Rock, Paper, Shot Takes: Hype, Bullshots & No Man’s Sky

A (hopefully) weekly series, in which the RPS hivemind gathers to discuss/bicker about/mock the most pressing (or at least noisiest) issues in PCgamingland right now. Hot Takes are go.

Alec: OMG THIS IS GOING TO BE THE MOST AMAZING HOT TAKE EVER. By which I mean, today we are discussing hype and videogames and if that helps or hurts them and helps or hurts us. The prompt for this is Hello Games’ chat with Pip last week, in which they mourned the crushing weight of expectation placed upon them as a result of having made some pretty good trailers for their space exploration game. I guess we’re going to struggle to avoid a touch of physician heal thyself here, but anyway. How do we feel about how the world feels about No Man’s Sky?

Adam: I’ve already started referring to No Man’s Sky as first-person Spore, which seems doubly cruel now that I’ve read Pip’s interview. It was already sort of cruel but I meant it affectionately. As affectionate a way as it’s possible to thrust a Spore into somebody. And I quite liked Spore, for what it was rather than for what it was supposed to be.

And I think that’s the heart of the issue with No Man’s Sky for me. It’s a flexible and vague enough premise – and we could even argue the title is a statement of sorts along those lines – that could be all things to all people. And we all want the ideal game, whatever that might be. There’s an inherent belief that anything is possible now, that we’ve reached some sort of plateau where development teams can achieve whatever they set their minds to because that’s how technology works these days. It’s a lovely belief but it’s nonsense, isn’t it? The everything-goes template leads to all sorts of half-finished half-baked things.

Basically, I blame Minecraft.

John: Over the years (and years (and years)) of doing this job, I’ve developed an enormously powerful barrier to hype. So I see the fuss at E3 2014, and again this year, and I think, “Those are nice trailers.” I think it’s Just Cause that has trained me better in this than anything else. The crushing disappointment that the games always let the game get in the way of the stupendous fun they show in every promotional glimpse is the lesson we all need to learn. So while those early NMS trailers showed me something with unfathomable potential, it’s instinctive now to think, “I look forward to finding out which narrow path through that potential this game will be taking.”

Graham: I can understand why Hello Games want to now downplay the hype. It sounds like they wanted to create a game about mystery and wonder, and kind of have, but are now faced with the terrifying prospect of what happens when that game comes out and the mystery and wonder almost immediately evaporate.

In response to this kind of thing, I like to do something similar to what John describes – I divorce the hype from the reality of the game. And that means that I’m quite happy to ride along, watching trailers, being entertained by what things might be. There’s a pleasure to that all in itself. See also: Star Citizen, a game bought by people who want the fantasy of ‘living’ in space, and who get that fantasy as much or more through the buying of unreleased virtual objects as they ever will from the game itself.

Pip: I don’t know that it was quite that with Hello Games. From the interview it felt with No Man’s Sky they wanted to communicate their own excitement about the game and to have an audience reciprocate that. You want to know that the potential players are excited about what you’re working on, right? Generally, Sean Murray described the emotional trajectory for developers on that front as disappointment followed by acceptance. With No Man’s Sky it actually had that excitement effect and i got the impression that that had been very much the desired but so-totally-unlikely outcome from their point of view.

I think a big part of what helped with the hype and which they’re now fighting is their resistance of a typical trailer structure with a bunch of familiar set pieces and explicit instructions or verbs. I think loosing viewers from those familiar moorings is simultaneously the thing that gave the desired excitement and also hamstrung them. We’ve said this elsewhere – Adam did just now – but it let the game be everything to all people and it did that for a long time. We know more now but that sort of imaginary feature creep is still going on because there’s enough that’s still unsaid. I guess what I wanted to say particularly is that some kinds of game hype are based on misrepresentation but I don’t think that’s the case here. Here it was, and continues to be, the result of omission.

Alec: A big part of me is happy to be probably recklessly over-excited about No Man’s Sky specifically, because that excitement comes on a conceptual level rather than a ‘man want to shoot all the guns right now please’ level. I see that space-place and I want to be in it; I like the idea of being in it, and in a way I don’t need the actuality of it, just the theory of it. I fully expect to be at least a little deflated by the finished thing, but I’m enjoying the period of anticipation, the What If? space game daydream. It’s a very different sort of excitement or hype to screaming with testosteronal joy because a game with a number in the title got announced or there was footage of a big soldierman holding two machine guns at once. It’s excitement for escapism rather than excitement for a firm cynically meeting my demographic’s tried and tested interests.

John: But do you not think there’s a danger that your deflation can be born of your imagined expectation, and as such, your opinion of the game that is, is unfairly tainted by the game you pretended could have been?

Graham: Only if you ever had the expectation that the game could live up to your imagination in the first place. And I no longer do. I’ve been disappointed by games before, of course, but now I’ve realised that excitement and expectation can be two entirely separate things. So I figure I know nothing about games until they’re out.

I’m very zen, me.

