, but could give your pinatas improved stats when eaten, you could train them to learn new combat moves, etc. With the smaller pool of critters and the fully featured garden, they could have emphasized caring for them over time rather than swapping out for creatures with invariably superior stats and dumping obsolete creatures in a box, and made the ‘evolution’ feature more of a way to get alternate creatures than a mandatory power increase.

    Instead of offering a competitor to Pokemon that could’ve been a rejection of that series’ mercenary completionism, they made an interactive checklist. As much as I enjoyed it, it offers zero replay value, because once you’ve seen all of the pinatas, there’s really nothing left to do.

    • JackShandy says:

      “Frankly, I think they would’ve been better served to have made that just one half of the game and had an essentially separate mode in which you took your pinatas through Pokemon-style RPG battles.”

      Oh my god, no! That’s the most bloated thing I’ve ever heard.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      @JackShandy:

      Maybe it is, but can you honestly say that Viva Pinata was an experience that has genuine replay value? You can redesign your garden, but there’s zero point to it. I know that videogames are, by nature, basically pointless, but I think that a multi-hour checklist just to see some animated character models is a little underwhelming, long-term.

  40. Lemming says:

    What I said on Eurogamer’s Why Devs Owe You Nothing article:

    Concerning Half-Life Episode 3, it’s actually a little different to what the article describes. It is basically thus:

    Peter Jackson releases the first two Lord of the Rings films….and then just goes on to other stuff. It’s not because of a lack of funds, it’s just because he doesn’t feel like it.

    George Lucas releases the Empire Strikes Back…and then just goes on to other stuff. It’s not because of a lack of funds, it’s just because he doesn’t feel like it.

    Philip Pullman releases The Subtle Knife…and then just goes on to other stuff. It’s not because of a lack of funds, it’s just because he doesn’t feel like it.

    They have every right to do this: CORRECT

    They have no obligation to finish their trilogy: INCORRECT. There is actually a moral obligation. You made a promise, by creating a 3 act structure, that there would be a third act. Who knows how many people paid to see your second movie, let alone your first, because they knew a third was coming? They took your word for it, they believed your hype that this thrill ride would get resolution.

    If these 3 HL episodes, had been a single event, would people have paid for them still? ‘roll up, roll up see the amazing game that is missing a third act! Get ready for unresolved conflict on a galactic scale! See the game JUST END” Unlikely. At least, not nearly as many people and it certainly would have affected review scores.

    Valve, really, should take it as a complement that the game’s story is strong enough to galvanise these opinions. If it was ‘just another shooter’ We wouldn’t nearly be as concerned over a third episode. But Valve aren’t just game designers in this instance, they are storytellers and without Episode 3, they aren’t very good ones.

    ….

    Let’s imagine a world where gaming fans are dead silent: Devs make game, game doesn’t sell well…devs have no idea why. Dev makes other game, game sells well…devs have no idea why so don’t change the formula for fear of loss of sales. What a fun world that would be :-/

    Are football fans ‘self-entitled’ as well when they get pissed off at their team losing or a player’s ability or behaviour even though their support for a team amounts to little more than shouting at a pub TV screen?

    I think the article painted a very unfair broad brush. Yes, there are ‘fans’ who are self-entitled pricks – its easy to pick them out, they are the ones you feel the need to mention how much money they’ve spent on your product. But there are those who raise important issues for very good reasons, and they shouldn’t be ignored lightly.

  41. codename_bloodfist says:

    The Eurogamer article was so bad that I’m honestly considering removing the site from my feed reader entirely, like I did with Kotaku so many years ago. Why you’d put it on the very top of your list, besides the obvious partnership business, is beyond me, Jim.

  42. bhlaab says:

    Great, another article about “fan entitlement” that reads like a giant Ayn Rand loveletter. YOU ARE THE CONSUMER, SO SIMPLY CONSUME. STOP HAVING NEGATIVE OPINIONS ABOUT THE ELITE, PARASITE.

  43. InternetBatman says:

    I thought the vase or whatever made in resin didn’t look that great. To each their own I guess.

    Starting my D&D campaign (on maptools) as a DM for the first time next week. It’s fun getting all the pieces in place.

