The Sunday Papers

I'm not even that hungover, though I hurt like hell.
Sundays are for forming all-star comic boyband on stage at an 3am at a comics festival, snatching hurried sleep, catching a train back to the South away from the land of 24-hours Greggs shops and compiling a list of interesting game related that caught my eye from across the week, while trying to avoid linking to something to immortalise that pretty magical evening. Go!

Failed.

122 Comments

  1. Bhazor says:

    From that Ackland piece
    “…less than six months later, with the marriage still unconsummated, Molly was persuaded to undergo an operation to remove her hymen for her husband’s convenience.”

    Ok, I’ll bite. Whats he going to use it for? Or will he just put it in a bap?

  2. Alexander Norris says:

    Modern Warfare 2 had a writer? /mandatorydig

    On a more serious tone: that marketing/quality article reminds me of the gamesindustry.biz/Eurogamer article that popped up earlier this week quoting Valve’s Person In Charge Of Steam Marketing.

    Said person was saying that publishers really shouldn’t be afraid of doing sales on Steam, because the game will still sell at full price once the sale is over (unlike in retail where prices can never go up).

    The article’s title? “You can raise your prices without fear of consequences, says Valve” (paraphrased).

    So in other words, Valve: “You can lower your prices and make more money” vs. Eurogamer: “You can raise your prices and make more money because people are stupid and will buy from you anyway.”

    • Alexander Norris says:

      link to eurogamer.net is the EG version of that newspiece, if anyone wants to call me out or something.

    • Rinox says:

      Weird to see all that internet rage in the comments thread. If Valve and the developers want to use temporary discounts in order to boost full-priced-again sales later (which is the core of the issue here), then that’s their full right I would think. If you didn’t manage to pick it up at discount then that’s too bad, but nobody’s putting a gun to your head to buy it at full price again later.

      In short: people are getting angry at temporary discounts now? AIM fail. :-(

  3. JB says:

    Was the Ares 2 link meant to be the same as the final link KG?

  4. Mistmanov says:

    The marketing thing is probably true for many games, depending on the type of audience. If you have agame purely aimed at the “hardcore” gamers who check all the websites, read the reviews, etc, then having a quality game certainly helps.

    But a large portion of gamers do not check the websites, read the reviews, etc. And for those “uninformed” customers, an advertisement telling them to buy L4D2 is a lot more effective than L4D2 actually being a good game.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Sadly, the majority of people do and will continue to fail to exercise their judgement in 90% of what they do.

    • Bhazor says:

      I think a major point about bad reviews not having an effect is that they don’t get plastered on the adverts and cd/dvd case. You’ll see plenty of “Outstanding 9/10” “I like the colours! 10/10” but you’ll rarely see “This made me pray for death 1*”. With games I’d argue theres greater consideration and reliance on reviews if only because of the price and time commitment of a new game.

    • Gorgeras says:

      I’m reminded that Kane and Lynch had a BAFTA nomination for some reason and sold over a million copies. The box shamelessly mentions it alongside this quote:

      “Reminiscent of Michael Mann’s Heat” – PC Gamer. That was the best thing they could get any review outlet to say about it.

      But on the flipside: Dragon Age was horribly marketed, to the WRONG audience and seems to still be doing quite well and hasn’t yet piled in the pre-owned section of GameStation.

    • malkav11 says:

      Dragon Age may have been horribly marketed and to the wrong people in the most recent year or two, but it does have the advantage of a sizeable built in audience of people who’ve enjoyed previous Bioware games, particularly Baldur’s Gate II (a lot of “this is the closest thing you’re going to get to Baldur’s Gate III” flew around pre-release), and there were some years of previews and such that were not Marilyn Manson laden. (I actually rather like Marilyn Manson and some of his music, but not the choice I would have made for Dragon Age ads, no. Then again, I wouldn’t have picked “Mad World” for a Gears of War ad.)

  5. Lyndon says:

    From the Gamesindustry.biz

    You can make the greatest game and it won’t even matter

    Except in the only way that actually matters to anyone with a soul.

    • Tei says:

      The history book is written by the winners. Theres no peace, nor chidrens, nor lines of the history book, for the lossers. These that lose, ultimatelly lose all, even thenselves. Loss, is a abism, with not bottom. Don’t understimate lossing.

      The history of gamming is full of named of closed game studios with good games.

    • Lyndon says:

      Ah that must be why no one’s ever heard of Hannibal and his crossing of the Alps then.

    • Martin K says:

      Tei, are you typing with your face again?

  6. Lewis says:

    “Every single person in testing opened fire on the crowd, which is human nature.”

    Is it?

    • subversus says:

      I think he’s just speaking for himself without even knowing it.

    • Klaus says:

      I’m not sure what he’s saying. It’s human nature to want to open fire on polygon people? I… suppose. I could easily open fire on them, because it’s a game and that’s the objective of that mission. I don’t have a hidden desire to.

    • Magnus says:

      A common mindset is to consider yourself “normal” and therefore anything you would do, is a “normal” action, or “human nature”, because you cannot consider people doing anything different.

