The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on November 10th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

Sundays are for crawling out of bed, stuffing your craw with olives, and filling your brain with red hot words of videogame glory.

  • Margaret Robertson writes about FTL and, while promising not to, tells you about how good it is, while simultaneously conveying the joy of emergent systems, of playing games with friends and, well, videogames in general. “I like co-op games where the other player gets a beer, not a second controller, but can still be utterly pivotal to the outcome of a game. FTL, whose pause function lets it tick-tock between everything happening at once, and an eerily huge possibility space, is remarkably well geared for collaborative play.”
  • For further examples of smart, economical game writing, check out Robertson’s lamentably neglected Games I Like That You Might Like.
  • In Democracy: Experiments with Manifestos, Dan Griliopoulos takes the 2010 manifestos of UK political parties and runs them through Democracy 2. Why that older game in the series? Because it was written around the time of the elections, when I commissioned it for PC Gamer. Then we never ran the article, because we were profligate and wild back in those days. It’s still an excellent and relevant read today: “As the Lib-Dems pledged, I immediately slash 50% of the NHS and defence budgets (I presume cancelling the Trident replacement and the new Eurofighters), and use it to raise public sector pay, increase state pensions, reform the schools, and provide student grants for all. I fiddle with the tax system, reducing VAT and moving the bills onto the wealthy, polluters, motorists and airlines; the excess subsidises the rail networks, rural communities and small businesses.”
  • Dan’s had a good week. See also his interview with Patrick Smith, creator of the magical Windosill.
  • ‘You Can Sleep Here All Night’: Video Games and Labor takes a lengthy look at overtime and exploitation in videogame development. I disagree with its opening assertion that the videogame press is corrupt, but its an otherwise detailed look at the way creative industries take advantage of people’s passion, and what those workers should do about it. “Real unionization, involving an alliance between middle-rung workers and those itching to take their jobs below, is not just desirable but necessary, not only for the workers enmeshed in twelve-hour days, but to save the industry from tottering over the edge into obsolescence.”
  • Richard Cobbett’s Crap Shoot column continues to surprise and entertain. This week he writes a Choose Your Own Adventure about Lone Wolf, an old platformer based on some old Choose Your Own Adventure books. It’s Cobbett through and through.
  • Philippa Warr made use of all her professional skills to review a dog.
  • Paper Half-Life 2 is old but still good.
  • Music this week is a stiff drink.

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148 Comments »

  1. Viroso says:

    I’ve grown to dislike FTL and swear it off forever and at the same time still feel like playing it. It’s just that it seems to me like so many upgrade options are almost like traps, they exist just so you sink your money into crap before you learn what exactly guarantees survival.

    The game’s fun but if you don’t get these very specific things you’ll get some random encounter that fucks you over regardless of how well you’re doing. I’m sure there are people who can reliably beat it, but I think it’s because they discovered what few things actually work.

    I don’t mind losing, I just don’t like how it leads you on until the next dice roll deciding your fate unless you’ve figured out the few things that are any good in midst of all the noise. Defeat isn’t gradual, it can be hard to figure out why you lost and how to not lose next time.

    • Slaadfax says:

      Very much this. I do rather love that game, but I think its cardinal sin is that the final encounter is somewhere between challenging and near-impossible without a pretty specific ship loadout. Then, if you teleporters with a good boarding party and level 3 stealth to avoid getting massacred by particularly powerful (and somewhat bullshit) attacks, as I understand it, it’s almost trivial. However, even knowing these things, I’ve still never beaten it, which I’ll admit wounds my pride just a little.

      • mouton says:

        There is no specific loadout, you just need a good ship with lots of shields and guns. Stealth, teleporter and drones are optional, although each of them helps. If you do have stealth, level 1 is enough to dodge every superweapon discharge.

        • KDR_11k says:

          Boarding helps with getting there though, more scrap and more loot = higher chance of a good ship.

        • Baines says:

          Of the loadouts that you can reach the end boss with, there are probably more that can’t beat the boss than can.

          You can cruise through the game with minimal difficulty with builds that are completely ineffective against the end boss, and you will not know this until you reach the end boss. That is what happened the first time I reach the end boss. Not much trouble getting there, but I could only scratch the boss.

          Multiple games after that carried the feel that I was getting items/crew/upgrades that would get me to the end boss, but that I wasn’t finding combinations that could actually take down the boss. It isn’t exactly encouraging when halfway through you already feel (baring catastrophic accident or great luck) you are going to reach the end without issue but are then going to die to the boss battle, just because your luck hasn’t quite broken the right way for the first half.

          It doesn’t help that the end battle feels more like bs than fun, even if you have a capable ship and strategy.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Really? I find the end boss in FTL comparatively easy, although admittedly there is A Trick which makes all the difference in the world. It’ll be high-level auto-drones or rebel-riggers en-route that start really challenging me.

            Without putting too fine a point on it, it would be a much, much harder fight if all the rooms were connected together on the boss ship.

            You either need something that can crack four levels of shields and still do damage, or you need boarders. That gives you quite a lot of flexibility, really—the former can be lots of laser shots, or lots of missile/bomb ammo. There are things which can make it a lot easier (good crystal/mantis boarders will tear it apart), but largely the boss can be systematically dismembered, and what it can do to hurt you can be largely neutered early and otherwise dodged or weathered with either good shields or one dot of cloak, ideally combined with good evade. (More than that is actually increasing your time between cloaks, so unhelpful.)

            (I do wonder what FTL would be like if it had a Nightmare Mode difficulty where enemy ships actually synchronized and targetted weapons with some degree of smarts. I suspect even the pro-est of the pro would struggle to get past the first few sectors.)

      • Lemming says:

        Bro, do you even board?

        Because I don’t. I suck. :(

        • phuzz says:

          It took me a few games to get the hang of using teleporters, but now I usually remember to teleport my borders off before I destroy the enemy ship, which was a key breakthrough for me.
          Once you’ve got a couple of good crew for boarding the game can get easier, because you consistently capture enemy ships and thus get more loot.
          Then you come up against an automated scout and fail horribly because you’ve built purely for boarding and not straight combat.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Everyone always says you need this and that and the other thing to beat the boss. The first time I won, I didn’t have a teleporter or drones or a steath system. What I had, IIRC, was maxed-out shields and engines and a buttload of lasers. Each round, I knocked out the missile launcher first so they couldn’t bypass my shields; after that, most of what they threw at me missed and the rest of it bounced. I’m pretty sure the only damage I took in the whole fight was one or two missile hits before I knocked those out, and a bit of a bruising from a lucky superweapon hit in the last round. Meanwhile I was boring straight through all four of their shields with every volley, even before I started hitting their shield system and engine room. No sweat.

        It’s true that a limping and undersupplied Kestrel can make it to the final sector and have no hope of survival, and it’s possible for the RNG to screw you over hard enough that you really don’t have a chance. But if you’ve stayed ahead of the curve and not been forced to spend most of your cash on repairs, and you’ve got enough missiles and/or drones to meet the demands of your loadout, there’s a lot of different ways to beat the boss.

      • Contrafibularity says:

        Nonsense, these are the words of people who have yet to sink 100-150 (150-200-250-300) hours into the game, as intended (obviously). I know it’s tough and can be unfair, but we love it more for it in the end, admit it.

