The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for trying to take a genuine day off for a change – as are Saturday and Friday, which means this week’s Papers was crafted on a Thursday. Welcome behind the curtain. Please ignore the litter.

  • While lamenting that Dominions IV doesn’t do more to teach you how to play, I stumbled across the Confessions of a Dominions manual writer at Quarter to Three. I still think it’s a shame the game doesn’t do more to convince a passing audience of its greatness, but this article goes a way to convincing me that this is all part of the plan.
  • The tipping point that led me to purchasing and playing Dominions II was an essay or forum post (I can’t remember which it was) about how the Illwinter guys couldn’t remember a hefty portion of what they had coded into the game. The example was the Wish spell. The essay made it sound like you could wish for literally anything, and the game just might be able to accommodate you. It was almost like the game had a little real magic in that respect. And it wasn’t just the Wish spell, I think it mentioned other spells or abilities that had mysterious properties because the programmers weren’t sure anymore what they did.

  • I like reading. I like games which involve reading. I have yet to play a translated Japanese visual novel which I could stand. So I was interested to read Jenni Lada’s explanation of the success of Muv-Luv on Kickstarter:
  • For example, the original story, Muv-Luv Extra, is pretty much exactly what you would expect from an anime-style choose-your-own-adventure story. It’s a romantic comedy centered around a high schooler named Takeru Shirogane as he’s pursued by two women: childhood friend and neighbor Sumika Kagami and a mystery woman named Meiya Mitsurugi. It begins in the most stereotypical way possible for such a story, with Takeru waking up to find Meiya, a girl he doesn’t know, inexplicably sharing his bed, and Sumika discovering them in this strange situation.

  • Everyone likes it when Frictional Games, makers of Amnesia and Soma, talk about other people’s games. So here’s Thomas Grip on Until Dawn and interactive movies.
  • The final aspect that I think makes this work so much better here than in Heavy Rain is that Until Dawn is a proper horror game. The tension and uncertainty built from knowing that any character might perish goes hand-in-hand with the the game’s thick atmosphere. Both of these constantly reinforce one another and do a great job of making you feel vulnerable and under constant threat. A great way to test this is to simply replay the game. Once you know a certain section poses no actual danger for a character, much of the tension dissipates and the scene goes from scary to feeling tame. It’s like turning off the music in a horror movie – without all necessary elements in place the effect is lost.

  • Procjam, a jam about procedural generation, happened last week. Mark Johnson, developer of Ultima Ratio Regum, was there and wrote a report of the talks he saw.
  • The next talk was from Tom Betts, coder on Sir You are Being Hunted and various other highly intriguing games, and although we’ve chatted a few times in the past and he also gave a talk at IRDC, this really hammered home how similarly I think the two of us perceive issues around game design, procedural generation, games and/as/with art, game philosophy, player experience, and various other issues caught up somewhere in those fields. His talk argued for the value of procedural generation for its own sake, and as an artistic medium that doesn’t necessary have to be in the service of specific gameplay goals, but can be a goal in its own right in the creation of original/beautiful/compelling spaces for exploration, “sight-seeing”, and the like.

  • Clint Hocking, lead designer of Far Cry 2 who has recently worked stints at LucasArts, Valve and Amazon, spoke to Brendan Sinclair at gamesindustry.biz about what drove his decision to return to Ubisoft. As interesting for what it says about Ubi as for what it tells you about Hocking.
  • “I had other options, and I was very close to closing on a couple of the other options,” Hocking said. “Some of them were very ambitious and very exciting options as well, but what it came down to was taking option X–a long timeline, a huge amount of creative freedom, an important position, lots of money, a great city, and all that stuff–and comparing that to a very similar offer here. What it often came down to was that I know for a fact if I go to Ubisoft I will ship the game I’m working on. And I said to a couple of the people I ultimately had to decline, ‘At the end of the day, unless an extinction event meteor lands in fucking Paris or Montreal, the game I’m being offered here will ship. And no one else can make that promise to me. And that was the deal-closer.”