      In the real world, people’s motivations are often very different (due to experience, culture etc.) and produce the potential for different reactions in a given scenario.

    • Vandelay says:

      (Uninformed opinion, not played any of the game) I think it is more the fact that we have been conditioned to shoot things in games, rather than it is human nature to want to shoot civilians. I expect the vast majority of people will not think twice about shooting the civilians and will not even consider the alternative options. The game indicates it wants the player to shoot things (perhaps adding a “Would you kindly…”) and the player does it.

      If he is correct that most testers opened fire on those bystanders, then I think that reflects the shortcomings of the games industry as a whole and not just on Infinity Ward’s failing/success.

    • Michael says:

      It’s human nature to try out all the stuff you can do in a game. In No Russian, you can either walk along getting bored/irritated or you can try pushing a button and see what happens. Saying that everyone shot the civvies is just an admission that you’ve failed to draw them into the narrative.

    • JKjoker says:

      i dont get the whole deal with “that level”, it doesnt even matter if you open fire or not, the initial shootout always plays out the same, they are invulnerable until the scripts says they die, its very easy to notice and screams “this is a game! not real!”, plus in the same game later on you do something MUCH worse than the airport thing like killing 50k ppl of your own side to empower some general

      the worst of all is the ending, the whole game you are chasing the “big terrorist dude” and suddenly *something* (that comes out of nowhere and has no explanation) happens that presents you with a more immediate target… and then the game ends, no closure whatsoever, its beyond a cliffhanger, you get nowhere with the main plot, its like they were planning a much longer campaign and gave up 1/4 of way in and said something like :

      -hey, lets just end the game here
      -but there is no closure, ppl would complain
      -oh i know, lets slap them with sudden bad guy, have them kill him and try to pass that as the climax
      -genius!

    • James G says:

      I once commented off a friend, that “her biggest problem is that she thinks she’s normal.” It wasn’t intended as a comment regarding her abnormality, but rather she had as much of it as everybody else. Or in other words:
      link to viruscomix.com

    • TeeJay says:

      Would a ‘play tester’ be more likely than average to feel that they should be shooting as part of the ‘play testing’ they were involved with? If a ‘play tester’ refuses to play stuff do they ever get asked back again? Are play testers ‘random people’ or are they typically self-selecting video-game fans? etc etc (–various miscellaneous questions–)

    • Gorgeras says:

      Play-testers should be naturally contrarian. I don’t think technical, strategic or twitch skill is as important as being thoroughly prepared to do what the developer doesn’t want them to. Most of Left4Dead’s problems would have been avoided Valve and the play-testers had separate and conflicting goals, forcing Valve to make decisions rather than following the path of least resistance which unbalanced Versus and permitted more competitive players to develop ‘cookie cutter’ behaviour. They needed to go back to what they did with the Orange Box games.

      Some recent ports are so shocking it’s hard to believe they received any testing at all.

    • jalf says:

      But then no one would have tested all the things Valve *did* want players to do.

      Testers have to test *everything*. The things players naturally tend to do, the ones players tend *not* to do, the things the developers want players to do and the ones they want players to refrain from doing.

    • Gorgeras says:

      Hold your horses tramp! What makes you think a player not doing what a dev wants means that they will never? Do the play-testers only get one go? No wonder the end result wasn’t built to last on what pithy content Valve provided if it’s designed for just a single playthrough.

      Snarkiness aside; a play-tester can do what the dev wants thousands of times to get useful data. But a play-tester only needs to do what the dev does not want just the one time and the results can be precious.

      Any single group of play-testers or previewers doing corner/closet camping all the way through a campaign could have made Valve realise big changes were needed when it really mattered and the sequel would have been rendered pointless. I sometimes wonder if Valve knew about this game-breaking cookie cutter tactic for months and left it that way so they could put the fix in…another game.

  7. Theory says:

    Just want to head off the Doctrow piece with the facts. Now, discuss!

  8. damien says:

    “People want to know. As terrifying as it is, you want to know. And there’s a part of you that wants to know what it’s like to be there because this is a human experience. These are human beings who perpetrate these acts, so you don’t really want to turn a blind eye to it. You want to take it apart and figure out how that happened and what, if anything, can be done to prevent it. Ultimately, our intention was to put you as close as possible to atrocity. As for the effect it has on you, that’s not for us to determine.”
    exactly what does “no russian” do / say to answer or explore this curiosity? what does it do for that discussion? what light does it shed into this part of the “human experience”? what does no russian bring to the table in that regard?
    in my playthroughs it brought nothing to the table with regards to creating a deeper understanding of such an act – no insight into the mentalities that make such acts possible, no insight into mindsets of the people as they carry out such acts, and no insight into the mindset of the innocents being killed in such an event. there is certainly nothing a player can take from the level to learn how to prevent such an act except to suggest that terrorists can skip their next attack and go on to another level.
    the entire interview reads like a self-congratulating series of cop-outs. trying to place the level’s “narrative” and the narrative of the rest of the game up on some sort of social-issues context platform, trying to nudge it up onto a higher pedestal of meaning that it truly doesn’t belong on.
    “As for the effect it has on you, that’s not for us to determine.”
    that is a cop-out. perhaps if mr. stern had been more clear about what he and the rest of the writing staff were trying to say with no russian; perhaps the level might have been a part of the conversation he seems to very much want to be a part of, instead of the din in the room above which people have to shout in order to find anything resembling an answer.

