The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on April 1st, 2012 at 9:46 am.


Sundays are for planning the conquest of central Europe. It doesn’t all have to be violence, of course. I am sure some of those Kingdoms will give way to diplomacy. Anyway, all that stuff is for the afternoon, right now we have to plan the conquest of a week’s worth of videogame writings. Let’s see what’s ripe for plunder.

  • Tom Francis writes about the exquisite Proteus: “Even once most of your curiosity is satisfied, your exploration is still motivated by music. It’s quiet at night, so I headed to the place that was most frenetic by day: the trees. Their tone and mood is different with the moon out, and it gave my song a new texture. I found an unusual creature and chased it. Each time it ran from me, its movement struck a new cord, one which tinkled on as long as I followed in its wake. It led me out of the trees, over a mountain, through the desert, and finally leapt into the sea. Its thread faded from the music, and as I watched the water glint, I realised the sun was coming up.”
  • This makes for fascinating reading: Turning down Zynga: Why I left after the $210M Omgpop buy: “I exhort game developers: don’t join a company whose values are opposed to your own. Values aren’t just for idealists — they matter. If a company’s practices make you uncomfortable, pay attention to your instincts and be true to them.” Even more interesting was this tweet from the Omgpop CEO.
  • Nathan Grayson writes about Jade Empire over on Eurogamer: “It was, in a nutshell, one of those YouTube videos where a kid thinks he can pull off some crazy triple-spinning kick, only to fall flat on his face. Sky high ambition minus the required know-how. But it makes sense, given that, for BioWare, the game represented a vision-obscuring downpour of firsts: first original IP since Baldur’s Gate, first truly console-focused release, and first ‘streamlined’ combat system – among others. For better or worse, Jade Empire ended up becoming the mid-point in BioWare’s journey from clumsy yet lovable nerd to the popular kid everybody loves to hate. It definitely wasn’t another KOTOR or Baldur’s Gate, but it was still miles away from the polished cinematic antics of Dragon Age 2 or Mass Effect.”
  • How The Smithsonian Screwed Up Its Video Game Exhibition: “When I reviewed the Smithsonian’s web pages made for the show, I saw that the process had given short shrift to many games that moved the medium forward as far as artful content is concerned. There is nothing from Ralph Baer, the National Medal of Technology winner who made the original Magnavox Odyssey. Baer is often considered to be the father of videogames. And there is nothing from Rockstar Games here, the Grand Theft Auto company that made the touching, brilliant western Red Dead Redemption two years ago, or any of the Sierra adventures so popular in the 1990s. Fans voted for Tim Schafer’s middling Brutal Legend to be shown in the nation’s capital instead of the far better Grim Fandango and Psychonauts.”
  • We Can’t Prove When Super Mario Bros. Came Out: “This isn’t Amelia Earhart or the Bermuda Triangle we’re talking about here: this is one of the highest grossing consumer entertainment products in history, introduced less than 30 years ago, and we can’t seem to get the date right. I decided recently to try to set this right. I wanted to prove, once and for all, exactly when Super Mario Bros. invaded North America. I wanted to put this whole embarrassing mess behind us so that the history books of the future could be properly informed, and so that places like Wikipedia would have a definitive source to cite. Did I find the answer? Well, sort of. Read on to see just how difficult this search turned out to be.”
  • On Kickstarter, There Are No Guarantees: “As the hours wind down on Auditorium 2: Duet, as Stallwood begins to confront the possibility that his sequel will not get funded, his team has started to examine about what went right…and what went wrong. Even if the Kickstarter idea blows up in their face, Stallwood doesn’t necessarily regret trying it out. “Definitely our biggest problem over here that we know, and I think we’ve always known, is getting any kind of attention is really hard, and we still don’t know how to do it,” he said. “Regardless of whether the Kickstarter fails or not, I do feel like a lot more people know who Cipher Prime is, which is really cool and super exciting.””
  • Engendering AI in Videogames: “If the trend towards female AI since Alien has been to intimidate, interfere and, at worst, attempt to kill the protagonists, is it surprising that BioWare wanted to avoid fulfilling that cliché with EDI? Instead, they go back to the male-voiced malevolent AI in the “Overlord” DLC pack for Mass Effect 2, with a Cerberus scientist experimenting a little too much on a man named David with some geth AI technology. Uncomfortably reminiscent of The Lawnmower Man, “Overlord” had the creepiest voice I’ve yet to experience in a videogame: it scared me so much that I had to play it with people in the room in broad daylight.”
  • The Collector: “Used games: they’re great because they’re cheap. They’re bad because they’re killing the industry. They are awesome, deplorable, good and evil. Used games are certainly something, but we’re not sure what that something is yet. They are definitely tangible objects, but beyond that commentators and pundits have reached an impasse. My question is: why on Earth would anyone want to sell their games?”
  • True PC Gaming talks to the man behind PCGaming Wiki: “The biggest mistake that I’ve made is seriously underestimating how popular the site would be and how inadequate my initial choice of hosting service was. The site was brought down a number of times due to very intense traffic, and the situation got so bad that my hosting company terminated my service and forced me to migrate right in a period of very high demand.”
  • This is the best Minecraft video I’ve seen in a while.

Music this week, well, it’s my teenage anthem.

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160 Comments »

  1. TsunamiWombat says:

    Bah! it is criminal that there has been no jade empire sequel, criminal I say!

    • RedViv says:

      I loved every second of it, and thus agree.

      • MuscleHorse says:

        Not that I’m saying your own enjoyment is illegitimate but I don’t think I’ve ever been let down quite so much by a game. I felt Jade Empire was awful. Even more cliché ridden than Bioware’s usual fare, an easily exploitable combat system and one of the more predictable storylines in the medium. I’m glad they didn’t waste anymore time on the setting.

        • TsunamiWombat says:

          But the SETTING was the juciest bit. SURE once I got certain moves I could be in infinite kung fu bullet time that let me kick things once and they EXPLOAD dropping energy pickups that extend said kung fu bullet time, but gorramn it it wasn’t a WESTERN fantasy setting for once! Also, you can get a medical text from John Cleese that explains trepanning.