  • I might be done with MGSV: The Phantom Pain for now, but Samuel Roberts celebration of its side ops has almost convinced me to return.
  • In retrospect I was doing the Side Ops a disservice by rushing between. I’d always finish one, jump back in the helicopter and head to another drop point at another part of the world to do another. But really, Side Ops should be completed in geographical order rather than in the numerical order they’re presented as within MGS5’s iDroid menus. They’re meant to be treated like sidequests in an RPG like Skyrim—a natural detour in your journey around the world, a breadcrumb trail to lead you between adventures. The helicopter is too easy an option in MGS5’s world, even though it’s a necessary one, and removing the journeying aspect reminds me a bit of how I ended up using the cabs in GTA 4 too much instead of enjoying the city.

  • Perhaps this is only relevant to a few of you, but: the five things about technology every modern journalist should know.
  • Plausible alternative interpretations of movies are often tedious – they all take place within the same world, which is just this minor character’s dream!, etc. – but this take on Star Wars is fun. Don’t think I agree with its shaky conclusion about the extended universe, though.
  • The Rebellion that seeks to restore that republic that preceded it doesn’t appear to be just, either. Its heroes all seek to aggrandize themselves rather than liberate – or even help! – anyone but themselves. They are less “rebels” and more royalists, revanchists, and criminals. Obi-Wan controls the minds of police and maims people in bar fights. Han Solo is a drug smuggler who works for a slave-keeping warlord. Lando Calrissian is a double-crossing womanizer and slave-owner – and why does he have a dungeon exactly like Jabba the Hutt’s, complete with torture chamber? Luke Skywalker is a would-be Jedi who learns powers he never turns to any end but killing and destruction. And Princess Leia lies, constantly.

  • I made this garden vegetable soup this week and it was cracking.

Music this week craves you.

67 Comments

  1. crowleyhammer says:

    Anything by Bruce Geryk is always worth listening to/reading!

  2. Awesomeclaw says:

    I was kind of disappointed that the ‘5 things about tech’ article was completely about skills journalists should use to take advantage of the web rather than anything more general, or even anything like ‘use of internet for fact checking’, ‘basic knowledge of encryption for communication’, ‘discerning between paid advertising/press releases and actual info sources’.

    • JFS says:

      Yes, it’s more about how to game social media and attract passers-by with GIFs. That is not journalism.

    • king0zymandias says:

      No one cares about that rando stuff. What you need to do instead is watch The Apprentice and wait for people to do eye-rolls and then turn them into entertaining and shareable GIFs.

      God, I think I am officially an old person now.

    • RobF says:

      Must admit that whilst I understand *why* Martin would write it, it still left me sighing mightily by the end of it.

      Most unintentionally depressing article I’ve read on journalism in a while.

      • pepperfez says:

        Extra-depressing is the reaction of blaming journalists for being stuck in a system that exploits and degrades them. Fuck labor!

      • Baines says:

        I was somewhat more depressed by the universal praise it received in its (admittedly few) replies.

      • Hobbes says:

        Just adds more fodder for me to stay on the sidelines. That said, I really need to get some more time on Death Ray Manta *GLEAMY SMILE*

  3. Eight Rooks says:

    Yeah, I’ve seen plenty of people say “Oh, no, see, this visual novel is actually awesome. Totally not like the others”. So far the evidence suggests they have no idea what they’re talking about. I’ve played a couple I could stand, but none that were more than basically “all right, I guess?”. I’m relatively confident in assuming people gave $1.2 million because pandering anime nonsense, not because this is the edge case that justifies all the others existing.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      EDIT: Yup, I just noticed she recommends Amnesia, World End Economica and Narcissu – none of which are bad, per se, but they’re hardly anything I’d hold up as evidence that someone had been misjudging the genre all along.

      • neoncat says:

        I’m holding out some hope for the Clannad translation***, simply because After Story was so great. (So much character development, none of the usual high school harem puerility.) I really don’t know how close the anime follows the actual game, though.

        *** Wooo! Finally available on Steam tomorrow!

    • Kitsunin says:

      While I enjoyed Fate: Stay Night, Steins;Gate, and Narcissu, it was pretty obvious that their English translations at least, just aren’t especially well written. In particular I adore the story Fate told, but the prose was all kind of stilted and just not quite right. I wouldn’t recommend any of them to other people.

      On the other hand I thought Katawa Shoujo was great through and through. As a romance story its appeal is certainly limited, but it often has beautiful prose and tells stories which manage to dodge all the pitfalls romances usually fall into.

