The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on July 28th, 2013 at 9:22 am.


Sundays are for breakfast. All day. No one can stop me.

  • Polygon on why Company Of Heroes 2 is offensive to Russians: “Relic says that the game reflects historical realities, and points to historical research and personal testimony from Russian soldiers. Its critics say that while the Eastern Front did see unprecedented barbarism and cruelty, Relic has been selective in its narrative choices, preferring to ignore what people in Russia celebrate as a noble sacrifice that did more to save the world from Nazism than the American-led invasion from the West.”
  • The Reticule’s interview with Matt Kempke, and The Reticule on Redshirt: “There are certainly elements of one of Cliff’s games, Kudos within Redshirt with managing friendships and trying to improve your skills to work up the career ladder. What makes Redshirt stand out though is Spacebook which is an amalgamation of Twitter and Facebook. As Cliff told me, “we now know, with the society that we’re in; if Star Trek was accurate, Picard and all that would be updating their Facebook status and tweeting about bloody Klingons and… that’d be happening because we’ve become that shallow! And we find that quite calming; it’s a very sarcastic and sort-of comedy kind of game.””
  • The Psychology of the Steam summer sale: “Seeing a game you want show up as a Daily or Flash Deal on the Steam Summer Sale is like getting a food pellet. It’s a reward you get for checking the storefront. In fact, checking Steam at 12 noon every day to see what the new batch of deals are is my very favorite thing about the event –second only to checking back every 8 hours or so for the handful of Flash deals. And let’s not forget seeing what Community Choice games won the last round of votes. While I’m sure Valve has the slate of deals worked out ahead of time, the selection of games seems random to us. And Steam spaces things out masterfully, making sure that you come back to the site throughout the day to see if you’re going to get a reward in the form of a great deal.”
  • An old Warren Spector article on RPGs: “The oddest thing about computer role-playing games today is that you never hear anyone talk about the importance of playing a role. You hear about “400 character classes!” “6,753 unique skills!” “827 errand boy missions!” and “A world so big you won’t want to explore it all!” Give it a rest. This is shallow. It’s silly. It betrays our geeky roots in paper gaming (a medium with only a dangerous, superficial relation to electronic gaming).”
  • Electron Dance on “Ted Lauterbach’s complex and surreal puzzle-plaformer suteF”: “In 2011, I thought suteF was fabulous. Two years on, maybe I’m going to change my mind. Have games aged so quickly? Now we’re in an age where getting hyped about another puzzle platformer is an illness to be cured. So, ugh, look at this game wearing its tutorial on its sleeve. I am getting flashbacks of One And One Story: “Once again, I remembered I must not fall from too high.””
  • FACT.
  • Tim Keenan’s video about publishers.
  • Simon Parkin on Earthbound: “With its colourful palette, simplistic approachable sprite art and endlessly rich and inventive soundtrack (the game was one of the first to employ samples) Earthbound represents a singular vision and occupies its own space on the video game landscape, one without squatting copycats or neighbours. Despite a reported $2 million advertising campaign in the US, the original game sold only 150,000 copies outside of Japan (accounting for its stratospheric cost on the second hand market today), its unusual approach and routine theme alienating an audience interested only in the supposed maturity of fantasy. Today, the childlike graphics might put off a new generation of game players, but there are, one hopes, enough who are interested in restless creativity, idiosyncrasy and vision to make Earthbound a latter day success.”
  • RPS chum Geoff Manaugh is becoming editor of Gizmodo.

Music this week is Jonathan Meades’ article on utopianism in Essex.

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221 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    The Redshirt link is broken :).

    And I’ll chip in with a couple of extra links (which I did mean to send to Jim… oops)

    Cameron Kunzelman on his refusal to play Rohrer’s The Castle Doctrine.

    And Mike Diskett talks about the Satellite Reign Kickstarter.

    • Muzman says:

      Hmm. As much as I think Rohrer’s take on personal security is the same intellectual trap as the author, I don’t know if not playing it makes much of a point about it. I take it more as an art piece exploring certain emotions (and it probably hits the limits of trying to represent real danger in a fake abstract contest like a game).
      The system created contains its own critique of that sort of attitude, showing the absurdity, intentionally or otherwise, of the world as an arms race between attackers and defenders for property. I’m willing to give JR enough credit to say that some of the design decisions and their implications might be limited and unsettling but they’re honest ones. It’s a representation of actual values, though they might not be good ones. That’s where the art part comes into it.

    • phenom_x8 says:

      Why not, I’m gonna added some of my favorites link too, especially for us, PC gamer that always whining and moaning about lazy FPS developer who cannot give us those pesky FOV slider for Gods sake. Actually, it isn’t that easy,folks. Especially in Borderlands 2,at least according to this article who give another viewpoint from the eye of the programmer itself to set up a proper FOV slider :

      http://www.gearboxsoftware.com/community/articles/1061/inside-the-box-field-of-view

      So, stop moaning and play our damn FPS like there isn’t any other genre in video game! :D

  2. Dowr says:

    The Company of Heroes 2 campaign wasn’t very good anyway.

    • Discopanda says:

      The COH 2 campaign was very lazy.

    • The Random One says:

      But the General Winter character in Sonic All Stars Racing Etcetera is great!

      • LionsPhil says:

        I wish they’d made transform animations for the PC characters, though, rather than particle effects.

  3. Red Machine D says:

    And here I thought we were all done with masturbating to Earthbound. As someone who bought the game when it was new, I never liked it that much. Sure, the huge, colourful box with the Starman on the front was a hell of a way to get your game noticed next to everything else on the shelves, but I felt the game underdelivered. Maybe it’s part of the same 1990s nostalgia circlejerk that makes the Nintendo 64 and most of its software library look better than it ever was.

    • MondSemmel says:

      To provide a counterargument: I played Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask on Wii Virtual Console (and for the first time) ~2-3 years ago, and I enjoyed all of them immensely.
      That said, I have no other experience with the Nintendo 64 or its games, so for all I know, you may be right about all other games on the console…

    • KDR_11k says:

      I can’t speak to that since the game was only just released in my country.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      I enjoyed earthbound, playing it long after the era of its release, but my primary reaction was that it was a passable game, with a curious delivery.

      I enjoyed the more “difficult” early round of RPGs where I felt like failure was a real option. I enjoyed later playstation era heavy-story RPGs. But earthbound seemed flat in both areas. I found it hard to care too much about what was going on, and never felt in any danger.

      I’ll give it points for style, for sure, but a middling game, I’d say.

    • Somerled says:

      I had that reported response to it at first: that the tone and style was too immature. A lot of it rubbed me the wrong way. Hell, I was upset that you couldn’t see your own characters in battle. But, it’s a game that quickly grew on me for inexplicable reasons. I play it every few years or so, as part of my pilgrimage to gaming’s past, and it hasn’t lost an ounce of charm for me. It’s still just as hard to get into at first, but grabs me completely if I stick with it.

      Also, it’s a Super Nintendo title, not N64.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      War Machine D, I’m willing to sacrifice you if it means getting another RPG as charming and unique as Earthbound.

      Also, SNES, not N64.

    • Fiatil says:

      Way to write off an entire console! Two I guess, because as the previous poster said, Earthbound is a SNES game. Sure Ocarina of time and Mario 64 aren’t 9.9 super best game ever if you pick them up right now, but they’re still fantastic and at the time were the cream of the crop. It’s not just nostalgia telling me that the first console I owned with 4 player local multiplayer out of the box was some of the most fun I’ve had playing games in my life. As for Earthbound, I put off playing it until about a year ago (the giant box it came in when I was a kid made me think you needed some crazy accessories to play it) and it still held up damn well.

    • Laketown says:

      Mother 3, however, is as good as people say (and more).

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        I loved the delivery.
        I hated the ‘rhythm game’.

        If i wanted a rhythm game I would have played one. thanks.

    • Wedge says:

      Not that it has anything to do with Earthbound, but the N64 library is much better than many games we have now unfortunately. 15+ years later and there’s still nothing comparable to Pilotwings 64.

      • Premium User Badge

        jrodman says:

        I’m gonna have to take exception with this.

        The n64 *library* as a whole, was pretty awful.

        However there’s enough standout titles (the top 15 or so) to really take notice.

    • Jenks says:

      N64 was the sweet spot for local multiplayer games. Previous generations had very few 4 player games and needed additional accessories. Later generations pushed internet play over local.

      Mario Kart 64, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Conkers Bad Fur Day, etc. Even the wrestling games were great. It was just the perfect console at the perfect time (for multiplayer).

      • engion3 says:

        This. You couldn’t beat 4 player experiences (as a kid who didn’t have pc to play games at the time) that the n64 offered.

    • cyrenic says:

      Bought it when it was new, and I loved it.

      It had one of the best endings I can remember. It gave you the option of walking around the world at your leisure, and most of the characters had different dialogue. It was completely optional but they went through the trouble of writing all that extra dialogue. Very few RPG’s go through that kind of trouble for the ending.

      Fond memories of that game! And I still listen to the soundtrack regularly.

  4. Pharos says:

    I wish Polygon hadn’t called the article “Why Company of Heroes 2 is offensive to Russians”. It looks like a rather transparent attempt to tell what you (especially if you’re Russian) ought to think.

    What would have been wrong with “Why Russians were offended by Company of Heroes 2″?

    • Premium User Badge

      soulblur says:

      Indeed. I’m sure some Russians don’t care one way or another. But it’s true that some nationalities in particular get especially perturbed by their portrayal in different mediums. I would argue that Russians, at the moment, are one such culture.

      • LionsPhil says:

        That itself is some dubious phrasing: “some nationalities in particular get especially perturbed by their portrayal in different mediums” implies that they’re being sensitive flowers about it. I don’t think that necessarily follows when every Realistic Modern Shooter and its dog is busy painting Russians as the bad guys. Plenty of Brits get bent out of shape about us getting the same deal, and we only get assigned to be panto villains with voices dripping with malevolence.

        • Premium User Badge

          Jackablade says:

          Hey we Aussies would love to be upgraded to pantomime villains. You just can’t drip good malevolence with this accent.

          • Don Reba says:

            Come to think of it, I can’t name a single villain with an Aussie accent. I am sure someone will correct my ignorance…

          • gritz says:

            Mel Gibson.

          • Premium User Badge

            Vandelay says:

            Murdoch.

          • JackShandy says:

            Gina Rinehart.

            Real answer: Ozzie Mandrill, from monkey island 4.

          • Don Reba says:

            Ah, Ozzie Mandrill — of course!
            Murdoch speaks with a mostly American accent, in my opinion.

            Good thing nobody named Julia Gillard. She seemed like the best PM ever, except those Australians that I’ve met seemed to dislike her. :)

        • Premium User Badge

          soulblur says:

          Well. That is sort of my point. Some nationalities (or perhaps more accurately, elements with some nationalities) are basically sensitive flowers. Russia under Putin is one such place (although within that, as others have noted, there’s plenty of dissent). I don’t think Britain compares. Not even Daily Mail readers. Britain might whinge about stereotypical portrayals in film, but hey, whinging is a national pastime here. Websites don’t get DDOSed over it. Britain is not a nationalistic country, although that might be changing a bit. Putin has done everything he can to promote nationalism in Russia.