          Besides, Cliche is basically Biowares thing, it’s what they do, when they’re not ruining multi-million dollar franchises with -shitty endings-

        • Bobka says:

          As TsunamiWombat says, one of the greatest things about Jade Empire was that it wasn’t the same old boring medieval England tripe we’re usually fed. A Western steampunk reinterpretation of wuxia? Hell yes! The story was cliché, sure, but some of the tropes were at least different to the ones of every other fantasy story out there. And most of the characters were archetypical, but that’s nothing new, either. The setting alone, though, was worth the somewhat formulaic plot details.

          Also, the combat system was, at least for me, also fresh. Sure, it was easy, but it was fun and different from what most RPGs I’ve played offer. With more experienced developers and better writers, a sequel to Jade Empire could rock the boat, even today, since few Western developers have tried to explore that kind of world.

        • Navagon says:

          If followed the Bioware template to the letter. It was basically just KotOR re-skinned. But the setting and the characters were both good and thanks to that I was able to enjoy the game to its predictable conclusion. If they could have something more original done with them then a sequel would be more than justified.

          But I think that after DA2 and ME3 people’s faith in Bioware isn’t at its highest right now.

          • DrGonzo says:

            Which is strange. I didn’t think DA2 was particularly good, but it was a damn sight better than the first. DA1 was yet another chosen one saving a generic and boring universe. At least the second you weren’t an almighty generic hero, plus it had bearable combat. Still only a bit above average though.

            As for Mass Effect 3, yeah the ending was a bit plop, but I enjoyed most of the rest of it. I think people overrated Mass Effect and therefore got too annoyed by the end. It wasn’t Star Wars or Star Trek as many compare it to, it was Stargate style crap, fun and cheesy crap. But crap nonetheless.

          • thebigJ_A says:

            Your opinion is your own, but DA2 is generally considered vastly inferior to DA1.

            it’s probably down to DA1 being good and DA2 being shit. ;)

    • frightlever says:

      I played about three hours of Jade Empire and couldn’t take any more. It was a bad game, poorly executed, with no regard to maths. I understand why some people would enjoy it. Possibly as a wind-down from watching X-Factor. I say God bless you all, and I hope you have a sequel to entertain you. Better that than you pollute the wanna lines of real gamers.

    • Werthead says:

      JADE EMPIRE is a pretty good game, certainly underrated. In terms of gameplay and characterisation (but not use of the mod tools and editors) it’s certainly a vastly superior game to NEVERWINTER NIGHTS and initially I enjoyed it a lot more than MASS EFFECT 1 (though that game has gone up in my estimation thanks to the sequels improving the characters and making their arcs more interesting).

      However, it’s unsurprising it has a bad rep. It’s too easy, for one thing, with combat being pretty overpowering. Your 2 NPC companions are also next to useless in combat, so you normally have to leave them in Support mode (buffing you rather than fighting the enemy directly, where they are gimped to do about 10% of the damage you can do) whilst you do all the work, which is odd. There’s also literally nothing to spend your money on in the game. This can be a traditional problem in RPGs, but BioWare normally at least have options for you to spend tens of thousands of gold/credits on some sweet gear (even if what you can find for free on quests is usually superior). In JADE EMPIRE you accumulate astronomical wealth, but there’s nothing to really spend it on. Finally, apart from the first MASS EFFECT, it’s their shortest game by some margin.

      For these reasons, as an RPG, it’s a dismal failure. As a contextualised, story-led beat ‘em-up, however, it’s excellent fun. There’s some good gags (John Cleese apparently ripping the mickey out of WORLD OF WARCRAFT, particularly the art style of his character, is amusing), some good voice acting and in terms of romance, it’s probably BioWare’s most flexible game (I believe their only game where you can pursue a non-monogamous relationship, though it’s a bit of hard work). The art style is excellent, it’s bold and colourful instead of GRIM and the pot pourri of eastern philosophy, martial arts and mythology is enjoyable. One of your companions is also a little girl who transforms into a demonic thing from another dimension in combat, which never gets old (apart from the fact that it’s as useless as anyone else in battle, and best-used in buff mode).

      Slight correction to the article: it was also BioWare’s first-ever original IP. BALDUR’S GATE was 1) co-developed with Black Isle and 2) based on the FORGOTTEN REALMS roleplaying setting, which had been around for a dozen years before it came out in computer games, novels and pen-and-paper games.

      I’d also welcome a sequel. However, I’ve heard it’s BioWare’s lowest-selling game, so this is probably not very likely any time soon.

    • MSJ says:

      Jade Empire also has one of my favourite plot twist ever. All the flashback cutscenes before that point was so great at misleading you.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I thought so many things from Jade Empire were a bit of a mess. The alignment system, which was a great concept, just turned out to be another good vs evil system in the end. I seem to remember that the game was missing a bunch of features they advertised, like the ability to send runners out to gather things for you, or the ability to own land, etc. As said previously the characters in your party were useless, and sometimes stereotypes.

      It’s fun if you think of it as a beat-em-up, but it certainly wasn’t their best work.

    • Tuco says:

      I found Jade Empire an awful game, to be honest.

    • malkav11 says:

      I’ve long felt that Jade Empire is essentially a prototype for the gameplay of Mass Effect 2. Except, it’s a better game in a lot of respects. The combat may be simplistic and kind of broken, but it’s more varied and nuanced than ME2′s grindy cover shooting and there’s significantly more enemy variety. The story is certainly a hell of a lot more coherent. And while it deemphasizes loot and levelling, there are still meaningful decisions to be made in both cases.