      And on the third hand, the (mostly) visual novels I would recommend to anyone are those in the Zero Escape series, they are so good in so many ways. But the systems they are found on make them difficult to recommend as well…

      • Kitsunin says:

        I suppose I’d recommend Analogue: A Hate Story to most anyone who is familiar enough with games to handle it (I tried getting my mom to read it at one point and she got confused, heh).

        In the end, I dunno. I’d like to read Muv-Luv and enjoy it, but I doubt the romance-y stuff will be as well written as Katawa Shoujo. The story doesn’t sound interesting enough to make it worth experiencing despite less-than-stellar writing and annoying animu-ness, like Type-Moon’s fan-translated VNs, either.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Steins; Gate was mediocre at best, Katawa Shoujo was mediocre throughout, and 999 – as a visual novel, at least (I bought it on iOS) is some of the worst writing I’ve ever seen in any medium. Utterly dreadful, with no redeeming features whatsoever. This isn’t trolling; I saw every path and the true ending and I absolutely detested the lot of it, and my head hurts if I try and read people arguing why it was apparently great. Idiot pseudoscience presented as smugly as possible (“…but none of that’s true. OR MAYBE IT IS, WINK WINK”), complete lack of character development (or characterisation at all, practically), poisonous anime tropes all the way down the line, terrible localisation…

        What I saw of Narcissu was just standard Asian pure love weepiness, World End Economica had some good ideas but the writing was awful (not a patch on Spice & Wolf), and Amnesia was just more otome wish-fulfilment wrapped up in tissue-thin SF trappings. None of them were terrible, but they weren’t standouts by any measure.

        If you want good, eden* was all right until the ending cocked everything up; Banshee’s Last Cry was good, a solid blend of (relatively) serious horror and batshit meta-humour with a great Americanised rewrite; what I saw of Hakuouki wasn’t bad, despite all the soap-opera pandering… but nope, overall I’m happy to stick with my sweeping generalisation that the people who are heavily into VNs just aren’t looking for good writing, they’re after comfort food, pure and simple.

        • Kitsunin says:

          While I’ll say 999 is perhaps not the best written game (going back to it after Virtue’s Last Reward was kind of like, woah, this writing isn’t pulling me in, and I actually don’t care about these characters much. I forgot about that after deciding not to replay it though because I loved it so much the first time) I don’t really get the whole smug pseudoscience angle. It was clearly an in-universe thing, just approached as science-fiction rather than science-fantasy.
          Virtue’s Last Reward really stood out, though, mostly because its prisoner’s dilemma theme made its large amount of choices some of the most tense I’ve experienced, even while being able to jump back at any time and see all of them eventually. Though it did end with a whimper.

          That aside, well, I guess I’m not nearly as picky as I thought. Ironically enough, I really did not like Hatoful Boyfriend much.

        • gunny1993 says:

          Katawa Shoujo was a great game terribly written; by people who read fanfiction too much and think that using 20 adjectives a page is good and that your writing skill is directly linked to the amount of fancy words you use.

      • malkav11 says:

        Well, Fate’s never been professionally translated, so that probably accounts for that to at least some degree. Though in general I’ve found that novels (visual and otherwise) translated from the Japanese tend to have a certain oddness to the language, presumably because Japanese is a very differently structured and quite complex language that’s difficult to give a natural flow in English without taking significant liberties.

        • Kitsunin says:

          Fate stood out to me because I really enjoyed it despite it being really obvious that the writing is kind of iffy. To a lesser extent I’ve gotten the same feeling from all the VNs I’ve read originating from Japan, professionally translated or no, which makes it hard to see any of them as perfect. It being written in English first is probably one of the reasons I like Katawa Shoujo so.

        • Philomelle says:

          A more professional localization wouldn’t really help Fate/Stay Night because its problem isn’t the flow of words, it’s the flow of plot. Fate was Type-Moon’s first commercial product and because the were really desperate to have it sell, they loaded up with a lot of scenes and plot points that existed purely to pander to the visual novel crowd. There really isn’t any way to justify any of its sex scenes (which weren’t even written by the game’s actual writer) or the extremely creepy scene with Saber and Caster in the second route. They were included entirely to sell extra copies to the crowd who would buy the game purely for porn.