    • MattM says:

      Some upgrades are better than others. I have found that its possible to go for multiple different strategies, but you need decide fairly early which one you want and then focus your scrap on acquiring the necessary upgrades. I have beat the game with, mass lasers+a cutting beam type, missile/bomb spam, and mantis teleporter attacks.

      • Viroso says:

        Are there certain things that you can’t do without though?

        • MattM says:

          The two things that I feel are almost mandatory are a level I defense drone and at least 2 good laser weapons for taking down lesser enemies cheaply, but both these things are pretty widely available. I initially always went for a missile/bomb heavy strategy, but when I forced myself to commit to other paths I got good results.

          • Nogo says:

            Alternatively, I hate drones and missiles/bombs so I rarely use them. I’d tell you stealth is mandatory in that case.

            Although, I think we can both agree that lasers are pretty great. Nothing sucks more than finding out your ship is totally worthless against a certain enemy because you can’t do sustained DPS.

            Honestly, FTL is more about knowing what not to do. At that point you can succeed with almost any set-up, but the game really is exceedingly unfair to people who aren’t familiar with all of its systems.

          • MattM says:

            That’s true, stealth does offer an alternative to shields or defense drones. I forgot about that.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I wouldn’t say stealth is an equal alternative, though; the stealth ship is horribly difficult to live with until you can get some shields on it, whereas a shielded ship can make do without stealth (e.g. the Federation cruiser).

            Beam weapons will eat you alive, because they cannot be dodged.

          • Nogo says:

            @LionsPhil: I should have said Cloak instead of Stealth. Forgot they were two different things.

    • Yosharian says:

      There are ways of altering the game so that you can play it differently, that’s what I did

      • Viroso says:

        What ways?

        • Nogo says:

          I haven’t dabbled much, but mods that delay or disable the rebel fleet come to mind. Would have been a smart inclusion for the base game.

          • Viroso says:

            Oh I had never even considered modding, could look into it to get back playing

          • Phasma Felis says:

            Wow. That sounds incredibly dull and unchallenging.

        • Yosharian says:

          Well if I remember correctly I altered a couple of .ini files or downloaded a custom one or something, it disabled the fleet that chases after you so it turned into more of an exploration type of game, I got a lot of enjoyment out of it although naturally the challenge goes out the window after the 4th sector or so because the game isn’t designed for you to be able to visit every single node in a sector.

          But there are lots of other ways to alter the game, I’m sure. I just basically wanted to fly around in my spaceship blowing people up, and get secrets and stuff. The whole ‘race against time’ thing never appealed to me. Plus, listening to the dinky space music while blasting around the galaxy in your totally overpowered ship is pretty fun.

    • Nogo says:

      I’ll probably be branded a heretic for this, but save scumming can immensely help the FTL experience.

      Normally I recant such madness, but FTL loves to waste your time by delaying your punishment for foolish experimentation for 30 to 60 minutes, when the game suddenly throws new dynamics at you without warning.

      The simple ability to restart a sector (with randomized locations, mind) would have smoothed the learning curve immensely.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I would like to know if anyone managed to get the Crystal Cruiser without savescumming.

        And if so, if they feel they should have instead used that luck on a lottery ticket.

        • bwion says:

          I did. I doubt very much I could duplicate it, though.

          Oh well, lottery winners are said to be usually pretty miserable, right?

        • phuzz says:

          After finally giving up and resorting to save-scumming, I of course managed to unlock it first time. Because the RNG likes to fuck you that’s why.

        • belgand says:

          I feel like I got most of the way to it through random luck. I had my crystal crewman, but at the time I didn’t even know about the ship so I believe I actually went around the correct sector. Getting the extra ships is really the sort of thing where it’s pretty much all luck or checking a FAQ for the solution. They simply are not designed to be things that you would be able to find simply through making sensible choices and exploring well.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        I play FTL the same way. Find a good item or win a challenging fight, then exit and put that save file in a backup folder.

        If a game is going to expect me to play by its self-imposed rules of teeth-mashing randomness in order to succeed, I’m gonna save-scum as much as I can.

  2. Hodge says:

    This one is the best thing I read this week: Jeff Vogel on the indie bubble.

    I need to get up and turn the oven off now but I can’t move when that music’s on.

    • Vinraith says:

      Good read, though he forgot something critical: the difference between the pre-bubble and post-bubble market is that now, no one thinks indie games are worth paying any money for. Demand drops, supply increases, and the sitting precedent is already 10 games for a dollar. We’ve had a lovely little run here, but all this intrinsic game devaluing is about to come back and bite the more vulnerable sectors of the industry hard, and that’s a damn shame.

      • dE says:

        That’s certainly true. In the last year or so, my games library has exploded. It has reached a point where a lot of the games were just some mere bonus because I was interested in another game in a bundle. Imagine that, years of hard work turned into a mere “oh… a bonus. Sweet, I guess”.
        And the worst part, the market is training me to only buy in bundles anymore. I bought Ring Runner full price, certainly worth it. But then saw it in a bundle not even a month down the line after its release. Or I bought the new Kings Bounty when it was on sale and a week later, I could hypothetically get it for a dollar because it became shovelware for a bundle. And then it gets worse, there are at least fifty games I got as a “mere bonus”, that aren’t even released yet. Through various bundles I’ve already got 3 versions of Underrail for example.

        There’s not even a linear price drop anymore. It’s suiciding off a cliff shortly after it started running. AAA titles seem to go from 50$ to 5$ in about two months. Indies start with “we’d really like 10$ for it… but actually if you were greedy and present at the time, you could have gotten it for less than a dollar as part of some bundle already. Please pay the 10$? Please? Geez I wonder why no one pays 10$ for it”.

        • Baines says:

          Don’t forget the Steam sale effect on pricing, which developers and publishers have admitted has affected their pricing.

          Charge $2.50 for your game, and people will ignore it. Charge $10 for your game, but mark it 75% off, and people will buy it. Steam sales have conditioned people to wait for the inevitable sale. Not just that, but to wait for the 75% off sale. Because once you discount your game once, people believe it will be discounted to 66% or 75% in a future big sale. And in the meantime, they’ll buy some other game that is 75% off.

          I’m pretty sure that has helped push the devaluation that has happened with bundles.

          And of course Greenlight. People pretty much (and sometimes flat out openly) give away their games for free in an attempt to get Greenlight votes.

        • PikaBot says:

          What AAA titles are YOU buying? The only time they dip that low and haven’t been out for years is if they were so disastrous (Aliens: Colonial Marines) that the publishers are desperate to do something, ANYTHING, to recoup costs.

          Anyway, I just don’t think this is how people do things. It’s all well and good to say “wait for the sale” but when you want to play the game NOW and the price is low enough to be an easy impulse buy (which most indie games are)…well, unless you have reason to believe that a big sale is right around the corner, I don’t think most people hold off.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I bought Dishonoured for about a tenner a month after release ( thanks to savvygamer).

            I dislike having to use Steam but since I’m forced to my compromise is to wait till a game is at least half price. This normally means a month after release.

            If a game is DRM free and looks interesting I make a point of paying full price on GOG or wherever.

      • Geebs says:

        That kinda makes sense, but the idea that “this industry/art form/country was great until all the Johnny-come-latelys showed up” is universal to all human endeavours and is uncomfortably close to the Randian “Okay, I’m aboard, pull up the ladder” worldview.

    • Viroso says:

      I don’t like how he calls it a bubble. I don’t think there’s a bubble. But it’s true that it’s getting more competitive. People talk about getting stuck on Greenlight, but as soon as nobody’s stuck in there anymore then people will get stuck on the store because everyone will be on the store.