  44. Sinderlin says:

    Well this is my first post to this site and also any gaming news site ever and already quite a lenghty so please don’t shred me to pieces. I’m an undergraduate philosophy major from germany and fully aware that neither my style nor my perspective on the issue will be enlightenig to you all so I just ask you to consider my analysis and opinion.

    Mr. Davies central argument goes like this: Valve’s fans are not asked to support the Half Life franchise by repeated payments or in any other way and therefore should not expect to have an impact on Valve’s PR policy regarding aforementioned franchise.

    This argument neglects the fact that there are at least two ways you can owe something to somebody. The first is the economical sense in which I owe somebody something if I received payment but did not deliver something in return yet. In this sense Valve clearly have no obligation towards their fans in any way whatsoever. The fans paid (or at least I hope they did) Valve for the released episodes of Half Life 2 and got (a license to play) those episodes in return.

    But as some people already hinted at there is another sense in which I can owe something to somebody if I have a moral obligation towards them. When I made an appointment or had a date with somebody and did not show up I owe that somebody an explanation in this second ethical sense. Do Valve owe their fans an explanation for the prolonged wait on episode 3 in this sense? In my opinion they do and here is why:

    Valve made a promise to release smaller episodes in a short developing cycle instead of a full blown sequel. Common sense morality holds that once you made a promise you are obliged to keep that promise unless it would result in an inappropriate burden for you or somebody else.

    The fans explicitly recognized the possibility that Valve may have good reasons for delaying (or even cancelling) the release of episode 3 in their “call for communication” and they did not ask Valve to stand by their promise as a matter of fact. They simply want to know whether Valve still plan to release episode 3 in the relatively near future and if indeed they do: what slowed down development.

    Valve do owe them an answer to this question. As already pointed out it is not necessarily a moral wrong not to keep a promise if you have good reasons not to. Still: Knowing you will or might not keep a promise means you have an obligation to tell the person or persons you promised something that you won’t keep that promise. If you do not tell them they might still believe you’ll keep your promise and they surly have good reason to do so, i.e. the promise you made. By not informing them of your change of intentions you sustain a wrong belief which is effectively lying.

    Again: Common sense morality holds lying to be morally wrong as long as telling the truth does not mean inappropriate harm to you or somebody else. Some people said Valve uses the mystique and permanent low key buzz surrounding episode 3 as a clever marketing instrument much like “when it’s done” kept Duke Nukem Forever afloat like the water-logged corpse it turned out to be. I cannot see how foregoing this kind of marketing strategy that is characterized by a complete absence of any effort made by Valve would mean inappropriate harm to them.

    • Kadayi says:

      You make a good case Regardless of whether Valve are working on episode 3 or have eschewed it to work on HL3 instead, continuing to leave the fan base in the dark as to the situation regarding the franchise serves no good purpose, and revealing the facts (even if its ‘HL3 is years off’) really does no harm.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      Good post Sinderlin. Doesn’t your argument that Valve have a moral requirement to tell us what’s going on depend on your definition of promising? What did they “promise” exactly. It’s so long ago since the whole episodic thing came and went I’ve forgotten, but I think the answer might be “nothing”.

    • Kadayi says:

      @jaheira

      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/i_valve_060606

      “After spectacularly ‘raising the bar’ (with a gravity gun) of the FPS genre in 2004, Valve last week turned its attention to extending the Half-Life 2 universe episodically with the release of the first in a trilogy of episodes that finally reveals what happened to Gordon and Alyx after the destruction of the Citadel.”

      Ironically on eurogamer of all sites.

      Also: –

      http://uk.gamespot.com/news/half-life-2-episode-one-gold-two-dated-three-announced-6151796

      May 24th 2006: –

      “Today’s gold announcement was the first official confirmation that a third Half-Life 2 episodic update is in development. Like Episode Two, Valve divulged little in the way of information about Episode Three, saying only that it was the last “in a trilogy…that will conclude by Christmas of 2007.”

      You’re welcome.