      That said, I’m rather enjoying ME2 on replay, more than I can recall liking it the first time – I think part of it is that I’m playing a character that doesn’t rely on a suite of powers that the combat mechanics virtually nullify (biotics), and part of it that ME1 is much fresher in my mind due to the recentness of -that- replay. Oh, and the “you’ve already beaten the game” bonuses take some of the busywork out.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Jade Empire…

      I’m not gonna say it’s Bioware’s best game, as it’s actually pretty low on the totem pole in that regard. But it [i]is[/i] a personal favorite of mine, for the reasons listed in that article, and for others. I have a soft spot for games like JE and Alpha Protocol, because they’re essentially clumsy prototypes for really incredible sequels. To be honest, I’d rather see more Jade Empire than more Dragon Age, and maybe even more Mass Effect, as much as I loved ME3 (dud ending aside). JE still feels fresh, and however you feel about ME3, you have to admit the fights with Kai Leng were generally pretty well-staged. Imagine them bringing their newfound competency with action mechanics and cinematic presentation to a Jade Empire sequel. Of all their franchises, that’s the one that would benefit most from their current style.

      Yes, it was easy. Yes, the presentation was cliched and a bit dull. Yes, it was generally clumsy. Yes, the voice acting and animations were pretty weak and Saturday-morning-cartoonish. Yes, it had that slightly embarrassing white-people-try-to-do-Asian-fantasy feel. But goddammit, you could see the masterpiece forming if you squinted.

      • malkav11 says:

        I’m not sure I can think of anything in Mass Effect 3 that I hated more than Kai Leng, except the ending. And even then it’s a near thing. Maybe I would have gone “oh cool, it’s Kai Leng” if I’d ever read the books, but all signs pointed to them not being good, so I didn’t. And frankly, if you’re going to bring characters from tie-in media into your game, you should either make it a cameo (best option) or introduce them properly in game so that people who stick to the core product know what’s what.

        And then you shouldn’t make them a horrible piece of authorial railroading deus ex machina that soundly trumps you over and over in cutscenes while being kicked around in a real fight.

        • ffordesoon says:

          I’m not asking you to like Kai Leng; I didn’t care much about the dude either way. I’m saying the fights in the cinematics were generally well-staged, much more so than any of JE’s fights were, meaning they have capable mocap people there who could make a JE2 really sing. It’s actually the series most suited to Bioware’s current action-y slant. Kai Leng felt like a depthless fanficcy OC in the Mass Effect universe, but in a Jade Empire game, his character would work, because he wouldn’t be anything more than, like, a boss.

          I do agree with you about media tie-in characters. That’s what annoyed me about Loghain in DA. You’re only told he’s not a complete sociopath through the entire game, which makes his eventual reveal as a paranoid old fool who honestly believes what he’s doing will help his country not really work. I’ve never met anyone else who spared him at the Landsmeet, and even I reloaded my save to get Alistair back as soon as I let him leave. But he’s apparently painted as a true patriot and brave warrior in the first tie-in novel, and when I heard that, I was like, “Show me that shit in the game, you jerks! Actually make my choice to kill him remotely agonizing!”

          Oh, and we also agree on dudes you can’t kill until the last fight with them, even when you’re clearly beating them. They always suck. I think Kai Leng is balanced for consoles, though, because I never got the sense I was beating him on my Xbox, whereas if I’d been aiming with a mouse, I’m sure I would have won all three fights quickly and been annoyed with all of them.

    • Wedge says:

      A Jade Empire sequel would almost be the only thing to make me play Bioware games again. That is, if I weren’t sure they would totally screw it up if a current day Bioware made it.

    • E_FD says:

      Jade Empire was the last Bioware game that I really enjoyed. Even then, it was somewhat annoying that so much of the plot structure and the character archetypes felt like they were lifted wholesale from KOTOR, and they’ve only continued going back to that well with every passing game.

      I thought the Wuxia setting was a much more original choice for a western RPG than the staggeringly generic worlds of Mass Effect and Dragon Age.

    • bill says:

      I really thought I was going to hate jade Empire at the beginning, but I actually have pretty fond memories of it now.

      It had clear flaws (unbalanced combat, some stereotypical bioware characters, some rather incongruous dialog, an oversimplified inventory that made everything into indistinguishable gems, and being a little too KOTOR in places, many generic side quests)… but in the end i really enjoyed the setting, and some of the minor characters.

      I also rather enjoyed the combat. It was horribly unbalanced… and i chose the wrong style at the start which made it hard work until i finally got the cool style… but I much prefered playing the combat myself to watching it play out on screen. Going from struggling to beat each combatant in the arena to making it through the Imperial Entanglement was an awesome feeling.

      A sequel with a little more care and fixed flaws would be rather awesome.

  2. RedViv says:

    That Omgpop CEO sounds like a colossal langer.

    “My question is: why on Earth would anyone want to sell their games?”

    Exactly.

    • thestage says:

      probably because some people aren’t sociopathic fetishists

      • Jim Rossignol says:

        Don’t be mean, thestage. I would love to have kept all my games, but my house is the size of a shoe. Digital makes the most sense for me.

        • frightlever says:

          Or work in an industry that’ll pay you enough (ie oh lord six figures) to buy a big house. You know you can do it.

          I’m kinda sick of hearing gaming journalists act like they suffer as much as the rest of humanity.

          I don’t suffer at all. My FTSE losses were made up by a bull Indian/Asian market within six months. I could eat fois gras off your ass in perpetuity if you’d only sign up for Journalists Who Would Have Foie Gras Eaten Off Their Asses For Money dot com.

          The biggest drag on gaming journalists are gaming journalists. If you’re smart enough to write this stuff, maybe you’re smart enough to make some real money. Quit acting like you’re a peon. Everything is exploitable.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            You’re a class act, man, really. Class act.

          • Donkeyfumbler says:

            No, he just thinks he’s better than everyone else because he makes lot’s of money (possibly – people who do make lots of money rarely feel the need to boast about it on PC Games blogs I feel, so I suspect he’s just lieing, and trolling). It is possible he does believe that money is the only thing that’s important in life, in which case I feel a bit sorry for him.

          • greenbananas says:

            @ frightlever

            Calm down, Omgpop CEO man, it’s not like you’ve not been insufferable enough for one day. I’m sure your mommy is very proud of you.

          • Deston says:

            Anyone think of this guy when reading that?

            Enjoy your boneitus!

          • Skabooga says:

            My only regret . . . is that I have boneitis.

          • Deston says:

            I also would have accepted: “blank? BLANK?! You’re not looking at the big picture!”

          • kastanok says:

            Don’t you worry about Zynga; let me worry about blank.