Alec: There are two entirely different No Man’s Skies as far as I’m concerned. The game, and the fantasy of the trailers. I don’t actually conflate them. It’s more of an ‘oh, wouldn’t it be nice if a game could find those soaring, sensory emotional triggers?’, like music, rather than an actual belief that it’s going to achieve anything like that. It’s a game. I know what games do and don’t do, the vast majority of the time at least, and I don’t expect anything to make my jaw drop. (Though VR has at least some potential to change that). Like Adam, I’m expecting something like Spore, but more coherent and elegant, from the game itself. The fantasy game is almost the fantasy of a romance before you know the person; it’s fun to imagine the idealised wonder of being with them, without going so far as to believe it would truly be like that, unless you’re a frightening stalker. Most game reveals and footage don’t do even that, however: they’re just tentpoles ordering you to be excited about explosions. I guess admiring No Man’s Sky’s concept from afar is a game in itself. But I doubt everyone is consciously having this sort of dichotomy, and that’s the ULTIMATE SPACE GAME dilemma No Man’s Sky finds itself in, as what’s in reality an exploration game is suddenly being interpreted as Star Wars.

John: I think it’s fair to say, as well, that Hello Games are a little guilty themselves. Even in the recent IGN video, there’s an element of “Oh, um, yeah, maybe,” about elements like ship building, multiplayer and whether it even exists, piracy, and so on. They keep throwing away little comments that are such massively excited tidbits, that also seem like they’ll be a touch unlikely to be fulfilled.

Adam: Maybe this is a slightly tedious way of looking at it but with No Man’s Sky, I was waiting for the ‘verb’ to drop. What will I do? Looking and flying and walking seems like enough, but depends on enormous variety (which I haven’t seen enough of yet), great art design (which they do seem to have) and a good feel (which I can’t get a sense of at all – looks floaty).

I think I’m getting a handle on the rest of it now and the shooting doesn’t look very interesting and the data collection seems like ‘looking at things’ converted into a way to grind for resources or experience. This might make me sound dour. I tend to assume things are going to be a bit shit – or at least a bit like at least a dozen other things I’ve played – until I’ve had a chance to prove that they’re not a bit shit. I love being won over though. The Witcher 3 completely won me over and I did not feel excited about it at all before release. That’s a better feeling than any amount of Hype.

strong>Pip: Thing is, that worked because you got a copy of the game as part of work, right? That game had a chance to win you over because you had that copy to play. We play a lot of shit and we get used to that but as a consumer you wouldn’t take that approach. You wouldn’t buy something expecting it to be mediocre or disappointing and then have that lovely sunshine moment. Or at least not unless you had more money and free time than [SOMEONE THAT HAS A LOT OF MONEY AND FREE TIME – MAYBE SOME KIND OF OLD TESTAMENT KING LIKE NEBUCHANEZZAR].

Adam: You should have mentioned ‘sense’ as well as free time. I bought the first two Witcher games because people I respected and trusted told me that they were good, and ended up hating them. I’m just about stubborn and foolish enough to have bought the third one as well, based on how excited people were once it had been released. And that’s the important part, I guess. I was quite happy to let my doubts drift away as soon as people had it in their hands, were playing it and articulating why it was good, or interesting, or the Best Thing Ever.

Pip: That’s fair – I was going to go on to say that that’s where reviews or friend recommendations start to come in but I got bored with typing and started to eat a mango. From the publisher’s point of view, none of that is money in the bank, though, which is why there’s such a huge push for pre-orders and so on – basically anything that circumvents those critical or uncertain processes. Obviously we all know that. But something I’ve found interesting is the ways the hype can be attractive and feed on itself. I’ve never midnight-queued for anything before or since but my sister and I were kicking around at home years ago and realised it was a Harry Potter book launch night. I’m not a massive fan and neither is she but we thought it would be fun to go and be part of the hype.

So it’s just after 11pm and we pile in the car – her, her now-husband and me – and head off to the Asda just outside town. There’s a queue of people snaking through the store, some people are dressed up and the guys just ahead of us in the line are singing a song from a Harry Potter puppet video that had gone viral. Music from the movie is coming over the sound system and I could hear snippets of conversations where readers were speculating about what would happen next. It was just pretty great, sitting in this bubble of other people’s excitement. I’ve sometimes wondered about midnight-queuing for Call of Duty, just so I can see if it’s the same but I guess that’s a fading thing now because of day zero early access and the like.

I know a lot of hype is rubbish and results in disappointed consumers, but I wanted to make sure to say that it’s sometimes a fun and nice thing to get caught up in and there’s value in that experience even if the resulting product is a bit duff.

Adam: Definitely. I was so excited about Dark Knight Rises that I saw it at a midnight screening and then the next day with a different group of people before I decided it was a bit of a duffer. Wouldn’t trade the experience of being excited beforehand though. Collective positivity is rare enough as it is.

Alec: It doesn’t necessarily need a physical crowd. I’ll never forget the day Half-Life 2 was due to unlock on Steam. It was pre-twitter, but IMs, texts and message boards were going crazy everywhere – is it now, have you got it yet, when when when? It wasn’t about the game itself, it was about getting the game, the dream of the game, a collective fantasy. I wouldn’t give that kind of thing up, even if I would prefer there to be less crazy hooting at marketing material.

Adam: Do any of us have a designer, studio (ERK) franchise or (VOM) brand that we GET HYPE for? I noticed some stirring of loins when Deus Ex and Warhammer are mentioned, I can tell you. Silent Hill does it for me, even though they’ve been bloody awful for ages. There are developers that I have a certain amount of faith in though. Earned and not blind, but faith nonetheless.

On page 2 – The team’s favourite studios, Ubisoft and bullshots, big corps vs indies

87 Comments

  1. LegendaryTeeth says:

    Strong Pip! Best Pip.