          The sequel actually completely stops pretending that those scenes are anything but pandering. Rather than insert them into the main plot in any form, Nasu simply attached the sex scenes as separate extras that the players can read or ignore at their own volition.

          Zero, EXTRA and many other later works flow better in part because the franchise was popular enough to sell on its own merits at that point, so the writers could avoid adding nonsense content that would exist purely to titillate.

          • malkav11 says:

            Haha, no wonder the writing quality nosedives in the sex scenes.

            And I was going to say, “what? Didn’t Tsukihime come first?” and it did but was a doujin. So I see the distinction you’re making.

          • Philomelle says:

            Yeah, Tsukihime was a small thing meant to be distributed by a self-run booth at conventions. Fate/Stay Night was the first time when they had a commercially published game that was sold in video game stores.

            Regarding the writing quality in sex scenes, I’ll add an extra layer of hilarity – Kinoko Nasu, the main writer of Fate/Stay Night, Tsukihime and Kara no Kyokai, didn’t write a single sex scene for the first game in that list (though he wrote the entire rest of the game). They porn was written by someone else on the team, popularly assumed to be Takashi Takeuchi, the team’s artist and character designer.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Probably the best thing to come out of the horribly justified sex scenes from Fate/Stay Night is what they did instead in the anime adaptations. That CG dragon scene, holy shit.

          • malkav11 says:

            Yeah, that dragon scene is a thing of beauty.

    • LearningToSmile says:

      That’s why I’m pretty happy that Muv-Luv is getting mainstream attention in the west – it should do well to finally once and for all expose the medium for what it is.

      I’ve read a lot of English-translated visual novels, quite enjoyed some for what they were, but even the most lauded examples are so deeply steeped in pandering and established cliches that for the average person in the west they will be as indigestible as most of otaku culture already is.

      And that’s fine with me, even if it will probably serve as a rude wake up call for some of fans of the medium.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Some, maybe, but the denial is strong with most of them. Eh, it’s not like we don’t all do it to ourselves. I freely admit to liking quite a few things which are patently ridiculous, problematic, etc., I just think I’ve got a better handle on it than some of these people. I’m sure I could still be suckered into looking like an idiot – I loved the first few Monogatari series, and if pushed I could probably still defend the later ones to a “normal” person, even though I’d want to die from the shame of it. But I like to think I could acknowledge that unless you’re willing to forgive a lot of blatantly obvious, possibly harmful self-indulgence without any real point to it, you’re never going to see the appeal. I just don’t see any evidence the really angry internet commenters can make that leap (as in, your comment about “They have to be naked, because FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION” below).

        • santouryuu says:

          or,you know,they like certain things and you don’t,instead of you know them liking something which is bad because of some Grand Objective Scale.
          i have to admit,i haven’t played much VN’s(except saya no uta-that was pretty weird and great imo)so i am genuinely curious why people think they are so bad,but all i got was “japanese cliches/tropes are horrible” which seems like a very subjective opinion to me,and “”nudity/fanservice is the ultimate sin” which personally to me depends more on the context,and since i haven’t seen it,it does not stand as a flaw by itself.
          but in the end,none of that matters,as self indulgence is pretty much in all media,just of different type.doesn’t excuse it,but
          does not make VN’s some special case
          tl;dr not everyone has to like someone equally,and it most probably seems that people not liking vn’s is personal taste,and not proof of some objective shittines in all of VN’s

    • Philopoemen says:

      Whilst having not much idea as to whether it’s awesome in the realm of visual novels, Hatoful Boyfriend certainly is different.

      I certainly don’t begrudge Devolver the cash I threw their way for the weirdly wonderful trip that game took me on.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Hatoful Boyfriend was great, though it’s pretty shameful a ridiculous parody like that should be far, far better written and more emotive than the majority of serious releases out there.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I think a lot of what makes Hatoful work is that it does conceal itself as a silly parody on the surface. The Actual Plot wouldn’t be particularly amazing had it not been that you’ve slowly eked toward it having started dating giant pigeons with wacky, lighthearted hijinks.

    • Shazbut says:

      You can’t like visual novels without an instinctive attraction to the Japanese culture/outlook.