    • Sinderlin says:

      @jaheira

      Gabe Newell made several statements and anouncements regarding the planned trilogy of “episodes”. I can understand your reluctancy to call those “promises” as a promise seems to be more than a simple anouncement but if you look at my argument closely you’ll see it is not dependant on some special quality of promises in comparison to statements and anouncements.

      Anouncing or stating your intention to do X is as much of a reason for us to believe you’ll do X as your promise to do X. So if you anounced to do X but later found you cannot or will not do X, youd’ still be obliged to disclose this fact to us as failing to do so would still mean to sustain a false belief which in turn is still identical to lying.

      So you might question the wisdom of me using “promise” instead of less innocuous terms like “anouncement” or “statement” but I think my argument does not become invalid if whatever Newell and Valve said or did does not match a reasonable definition of “promise”.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      “So if you anounced to do X but later found you cannot or will not do X, youd’ still be obliged to disclose this fact to us as failing to do so would still mean to sustain a false belief which in turn is still identical to lying.”

      Yes, this is the nub of the matter. Presumably you don’t think that lying is always inexcusable.

      Let Gabe = Valve.

      Gabe: I said there woud be three episodes in a timely fashion. I am therefore morally obligated to make and release them. However [for whatever reason] I now believe it is for the good of Valve to not do this. I have a moral obligation to the welfare of the employees of Valve. I am conflicted.

      Given the above, judging whether or not Valve are obligated to talk to us depends on the details of a business/creative decision to which we are not privy.

      By the way, this raises a much larger problem, which is the extent to which we ought to consider a corporate entity a moral agent. Valve aren’t the best example here because they are privately owned but imagine if we were talking about EA. They are legally obligated to their shareholders. Would the moral imperative to obey the law override your (Kantian?) obligation to keep a promise made to customers?

    • Sinderlin says:

      I’m not 100% sure I understood you correctly and might miss your point in my reply. If that’s the case: I’m sorry about it and I did not do it to avoid your objection but because I did not know better.

      The way I understood you whether or not Valve is obliged to talk to us depends on whether or not they actually canceled or pause development of Episode 3 and since we have no way to know this, unless they tell us (how ironical), we cannot make any statement about that obligation.

      I’ll admit this is an oversight on my side. I based my whole argument on the premise that Valve did indeed cancel/pause development of Episode 3 and in conclusion my argument can only show that Valve have an obligation to talk to their fans if they did indeed cancel or pause development of Episode 3. So in stating “Valve owe their fans an explanation.” I unwillingly neglected the possibility that they might still work on Episode 3.

      One way to meet this objection would be to show that the current state of insecurity also creates false beliefs which Valve would be obliged not to sustain.

      Regarding EA: Since I never said your obligation to keep promises prevails over all other obligations you might have, I don’t see much of a problem here. Gabe Newells act-utilitarian obligation to secure the jobs of his employees or EAs kantian/rule-utilitarian obligation to follow the law/not to harm their shareholders might easily overturn their obligation to keep developing a game as promised.

      The obligation to keep your promise I had in mind in my original post is not dependent on any specific ethical position. You’ll find such an obligation in the categorical imperative, most de-ontological or consequentialist ethical positions and common sense morality. This made me quite confident my argument would convince almost everybody in this world with the exception of a few adherents of more radical world views.

    • Hematite says:

      Haha, I studied philosophy too, and now I realise where my writing style came from!

      Thank you for posting, I hope we’ll hear from you again.

    • Kadayi says:

      @jaheira

      “Given the above, judging whether or not Valve are obligated to talk to us depends on the details of a business/creative decision to which we are not privy.”

      No. Valve aren’t morally obligated to tell us the exact ins and out as to why there is a delay. But they are morally obligated to revise their completion timeline and disseminate the information accordingly.