        • Hodge says:

          If I may sidestep this love-in to return to the subject of keeping physical copies of games, I too regret throwing away (most of) mine for lack of space. My hoard included original boxed copies of both Full Throttle and Grim Fandango, now sadly landfill.

          • malkav11 says:

            Wait, you threw them away? You monster. At least sell your games if you’re not going to keep them, so that someone else can someday enjoy them. (Well, except for games that tie explicitly to an account that no one else will ever be able to use.)

      • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

        Jesus Christ, what the hell is he thinking?

        • LionsPhil says:

          “I never want to hire anyone ever again”?

          Except, being the games industry, I’m sure there are thousands of candidates who’d jump at the chance to be abused by an employer.

        • JackShandy says:

          I’m guessing it was something like “He was weak. They are all weak. When I devour them to achieve my final form, all will be stripped away in the light of my glorious incandescence. A ha ha ha hahahAHAHAHAHAHA!”

          • Phantoon says:

            But then Shay Pierce merges with Android and renders Zynga obsolete with his new world order of gaming.

      • colorlessness says:

        Omgpop tweet is now deleted, could somebody post a screencap or complete quote so those of us coming in late know what the fuss is about?

        • Dinger says:

          Latest is that he has issued a complete apology.

          For what you missed: he said that the one guy who didn’t go with Zynga was their worst guy; further comments about riding coattails and the rest. Cue massive negative PR; notch got in on the name calling (see over on Reddit); and now he’s deleted everything and issued an apology saying there was “no excuse” for his actions.

          • Tams80 says:

            I don’t think he means the apology; some PR person probably scolded him and told him to issue one.

            I don’t know why people bother deleting such messages either. One of the first things someone will do is take a screencap and post it online. It astounds me how people with such a lack of common sense (if you post it on the WWW expect it to stay there in perpetuity) hold such positions.

          • Phantoon says:

            Oh no. He can’t possibly mean the apology after that drivel. Especially when it’s “I’m sorry” in 160 characters or less. If you won’t tell people what you did wrong and why it was wrong and how you won’t do it again, it really doesn’t count.

            In fact, a fake apology is more annoying than saying “I don’t see what the fuss is about” because it means they just expect you to take this token PR move and be okay again.

        • thesundaybest says:

          OMGPop CEO’s tweet, with Notch’s response:

          http://i.imgur.com/H1HYG.jpg

    • CMaster says:

      “Games are fun. But they can be socially relevant too. Please share this. At Draw Something, by OMGPOP & Zynga, we just added the word HOODIE”

      Hahahaha. This guys tweets read like a child’s, which is perhaps a little worrying.

    • Terragot says:

      Because life is too long and hard to snort at an opportunity that $210 mil provides not only you, but generations following your succession. I’m sure if Dan Porter doesn’t have a family he may well one day. Turning down $210 mil because of supposed integrity is an awful thing to do to the people around you; writing an article on the fact of your supposed integrity then running it through Gamasutra turns that act into an exercise in pride.

      I’ll get flack for my thoughts but the rules are set; Capitalism is the name of the game and I for one am not going to let myself and the people I care about go hungry and destitute for an ego trip that comes from the faux-gratification of strangers.

      It always baffles me how people look upon monotonous gains as a deplorable act.

      • CMaster says:

        Erp, misunderstood your post.
        However, nobody is saying that OMGPOP shouldn’t have sold the company. Just that Dan Porter is acting like a jerk about the fact that one of his former employees rejected what they felt was an unfair contract.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I think you’re being a little widly optimistic if you think Shane stood a chance of seeing any substantial payoff from moving to Zynga.

        As for the CEO, gaining capital does not mean you can act like a tosser without people saying “what a tosser”. Sorry. Maybe you can build a sound-proofed money house, though.

      • JackShandy says:

        You have to understand that he wouldn’t get 210 million dollars personally, right? He would be getting a fantastic wage for a game developer. That is, a decent wage for anyone else. Nothing to sniff at, but nothing that would somehow provide for his family for generations after his death.

        • JFS says:

          And even if so, it would still be terrible, terrible thinking to go “Fuck morals and my personal beliefs, here’s $$$!”. No really. Even if Capitalism is the name of the game (who even knows for how long still…), that’s just wrong.

      • Badgercommander says:

        Did you read the article? It sounds like he’s going to be fine and there’s no mention of his family being destitute.

      • Skabooga says:

        @Terragot: Surely there are things more important than making heaps of money and finishing the race on the treadmill know as capitalism? And indeed, parents do have a responsibility to provide for their children and each other, but they do not necessarily have to do so by making video games for a specific company, or even by making video games at all.

      • skalpadda says:

        “Turning down $210 mil because of supposed integrity is an awful thing to do to the people around you”

        No it isn’t, even if it really was a case of turning down millions. Nobody needs to be rich.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Communist.

        • Phantoon says:

          Since we’re on that one point- if this one dev was part of the buyout, they would’ve come to him first, anyways. As they did not, we can assume his not joining Zynga wasn’t really all that important. Standing up for your principles is never selfish.

    • jhng says:

      The OMGPOP ceo sounds like the most enormous knob.

      I read this article earlier during the week and checked out the author’s Connectrode game on iOS — it’s actually a pretty good little puzzler so he can’t be as bad a dev as the OMGPOP guy says.

      What is weird though is the bitchiness of the OMGPOP tweet — I’m sure there was some awkwardness behind the scenes because there always is (and it sounds like the dev left them hanging a bit) but ultimately all he did was decide not to take up a job offer for perfectly reasonable reasons. How that counts as ‘selfish’ I don’t know — unless Zynga felt that he was a critical part of the team they were buying and it jeopardised the deal for the rest of OMGPOP (in which case they should have got him signed up fully at the outset).

      And as for writing about, he’s very bravely decided to go solo and will need all the coverage he can get — so why shouldn’t he make some hay over it? Any business would do the same.

      • NathanH says:

        While people should know better than making dickish tweets like this fellow is doing, the article in question does read a bit like “I was totally going to accept this job offer apart from this little contractual snag, but since we can’t agree on that snag I’ve suddenly realized how evil they are and how I don’t want to work for them anyway”. I’d be a little bit irritated if I was one of his former colleagues.

