The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for lazing around in a dressing gown, catching up with your reading, getting ready to play some electronic videogame and compiling a list of the fine (mostly) game related reading from across the week while trying to avoid to link to some music or start yabbering about some of the stuff that was drunkenly talked about post-Gamecamp last night.

  • Clint Hocking’s Leaving Ubisoft post is probably the most interesting thing anyone put out this week. Key quote: “I am a person of habit. I have many good habits, but the reality is that new habits develop and reinforce themselves everyday, and it is rare that one just picks up good habits. We pick up bad habits, mostly, and the good habits we have and the few we are lucky enough to adopt often atrophy into bad ones. That is what was happening to me in Vancouver a decade ago, and while it is hard to look at your life and say ‘this is unsustainable’, it is even harder to look at your life and say ‘the reason my life is unsustainable is because I am unsustainable.’ “
  • Stephen Hopbson pointed me at Wolfire’s post-Humble-Bundle analysis of Piracy Numbers, which puts a different spin on the piracy numbers. Specifically, arguing that the 80-90% piracy number that generally emerges doesn’t mean that 80-90% of PC gamers are pirates. In short: Pirates download more games than customers actually purchase, so that 90% could easily be 20% of PC gamers. Go read, as they’re more to it. It’s far less convincing on its figuring of what the real reasons for falling PC sales are. Hailing Blizzard is great – but when their biggest selling game is from a genre which is a rock solid DRM you can’t just put it down to some inherent quality.
  • Games are too big and too hard, thinks Games Pro’s John Davison. Fun use of the numbers. Of course, it’s worth thinking about how those numbers are interpreted.
  • The GAPS system, for measuring gamer/game compatibility. The future of marking or something, I suspect.
  • Destruction post a image of relative size of videogame worlds, via their maps. Not totally right – Far Cry 2 is twice the size they show – but fascinating to look at.
  • Gamecamp was crazy fun yesterday. I’ll try and write it up tomorrow in a proper feature, but until then, here’s Denby’s notes on the event.
  • Talking about Denby, when reading his list of 5 people whose games writing he’s currently digging, I hit upon Laura Michet’s Let’s Come Up With Reasons Why I Die In Spelunky piece. THERE HAS TO BE A REASON.
  • Dan Stapleton over at PCG talks about 5 things he can’t talk about in the Starcraft 2 Beta. Quite.
  • I posted the interview with the Fate of the World folk on Friday, and I suspect that it’s not the sort of thing which has screamed READ ME! to most RPS readers. Frankly, if you’re the sort who reads the Sunday Papers, you’ll want to read this.
  • The Mac Gamer interview Valve’s lovely writer Marc Laidlaw
  • Music from games you’d like to hear in a club?
  • Okay, Goat Tongue Torture. You need a goat. Make it thirsty. Put someone in the stocks. Pour salt water over their feet. Then the rough tongue of the goat licks and licks, getting every more thirsty, until the flesh is torn asunder. The chap who told us about it last night made it go all the way to the bone? Is that even possible. Probably not. But trust RPS: We’ll find out, as soon as Alec gets back from ATP. And we find a goat.
  • I’ll save “Warren Spector – Will He Respect Her?” for the write-up though. Or perhaps never.
  • You’ll have seen this, but Galactic Empire State Of Mind. got me back into listening to the original. I do love the Bobba Fett shot.



  1. Kieron Gillen says:

    And Gamecampers… REPREZENT! If you’re here, natch.


  2. Stijn says:

    Music from games I’d like to hear in a club? Probably doesn’t really qualify as a game, but I’d love to hear a DJ play Second Reality’s soundtrack.

  3. Kerry says:

    “Tickle torture in popular culture”. Jesus Christ, I’m too hungover for this.

  4. paganite says:

    #John Davison Too hard for your mum and other casual players maybe… Not for people that want to play games.

    If you take out everyone that plays a game just to “dick around” I think a higher percentage would finish games.

    Some people are just not gamers, by making it easier for them you just make worse games.

    • Bremze says:

      Every time I hear someone say something like “I paid money for the game, so I deserve to experience all the content on any difficulty I please!”, I imagine a guy shouting at his golf clubs for not letting him be good at golf, ”I paid good money for you, why don’t you hit the ball to where I want!?”.

      Many people are interested in beating a game, getting everything out of the game to switch over to the next. So many good games are made, that people get over-saturated, especially if they are share many common elements. It drives the sales of Space Marine FPS of today, but it might become a problem, when people start getting burned out. We can see some examples already with demanding online games like WoW and Eve.

    • Vinraith says:


      I hadn’t ever made the connection before, but it IS indicative of the kind of person that buys a guitar and expects to be able to instantly play it well, isn’t it? People rag on PC gamers for having an overdeveloped sense of entitlement, but what greater sense of entitlement can there be than the one encapsulated by that mindset?

    • Wulf says:

      I’m amazed by this conversation.

      It’s not like anyone is suggesting that an easier game mode should be forced upon anyone, but I think rather it’s okay to have difficulty settings, and what’s wrong with difficulty settings? Properly implemented, they could make a game available to a wide range of people, from the hellish hardcore to the cheery casuals. For example, implement a lot of grind and difficulty in a game, then make it optional, scale it.

      This suggestion would be sort of like making all the grind in Guild Wars mandatory, or something like that, so what we do is we have a scalable system to avoid that. Based on difficulty level, the game scales what a person has to go through, not only how difficult their tasks are, but how clever their opponents are and how much they have to grind to get to further content. With properly implemented difficulty settings, everyone wins, yes?

    • Vinraith says:

      With properly implemented difficulty settings, everyone wins, yes?
      Sure, it’s a shame they’re so rare. Most games are designed with a difficulty in mind, and frequently difficulties above that are left unbalanced, broken, and unplayable. As “normal” becomes easier and easier, it’s more and more difficult (and takes more and more time and resources) to make a game mode that’s a proper challenge. Many developers don’t bother, and that’s the real concern. Give everyone a “god mode” so they can casually roam their way through for all I care, but don’t make that mode to the exclusion of a properly balanced, challenging, actual game.
      Frankly, I think this worked better when “normal” was balanced to be a good challenge, and cheat codes were included for people that wanted to sight-see. Balancing the primary difficulty setting of the game for the tourists seems counterproductive.

    • malkav11 says:

      But if the “tourists” are the majority of the people buying your game, why -wouldn’t- you balance your game for them?

      I also don’t really get why challenge is so important to the experience of the game for some people. I mean, there are certainly games where a brutal and unforgiving difficulty makes the game (see: Demon’s Souls), but in general I don’t find that my experience with a game improves when I am regularly dying rather than making progress.

    • Vinraith says:

      But if the “tourists” are the majority of the people buying your game, why -wouldn’t- you balance your game for them?
      You would, and they do, and people raised on easy games expect easy games so the downward creep of difficulty continues unabated. I didn’t say it was bad for the developers or the publishers, it’s bad for the industry. It’s the steadiest singular trend in all of gaming, actually, that games get easier generation by generation. I figure in about 20 years your average “game” is going to involve nothing more than pressing a single button to move, interact, shoot, and everything else. Think Dragon’s Lair if the yellow flashes lasted a minute or two. Enjoy that, I’ll stick to the niches of the industry that still have some interest in making games that offer enough of a challenge to be interesting. Games where I never have to worry about dying or failing aren’t worth playing.
      Take Burnout Paradise as an example, since it’s what I’ve been playing. I’m in the middle of the game, long past any reasonable tutorial or introductory stage, and yet I can still crash 5 times and win a race anyway. What’s the fun, or the point, of that? There’s no tension in racing when there’s no chance of failure, there’s no reason to get better at the game so there’s no sense of progress, it’s absolutely killing the experience for me. I keep hoping it’s going to get harder, but my guess is I won’t last much longer. Contrast to Burnout 3 from 2004, which required the player to steadily get better at the game to continue progressing. It got tenser and tenser, faster and faster, and as I continued to learn and get better at it was more and more rewarding. It’s one of my favorite racing games of all time precisely because its difficulty curve was so profoundly rewarding. Without that, what’s the point?