  2. xcession says:

    I think at this point NMS is already doomed to disappoint, but probably fall short of failing altogether. Hello Games have played, and in my opinion already lost, a carefully balanced information game to give away just enough information that people are interested, without showing or implying things that aren’t possible.

    Proof of this is present in every single tweet thread, comment thread and facebook thread I read on NMS. They’refilled with people going “OMG it’s going to be so cool to explorer with friends!”. This is despite Hello Games’ repeated assertion that you basically can’t meet other players. Even if you overcome the mind-numbingly low odds of being in the same system, I doubt there are even third-person player graphics.

    I’m not surprised there’s no multiplayer. You can’t create a game of this size, with a team their size, without making everything shallow. I am still disappointed though. In the E3 interviews, Shaun even cited games like Minecraft and Terraria for their “joy of discovery” yet somehow missing the entire point that the joy is mostly present because of discovering things with friends.

    • TK-093 says:

      I want it to good, but I think it will fall short. There are going to be a ton of people disappointed once they realize you’ll be exploring alone. I could totally be wrong, but I’m currently getting an Assassin’s Creed 1 vibe… you know, great potential, falls a little short…. Hopefully it makes enough money that they can really nail it in NMS 2… would love exploring the stars with my kids and friends.

    • orionite says:

      There’s no multi-player? Ok, now I’m interested.

    • Urthman says:

      I think it’s pretty ridiculous to claim that the joy of exploring in Minecraft only exists in multiplayer.

      Mine the Gap, anyone? Tom Francis’s Minecraft Experiment?

      • xcession says:

        I may have gone a little hyperbollick there. Still, the fact is that minecraft takes on a whole new dimension when you play with your friends. NMS won’t be getting that extra dimension which seems like a missed opportunity. With the billions of permutations that could be discoverable in NMS far exceeding Minecraft’s limited biomes and mobs, and the sheer scale of the discoverable universe, you’d think teaming up would be even more warranted as a game mechanic.

        • Xzi says:

          It is multiplayer, though, and you can meet up with your friends. It’s just a lot more involved than, “here’s where I am, bring up the party screen and invite me.” You’ll have to use Skype or something similar and guide your way toward each other using landmarks in space and on planets. They’ve stated that you can indeed see other players, you just wouldn’t know them from NPCs, because there are no nameplates or anything like that. Personally, this sounds a lot more enjoyable to me…people will have a lot of interesting experiences just on their way to meet each other.

          • xcession says:

            Care to link me to something where they state that direct player interaction is possible? I may have missed one of their spontaneous leaks of key information.

          • TK-093 says:

            I don’t think you can meet up with your friends. Here is an interview that talks about it. From what I gather, if there is somebody in your area, maybe they will show up.. maybe they won’t. You can’t specifically have your friends show up.

            link to gameinformer.com

          • Xzi says:

            That article also says your friends will show up on the map, however, and so that makes it a lot easier than I thought it would be. No guarantee that they actually show up when they get close to you, but a few rounds of logging out and then back in would likely fix that.

  3. Gap Gen says:

    I will say that if you don’t want the hype to run away maybe don’t advertise your game as EVERY ATOM PROCEDURAL. Although I can appreciate that early hype is useful, even if it can run away from you towards release.

  4. Krazen says:

    Whether the game is over-hyped or not kind of misses the point. Despite the visuals and technical achievement the most frequent comments I’ve seen recently are noticing a complete lack of depth to any of it’s features. All surface and no content. It seems boring to play.

    Similar complaints have been levelled at the recent Elite Dangerous since it’s release.

    • Xzi says:

      That’s been a complaint about the space flight genre since its inception, basically. But while half the people look at those games and see nothing to do, the other half look at them and see tons to do. There is tons to do in Elite, you just have to be willing to go do it rather than sit still and wait for the game to hold your hand to the next objective.

      • Asurmen says:

        There is? There’s only 4 things to do in Elite, and the only one that is difficult or complex (relative to the other things) is combat, and only when you try and limit yourself intentionally (taking on bigger ships with higher combat rating with lower class of ship, not use shield cell banks etc). The other 3 don’t require much thought at all.

        • Xzi says:

          You say that as if there haven’t been tons of games over the years with only one thing to do, yet many receive nearly universal acclaim. Quality > quantity. I wouldn’t say that Elite plays perfectly to either quality or quantity, but that doesn’t mean No Man’s Sky can’t.

          • Asurmen says:

            Yes, because those things either haver that one thing be complex or a story to go along with it. Elite has neither.

      • P.Funk says:

        I remember playing Freelancer back in Ought Three. It was a fun engaging universe with a plot that grabbed me. Once the plot was over it felt rather pointless to ply the stars alone.

        Then came multiplayer, specifically Freelancer Discovery. There it wasn’t even the modded universe as much as the roleplaying community that gave it depth. It was great fun to create player factions, roleplay characters using in server rules for things like faction alignment and how that defined what players could or couldn’t reasonably do.

        It was great fun then to go on the forums and spin the events as stories, make alliances, interact with in server events as the meta story line evolved through updates.

        That however took a lot of effort and needed a kind of enforcement and type of player base to make it work. Space flying games without that are hard to find engaging. Automation and the kind of blandness of widest appeal just don’t do it. Perhaps I think Star Citizen can capture some of that Freelancer Disco roleplaying fun. Its basically the same game concept but on space steroids.

  5. Skeletor68 says:

    One, I’m definitely guilty of hyping Firewatch too much.