      The thing I think is more important is that indie game is hardly a category. It isn’t everyone doing the same thing, there’s tons of diversity. This is why I don’t think it’s a bubble, much less one that can pop. If Braid, Limbo and Super Meat Boy did a bunch of money it wasn’t because they were indie but because they filled a gap. Antichamber filled a gap.

      There’s room to get away from competition by making something nobody has seen before or making what everyone wants to play but for some reason nobody’s making.

      • Shuck says:

        It’s absolutely a bubble because it’s a flurry of activity that’s all unsustainable. As the ‘Video Games and Labor’ article points out, the average indie developer is making a small fraction of the income of a studio developer, not nearly enough to live on (and that’s an optimistic wage estimate). There’s a flood of games, partially as a result of that the pricing expectation for those games continues to drop, and the vast majority of those games are going to fail, hard. Meanwhile the rare, lucky, successful game isn’t going to be making the sort of revenue it used to, either, as the competition and lowered prices will have eaten away income. Kickstarter is no help, as the average campaign doesn’t raise enough money to cover costs; we’re going to see a lot of “successful” Kickstarters where the developers end up in the red when their game comes out.

      • Tams80 says:

        It’s definitely a bubble.

        The simple fact is that games are being sold at far too low prices, that require ridiculous sales in order to recoup their costs. Developers are undervaluing their games as a result and have encouraged the expectation that indie games are cheap. Then there is the fact that there are so many indie games, many likely get lost in the crowd despite getting media coverage. I certainly gloss over most indie game reviews (actually it’s got to the point where I rarely get past the title).

        It’s almost like a pyramid scheme (though isn’t one). The first ones in have benefited greatly. The next lot (an increased number as well) have done well. Now I think we will see a lot not doing very well and in some cases failing dramatically (it has already started to happen).

        • PikaBot says:

          That’s not a bubble. A bubble occurs not when there’s more activity in a market than can be sustained a normal equilibrium conditions, but when that activity is caused by overvaluation on the part of speculative investors; in other words, people push money into the market because the market is being heavily overvalued. The growth is illusory. This leads inevitably to a ‘pop’ moment, where the illusion is ripped away and the market is shocked by the repercussions of all that ‘value’ suddenly vanishing.

          None of that is occurring in the indie scene. Whether we’re approaching the dev saturation point or not, the value of the market is real, not illusory. It just may not be enough to sustain further growth.

      • Frank says:

        To be pedantic, you are right: it is not a bubble. High volume does not make a bubble; you need high prices. I guess he’d be right if he was saying the “bubble” was already over (with the Audiosurf guy, et al making way more money than they would if entering the market now), though that wasn’t really about high prices so much as high revenue.

        Anyway, I agree with Vogel. Having a real job and making games (or at least your own games) only in spare time sounds like the way to go until success strikes.

    • MattM says:

      The indie market does seem a lot more crowded today than it did six years ago. In 2008 Braid and World of Goo came out. Back then it seemed possible to play all the major indie releases. Now it seems like 3 polished, interesting indie games come out each week and I can’t even come close to keeping up. It’s pretty great for me as a gamer, but it means I feel little pressure to pay full price even for indies I am very interested in. Why would I when I still have 20 other indies sitting unplayed in my steam and gog accounts.

      • malkav11 says:

        Especially when there’s about a 90% chance they’re going to turn up in a bundle or at the very least a sale. I support particular devs (like Vogel) and/or games I have immediate interest in but everything else can generally wait.

    • Consumatopia says:

      The real solution is for developers who want to make games to get a full time job making something else and just occasionally make the odd Ludum Dare or other hobby project. It’s supply and demand–there are too many people trying to be professional game developers for them to demand adequate wages. And the bigger gaming gets, the worse the labor oversupply problem will be–it means more kids dreaming of making games, but not necessarily more jobs making those games–reproducing more copies of games has nearly zero marginal cost.

      • Shuck says:

        Indie game development has become like book publishing – the costs are all borne by the creator, and very few of the people who publish make enough money to survive on that, which means for most people it’s a hobby, essentially, something supported by a day job. Except that few indie developers approach it that way, right now. Everyone is burning through savings in the hope of making a living at it down the road. Since there’s more labor required to make a game than write a book, doing it as a hobby is difficult to sustain and results in rare output, so if developers wise up, output will plummet.

        • Baboonanza says:

          Ah, that’s exactly what makes it ‘Indie’ in the first place. If the funding was even partially provided by a publisher then you’d be in the exact situation that most Indie devs are trying to avoid.

    • ComfortFit says:

      He gives “luck” too much credit. He’d be better off identifying it as risk then luck for starters. He also seems to beleive there isn’t any way to mitigate it and that its the sole barrier to success, but that isn’t really true. Any indie with a lick of business sense should be able to, to some degree, spot trends in what is demanded in the market and also have an idea how to market their game so it stands out enough. There is the problem, very very few indies have this business sense, or if they do they choose to ignore it for means of artistic vision which is okay too.

      But saying that luck trumps being able to spot a trend, make a polished game that catches these trends, and market it properly is a bit of bullpuckey. That isn’t how markets work, doesn’t matter if its the videogame industry or not.

      • malkav11 says:

        It’s a common problem for creative professions that the people who do them rarely also have a strong background in running a business and marketing themselves, and since that’s a critical component if you want to actually make a living at your creativity, you either need to be able to do that yourself or you need to hire someone to do it for you. And the latter often isn’t practical at the stage where you’d need it most – the early going, when you don’t have a reliable customer base.

        My mom’s husband has run afoul of this – he’s a freelance photographer, writer and video editor and although for many years he managed to get along just fine on his own (because he had an actual proper job working at public television in addition to his freelance income streams), that eventually ended and my mother’s been the main source of income for their household since they moved out of state (as obviously his local clients were left behind and he’s had trouble self-promoting to get new clients). He did eventually land teaching work with a local community college, but that’s not quite the same as making money at his creative talents.

      • Shuck says:

        @ComfortFit: No, sorry, that’s “bullpuckey.” Luck is key, and every game is always a gamble. We’re talking about a creative product. Apply all of this to, say, authors and it’s obviously ridiculous. We’re also essentially talking about different products: the interest and skills that allow a team to make an amazing FPS don’t carry over to making good Facebook casual games. There’s a special kind of alchemy to making a good game, and making a good game that captures people’s attention is a further bit of luck in itself.
        “being able to spot a trend, make a polished game that catches these trends, and market it properly”
        What constitutes a “trend”? One successful game, two, more? (Probably more before you can tease out which of the elements caused the game’s success.) By the time a trend reveals itself, it’s generally too late to capitalize on it in the game industry – it takes too long to make a game (doubly so for a “polished” game), and by the time you make your “me too” game, a dozen developers have already made games that are part of the trend just because they coincidentally happened to be working on such games before the trend revealed itself. And most of those developers won’t succeed outside the first few that blundered onto the trend in the first place. Which was down to luck.
        This is not to say that marketing and management aren’t important. Bad marketing can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. There’s a direct correlation between marketing money spent and game sales, but that doesn’t help indies who have no money to spend. They’re left trying to compete with a hundred other developers with identical approaches on even footing – luck is what distinguished you. (That is, coming up with a particular approach that just happens to resonate where an identical strategy that’s manifested in a different way doesn’t.) And sure, poor management can fritter away needed money; poor management can make it impossible to make games. But neither good marketing nor good management is going to make any game the next Minecraft. Yes, Notch did everything right – he interacted with the community (and it was the right community, and in the right way), he made a game that lent itself to being shown off on Youtube. Other developers have done that without success. But he made a game that just happened, by chance, to mix particular game influences in a particular way that struck people at that particular time, and those people showed other people, until it reached the gaming press and others who had a large audience. At that point the self-sustaining feedback that powers viral marketing happened (where people cover the game because other people are covering the game). And that was luck. It was luck that he happened to make a game that people responded to, and luck that enough people were exposed to it that it could be successful.