    • Dante says:

      It’s either buying golf clubs and expecting to be good at golf, or buying a novel and expecting to be able to finish it. Depends on whether we’re a sport or an art, doesn’t it?

    • Vinraith says:

      These words are too big and too hard, I demand that the author go back and write this novel at a 6th grade level! I paid money for this book, I deserve to be able to read it even if I’m an illiterate twit!
      So no, it pretty much works for art or sport. To get the most out of many good things in this world, you have to be willing to invest a little effort.

    • Pundabaya says:

      But if you are telling a story, then I think you have an obligation to allow anyone who starts the story to be able to finish it. An incredibly hard videogame with a story is like a novel that starts out in in normal text , then a third of the way through changes it so that the print is 6 point black text on brown paper, then after another third switches to braille. Yes, I could read it if I really wanted to. I might be tempted to continue for a bit even though it would be difficult, if the story was really good, but I’d end up throwing it against the wall eventually.

      You also have to remember that the devs want people to see the cool stuff they’ve designed an programmed. No-one will remember the climactic fight against the 200ft tall boss if everyone gives up halfway through. I seem to remember Warren Spector saying that Deus Ex’s biggest failure was that hardly anyone finished it. It was way too long. (indeed, that game needs some editing, the Paris section was mostly filler)

    • Vinraith says:

      Once again, properly handled difficulty levels solve these problems. The problem is, it’s relatively easy to make a game that’s designed to be hard easier, it’s very involved to make a game designed to be easy harder in a way that’s still balanced and fun. So when devs start making games “easier” and throw in a hard mode, that’s generally going to be far less fun for the challenge-minded than when they make a game that’s difficult and throw in an easy mode for folks that just want to sight-see. Easy modes don’t have to be balanced, after all, they just have to be easy. :)

    • Tacroy says:

      Clearly you’ve never read House of Leaves.

    • malkav11 says:

      Whereas I’ve never met a game where dying or failing improved my game experience. Worrying about it…maybe, once or twice. But actually doing so? never.

    • Vinraith says:


      Exactly, so all you really need is god mode. Making a game easy is easy, just make it impossible to fail. Making an easy game difficult and properly balanced is very difficult. Therefore, start out by making a hard game, then include a god mode/easy mode/tourist mode for people that don’t want to play it.

    • RobF says:

      Vin, honestly, it’s neither more difficult nor easier whichever way you work around it.

      From easy to hard or hard to easy, it still takes the same amount of work and thought to balance stuff. And yes, even an easy mode needs balancing somehow because you’ve still got to make it engaging to the type of player you’re trying to engage with that mode. You can’t just flick a “fuck it, the idiots” switch and everything is magically perfect for them y’know?

      Thing is, people generally, well, they don’t have the ability to play in the way that some of us do BUT I’d argue more that for the most part, games haven’t become easier at all. We’ve removed a lot of frustrating things over time which were more to do with designers feeling things out* and not really knowing what they were doing but in the grand scheme of things, most games are still pretty difficult in one way or another.

      We can all cherry pick examples to argue either side – you can argue Burnout Paradise and I’ll throw in GRID where unless I used the crash rewind stuff (which turns the game into some sort of perverted trial and error work rather than a game) I couldn’t finish one of the first five or six races in any other place than last. For every example on either side of the argument, there’s a counter example.

      No-one is having their games taken from them and more people are getting to be able to play games not because “they’re being dumbed down” or whatever turn of phrase folks wish to rush out but because we now have a massive variety of games with a variety of difficulty levels. And if the balance from easy to difficult is skewed more towards the former and you find no challenge in them then at some point you’ve got to realise that you’re the freak**, not everyone else.

      *as in old games weren’t hard because they needed to be for the most part, they were just often filled with shit bits that deserve to have the authors set fire to.

      **I’m sure you’re a lovely freak, mind.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      My housemate and I were discussing the game difficulty gradient the other day and he made an interesting point which applied specifically to side scrolling shmups but I think the point can be extended. In the grand old days of yore developers could only deliver incredibly tiny programs to the gamers, initially on cassettes and, later, cartridges, i.e. the NES cartridge which was 32kb (I think?). As the programming was, by necessity, confined by the medium, games were made to be incredibly difficult because you want the players to play your game for as long a period as you can. If your game is really easy then the players game breeze through it in a matter of hours, maybe less, making games insanely difficult, like Megaman, massively increased the play time. As the cartridges capacity grew so did the amount of code put on them, allowing the developers to extend the length of the game and make the games easier, as the playthrough time could remain the same. Take Super Mario World as a for example, far longer than any of the previous in the series and a damn sight easier (with the exception of the SPECIAL levels).
      All the above just sort of leads to where I’m going with this, that games are getting easier for two main reasons, the developers now have more capability to create large worlds for their narrative and the sight-seeing, which occupies the play time instead of grueling battles that take mastery, and players are tending to prefer games that don’t bully them and allow them to spend their time in-game pleasantly experiencing the world. For me personally, I think that if Dragon Age had actually been difficult, there’s no way I would have ended up putting in 100+ hours on normal difficulty. I really enjoyed the optional boss fights that had me re-loading over and over (“right, I know what I did wrong there. I reckon I can do it, just one… more.. go..) but if it had been like that for every battle I’d have thought, “fuck it, might just go play Civ”.

    • malkav11 says:

      Eh. Sometimes god mode would work. I mean, I used to use it in shooters and RTS games, when it was more often an option. Even used it for Half-Life 2 and Episode 1, although it has since become clear to me that I didn’t really need it. But it does quite often break the game in ways that make it less of an experience, whereas a properly balanced difficulty setting will present little to no actual -challenge-, as such, but is still actually playing by the rules of the game.

      For example, I recently finished FEAR 2. On easy, I do believe the only times I died were when I stupidly walked directly into fatal environmental hazards because I didn’t see the actual way I was supposed to go. And that only happened a couple of times. But it was still important to locate and put down foes, break out slow mo, find health and armor pickups, and so on. Or Bioshock. Some people argued that the infinitely reusable Vitachambers removed all challenge from the game. And that may be, but I still found plenty of enjoyment in using the various tricks in my arsenal to good effect and doing my best to minimize trips to them.

    • RobF says:

      Tom, you’re not too wrong there however there’s also the small thing that often, it wasn’t a consideration that anyone would need to tune the difficulty.

      There’s the old Pickford anecdote about them not even contemplating that a game they wrote would be finishing as it wasn’t something that anyone really cared about, they just wrote the games and bunged them out there. It wasn’t until they shifted to RARE for Ninty dev stuff that they were made to ensure their games -were- completable.

      In retrospect it’s easy to put it down entirely to format limitations but there’s equal amount of chance that the devs just couldn’t give a toss about that sort of thing and so you did end up with the difficulty levels lurching more towards the “bloody hell” end of the scale.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      That’s true actually, I remember seeing Rab Florence talking about that on Charlie Brooker’s Gameswipe (whole show here if you’ve not seen it link to ). I think there’s probably quite a few factors influencing why games used to be so much harder, the invention of the save function is likely an important one as well.