      • brucethemoose says:

        ^

        After finishing Life is Strange + the TLJ series, I recently tried some Japanese Visual Novels… and I bounced off of them almost instantly.

        The same thing happened when I tried some anime after finishing Avatar. I don’t mind Otaku culture, but man, some of those cliches/tropes are hard to get used to.

    • draglikepull says:

      The Phoenix Wright games are essentially visual novels with a bit of a puzzle game thrown on top, and they’re grand. Very good localisation, genuinely funny, and who doesn’t like solving a good murder mystery?

  4. Geebs says:

    The side ops in MGSV are a terrible disappointment when compared with Peace Walker. Apart from the unique ones, there’s no variety and no humour.

    The Witcher 3, on the other hand, was a great game for just picking a direction and taking whatever quest you happened to wander into.

  5. Infinitron says:

    Isn’t the Star Wars thing just a rehash of the Weekly Standard’s classic “The Case for the Empire” from 2002? link to weeklystandard.com

    • EhexT says:

      The first couple paragraphs are just a straight factual statement of the prequel situation (the Republic IS a corrupt oligarchy that militarily and economically supports the worst governments imaginable for profit and power, the jedi ARE baby-stealing religious fanatics with self-assumed powers over life and liberty, etc.)

      The later parts are just ridiculous devils advocate strawmen to somehow make the original trilogy Empire seem like the 100% good guys (which is absurd, at best they were racist asshole fascists started with technically good intentions).

      • Kollega says:

        And the funny thing is, the Empire isn’t one bit more competent than the Republic. After all, their approach to designing military hardware, be it a space station or a frontline tank, is to make it an overengineered chunk of durasteel alloy which can be destroyed by rag-tag rebels piloting light craft that cost a tiny fraction of the price that the Empire paid for their weapons. So really, neither side has a claim to competence OR moral high ground.

        • Geebs says:

          Given that the Empire are obvious space-nazis, an article justifying them on the basis that they kept the trains running on time is reaching a bit.

          (Unless, of course, the whole thing is being told by C-3P0 to the Ewoks at the end of ROTJ and he’s just an unreliable witness; after all, all that happens afterwards is that Vader turns out to be a kindly old guy looking out for his son, and a bunch of terrorists blow up a space station)

    • Gap Gen says:

      Curious that the article refers to the rebels as left wing militants after describing them as nothing of the sort before bemoaning the Empire as not being a benevolent liberal one, whatever that is.

    • Philomelle says:

      Not really. While the article you linked aims to prove that the Empire is actually better than the Rebels, the end goal of the article is:

      “Four decades of fans pondering the logistics and “canon” of this fantasy – and the industry built around the Star Wars “expanded universe” that attempts to show what the films tell and reconcile their inconsistencies – miss that Star Wars is a fantasy story, focused on making emotional and symbolic sense. To turn Star Wars into a canon strangles all of the things that make it a fairy tale.”

      …which is a load of hogwash and more or less the author saying “I don’t actually care to follow Star Wars in its entirety or figure out its plot, so you people are dumb for trying to do so.”

      It spends a lot of logical leaps trying to get there by mostly painting every action made by the positive characters in the most negative light possible in hopes that it would fulfill their narrative that “Star Wars makes no sense because everyone is objectively evil,” and in places they completely ignore actual things that happen in the story. They try to sell personal ownership of droids as “chattel slavery” when it’s established multiple times through the story that self-aware droids like C3P0 are anomalies, and they try to claim that memory-wiping them is a common thing when memory-wiping a droid that reached self-awareness has been consistently shown as a despicable act. They try to claim that Leia clearly lies about her affections for Alderaan because she was shown as a skilled liar elsewhere, even though the story states that she spent the entire time between movies trying to gather Alderaanian refugees and find a safe home for them. And then they try to claim that hey, the Empire does all these good things even though it’s established by then that a lot of the Republic’s bad things were Emperor Palpatine dicking around with the Republican Senate.

      It’s a downright impressive amount of logical tapdancing employed to say that other people are dummies for caring about the canon the article’s writer doesn’t care about.

      • Geebs says:

        Canon (noun): a body of work peripheral to a given work, written largely by hacks, with the effect of diluting that work through a combination of over-explanation and over-exposure.