        • subedii says:

          I didn’t read that in the article. He pretty much says that all his friends working back there have their own individual circumstances just as he has his. He certainly wasn’t calling any of them out, if he was doing that for anything to begin with it was for the business practices at Zynga.

          And this wasn’t so much a “sudden” realisation of his that Zynga were bad, but he does go directly into the reasons why he holds that view, how that may have affected his game, and why he ultimately couldn’t work with them as a result.

          • terry says:

            Exactly, the article was very even-handed and he mentioned multiple times that there was no animosity. That someone would then leap in and spray faeces everywhere is probably just symptomatic of ‘internet’.

          • Phantoon says:

            But, doctor!

            How do we cure him of ‘internet’?!

          • LionsPhil says:

            Two barrels, back of the skull. </internet>

          • Phantoon says:

            But doctor!

            He’s a cyberdemon!

        • skittles says:

          Perhaps, but it comes off as a dickish move on OMGPOPs part. Namely because they suddenly sling the news on their employees that they are moving shop and they are coming along for the ride, and want them to sign new contracts on that day. If they were doing this properly employees should of had a couple of days even weeks to think this over. But as always happens the employees are simply expected to follow like sheep.

  3. andytizer says:

    Andytizer from the PCGamingWiki link here. If you’ve ever had to fix a game, come to the wiki and see if it’s been written up there. If it hasn’t, then come spend a few minutes noting down your research and helping out the PC gaming community (no account required). Let’s fix PC gaming!

    Edit: Also, the Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing April fool’s page is not indicative of our standard article quality :).

  4. gschmidl says:

    Looks like Morbus Zyngadouchitis sets in immediately upon acquisition. What a prick.

    • Phantoon says:

      You’d think there’d be a slower turnaround, but dang. That was almost instant. Also, from the article he says he has no complaints, but he should have one about that CEO. Seriously, wtf.

      Also, he posits there’s a possibility Zynga isn’t totally evil. I’m sure this is for the sake of redundancy in addressing that people would think he thinks Zynga is not evil, but I don’t think it was needed since the article is basically about that.

      The CEO said it best about joining Zynga though- good riddance.

      Side note, why is it that copyright law doesn’t protect mobile games but Zenimax has to sue to protect the word “scroll”?

      • Jim Rossignol says:

        You can trademark words for use in certain areas, but not game mechanics.

        • Johnny Lizard says:

          Those you have to patent.

          Which is why Crazy Taxi owns big hovering arrows.

          • InternetBatman says:

            Or Namco (I think) owns minigames in loading screens.

          • terry says:

            Which they never use. Patents really are the death of fun.

          • LionsPhil says:

            …if only that stopped everyone else using them.

          • Baines says:

            I think Atari owned stuff like showing the score onscreen during gameplay.

            When they’d need money, they’d threaten to sue other companies like Nintendo over all the game patent violations. The point of course being to get some form of out of court settlement, not to actually end up fighting a real court case. The Atari patents were used like that against multiple companies.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          I seem to remember an article in PC gamer a few years ago about patented game mechanics. Like, the makers of Eternal Darkness had patented the insanity mechanic and stuff like that. Not the same as copyright or trademark, I know.

      • CMaster says:

        While Trademark and Copyright both fall under the umbrella of “intellectual property”, the two things are quite different.

        • Phantoon says:

          Tsch. I always forget the difference between the two, other than that they make my head hurt, and kept Fallout Online from being made.

          • Unaco says:

            Bethesda/Zenimax won in the end though!! So they have the rights to a Fallout MMO, and one might get made now. It’s not stopping a Fallout MMO from being made now.

          • Phantoon says:

            Could they have Obsidian write it, then? Oh, and have id do the engine.

          • Skabooga says:

            And the face of Tim Schafer.

          • Phantoon says:

            That’s a face you can trust and laugh at when he makes funny faces.

  5. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    The article by the Connectrode developer was rather intriguing. It kind of reminds me of how the publisher of Metal Arms refused to green light a sequel, and refused to sell the IP back to the original developer even though they were doing nothing with it.

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/5268-Piracy-Episode-One-Copyright

    Anyway, I bid Shay Pierce good luck.

    • LuNatic says:

      So that’s why we never got a sequel. Damn it, I liked that game :(

  6. ChromeBallz says:

    wow @ minecraft vid.

    • Phantoon says:

      The difference between Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress with mega projects? The ones in Minecraft get done.

      • MuscleHorse says:

        Though to be fair half the fun of the mega-projects in Dwarf Fortress is their going wrong.

      • LionsPhil says:

        When you’re basically playing 3D MS Paint, it’d be an embaressment to not get it done.

        Like one of the upvoted comments said, “now do it in survival mode”.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I do all my minecraft buildings in survival mode, but sometimes the absolutely stupid spawning will get you in ways that it shouldn’t. If I’m doing an all glass tunnel through the sea or a floating citadel, I shouldn’t have to worry about creepers on my roof or in my mushroom farm.

        • Phantoon says:

          Yes but you could also just get bored and stop caring.

        • Consumatopia says:

          Survival mode would be kind of pointless, though. Unlike DF, Minecraft wouldn’t throw increasingly large sieges after your fortress. A DF fortress filled with dwarves is a complicated, interconnected, constantly breaking machine. A Minecraft city is a bunch of structures that look like houses and monuments but don’t really serve any deep gameplay purpose. It would add tedium, but not challenge.

          3D collaborative MS Paint is kind of awesome in its own terms, though. Minecraft is a freeflowing collaborative art project, DF is a single player engineering trial.

          • Gira says:

            Survival mode works beautifully in free-for-all multiplayer servers like Treepunch, where buildings are actually designed to serve survival & defensive purposes against mobs and other players. I actually don’t know how people can still whine about “griefing” when it’s so-called griefing that makes Minecraft dynamic, exciting, and strategic.

    • onodera says:

      And they didn’t even provide a link to the server where we can go and look at this city.