    • Vinraith says:


      I think it’s important to draw a clear distinction between challenge and frustration. You’re absolutely right that a lot of early games had serious design flaws that made them extremely frustrating, very unfair, and generally unbalanced in such a way as to feel too hard. The irony is, the return of that kind of thing is part of my concern with the “make games easier” crowd. If “normal” difficulty is made easier and easier, the tendency among many developers will be to go the lazy route in making a higher difficulty setting, if they make one at all. Double enemy damage, double enemy health, screw balance it’ll be fine. It ends up leading to exactly the kind of frustration those early games did, and I could do without that.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      @vinraith I hadn’t thought of it like that. Though, thinking about it, it really irritates me when harder difficulty setting means little more than a cheat mode for the game. The (bad) example that immediately springs to mind is Civ, where increasing beyond Noble is no longer pitting you against a harder AI but the same AI with life made easier for them.

    • archonsod says:

      I’m 31, I’ve been gaming since I was seven. I doubt it’d be possible to write a game which would challenge me in any significant way. Although really that’s been the case all along. The only real challenge is one of persistence; you can complete say R Type simply by continually playing it until you make it through without using up all your lives. It works in an arcade where the amount of time a player can spend on the game is limited by their funds, but once you get it into a home situation where the player can play for as long as they want the challenge evaporates.
      The same applies to MMO’s. It’s not a challenge to get a high level character, merely a case of playing long enough to get there.
      The thing is, persistence is not interesting or fun. I play games to get away from my much more challenging job. The last thing I’m going to do when I get home is spend another four hours effectively “working” on finishing a game. Hence the dicking about; I’ve never completed Oblivion but I still found it rewarding and fun because the game allowed me to simply muck around and have fun, rather than demand I run on a treadmill for an arbitrary length of time until the game had decided I’d finished.
      Not to say there isn’t room for challenging games, but you can see why they’d be a small part of the market. It’s like film; there are those which are rightfully lauded for being intellectually challenging and sometimes you do want to watch them, but people tend to watch the more vacuous effects heavy action flicks much more; not because they find the challenging films too hard to watch, but because as the saying goes, all work and no play make Jack a very dull and irritable boy.

    • Sam says:

      (this is in response to the long thread about game difficulty, if it doesn’t thread it right)

      Of course, people are complaining about both sides of the “varying game difficulty” issue – making things easier or harder than the design risking ruining the experience. Now, the point, surely, is that you should design *for* variable difficulty?
      The Devil May Cry games (and Bayonetta, being by the same designer) have a system where Easy mode gives you assistance in looking cool (essentially, a “do the right thing” button that automatically performs cool-looking and effective combos appropriate to your current situation – you can just hammer it continually to win and feel like your favourite action movie star), and the Hard mode takes away a key ability that you’ve probably been relying on when playing on Normal (thereby making it more interesting than “everyone has twice as much health”, because you have to develop new tactics).
      It seems that this is the Right approach to difficulty in games, and more people should be doing it.

    • says:

      @Tom OBedlam, the thing with Civ is that it generally comes right out and tells you that X difficulty is as hard as the AI gets, and anything higher gives it bonuses. Given the nature of the game I can’t really blame them for not being able to outdo a human player, and it’s nice that they tell you how the challenge works, so if you want to play a fair opponent you know it’s not going to be getting freebies randomly.

    • Wulf says:

      So, I’m playing catch up now after a sabbatical to the mystical lands of Not the Internet, and reading all these replies I actually had a bit of an epiphany, of sorts. A shiny thought.

      Perhaps my problem with some games isn’t that they are hard but that they have an elitist attitude, I believe that’s true, yes, a game can be an elitist bast, usually because it was made by elitist basts. What happens then is that if you don’t have the time to put into learning enemy skill patterns, or you don’t have the skill necessary to proceed, the game snubs you as some sort of outsider. It’s this kind of elitism that’s given gamers (from computer to tabletop alike) a bad name.

      The thing is is that everyone is capable of something, and everyone has some sort of skill, but not everyone is good at gaming. If someone sits down to try a game, then they shouldn’t be punished just because their skill isn’t gaming, and because they don’t have the time and patience to learn enemy patterns. What if the situation was different? What if the game could just automatically tailor itself to the player in question? What if even entire elements of the game were optional, just to suit players?

      I would posit that today we’re not seeing dumbed down games, I’d actually argue against that, but what we are seeing is an era where games can be your friend, they’re not some elitist bast who you’re trying to earn the favour and admiration of any more, they’re not something you prove yourself against for the respect of your friends. The difficulty isn’t dying, the elitist attitude is dying. I have so much more to talk about, so please stick with me. The first thing I want to point at is Guild Wars.

      “Hi, I’m Guild Wars, I want everyone to be able to play me. So I can be completed without wasting much of your life at all! You’ll enjoy it. I’m good, bubbly fantasy fun times! For those of you who think you’re just a bit awesome, bring it! I have optional elements for you: grinding, hard modes, and things of the sort, you can crash yourself against the rocks to prove your worth, you can beat the hardest difficulty, and I’ll reward you with cosmetic rewards which will allow you to brag!”

      Guild Wars was one of the earlier games to take a step in this direction, and it’s a very good direction. Now consider: achievements are optional elements of games that used to be mandatory. Achievements were made optional so that people could have a collection of trophies which they could show off if they needed to. It would prove that they were hardcore, and that would be the difficulty, you’d be trying to get more achievement trophies than your hardcore friends. But people wouldn’t need to get these in order to actually just have fun playing the game.

      Another example of this new attitude is VVVVVV. With VVVVVV you get the feeling that the game wants to teach you how to be good at it, rather than feeling that the game wants to snub you. You have checkpoints in every room, and you can just take your time learning how to beat each room, and regardless of your skill level you’re going to have an absolute blast, because you can die and die and die, and unlike old games you’ll never get sent back to the start of a level, or worse, the start of the game. You can just keep plugging away at it until you get it.

      The hardcore gamer can prove their worth in VVVVVV by getting through it faster than the average player, and at the end there are challenges which are completely optional. One of the optional challenges is pretty easy: collect all the gems, a little persistence will see you through that, and it’s worth it for the ending. Some hardcore gamers might not find that enough, so beyond that there are trials which are, by their very design, masochistic. There are time trials, and worse, there’s one mode where you have to try to get through VVVVVV without losing a single life. If you can beat VVVVVV without losing a life, collecting all the crew and gems, and beat that mode, then you have my respect as a hardcore gamer.

      Me? I’m not even going to try, and I’m comfortable with that, I have too many other games to play in order to spend my time on these optional challenges. And yet, there they are, waiting for you, tempting you with teh challenge if you wish to indulge in you. By making things optional, games can be your friend instead of some elitist bast. Let each player earn the ending in a different way, I think that’s the motto of gaming today. I really don’t like the term ‘dumbing down’, either, because accessibility is good, and usually the inverse of ‘dumbing down’ is making a game an elitist bast. I don’t want that.

      I want to wrap this up by talking about one more game. Recently I’ve picked up a PSP and on it I’ve been playing this game called Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero (Dood)? and I like it, it’s a delightful little game and I’m glad I bought it, but… it’s elitist, to the core. It even mocks people for selecting an easier difficulty. And I thought to myself, well, screw that. I’ve done my hardcore time, I’m older than most gamers (even on RPS), these days I want to play to have fun. So I went with that. And guess what? Even the easy mode was as hard as nails, I didn’t have a lot of fun.