  9. Larington says:

    My interpretation on that marketing being 3x more important than reviews is that, its basically telling you to get the game ‘right’ and market it well to maximise your sales, slack on either of those and you’re shooting yourself in the foot, as it suggests you don’t care about your game enough that you want it to be known about and great to paly.

    • Larington says:

      In otherwords, do both, if you care about your game, you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

      Its doubly risky with games targetted outside the usual demographics, who don’t bother reading games magazines/websites anymore (May never have) and tend to rely on shop staff support, word of mouth or the blurb on the back of the box… The real genius of the Nintendo Wii wasn’t just that the controller used natural movements instead of sitting back pressing buttons, but rather that that was combined into/with the marketing campaign for the console: Showing people having fun playing the game in a way that doesn’t look, erm, couch potato-ish, but most importantly showing these people having fun with the game (Thats the challenge of marketing, choosing the message and making sure the correct people read/see the message).

    • TeeJay says:

      Without seeing any numbers or examples it is very hard to comment. The analysis doesn’t cover PC games either, and personally I know nothing about consoles.

      However it doesn’t take a lot to realise that “big-name, premium, big-budget, mainstream” games will also typically have large marketing budgets. Small, indie, niche games will typically have small marketing budgets. Both types will get both ‘high’ and ‘low’ Metacritic scores, but there will be a large difference in units sold. Yes the difference in sales will vary according to marketing budget, but this doesn’t make the marketing budget specially a kind of ‘magic bullet’.

      A proper analysis, instead of comparing two isolated variables (ie. av. score versus total m. budget) would include all the variables and therefore be comparing ‘like with like’. For example what is the impact of ‘total budget’ on revenues? How about the ratio of ‘marketing budget’ to ‘total budget’? (and so forth).

      Of course this is all beyond amateurs – it is hard enough to get access to decent sales data for PC games, let alone budgets, marketing budgets, profit margins and so forth. There isn’t even a decent equivalent to imdb for PC games (whose methos for producing their ‘top 250 movies’ would be a better proxy for ‘quality’ than Metacritic score (which IM(cynical)O isn’t that independent from marketing budget in the first place).

  10. eyemessiah says:

    The boing-boing article is a slightly alarmist summary, and although the reality is still fairly grim – the article in question is fairly close to being inaccurate, as I’m sure some of the regulars with better legal-fu than me will point out.

    The marketing story is almost certainly true, as evidenced by every other entertainment medium. That said, I don’t think its anything to worry about. Every summer massively marketed, but often poor quality films make bazillions of megabucks. All this money helps to grow and sustain the industry which creates space & funding potential for the handful of good films that get developed. IMO, anything that grows the gaming industry increases the potential for there to be games worth playing, even if said growth actually involves creating and selling a fuckton of identikit sports games.

    • cliffski says:

      boingboing being alarmist about copyright laws?
      surely not!!!1111ONEONEONE

      I don’t think you get balanced reporting on copyright issues anywhere, but certainly not slashdot, digg, torrentfreak or boingboing.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      It’s Cory Doctorow. Did people really expect him to go “chillax dudes, it’s only the Internet!”?

      Though given that as soon as you get worked up about something people call you an “angry Internet man” and a moron, I’m not going to complain about Doctorow’s alarmism. There’s at least one person that gives a damn.

    • FunkyB says:

      Nonetheless, we are still considering a system where a rights-holder can challenge someone and they are treated as guilty until proven innocent, as evidenced by the fact that it is an *appeals* process. When people (and presumably all other occupants in the house) can be disconnected from the internet as a result of these proceedings, I feel this is terrible.

    • Theory says:

      It certainly would be Funky, if that was what was being proposed. That link again.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Is this new law realistic though, given that almost every kid in the country downloads music off limewire, torrents and rapidshare, though? Will it only be those who undertake piracy to extremes and who host files themselves who are caught? Or is the average joe illegal music downloader now under threat too?

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Oops, used two ‘thoughs’. Look like a moron.

    • Theory says:

      It’ll operate on a three strikes basis, so anyone who continues regardless of their ISP’s warning letters/phonecalls will get kicked off (or whatever ends up being the “technical measure” — won’t necessarily be that drastic).

    • TeeJay says:

      Your link seems to suggest it will be “one warning” followed by cut-off (with appeals to Ofcom allowed). It doesn’t say how long will elapse between ‘warning’ and ‘cut-off’.

      Scenario:

      Monday: email sent from ISP saying ‘someone has said you are downloading, this is a warning’
      Tuesday: ISP gets notifed about a second alledged offense. Customer is cut off.