        • ComfortFit says:

          You are putting words in my mouth and confusing some key issues here.

          ” There’s a special kind of alchemy to making a good game, and making a good game that captures people’s attention is a further bit of luck in itself.”

          Do note that I never once brought up how difficult it actually is to make a decent game, as it is obviously very difficult to do so. But in the end, even someone who makes a masterpiece of a game isn’t likely going to make a good selling game. Why? Its up to several reasons. The niche they are in may be competitive, the game may not have a certain level of visual polish, and lastly the game may have a poor marketing job making it that more distinct from its competition. With prior knowledge, gained from observation of all of the above, you mitigated the risk of you investing in your project. It isn’t luck, it is risk. You can manage risk, with the right skill set to do so.

          “What constitutes a “trend”? One successful game, two, more?”

          It depends. Let me give you an example of a game I’ve been working on entirely by hobby for the past 1.2~ years. Its a game about evolving bacteria in a petri dish. I came up with the idea because I see a trend in scienc-y games selling decently from both indie and large publishers alike. I see a clear, emergent niche in this genre. The likes of games such as Kerbal, Portal, Spore, and such capitalize in. Its a growing trend and I think that niche has a big market in it. There, I’ve now mitigated potential risk of my projects funds by targeting an area with little competition.

          This is the risk management and business decisions I’m talking about. Sure, I could make a text based adventure game and call it art, but sell well it isn’t going to. That is just painfully obvious by observing the market. Would it be nice if I could just churn out whatever I like and hope it does its best? Sure. But that is a dumb investment strategy, and as you accurately point out being an indie you have even less funds at your disposal, so you need to be more aware of these things.

          “There’s a direct correlation between marketing money spent and game sales, but that doesn’t help indies who have no money to spend. They’re left trying to compete with a hundred other developers with identical approaches on even footing – luck is what distinguished you”

          Luck isn’t what distinguishes you at all. You just need that marketing sense or proper cost management. Again, this is down to as you put it, either the indies don’t have the money or the skillset to market their game, that doesn’t mean its luck determining their fate. Its poor management. When you invest into a project, you need to put an idea of how much marketing you will need. Period. The problem is most don’t even consider it at all. And consequently are left to themselves to market the game. When they don’t know what they are doing, yes they are going to fail.

          If they can’t do it themselves they need to hire outside marketing, if that wasn’t factored into their projected cost that is their poor business management. If they intend to do it themselves they need to be able to do it right. I plan to market my game myself when the time is ready. (Do note that my situation is not ideal for the conversation, as I’m doing this entirely as a hobby project and am currently enrolled in medical school for my actual career, so my investment risk is next to nil, but lets talk hypothetically here for a moment with me as an example.) When I finally get around to marketing my game, I am going to take the time to see what is doing well. If I were to market my game right now for instance I’d pull a set of gameplay videos featuring some funny gimmicks and post about it to every blog/jouno I know of. Why? Because I’m seeing comedy selling games. The likes of Paradox and The Stanley Parable all selling decently based off good culture surrounding their lighthearted marketing techniques. I beleive it would further mitigate risk and help me sell my product that much more than if I had chosen some other route. And if I left it to some outside help to market my game, I’d have put that into the cost to make my game when I started making it.

          And, taking your example of sudden competition that wasn’t foreseeable, sure that stinks but if you aren’t prepared to manage that situation by further setting your marketing apart from the new competition- it’s again on your poor management of the situation, not so much the luck aspect of it.

          Luck and risk are two different things. If I aim to become the next notch? Of course luck will be a factor. But if I just want to sell a sizeable chunk of games? Risk is the key, and risk is manageable with market sense. While I’m not saying this article doesn’t have its merits, such as the fact there is less money to be made overall, it is flat out wrong in how it portrays luck as the end all.

          And lastly, your comparison to book authorship is a bit of a silly thing, as the two marketplaces are massively different. The games industry is not just a creative industry, it is part software, part interactive competition, part narrative, part visual, etc. To put it simply, indie games developers have more clout in getting their products on a recognized storefront then any given book author. And that is just scratching the surfaces of differences…

          • Shuck says:

            I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, just point out what you’re missing. That making a good game is such a matter of luck and the success of the game is predicated on that fact (and to be clear, by “good” I mean a game that pushes people’s buttons at the time of release such that they want to pay money for it; any other definition is subjective or irrelevant, and by “luck” I mean it’s something that you can neither control nor predict in any meaningful way). Bad marketing may diminish its success, but in a near zero-budget marketing situation (which is what we’re talking about, with indie games), how “good” the game is will determine ultimately play a major role in how successful it can be. With no budget for marketing, you can’t advertise your way to better sales; the game ultimately has to speak for itself, and that’s not something you can do successful risk mitigation on, because it’s so unpredictable. The fact of the matter is that there’s so much competition now that you can have great marketing, but if the game doesn’t do it for people, it’s still going to be a commercial failure. In fact, the market is such now that you can have great advertising, a good game, and still be a commercial failure, because that still doesn’t guarantee enough revenue to support a commercial endeavor. Most games commercially fail.

            “Sciency” is really not a trend. It’s something that various games at different times have had as an element of premise, story, or mechanics, which doesn’t even make them particularly connected. And what about “sciency” games that have failed? That’s not an element that indicates anything as a predictor of success. (And there’s at least one game coming out in the near future that fits that description, so it’s not exactly an untapped space, either.)

            “I could make a text based adventure game and call it art”
            Now we’re talking about accessibility, about breadth of appeal, which is really another issue. A game can be successful by targeting a very niche audience (with a small enough development team) if it strongly appeals to that niche. A game that’s accessible grows it’s potential audience, but most games are going for the broad audience (and failing), so that doesn’t mean much.
            And we’re not talking about art games (that have no expectation of sales); we’re talking about commercially minded games. Any number of which are going to have marketing strategies identical to yours. So even here luck does play a part. You want a funny marketing campaign? Plenty of other developers do, too. You think other people aren’t doing exactly the sort of thing you’re talking about? You don’t think RPS and other sites aren’t being constantly bombarded by marketing for games, many of which aren’t using identical approaches? The vast majority of them you’ll never hear about, because they didn’t strike a chord with their marketing at that particular moment with that particular reader.

            There are risks that can be managed, yes, sure, but they’re minor in comparison to the sheer luck needed to have a successful, sustainable business in game development.

            You’re exactly the sort of would-be developer that Vogel is trying to warn. You think that your situation is special, and that everyone else who doesn’t manage it must be incompetent, and that you’ve had some revelation that no one else has had that will give you an advantage. Guess what, you’re doing the exact same thing as a whole lot of other people. Good luck – you’re going to need it.