      I’ll explain why. The thing is, the game gives you 1,000 lives and it’s as hard as nails. It’s like VVVVVV where you can burn through lives really quickly, but if you lose all your lives then it’s game over, and you’re back to the start. I was watching those lives tick down and it actually bothered me, it was filled with anxiety and scorn, it stressed me knowing that I’d probably get to the last boss, lose my final life, and then put the game down and never play it again. This really impacted upon my ability to play, I started doing much worse than I’d normally do, and I set the game aside for a bit.

      When I came back to it… well, I had a different approach in mind. My PSP is running custom firmware for all the homebrew funsies that supplies me with (it’s silly not to do that if you can, since you can run everything from PDF readers to YouTube apps and ScummVM on it). I installed coderPR as a plugin and I did grin. You see, coderPR is an Action Replay-like cheat device. It’s really awesome at what it does and it works flawlessly. Using another app, CheatUp, I snagged a massive database of cheats, and then used the one I wanted: Infinite farking lives for Prinny.

      Now? I’m having loads of fun, now! I mean, I don’t have to worry about the lives going down at all. The concept was silly, anyway, as I’m sure that Etna has more than a thousand prinnies in her army. So now I can just learn the game and feel good about it, I saw my skills shoot back up almost right away. I started being awesome at the game because I didn’t feel like it was trying to snub my efforts. At the end of the day, with my confidence restored I probably wouldn’t even have needed that cheat there, and eventually I might replay through the game without it. But having it there for the first playthrough, so I knew that my efforts would be rewarded with an ending, was comforting.

      Prinny is a throwback to an earlier time because unlike VVVVVV it doesn’t offer the option of an endless army as part of the game, to provide for an easier, stress-free first playthrough. It could have said “I understand that you won’t immediately be awesome at this game, so for your first playthrough you have access to the Prinny Reserves, a near endless army of prinnies which you can throw into the fray!”, but it didn’t and it was a lesser game for it, really.

      All a game really needs is a developer which embraces the attitude of keeping their game open to all players via optional elements. Achievements, having things that make the game easier taken away (such as infinite lives, or the Devil May Cry example above) for harder difficulties, and so on. There are lots of ways that can make a game completely different depending upon whom sits down in front of it. That’s the kind of attitude we’re slowly heading toward, these days, and I think it’s a really good one.

      I admit that some games get the balance wrong and swing too much in one direction rather than the other, but I feel that as time goes on, more and more games are getting this balance right. Today is a good day for gaming.

    • Tei says:


      Games are designed to enteirtain, and some people get that from a challenge. This challenge must be leveled to fit his skills. Thats why games have “Easy” “Normal” and “Hard” mode. (humm.. I have friends that play all strategy games in “superhard” mode, and still think is too easy and the AI is dumb. )
      Maybe games need a “Supereasy” mode that is easier than “Easy” for ‘very casual’ people. What I don’t know if it will be as fun as the normal mode for normal gamers. Maybe the medium is not that flexible.

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t think it needs to be called super-easy, specifically. In fact, I think it’s easier to build a game based on being easy and then just start taking things away. For example, taking away infinite lives in VVVVVV would make it ludicrously hard and I’m sure some people would enjoy that.

      Serious Sam had a tourist mode, and that was fun. The thing is, not everyone has the sort of mindset where they want to start out playing a game on the hardest difficulty, I certainly don’t, and I’ll usually start on an easier difficulty to see if the game is fun enough (at the core) for me to merit spending more time on it with a harder difficulty at a later time.

      However, some games don’t even have an easy mode at all, even, which is a problem. In the case of Prinny, the modes read like “Nightmare” and “Very Hard”, and that’s hugely off-putting to me since I don’t want to start a game that way, I’d prefer to blast through a game the first time, and then take my time on a harder difficulty the next time I play it. Which I will do if I find it warrants a replay.

      But I don’t care to be stuck in the first area for five weeks because the game has lives and it’s so batshit hard that I keep losing all my lives and continues within that area and need to start over every time. That’s not my personal definition of fun.

      This is why I’m beginning to think that perhaps even difficulty settings won’t work, but instead difficulty modules (or options) might. You could have sets of these defined to rules, but you could still go in there and tinker with the settings. What if you could control things like AI, enemy bonuses, and lives yourself? What if you were able to set all these options yourself? There could even be an option to make it mandatory to collect all achievements in order to finish a game.

      That may be the future, eventually, where games have a customisable difficulty. And again, I think that’s what we’re heading towards: a game which anyone can sit down and play, and they won’t feel snubbed if they don’t have the required levels of sill that a more elitist developer might expect.

      So if any indie developers are listening, there’s an idea for you!

    • Wulf says:

      To sum up: Imagine if a player could configure a game to what actually feels fair to them, rather than operating on a base difficulty level.

  5. Azhrarn says:

    Plenty of game music would work in a club environment I’d think.
    CCP already do this each fanfest, the venue is turned into a nightclub open to the general public on the last night and EVE music (or remixes thereof) are played quite a bit alongside normal music.

    As for my own choice of music that I’d like to hear in a club….
    link to (starts of fairly mellow, but comes alive after 2m45 and never lets you go after that)

    • Veret says:

      Awesome as Samara’s theme is, it wouldn’t really fit in with “traditional” club music. Unless the club were DJ’d by Howard Shore, John Williams, and Joseph LoDuca, in which case hell yes.

      Since OC Remix has already been brought up, now would be an excellent time to mention Anthem of a Misguided Youth. Just cuz.

  6. Neut says:

    Clint sure likes to talk about how modest and awesome he is.

  7. faelnor says:

    There’s the first sensible article with numbers about piracy right here. Finally.

  8. Ed says:

    Those to-scale maps are quite interesting. No mention of OFP/ArmA/ArmA2 though – they must be pretty big as well. Anyone got numbers? (Minecraft infdev, of course, wins.)

    • Malleus says:

      ArmA2 is 225 km2, which is about 87 ml2.

      ArmA1 is 400 km2, which is 154 ml2, but most of that is ocean, while ArmA2 is mostly actual landmass.

  9. jsdn says:

    Why is “breast” a bad word? I seem to have been saying it my whole life and have yet to be scorned or sued. The word “come” at least has some inkling of sense behind its censorship, even if it’s absolutely moronic to do so.
    As for club music, I strongly wish the Mass Effect 2 Omega club was real. I’d live there.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      If you were the chap I deleted, it’s not the word, it’s having a comment which is solely about someone’s physical attractiveness. I delete peoples comments in interviews with developers who just say someone is hot or not too. Frankly, not the time or the place.


    • Lewis says:

      I suspect he was talking about Dan’s Starcraft censorship blog, Kieron.

    • westyfield says:

      Agreed, I loved the club music in ME2 – especially the ones from Dark Star and Afterlife.

    • mickiscoole says:

      Ditto on the afterlife club. “When” I get my millions later in life, I’ll make that club for real.

      I remember buying the ME2 soundtrack after hearing that song, but then realised it wasn’t actually on the soundtrack :(

      I also think that a lot of VGM that is designed to be ‘generic’ club music is actually really good, for example “The red carpet” from World of Goo (Although the whole soundtrack is amazing, Ode to the bridge builder is my most played song), or “Rock Solid” from Conkers Bad Fur Day on N64

    • Metalfish says:

      KG has excellent breasts.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Totally agree on the importance/awesomeness of in-game club music. Here, have an example.