    Two, I’m not sure where No Man’s Sky is going to under-deliver. I’m excited to just be able to go planet hopping and looking at sweet land and space vistas. Do you think people were looking for Elite equivalent combat or trading? The mechanics never looked too involved. If there is enough rarity out in the universe then I think I’ll really enjoy it.

  6. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    On the subject of No Man’s Sky: I was hyped for a while (after the first footage), but that ended when time passed and more trailers were shown. I do find it difficult to seperate that hype from my feelings towards the game. If only because I’d like it to be really, really good and I’m now mostly expecting it to be rather disappointing, shallow and samey.

    Maybe I’m a bit jaded. Maybe.

  7. BlackeyeVuk says:

    Gentlemen that posted before me are absolutely right. This game is overhyped. Glorified sightseeing game, and that’s about it. Huge potential, and space, but too much work is need for proper AI for example and meaningful simulated economy.
    Games like this are doom to end in mediocrity. Player NEEDS feel of progression and accomplishment , and that means building and growing stuff.

    I can understand and appreciate the technical marvel that is Freelancer now, for example.

    I’ll just go and play Windward. Little funny water shipies. DIE PIRATES DIE!

    • PancakeWizard says:

      ” This game is overhyped.”

      Where? I’d love to see some hype for it. I’ve seen nothing but grumbling in the face of something incredible. And now the narrative seems to be ‘it’s over-hyped’.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        To put it in perspective I’ve seen way more hype for the new Fallout and Doom games, and while I’m sure they’ll be good fun they aren’t exactly doing anything we haven’t seen a hundred times before.

        • P.Funk says:

          Perhaps I can argue in favour of a concept I might called Proportional Hype.

          Doom and Fallout have a track record, a history, and budgets and so there is a relatively known quantity to their potential. NMS has instead been rather opaque despite the hype and so the hype seems to stem from more wishful thinking than any kid of rational observation one can make about a bigger game like Doom or Fallout.

      • Jeremy says:

        Yeah, it really honestly seems like people got super excited about it when seeing the trailer, and then deemed it “over-hyped” because of their own personal reaction and subsequent reeling from that excitement. All they did was show gameplay videos without the bombast of a codblops.

      • malkav11 says:

        Really? Every mention of it on a podcast I’ve heard, every article on a website I’ve seen has pretty much spontaneously orgasmed over it from the off, apparently largely due to the aesthetics since none of those people have seemed to have much idea what the game actually involves doing. Personally, between that, the heavy emphasis on how procedurally generated it is and the pushing of this idea that you’ll be finding things no one else has (maybe some people will – the first adopters with the most free time – but I highly doubt I ever would be since it’s apparently a single seed), I am expecting it to be shallow, pretty, and largely empty of any reason to care about anything you’re doing. I’d love to be wrong. But hey, the nice thing about low expectations is that if it does turn out to be brilliant, well, I’ll be that much happier.

    • Elliot Lannigan says:

      But there is NO other game currently in existence that can advertise it as a gorgeous sight-seeing game with the possibility of seeing something brand new every time you start up the game. That is all I’m expecting and is reason enough for my hype to be through the roof if they really nail the procedural generation. I don’t need all the bells and whistles of progression and crafting and inventory management and shooty-shoot-shoot. I just want to explore. A LOT.

  8. Turin Turambar says:

    Don’t worry Hello Games, I’m not hyped. It’s looks a very pretty game, but to me your game isn’t some unknowable enigma that will be the rapture that will save all gamers, but a known quantity.
    You will explore and mine and craft while defending yourself from the wildlife in the planets like in any other survival / exploring / crafting game, and you will fight pirates and do some trade in space like in lots of space games done in the last 30 years, and you will steadily will use the resources and money you win to improve your tools, weapons, armor, ship, etc which then will serve you to even be better at getting more money and resources that you will invest in even better equipment, etc.
    And it will be also pretty swallow, from what I’ve seen in the videos.

  9. Necrourgist says:

    I never understood all the uproar about hype here hype there. Over-hyped games basically *always* fail. Especially if they are *Over-hyped AAA EA Games with Mandatory Single- or Multiplayer tacked on*. I myself i don’t get hyped up about games anymore. I read up on them, watch a bit of promotional trailer material, maybe even a gameplay trailer and then i wait. And wait. And when the game releases, i wait some more, for reviews and Lets Plays or Walkthroughs. And *then* i wait for forum posts, gamefaqs rambling and for the patch history. And three to four months after the game has been released, i buy it, have no problems because i knew what i would get myself into, play it, enjoy it even if it may of been ripped to shreds by the reviewers and then…well, then i repeat the process by waiting for other big-ish games. People who pre-order and/or get themselves hyped up are nothing short of *WEAK PERSONALITIES*. Period.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      *WEAK PERSONALITIES*

      • Necrourgist says:

        ? … Yes, of course. Utterly weak personalities, people who buy into hype and Pre-Order games. Its a lack of self-control, patience an common sense. Like i said, weak personalities.

        • Asurmen says:

          You win the award for Most Judgemental Post. Well done!