    • Unaco says:

      @Kadayi,

      No… They aren’t. Valve are under no obligation (moral, civil, legal) to tell us anything. The only obligation they have, as Jaheira says, is for their business… Is it a good business move for them to tell us something.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      Sinderlin,
      My previous post was neither clear nor succinct, probably due to the small size of my brain. I’ll try again:

      Valve’s “promise” to release Ep.3 in a timely fashion was broken. The obligation to keep a promise is not over-riding, but rather contingent on circumstances. We lack data on these circumstances.
      Having decided not to release Ep.3 Valve are now obligated to tell fans why not. This obligation is no more over-riding than the original promise. Again we lack data.
      Therefore we cannot meaningfully say “Valve ought to tell us what’s going on with Ep.3″

      I realise promise-keeping is near universal by the way. I was just wondering whether you personally were approaching this from a Kantian viewpoint, since you mentioned you were German and I remember reading that Kant is very important to the Germanic mindset and indeed legal system. True?

    • Kadayi says:

      @Unaco

      When you order in pizza and it doesn’t turn up after 15 minutes as stated do you think the Pizza shack doesn’t owe you an explanation as to it whereabouts just because you’ve not yet handed over the cash?

      You’re at the Bus stop, and the 9.15 doesn’t turn up, yet because you haven’t bought your ticket the bus company don’t feel like giving you a revised ETA when you call them up?

      I’m interested in getting a new car so I phone up the showroom and ask them when a particular models in, but as I’ve not paid for it they’re not going to tell me an ETA as to when the stock arrives?

      You can claim all you like that Valve don’t owe anyone an explanation/ETA but as Sinderlin rightly points out that’s not a view the majority of people will get behind in the real world, when you look at how things work by on large.

      I can’t help but feel that if it were EA/Activision or Ubisoft who were under scrutiny there would be far less voices defending their unquestionable right to silence. That Valve are somehow seemingly beyond reproach in so many peoples eyes is frankly perturbing in my view.

    • Sinderlin says:

      @jaheira

      In my original post’s last paragraph I looked at one possible reason for Valve’s silence: Marketing. I just don’t think this reason should get preference over their obligation to tell their fans the truth and I can’t think of any reason that should. As Valve is privately owned and Half Life one of their IP’s legal reasons are pretty unlikely so we’re mostly left with economical reasons like marketing. What could posibly make telling the truth about Episode 3 so harmful to Valve that it would supersede their obligation to tell the truth?

      Kant is indeed prevalent in german education but the legal system is mainly influenced by ancient roman and germanic law. Kant’s influence can only be seen in the very first article of our constitution: “Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.” The legal definition of “human dignity” leans on Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperative (the one that forbids you to treat human beings only like means). Law is my minor by the way.

      Personally, I’m not really attached to any moral philosophy and especially not to Kant’s but I feel like this is not the right place to go into detail about it. ;)

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      “What could posibly make telling the truth about Episode 3 so harmful to Valve that it supersedes their obligation to tell the truth?”

      I have no idea, but what does that matter? I thought we were doing moral philosophy not business analysis!

    • Kadayi says:

      “I have no idea, but what does that matter? I thought we were doing moral philosophy not business analysis!”

      So in other words you’ve got nothing. The whole discussion has been about whether Valve are obligated in some manner to address the question or at least keep their fanbase informed, and you seem adamant that they do have that right. Yet when push comes to shove you’ve got no defense, as to their continued refusal to be drawn on the whereabouts of their most famous product? I do have to wonder if it were EA we were talking about whether you’d be quite so adamant that they have the same rights to silence?

    • Sinderlin says:

      @jaheira

      As I said in my original post: It’s widely accepted that you’re not obliged to keep your promise if that would mean disproportional harm to you or someone else. Economical losses would mean harm to Valve and their employees. And since I don’t see any other way in which talking to their fans could be harmful to Valve or somebody else we’re left with business analysis to determine the worst possible outcome so we can measure it against Valve’s obligation to tell the truth.

    • Unaco says:

      @Kadayi…

      None of your analogies are appropriate (making a habit of this?).

      Have you ordered HalfLife 3 or Episode 3 from Valve? No.
      Have Valve even said “We’ll be ready to take your HL3/Ep3 order now/in a while”? No.

      Have Valve said that their HalfLife games Episodes would be on a regular schedule? No.

      Have Valve released any details about when their games will be on showroom floors? No.
      This analogy is like phoning up and asking when a car that hasn’t even been announced, let alone designed/built, will be in the show room.