      Might as well be ‘no warning, no proof, appeal to bureaucrats’ (if the ‘right to appeal’ is anything like parking fines = useless).

  11. leeder_krenon says:

    enjoyed the article by Carrie, she’s spot on. namby pamby bearded folk music needs to bugger off sharpish. the only positive thing about it is that some girls seem to like bearded guys now, so i slightly less of a social leper than i used to be.

    • Hyoscine says:

      I know, right! How dare people appreciate music divergent from the scene you associate yourself with…

    • Gap Gen says:

      I dunno, much of the folk music in my collection is Breton punk or Scandinavian heavy metal or Scottish electronic dance. So yeah, indie can have all the bearded acoustic guitar people it wants.

    • Bhazor says:

      For a 35 year old shes really coming across like a disapproving middle aged parent.

      “Oh these youngsters listening to their mellow music. With their folk renewal and natural hair style. In my day we had proper music like Punk and post punk and spent hours sculpting our hair into keratin statues. I blame all these foreigners myself”

      There will always be all kinds of music. Just because something shifts out of the mainstream does not mean it’s gone forever. Personally, I think if you stick to one genre then you’re an idiot and deserve to be sidelined.

    • Ozzie says:

      I feel that her article is full of logical fallacies, the worst caused by that Sufjan Stevens doesn’t have a beard.
      Also, Kings of Leon, all metal guys, seemingly have no beards.

    • Lambchops says:

      There’s plenty of room in the world for beardy folk and indie rock – after all aren’t they different genres of music anyway?

      Although I can see where the article is coming from. There’s been a lot more of your Fleet Foxes etc than your The Hold Steady type indie rock band in the last few years.

      Still I like all of it so I’ve got nothing to complain about!

    • Psychopomp says:

      How about beardless folk?

    • Urthman says:

      Music snobbery is so stupid, because no matter how cool you think you are, someone else can look down their nose at you.

      “Carrie Brownstein? Rock is for kids. She’s way too old to have an opinion about it.”

      See how easy and stupid that is?

    • Baboonanza says:

      IMO anyone can listen to any music they like, AS LONG AS THE’RE FUCKING TROUSERS FIT PROPERLY!

  12. ScalyWg says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    “Every single person in testing opened fire on the crowd, which is human nature.”

    Is it?

    I seen some humans on tele and they did – so I figure it prolly is

  13. Hyoscine says:

    The V. Ackland stuff really blew me away. Thank you so much for the link, there’s zero chance I would have stumbled across this without prompting…

    “The eyes of body, being blindfold

    by night

    Refer to the eyes of mind – at

    brain’s command

    Study imagination’s map, then

    order out a hand

    To journey forth as deputy for sight”

    • Ozzie says:

      I find the weird line breaks annoying. Otherwise, truly good stuff.

  14. Igor Hardy says:

    So was that research about actual reviews influence, or rather about the metacritic aggregate scores influence?

  15. Jacques says:

    You’ve forgotten to tag this Kieron!

  16. oisomeguy says:

    I really shouldn’t have listened to that song.

  17. Larington says:

    Also, folks, those of you who remember Desert Bus for Hope (Raising monies for Childs Play) is running again this very weekend:
    link to desertbus.org
    link to ustream.tv

  18. The_B says:

    I think the Internet NEEDS to see an X Factor style sing-off between the KG Krew and the EG Massive

    Live from a soundproof studio, of course. For the winner: derision. The losers: death. (or a prize of approximate value)

  19. Helm says:

    The piece about how mainstream games are heading the way of mainstream comics is an interesting one, there could be a lot of discussion on its finer points and some disambiguation (the addendums of the writer below it crave for more addendums) but generally it helped me organize some thoughts. What I get from it the most though is that the mainstream isn’t going to help me in anything I want to do, and well, I knew that.

    My point of view sidesteps some of the severity of the question by not examining “when people will take us seriously en masse” (speaking as both a comic artist and a video game developer) but instead by examining “how can I socially connect and interface between the few people that would indeed take seriously”. I think it’s a life better spent to go for the latter.

  20. Baris says:

    Peter Mandelson, the unelected Business Secretary, would have to power to make up as many new penalties and enforcement systems as he likes. And he says he’s planning to appoint private militias financed by rightsholder groups who will have the power to kick you off the internet, spy on your use of the network, demand the removal of files or the blocking of websites, and Mandelson will have the power to invent any penalty, including jail time, for any transgression he deems you are guilty of.

    Well, there goes the idea of moving to England, guess it’s between France and Canada now. Thank christ Ireland isn’t insane enough to do something like this, I’ve got to live here for another few years. The first time I read the article, I thought it was a parody!

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Pick Canada. France is pretty much Hell on Earth.

    • Baris says:

      Really? The 35 hour work week and amazingly attractive accent were it’s main pull factors for me, what makes it that bad?

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Incredibly narrow-minded people, the world’s most insufferable and self-centred capital-city-inhabitans (if you’re in Paris), and the country as a whole is about three to five years behind when it comes to tech trends (not to mention it’s practically impossible to catch a film in any language other than “horrible French dub”).