          • ComfortFit says:

            “I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, just point out what you’re missing. That making a good game is such a matter of luck and the success of the game is predicated on that fact (and to be clear, by “good” I mean a game that pushes people’s buttons at the time of release such that they want to pay money for it; any other definition is subjective or irrelevant, and by “luck” I mean it’s something that you can neither control nor predict in any meaningful way).”

            I hate to break this to you, but being a good game isn’t the only thing that sells games. Games can sell well and not “push people’s buttons” at all. Is it an ideal situation to make a game that doesnt push people’s buttons? Of course not, but it will still sell given some other conditions are ideal. Theres pleanty of evidence of this. WarZ managed to top Steam sales for weeks on end, its about as objectively a poor as a game can be. But there was buzz around it, and its in a hot genre (Zombie survival hooooooooo). You can’t sit here and tell me that just being a good game is what sells a game. It helps get press if its good, sure, but its not the end-all either. And it isn’t luck involved in creating such an experience either, but you are derailing this into subject matter I wasn’t commenting on. My point is simply luck =/= determinant in game succes, not by a long shot. That has nothing so much to do with the quality of particular game.

            “Bad marketing may diminish its success, but in a near zero-budget marketing situation how “good” the game is will determine ultimately play a major role in how successful it can be.”

            Again this isn’t really true. Are you telling me most games today aren’t sold off reviews/word of mouth? Point me to how many games offer demos these days. Few do. People don’t buy into a game because they know for sure they will enjoy it, because they haven’t played it yet to know if it is “good”. How will they know it is good? Well placed marketing, targeting the right audience, and standing out against competition. Sure, good gameplay plays into the equation but it isn’t luck that is determining this. Besides, on some level all games have to play similar to one another within the genre. If what you stated is fact how can you possibly explain some games, in the same genre with similar gameplay, sell well over one another? Simple, its risk management. Not luck. End of discussion there really…

            ‘“Sciency” is really not a trend. It’s something that various games at different times have had as an element of premise, story, or mechanics, which doesn’t even make them particularly connected. And what about “sciency” games that have failed? That’s not an element that indicates anything as a predictor of success. (And there’s at least one game coming out in the near future that fits that description, so it’s not exactly an untapped space, either.)’

            “Now we’re talking about accessibility, about breadth of appeal, which is really another issue. ”

            It isn’t another issue, its part of the same issue I’ve been making since I first posted. You need to look at the climate of the niche you are targeting for success. If you want to be financially viable. That is risk management. Right. There. Your curbing the amount of “luck” you have against your success, by targeting an area more statistically likely to give you financial success. Again, if you want to make you art game go ahead. You can do whatever you like. That isn’t what is being questioned, we are talking about financial viability. I think you are too caught up in just the marketing aspect that was mentioned. That is only a part of a project, the design of the game, the genre, the art behind it, all play to the success of your game. Know why this is, and manage it. Then what seems like “luck” takes a backseat and you find a more sustainable income. Now do you get what I’m saying?

            “There are risks that can be managed, yes, sure, but they’re minor in comparison to the sheer luck needed to have a successful, sustainable business in game development.”

            This just isn’t true. Sorry, but it isn’t.

            “You’re exactly the sort of would-be developer that Vogel is trying to warn. You think that your situation is special, and that everyone else who doesn’t manage it must be incompetent, and that you’ve had some revelation that no one else has had that will give you an advantage. Guess what, you’re doing the exact same thing as a whole lot of other people. Good luck – you’re going to need it.”

            I’m not the same type of “developer” at all. Again, I have near-0 risk in this project as I have mentioned, if I were burning my savings and my future wasn’t set in medicine then you might have a point. But even ignoring that fact, the reason I spoke up in the first place is because, for starters my BS is in risk management for occupations. I have education in how to manage costs by weighing risks, and doing so while balancing health into the equation as well. I am literally certified to do this, so I have a bit more authority to speak of such matters than most people do. And, what paid for my undergrad education? A family owned business that I have watched grow since I was a child. I know how starting a project from start to finish works, I’ve seen it first hand and my family has been successful at it. We know who our target consumer is, we work that into design of our product and have been reaping the benefits since.

            The principles aren’t any different just because we are now talking about games. When you start making a game, you need to manage your costs. Know the risks of starting the project, and in the end if you know what you are doing you will be to some degree successful.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Genre choice and marketing don’t guarantee success either. Consider The Sims Social. There is surely quite a bit of intersection between fans of The Sims and social games. EA certainly had the marketing muscle to make sure people were aware of the game. It was prominent enough that Zynga tried to clone it. It didn’t last very long.

            Look, big companies have plenty of smart, experienced MBAs with good track records looking at this stuff. And they still fail sometimes. If this could all be reduced to a science, I’d expect them to be better at that science than you are.

            There are plenty of zombie games. Two big factors in The War Z sales: people confusing the name with the Arma mod, presence on Steam. The first one isn’t ethical, but even so there are plenty of failed games in popular, hot genres that do the same thing. (Pull your phone out of your pocket, go to your app store, look at the list of just released games. A lot of clones, right?). The second one takes non-negligible resources to pull off–there are plenty of developers desperate to get onto Steam.

            Bottom line is–some people don’t have the resources you talk about, they try to make a game anyway, and a few get lucky and succeed. Most would-be indie devs are probably (unfortunately) in that boat. Now, in a sense, you could say the failure of the vast majority of them isn’t a matter of luck, because they should have been smart enough to stay out the business in the first place. But that’s not the sort of thing Vogel is talking about. When you say “if I were burning my savings and my future wasn’t set in medicine then you might have a point”, well, Vogel isn’t talking to you, and for the people he is talking to, he does have a point.

            Good luck with your medical career and your game.

      • Tams80 says:

        Luck definitely is important. You can be the most talented marketeer there is, but if someone doesn’t stumble into your marketing and is interested in it, then it means nothing. Companies spend millions on marketing, yet a lot is likely wasted. The way they are successful (usually) is because they throw as much as possible at it and hope it something sticks; they are improving their chances. They are gambling.

        Now the better your marketing, the more likely it is to stick with someone once they do notice. They may even share it (the holy grail of marketing)! You can improve your chances by the aforementioned throwing as much as possible at it and having interesting marketing, and you can also target it where it is more likely to pique people’s interest.

        In short, you can drastically improve your chances, but at the end of the day you still need to be lucky, even if you are a big company.

        • ComfortFit says:

          See my other response for a breakdown of why it really isn’t. Or

          tl;dr

          Luck = unmanageable, completely random circumstances.

          Risk = manageable set of circumstances.

          Its risk, not luck. Sure, the odds may be stacked against you but there is always some degree of management available to you. While it isn’t a guarantee to get you rich, it can be the difference between a successful indie and one left in the dust. It isn’t just a marketing thing either, it is pretty much every aspect of your game. Genre, the visuals, etc. all play a role in the success of your game.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I think the reason few people are agreeing with you is due to your unusual definition of luck.

            Noone is saying that’s its not possible to maximize your chances, just that even if you do so success is very far from guaranteed. You can call this managing your risks if you like but even playing smart you will not be able to manage the risk to the extent that your success is not reliant on large amounts of luck as most people define the word.

          • ComfortFit says:

            It isn’t unusual. It is what we learned in Risk Management. Its textbook definitions in making a distinction between what someone has no control over versus something they have clear management over. And yes, if you manage it well you will always be to some degree successful. Enough surely to put toward another, more fruitful project. Its how all small business startups work. Period.