      It may not have been written for the game specifically, but it fit that location like [goth leather clothing analogy removed].

  10. Jimbo says:

    Galactic Empire State of Mind is the best thing that happened this week. Awesome.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      I heart it so much.


    • faelnor says:

      Probably the language barrier, but I find it idiotic and completely unfunny. CollegeHumor can do better.

    • Novotny says:

      That’s totally made my day

    • Paul B says:

      I enjoyed it very much too :)

    • Robert says:

      Another supporter of the awesomeness of Galactic State of Mind here.

      And, I think the complete opposite of faelnor, as I think 99% of collegehumor is bland and not funny.

    • Clovis says:

      Even though they were really well done, I found the real costumes and instrument lame. It woulda’ been cooler to have done it all through careful manipulation of scenes from the movies. Or not.

  11. Sulkdodds says:

    REPRESENT. Thanks for the pint!

    Blizzard’s censorship has always been bizarre, as anyone who’s tried to discusss grapes or weathercocks Charles Dickens on the WoW forums will know. It’s not quite as pervasive or bizarre as C&C Generals’ prohibition of ‘Bush’ and suchlike, but at least words like ‘Saddam’ were difficult to use ‘innocently’. All pretty juvenile – what, would an optional swear filter and player muting system be too little protection for the (presumably small) fraction of the players who aren’t legally old enough to suck an actual real-life @!*£? At least it has the virtue of requiring everyone to swear inventively, Captain Haddock style.

    While I didn’t go to the ‘curiosity in games’ panel at GC, my friend’s description of it, and Denby’s report, make it seem a bit odd. Is a risk-calculation based on the promise of a reward actually the same as ‘curiosity’? What motivates players to dive into dungeons in MMOs surely isn’t, especially when many know exactly what’s on the loot tables via thottbot or similar sites.

    • Lewis says:

      Not so much the promise of reward as the possibility of, but at risk that instead of a reward, there’ll be negative consequences. The analogy Margaret used was this:

      I have a box, which I’m holding in front of you. I tell you that inside it, there’s either a piece of delicious chocolate cake, or a swarm of flying cockroaches. Why is it that you’re immediately tempted to open the box? And why does the urge to know what’s in the box seem to be so much greater as a result of my holding it in front of you, rather than just telling you it exists?

    • Xocrates says:

      The swear filter IS optional.

      It’s on by default though.

    • Sulkdodds says:

      Whoops! Oh well, that just means it’s a funny way to make everything salacious.

      Lewis: that makes sense. And now I’m thinking of all the times when Valve hold up a ruined house, in which you would either find juicy health packs or horrible, horrible poison headcrabs. Just can’t help thinking that ‘curiosity’ implies more an interest for its own sake, like “ooh, I wonder if there is a hidden temple under this rock”. But I’m probably not being reasonable in suggesting such an interest is untouched by the promise of reward, or that such promises are in any way debased in the first place.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      The swear filter gets more bizarre if you’re not an English speaker. In German, the verb “to be” is censored. That confused me for a bit, until I asked a French friend. Turns out, “sein” is tit in French. It also censors “hier”, which is German for “here”. Haven’t figured out what language that is naughty in.

      This is a problem with no good solution, at all. I mean for the clueful user, the solution is “turn off stupid chat filter”, but it’s not as easy as all that. There are people who want and need chat filters. There are people live-casting to thousands of viewers–if one of the other spectators in the game feels the sudden irrepressible need to say “cunt shit cock whoreface”, that may go out to 8000 viewers. Multiply that by as many languages as the game supports, and realize that just because a user has a certain language set in his game as his language that doesn’t mean this is the only language he can be offended in, and you see we’re quickly heading into unsolvable problem territory.

      I know this from experience. We try to maintain a chat filter for English, Spanish, French, and German in League of Legends. It was a requirement from Above that we have one, and initially a lot of fun was had by all refining the list of words. It was all fun and games until the French word for “yes” ended up on the list (seriously, HOW? I mean, I don’t like the French more than is necessary in polite society, but I wouldn’t censor OUI just because it sounds like something a frog… ahm closing these brackets now). The filter is still crap, and we’re pruning it almost daily, but you’ll always have situations where one word is absolutely necessary in one language and absolutely naughty in another. We tried to filter by language at first, but that was even worse.

      This being Blizzard, I expect them to adjust the filter continually, but this may just be a problem that has no neat solution. Although a rudimentary syntax parser and some word usage stochastics might go some way–it could conceivably differentiate between “I’m gonna grab a coke” and “I’ll go snort some coke”. The latter being, sadly, a necessary requirement for a well-executed speedling/baneling bust-in.

    • boldoran says:

      Well I suspect Blizzard just used the language Filter that is already in use for the WOW chat system. It will never be perfect unless someone really does make the effort to create a sophisticated system that tries to put the words into context. Hardly worth it for a game usually.

      Oh and I just thought about an example on how not to do it. In the Lego Universe beta you can only use words out of the preset dictionary. Even if you only use word that are in this wordlist it often won’t let you send the chat for no apparent reason.
      I have been unable to ask some fellow player if they would like to do a quest together for example.

    • Nick says:

      The swear filter on EAUKs forums is hilarious.. if you type ‘Shush it’ that will be censored because of the ‘sh’ and ‘it’. All sorts of innocent sentences can be garbled this way.

  12. bill says:

    I thought the same thing about the Piracy article. They seem to have some good figures in the first half, but I don’t really agree with the second half.

    I (almost) totally agree on the Too Big and Too Hard point too. Though I’m sure it’ll be the subject of a lot of rants here. Though I think I’d sum it up more as “too padded out and waste too much of my time”. That works better.
    He’s definitely right that there’s no reason games these days should be tied to the structural blueprints of games made 20 years ago.

    More short, concentrated games please.

    “This is why we can’t have nice things” – Tei

    • Tei says:

      He.. that was my line!.

      Haaa… How. .I .. Hate Time Travelers!

  13. Garg says:

    Thats GAPS article has a good point; I can appreciate the brilliance of Just Cause 2, but I can’t ever really enjoy it when I play it due to me not being able to just go around and manically make my own fun outside of a quest structure. In the nomenclature of the article I guess that would be the “Independence” bar. Do magazine editors take this kind of thinking into account when they assign game reviewers, other than just thinking about what the reviewers preffered genre is?

  14. Dreamhacker says:

    Am I getting this right?

    Clint Hocking is leaving Ubisoft because he wants to see if he can land a job in the game industry that doesn’t involve UnrealEngine mapmaking?

    I do say, that blog post contains some of the most extraordinary english writing I’ve seen since Finnegans Wake. Indeed, one can even argue whether the blog post was actually written in english!

  15. CloakRaider says:

    It’s strange, after reading Hocking’s huge blog post on why he left Ubisoft, I’m still none the wiser about why he left Ubisoft.

    Is he trying to break out of some form of routine in games development? Or something else?
    Help would be appreciated.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      I read it as a well-argued bit of self-improvement reflection. “I’m in a comfortable place doing comfortable things, and that makes me lazy and slow and creates other bad habits, so I’m leaving Ubisoft (to potentially do something adventurous) in order to break up those crusty habits. Also, I discovered they are French.”

    • Dreamhacker says:

      Daniel Klein: The Ubisoft studio making Splinter Cell games is in Montreal, Canada.