  7. Bob says:

    I’m not sure anymore when Super Mario came out. I’m one of the few on the planet that never caught the urge to play him. It was back in the dark age of “turn your machine off and lose your 750 levels.” I don’t know if that applied to Mario but I remember kids being reduced to tears coz mum pulled the plug to do the vacuuming.

  8. Cryo says:

    Wow, those Omgpop CEO tweets. And comments on the post that are defending Zynga and attacking Pierce. Just fucking wow.

    • Phantoon says:

      Zynga gets its popularity from somewhere, and you can use Twitter on those same somewheres.

      HAHAHA GABLARGH this guy is so egotistical

      “It took AOL 9 years to hit 1 million users It took Facebook 9 months It took Draw Something ~9 days”

      His tweets are like a gold mine of just… I don’t even know the term.
      “hay guys more people have fords now than in 1920!”

  9. I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze says:

    Jim, a teenager? That’s absurd. I’m pretty sure he sprang fully formed from a mechanized womb.

  10. karthink says:

    Jade Empire is the forgotten Bioware game.

    One generation looks upon fondly at the Bioware of Baldur’s Gate & Co, and another has come to associate it with Commander Shepard. Even the ones who remember the transition saw it happen with KOTOR. Thanks to a delayed PC release, JE is the plain, unremarkable middle child oddly omitted from most retrospectives.

    I look at Jade Empire in a different way, though. It’s the perfect introduction to RPGs for someone who’s never played one. I have successfully introduced JE to half a dozen 13-17 year olds unexposed to genre cliches, and every one of them ended up loving it. With simple combat that looks like it’s from a fighting game, a straightforward narrative and the usual cast of one-trick characters to talk to, it’s only us regulars who find it to be most uninspiring.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Not really. Bioware’s Sonic game and MDK 2 (until the remake) were much more obscure. Jade Empire was a fairly high profile game.

      • Om says:

        Sonic perhaps, given that it was a handheld title, but MDK2 was a fairly prominent title back in the day. It was part of that big third person wave that included Nomad Soul, Giants, Outcast, etc

  11. Lacero says:

    Decent femshep article on eurogamer:
    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-21-ms-effect-the-rise-of-femshep

    The path on the closed fist in jade empire makes a lot of sense, and when I replayed as that I made it all the way to just before the end. At that point there’s some decisions to be made and the closed fist options were just too much for me. It’s not closed fist at that point, it’s just incredibly evil.
    Especially if you did the double romance. Really evil.

    • qd says:

      If I remember right, the overtly male gaze pandering stuff started with Mass Effect 2, right after BioWare had been bought by EA. Coincidence?

      Sometimes EA does some good by helping interesting projects like Mirror’s Edge, but then they go back to business as usual and do something stupid like start banning everyone for ridiculous reasons on Origin.

      • Dante says:

        If I remember right, the overtly male gaze pandering stuff started with Mass Effect 2, right after BioWare had been bought by EA. Coincidence?

        Yes.

        Actually the ‘overt male gaze’ stuff was well in place before Mass Effect 2. Just look at Morrigan’s sideboob in Dragon Age. The whole thing probably started with Mass Effect 1 and the creation of the Asari, the most fanservicey race in the galaxy.

    • NathanH says:

      That is a good article.

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      I liked the article but I was a little confused on one point. What’s wrong with the asari as a race? I always thought they were interesting and unique, and not particularly oversexualized.

      • JackShandy says:

        Every aspect of their species lets you see straight through to where they started: the words “Sexy space sluts (Blue?)” on a whiteboard, underlined.

  12. IncredibleBulk92 says:

    Would RPS put a hangover warning on the first 5 seconds of that minecraft video, the insane high pitched intro music nearly split my head wide open.

    • Skabooga says:

      They would have, but unfortunately the hangover warning is a flashing screen and blaring klaxons.

  13. Kdansky says:

    I figured it’s better to buy some games new, and pirate some others, instead of buying all of them used. I spend the same amount of money, I play the same amount of games, but all my money goes to developers, instead of middle-men.

    • Unaco says:

      All your money goes to developers… of the games you buy, but not the ones you Pirate. How do you decide which games to buy, and which games to Pirate?

      • Kdansky says:

        Don’t forget that I’ve got a fixed games budget. If the publishers insist, I’m just going to buy used. That’s legal, and hurts them more (because it leaves me with no money to spend on games) than anything else.

        I buy those where I think I will be spending more than the absolute minimum amount of time on them (Skyrim), or those that I am pretty sure I’m going to finish (DXHR), or when I want to support the dev (example: Any Positec game).

        I will more likely pirate those where I believe I won’t even get past the mid-point, but I still want to take a look at what everyone’s talking about, or when I think the dev/publisher is an ass. Or I will buy them in a sale in the 5$ region. Example: Bloodbowl by THQ. I like the board game, and I wanted to see how good their implementation was. I played a full two matches before the AI had me bored. That would have been a huge waste of money. Note that this is not justification for doing something illegal (it’s actually completely legal here). It’s only my reasoning for it. Morality isn’t entirely objective either.

        But to be honest, I haven’t pirated anything this year yet, because I don’t actually have enough time to play more games than those that I buy, and there is nothing in the “would take a look at, but I am not willing to pay for it” category right now.

        I’m still waiting for a few PS3 titles to drop in price (hey Amalur, I’m willing to spend about 10$ on you, but not more!).

        But my point being: Pirate and Buy, but don’t buy used!

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          I’ve got a fixed budget, so things I can’t afford I steal?

          Nice.

          • deadly.by.design says:

            I agree. There’s a wacky entitlement mindset going on if we think experiencing everyone’s media is a human right. The stuff is being sold, so it should be bought. If I can’t afford a game, then I don’t really *need* to play it… now do I?

            Sure, there are more noble piracy arguments aimed at ‘sticking it to the man,’ protesting DRM, and so on, but most of it is just spoiled people thinking they’re owed another man’s hard work.