          Hey, I’m certainly not saying any country is above reproach. But I think some countries are certain times are more eager to grapple with their legacies in an open and critical way, and others are definitely not. It’s not just this, in terms of Russia – it’s a whole stream of things, from Pussy Riot to levels of corruption to the empowerment of the secret service.

          But enough picking on Russia. It’s got some lovely buildings, beautiful landscape and a selection of delightful vodkas. What about Canada? Me, I blame Canada.

          • Widthwood says:

            Sigh. What does Putin have to do with it? Gamers and people who tend to frequently visit English forums/etc tend to be against him anyway.

            What you are calling being sensitive flowers is a simple pushback against constant portrayal of Russians kind as evil cartoon characters. And with recent tendency to towards more complex characters typical Russian in media becomes not more human-like, but instead more like a realistic mindless ravaging animal. British don’t get the same treatment, not even close. Yeah, a villain might be a posh Brit, but without loosing human likeness.

            The same kind of pushback happens in all cases when some group of people gets discriminated, like blacks, or women, or gays. Imagine what kind of reaction would get a high budget AAA game where good white guys are shooting countless hoards of invading evil savage Africans…

      • aepervius says:

        Look, in many game who are the bad guy ? The russian. Who are the “good” guy ? The US or sometimes the Commonwealth folk (Irish/englang/australian etc…). Look at game like saboteur : it is some irish guy single handedly liberating Paris (that one always kill me in laughter). Look at all the battlefield, and other war stuff.

        The basic problem is that the US is over represented, always shown as the perfect good guy, the commonwealth soldier as a rare occurence, and most often a supproting character, the russian/german and often the french and italian are the evil bad guy , in a very caricatural way.

        And comes CoH2 , what do they do ? An overly caricatural soviet army hyping the negative. They could have toned it down. But they did not.

        Personally after having played a bit I was disgusted, and I am not even russian.

        ETA: At some point the prejudice and caricature become tired and disgusting. That point for me has been reached. Yours might still be off.

        • Schiraman says:

          While it’s true that the negative aspects of the Soviet army are brought front and centre in CoH2, they also make a big deal of the heroism and sacrifice of the soldiers, and what a remarkable victory it was over a better armed, better trained and better prepared foe.

          The story is told through two characters: a sympathetic officer who cares about his men, and inspires them to heroism – and a cold and calculating commissar who makes heartless, but sometimes necessary, choices to ensure victory. Although both are OTT stereotypes, I don’t think it’s unfair or anti-Russian to tell the story that way.

          Even if the commissar character is taken as wholly evil, it is other (noble, heroic) Russians who are his principle victims – which makes it a criticism of Stalinist policy, not of Russia or Russians.

          • KDR_11k says:

            And Relic probably let their experience writing the WH40k Imperial Guard commissars influence that…

          • SanguineAngel says:

            I am only partway through the campaign but so far I would say even the Evil Russian Officer is a pretty sympathetic character. He is represented as not as compassionate as the other heroic Russian but you see through their interviews how he can see that he cannot afford to be and must make hard decisions. They are both so far represented as The Right Men for the jobs they occupy. During the missions is a slightly different and disappointing story where nameless officers seem eager to sacrifice their own men. But again, no effort is spared to highlight how desperate their situation is.

            I’m not too terribly far in yet but I am not disgusted yet. The opening was a bit cliched though

          • Premium User Badge

            Vandelay says:

            I agree. The only people who are being depicted as the bad guys are the Soviet’s high echelons. The Russian people, through the soldiers, are portrayed as just as heroic as any of the “good guys” on the Western Front. Even the officer is doing what he believes to be the best for the war effort and not through some sort of mustache twirling nastiness (although it comes pretty close quite often and crosses it briefly at the end of the Polish Snipers level.)

            I’m not really sure why people are getting so bent out of shape about it, even if it is made up of lots of cliches and half truths. It is a little worrying that there is a vocal group that cares so much about a game being mean to a totalitarian regime responsible for the deaths of millions of people.

        • GameCat says:

          WWII Call of Duties have russian camapings where Russians do heroic things like capturing the Riechstag.

          Also – on the war there’s no such things like “good guys” there are only “slightly less evil than others”.

          • mouton says:

            Frankly, I felt the portrayal of Russians was a bit too positive in Call of Duty 2 (or was it world at war?). Certainly wasn’t negative.

          • GameCat says:

            CoD always been like that. “We’re heroes, not soldiers. We will win this war, because we’re the best and we’re good guys. For Motherland!/God bless the America!/God save the Queen! Pew pew pew pew, die nazi/jap scum, you’re bad and evil!”

            Game with realistic portrait of war wouldn’t be pleasent to play, unless you’re some kind of psychopatic person.
            That’s why we didn’t have Breslau, Gulag or Unit 731 Tycoon. Or Napalm Strike Simulator.

          • mouton says:

            That’s only if pleasure is the only thing we want from games. I like, for example, a realistic portrayal of historical events, now and then.

          • GameCat says:

            You will wait probably very long.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Days_in_Fallujah
            Historicaly accurate books about war? OK
            Historicaly accurate movies about war? OK
            Games? HELL NO, ARE YOU CRAZY?!

            That’s sad.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            I think a lot of media can’t really live without forcing a good guy / bad guy narrative up in there. WWII was a brutal geopolitical game, and nowhere was this more true than on the Eastern Front, where two totalitarian dictatorships threw people at each other until one side was crushed. By contrast, films, and even games, tend to be quite bad at portraying geopolitics as a brutal game in which nations try to maximise their own security first and achieve some kind of ideal last. My enemies in Civ and Total War wouldn’t understand realpolitik even if Bismark came up and headbutted them with a pickelhaube. (By contrast, most AIs I’ve met do a wonderful Wilhelm II impression).

          • mouton says:

            Actually, films can do it. Even Saving Private Ryan which, at times, is very much about flag waving shows Americans callously executing surrendering enemy soldiers, shows the Germans as being just as trapped in the military machine etc. You can do it. It’s just hard to do well and, heh, most people prefer a fantasy anyway.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            mouton: I always thought the danger of that was that mixing flag-waving and executing prisoners might lead some to think that shooting prisoners is patriotic.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Kinda funny that your post critisizing mildy offense expressions itself contains a mildly offensive statement.

          Ireland is not part of the Commenwealth, imperialist swinedog.

      • kament says:

        Yep. Actually, some Russians would even say the opposite, that there is something wrong with offended gamers, not the game.

        I, for one, find it hard to be offended by cliches straight from Soviet post-war movies and other forms of Soviet propaganda. E.g., armies without weapons once was a major point of explaining failure to defend our own borders.

        Now they condemn it as “ideological rubbish” and “dirty myths”. It’s just that many young Russians became a bit Soviet-crazed lately, with a mindset of Cold War hawks. They don’t care much about modern Russia (understandably so), but they’re very sensitive when it comes to USSR. It’s their sacred cow Rodina. And if someone speaks ill of it, they speak blasphemy.

        It’s sad, really.

        • Kollega says:

          This exactly. I am Russian myself, i hate how everyone in the country tries to whitewash Stalin as some kinda great hero instead of a psychotic murderer (who had all his commanders shot before the war, tried to ally with Hitler, and when that didn’t work, just threw everyone at the German machine guns in hope that he’ll win), and i just had a soul-destroying flame war with a Russian “friend” of mine who claims it’s all propaganda and stereotypes. Overall, i just hope that one day, Stalin and his policies will be put next to Hitler as an example of pure, undiluted evil.

          • greg_ritter says:

            Word, брат.

          • kopema says:

            Perfectly summed up what I was about to say.

            All war is Hell. Killing people is always evil – unless you’re fighting for a good cause. And stopping HITLER’s genocide and totalitarianism, just to pave the way for STALIN’s genocide and totalitarianism doesn’t qualify.

            And, btw, as incredibly barbaric as Russian soldiers were, the Imperial Japanese were ten times worse. The Nazis used what very little decency they had to hide their atrocities away in isolated camps. But when it came to actually waging war, the German military were usually sticklers about following the “rules.” The rank-and-file Imperial and Soviet soldiers were barbarians; and they were serial rapists; and they were darned proud of it.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            What got me was, “preferring to ignore what people in Russia celebrate as a noble sacrifice…”

            A “noble sacrifice?” What a load of whitewashing bullshit. The scramblers that were sent across the minefields? They were prisoners from the gulags that were promised freedom if they could survive four runs. If you didn’t die during the fourth run, they sent you out across the minefields again until you did hit a landmine. Didn’t want to? Then you would be executed, preferably by knife or hanging so to not waste bullets.

            The frontlines? Mostly conscripted peasants and lower-offenders from the gulags that were held in place by blocking units.

            “CoH2 manages to use almost every single Russia-related trope,” he said. “Gulags, army without any weapons, Russians shooting their own soldiers in the back. By the third mission I was honestly expecting to see bear cavalry.”

            This isn’t myth. This isn’t anti-Russian propaganda. This is the fucking truth. Thousands and thousands were sent to the gulags and recruited out of the gulags as expendable people. There were blocking units that shot soldiers who attempted to flee. The order was later rescinded, but it DID happen. Stalin was a monster that deserves to be placed right beside Hitler, if not above, for the atrocities that he committed.

            I’m not going to say that the USA and UK and so forth were entirely angels nor that there aren’t controversial elements that they attributed to, but “tropes” of units comprised from the gulags and the blocking units are not a myth.

            Also,

            “The big difference for me was when we looked at early narrative ideas for Company of Heroes 2, we couldn’t find a direct correlation of a unit to follow the way we could in Normandy. It’s rare to find a Soviet unit that survived the war intact,” [Duffy] said.

            This is also true of the American invasion into Japan. Band of Brothers’ sequel, The Pacific, had this problem. Very few units survived the entire invasion intact. Thus, The Pacific is told form the perspective of a single soldier.

          • Widthwood says:

            stupid_mcgee, just one question. Have you actually read order #227, and first person accounts of what blocking units did and how prisoners typically fought in the war or do you base your opinions solely on someone’s retelling? It is not ancient history you know, lots of people that fought in that war are still alive today.

      • El Mariachi says:

        Really, nobody gives a flying shit if Russians are offended by something. It’s almost like caring about Americans having their (our) delicate sensibilities ruffled.

    • Don Reba says:

      You don’t understand. The key paragraph is this one:

      Sergey Galyonkin runs a popular games blog in Ukraine and works for Russian developer Nival, which has created military games like Blitzkrieg. “CoH2 manages to use almost every single Russia-related trope,” he said. “Gulags, army without any weapons, Russians shooting their own soldiers in the back. By the third mission I was honestly expecting to see bear cavalry.”

      As practically any Russian knows, if Sergey Galyonkin says so, it is basically confirmed. There is no question.

      Also: http://pallanoph.deviantart.com/art/Work-Harder-Comrade-336868949

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        I wouldn’t be too unhappy if CoH turned into Red Alert (the first one, at least).

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      I don’t want to get into the question of the moral value of the WWII Soviet Army (like these debates tend to end up), because that’s a really rather pointless debate. What you have to recognise though is that regardless of whether it’s offensive or not, CoH2 is *not* accurate. At all.