      Please spend the rest of your life repenting and studying geography…..

    • Hidden_7 says:

      Montreal being located in Quebec, and while it is much less french than the rest of the province, it’s still more french than “none,” which is approximately how french British Columbia, the province he left to work at Ubisoft, is.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      Dreamhacker: not gonna do no repenting. a) Montreal Canucks are Frencher than the French (and I would know this, having spent two days in Quebec, three hours in Montreal, and most of my life living right next to the French border) and b) I said Ubisoft are French, and they are. But uhm. Lest my internet persona seem more racist than it should, I should probably also go on the record saying that a) I don’t really, actually hate the French, b) I work for a French company myself, c) I have French friends, honest!, and d) their national anthem is better than yours. Or ours.

      So there.

  16. bookwormat says:

    I really wish they would make games shorter. Story driven games that is – I don’t think there is too much content in a game like civilization.

    The way it works right now is that publisher release 60h games for 60 Euro, and I know I never play that much, so I buy these games 6 months later for 20 Euro, then play for 15 hours.

    That’s bad for Publishers, because I will never buy that additional content. And it is bad for me, because I never experience the whole story..

    • Mman says:

      Where are these “story driven” 60hr games? Outside of RPG’s and sandbox games (and the latter aren’t particularly story driven a lot of the time). Games rarely reach ten hours nowadays.

    • bookwormat says:

      Mostly RPGs are 60h I guess. But I have similar problems with the GTA games, Stalker, Borderlands. Splinter Cell games, Assassins Creed, Price of Persia, usw. Simply much more mission than I would ever play.

      I thought Modern Warfare 2 had a well sized campaign. But then, MW2’s regular starting price would have been way too high for me.

  17. Alice says:

    I think in our hearts we know that Warren will swear blind he’ll respect her to lure her in, Kieron, but after he slips her that Epic Mickey…

  18. yhancik says:

    Re: Game music in clubs, Angelo Vermeulen/Drumlander has made a couple of game music DJ sets that are fun :D
    link to
    link to -> I very well remember that one.. I wasn’t paying much attention and suddenly I heard

    Good time !

  19. SirKicksalot says:

    There’s a song on The Club’s soundtrack that reminds me of the early days of The Prodigy… link to

  20. Mario Figueiredo says:

    The problem I’m facing is not so much long games. I like long games. I would even like games with an eternal replay value. My problem is games being harder.

    Physically harder to play. Not mentally harder.

    As much as I have been enjoying Just Cause 2, the game is a constant challenge to me. I’m always replying sections of it because I cannot finish missions; I simply can’t wrap my mind around the complex set of keys and mouse combinations to successfully play the game. Result: Just Cause 2 is one of the few games, in my gaming history, I stopped playing because it’s too hard for me.

    With it, there’s a few other games that are becoming simply too complex in the physical skills they require. In the FPS genre mostly. The problem is that messing around with this, may anger more players than the ones it may please. And younger players are especially vocal in internet community groups, adding to the false notion that the whole gaming community would be angered.

    Because of all this, since I always loved the strategy genre, I’ve noticed myself migrating more and more often to it and abandoning the FPS (and a few RPGs too) genre all but completely. The mental challenge is not an issue. My free time isn’t either as I don’t need to spend more than 2 hours in a day around a game to feel satisfied.

  21. Daniel Klein says:

    Representin’. That was a whole damn lotta fun. Also glad to see I still have my superpower of always looking absolutely retarded on any photo taken of me. Wee!

    • Auspex says:

      If it makes you feel any better I can’t narrow down, from that description alone, which one is you.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Is it me or is Keiron’s head coming over that wall absolutely hilarious?

    • Koozer says:

      Person who looks least like a PC gamer: The bloke in a fetching jumper on the right.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      I’m the guy staring STRAIGHT into the camera, thinking, at this very second, “oh look, someone’s taking pictures, I shouldn’t look straight at the camera or else–” *snap*

    • Lewis says:

      Kieron actually just left his head affixed behind that wall all day. For example, this is in a different talk.

    • Lewis says:

      Actually, scratch that, I’m making up facts. It’s exactly the same talk, isn’t it?

      Observation fail. :(

    • Lewis says:

      Oh, man, triple post. Forgot to mention that there were far worse pictures taken than that one of you, Daniel.

      Here’s me looking like I’ve just been hit by a tranquliliser dart, for example.

      See also the girl with the pink hair who looks like she’s about to nut someone.

      Probably Margaret Robertson, given that here – in the same talk – she appears to be giving a “Come on then, if you think you’re hard enough” gesture.

    • Auspex says:

      There are people who look more stupid than you in that photo Lewis.

      Also that guy with glasses in the grey shirt looks totally gormless in both photos.

      It’s fun to mock strangers!

    • Lewis says:

      I particularly like how fascinated Martin Gaston seems to be with his badge.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      The tranq dart one is really fun. It looks like you’re pawing your cheek just to confirm that you’ve really got no feeling in it anymore. But that picture is just made from awesome anyway. Look at those faces! Just look at them!

      And Margaret does look like she could kick my ass physically, and sounded like she could kick my ass intellectually as well, so I’m going to go away now and be scared.

    • wiper says:

      Belated REPREZENT! as I only just got home.

      Yes, it’s perfectly reasonable to take 30+ hours to get from Richmond to Newport.
      No, I didn’t walk.

      (And fortunately, I don’t appear to be in any photo’s thus far)

      Really enjoyed GameCamp – I just hope that I manage to get more than 2 hours sleep before the /next/ one so that I can muster up a little bit more life, rather than being one of the quite ones.

  22. Sagan says:

    The important thing to remember about Wolfite’s piracy article is, that he made those numbers up. He doesn’t know how many games a software pirate plays.
    Also his comparison numbers are from the average gamer. But I would argue that the average numbers don’t apply to indie games, as I imagine they are mostly bought by hardcore gamers. They also don’t apply to iPhone gamers, as iPhone gamers buy much more games.

    Still his argument is plausible and it is probably the way we should go about determining how much damage piracy does. I would just like to see it with real numbers.

    • bob_d says:

      I’d always more or less assumed that his argument was correct; that piracy didn’t significantly correspond to lost sales. (Let us assume that it is largely a coincidence that the decrease in PC game sales corresponds to an increase in broadband adoption.) Real numbers are hard to come by. I think formal studies are needed that look at the income levels, and consider per-household piracy and sales numbers as separate things (as opposed to the typical industry study that automatically conflates piracy with lost sales). Until that happens, we’re left with anecdotal evidence, mostly.

      So if we assume that piracy is not the (main) cause of sales declines, then what is? I think the author may have struck on something by blaming console ports; the introduction of the Xbox (the easiest console at that point for porting PC games) matches the beginning of the real decline in PC game sales. I think the control scheme issue is a red herring, though. Using Blizzard products as an example is misleading. First, they’re aimed at low-spec machines, making them more broadly accessible (not just to the hard-core gamer who has the skills to pirate), and second they use their online services as a carrot to encourage legitimate copies, rather than the DRM stick. As mentioned above, WoW being the obvious example, the importance of online play/Battlenet to their games corresponds to their sales numbers.