      If you’re coming over for a specific job and getting offered some sort of relocation package, and you know your colleagues are going to mostly be foreigners, then I suppose you could do worse; but as someone with multiple nationalities who grew up in France as part of an English/Canadian family, I’d pick Rwanda over France. The only admirable national traits are the propensity of the average French person to get involved in politics and the fact that intellectualism isn’t viewed as a bad thing (I don’t think you’ll find sociological essays advertised with large posters in the main station of any capital that isn’t Paris).

      The fact that journalists stayed out of politicians’ private lives and focuses on their work used to be another good thing, but Sarkozy has done everything he can to turn his term into an Americanised eye-of-the-celebrity-magazines paparazzi-fest to draw attention away from his woefully-inadequate policies and people have happily agreed to go along with the misdirection.

      Oh, the healthcare system is fairly good, though. Just get a European healthcare card before you leave Ireland so you get coverage in France for the first three months regardless of whether you’re paying taxes or not.

    • Baris says:

      Hmm, what you say does make sense. Although, if I had the option I’d move to Marseilles instead of Paris, which would mean that a large portion of the people I’d associate with would be from Italy, Turkey, etc. potentially circumventing the (apparently) stuck-up, self-centred Parisians problem.

      Then again, every Canadian I’ve ever met has been incredibly generous and open minded, not to mention most of the country seems to be immigrants at most a few generations back.

      I don’t know, it’s a very tough choice. Thankfully, I don’t have to make it for another 3 years.

    • RyePunk says:

      Come to Canada, we put cheese, gravy and other stuff on Fries. Also we sweeten Iced Tea. and it is illegal for celebrities to advertise products directly on commercials (although you can get around it).

    • Schmitzkater says:

      No celebrities in commercials? I may just nip over from Germany right NOW.

    • Baris says:

      we put cheese, gravy and other stuff on Fries

      I thought I was the only one who put weird crap on chips! I’ve tried lemon sauce, pepper sauce, chilli, everything! I also get over-excited about banal things.

    • TeeJay says:

      “I’d pick Rwanda over France.”

      Me to:

      + In 2008, Rwanda became the first country in history to elect a national legislature in which a majority of members were women.

      + The country has banned plastic bags. It’s cities are now almost litter-free and some of the cleanest in Africa.

      + Delicious roast meat, grilled fish and chicken, frites and fried plantain washed down with 330ml bottles of ice cold Amstel beer

      + Kigali has just connected to undersea cables in Kenya and a national fibre-optic ring will go online in 2010. The city will be covered by WiBro / Wimax (South Korean wireless protocol) connecting 4G mobile devices.

      + The Economist picks out Rwanda as on of the few sub-Saharan countries where hings have been improving in the past decade (alongside Ghana, Mali and Mozambique), cites that it has recently had “a broadly positive review from the IMF”, is seeing “substantial infrastructural investment”. It says that ‘the government is perceived by many donors (including the US and UK) as having a good record on poverty reduction and economic governance reform’, and it as seen ‘heady revenue growth in recent years’ (c.10%) albeit predicted to fall to c.5% due to the recent global slowdown. The 2009 World Bank’s annual Doing Business report gave Rwanda the “world’s champion reformer” (first ever sub-Saharan country to get it).

      Here are some fun/interesting links for people to browse:

      + Blog of American guy living in Rwanda: link to morganinafrica.blogspot.com
      + Some school kids in Kigali doing traditional dancing/singing link to youtube.com
      + Some Rwandan Hip Hop & R%B:
      Sir Tyger – “NTABWOBA” link to vodpod.com
      KGB Kilagi Boys – “Arasharamye” link to youtube.com

  21. Wulf says:

    Does a huge marketing campaign help at all? Now, to an educated mind, one would think that if a company were trying to oversell something, then their product is probably lacking in quality and they’re attempting the best use of consumer brainwashing to make up for that, tapdancing on the edge of any given person’s will in order to sell whatever filthy, badly constructed wares they can.

    For that very reason, I’m totally turned off by anything with a massive marketing and hype machine, and instead I tend to go by word of mouth, reviews from sources I trust (that include you, RPS!), and how I feel about the developer.

    Torchlight and World of Goo seemed to be big successes, and all they had was a bunch of YouTube videos thrown together by the developers, and that showed the quality and the soul of their games better than a marketing campaign ever could. Contrary to that, a marketing campaign often shows a lack of soul in a game. And if a game has no love, no soul, then I’m not interested.

    I have no doubt that advertising sells games though because it’s so good at manipulating the average person, and for this sole reason I often find myself wishing that I could share my wisdom on the matter, and indeed my will to treat it as if it didn’t exist, with the masses. I suspect that were this to happen, there would be many publishers who’d go bankrupt within a few months.

    When you buy a game, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re buying it. And to be honest, this is why I feel so passionate about it all, and I feel a little ill when someone would prefer to be a well marketed sheep rather than someone who’d examine the quality of the games on offer.