      Ask yourself, who are the early game powerhouses in this game? The Russians. Who are the late game steamrollers? The Germans. But that’s the exact opposite of reality! Simply look at the battles, where flamethrower halftracks (an incredibly rare specialist anti-fortification vehicle in real life) roam the battlefield, hosing down infantry squads. Where the ubiquitous T34-85 is virtually unseen, while the rear echelon stop-gap measure of the SU85 goes around toe-to-toe against panzers. Where German Panthers can regularly outnumber Russian armour, who are only good for ramming them.

      The core mechanics of CoH2 might make sense for the initial stages of the Battle for Normandy, where the americans have to move quickly to forestall german armoured counterattack. But they just aren’t for the Eastern front, and it’s really apparently that the depiction of the eastern front shown here is really just the battle for normandy with a few cool units taken from Enemy at the Gates.

      • Fiatil says:

        If we’re going to get into some silly argument about how Relic’s odd game balance is somehow offensive to one side or the other, I’d like to point out that the Russian tank destroyer is pretty damn overpowered right now and absolutely rocks any German tank it goes up against. Russians completely dominate in 1v1 matches and are more underpowered in a tank spammy 2v2 or 3v3. Clearly Relic has an agenda here.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      What I find hilarious about this story is the people who actually petitioned for the game to be censored in their country. Yeah right, like using Soviet-style censorship is a good way to prove how the Soviet regime wasn’t as bad as we thought after all. It’s like the Muslims who murder people to protest at the portrayal of Islam as a religion of violence. Very convincing!

      These people really need to grow up and accept the concept of free speech, and that of a ‘game’. Yes, “game”! Something that’s not a history book, is typically full of exaggerations and is not to be taken too seriously. Call the story of the game bullshit all you want, but don’t go around pretending it’s a menace to your identity or something.

      And maybe stop having such a one-sided view of things. If you’re interested in the truth don’t stop at hearing only one side of the argument.

  5. Jade Raven says:

    The IE use vs Murder rate graph allows the chance for a good study of misleading presentation in graphs.
    Can we list the ways?

    This still doesn’t mean that I think anyone should be using IE on their home computer though, for the principle of it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Modern IE is surprisingly not terrible.

      I mean you can take my NoScript when you pry it from my cold dead fingers etc. etc., but IE no longer needs to be replaced with a shortcut that just says “no, bad user, bad!” and launches some other browser instead.

      • mouton says:

        It’s been like this for years now. IE was only truly horrible back before firefox exploded. After that, MS forged IE to be a perfectly usable browser. Although, yeah. Adblock, noscript.

      • Don Reba says:

        Unfortunately, the sum of UI quality and standards compliance in IE is a constant quantity. Therefore, IE8 became the last usable version of that browser.

      • Premium User Badge

        PeopleLikeFrank says:

        This is true. But having just spent a few hours this week debugging an irritating IE9-only JS bug, I’m gonna jump in here with a “fuck Internet Explorer” anyway. :p

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Did you report it?

          Also, you know IE is at v10 now, right? I don’t see people trying to target Chrome v12 or Firefox v1.1.

          IE11 enforces standards to the point that they’ve broken all current attempts to identify it as Internet Explorer. They want people to stop using IE-only kludges.

          • Premium User Badge

            FriendlyFire says:

            IE10 isn’t available on Vista as far as I know. While there aren’t that many people on Vista anymore, you often have to develop for the lowest common denominator.

          • Widthwood says:

            Yeah, and XP has only IE8.

            So basically because of idiotic MS policy it does not matter if IE10 doesn’t suck because web developers still have to code to IE8 and 9 and 10, and workaround bugs in each one.

          • LionsPhil says:

            8 is at least not 6, but it’d be nice if the baseline were at least 9, yeah.

    • MondSemmel says:

      I like this one best (see the graph on the right, including the x axis values): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster#Pirates_and_global_warming

    • Jade Raven says:

      Well Ok, no-one really took the bait on that so I’ll have a go.

      First the graph doesn’t show the preceding 10 years (at least) of IE’s user share instead only showing us 6 years of data.
      Neither of the vertical axes start at zero, which is most prominent on the murder rate. The graph would look very different otherwise.
      Although “murders in US” is pretty clear cut “IE market share” is less so. It looks like it could be US figures based on my previous knowledge (USA has one of the highest IE usages), but it could still be global figures, etc. It also doesn’t say if it’s page views or active users.

      In short I conclude that the US murder rate has little to do with IE usage and that plotting it against web developer frustration may produce more fruitful results.

      • Premium User Badge

        FhnuZoag says:

        Statistician here.

        None of those issues are really fatal.

        - Graphs *don’t* have to have axes that start at 0, because there could be a baseline quantity that is unaffected by the other variable. All that this implies is that 0 IE use would not imply 0 murder, which can be a perfectly reasonable conclusion even if we nevertheless think that IE leads to murder.
        - It can be quite reasonable to show subsets of the data if only limited data is available and the earlier data is considered inaccurate.
        - What data the IE graph shows does not mean that the plot misrepresents the data. You can certainly look at different datasets that may show the relationship as being more, or less strong, but doing so is just as fallacious.

        The real flaw here is this: A single graph does not a study make.

        We don’t know how many other variables the individual looked at, before making this plot. So we don’t know if this is a real pattern that was discovered, or just something that was found by co-incidence after looking at a large number of datasets. Producing such analyses is about the process, as much as it is about making the graph. From this single graph you can’t conclude that the two measures are definitely unrelated, though it’s clearly insufficient to outweigh our prior suspicions that they probably aren’t.

  6. Premium User Badge

    AlwaysRight says:

    No mention of the latest Phil Fish debacle then? That was crazy to watch unfold on twitter last night.

    • Premium User Badge

      mrwonko says:

      Might get its own article once they’ve spoken to some people?

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      Last night, exactly. Jumping to get info info now now was what got this rolling to begin with, so I guess it’s only best to let it rest for a few days.

    • bluebomberman says:

      Summary: sketchy Gametrailers guy keeps poking indie dev until he goes ballistic, petty stupid tweets ensue. Half the internet joins in egging indie dev because they don’t like him. Fez 2 cancelled rashly during the raging chaos.

      Analysis: This is worse than high school. Gonna find me a rock to hide under.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        So, last week we had an article that said that arseholes made good developers because they stuck it out through thick and thin, citing Phil Fish as an example.

        This week, we have Phil Fish cancelling a game that is basically his career because a prick trolled him on Twitter. It’s nice when game journalism produces falsifiable hypotheses.

        • Premium User Badge

          AlwaysRight says:

          “Why you want people with crushing insecurities to make your video games”

        • Don Reba says:

          Headline: Game journalism proves assholes not that great.

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          jrodman says:

          I think this is a temporary fit myself, but if true maybe he’ll do something more creative, instead.

      • RvLeshrac says:

        We dislike Fish because he’s been openly hostile to his customers and refuses to ignore trolls..

        Remember when people asked for a PC version of the game and he said “Boo Hoo. PCs are for spreadsheets”? Remember when he said that people who wanted a PC version “didn’t get” his game?

        Remember when he refused to release his fixed patch on the 360 due to MS Patching Fees that he knew about when he SIGNED THE FUCKING CONTRACT? Remember when Microsoft offered to work with him on that, and he said “No”?

        Remember when people complained about the PC price point being the 360 price point for a 2-year-old game, a game which said he didn’t want us to buy in the first place, by telling us that we should worship him for not charging $90 for it?

        • SCdF says:

          What do you mean “we”, paleface…

        • nearly says:

          he also took to the Steam forums to basically say “suck it, nerds” once Fez hit the topsellers in prerelease, let’s not forget that.

          http://steamcommunity.com/app/224760/discussions/0/828936719094418300/

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          JamesTheNumberless says:

          Fish let himself become a celebrity. People invariably form personal opinions of celebrities and there is no shortage of examples of how this has led directly to, or been a major factor in, breakdowns and career suicides.

          He was perhaps naive to think that once he was famous he could continue to be passionate and opinionated about games and maybe have some influence on the industry through this. Sadly, the only thing people seem to like more than creating celebrities, is destroying them, and what he did was to give certain people a lot of ammunition.

          With a high profile you just have to behave a little bit differently if you don’t want to end up being the villain. Those are just the rules. You have to give people what they want, most of the time, or what they want ends up being your head on a pike. Only then can you expect anyone to really get behind your more controversial statements.

          I have to contrast him with Notch. Markus is outspoken too, but generally speaking he enthuses about what he likes, wastes little energy attacking the things he hates, but does stand against the things that almost everyone in the games industry agrees should be stood against; such as as the greed and litigiousness of big corporations. Despite the fact that he belongs to a ridiculously wealthy elite, the common gamer sees him as a kind of champion.

          I imagine that when Fish spoke at GDC about the flaws with Japanese gaming; he genuinely thought he was offering something that would help a lot of developers and gamers. Instead how was he treated by the games press? “fez developer Phil Fish acts like a twat at GDC” is the headline that comes to mind.

          As Al Pachino once said, we need to have somebody to point the finger at and say “that’s the bad guy” – well that was Phil Fish. Not because he was a bad guy, but because it was easy to portray him as one because his opinions weren’t always easy to agree with, he conducted himself with no apparent self-awareness, and he tended to portray things from a perspective inaccessible to most of us. Hope he comes back, and does something completely fresh.

          Personally I thought he was a twat.

          But then I was also told to think that

          So I can’t be sure at all where the thought originated and have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

      • neurosisxeno says:

        That’s omitting a lot of details. Here’s a more accurate summary:

        A week ago GameInformer asked Phil Fish (Fez) and Jonathon Blow (Braid) for comments/opinions on the then-rumored Xbox One policy changes concerning Indie Developers. After being continually bugged about it Fish said on Twitter that he didn’t know enough about it to comment, and when there was something to comment on he’d do exactly that. He and Blow then somewhat mocked the idea that they were expected to comment on every rumor, and that these publications were chasing after their opinions on every little change in the Indie Development scene rather than writing actual news/stories.

        So a few days go by, and then GameTrailer’s Marcus “AnnoyedGamer” Beers releases a podcast in which he spends upwards of 5 minutes verbally assaulting Blow and Fish (whom he calls Blowfish as a single entity) as “fucking hipsters” and “tosspots”, as well as a slew of other insults. He is especially aggressive in his attacks on Fish who he calls a whiney bitch, a fucking asshole, and essentially rants about his game being shit. He then makes bold claims that Game Developers are almost obligated to comment when “journalists” (I use that term very loosely in this post) want their comment, because when they want their products advertised “journalists” help them out.

        He then takes to Twitter and demands an apology from Beers who basically dedicated that episode to insulting and harassing Fish (and to a lesser extent Blow). Beers eggs him on and continues to harass him, and finally after years of harassment from essentially every side of the gaming community, he decides he’s had enough and wants to use this as his exit from the gaming industry. He did (in poor taste) reference Futurama in telling Beers to study his life and kill himself, but given the timing, most people didn’t pick up on the reference and the heavy amount of sarcasm. So basically, everytime Phil Fish gives his opinion he’s a fucking asshole, and when he refuses to give an opinion–regardless of the reason–he’s a fucking asshole (according to gamin journalists).