            I have a feeling people disagree with me because its so simple to dismiss their failures to luck as opposed to them not actually understanding they could have put the time into observing the market they are entering economically. That probably makes me sound like a harsh jerk but its also very true.

            Nothing anyone has said in arguement holds true when put into a hypothesis and tested. “Games have to be good to sell well, and only luck is what takes it from there” is what the only argument (1 person only disagreed with me and argued it, not “many” as you put it?) has been. Test that hypothesis with every game out there and it fails. WarZ? Pretty bad game, sold well because it targeted a popular genre at the time. Hell, most AAA developers homogenize genres and sell similar games that aren’t necessarily fun but they still sell because they have the management behind them.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Luck is not the opposite of risk. If the outcome is uncertain, and it moves in your favor, that’s luck. Luck is the difference between the expected outcome* and the actual outcome.

            *(EDIT: by “expected outcome”, I mean the mean outcome you should expect given the evidence available to you.)

          • WrenBoy says:

            @ComfortFit

            Actually I said that few agree not that many disagree. In saying that you may have only noticed one but there are now more than a few who disagree. I think its safe to say you will not fail from an overabundance of pessimism.

            Either you were badly served by your risk management classes or you were a poor student. You believe that sound risk management guarantees success. In fact it can only minimize the risk of failure. Even the most basic risk management class will attempt to teach you to recognize risks which have to be just accepted.

            A videogame startup is an inherently high risk activity and the risk cannot be eliminated to the extent that you don’t need significant luck. While you are correct to say that quality alone won’t guarantee success you sound naive rather than harsh when you claim your business acumen will.

            Best of luck to your videogame though. I hope you manage to finish it and that is as successful financially as it is artistically.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            Have you ever heard the expression, “If you have a hammer in your hand, everything starts to look like a nail?”

            That’s you with risk-management.

            And since the average working person’s only interactions with risk-management, at least by that name, consist of powerpoint presentations and cheesy posters in the break room, you might find it hard convincing anyone to care about why you think this particular blogger is wrong, no matter how great your parents were, and how successful you know you are known to be.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        Of course it’s how markets work. The fact that most new restaurants fail is legendary, for example. It’s true that there’s some markets where a newcomer can follow a formula and have a better-than-even chance of making a living, but videogames has never been one of those.

        Of course, there’s this whole American Dream/Hero of Capitalism/whatever-you-want-to-call-it myth structure that says that anyone with some guts, savvy, and willpower can make it big sure thing, that luck is never a factor, and that anyone who fails just didn’t want it bad enough; but that’s never actually been true.

        • ComfortFit says:

          Will power doesn’t help, no, but having a clue about your market does. Its what defines success in any market. The games industry isn’t any different, aside from the fact more indies in the scene don’t really realize that.

    • Josh W says:

      There’s a gem in that article:

      “If your game can’t succeed based on word-of-mouth marketing, unless you get real lucky, you need to adjust your budget, your quality, or both.”

      This is something I agree with. No-one should be trying to get rps or polygon or anyone else to show their game for any reason other than any normal person would want to share their game with a friend. You won’t be able to compete with AAA games in terms of paying for attention, and if it’s not simply good, then you will be abusing all that good will.

      Make a game someone can recommend.

      Course, for a lot of people, it’s going to be a gamble no matter what. Although Jeff says all you need is time, you need time that’s supported by an income. So you’re always going to be putting probably quite a lot of money into the game.

      He was focusing on a different idea, about whether you can get the jackpot by making an indie game, but his talk about bubbles raises a more important question; is it going to continue to be possible to make a living out of indie games?

      That’s where that phrase could do with being quantified: What is success likely to be? How much money will a moderately succesful but relatively low profile indie game make? And then, working back from that, can you make a game that is of that level of quality in the time it would take you to spend that amount of money? If not, it might be better to go part time and support it as a developing hobby. Unfortunately I don’t know of medium succesful games designers who have revealed the level of income they are able to make off of their games. I think it’d probably take a certain amount of research.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Bubble is a very wrong word to use because it describes a different set of economic behaviors. He is right though, there is now a surplus of amazing games on PC, and it will reach equilibrium sooner or later.

      However, that equilibrium will likely be higher than it was in 2006-8. The PC was undervalued then, significantly so, and we were missing AAA ports then too. Similarly, AA companies were undergoing a period of destruction and expansion in that time; either they went out of business or become multiple studio behemoths. Also, AAA companies had completely withdrawn from creativity. That vacuum created unusually fertile ground for new companies. Now that fertile ground is being filled, and becoming increasingly difficult for disruptors, but that doesn’t mean the market will suffer a violent collapse instead of a more moderate readjustment.

      So yes, competition is going to be much tougher. Your isometric action game is competing against Bastion. Your roleplaying game is going against Vogel, Project Eternity, Wasteland, and Torment. Your addictive and brutal game is going against the brilliant and established Terry Cavanaugh. But there’ll still be more games being made.

      However, peoples’ needs are more adequately met now, and the market is more efficient. Even if many devs cannot compete in the upcoming restricted market (and the restriction will probably be time), there will still be more devs making more experiences five years ago, and PC gamers will be better off than they were in 2007, even if they won’t be as well off as they are now. Niche players can still buy games online in far greater numbers with significantly reduced distribution outlays. I think this adjustment will take place a little later than people in the industry predict though, especially a price adjustment, because of kickstarter. Kickstarters requires far lower outlay costs (Shadowrun Returns team is a hundred thousand or two out of money to make the game rather than two million), which means that release prices are far less important for recouping costs, and it’s a great market indicator, which decreases wasted time and money. Both of these efficiencies will be good for consumers and producers, even if he’s right that the gain’ll be uneven.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      You are all mad. Don’t think like an economist here, this is the second golden age of gaming. Just because games aren’t strictly art doesn’t mean they can’t be compared with say golden ages in film (pre-Hollywood code) or music. For example I’ve never heard anyone talk about “the Jazz Bubble”. Stop inserting economics where it doesn’t belong. This is no bubble, just enjoy all the great games!

  3. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Why is LewieP no longer writing for you guys, what’s happened?

    • zachforrest says:

      Glad someone asked…

      • Vesuvius says:

        Hear hear, I’ve been missing the bucket. What happened?

        Oh man, I’d been hoping you were being hyperbolic Sp4rkR4t, but apparently he was truly sacked: https://twitter.com/LewieP

        • Martel says:

          Whoa, that’s pretty crazy. Doesn’t sound like he expected it either.

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          Not enough click baiting maybe :o(

          • Baines says:

            I wonder if he didn’t share a certain social issue view that RPS sometimes pushes. With the way RPS has been at times in the last year or two, I could see someone getting sacked for not towing the company line.

          • Hanban says:

            Tinfoil hat at the ready I see.

          • Guvornator says:

            From the man himself:

            “I wasn’t sacked for refusing to tow a party line on issues of feminism (or similar issues), this was not a factor in my dismissal at all.

            I don’t always agree with how RPS editors choose to cover these topics, but I generally have a similar perspective to them on the issues.”

          • Baines says:

            Well, that addresses that possibility.

        • Sunjumper says:

          Now that’s depressing news…

        • Vinraith says:

          Yikes, thanks for the link. I wonder what the story is there? I didn’t always agree with Lewie’s choices or priorities, but he always ran a good column nevertheless.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Indeed, there’s not much that entices me onto the internet on a Sunday and Lewie was one of those rare writers who grabbed my attention enough to get me to boot up the computer.