          • Necrourgist says:

            Of course i am judgemental. What else should i be? Nice and polite? Pu-lees. Don’t kid yourself, i know i don’t do – Most gamers don’t know what’s good for themselves – See literally buying into hype and Pre-Ordering; Or even worse, Pre-PURCHASING. Never ever was a hyped up game that i played even remotely good. And i don’t mean “not good” as in subjectively bad but as in “i ain’t alone with my opinion and we ain’t few either – the game was not only hyped to Olympus, it also came crashing down like Icarus and burned for it, getting scolded by the reviewers and the forum posters and generally being a sucky game”. If someone makes a habit of Pre-Ordering and Pre-Purchasing and gets hyped up about games AND buys games because they are hyped up, then yes, for all intents and purposes, this person has a weak personality, no apparent self-control, no apparent common sense and no apparent patience…Of course, regarding buying games – But many a subject who gets itself hyped up about and Pre-Orders/Purchases games ALSO exhibits these weaknesses in everyday life. And yes, purchasing games IS a serious matter IF the subject in question lives a rather peaceful life by which i mean a person who lives in a secure first-world enviroment – The gaming industry is huge and may very well be shaped by even a single individual, be it consumer or creator – And purchasing games means handling money – And if you tend to fall for the hype and the pre-bullshit, you exhibit a lack of money handling skills. But “of course” “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO SPEND MY MONEY ON!!!1111!!!”, because Pre-Purchasing and Pre-Ordering as well as listening to the hype has no effect on the industry what so ever, nope, not at all, nu-uh /s Its especially bad with Console scum. But i ain’t gonna step onto THAT mine too.

          • Asurmen says:

            Still winning awards. I’m go see a doctor. You seem to have some issues to work out.

          • Necrourgist says:

            Riiiight…Because i am totally *not* speaking the truth.

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            Phasma Felis says:

            “Actually it’s about Weak Personalities in Games Journalism”

          • Asurmen says:

            You’re not speaking any truth, you’re speaking a very angry, very dumb opinion.

          • Necrourgist says:

            It’s neither dumb nor an opinion. It is an Observation i have made over the last decade. It is apparent. If *you* want to close your eyes before these problems, that is *your* business, but don’t play dumb by dismissing such claims (who are indeed facts) as nothing but dumb rambling – Because it is not. It *is* apparent, very much so, that gamers themselves do *not* know what they want *most* of the time and that they actively hurt themselves and the industry by supporting shady business practices on a large scale, how else do you explain Pre-Orders, Pre-Purchases, akward launches or the fact that people do infact buy into Hype Campaigns? The easy answer: People. are. Stupid. Yes, i *am* angry, for a damn good reason, but from your answers i must assume that you are a casual random. If you would of been a gamer for as long as i have been, you would of experienced the toxic business practices and the damage the consumers have done to themselves and a large margin of the gaming industry – All of which has only begun as “late” as 2005 and has “only” taken us a decade to get where we are now: Pre-Purchases and -Orders are rampant, DLC is the norm not the exception, Expansions what are those? On-Disc-Locked-Content seriously? I suspect that DLC stands for DISC LOCKED CONTENT not Downloadable Content, if i’d be as cynic as that and go there. Hype, oh the bloody hype. Of course, Hype for products has always existed, but the kind of hype that we are expierencing since 2005, the kind of hype that only really came to be because of consoles and console-ish games and exclusives, the kind of hype that AAA games garner, the kind of hype we see today – That kind of hype is outright venomous. The saying goes “Vote with your wallet” – Its time for gamers to “wake up”, pull their heads out of their arses and show Devs and Pubs alike, that they shant get through with those business practices anymore, *IF* we are to change *ANYTHING*. Or y’all just do what Asurmen does: See nothing, hear nothing, know nothing.

          • Asurmen says:

            Nope. Still posting dumb angry opinion and disguising it as fact. Casual random because I think you’re posting nonsense? Ha! You’ll be calling people hipster and sheeple next.

          • Necrourgist says:

            WTF are you really *THAT* brain-dead? A-Oookay…Have fun being blind, deaf, mute and dumb. I am disguising nothing as fact, i *am* stating facts from observations and experience, but i see you are a stubborn one so i’ll just stop this here because you clearly don’t get my point. TL;DR: Pre-Orders, Pre-Purchases, DLC and Hype are hurting the consumer and telling developers and publishers that they can get away with this kind of bullshit – ” Vote with your wallet, educate yourself, be patient, wait for reviews, watch gameplay, don’t buy into hype and don’t pre-purchase or pre-order” are viable and common-sense practices every gamer should adhere to.

          • Asurmen says:

            No, I get your point, I just disagree with it and your general horrible judgemental douche attitude and your arrogance that you’re stating facts. Come back when you can make a point without being a cock about it.

          • Necrourgist says:

            I’d rather be a dick and tell the truth than do what some Fag like you tells me i should do. And don’t tell me you get my point, because you clearly don’t, else you’d stop acting like a kid in denial. I as a consumer and a gamer have every right to be angry about the points i listed, you on the other hand seem to be the kind embracing and defending such practices else you’d be angry about it too. You come about as a brain-dead monkey. “OH NOES PLEEZ DON’T BE ENGREH!” Fuck yes i am angry, because the industry is a festering shithole.

          • Synesthesia says:

            hmmm… this fact filled rhetoric reminds me of something… I wonder.

  10. fco says:

    why don’t you guys just start a podcast?

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      johannsebastianbach says:

      Because every joke in this piece probably took hours to think of. So, a podcast could get rather lengthy … ;-)

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      I’ve no interest in podcasts recorded remotely. If I wanted to have frustrating delayed conversations oblivious to social cues I’d spend more time in the pub.