        For starters, fuck Marcus Beers, because Game Developers have no obligation to comment on anything at the presses request. He knew what he was doing, and he knew Fish would take his personal attacks…well…personally. He did it to bait Fish, because he knew it would get a rise and he’d probably snag some more views and make a bit more cash. Now, I won’t defend Phil Fish’s history of bad PR, but I honestly feel bad for the guy. He had a very stressful development cycle which almost saw his entire lifes work barred from release, he was shown at his weakest in Indie Game: The Movie to millions of gamers, and he’s taken more shit from news sites, users, and the majority of theinternet than any other figure in the gaming industry. The man may have been a prick sometimes, but he did often make good points–delivered with little to no tact I’ll admit–and he made a fantastic game that hundreds of thousands of people have enjoyed already. What has Marcus Beers done for the gaming industry?

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          Out of curiosity, how did you follow this, in general terms?

    • DiamondDog says:

      Personally, the worst thing about all of this is I now know about the existence of Marcus Beer. No more blissful ignorance.

    • Bhazor says:

      I don’t know. To me it just looks like two morons drunk texting each other. Especially the punctuation free Polytron update.

      I can’t blame RPS for holding back on reporting it. The drunken make up is always more interesting than the drunken break up.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      I just read up on it, and I cannot stop laughing.

      FEZ II is canceled.
      i am done.
      i take the money and run.
      this is as much as i can stomach.
      this isn’t the result of any one thing, but the end of a long, bloody campaign.

      you win.

      What a thin-skinned little shit. Classic example of being able to dish it out, but not being able to take it.

      “I can’t stomach this!” Then stop acting like a shithole to people, and they won’t be a shithole to you. Most people learn this very early on. I’m sorry that you have, seemingly, never learned it.

      A “long, bloody campaign…” Oh, the horrendous suffering! Oh the horrors you faced! People being mean to you on the internet because of dickish shit you’ve said? Oh! Why, you’ve faced even more insurmountable odds than Rwandan child soldiers, haven’t you!? The terrors you’ve suffered through so nobly, how can you possibly go on!?

      Fish then lashed out at Beer, claiming that the GameTrailers host had assassinated his character, telling Beer to “compare your life to mine and then kill yourself,” and asking him to apologize on camera.

      Oh, Phil Fish, you’re such a stupid and asinine little fuck, you demonstrably think-skinned asshole. The only person that assassinated your character was yourself, by acting like a petulant child throwing a temper tantrum and placing your inflated ego on an insurmountable pedestal.

      Please, Phil, feel free to take your money and go. And don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

      I really cannot stop shaking my head and laughing at this… “Wah! Somebody called me out on my childish behavior! Fuck you! I’m taking my shitty broken toys and going home! P.S. thanks for the money, faggots!”

      • njolnin says:

        There seems to be some irony in your calling out Phil Fish’s (can we call him Phish?) immature behavior with a post that seems, well, more than a little immature. Is it really fair to criticize someone for being a jerk to other people when your own language is so intensely angry? Where’s all this vitriol coming from?

        Fish clearly made his own grave, but crowing about this and piling on insults and (presumably) exaggerated statements upon him doesn’t help.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          But schadenfreude is so sweet.

          (really, I have trouble resisting this sort of thing myself.)

  7. NathanH says:

    I suppose we have to let Spector off with that article because they probably didn’t have the term “immersive sim” in ’98 to describe the games that he was interested in. That can be the only explanation for how someone can completely miss the point of RPGs. Apparently, character skills are a bad way to define how good a character is at a particular skill because… uh… actually, he doesn’t really explain this, does he? It starts off being because games obscure the calculations (which a lot of games do, and it’s not a good idea, he’s right, but that’s a criticism of obscuring the calculations, not having the calculations). Then it’s about randomness, I think? Again, if you want to criticize randomness (which you have to actually put some effort into doing, rather than just writing “hey it’s random that’s not good is it guys”) then do that. Randomness and character skills are orthogonal, really.

    I particularly like “The problem with this is that two players can do exactly the same thing and get different results because of insignificant differences between their characters”. If you’re getting different results because of differences between your characters then those differences aren’t insignificant, are they? Of course, in systems with no randomness (“you need skill >75 to do this action”) you could argue that there’s a problem because skill 74 cannot do something and skill 75 can, whereas there’s no distinction between skills 73 and 74. But that’s an argument for randomness. Which is a bad thing apparently. Well now.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Who do you think coined the term immersive sim, and when, and why?

      • NathanH says:

        It’s quite hard to find the first use of this term. I was under the impression that it was a term that was invented some time after the first wave of immersive sims were made. Perhaps you can show me the first use.

        • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

          I wish I could, but it actually was just a question to make me better understand your initial statement.

          • NathanH says:

            To be honest I was not familiar with the term before I started reading RPS. But that doesn’t necessarily imply it’s a relatively new term, because I never really followed video games writing very much. If I had to guess, I’d say that you’d need to have a few immersive sims already critically acclaimed and popular before the term would appear. So I’d guess a little after Deus Ex or Thief would be a plausible time for its emergence. Certainly I never saw the term used to describe either of those games at the time. So that explains why I’m imagining Spector may not have seen the distinction between immersive sims and RPGs—at the time it would not be obvious at all.

            As to whether a developer or writer first invented the term, I’m afraid I have no idea whatsoever. Some brief googling hasn’t shed any light on it either.

          • belgand says:

            And even now I wasn’t familiar with the term until it was used in this comment thread.

    • Archonsod says:

      “Apparently, character skills are a bad way to define how good a character is at a particular skill because… uh… actually, he doesn’t really explain this, does he?”

      Erm, yes. That would be the bit where he points out they’re completely redundant on the computer and should be left to the pen & paper world where they’re a sad necessity.

      • NathanH says:

        He doesn’t explain this at all. He simply says “we can do better” without elaborating on how we can do better. If he has some magical system where a character’s ability at certain tasks can be represented in a a fundamentally non-numerical fashion he doesn’t say it, and indeed he has kept it secret for the past 15 years. I suspect he doesn’t have such a magical system. How would one even work? You can hide the numbers behind some non-numerical guff, but that just obscures the system. The numbers are still there, just the player can’t access them easily, and their character-definition choices involve guessing at what the guff actually means. This is hardly a good idea.

        • Premium User Badge

          jrodman says:

          Eh, I think Dungeon Master in 1986 took some large strides away from “numbers in your face” by making a weapons and skills system that had a number of intuitive components hidden from view.

          It worked by providing consistent and accessible feedback about the results of your actions so the system was a lot clearer for most players than one fully explained in a rulebook.

          Since then, I’ve yet to see someone really advance the scenario. I tend to play games where the system is complete mud to the player, completely oversimplified to the point of pointlessness, or for the real throwbacks completely specified in a book.

          I read the Spector dreams as the completely oversimplified school. A fair number of modern games have me choose some statstuff and then it seems to have no effect, or really annoying arbitrary effects. Neither is good. Sometimes the state of the art is really worse than what’s come before.

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            JamesTheNumberless says:

            Certain MUDs and Roguelikes have been doing this forever too. The sword feels “good”, you hit the monster VERY hard, You feel weak. The monster looks slightly wounded. etc

            DM is my favorite game of all time, so much that it did right has just been lost or ignored since. The only thing you knew about a weapon or armor when you found it was how much it weighed and what moves you could physically pull off with it (given your experience with it, and similar weapons)… That would be a severe annoyance in a modern RPG because half the bloody game is about discarding loot for new loot (ooo, my DPS will be up by 2 if I use this generic mace of bluntness instead of this pointy sword of stabbiness), but there really weren’t many weapons in DM and finding a new one was really something special…. Again, if that were the case in a modern RPG, it would be boring because all you do nowadays is hack & slash and loot and level up.

            I think it’s the whole idea of what an RPG is, that’s been twisted, which stops people from understanding how a lot of changes like removing auto-maps, weapon statistics and even character stats (although DM had these) can do anything but break the game.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Well, I’m sure you could remove stats, but DM provided a lot of feedback that way. I think it proves the point that stats aren’t actually bad at all. They’re not a problem.

            I’m okay with a different design that doesn’t happen to show stats but is rich in some other way, but not the argument that they need to be filed off always and replaced with action games.

            Re; roguelikes.

            I just played angband today for about 2.5 hours. I don’t agree. Roguelikes are *full* of unintuitive systems that require reading newsgroup posts and such to figure out. I was trying to remember if resist poison has a temporary and a permanent resist (pretty important to survive) and there’s no way the game UI even teaches me directly that such layered concepts exist. As for the ‘good’ hit and so on, it’s very nice flavor but has no bearing on your weapon quality. It’s just a reflection of your stats.
            This may be different in eg ToME or nethack, but I don’t remember those things being at all helpful in crawl, rogue, larn, or moria.

            That said, I think roguelikes are fine the way they are. They are games that provide access to their complexity. You can read about how the system work as you become interested, bit by bit, slowly unfolding their bloom.

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            JamesTheNumberless says:

            Rogelikes might have been a bad example. with Angband in particular I went to the university where the game was made, so had lots of people around who were into it and able to explain how to play – I never would have got into it from reading usenet posts.

            (some) MUDs on the other hand did a brilliant job of hiding actual stats of mobs, weapons, spells etc – and gave the player feedback through (as you mentioned with DM) the player’s stats. On MUDs that were well written, you could indeed tell how powerful your weapon was relative to another just by trying them out… e.g. with the wooden sword I can’t do more than “scratch” or “graze” this orc but with an elven shortsword I can actually “hit” him – particularly special weapons would have their own flavor text “The axe cleaves through the flesh of the orc, severing tendons”. you would then also have the ability to size up your opponent during combat with a quick command that would show you approximately how close to death they seemed to be.

            DM obviously had feedback through numbers when you hit enemies but could (imo) have ditched that and purely represented larger hits with larger “hitboxes” without the numbers in the middle. I don’t think I would hide the stats for the player character, especially not the health/mana/stamina ones I do think there’s a lot of potential for other more creative ways to demonstrate that a player’s strength, or speed, or wisdom, or whatever, is high or low – and when it’s been improving or deteriorating… Plus some stats are best left hidden. When I first played DM I didn’t even realise you could click on the eye icon without holding at item to see stats like vitality, or fire resistance but I found I knew those things anyway just from playing with the various characters…. Gothmog can take a fireball better than Mophus can, and Sonja is always bloody hungry :) etc, etc

    • BooleanBob says:

      Of what’s been released since the article’s publication, the thing I can think of that’s closest to what he’s describing is the Mass Effect series. Small levels, a clearly highlighted main quest a greater emphasis on conversation, and binary choices with permanent consequences.

      The paragon/renegade mechanic (options only appear if your stat is high enough, but are guaranteed to ‘work’) also sound like they might address his complaint about granular stat pedantry, but then that whole section was so meandering I’m not sure I grasped his position at all.

      • AngusPrune says:

        I really don’t like that mechanic, and it seems to be become pretty much standard for CRPGs now. even Shadowrun does it. You’d think Shadowrun would be the last bastion of rolling dice.

        It makes the game a no-brainer. Click here to win. I want to be made to think. Can my character persuade this guy that I’m here on official business? Maybe I have the security etiquette so that’ll help, but if not maybe I can make a roll against my intelligence at a stiff penalty. Maybe I’ll have a partial success at persuading him, and he’ll let me in but keep a close eye on me. Maybe I’ll have a partial failure where he won’t let me in, but will send me on my way without a fusillade of lead as a parting gift.