    TV is thy shepherd, thou shalt Do Want. Sadly.

    I can’t help that feel that Stern looking like a vain prick does nothing for my opinion for him or Modern Warfare 2, and to the contrary, it actually explains a lot.

    This is Mandelson we’re talking about, the bloke that gets a stiffy over Gov’t control, and believes the state should be huge and have total control over the masses. He’s a total sociopath, and he should never have been let back into parliament, that he [i]is[/i] back says a lot about the current state of our Gov’t.

    With things like this and Treaty of Lisbon going into effect, I can’t help but feel that dark, dark times are ahead. When it comes to enlightenment within the Gov’t, it was on a climb up until the late 70’s, where it wavered until the 90’s and at that point it took a stark drop when that festering scab Blair refashioned Labour as New labour.

    With two right-oriented major parties in power here (Labour and Conservative), that fact that we’re seeing, frankly, [i]fucking scary[/i] things happening is unsurprising.

    Maybe people will be smart this time and ignore both New Labour and the Tories with their voting. Eh? Eh?

    Right?

    [i]Aaaaahaahahaahhahahahahahahahahaa~[/i] sorry, is little joke, yes?

    • Ozzie says:

      Does a huge marketing campaign help at all? Now, to an educated mind, one would think that if a company were trying to oversell something, then their product is probably lacking in quality and they’re attempting the best use of consumer brainwashing to make up for that, tapdancing on the edge of any given person’s will in order to sell whatever filthy, badly constructed wares they can.

      I hope my emphasis answers your question…

    • Wulf says:

      You got me there Ozzie, I have to admit. You got me.

      Maybe a public awareness campaign would help, detailing the amount of money and resources that goes into such an advertising campaign, and how if a game was worth buying why they’d lose such of a cut out of their final profit in order to … well, sell a game that will sell.

      Except it won’t, overdone advertising is there because the game is shit, and that’s what an advertising campaign says to me, and the bigger the campaign, the bigger the flop.

      If that was a bit of wisdom that everyone knew and understood, I would be a very, very happy person indeed.

  22. SirKicksalot says:

    Mechner’s list is fascinating.

    #1. The story is what the player does, not what he watches.
    DO YOU HEAR THAT, KOJIMA?

    #8. The longer the player plays without a break, the more his sense of the reality of the world is built up. Any time he dies or has to restart from a saved game, the spell is broken.
    This is what 2008’s Prince of Persia tried to achieve. The punishment for failing *was* brutal, especially when the puzzle sequence was over 30 seconds. I think the gamers are used to having death and reloading as a punishment, so they hated Ubisoft’s solution… although it was more brutal than rewinding the time.

    #10. Don’t introduce gratuitous obstacles just to create a puzzle.
    Someone at Valve is reading this right now and decides to postpone Episode 3 another year to remove all these gratuitous obstacles.

    • Lambchops says:

      I also liked no 2.

      “List the actions the player actually performs in the game and take a cold hard look at it. Does it sound like fun? (Resist the temptation to embellish. If a cinematic shows the player’s character sneak into a compound, clobber a guard and put on his uniform, the player’s action is “Watch cinematic.” Letting the player click to clobber the guard isn’t much better.)”

      Let the player click to clobber the guard? That sort of thing has become so bloody common recently that it’s even been acronymed.

    • Mister Hands says:

      It’s a damn shame that Mechner isn’t as interested in making games as making movies. A quick look at the PoP games he’s been involved in versus to the ones he hasn’t gives a fairly good idea of quite how brilliant he is at design/storytelling. Plus, he denounced the character assassination that was Warrior Within, which makes me love him even more.

    • 1stGear says:

      I think Valve delays Episode 3 every time someone asks when Episode 3 is coming out.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      @1stGear

      Oh god — my dad did that, in some misguided attempt at teaching my brother and I patience. He was subscribed to some mail-order game service, and when a new game came he’d delay giving it to us every time we asked for it. Child cruelty in action.

  23. HexagonalBolts says:

    I started a thread on the Digital Economy (P2P) law mentioned above if anyone cares to join me in discussion. link to rockpapershotgun.com

  24. WilPal says:

    Stupid government.
    I’m none too pleased about being spied on.

  25. Gap Gen says:

    I also remember a number of cases where marketing fucked up (was Psychonauts one of them?) and the game bombed as a result.

    That said, it depends – it’s not like they skimped on marketing for Brutal Legend, but it didn’t do as well as the biggest games that came out around it.

  26. Dominic White says:

    The marketing for Brutal Legend was all over the place, though. A lot of people, despite having seen trailers/ads/whatever didn’t even know what genre the game was in. A lot of people thought it was a Guitar Hero style rythm game, and others assumed it was a God of War clone.

    Instead, it’s an open-world action-adventure with light RTS elements (yeah, you’re capturing control points and building units, but 95% of your time is spent brawling away with them, as sitting around and trying to command from the back is a quick way to lose), inspired by Herzog Zwei more than anything.