  11. PancakeWizard says:

    Everything I’ve seen about this game has me hyped up to 11, but all I see frrom the enthusiast press and other commenting gamers is nothing but cynicism and suspicion. The former is understandable and welcome, because it’s refreshing to see the press ‘have our back’ as it were (although my god do they have trouble picking their targets. I mean where was the cyncism around Sunset? Why go for the enthusiastic British development company with something interesting on their CV?) , but the latter just bewilders me.

    Every time they come out with something new to do in this game, not only does it confirm what I thought I already , it makes me want to strangle something everyime I see a “but, what do you actually do?”.

    I cannot wait for this game. It’s everything I ever wanted in a space exploration game since I was a kid from what I’ve seen already and I envision myself playing this for years to come.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      You sound exactly like I was about Elite:Dangerous. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the released game and I’m still hopeful it will grow into something closer to that game I imagined, but it was in honesty a disappointment. Again I was happy with the prospect of there been nothing to do but swoosh around in my shiny spaceship realistically docking with stuff but its not the stuff whole evenings are lost to. The naysayers were right: what do you actually DO?

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Well with Elite, I wanted it to be just Frontier: Elite 2 with pretty graphics, and I’m looking forward to when it is, but it’s not there yet (no atmospheric flight), so I’m holding back.

        This however seems to have everything that Frontier had and more in a more sci-fi fantasy setting, which is right up my alley. What did you actually do in Frontier? Well, a lot less than you’ll be doing here apparently. Why is this getting a hard time over that? I have no idea.

    • notcurry says:

      Exactly! Every time I read yet another “but what do you do” I lose faith in humanity. What is it that people actually do in games? In my opinion, Hello Games have said just enough to make it appealing: you have a goal, there is an increasingly challenging way to progress toward that goal and it all takes place in an open world of unexpected variety. Whether it’ll be fun for you or not depends on how well they pull off those features and how they suit your personality.

      I understand that some people only like games with a clearly laid out storyline, or linear, handheld progress. That’s fine. Not every game is for everyone. Personally, I’ve always liked open world games because they let you immerse yourself a lot more than others, by letting you choose how you undertake the challenges that are presented to you. If I’m excited for this game it is because it looks like HG are very focused on delivering an experience of that kind. I don’t really care if there’s more or less trading, or if the crafting tree is only 6.14 levels deep. They look like talented professionals and they’ve stated that they want to convey that feeling of freedom and purpose in a way that is fun and compelling. That’s enough for me to be interested. It doesn’t really matter how they pull it off.

  12. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    You weren’t the only one Adam, a Machine for Pigs was BRILLIANT!

  13. fco says:

    as said, there’s two ways in which a game can fail to meet its hype: if it doesn’t deliver on its promises or if it delivers, but on something different than expected.

    the thing with No Man’s Sky is, because it has had AAA levels of exposure, people now have AAA expectations of it, so it most probably wont meet its hype, but not because it underdelivers, but because it will deliver something different.
    a few comments up I read about NMS being an “overhyped, glorified sightseeing game”. well, I’m personally hyped BECAUSE I expect it to be a glorified sightseeing game.

    so, on the question of hype hurting a game, I give you my prediction for No Man’s Sky: instead of having hundreds of “very good” reviews on Steam, it’ll end up having thousands of “mixed” ones.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I think you have the right of it. Especially because we’ve seen no feature list or the like it’s easy for people to think big. Not to expect, but rather be hopeful that it may deliver what they want it to.

      This is what happened to me, at any rate. Except I doubt they’ll deliver on that which makes it hard for me to get enthused about what they will end up delivering.

  14. Sathure says:

    I’m excited for this game but the more and more I see I get the feeling the gameplay is going to feel incredibly shallow. The key focus is definitely exploration, any time they demo it’s mostly walking around and looking at things. Gun play and flight always seem sort of an afterthought and well boring.

    Exploration is great but it takes more to make a journey memorable than just new geography and fauna. You need experiences as well. I feel like the game is going to basically mull down to explore planet A, see everything there is to see move on to planet B. Rinse repeat untill you start seeing repition and get bored.

  15. dsch says:

    No Man’s Skype

  16. draglikepull says:

    The Spore comparison seems apt here in another way:

    When people first heard about the concept of Spore, they started imagining a game in their heads. When the game that actually came out wasn’t the game people imagined, they were disappointed. But if you’d been following the development of the game, the previews, etc., it turned out to be exactly what you’d expected. The problem was that a lot of people heard the early pitch, invented a game they thought it could be, and then expected that game would actually get made.

    I feel like No Man’s Sky has a strong element of that to it as well. People have invented a game in their head, and they’re going to be disappointed not to get the thing they imagined.

    I think if you took Spore as what it actually was, and not what you imagined it to be, it was a great game. I dumped a ton of hours into it. I suspect NMS will be like that too. Lots of people will be disappointed not to get a game that never existed outside their imagination, but if you take it as what it actually is, it looks like it’s going to be a really cool experience.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      I find the Spore comparison slightly unfair because the game people imagined Spore to be was what they were told it was going to be, until it got scaled back and changed before release. This has no sign of such bait and switch and is too far along for that to happen. It comes out this year, after all.

      • Distec says:

        Oh god, Spore… The way my stomach turned when I saw what they did to the visual style alone

  17. Entitled says:

    I strongly agree with Alec.