        It’s weighing the odds and making an informed decision about what to do that puts the “role playing” in to RPGs. I want more of that, not less of it.

    • Somerled says:

      It was a ham-handed call to move away from the number-crunch path that RPGs were taking and get developers thinking about more open and interactive worlds. Or like you said the ‘immersive sim.’ He used specific examples of this to highlight the general issue (that was not necessarily an issue at all, ever).

      It was all part of an overly ambitious vision for games shared by the Garriots and Molyneuxs, and probably still is now. But, it was the 90′s. We all thought we’d have hoverboards in a few years.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yeah, I think that Spector article neatly encapsulates why, from my perspective, Spector’s entire career trajectory has been to make progressively less interesting games.

    • malkav11 says:

      I think the problem is and continues to be the idea that RPGs, as a videogame genre, are about playing a role (something you do in a whole lot of games across a wide spectrum of genres), rather than it being convenient label for a particular set of common mechanics like having character advancement, character skill over player skill, player-selectable equipment, loot, etc. This leads to people touting games that are increasingly being pushed out of the genre as “advancing” it.

      As an aside, I certainly understand the appeal of roleplaying, and I do applaud games when they choose to reflect a significant amount of player choice via branching paths and such. But ultimately, if you want roleplaying, you want to do it with other humans. A computer, short of developing literal artificial intelligence, will never be able to do more than react to a handful of predetermined choices, and increasing the breadth and impact of the choice array means dramatically more development. It’s a nice to have, not the be all and end all of the genre.

      • NathanH says:

        To expand a little on that: even the games that the “roleplaying = playing a role” faction would point at as RPGs aren’t really about roleplaying either. They involve choosing one from a small number of pre-determined and pre-written paths. This is more akin to a choose-your-own-adventure book than a roleplaying game. I think this mechanic needs its own name that is universally accepted, otherwise it causes so much confusion. I use “choice’n'consequence” but I’m not particularly happy with that. Also it’s a mechanic that we should look to see more often in other genres—there’s nothing about it that lends itself uniquely to an RPG.

        Indeed, the arguments would be much less bloody if the instigators didn’t say “hey now, your RPGs all need to CHANGE” and rather say “hey, you know that choice’n'consequence system that these modern RPGs like to use, why not use that in non-RPGs?”

        When it comes to possibilities of RPGs simulating more roleplaying outside of combat, I’m not so pessimistic as you as to whether it’s possible in principle. But it would necessarily involve rather more abstraction than the fully-voiced dialogue and pre-determined cutscenes of a modern choice’n'consequence game, and I don’t think a lot of the people who like to play RPGs would want to see that. Bluntly, I don’t really think that a lot of people who play RPGs like RPGs, they just like choice’n'consequence and big dialogue trees and so on, and the fact that it’s attached to an RPG is just an annoyance to them but they have to put up with it because they can’t get what they want anywhere else. Similarly, there are probably a sizeable bunch who don’t really like the choice’n'consequence stuff from modern RPGs but still play them because there aren’t many other choices.

        • malkav11 says:

          Here’s the thing – a computer RPG runs a pregenerated scenario. In tabletop, these will usually take into account an array of possible player responses to scenario elements, but there’s only so much space and so much forethought the designer has. A real live GM will be able to adapt to anything outside that box that the players throw at them. That doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily allow it, or that the rules support it, but there’s a flexibility there that you’re not going to get without sapience. Computers can compensate to a degree by having game systems modelled to such a degree that there’s an automatic output for many player inputs, but that’s not quite the same thing as being able to directly affect the narrative elements. That’s why I say computers, short of true artificial intelligence, will never be able to offer the roleplaying experience you get with live people. They may be able to offer more than they do now, but it’s still going to be essentially hardcoded.

          I agree with you otherwise. Personally I like both CRPG mechanics and choices and consequences and enjoy them both together and separately. I just don’t want the latter to completely supplant the former. Much like I can enjoy both turn-based and real-time mechanics (though NOT in the same game, thanks) but am incredibly frustrated by the idea that the latter is inherently superior to and should replace the former.

          • NathanH says:

            Certainly we don’t have the action space that a p&p game will. But we have certain other advantages on a computer. Not to mention that the computer will happily play your game whenever your want for as long as you want. It’s disappointing that we have basically seen no non-combat systemic advances in RPGs since I’ve played them. And I’m not particularly old. I mean, the best modern game for mechanical support for roleplaying character interactions is probably Crusader Kings II. Dear RPGs, you’re being beaten by a strategy game. Sort it out! Actually, having the factions and powerful characters in an RPG constantly playing some meta-strategy game would be great…

            I doubt they’ll rouse themselves to do anything innovative, but Bethesda seem perfectly placed to try something new and exciting in this area. It wouldn’t matter so much if they sacrificed their narrative and dialogue to create a more abstract system, since there’s not an awful lot to sacrifice. Unlike a company like Bioware, who can’t back down from choice’n'consequence at this point (nor should they). Bethesda games are crying out for more dynamism. They’re too big and messy to be made more dynamic by carefully designing choose-your-own-adventure paths for everything. It’s the perfect niche for mechanical dynamism. But it won’t happen.

    • blackmyron says:

      His statements on pen-and-paper RPGs is puzzling. The entire wealth of games run from the heavy dice-rolling to the incredibly abstract. It’s like he was focused on early D&D being light on stories or characterization… but that was a legacy of it being a spin-off of wargaming and extremely early in PnP RPG history.

    • Widthwood says:

      This article looked like something Molineux would write, frankly. These ideas are fine by themselves, but almost all of them are completely unrealistic and if game developer tries to implement them anyway it will only result in a completely linear faux-RPG because of current limits in AI, text generation, world generation, world state changing and handling, etc. And those limits didn’t budge much for over 20 years..

    • JackShandy says:

      “Of course, in systems with no randomness (“you need skill >75 to do this action”) you could argue that there’s a problem because skill 74 cannot do something and skill 75 can, whereas there’s no distinction between skills 73 and 74.”

      Deus Ex itself has one solution to this: Anyone can complete a task by consuming resources. The higher your skill, the less resources you need.

      Easy to imagine other ways of doing it – the higher your skill, the less time it takes to complete the task, the less noise it makes, the more money you get, the more damage it does, the more health you have. RPG’s use many of these.

      Not arguing against your general point, though, just thought that was an interesting side-thing to talk about. I also disagree with spector about this article.

      “The difference between a 72 and a 73 shouldn’t have any impact on game play. Does anyone think this is fun?”

      Well, I do. If the system is so finely tuned that 1 point can make an enormous difference between your character and my character, yeah, I think that’s fantastically fun.

  8. Orija says:

    Does the game feature the rapes of a million German women, because that part would certainly not be an exaggeration.

    • Werthead says:

      Oddly, no. They miss out on that bit. They do reference the Red Army pausing and letting the Warsaw Uprising be crushed by the Germans (because the slaughter of Polish nationalists was in the USSR’s long-term strategic interests), but the mass-rape of Silesia is skipped. They also skip German atrocities like the Siege of Leningrad (which starved half the population of the city – well over a million people – to death). There was too much for them to fit in and they had a very tricky path to take between over-glorifying/over-demonising the Russians and making sure the German atrocities were emphasised.

      To be fair, the same is true of the UK in WWII games as well. That bit where we destroyed the French fleet at anchor to stop it falling into German hands, killing a thousand French sailors and injuring many more who had no love at all for the Germans, tends never to feature in these games either. And the bit where the Brits went, “Yo, we totally won this war, sorry, were you asking if Poland is again a free country, what we started the war for in the first place? I couldn’t here you over the sounds of these fireworks proclaiming HOW AWESOME we are,” tends to be forgotten as well.

      • Premium User Badge

        Gap Gen says:

        To be honest, I’m unsure whether Britain could have demanded a free Poland from the USSR, given that they couldn’t stop the USSR conquering half of it in the first place.

        But yes, I suspect game companies find the message “everyone acted in their own selfish interests, and a whole bunch of people died because of it” a little to bleak to sell to its customers.

        • Werthead says:

          Certainly Patton’s view (possibly Churchill’s as well, though his was coloured by a severe hatred of Communist Russia regardless of anything else that was going on) was that we – meaning the western allies – should have simply rolled onwards and liberated Eastern Europe from the Russians after Germany’s surrender. Historians are divided on whether that would have worked (that last push on Berlin exhausted the Red Army’s reserves somewhat more than it appeared at the time), but certainly politically it would never have happened in a million years.

          But it remains the case that Britain and France declared war to protect the territorial integrity of Poland and we completely failed to do that. Being ruled by Soviet Russia was probably preferable to rule by Nazi Germany, but it’s not exactly the outcome anyone had in mind in September 1939.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            There are some arguments that suggest that the treaty was designed to protect Poland against Germany, not Russia, and so Russian conquest of Poland didn’t count. This is probably just legal wrangling, of course. But it remains the case that unless Poland’s sponsor can protect it against both Germany and Russia, either diplomatically or militarily, any treaty like the Anglo-Polish alliance is probably going to be not much more than a piece of paper. But you’re right that perhaps the main limitation to the Allies was that the public wouldn’t have liked it if their governments extended the war and fought what was apparently an allied country (even if the Poles in the UK might have argued otherwise).

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            See also: Operation Unthinkable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Unthinkable

          • Muzman says:

            Jesus, the Western Allies continuing the campaign to the East like that is just about unthinkable. Was Russia ever more galvanised in its own defense than at that point? More heavily armed certainly, but never more unified. The West would help lay waste all over again to countries that the Germans had laid waste to in the last two years (that is presuming nations that had just about crippled themselves economically thus far could hold out long enough to pursue such a campaign). And they’re not going to quit. It’s not a big stretch to imagine pulling good ol’ big gun number one out a few more times, once it becomes obvious there’s no other way to win it.
            The contrast with the Nazis always puts the questionable things the allies did on the up side. A couple of years of that war and I think people might have started to forget all that. Hell, Stalin would probably even start to look like a good guy to history after we re-destroy europe and nuke a few million extra Russians.

          • drinniol says:

            Well, only the Yanks had nukes at that point. A few choice targets in Russia and they’re done.

          • MacTheGeek says:

            Nobody had nukes yet. The war in Europe ended in May 1945; the first successful Trinity atomic bomb test didn’t occur until July of that year.

            Churchill was in favor of rolling the tanks east past Berlin, all the way to Moscow. But the idea got no backing from his American allies, primarily because the Yanks were bleeding heavily in the Pacific theater. US military planners were forecasting as many as 5 million casualties (4 million Japanese and 1 million Americans) to invade and subdue Imperial Japan. With Nazi Germany collapsing and Fascist Italy conquered, the US perspective in the spring of 1945 was to end the shooting in Europe as soon as possible and focus on the task of defeating Japan.

            If Germany had fought on for another year, until after America had developed the A-bomb and subdued Japan, Churchill’s dream might have come much closer to reality.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        Some recent research (into frontline orders/reports and similar documents) seems to indicate that the Soviets stopped just outside Warsaw because they were pushed back by the Germans. Further advance beyond the river Vistula was unadvisable because of exhaustion and depletion of frontline units.