            Whatever the situation is, I can’t imagine anyone is happy about this decision. Hopefully Lewie decides to continue his column on savygamer.co.uk and I’ll be moseying on over there in future.

        • T4u3rs says:

          Bad news, indeed. WTF happened RPS?

        • phelix says:

          That makes me sad. The Bargain Bucket has always been the bright spot in every dreary saturday for me.

          • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

            I’ve got a lot of value out of the Bargain Bucket, really sad to see Lewie go – hopefully we’ll have an explanation before too long.

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          Long Shot Kick de bucket! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyeG5Vp5j00

        • tormos says:

          RPS, Let Us Discuss This Thing!

          • Frank says:

            I second this.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I obviously know nothing about what has gone on here but it seems poor form not to give the guy a goodbye at least.

            Lewies saved me plenty of dough and seems a good guy. Best of luck to him.

          • Guvornator says:

            I third this – I’m sure RPS has it’s reasons and I hope they’re good ones. I’m too old to find another gaming site, but if that’s the way the wind is blowing…

        • The Random One says:

          It does look like A Strange Thing Went Down.

          If I may, I’ll bring up Gamersgate’s racing weekend and demand everyone buy the recently GFWL-freed F.U.E.L. and everyone play it with me forever because it is pretty frickin great.

          • Martel says:

            I can’t believe I didn’t know about this game, it looks amazing. I want to play a racing game, but every time I do I get frustrated about it being such a closed world. This sounds fantastic, going to buy it now.

        • Jac says:

          I’ve always thought of the bargain bucket as a being a big part of what makes RPS great. Sorry to hear this news. Thanks for all the good times my wallet shall miss thee

          • Vesuvius says:

            It’s been a favorite part of my Saturday morning routine for the last couple years- the bucket and the debate about lewie’s opinions.

          • Consumatopia says:

            Seconding this. I’m much more interested in what people think about a game after its been out for months or years, after people have played the heck out of it, what parts about the experience they remember. The discussion, both Lewie’s perspective and responses, was much more interesting than the deals themselves. Whatever happened between them, I hope RPS keeps up something like BB and Lewie goes on to something good.

        • Nova says:

          That sucks. I’m not that surprised by RPS, though.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Since Twitter’s a moving target and people read Sunday Papers past Sunday, here’s a link to the specific post: https://twitter.com/LewieP/status/399559680080756736

          There’s…probably a way to step forward through time from there? Well, there should be. Twitter, man.

        • mechchimp says:

          Sad to see the second main culprit of my huge non-played games catalog go.

        • Barberetti says:

          Shit :(

        • FluffyHyena says:

          That’s sad. I liked reading The Bucket because it was a nifty way to look at quick reviews of not-so-new games in one convenient and funny page while having my Sunday breakkie . “Goatee Edition” was my favorite expression from Lewie :) Good luck lad!

        • Gap Gen says:

          Weird. I suppose it’s unlikely RPS will air its dirty laundry publicly, but it does sound like more than the feature being dropped due to low readership or something like that if he isn’t going to write for them in any capacity in the future. Unless the situation is being misunderstood somehow.

          • zachforrest says:

            Hmm BB always got a good number of comments, there’s definitely less popular regular content.

          • Sunjumper says:

            Furthermore the bargain bucket appeared usually on Saturdays when the site was in weekend hibernation, so the idea that it has been axed because it was of not enough interest does not seem that probable.

            I’d really like to know what happened there. It always looks so much more sinister and dramatic when people get fired or features are axed without an explenation.
            It is also a bit creepy to see RPS to do something this way as it looks like such a ‘corporate’ way to do things. I am sure that there are good reasons behind all this. (At least I very much hope so)

          • WrenBoy says:

            Hopefully RPS itself is not struggling.

        • Muzman says:

          Pity it’s gone.
          They’ve taken on a lot of people recently to varying degrees it seems. I wonder if they had to make a hard choice because they couldn’t keep all the casuals, were lining someone else up for a full time slot or some other thing.

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      From a pure readers perspective this weakens the site, so there must have been something serious going on to make RPS resort to that (it would make no sense for RPS to ditch Lewie/Bucket as a ‘strategy’ decision).

      Unless times are really tough and they’re having to cut back on their paid article-writers? But I’d have thought that’s unlikely..

      • Geebs says:

        I wonder if some of the sites recommended for cheap Steam keys turned out to be less than legit? (‘cos I like Lewie’s writing and can’t think of many other valid reasons for firing him)

        • Baines says:

          Short of a big scandal breaking over illegitimate keys, which there doesn’t seem to be, wouldn’t that be a rather extreme response? Wouldn’t you normally just say “Stop covering those companies in the future?”

  4. Kefren says:

    And just in case anyone’s interested in something to do with DRM: http://karldrinkwater.blogspot.com/2013/11/why-i-hate-drm-i-want-to-play.html

  5. root says:

    Those QA wage statistics are really skewed since they don’t include relevant worldwide stats. “Europe” is really too loose of a term to cover the wide net of QA focused studios run by the big gaming publishers. An average salary of 30.000$ is complete joke considering the fact that the biggest QA centers are set in the former soviet bloc EU states and that they regularly exploit the local labor laws to their own benefits.

    There is a lot of adjustment to be made regarding relative purchasing power and cost of life factors, but even so, a 3.600$ per year wage is a far cry from the reported 30.000$ “average”.

    • HadToLogin says:

      +1
      I’ve worked as QA temp. when I started I’ve earned around $3 per hour – give or take exchange rates.
      As a comparison – distributor/newsmonger of free street newspaper gave same amount of money per hour, while giving away leaflets on the street pays from $2 up to $3 (in all cases, talking about “on hand/netto” salaries).
      Also, Big Mac sandwich is for around $3, but mostly because dollar lost a bit of value lately, I don’t think price of sandwich went up in last couple of years.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Games and journalism are two fields that I would be very hesitant to go into, not because I don’t love making games and writing, but because it’s an oversubscribed career path in a neoliberal world that is rapidly eroding the rights of employees. The sooner people admit that Reagan was insane and that no actual economists support neoliberal policy, the sooner we can stop unraveling the fabric of European society and grinding US policymaking into the dirt.

    • WrenBoy says:

      Isn’t Jacobin using the same poor quality data that so confused John in his infamous gender gap piece that time?

  6. daphne says:

    You link to Bohren und der Club of Gore. I like you, new man.

    Let me get an earful of Painless Steel and slit my wrists.

    • UpsilonCrux says:

      I must also applaud with much gusto your music choice.
      I keep meaning to check if this article is always by the same writer, because the music picks are top. ‘The Art Of Coffins’ is going on next.
      Death to you all

    • plugav says:

      I’m starting to wonder if I’m the only person who thinks of Bohren’s music as sexy (in its noirish, melancholy way) rather than depressing. And if that maybe means there’s something terribly wrong with me…

  7. Oberoth says:

    I think the reason people think the gaming press is corrupt is because the gaming press has been really condescending and dismissive of the gaming public’s concerns lately, going so far as to call gamers “entitled” and what not. I think a lot of them have lost touch with the concerns people have as consumers, which makes the some of the gaming press appear to be in the pocket of the publishers when some of these big topics come to light (like ME3′s ending, SimCity DRM, Xbox One DRM, etc…).