      I think the industry has felt they either need to have the DRM stick or the online carrot to sell games; if people buy one game and copy nine, you want your game to be the one they buy. I think this is where consoles really come in to the equation. I have a friend who is a PC game developer who has pretty much given up PC games in favor of playing on the console, after DRM left him completely unable to play several PC games he purchased. That was the final straw for him; years of poorly made installers, system corruption caused by installing/uninstalling games and incomplete, patch-requiring PC releases drove him there. If he can get the exact same game on a console, he will. That it’s economically more and more difficult to survive on PC-only releases means that it’s almost guaranteed that a AAA game will have a console version. Blaming poor PC sales for console centric-designs seems like it might be backwards; the designs are console-centric because that’s where the sales are.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      So if we assume that piracy is not the (main) cause of sales declines, then what is?

      But why would we do that, absent of facts?

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      I have a friend who is a PC game developer who has pretty much given up PC games in favor of playing on the console, after DRM left him completely unable to play several PC games he purchased. That was the final straw for him; years of poorly made installers, system corruption caused by installing/uninstalling games and incomplete, patch-requiring PC releases drove him there. If he can get the exact same game on a console, he will.

      Where’s Vinraith when we need some Steam bashing in a comments thread? What’s that you say? Steam negates all those problems that chap suffered by making every single point moot? Gosh well I’ll just shuffle off back to Team Fortress 2 & not bother you chaps again. Sorry for the interruption, return to your regularly scheduled program of decrying everything that even remotely looks like it might be related via second cousins to DRM.

  23. ChaosSmurf says:

    oh hi guyz :3

    I’m glad I’m not alone in wanting to rock out to video game music, that was probably the most ridiculously nerdy thing I’ve ever written.

  24. Corrado Morgana says:

    No idea how we got onto this subject but I’m pretty sure I can’t take all the blame…

    Goat tongue torture

    link to

    …and, I think, the Amnesty sponsored exhibition; although I saw it in Malta.

    link to

    we’re an inventive lot…..

  25. Pod says:

    >It’s far less convincing on its figuring of what the real reasons for falling PC sales are.

    I don’t think he was trying to explain the falling PC sales figures, but rather show that most piracy figures are bullshit.

    • cjlr says:

      Especially because sales aren’t falling. Retail sales are falling. Nobody has the numbers for all the digital platforms, so a proper analysis is impossible.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Pod: Read the entire section at the end subtly entitled “Why are PC games really losing sales?”.


  26. Pod says:

    Also, destructoid did NOT make that image. This guy did:
    link to

  27. gryffinp says:

    But… But… But… I like long and difficult games.

  28. Freudian Trip says:

    Well for one you have EA’s record company that have moved some pretty big names. Crystal Method and The Perceptionists for one; link to

    Radio 1 DJ Jaguar Skills – Video game mashup
    link to

  29. bill says:

    Wolfire also has an interesting article about Mac/Linux gaming:
    link to

    plus: FREE SAMOROST 2!!!!
    link to

    this is awesome as i lived samorost 1!

    I hope they make it to a million

  30. Auspex says:

    Man! I could listen to Jake’s Theme all day!

    If someone did a silent disco to Advance Wars music I would never leave.

  31. Konelius says:

    The original soundtrack from Wipeout though is far and away the best music in a video game ever. I know there are 3 commercial tracks by Leftfield, Orbital & Chemical Bros but the non-commercial tracks from Cold Storage are amazing and would easily work in club.

    I also remember Hardwar having amazing music (Warp Records artists) though not technically game music.

    I know this is a PC site so I guess the Amiga doesn’t count but there have been lots of amazing soundtracks and demo music that are club worthy including Project X, Super Stardust, Apidya, and stuff like 9 Fingers, Jesus on Es and State of the Art.

  32. Konelius says:

    btw – Cold Storage has all his old stuff for free at link to

  33. Sagan says:

    According to the map thing, Lotro is like a bajillion times larger than World of Warcraft. I’m curious how that works. Can anyone here explain how Lotro manages to be so large? Is it mostly empty space? Is much of it impassable (like large mountains or oceans)? And how are you traveling the vast distances?

    Anyone playing the game here care to elaborate?

    • BigJonno says:

      I’ve played WoW for years and started playing LotRO recently. Everything in LotRO seems to be more realistically scaled. Travelling long distances can be daunting, but if the feel of the world is more important to you than gaming efficiency, it’s a wonderfully-constructed game.

      You can tell that the two games were designed with very different audiences in mind. WoW is a crowd pleaser, expertly disguising the MMO levelling treadmill behind a constantly changing, colourful and slickly-designed environment. LotRO is an attempt at bringing a rich, much-loved fantasy world to life. It can be a bit tiresome to find green hills giving way to slightly yellowish hills (especially if you’re used to WoW and going from desert to jungle to snowy mountains in the same distance) but you’ll feel like you’re really there.

  34. Vinraith says:

    With the constant buildup of DRM, games-as-service platforms, limited installations, and all the other things that make mainstream PC gaming a hassle, it’s almost a twisted sort of comfort that people like John Davison are out there trying to make sure that mainstream PC games are something I’m no longer interested in playing. Maybe I’d be better off just sticking to my favorite niches of the industry, which generally have none of these problems and would never move in an “easier, smaller” direction lest their fanbase lynch them.

  35. SimRex says:


    I’d say it’s more like when someone has paid to join a golf club, but isn’t allowed to play holes 2-18 until first coming in below par for hole 1…

  36. HairCute says:

    That ubisoft post was pretty lame. I have no idea what the hell he was talking about except I’m resigning and really, who gives a shit? You worked at ubisoft.

  37. golden_worm says:

    Music from a game I would love to hear in a club:

    link to

    – from ridge racer revolution

    And the best track to finish the night on:

    link to

    – club doom

    Both PSX tracks, no apologies.

    Plus can’t resist posting my fave Starwars mashup:

    link to

    t’was meant to be.

  38. Ergates says:

    Re the goat torture thing:

    You wouldn’t have to make the goat thirsty – animals will lick salty things anyway, they’re after the salt not the water.

  39. Max says:

    The scale of those maps looks waaaay off. Did they actually compare them in-game or did they just look up statistics?

    My main issue is that Burnout Paradise map. Look at those tanker ships at the bottom. They’re massive! They’re larger than the airports in San Andreas!

    • arqueturus says:

      @Max some Oil Tankers are kilometer long….

    • PleasingFungus says:

      My assumption was that they looked up the statistics on the size of the game world; they found a map of the game world; they scaled them accordingly. Thus the confusion with Far Cry 2…

    • Urthman says:

      You’re right that it doesn’t make sense. Look at how wide the roads are in the Burnout map vs. the GTA:SA map. Burnout’s roads aren’t that much wider than GTA’s roads (using typical car width as a scale).

      And the distances are wrong too. GTA:SA is much bigger than Burnout Paradise. Getting from one side of the map to the other with vehicles going comparable speeds will take you at least 5 times longer in GTA:SA than it will in Burnout Paradise. I’d say Burnout Paradise it about the size of the bottom right quarter of GTA:SA, or smaller.

      But now all I can think about is how awesome GTA:Paradise City would be, using GTA missions and weapons and interactivity and Burnout vehicles and driving physics and city design and acrobatics.

    • Freudian Trip says:

      Depends on top speed doesn’t it? If the top speed is 80mph in GTA and 240mph in Burnout then by Albert Einsteins Theory of Relativity it’s going to feel smaller.

      Thats what that theory is about right? I’m terrible at Science.

  40. Binho says:

    Vinraith, there is a massive issue with your “People who pick up a guitar and expect to be able to play it right away” comparison….

    In the fact that you CAN pick up a guitar and play it right away. Not very well, mind you, but you can still play around with it.