        This of course does not rule out that such a development was politically beneficial to Stalin, as it allowed to bleed out the bulk of the Polish underground armed resistance. But it probably wasn’t the main motivation, just an opportunity that presented itself.

        (example source:
        http://www.mediafire.com/view/bzowyywuysm/David.M.Glantz.The.Soviet-German.war.Myths.and.realities.pdf)

    • Moraven says:

      Is a video game the best place to get into that? Or maybe at least a mention so people will further educate themselves on the topic?

  9. DonDrapersAcidTrip says:

    ..

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yes, I particularly dislike the way they strawman the opinions of and generally “go for the throat” toward anyone who likes different things from them.

      • GameCat says:

        I’ve been called dumb/stupid/insane several times after complaining about certain, rather huge features in Planescape: Torment, because P:T is perfect and you can’t criticize it.
        Examples of GTA as role playing game are very accurate. I spent more time roleplaying in GTA: San Andreas or Minecraft than in every RPGs I’ve played.

        Most of RPGs aren’t good places for roleplaying. First thing we should do it’s get rid off leveling. XP farming is anti-roleplay thing, because most of people will have tendency to optimize they XP gain, so they can have the most kickass character in the world. This means doing every little stupid quests and running after rabbits so they can get 1XP more.
        Chosing initial set of statistic and skills that can be expanded only a little would prevent all these things so we could focus on actual roleplaying as series of choices made by our character that will define this character and have impact on world and NPCs. Without “OH YEAH, MY LOCKPICKING SKILL WENT UP FROM 67,8765% to 68,1264% SO NOW I CAN OPEN THIS CHEST”.

        • bluebomberman says:

          I don’t think enough people understand that the name of a genre isn’t an exact description of the game itself. It’s largely just convenient shorthand.

          I do more “role-playing” in playing a career mode in a sports game than in any other game I own, but calling it an RPG would just confuse people and bring out the category police. And I’m at the point where arguing such semantics makes me roll my eyes.

          • Premium User Badge

            welverin says:

            The name for the RPG genre perfectly fits it, mislabeling and misidentifying the core elements is the problem.

        • GameCat says:

          So, first person shooter isn’t exact description of the Counter Strike, CoD, Half Life and Quake, eh?
          Or Super Mario Bros and Crash Bandicoot aren’t exactly platformers?

          I want proper RPGs that are focused on playing a role, acting in certain possible ways that will lead you into different outcomes. Like pen & paper RPGs.

          • Widthwood says:

            To be fair, platformer and FPS accurately describe how the game looks and plays. On the other hand RPG is a very vague term that only demands an existence of some characters in the game that can be your Role (and that is pretty much any game except puzzlers), so requirements for gameplay mechanics are much much more hazy..

            An equally accurate description for different RPGs would be very different.
            Baldurs Gate – Third Person Party Walker Talker Killer
            Elder Scrolls – First Person Stats Increaser
            Might and Magic – First Person Multiple Personality Disorder Simulator
            etc.

            Actually if only “Adventure Game” wasn’t already taken, that would be a much better description for any RPG.

        • mouton says:

          Newsflash: the term RPG or “roleplaying” have always been nothing more than completely arbitrary constructs.

        • Archonsod says:

          It’s because the games industry is stuck in a perpetual puberty (in many things, not just RPGs).

        • NathanH says:

          Choosing your initial abilities and basically sticking with them for the entire game is certainly a possibility for the RPG genre. But it seems to be a dangerous one. It requires the player to be competent at defining their intended character at the beginning of the game. This is quite a challenge: you might not understand the rules particularly well, and you certainly won’t be aware of how the designers have chosen to apply those rules. For instance, you could try to define a Thief at the start of a game, but discover that, say, all the important locks that a Thief character ought to be able to pick to make the game fun for a Thief are a bit too hard for the character you happen to have selected. Gradual character development allows you to correct your initial mistakes to some extent.

          • GameCat says:

            There could be some predefined sets (with option to modify them) for new players.
            It’s simple change that could make a RPG very different from other games in this genre.

            BTW, WItcher 3 is doing some nice small innovations like no XP for killing regular enemies. I think this game will be the RPG I’m looking for.

          • HadToLogin says:

            No XP from mook kills isn’t innovation, as Vampire Bloodlines show.

          • GameCat says:

            Vampire Bloodlines did that? I’m gonna check it out.

          • NathanH says:

            Well-designed pre-defined characters would work. Another possible approach is to follow a standard approach to special skills in gamebooks, where you either have the skill or you don’t. This leads to relatively simplistic systems, but tends to succeed at creating characters that both meet your intended definition and also work competently in the game world.

            If you were doing this, you’d have to be even more careful than usual about the combat / non-combat distinction. (tangent ahead) I think being more careful about this is a good thing. Especially in games where you only control one character, I’ve always found it annoying that typically RPGs make you divide your skill points or whatever between combat and non-combat skills. I find that this is not usually a good idea. I don’t really see the point in giving the player the choice “would you like to have fun in combat or have fun out of combat”. Instead a better choice is “how would you like to have fun in combat, and how would you like to have fun out of combat?”

            Of course in party-based games this isn’t so much of an issue and indeed having a relatively combat-weak character in the party can be an interesting mechanic in its own right. But even in party-based games I liked the way that 3rd edition d&d handled things: your non-combat abilities are mostly determined by skills, which don’t usually have big impacts in combat, and it’s the initial class choice that decides how your skills and feats are going to be distributed. That way, once your character is up and running, you don’t have to worry too much about balancing combat and non-combat development choices.

            Returning to the point, there are also quite a few games that hand out relatively more experience for quest completion than for enemy killing. This system works rather well, because it gives you some ability to build up experience easily if you ever get stuck, but in normal circumstances it won’t be your main source. You also have systems like in Elder Scrolls where your skills improve through use, but I think this is not a good system for other reasons.

          • HadToLogin says:

            Yup, few times Bloodlines awards you with additional XP for winning without killing anyone, there’s also whole level/quest, where winning it without killing anyone gets you new house.
            On one hand, it makes game somewhat easier for those races with invisibility, since you can just run through whole levels drinking blood packs and not fighting with anyone.
            On the other hand, normal gun vs gun fights are so… hmm, normal, it’s actually not a big deal, since you mostly play for story and character progression etc. Many people consider nocliping through few fight levels as something actually recommended (Tzimisce sewers, so much hate towards you, I loved that new quest allowing skipping them and I kinda wish it would become part of unofficial patch…).

          • JackShandy says:

            The original Deus Ex also rewarded XP only for completing objectives, not for specific actions like killing an enemy.

        • HadToLogin says:

          Roleplaying =/= RPG. Most games offer playing some roles. But that doesn’t make them RPG games, because beside you playing a role there’s requirement of game responding to role you play. GTA or Saints Row doesn’t respond at all to you playing role of law-abiding citizen, they only respond to you playing role of criminal.

          • GameCat says:

            Yeah, GTA storylines doesn’t have any RPG or roleplay elements (maybe except these few choices in GTA IV), but outside of the main missions you can came up with differents goals like be a normal guy who accidentaly kills someone and must run or something. Too bad the most of these things are only in your head.

        • BooleanBob says:

          Genre semantics aside, I do think there’s something in this. I’m reminded of that book you could find in Icewind Dale 2; ‘Face it: You’re Neutral Evil’, which I thought rather aptly pointed out player tendencies to do anything that would increase their stats, levels or loot (I’ve burgled more than the occasional hero’s crypt and peasant domicile, for starters).

          • NathanH says:

            Everyone knows that the normal heroic response upon meeting a legendary hero is to try to kill them and see if their xp and loot is worth the reputation penalty.

          • GameCat says:

            That’s why I’m thinking that RPGs should go away a bit form levels and experience points.
            When I’m playing games like Skyrim (ugh) I have tendency to kill everything in the sight because my character will be better at swinging his sword.
            Or non-RPG game like Reident Evil 4 – you’re getting ammo for killing enemies, so I’ve always kill everyone here. In REs 1-2-3 I often run from enemies, because there’s no point of killing them when I can run away and save ammo for boss.

          • tobecooper says:

            It was so very worth it, NatanH. One less dark elf roaming the countryside and grand loot for the party!

          • JackShandy says:

            That problem isn’t just RPG specific. In all games, players want to experience all the content. They want to see the story bits that happen when you kill a character, when you marry them, when you steal from them. If any choice will let them see all that content, they’ll take it, in the same way that an RPG character will take the choice that gives the most loot.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            Personally I love to save and reload to see the different content.

    • KDR_11k says:

      I liked Saints Row despite never using the dildo bat, I was pretty much role-playing a super villain there so I’m looking forward to SR4 for more of the super part in super villainy.

    • tobecooper says:

      I remember when GTA series was king of open-world gaming. Through the whole PS2 era everyone wanted to have a GTA but no one could catch lighting in a bottle in the same way. Then came GTA4 which was a step back into realism that buggered up gameplay, added more scripts and annoyances. The rest of the world spotted their chance and used it to the fullest. The mentioned Saints Row is funnier and more fun to play, Just Cause 2 is better at exploding stuff, Sleeping Dogs has everything GTA4 has but with more polish and better gameplay, and Driver: San Francisco (of all the series) is having their ideas borrowed for GTA5.

      So, now the only thing Rockstar has is incredibly well-written stories, great dialogs with brilliant voice-acting. That’s probably enough for me, but calling them some sort of gaming messiahs who break conventions is so silly and over the top that I could only see a tripping person doing that, Mr AcidTrip.

      • fish99 says:

        Personally I’ve finished GTA4 about 4 times now. I’ve tried to play SR3 twice, got an hour in both times and just didn’t want to continue. There’s nothing there apart from silliness and random shit – no story, no characters, nothing to keep you playing. It also has terrible car physics, which are hugely important in a GTA style game.

        Sleeping Dogs I played an hour, it sorta looked decent in a B movie sort of way, but if you don’t enjoy beat-em-ups you’re not going to enjoy it. Every mission ends up in another long winded beat-em-up section, but without the great combat system of say the Arkham games. It has lots of boring on-foot chase sequences too which AFAICS are just there to lengthen the game. It also suffers from poor car physics. Both Sleeping Dogs and SR3 both have car physics designed for people who don’t play driving games, with far too much grip and canned slides. Unsatisfying if you have a notion of how cars actually drive.

        Btw I’m not saying GTA4 was perfect, there were some obvious missteps.

        • tobecooper says:

          Fair point about car physics. As a person who doesn’t like racing in these games, I don’t put too much thought into it, but they are definitely very different in each game.

          As to your criticism of the missions in Sleeping Dogs, I’d say it’s the same or worse in GTA. It has the same scripting issues – you have to chase the car, but you won’t be able to catch up until they say so, and the gunning and punching is sub-par to SD, too.

          Saints Row opens up after these first linear missions. I guess, if you didn’t like any of the banter from the opening cutscenes, then you wouldn’t like the rest of the game either. Different tastes. But the game has a number of really likable characters later on, even if the story is a bit ‘lolrandom’ at times.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          The vehicle physics in GTA4, while being more “realistic”, did nothing but frustrate me and sucked a lot of enjoyment out of the overall experience. Driving in SR3 was actually fun, in part because the developers obviously designed vehicle physics to be more in line with the rest of the game, i.e wacky.