  27. Arsemodeus says:

    @bookwormat

  28. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    The Digital Economy Bill is indeed pretty far-reaching, and very alarming for anyone who believes in the right to trial, and the rule of law. The full text of it is available online.

    There’s a petition started to drop the bill, which I encourage you to sign to show your opposition–even though the petition itself will probably accomplish nothing, it provides evidence of significant opposition to the bill when it is being debated.

    And then come and discuss it in HexagonalBolt’s thread.

    • bill says:

      In addition to the petition:
      I recommend: link to writetothem.com
      stick in your postcode and you can (almost automagically) send then a nice email telling them why they should oppose it. (and stick in a link to the boingboing article or something if you want).

  29. Arsemodeus says:

    @bookwormat

    I’ve been keeping up on that reading the updates, but it’s actually turning me off the game seeing how it may be more of a multiplayer rather than singleplayer game. I was hoping for an Armageddon Empires with more stuff and in hell not a Diplomacy with friends in hell type game.

  30. mister k says:

    It really, really wouldn’t be hard for someone to conduct a full statistical analysis. Find a statistican, pay him/her some money, give them a full data set, and they can quantify for you the affects of things like meta critic and marketing. For reals…

    • TeeJay says:

      So where are you going to get this full data set and what variables are you going to include? How do you handle the time-line (eg pre-release marketing versus reviews/metacritic scores that occur post-release date, cf. the date of sales/pre-orders)? How do you factor in things like movie tie-ins? How do you quantify free publicity for indie games on blogs (ie. where the ‘marketing budget’ = cost of sending out emails)? What kind of analysis are you going to do to produce “marketing budget as percentage of overall budget has X% influence on total revenue/units sold over first six months”. I can’t see this being ‘easy’ in the slightest even for a professional statistician, first of all because it is going to be very hard to get this information (maybe impossible) from companies. Secondly because you are going to have to introduce a lot of ‘fudge factors’/estimates into your model. At best you are going to end up with a ‘general picture’ where games fall into one of several categories not a rigourous statistical relationship.

  31. A-Scale says:

    Ah so you mean that there are intervening arbitrary steps between accusation and assrape. It’s alright everyone! Put down the pitchforks!

  32. D says:

    I have a few problems with that article and I don’t know if it reflects the scientific study behind it. First off, there is almost no explanation of the phenomena and the last half of the article talks about PS3 marketing, and how poor marketing can make anything fail. Well, duh.

    Firstly, they look at sales over a 3 month period. Which is a fair indicator of success, but great games will continue to sell while marketed games will crash quickly. This effect and the effect that good games build fan-bases, is something you can’t neglect in a scientific study. Word of mouth is hugely important in every market (complete speculation on my part).

    Psychonauts would be a brilliant example to bring up – and it is still selling today unlike Madden’02.

    And then look at this quote:
    “The same results were found for EA Sports Active, which sold around 720,000 copies with a marketing budget of $5.6 million, compared to My Fitness Coach, which shifted an estimated 250,000 units backed with a $50,000 budget.”

    EAgame has a metascore of 81. Other game has 70 by 2 reviewers. What is the article saying with this? Proportionally the $50,000 was much better spent for the second game. Is the article saying that is is possible to triple your sales if you amp up marketing a hundredfold (again DUH!). It says nothing about the merits of quality.

    “Looking at the gross margin, BioShock made $15 million more in the first three months than Dead Space, even when you take into consideration that Take-Two[Bioshock] spent more money on marketing,”
    Bioshock (score ~95), Dead Space (score ~90) and Bioshock made more money AND had more marketing. Is this what passes for scientific?
    Again the quality of the article may not represent the study.
    “Divnich said that the research took in all variable costs and looked at whether the games drove more profits simply because they had more marketing spent on them.”

  33. Dave says:

    Considering how much marketing went into Daikatana vs. how much went into Braid, I’m not sure I can credit this.

  34. Robin says:

    “The perception that high scores are crucial to sales is a myth, said EEDAR’s Jesse Divnich”

    A myth absolutely nobody in the world ever was labouring under.

    His PS3 comments are knuckle-bitingly stupid as well. No amount of good marketing is going to shift a $599 console. It’s taken a sensible price (of the slim model), genuinely appealing exclusives like Uncharted 2 and Demon Souls, and (purely in the role of reminding people the product exists) improved marketing to reinvigorate the PS3.

  35. The Dark One says:

    I enjoyed that Eurogamer retrospective on NOLF. :)

  36. Weylund says:

    For folks who like reading what Mechner has to say, pick up a used (or library) copy of an old book called Game Design Theory and Practice by Richard Rouse. He spends about thirty pages interviewing Mechner about his games.

    Also Sid Meier, Chris Crawford, and a few other luminaries (Meretsky, Ed Logg and Will Wright?). Read it recently for other reasons. Fairly awful book otherwise, but six gaming giants get full-chapter interviews. Worth it for those.