      Again, yes… I’ll claim all I want that Valve are under absolutely NO OBLIGATION to reveal any details about HL3/Ep3. Because they aren’t.

    • Sinderlin says:

      “Have Valve said that their HalfLife games Episodes would be on a regular schedule? No.”

      Well, they did say something very similar:

      “Episode One, released at retail outlets and via Steam® on June 1st, is the first in a trilogy of episodes that will conclude by Christmas of 2007.” (http://www.valvesoftware.com/news/?id=648)

    • Kadayi says:

      @Unaco

      You can jump up and down and scream and SHOUT all you want and conveniently ignore every reasoned argument from myself, Sinderlin or anyone else who disagrees with you in this thread. But whom exactly are you trying to kid here? How about instead of doggedly refusing to acknowledge the value of what we’ve all said, your present a reasoned counter argument that convinces us that we are all in the wrong without resorting to variations of ‘they don’t have to’? If you firmly believe that Valve are beyond reproach lets see some reasoned justification as to why they usurp the traditional consumer dynamic, and seemingly have no obligation moral or otherwise to their customer base.

    • Unaco says:

      @Kadayi…

      Why should I provide a counterargument? You haven’t provided me with a convincing argument as to why Valve are obligated to respond, in regards to HL3/Ep3. The onus is on you to provide that argument.

      Valve are not beyond reproach, and they do have obligations to their customer base… but none of those obligations are to do with HL3/Ep3 or any of their other future games (that they haven’t started preorders/betas for). They are obliged to keep Steam running, provide support and fixes for any of their games already released, that sort of thing. But there is no obligation for them to respond to anything about HL3/Ep3. It’s their choice whether they do or not… nothing should compel them.

      That’s not to say I don’t think they should respond… I’d think it would maybe be a missed marketing opportunity if they didn’t. But if they don’t, that’s their choice and I’ll respect that.

  45. MadMatty says:

    haters gonna hate

  46. gritz says:

    The article on RPG’s player vs. character debate is decent, but it misses the boat entirely when he says that D&D is built entirely around the player. There’s actually a significant amount of debate about how much influence the player should have in playing his character. If your Player Character has an intelligence of 3, you are generally expected to play him as a dolt even if you yourself are a genius.

    For an example of how this debate has shaped D&D’s design over the years, look at the ways adventures have been designed to challenge characters’ stats rather than players’ inherent abilities. Rather than letting players solve complex puzzles on their own, dice are rolled and stats are checked to see if the characters are able to solve the puzzle through abstraction.

    I’m not sure which side is in the right, I just know that the debate is definitely not settled, even in tabletop D&D. Of course, any actual D&D game (and not just design theory posts on the internet) will engage both players and their characters, as the former system feels less artificial while the latter system rewards the choices the player made in building his or her character.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      there’s always that opposite example of player/character intelligence… a player (or DM) using a character that is supposed to be a genius by their stats, but the player is frankly not “that” clever (clever, but not “super genius” clever)… there is simply no way you, as a person, are suddenly going to get smart enough to match your character (e.g. to design super traps, or marshal an army into an elaborate combat strategy to win).

    • zyzzi says:

      @gritz

      Alright, I’ve never commented here so let’s see if this ends up in the right place. I’m the author of that piece, by the way.

      I tossed the DnD reference in as an aside since I’ve played very little of it (maybe three ill-fated games in the last couple years), but I think I can explain it better here. The article itself was always about the relationship between the player and the narrative. I admit I went a bit overboard with the roleplaying aspect of it…

      DnD, despite my inexperience with it, always struck me as a tremendously powerful way to tell a story. I mostly mentioned DnD because of the sheer amount of ways the narrative reacts to the people participating in it, not necessarily the characters. I know for a fact that the DM had to react to the stupid stuff that we tried to pull off, especially when one guy started punching all of the NPCs to death. The campaign ended there, but if it had continued it certainly would have been significantly changed from what the DM had originally planned

      And while the avatars in DnD aren’t nigh omnipotent god-beings like the protag in Skyrim, it does give an excellent framework to roleplay from. The flexibilty in the dynamic between DM and players is something that we won’t see in video games for a long time, no matter how much devs try.