            IMO, the best things the industry can do to prevent the piracy that it can prevent (notice: not all), it would be to:

            1) Give every game a worthwhile demo, so people don’t have to pirate to demo

            2) Like iTunes or Netflix did for their respective mediums, make access to legal copies of games more convenient and affordable (i.e., Steam sales and the like on similar platforms are doing this)

          • Kdansky says:

            You would have a point, if you had not used the word “steal” when there is no theft. And as I said: Downloading copyrighted materials is legal where I live. I’m not kidding.

            “I have a fixed budget, so I buy used” is worse than the alternative.

          • Unaco says:

            It may be legal, but is it right?

          • Kdansky says:

            Buying used is worse, in any case.

            @Demo: I don’t think that’s a good idea. Sure, people pirate to demo. But on the other hand, you would lose sales from people who are gullible, and would have tried a demo. In the end, I don’t think it’s worth it.

          • FunkyBadger3 says:

            Kdansky: your local legal interpretations notwithstanding, I see it as thieving, pure and simply.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Welcome to the Internet, FunkyBadger3.

            As you may have noticed, it’s also “steal and get really agressively defensive about as I spiral deeper into self-denial“.

          • Lowbrow says:

            I think a major aspect of theft is deprivation of property. Piracy is deprivation at the most, of potential profits. In that sense it’s not particularly different than buying a used game or checking out a book from the library. The key difference is social acceptability. Libraries are an ingrained institution (that current publishers would never allow to develop), so it’s accepted that I can read a book without paying for it.

            I’d say piracy is better compared to masturbating to a picture of your neighbor. No one is hurt by it, but things are going to get real awkward if you get caught.

          • Phantoon says:

            I didn’t buy Dead Space 1, but played it, and bought the second game.

            I also had absolutely no money when Dead Space 1 came out.

            I don’t think people should pay for bad games, but there’s no way to know until you’ve tried it, because you’re otherwise going in blind save for the critics who may have wildly different tastes than you do.

            I hated Mass Effect 2 because of a number of reasons, but other people loved it. You pretty much can’t get refunds for games, so what do you do if you wasted money on a game you hate? Nothing, besides practice buyer’s remorse.

            The idea that nothing should be tried before you buy is silly when so many strawmen are brought into the argument. Every game should have a demo, and they should all come at launch. Pirates aren’t terrible people- they’re generally poor college students with some free time but no spare cash. Guess what happens when they played a game they liked and that same company makes another game down the road when that person has money? They buy that game. They have loyalty to that company now.

            As Gabe Newell said, you have to make customers out of pirates. You can’t try to one-up them with DRM. You have to provide a better service.

            And if you treat customers like thieves, that breaks down loyalty too. Some people are just going to pirate everything- fine, whatever, you were never going to get a sale there anyways. But some people are sick of wasting money on bad games or just don’t have the money to spare right now.

            And what about middlemen selling old games that don’t belong to them and that don’t have any support? None of that money goes to the original developers, and if no further support was added, you’re basically paying for a download.

            Even if you disagree with the entire “piracy is not always bad” idea, at least don’t give your money to rehashed garbage (Call of Duty springs to mind). Buy games that are good, shun bad ones.

            You have rights as a consumer. Don’t give bad companies with bad games your money. They don’t deserve it.

          • jrodman says:

            Equating piracy with theft is theft.

            See? It’s easy.

          • drewski says:

            Piracy is only theft if you believe creators deserve to be rewarded for their creations.

          • jrodman says:

            Distorting logic and language is theft!

      • Kaira- says:

        And how is it actually worse? You put some money forwards, which may very well go to buying a new 50$-priced game instead of waiting for it to hit 20$. With piracy, no money changes hands.

        Also, right of resale and all that. Video game industry should try to learn to deal with it.

        [E]Gah, reply fail, should have gone one level up.

    • JasonRabbit75 says:

      People make products and sell them to consumers. The consumers can use that product, or they can forfeit its future use and sell it to someone else. The product can be a car, a light bulb, or a video game. I’m not understanding the claimed difference between a generic “product” as described above and video games that explains why used video games are considered “bad.”

    • InternetBatman says:

      Three things. Money doesn’t automatically go to the developers when you buy new. Money goes through and most of it stays in the Rube Goldberg machine of the publishers.

      Used game purchases subsidize someone else’s new game purchases, and if they’re selling the game back they’re probably consuming more than they would normally. So normally some money from used sales goes through anyways. Publishers just bitch about them because used sellers are doing the exact same thing they do, provide a useful service (the promotion and sale of games) and take a larger portion of the profits than they should.

      Finally, all of this is based on the assumption that you have to consume a game, and that you have to do it immediately. Either wait until it’s cheaper if you don’t think it’s worth the money, or just don’t play it. I play games on an extremely limited budget, and sometimes it means you have to wait. Other times it means you forget about B-list games that were pretty forgettable. But it’s not the wrong thing to do, and it promotes healthier consumption habits in the long run.

      • Consumatopia says:

        I do basically what you do–I just wait until games are ridiculously cheap on sale.

        But Kdansky does kind of have a point–if you assume a fixed game budget of $X, piracy doesn’t make things worse. If you buy 2 new games for $50 and then pirate whatever else, I’m not sure that’s worse than if you buy 4 used games for $25 or 10 old games for $10. In fact, the industry might prefer you buy the two new ones.

        The problem with this is that Kdansky’s assumption is implausible. A fixed game budget? So even if no good games come out that month, you spend the same amount? Or if one game is really awesome and you just spend all your time on that? Once you’ve decided that you’re willing to pirate games, why wouldn’t you just pirate whenever it saves you money? If you won’t follow the rule “pay for all games you play”, why would you follow the rule “pay for all games you play until you hit $X then start pirating”? Just to prove a point on the Internet?

    • Dinger says:

      I don’t see anything wrong with buying a used game, or even game rentals. On the other hand, I see it as entirely against the game industry’s interests to combat used games sales and rentals. The music industry fought the “used CD” market for years. That, along with giving exclusives to non-specialty stores (=Walmart), pretty much killed the record stores, and with them, most of the music industry’s revenue.
      The big game distributors have been combating used games for years. All they’re doing is helping to kill off their retail games market. That’s great if you run Steam; not so good if you run Origin.