    I was obsessively into Spore for the three years between it’s first presentation in 2005 and it’s release in 2008. I was a moderator at the world’s second biggest Spore fansite, had a Spore wallpaper on my PC, I was familiar with every single video and screenshot released…

    After it was released, I got bored with it in a month.

    But that was something I could predict easily. I knew that all the fan art, and roleplaying, and sharing of our sci-fi reading experiences, and exobiology theories, and speculations that we have done during the wait, was totally different from the way I have ever actually interacted with actual video games (amuse myself with them for a month or so then get bored), and that Spore itself will never be a life-changing experience that is “worth” those 3 years of waiting.

    But the waiting was never just a price, it was the experience itself, that even ended up being life-changing on it’s own right. My first time getting familiar with chatting in english, my first long term belonging to an online community, my first time reaching out to the gaming press for more news, were all huge parts of me being the geek who I am.

    Compared to that, the fact that Spore ended up being more of a 8/10 than a 9/10 or even a 10/10, is trivial.

    • Jediben says:

      “I will always sit up and pay attention whenever Molyneux announces something new.”

      I think that sums up all you need to know about Alec’s “professional” opinion. Sheesh.

      • Sarfrin says:

        But we do have John “Are you a pathological liar?” Walker to compensate for that. You can hardly claim RPS is a Molyneux fansite. :D

  18. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I don’t get hyped very often because I tend to ignore most video game marketing. I don’t watch many trailers, and when I do it’s usually because someone said that the trailer itself is entertaining to watch, independent of the game it’s advertising.

  19. Titler says:

    The elephant in the room: our role in all this. I like to think that we’re not as breathlessly susceptible to marketing as some other places, but we do get excited sometimes and we do say stuff like ‘cor, you should watch this.’

    There was a point not too long ago when RPS was all Cities: Skylines ALL the time; it’s not marketing as such, but as a media company your over-enthusiasm also becomes part of the hype. Other titles that get over-loved here; Dark Souls (No.1 Roleplaying game? Really?) Deus Ex…

    Unlike the marketing spods though, both games designers and games reviewers are seen more as the audiences friend; and just as if all your real friends go on and on and ON about anything, and don’t leave space for your tastes to differ, it becomes oppressive and causes a natural defensive reaction. And especially because you thought you could trust them to care about what you thought, it tends to be a much more bitter experience when friends won’t stop hyping something; I still can’t stand Guns N Roses to this day largely because of all the childhood bullying I experienced, because “real” rock fans had to love them. So too it is with sites like this; I might even have liked Cities: Skylines but the barrage of references to it from RPS has made me very, very wary about it. Fair? No. But also expected when it really was so suffocating for a while to see every single article refer to it in some way.

    • Sarfrin says:

      Was that when Cities: Skylines was game of the month, by any chance?

  20. Baines says:

    On the elephant in the room that Alec addressed… Despite Alec and John’s conclusions, it has several times felt to me that RPS has been a willing part of the hype building machine. RPS staff might think their articles are duly restrained, but from a reader perspective they aren’t always (and volume can make it even less so.) Other commenters have raised the issue in the past as well.

    Alec, seasoned in hype-dispersion? Have you considered that an audience that sees you as someone smart enough to not fall for the average hype might actually then rate your apparent praise of a game as even higher?

    John, running article after article praising a game tends to crush the occasional “Don’t pre-order” warning. Worse, following multiple hyping articles with a “Don’t pre-order, twit!” incident can come off as both insulting and hypocritical.

    • draglikepull says:

      There’s nothing hypocritical about being excited about the possibilities a game seems to present prior to release but telling people that pre-ordering is not advisable. It’s very easy (and not in any way contradictory) to be excited about something but know that it’s wise to wait and see how it ultimately turns out before spending money on it.

      Anyone who can’t tell the difference between “This looks like it’s worth keeping an eye on” and “GO GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY RIGHT THIS SECOND” has some serious reading comprehension problems.

      • Baines says:

        It is a matter of tone. John’s example was “DO NO PRE-ORDER GAMES, YOU COMPLETE TWITS.”, which is a bit different from something like “Look guys, just don’t pre-order, okay?”

        The clash is even stronger when you only see the more aggressive version after a disastrous release, on a site that has either been (or is still running) multiple positive articles about unreleased games and is even promoting stuff like pre-order bonuses.

        Maybe RPS has improved in some of those areas. It does feel like it has been a while since articles promoting pre-order bonuses have appeared. (The last I can really think of might be Evolve, and that was more just a flood of pre-release coverage, including stuff like strategy guides that felt more like paid advertising disguised as an article.) It also kind of feels like RPS is covering games more after release than before, with the excepting of a few titles like No Man’s Sky. (This could in part be the shift to more coverage of MOBAs.) And since RPS refused to properly police the ads that it runs, I ended up blocking many of those, which means I can’t tell if RPS still has those awkward moments where an article denouncing pre-orders is running next to an ad hawking pre-order bonuses.

  21. malkav11 says:

    I think it’s largely down to covering things before they can be played by the public. I understand that it’s an industry standard, so it’s tough to fight against, but it really doesn’t serve consumers in any meaningful way. Nothing that is said about a game before it’s out can be relied upon to be true by the time it is out. Heck, it can’t even be relied upon to come out. All it does is build expectations. And too often, the clash between those expectations and the reality is detrimental to the actual experience. Fable, for example, is a perfectly fine game. If it had simply come out and people had picked it up and gone “hey, you can fart on command”, they probably would have had a decent, if not particularly exceptional time with it. But because Molyneux said wild, ultimately untrue things about it before release, people thought it was going to be some kind of unprecedented masterpiece, and farting on command simply did not suffice.