          Demanding realistic physics in a video game that lets your character carry around an invisible crate full of weapons just seems pointless.

        • blackmyron says:

          Conversely, I’ve played GTA4 twice and been unable to finish it either time – and this is someone who thoroughly enjoyed all the prior GTA-III era games (excepting the aberrant Game Boy one). There’s no “roleplaying” involved – you’re Niko, the sad, dumb gangster in a crime game where crime doesn’t pay. Even the PRIMA Guide that, gosh, you just can’t catch a break with any of the big scores except the bank robbery. Their schizophrenic approach to the franchise – making the game “super-serious, no-jetpacks-allowed” while keeping the middle school humor, making being a criminal a miserable experience while still allowing you to run over people without compunction, or making the most powerful employer in the game a shadowy NSA-type black ops group with none of the humor of the James Woods character from San Andreas.
          Rockstar had an easy sell of the game for me, despite their pissing all over PC gamers. Instead, GTA4 was the reason that I bought – and loved – SR3.
          YMMV, of course, but let’s not do the old min-maxing false argument of “X isn’t as bad as people say it is, and Y isn’t as good as people say it is, therefore X is better than Y”. GTA4 has some good points, and SR3 has some bad points – but I’d still rather play SR3 than GTA4 any day of the week. Hell, I’d rather play any of the GTA3-era games, including the PS-only titles, than GTA4.
          (Having said that, I will also say that I did finish – and enjoy – the two DLCs for GTA4, so make of that what you will).

      • DonDrapersAcidTrip says:

        ..

        • tobecooper says:

          Explaining the joke is like killing the joke. If you don’t find it funny, then you don’t. There’s no secret to it. The secret is to not act like an asshole when someone has a different sense of humor than you. The wrestling references are there because one of the villains is a wrestler. Simples. One of my favorite exchanges from the beginning of the game was:
          - You’re robbing the bank dressed as yourselves?
          - Hell yeah! Who doesn’t want to be Johnny Gat?
          - Ultrapostmodernism… (dons a mask) I love it!

          The RPG tradition in RPG-gaming is long defined and rethought. Sometimes someone cries that Fallout is now an FPS and Mass Effect is TPS, but I don’t see much of it. If you’re talking about stats, they are in your ‘stats’ tab in GTA. They work differently, yes, but the numbers are certainly there in another form.

          What is this role you play in GTA that makes it so different from Skyrim? Gangster, here, warrior there. Run around, ride around, kill. In-game people don’t care unless it’s a cutscene.

          • NathanH says:

            Were I in an argumentative mood, which I think I am, I might go so far as to argue that Skyrim isn’t an RPG.

          • tobecooper says:

            If I were to discuss that, I’d probably write it’s an interesting argument to make and leave it at that.

          • BooleanBob says:

            WIZARDRY
            WIZARDRY
            WIZARDRY

          • WrenBoy says:

            - You’re robbing the bank dressed as yourselves?
            - Hell yeah! Who doesn’t want to be Johnny Gat?
            - Ultrapostmodernism… (dons a mask) I love it!

            Aw yeah

          • tobecooper says:

            Love it <3

          • HadToLogin says:

            Skyrim not a RPG? That’s something that goes around my mind from time to time too. Mostly because it lacks dialogues and consequences.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            I gave up on skyrim about 15 minutes in. As far as I could tell it was some kind of poorly done action-brawler.

  10. lordcooper says:

    I’m a pacifist and can happily play The Castle Doctrine because its a unique and rather fun game. That’s enough for me, there doesn’t have to be an in depth analysis of and agreement with it’s political/philosophical statements for a game to be enjoyable.

    • Premium User Badge

      LTK says:

      There doesn’t have to be, no, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a game even if you disagree with the underlying philosophy. But as the writer indicates, there are serious problems with the castle doctrine as something to live by, and it’s worth pointing that out. Jason Rohrer chose to share his opinions regarding home invasion and justifiable killing, and I agree with the writer that it is seriously flawed, and we shouldn’t just ignore that.

      • Premium User Badge

        wengart says:

        I wouldn’t say it is seriously flawed. Roher is a bit off the deep end of it, but the suggestion that I should rely on telling someone to “fuck off” sounds absurd to me.

        • Muzman says:

          It’s not that you rely on it as such, but the fact is it works in the vast bulk of situations. Most intruders don’t want to fight and don’t want to get caught.
          The question is will you consider that an option if you’ve rounded everything to the worst case scenario in your head. There’s people who can live on that edge, but they are few and far between.
          That absolutist approach that everyone is out to do me murderous harm or may as well be considered as such has a certain logical appeal to some authoritarian personalities. But it’s putting the individualist philosophy ahead of reality.

      • Somerled says:

        “Jason Rohrer: [Laughing] You guys are in England, you don’t understand what it’s like here in America.”

        Yeah, he’s a bit out of touch. I can’t say if the rest of my fellow Americans feel that way or not (once I get my universal mind probe built, I’ll have more data), but most of the people I’ve known didn’t have bars on their windows or walk around with batons, even from when I lived in Atlanta.

        I sometimes tell my friends, who think I own a gun simply because I was born in Texas, that the intention to defend yourself comes with the implicit acknowledgement that you may severely harm or kill another human being. All circumstances and justifications aside, that’s a big hurdle for any well-adjusted person to get over. Sidestepping that hurdle so flippantly is not going to get people on your side.

        • TCM says:

          When I lived in the greater Miami area, most houses had fences, several had razor wire on top of those fences, many windows had bars, and there were a lot of “Beware of Dog” signs (even for houses I know had no dog) — and that was in the suburbs.

          It depends where you live, and where your fears lie.

          I don’t personally own a gun, because I believe I don’t need one for self defense, and I don’t hunt or visit shooting ranges regularly — but if my home were ever robbed, I would strongly consider getting at least a handgun, and not even to shoot at a person so much as to use as a more potent warning than words. I have no willingness to end somebody’s life except out of necessity, and a burglary is not going to be that necessity 99% of the time.

  11. Tei says:

    Myth and leyend mix on the story of rusia. And a lot of lies and photos with people removed. Ideology poison almost everything, and what survives is mixed with internet memes and ridiculous jokes.

    All we have of reality is all these dashcan videos of russians doing things we would previously declare as imposible.

    I love the russians, I think this much is true. I also love the lithuans, and other baltic people. This much is true, I love these people.

    I only have the truth of a drunk men. I feel bad about this, because normal people in russian may not want any of this. I don’t want these people from suffer/get anoyed. I am sorry :(

    • coldvvvave says:

      I liked how recently some guy on his blog proved that some photos of smiling Geman soldiers posing together with hanged partisans were “doctored”. Now those people were actually hanged by Germans, that much is true. But at least Germans were nice enough to just gang them and take a picture. No posing was involved.

      MYTH BUSTED

  12. Schiraman says:

    Personally I thought the campaign in CoH2 felt pretty balanced and fair – it makes a point of how heroic many of the soldiers on the ground were, as well as pointing out some of the barbaric actions of their leaders. Pushing the Germans back is painted as an incredible victory of sheer determination against all odds, but one that entailed a great deal of sacrifice and moral ambiguity.

    Sure, the storytelling is fairly exaggerated and might seem a bit OTT in places – but we’re talking about an RTS game telling years of history in a handful of cut-scenes. Does it do as good a job of telling history as an in-depth documentary or history text? No. Does it do a much better job than any game or fiction film I’ve ever seen? Yes.

    Under the circumstances, I’d say that was quite an achievement.

  13. Premium User Badge

    LTK says:

    That article on the Steam summer sale is reaching a bit, I have to say. There was a similar article on Gamesindustry.biz that examined the principles at work in the trading card system, which was much more informative as to how the trading card system was slightly manipulative in drawing people in. The article on psychologyofgames tries to do the same but doesn’t really come to any interesting conclusions. I mean, yeah, if a discount is given as a limited-time offer, of course people are going to want it more, wasn’t that obvious?

    • AngoraFish says:

      Yes. That article felt like it was written by a second year marketing student.

      The concentration was on superficial principles of sales psychology that have been associated with Steam sales for several years now (and are arguably becoming less influential as people wise up), while largely neglecting most of the insidious psychological manipulation associated with Valve’s “Trading Cards”, was disappointing.

    • Viroso says:

      I guess it’s a thing now, to be cynical towards Steam. Figures, seeing so many people excited about the upcoming sales, the more popular something gets the coolest it is to dislike it.

      • MarcP says:

        Fools who confuse cynicism with sophistication are tedious, but nobody likes Internet laid-back dude commenting on cool kid trends. Especially when he’s donning a captain obvious hat.

    • Vinraith says:

      The trading card article in question is here: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-07-17-the-psychology-behind-steam-trading-cards

      It’s well worth a read if you haven’t seen it.

      • LionsPhil says:

        “Our research group kicked this around today as well.” — Associate Game Analyst, EA Canada

        Coming soon to Origin: trading Pogs(R)?

    • lomaxgnome says:

      I actually think the opposite effect has happened a lot in the last couple of Steam sales, and isn’t mentioned at all in that article (or much of anywhere that I’ve seen). A lot of the backlash this year against the sale was because of repeat sales due to the community choice and flash sale options. Some games were on sale 3 or 4 times. But in the old days, you either jumped on the sale that day, or you didn’t get it. There was no second chance. I’d be willing to bet the number one complaint from those sales was missing out. On more than one occasion, a game that had already been a daily ended up winning a community vote, sometimes against deals for lesser known games that never ended up happening at all.

      In addition, the daily deal time has been increased in recent sales to actually be two days long. Both of these have the cumulative effect of reducing the sense of immediacy to each sale. I’m sure from Valve’s perspective they are gaining a lot of sales of those people that missed it the first time, but from a consumer perspective, it makes the sale less “exciting.” I’ve noticed myself that I’ve ended up passing on some deals that maybe in the past I would have impulse bought. But because I felt like I wasn’t rushed, by the end of the two days, I talked myself out of buying them.

      The concept of “waiting until the daily or the last day” has finally sunk in widely as well, several sales charts were posted of games that didn’t get dailies showing sales spikes on the last day. So basically, many people are “used to” Steam sales now, in spite of the changes over the years. I’m sure Valve is continually analyzing the data, and it will be interesting to see if we get any major changes in the Winter Sale, or if they settle into a status quo for a while.

    • Narbotic says:

      just an fyi – Jamie Madigan authored both articles

  14. hungrytales says:

    Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. You need a lot of ‘noble’ to counterweigh that. And it is hardly a word to use when speaking of replacing Nazism with Bolshevik Communism.

  15. Don Reba says:

    The murder rate is a clear parabola, whereas the IE share is a a logistic curve. Tenuous at best.

  16. MobileAssaultDuck says:

    War is never noble. Battle is never glorious. Even when fighting an enemy like the Nazis, the mass majority of Germans killed were Wehrmacht, regular rank and file German army. Guys drafted to fight. I used to work with one, the man wept every November 11th (Remembrance Day in Canada) for what his nation did and what they did while he defended their borders. He was 18, fighting for the Fatherland, and probably couldn’t have even spelled holocaust at the time.