  6. daphne says:

    The “five things about technology” piece is adorably banal. It’s a good list to keep in mind if you like your “journalism” with double quotes. God forbid that journalism actually does some investigation and questioning about the current state of affairs or why any of that relevant in the first place, as opposed to simply reacting to it with irrelevant cursory knowledge of “UX” and kitsch GIFs.

    I don’t expect everyone to be a visionary, but the author is simply remarkable in his unwarranted self-importance. What a shining beacon of impotent irrelevance.

    • porcelain_gods says:

      Yep, clicked the link and wow. If that’s what passes as journalistic advice these days, RPS is gonna be fun

    • Monggerel says:

      Well, journalism is a business, and there are probably a few (like, seven) idiots who think they can do a journalism without doing a business.

      That said, the article in question will not help them, or anyone else. In anything. For any reason. For the entire rest of all history.

  7. Philopoemen says:

    Kudos to Flight Facilities was being music of the week. Don’t mind their music, but just really awesome, nice guys :)

  8. LearningToSmile says:

    I wouldn’t hold my breath for Muv-Luv changing your opinion of Japanese visual novels – I’m reminded in particular of the article shared in Sunday Papers last week about developers desperately making up reasons for showing naked/scantily clad women in their games.

    Muv-Luv features one of the most egregious and hotly defended examples of that practice.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, I dunno. As far as I can tell, even many of the serious visual novels contain straight up porn seemingly out of cultural expectation and for no other real reason. Fate//stay night, for example, has one or two sex scenes per route. They’re ludicrously justified, laughably poorly written, and constitute maybe 10-15 minutes each of 40+ hour storylines that are otherwise very dramatic and full of battling, horror, and teenage angst. I don’t know why you would defend them – they’re shit. But I also don’t see the point in fussing about them because they’re such a brief, tangential part of the experience. I haven’t read Muv Luv, any or all of it (hell, I’ve only completed two of the three storylines in Fate and I’d like to do that before I do any other VN except maybe Zero Escape 3), so I don’t know the bit you’re referring to, but I bet I’d feel similarly. Or I hope it’s like that, anyway.

  9. GWOP says:

    I think it was very much the prequel trilogy’s intention to demystify the idea of the Jedis’ more ‘civilized’ era. While the original trilogy had a clear distinction between protagonists and antagonists, The Phantom Menace tried to deal with decidedly non-fairy tale aspects like ineffectual government bureaucracy, dogmas of the state church, etc. It was undercooked, clunky and terribly executed… but I always felt like Lucas was trying to do something more with his new set of movies. Vader was the protagonist here, and it tried to show the nitty gritty details of the world that drove him to what he is.

    But at the end of the day, he killed a bunch of kids and blew up a planet full of people, so eh.

    I’m usually leery of fan theories, but this one on the other hand I found quite amusing.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      But at the end of the day, he killed a bunch of kids and blew up a planet full of people, so eh.

      Vader didn’t blow up any planets in the movies. Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) orders the destruction of Alderaan & sure Vader is there & could have tried to stop it if he was that way inclined but he’s not officially within the chain of command on the first Death Star so you can’t attribute it to him.

  10. Eddy9000 says:

    Graham, did you use fresh tomatoes and corn ears for the soup? Just wondering if this would work substituting in tinned sweet corn and tinned tomatoes. Also how many potatoes would you say 4 cups was?

    Ta.

    • pepperfez says:

      Good tinned tomatoes are just as good as fresh in soup. Fresh corn is really a lot better, and if I were going with preserved I would prefer frozen.

  11. Philomelle says:

    That PC Gamer article about MuvLuv is trying too hard. Here are a few simple facts about that particular series that have nothing to do with its actual content:

    1.MuvLuv is so ridiculously popular in Japan that even western anime fans have heard about it long before an anime adaptation occurred.
    2.I personally haven’t seen the anime adaptation but Japanese fans swear up and down that the original visual novel is X times better, where X is some preposterous number that the current fan you’re speaking to deems impressive.
    3.Despite all that enormous hype, the series had never been localized in any form, presumably because it has embarrassing character designs (bodysuits made out of almost transparent film are everywhere) and porn that made most publishers feel like they need an adult.
    4.This lack of easily available localization, combined with the series being 11 years old, caused a gradual increase of hype that by now reached the point where the series is seen as some kind of visual novel Shangri-La that will change the universe the day it’s introduced to the English audience.