  22. cylentstorm says:

    Yeesh. Regardless of how much hot air that is moved about, I’m still going to play it and most likely enjoy the experience. If NMS is even half of what the hype machine tells us–especially the exploration bits–then I will be more than happy to get lost in Hello Games’ universe. It looks fun and appeals to the same sort of sci-fi geek in me that Sean Murray and company seem to be targeting. That is, to say, decidedly NOT what the label is usually applied to these days.

    • notcurry says:

      Yeah. People tend to think of grown men and women in costume queuing up for the new Star Trek premiere when they hear sci-fi geek. On the other side of the universe there’s the elegance of Moebius and Roger Dean. I think that the latter is more in line with the feel HG are trying to convey…

  23. vahnn says:

    Other gaming coverage sites do videos of these types discussions, and I absolutely hate them. So often the point is lost on me because I’m so annoyed and agitated by people’s mannerisms and patterns of speech (like um uhhh*lip smack* *heavy breathing* ummmmmm like) and people talking over one another and annoying laughter… I go insane quickly and quit. I have simply stopped watching them altogether. Maybe that’s just me.

    But this written format of those types discussions is excellent! Please continue on this format. Never start making discussion videos.

    Thank you, have a lovely day full of sex and explosions.

  24. April March says:

    John: Ubisoft does like to say it’s going to do things.
    John: Dear Esther wasn’t a proper anything.

    ^^ This is why, no matter how many brilliant writers RPS hires, John is still running the show. Bless your heart, you grumpy wordy bastard.

  25. DanMan says:

    Too much talk about how they’re not like common folk….

  26. Osmedirez says:

    I’m getting a strong sense of two possibilities not oft being discussed but are probably just wishful thinking on my part so that’s probably why:

    1) Still seems like there’s aspects of this game that they just don’t want to talk about before the game is released, or perhaps just before. I feel like the fact that people are nitpicking the scant few details that we have been shown is part of why they are keeping a very low profile with real details. Gives the sense of their being a reason for their own high hopes that they’re not discussing. The sense that reaching the center of the universe might open up some other kind of post obvious initial goal that is even more open ended is exciting to me. (this is speculative, they have kept their mouths pretty much shut about what that might look like too of course). But the bottom line is that there are details that seem less about ‘we don’t have anything to show’ and more about ‘showing you this or that would open up a whole bunch of things that would really ruin what we’re trying to do with this game’ — ie ruin the exploration aspect. I feel like the details on ‘what you do’ being so open-ended and walking-simulator comparisons just begs the idea that maybe that’s what the game looks like now because that’s all they’ve let us in on. One of the big parts of the earlier trailers and ‘hype’ was the sense that they don’t want to tell you what the game is. They want you to find out by playing it. That makes me not want a huge info drop, with trailers that ruin the premise before we’ve had a go at it.

    Things like the ‘stargates’ shown in one of the earlier trailers, that have so far not been discussed very much, make me feel like hold on, what’s that about? And they have mentioned ‘alien relics/artifacts’ here and there but haven’t explained anything about what that’s about and people hardly pay attention to it it seems.

    2) Much shorter point- if this game ends up feeling shallow or seems to have ‘not enough game’ when it comes out, i think it will be a very effective spark for other creatives to use as a platform for bigger, better, more gamey ideas that might work better. My dream game would be something that is generated quite like this with a massive scope, and then present a deep and involved psycho-social story-based drama that doesn’t rely on player location in said universe so much as it does actions taken, choices made, and instant universal communication (even if it’s just with ai story folk) — that would be awesome. But my point is I don’t think such a game will exist anytime soon- unless No Man’s Sky comes first and plants the idea of what scope and creativity that such a PG setting can accomplish. The other PC games out there don’t give me the sense of what this game has with just the trailers.

    So I guess for me the ‘hype’ and the process of a ‘game’ by traditional standards doesn’t really matter. As long as the game isn’t broken, a basket of lies, or a massive bait and switch– it is a success. If only for shooting for the moon. Maybe they miss, but it’ll be one hell of a shot.

    • notcurry says:

      I agree with your first point. People tend to blame the scarcity of shown details on the lack of things to show. I’m more inclined to think that they don’t want to ruin the exploration and surprise for the audience. Heck, they’ve even said that explicitly in some interviews…

      It’s funny. When they show a mission of Metal Gear Solid, people don’t get all “Bet they’re not showing the rest of the game because they have nothing else to show” or “Yeah, looks cool but if that’s all there is to it it’s gonna get repetitive pretty soon”. Well, of course they don’t show the whole game before release. They don’t want to spoil it. In fact, I think we’re getting into a trend where developers feel the urge to show too much of their games, leaving little to be discovered. I’m glad that HG are doing it they way there are. It’ll feel like the old days, when you had to discover the features in a game by yourself.

  27. frnknstn says:

    The problem with you people is that you just don’t want to jump off radio masts

    BUT THAT WAS THE PROBLEM WITH Dear Esther, they didn’t let **YOU** jump off the mast. As soon as you touch the mast, it stopped being a game.

    I knew what had to be done. I knew there was no choice, but Dear Esther didn’t even let me make that not-choice. Thus Dear Esther, as good an experience as it was, ceased to be a game.

    Yellcaps, sorry, but that comment hit a tender spot with me.