  37. Nerd Rage says:

    Is it wrong for me to click the link to read what MW2’s writer has to say about the No Russian hooplah, and then decide after a glimpse of his profile picture showing “cool guy with open shirt and sunglasses in front of distant mountains” that I already know everything I need to know about this? It’s still bullshit.

    • Kommissar Nicko says:

      Yeah, I had no reason to believe that sungoggled openshirtman would have anything genuine to say about anything, ever. He looked like the Hollywood version of a troll.

      Makes me wonder, what would Valentine Acker’s Modern Warfare 2 have looked like?

  38. Arsemodeus says:

    @Nerd Rage

    Well, I just moused over the URL and saw “Gamepro” and stopped right there.

    Flashback:
    This reminds me of when iD software said they hired a professonal science fiction writer for Doom 3 or hiring RA Salvatore to write the taunts the bots made in Q3Arena.

  39. MadMatty says:

    As for Introversion and their Darwinia, i had a cracking good time playing the first version, leaving me hungering for more levels after finishing.
    Anyone tried the Multiwinia ?

    • CMaster says:

      There is a demo of Mulitwinia to let you try it for yourself.
      However I found it rather uninspiring, lacking the charm of Darwinia and not providing a great RT experience. Best way I found to have fun in the demo was to crank up crates to maximum and just enjoy the randomness.

      Defcon however is a great, cheap, simple multiplayer strategy game.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Yes. It’s quite good. It’s multiplayer Darwinia with less reliance on programmes and more reliance on Darwinians.

      I also suck at it.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I felt the exact same thing about Darwinia. I’ve got Multiwinia but it’s the equivalent of playing Half-Life 1 or 2 and then playing the multiplayer (against players or ‘bots’ regardless). It’s the same setting but a completely different game (not saying it’s not good, it is, it’s just different).

      Would pay money for a proper Darwinia sequel or even just expansion pack with more levels to progress the story of the darwinians & Dr Sepulveda. Perhaps they could fill in the time between the end of Darwinia and the world of Multiwinia?

  40. Shalrath says:

    On the Introversion article:

    “…then the technical aspect of putting it onto the different systems should, in theory, be a little bit easier and a little bit less risky.”

    You poor, poor bastards. You’ve really never worked on the PS3 have you?

  41. MadMatty says:

    thx guys… im gonna look up on Defcon to see what its about

  42. Sunjammer says:

    Sort of left field this, but I thought Bioshock and Dead Space are okay comparisons if what’s judged is the amount of pleasure garnered. Dead Space was, very much, my new System Shock (or as close to that as i could get at least), while Bioshock was a delicious world to romp around in and did interesting things with its story. To me, they both set out to do very similar things, and they were both exquisite productions.

    Sorry for going off on this tangent. I just love those games too much to not nag about them

  43. army of none says:

    “Kyle Francis is a complicated man. Sometimes he tells stories about his in-bred hillbilly family having a fearful time in Left 4 Dead 2.”

    I think you mean that Kyle Francis is a brilliant man.

  44. panik says:

    How can you measure how successful marketing is when other things help sell a game…game reviews, blogs, forums etc

  45. dhex says:

    “I’d like to see the actual hard numbers, I admit.”

    you and me and everyone else, probably. on the surface, that talk was hells of shoddy.

  46. Melf_Himself says:

    Re: the marketing vs quality thing:

    Marketing gets you sales for your first release as a company. Quality gets you repeat business and word of mouth over your life as a company, which no amount of money can buy.

    • bill says:

      This.

      Though, of course, if no-one plays the first one then no one will know it’s great to pick up the later ones.
      But something like Bioshock and Fallout3 seem to show that the reputation of the previous ones (that relatively few people played) helps. How did Brutal Legend do?

      I wonder how MW3 will do? On the PC, I suspect not well.

  47. Urthman says:

    Wait. The MW2 writer is named “Jesse Stern”? And he looks like that?

    That is too hilariously perfect.

  48. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    I reckon a fella could ground up eight or ten’o them Witches with the right combination of chainsaw and state o’ mind.

  49. invisiblejesus says:

    OK, so… two games that are both of good quality, one gets more marketing money than the other and winds up selling more… and we’re supposed to be surprised? To think that marketing is more important than quality? Come on. Granted, a lot of people think Bioshock is a better game than Dead Space. But some disagree. And I don’t think any reasonable person who isn’t trolling would argue that either one was shit. One good game outselling another good game because of marketing isn’t news. And never mind the question of which other games they were competing with at release; I don’t know offhand what was coming out at the same time as Bioshock, but Dead Space came out in a really tough year for new IPs. You can’t seriously just dismiss the impact of having to compete with Gears Of War 2.

    A better example would be if they had been a clearly, obviously mediocre game that outperformed a good game purely because of marketing. That would impress me and make me think. This just sounds like more bullshit.

    • TeeJay says:

      …and for only $500 you can double check (non-disclosure applies)

    • bill says:

      Modern Warfare 2?

      ;-)

    • TeeJay says:

      Despite what people actually think about it think MW2 has a metacritic of 87, so it isn’t a great example to use.