    Most soldiers killed in war are innocent human being. That is why all portrayals of war should be terrible. There should be no heroism or nobility shown, only the barbarism of war.

    There has not been a just or glorious war ever fought on this planet.

    • MrEclectic says:

      At least in my country (Greece), most of the mass slaughters of whole towns were done by Heer (regular army, btw Wehrmacht means Arm Forces in general) and Paratroopers, not SS or Gestapo.

      The noble Heer vs the brutal Waffen SS is a construct. Couldn’t have the notion of NATO officers having a war criminal past…

      • MobileAssaultDuck says:

        I did not say noble.

        No side is noble in war. All sides are monsters is war, with the exception of civilian casualties.

        If you pick up a weapon, regardless the cause, part of you becomes a monster.

        So i am not saying the Wehrmacht were noble, I am saying many of them were rank and file, drafted kids no different than the other side.

        Killing a human is always an abhorrent act. It can sometimes be justified, but it’s still abhorrent.

    • Rii says:

      “A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a rule of thumb, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.”

  17. Cinnamon says:

    It seems that Warren Spector really doesn’t like it when gamers have to decide where to go by themselves and have lots of choices. Myself I like geeky games with lots of decisions to make. Some of which might even involve maths.

    He also thinks that turn based has no place in video games. He thinks a lot of things.

    • HadToLogin says:

      I think he’s more about saying games should give you significant choices affecting YOUR gameplay (like that example with choosing between teammate or quest) instead Skyrim’s “can you finally start main quest so we can drop those dragons?”.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      For starters, that article is 15 years old. Who knows what he thinks now, presumably not the exact same things he thought in 1998.

      Anyway, I don’t see why there’s so much resistance from some quarters to making cRPG’s that aren’t bogged down by their 70′s wargaming roots. I don’t ever remember the die-roll mechanics of D&D or the Whitewolf games being the highlights of playing tabletop RPG’s.

      • Cinnamon says:

        I wouldn’t want to speak for him only bring up things he said in the past, rather than the future, that he didn’t go back on to the best of my knowledge. I hope this helps to clear up any confusion.

        As to why I would “resist” removing war gaming from RPGs it is only because I would rather play games that are more inspired by old war games than games inspired by people who snobbishly talk about how superior role playing is to roll playing.

      • blackmyron says:

        Except that it’s the reverse – PnP RPGs are being bogged down by MMO-style gameplay, one of the reasons DND’s 4th Ed was so miserable.

      • malkav11 says:

        Because you’re not going to have a real roleplaying experience with a computer, but you can have tactical combat and other such system-driven adventures and the mechanics end up being a lot more satisfying in the context of a computer game, especially when you can play the whole party at once and watch your fireballs really blow up etc etc. The idea that this “bogs the game down” when it’s actually a huge part of the game’s appeal is pernicious and upsetting.

        Actually, I find those systems to work much better (if carefully pruned) in a CRPG context than they do at the table, where they suffer from significant learning curve, requiring a substantial amount of bookkeeping and math, and generally tending to be slow and relatively noninteractive while shifting the emphasis towards combat. For tabletop roleplaying I greatly prefer much lighter, more improvisational systems like Apocalypse World.

  18. Tams80 says:

    That Earthbound article was very interesting.

    Will Gizmodo be worth a visit again now? I was put off it quite a bit, but that was years ago.

    • Premium User Badge

      thestjohn says:

      If it ends up having the quality of writing that is on BLDGBLOG then yeah it will be worth reading. I might even start reading it again. Will be apparently less juvenile, with less product reviews and no gossip.

    • Shuck says:

      Hopefully it will mean an increase in the quality of Gizmodo. But still, I can’t help but feel disappointed – it’s beneath him. It’s like hearing that Bach has been reduced to writing the jingles for cat food commercials. I hope he still finds time to write for BLDGBLOG.

    • acheron says:

      My opinion is “owned by Gakwer” = “never ever visit”, so I’m going to keep staying away. If they get some good writers, great, but hopefully the writers will push on to better platforms.

  19. Tams80 says:

    Most likely just a Phil Fish temper tantrum. I doubt he’s cancelled and is just attention seeking. As such it’s probably best we ignore it.

    • Shuck says:

      Yeah, unless he’s throwing away the money already invested in the development of Fez2, is leaving the game industry and shutting down his company, it seems unlikely. Fish seems quite childish, but he also broke the first rule of experienced game developers – don’t read the random internet chatter about your game – it’s never worth it.

      • KevinLew says:

        To be honest, I hope we DON’T talk about Fez 2. He’s a pure lightning rod for hatred from Internet video gamers. Even if he has done good things for gaming and he’s not always a bad person, people want to focus on his profane Twitter posts and his infamously bad attitude. You can predict to within 99% accuracy where the Internet will go with the comments. There are several video game topics that nobody can discuss without a flame war; three of those many subjects are: sexism in video gaming, always-online DRM, and Phil Fish.

        • Premium User Badge

          DrScuttles says:

          Can you imagine what happened in the parallel universe where his rapidly-made follow up to Fez was a feminist puzzle platformer overtly exploring issues of sexism, was released exclusively on Steam and somehow was bugged to destroy Offline Mode for everyone who bought it?
          I’d like to think that last night’s storm was that particular universe exploding in Angry Internet Man rage.

        • WrenBoy says:

          @DrScuttles
          Every line of text in the game should contain at least one grammatical mistake.

          The villians of the game should be the state of Israel.

  20. S Jay says:

    No mention to Fez 2 cancellation? Sounds Fishy.

    • dethtoll says:

      I’m personally glad that egomaniac isn’t getting any attention from RPS after his childish meltdown over being told the unvarnished truth. His departure from the indie games scene was much-needed and I’d really like it if Rohrer and Jon Blow would go with him, I’m tired of the scene being dominated by these guys at the expense of people who have humility in proportion to their talent.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        It was humility that led those two to not comment on something they knew little about. The “AnnoyedGamer’s” assertions that they owe the media anything are not the “unvarnished truth,” they are self-serving and fucking insane. The media isn’t providing a charity for them, they HAVE to write these stories if they want to make money. It’s a symbiotic relationship. The developer provides early access to their game in hopes of some free publicity (which they may not get if the preview is negative) and the journalist writes an article based on that early access to generate ad revenue (which is also usually paid for by game developers and publishers.)

        I’m fairly certain these guys have made a much larger positive impact on the industry than Marcus Beers, especially Blow as a co-founder of Indie Fund.

  21. Heliocentric says:

    The portrait of the British painted in opposing forces was hilarious and lovingly delivered. This other nations were delivered in a way that was dull obvious and generic, except the ambient banter which was always great.(only played coh 1)

  22. Moraven says:

    Dopamine dose design: How brain chemicals affect players

    “Game developers generally view their customers as either “hardcore” or “casual”. I would like to urge developers to abandon this world view and replace it with a perception of gamers as “high dose”, “medium dose”, and “low dose”. If you can do this, the relationship between developers and their customers becomes a lot less confusing. Currently in the industry, most software titles are aimed at the “hardcore” audience, which makes up perhaps 10% of all gamers. Let us call these gamers “high dose”. There has been tremendous expansion in the total number of gamers just in the last few years, in large part due to the success of social network games such as Farmville. Much attention has been placed on the fact that these new gamers are mostly women. Let us call this group “low dose”.”

    • JackShandy says:

      We already call them “Users”. Now we’re going to talk about them in terms of what dosage they’re chugging down? Getting them hooked on free low-dose games, before we draw them into the good stuff?

      Seems just emblematic of the kind of thinking that sees games as an addiction, not an artform.

    • engion3 says:

      That’s one of the more interesting articles I’ve read in awhile and it directly relates to my drug assited gaming binges for 20+ hours.

  23. mechabuddha says:

    Sutef is a great mind fuck sort of game. I still don’t know what I played.

  24. rockman29 says:

    The Russian/COH2 article is really interesting.

    I remember listening to a CBC radio program earlier this spring I think. They were talking a lot about the revisionist history that takes place over the world.

    The most included names were Israel, Palestine, Japan, and Russia. I’m sure there are others, including Western countries like USA and others too. Though to me it sounds like Canada, USA, Britain, France, and others are much less inclined to offer revisionist history, at least from my experience learning in Canadian high school where I learned about recent history and such.

    Anyway, what I was getting at was the programme really showed how strong opinions can mold the telling of history in a country.

    There was one Russian professor/academic who was very annoyed at some of the denial of things that Josef Stalin did and caused in or around WW2. So he went on several programmes/debates with other history scholars about the topic and was it actually good or bad what Stalin did, and how should he be remembered and a lot of complicated political stuff that was highly interesting.

    He presents a stronger argument about the craziness that happened for Russia in WW2, but the Russian audience was little receptive to the fact to say that Stalin really did anything bad in the end.

    Anyway it was quite interesting. They also talked about how Japan and Israel and Palestine all are very negligent with history where their country has done very wrong to other countries, like the “comfort women” in the Japanese army. In Japanese history books, apparently it is essentially a footnote in their history teaching, and that is very sad and disrespectful in my opinion to the people who suffered from it. What’s worse is that it sounded like they don’t even finish teaching the history courses in Japan, because they consider all the other courses far more important like math and sciences. Again… imo it’s a little offensive to treat history so badly.

    I think history is a very sacred sort of thing and it makes me sad that such large institutions of education in so many countries willfully ignore what is right and that is to present the truth, or the best truth that can be offered at least.

    • Premium User Badge

      JamesTheNumberless says:

      I wouldn’t say that we’re taught revisionist history in the UK but we are certainly taught selectively, and the way we’re taught surely affects our worldview. Sure we learn that the Nazis persecuted Jews and bombed London but unless you elect to take the subject in more detail you will not learn about the bombing of Dresden, or that if you were Jewish in 13th century England you also had to wear a yellow badge.

      At my school lots of Scottish history was taught, and history of Glasgow itself done to death but although we talked about the slave trade when we covered American history, nobody ever mentioned that actually the historical centre of the town we lived in, was largely built in the 1700s by those who profited from slave labor on tobacco plantations. Moreover we learned to blame a lot of the political upheaval of the same period on the English, when in fact the highland clearances were a case of Scots screwing over other Scots and the Jacobite rising was a Scottish civil war, with Scots and English on both sides.

      As for the Hollywood movies about Scottish things… Lol. they may not ostensibly be educational but they nonetheless spread a revisionistm or at best, incomplete, history.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      Well the tradition of history being written “by the winners”is thousands of years old., so don’t be *too* surprised.

      I think in order to create a decent society though, you do have to try to keep your culture/society a little honest about what happened in the past.

      US history (my hometown) is relatively easy to whitewash because until the modern era (post 1950) it was so profoundly isolationist. After that it gets quite messy, but oddly every US history class I took ran out of steam right around then.

      The effective, if not always intentional, genocide of native peoples is certainly discussed in every textbook I encountered on the topic, but it usually seems like a detached preface to the actual text, without substance or much to say. For some reason slavery was always tackled much more seriously with accounts of what the slave trade, slave ships complete with common onboard deaths, life as a slave, and so on were like in trends and in experience. The only weird thing there is it’s always talked about as if it is in some distant past, quite detached from now. But I think that’s the audience, not the text.