    I think the issue Mr. Davison was talking about was the fact that games are to punishing on failure. If you get killed in a game, you have to wait for the game to reload, and it will usually reload in a location where you have to repeat a bunch of tasks you just did 5 minutes ago.

    That would be like a guitar breaking if you play a wrong chord, then you having to rebuild the guitar and try to play the chord again. In real life though, if you mess up the chord, you can try again right away – or if you are getting frustrated, just try playing something different. The guitar never stops you from playin it.

    It’s not about making the game “easier”, it’s about making the game less frustrating and you being able to continue playing and enjoying yourself. Games are about escapism, and that dosn’t work very well if the game frustrates you and tries as hard as it can to stop you from playing it at every turn.

    • Vinraith says:


      It’s not about making the game “easier”, it’s about making the game less frustrating and you being able to continue playing and enjoying yourself.

      I didn’t address that point precisely because I don’t disagree with him in that respect.

    • Razz says:

      Slightly off-topic, but can I just say that from experience, whether or not you can pick up a guitar and play very much varies from person to person. It took me weeks to play even the simplest of chords, and from browsing forums and talking to guitarists I know this isn’t just me sucking or being a freak. If you’re one of the lucky few that was able to do that, all power to you! Just know that we’re not all that awesome :(

  41. BigJonno says:

    *Deep breath*

    *Insert huge list of expletives.*

    *Deep breath*

    I forgot about Gamecamp. I have a reasonably legitimate excuse (lots of essays and such due in, including one on Vygotsky tomorrow) but I’m pissed off as I was really looking forward to it. I’d got my journey planned and everything. I’m also feeling guilty as it means there was an empty space that someone else could have filled.

    Very, very annoyed with myself.

  42. PleasingFungus says:

    Wow, Second Person Shooter is amazing! I can’t believe I’ve never run into it before now.


  43. Zwebbie says:

    I don’t get the thing where games have to be shorter and easier. Couldn’t you just watch a movie then? What are games about if not mastering skills?

    • GT3000 says:


      Just blew your mind, didn’t I?

    • Zwebbie says:

      Ah, let me elaborate. I was thinking of Raph Koster’s ‘A theory of fun’ when writing that, where he explains that, by his definition, games are about practicing skills in a safe environment – the most prominent of these skills being pattern recognition. As any definition of ‘game’, it’s not perfect, but there’s an element of truth to it, especially if you consider the value of playing among children or even animals that are inclined to do so.
      Once you go by that definition, then a game is required to have some level of difficulty at least, or there’s no stimulation at all. Surely, we can find that in any game, but if it’s the strength – the defining element – of the medium, then doesn’t it deserve or need to have a very active role? As a said, if a game becomes more easy, it leans more towards film, whereas a difficult games become more game.

      I’m sorry, I think you blew my mind too hard :) .

    • Matzerath says:

      Some people like a challenge, and some people like to veg – it applies to games, movies and literature. Additionally, some people like to trade off. I think games can offer both for sure, though I would be saddened by a universal dumbing down of things. Like a bookshelf full of James Patterson novels, it makes the soul ache to contemplate.

  44. The Dark One says:

    What music would I like to hear in a club? I don’t know how many other people would enjoy it, but all the jazz in Sim City 3000’s soundtrack and almost everything from Beyond Good & Evil.

  45. manintheshack says:

    Reading the Clint Hocking piece in the super-fast style of FC2’s Jackal is a lot of fun.

  46. Sagan says:

    Re: John Davison:
    I doubt, that the main reason why people don’t finish games is, that the games are too hard. The first company to release that kind of statistic was Valve, who also are the company that playtest their games so much that it’s impossible to get stuck. And even their games don’t get finished by the majority of players. If you look at the Episode 2 stats (link to it is obvious, that difficulty plays some role. For example there is a noticeable drop between the amount of players that reached the final level and those that beat it. That is probably because of the difficulty of the final battle.

    But the majority of the players who stopped playing actually stopped playing early in the game. If you played through the first third, it was likely that you would continue playing until you reached the final level. That can not be explained by difficulty. People stopped playing when the game was still easy.

    I also don’t think that they are too long. How many games do you have to buy that something like Episode 2 is too long for you? That you play a game for five hours then drop it because it is too long? 25% of Episode 2 players played for less than 1.5 hours. That can not be explained by the game being too long.

    So what is the reason people don’t finish games? I would like to see what these gamers say, why they stopped playing. Some statements to go with the raw data that we have.
    Personally, I think we will find that these people didn’t like the game. That would be an excellent explanation for the kind of numbers that John Davison cites. People stop playing a game within the first couple of hours because they don’t like it.

    Making shorter and easier games would be a mistake. Because the people who like a game tend to play it until the end.

    • Urthman says:

      Yeah, it’s telling that a developer thinks “my game is too long” or “my game is too hard” without ever considering the idea “maybe my game sucks.” Or even (in the case of something like Episode 2) “my game doesn’t appeal to everyone.”

      Rather it’s “We’ve made a game that everyone is gonna love! Except maybe it’s a little too hard or a little too long.” It’s like a job interview: “My greatest weakness? I work too hard and too many hours.”

    • Vinraith says:


      It’s typical industry logic, isn’t it? Gamers not finishing your game? It must be because they’re too incompetent or too lazy to do so, dumb it down and shorten it. Game not selling? It’s because PC gamers are thieves that are stealing it, up the DRM. Many of them really do seem to have a very low opinion of their customers, which goes a long way to explaining how they treat said customers.

    • malkav11 says:

      I have, literally, hundreds of unfinished games. While occasionally I deliberately abandon them because they’re not entertaining me anymore or actively rubbing me the wrong way, this is rare. In general, if a game sucks I will either not start it to begin with or drop it almost immediately as the sucking becomes clear. No, most all of the games I’ve failed to finish have been games that I’ve enjoyed considerably but either been a) distracted by the next shiny (i.e., they’re too long to fit comfortably into a gaming schedule that involves regular new releases), or b) I hit a difficulty wall. And if I don’t get back to games I abandoned due to a) (as I often don’t), sometimes it’s because it’s too difficult to reacquire the trained-in skills of playing the game without entirely restarting. (A good example is Metroid Prime, which I abandoned shortly before the Omega Pirate and no longer have enough ability to navigate the much more intense difficulty of that stage of the game.)

    • Sam says:

      Re: Episode 2.
      I dunno, I looked at the completion rate statistics for it shortly after I got to the final level (mainly because I was interested in seeing just how many people were rage quitting there, as I almost did). I think I determined that there were a couple of other points where the difficulty spiked a bit which also caused some of the early-ish-game decay – the bit with the Ant Lion guard where you have to dodge between small tunnels underground, for example.

      That said, the final section was, I think, possibly the most frustrating section of any game I’ve ever played. Not least by the fact that it was significantly more difficult than any other part of Episode 2… Considering how much Valve playtest, I always wondered why they let it be that different.

  47. Mr Labbes says:

    You have not played FFX with the uberweapons (forgot their name), then?

    • Mr Labbes says:

      Replyfail! This is basically in response to “games are too hard and too long” – FFX is both, and it remains one of the few games I did not finish.
      Watched the end on youtube, though, which did not involve ridiculous hours of farming.

  48. Oak says:

    Someone in here linked a pretty cool song from Vampire: The Masquerade, but their post seems to have been deleted. Whoever you were, thanks.

    • stahlwerk says:

      What? Me? Why, no problem, dear sir or madam!

      (the post is still up there, last reply to jsdn on May 9, 2010 at 12:09 pm)