      Anyway, I’m sorry I wasn’t terribly clear in the original article. I’ll probably toss in an addendum when I get to a real computer.

    • NathanH says:

      I think that roleplaying your attributes is generally a dangerous game, particularly when it comes to intelligence. Frankly I don’t think there should ever be an attribute called “intelligence” in an RPG, it should be called something more specific to sidestep this question entirely.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I know it’s not counter to your point since the strength of D&D is it’s ability react, but some DMs do give players complex problems to solve on their own which minimize skill checks (Tarol Hunt’s Tempt’s Fate is an illustration of some of these problems) and circumstance bonuses provide an important part to a lot of skill checks (in my experience).

  47. Vinraith says:

    I’m a little confused as to why an obvious troll is in the Sunday Papers at all, let alone the first article.

    • sinelnic says:

      Probably because it’s part of the ep3 marketing campaign, there’s a lot of talk about it suddenly, mysteriously coincidental to me forgetting about the HL universe.
      To be honest I don’t really care that much now. EP2 was kind of a let down for me with all its hand holding, Portal 2 was over-hyped and failed to deliver in many aspects, so I’m in no hurry to buy whatever they come up with.

    • Kadayi says:

      Not as perplexing as to why so many people seem to think the Troll is right. Valve promoted the whole episodic thing as trilogy and said it would be wrapped up by 2007 and people (including the press) took them at their word. 5 years have passed since that time and it’s still not been concluded, so why the outrage and indignation over some fans openly wondering if it ever will be? I bet if John or Jim were posing the question as an article, all the naysayers would be backing them 100% in wondering why Valve is so silent on the whereabouts of episode 3. When did gamers asking questions of a gaming company suddenly equate to high treason?

  48. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    Marsh Davies’ piece, beside conflating in an obnoxious way very different behaviors that have little to do with each other, completely misses the mark at a different level by reducing the relation of gamers to developers to a purely economic one (or at best to a reciprocate need). Some have commented on the importance of a certain code of morality.

    But what seems the most important is that the bond most of us entertain with games is an emotional one. This is valid as well for books, music, etc. To deny the potence of this emotional bond is either foolish or disingenuous (why are we all here reading RPS in the first place?). To chalk it off to emotional immaturity of the “X-Gen” is equally beyond stupidity — emotional, sometimes hysterical attachment to cultural goods and their creators is as old as humanity. Furthermore, this emotional bond is actively nurtured by game publishers themselves; sometimes in a cynical way perhaps, but I am absolutely certain that the attachment of a dev team to their creation, and their attention to how well it is received, goes widely beyond the need for economic compensation. The bond goes both ways.

    It is, then, simply sad to see this bond deliberately ignored or scoffed at. If I can convey my point through a slightly overdramatic metaphor: it is a kind of little love affair, really. As love goes, it has it abusive behaviors: constantly demanding ever more in exchange for nothing; uttering threats in rage. Surely, these behaviors deserve to be chastised. But leaving one waiting in hope for years without a whisper can also be felt as abusive. To this regard, the HL2 event was hardly an exorbitant demand, more of a last-hope, late-night phone call to a lost lover who has turned silent, trying to conjure up good old times, before finally turning the page. It was something delicate. It was not about morals, not really.

    If anything, more than a so-called immaturity and generalized feeling of entitlement, characteristic of our time is the reduction in one’s mind of any human interaction, even one with a so obvious emotional component, to a monetary exchange.

    • Kadayi says:

      Agreed. There was something rather loathsome about it all, both in terms of the delivery and the implication.

  49. Kadayi says:

    The more times I read the Devs owe you nothing article (as well as peoples reactions to it), the more I can’t help but wonder that if it were a question being posed to EA or Ubisoft rather than Valve, whether people would be so adamant that Devs owe us (the potential consumer) nothing. Of Course EA and Ubisoft don’t tend to tease, troll and stonewall their customers for years on end about their products but instead tend to be fairly upfront about what’s going on and where they stand in terms of development, even if just to confirm nothing is happening at present. Still it does point to an interesting if slightly dysfunctional relationship at play between Valve and their public.