    • HadToLogin says:

      It’s easy to call gaming press corrupt because they CAN’T exist without people they review (and that probably can be said about any review-press).
      Publishers already decide when reviews can appear or which goes first. They already discuss with reviews and talk about too-low-scores. And gaming sites need publishers to spend money on advertisement.
      It’s really a thin line here between co-existence and corruption. Line that was more then once already crossed, sometimes unconsciousness, but few times deliberately.

      • FluffyHyena says:

        The previews are what the publishers are using to get their message across to the gaming press.

        If they want to be seen in a good light, they fly some gaming press people to a fancy location to play the latest game before it’s released, all expenses paid. The GP people get more views thanks to the resulting previews, and the publisher raise the profile of their game.

        There is also the trick of sending the full game to some people before it’s released. So their review will be available on day 1. As an example of that, RPS didn’t get any review code before release by Activision for CoD Ghost. I wonder why? :)

      • Baines says:

        Movie reviews seem to do okay versus corruption. Yes, there is conflict of interest at times, as well as some stuff that is bought and sold.

        But movie reviews always had a measure of power, while the video game review industry for years fell over itself in the rush to give away whatever power it might have had.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Well, I mean certain gamers are overly entitled, but then you can find any extreme of opinion on the internet.

  8. LionsPhil says:

    That dog review is good and all, but 94%? So the dog isn’t as good as Half-Life 1? It seems obvious to anyone with a functioning brain that PC GAMER are being paid off by Valve.

  9. The Random One says:

    Paper Half-Life is cool, but to me the definitive will always be Half Life in 60 Seconds.

  10. FluffyHyena says:

    I’m surprised RPS have not (at least recently) had a feature article on working conditions in the video game industry, such as “‘You Can Sleep Here All Night’: Video Games and Labor”. RPS generally likes to look at the industry from a rational point of view (the absence of women in the VG industry being a good example of that). So I hope there will be a few articles in RPS on how life is in the VG industry.

  11. Nate says:

    I was looking forward to seeing http://hitboxteam.com/designing-game-narrative discussed on here; thought it’d be a shoe-in for the SPs. Maybe it’s been discussed previously? In any case, I believe the RPS crowd should enjoy it: intelligent, AND it confirms our collective prejudices!

  12. Grape Flavor says:

    Oooh, RPS reads the Jacobin! Interesting. Surprising, no, but interesting nonetheless. This dirty rotten bourgeois liberal, for one, is actually kind of pleased in that my hunches about RPS’s political predilections have so far proven correct.

    And Lewie Procter sacked without a word! My, oh my. I wonder if John will write another one of those lovely The Silence articles, only this time about themselves…

    • Deadly Sinner says:

      Only as long as they call it Lewiegate.

    • Guvornator says:

      “Lewie Procter sacked without a word! My, oh my. I wonder if John will write another one of those lovely The Silence articles, only this time about themselves…”

      I imagine John is trying to avoid looking those articles in the eye, er, metaphorically speaking…

      • Llewyn says:

        Other than the salacious desire for gossip, I’m not sure why any of you would think that RPS writing an article about Lewie and their reasons for dismissing him would be in anyone’s best interests. I doubt many of us would take too kindly to our former employers publishing their opinions of us.

        If, at some point, Lewie writes a piece slamming RPS’ policies and treatment of him and RPS subsequently try to suppress discussion of it, then you’d have a point about The Silence.

        • Guvornator says:

          Maybe because we’re sad to see a good writer go and are wondering why? Still, I guess it’s easier to tar people you don’t know with the brush of “salacious gossip”.

          • Llewyn says:

            If you’re sad to see a good writer go perhaps you might think about showing a little more respect for his position; if or when Lewie wants you to know the reasons behind his departure he’ll be able to tell you. In the absence of that respect, yes, salacious gossip fits you fine.

          • Guvornator says:

            I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

          • WrenBoy says:

            @Llewyn
            You’re assuming that Lewis’s weekly piece was scrapped due to its quality rather than RPSs inability to pay for it.

          • Llewyn says:

            If that’s addressed to me then no; I’m assuming nothing more than that in employment relations between a company and an individual it is not appropriate for the company to publish anything about the individual without that individual’s (implied) agreement.

            If Lewie wants this to be talked about he can initiate it, and RPS can then join in. If he doesn’t then tough, you shouldn’t get to hear any more about it.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I doubt many of us would take too kindly to our former employers publishing their opinions of us.

            You may not think it but you implied it with that comment.

          • Llewyn says:

            No, I didn’t.

            Edit: Also, it’s a shame you didn’t actually read my last comment before replying to it.

          • WrenBoy says:

            Why would Lewie not want the world to know RPSs opinion on the quality of his articles? Do you think his modesty forbids it?

          • Llewyn says:

            Aha. I recognise your username now. I guess I’ve been trolled enough for one evening.

          • WrenBoy says:

            I’m expressing disagreement and explaining that disagreement via analysis of the words you have used. You are accusing me of not reading your comments, of trolling and are implying that I have a history of trolling.

            Hmmm.

          • Llewyn says:

            It looks more like you’re trying to read between the lines to infer things I haven’t said at all, then trying to start arguments based on them.

            And yes, in my opinion, you have a history of trolling. If that isn’t your intention, do you disagree with

            in employment relations between a company and an individual it is not appropriate for the company to publish anything about the individual without that individual’s (implied) agreement.

          • WrenBoy says:

            If that is what you had originally said I probably wouldn’t have replied. I think its a bit straight laced and unnecessarily legalistic but its perfectly fair.

            It swings both ways though. I think its just as likely though that RPS doesn’t want Lewie to reveal why his column had to be scrapped. Imagine if you had a small earner from your mates business but he was going through financial difficulties and couldn’t afford to keep you on. He would probably ask you not to put it about that he was having money problems, right?

            I was doing my best to say the above discretely as I have no idea what the situation is and if you look at what I’ve posted you won’t see any demands to be told the entire story. Hopefully RPS is doing fine as they are one of the good guys.

            Its unfair on Lewie to assume that the discretion only benefits him though.

            The internet can distort tone a lot. I’m genuinely curious where you thought I was trolling before.

          • Llewyn says:

            Thanks for the civil response. The reason I didn’t specify it the same way originally is because the point I was replying to was a bit different – that it’s somehow suspicious that RPS aren’t posting their reasons for sacking Lewie. It’s not that I think that withholding the reasons benefits Lewie, it’s that I think it’s Lewie who should have the right to decide if those reasons are public knowledge.

            As for the trolling, I’d have to search through comment threads to find what formed that link in my mind. Time permitting, I’ll do that tomorrow evening. And then I’ll re-read them and consider if I might have misinterpreted ;-)

          • WrenBoy says:

            In hindsight it would probably have been a shorter conversation if I’d pointed out I wasn’t buying the conspiracy theories.

  13. Fenix says:

    Man, the PC Gamer article was GOLD. Back when I was 13-14 Lone Wolf books were the bees knees for me and I played those I had infinite times, and after choosing everything I even started playing with my own custom additions and powers (which were dumb).

    I really wish there was a way to get kids these days into CYOA books, even if only as a start to the amazing word of literature.

    • Guvornator says:

      Richard Cobbet is a hell of a writer, and crap shoot is always worth reading. He’s done some posts on RPS, but not enough in my humble opinion.

  14. Spatvark says:

    Missed a nice little piece on Papers Please! over at The Mary Sue: http://www.themarysue.com/papers-please-a-game-about-borders-stamps-and-my-family/