  14. deke913 says:

    You guys should check out the posts about Blizzards new “childrens educational game” over at the WoW website. Some people have no idea it is April Fools Day. hilarious. (the posts anyway)

    • Zanzanar says:

      I went to look and saw a Marathon reference.

    • Phantoon says:

      Those games all look like more fun than Diablo 3.

      I’m not actually joking, the zergling one looks hilarious.

  15. JackShandy says:

    The article on the Smithsonian gallery reads a little like your classic internet reaction to any “Best X games” list. “Why did X get in and Y didn’t? Fucking populist drones sold out to the man.”

    I guess it didn’t help that I disagree with his tastes. “With the exception of the inclusion of Irrational Games’ BioShock, Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout 3, Valve’s Half-Life 2 and Clover Studio’s Okami, The Art of Video Games is never boldly disruptive.” Those games are all massively popular and made a bunch of money, how are they boldly disruptive?

    • InternetBatman says:

      It did have the problems you bring up. However, I feel like it did obliquely bring up a problem with the exhibit: Museums have curators for a reason, and either no one felt well versed enough in the medium to offer a definitive set of games (which may or may not be true, most of the games they had were fairly good choices), or they were experimenting with selection of pieces by democratic vote, which is not a great idea in my mind.

      Also, I always got the feeling Okami was just popular on the internet, and not really in either PS2 or wii sales.

    • Shuck says:

      The problem with “populist” internet polls for determining the best/most important/influential games is that they just end up reading like a laundry list of the most recent top-selling games. Apparently teenagers who aren’t even aware of any game previous to five years end up being the majority of voters.
      If you want a list of the most popular games of the last five years, you do an internet poll, if you don’t, you need another methodology to choose games.

    • Cinnamon says:

      It just sounds like he wanted a safe predictable list that pushes forward the agenda he wants rather than being things that are well liked and popular. I agree that his idea of bold and disruptive sounds about as dangerous as buttered toast. Just the usual yawn inducing “game art narrative” rubbish that you hear regularly in some insular parts of the games “intelligentsia.”

    • Consumatopia says:

      I think both the exhibit and this article on it made the same mistake–that the point of a video game exhibit in an art museum should be to take the “best” games by some criteria (popularity, innovation, influence, whatever) and build a display for each one.

      But that’s silly. These aren’t like paintings–these are mass produced works in millions of homes everywhere. Showing off a bunch of games means nothing–we all have access to the internet which offers us thousands of times more games than any of us could hope to play.

      The point should be to expose us to some aspect of these games, or games generally, that visitors may not be aware of. I liked this article better: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/29/gamers-letdown-smithsonians-video-game-exhibit-sco/ Rather than picking the wrong games, the problem is that they missed opportunities in discussing the ones they did choose:

      The segment on the classic sci-fi strategy game “Starcraft,” for example, fails to note that the game spawned a massively popular professional competitive league in South Korea. Instead of any discussion about the rise of professional competitive play or the difference between sports games and narrative games, it dully relates how “the designers applied different visual styles” to each of the game’s character types.

  16. Easy says:

    Proteus is really quite the thing. I can get lost in it for a while and come out really calm and relaxed. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a soothing experience.

  17. TechnicalBen says:

    I wonder if anyone realises used game sales could increase profit?
    As in, customer perceives the value of the game being “cost + trade in value/resell value”. This means you can charge a higher price than just “cost”.
    Customer may or may not resell the game. That means a certain percentage of that extra value is given for “free”.
    Does this offset the amount they could have made through additional sales by those without the option of buying second hand?

    Well, if the Steam Sales are any indication, it’s got nothing to do with the second hand market at all. It’s down to the price. People will pay £60 regardless. Some people will only pay £5 regardless. It’s the companies avoiding second hand markets AND sales that will see a decline in purchases as far as I can see.

  18. Tei says:

    :-O

    that timelapse is amazing. And show why a procedural renderer will always be inferior to something human made. A procedural generator will never generate something like this (or will generate this everywhere, but not other things).

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Well, no. The real comparison is between the # of man-hours required to make something by hand, vs the # of man-hours to create a generator. The timelapse shows dozens of people, working for probably dozens of hours each. Imagine how sweet a generator you could make with that much time and effort!

      (Also, the video/city they made is fantastic. Many kudos!)

    • Phantoon says:

      I find pretty much all projects can be measured in manhours. The more people you have on one goal, with the same direction, the faster it will get done. I’m assuming they spent about eight hours on the Minecraft thing each, unless they actually had two teams, in which it was less hours per person but same number of manhours. Those guys build really impressive stuff.

      I think I was actually most impressed with them building the beach.

  19. Network Crayon says:

    Video’s like the last one, the minecraft map really show what minecraft can be. Its not perfect but it’s like nothing else in existence, to let people build something like that? All we need to do is find someway of transporting our brains into it…. Very inspiring.

  20. InternetBatman says:

    I did my thesis on something fairly similar to the gendered computer article. The switch from male to female voices in popular works of art also shows the rise of the computer as a character rather than a representation of something. Male computers usually either represent something the film is criticizing or a collection of system beyond comprehension. Female computers normally represent a separate character that the main character interacts with. Also, there’s this weird thing going on where sometimes male computers limit agency and female computers grant agency, but it’s not perfect.

    There have also been three or four permutations of this stuff as it becomes trope and the trope is reacted against. I did all my stuff between 80 and 86, and you see the gender switch at the end and a bit later as computers become more commonplace.

  21. rustybroomhandle says:

    Super Mario Brothers? Oh yeah, it’s that old Great Giana Sisters ripoff. ;)

  22. Raziel_Alex says:

    So today is the 1st of April… but Sunday… oh, well…

  23. Gnoupi says:

    In other news, it might be an April’s fool, but it’s interesting, somehow: http://www.meta-metacritic.net

    Jim, your score doesn’t meet the contract. You shall not get your bonus this year.

    • Matzerath says:

      Pretty amazing, though I’d reckon they were counting on going considerably over their goal, as the other recent high-profile Kickstarters did. They probably would have been better off with failing and doing it again.

  24. thebigJ_A says:

    The link for the tweet doesn’t go anywhere. What did it say??