    …so no, I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the series’ actual narrative quality and more with the fact that people want to finally read it and figure out what all the noise is about.

  12. Michael Fogg says:

    If it’s not immediately shared, liked and ‘engaged with’ on Facebook it’s not even worth writing, is it?

    • Gilead says:

      It’s vitally important that people working in digital media embrace the opportunity to engage with the modern brand-conscious, ‘now’-driven consumer using all forms of social media. Because the alternative is actual journalism, which is hard.

      • pepperfez says:

        The alternative is not having a damn job, which is also hard but in different ways.

    • thedosbox says:

      As much as I hate to admit it, facebook does apparently drive lots of traffic to sites.

      link to fortune.com

      • thedosbox says:

        Just checking to see if my supporter tag appears before emailing Graham.

    • Premium User Badge

      kfix says:

      Lots of people here mocking the author of that piece. None of them have a supporter tag. I wonder how many of them pay actual money for quality journalism at other outlets. If you’re not part of the solution etc etc….

  13. joansam says:

    Dominions 4 is an incredible game. It’s the one game I constantly wish RPS would talk about – by far the deepest strategy game I’ve ever discovered (superior to Hearts of Iron, Europa Universalis, Supreme Commander, the Total War series) with an incredibly well-researched mythological background to each of the 100-odd nations. The game is also fairly easy to learn at a basic level…you just recruit troops and fight with them. The difficulty is in making the right choices with all the options you’re given. But it’s very easy to learn the mid-level concepts from the manual and from online guides. The forums are active and members are helpful, and you can get a glimpse of higher-level Dominions play by reading nation guides.

    I think the main problem people have with learning Dominions is that it’s so unlike most strategy games. If you just treat it as a combo of D&D and Risk, you’ll be fine. For anyone looking for a truly intellectually interesting strategy game, this PC Gamer diary illustrates some of the possibilities of the game: link to pcgamer.com

    RPS could write a book on this if they knew enough about it! I’ve played 400 very fulfilling hours in the singleplayer alone. It’s a true gem, so the fact that Graham has been reading a bit about it is heartening.

    • Baines says:

      RPS has talked about Dominions before.

      The one big obstacle that I’ve heard cited by players is that the AI isn’t up to the task of playing the game well. I don’t know how true that complaint is, but it is a pretty big strike against such a game.

      • joansam says:

        I didn’t say it hadn’t, but I would enjoy some more in-depth discussion of the game. RPS has only scratched the surface so far. Of course, RPS doesn’t have time to do so much for every game, but Dominions is one of the games that I think would be worth looking at more.
        The AI is fine for a strategy game’s AI: it builds units and shuffles them around where they’re needed. The problem is that Dominions requires a lot more thought, mainly adapting to who you’re fighting and making good use of your mages. As the RPS review mentions, an AI that could play Dominions to a high standard would be nearly impossible to make. But it will beat new players until they learn how to handle a nation.

        • cutterjohn says:

          No, Dominions series BIGGEST problem WAS it’s INCREDIBLY EGREGIOUSLY RIDICULOUSLY SKYHIGH price for what it was(any of them) until they came to steam.

          I mean, I ALWAYS looked at it and wondered what it was like, but then looked at the $55 price and what appeared to be there, chuckled and left. Meanwhile I was COMPLETELY happy to pay $40 for an updated version of Harpoon 4, as I knew what it was and had fun with the Harpoon games.

          I have since purchased Dominions 3 and 4, and all I can say is that the games are passable. That’s it. Passable. They were NEVER worth much more than $20 brand new IMNHO for what they are, and as much as I played them. They’re really just a mess with a kernel of a decent strategy game hidden in there somewhere, but I’d never even know this unless they came to steam, and participated in sales offering reasonable pricing. The fanbois of the games who seem to be completely disassociated from the reality of the games don’t help much either. I’m just glad I didn’t really believe them back before these were available at reasonable prices.

          Slitherine, and matrix games also phail at the assinine pricing game for crap products. It’s a crap shoot if the games any good, and they’re ALWAYS priced at LEAST double what they actually should be priced at. Going to steam hasn’t helped these two ‘publishers’ as they apparently live in some fantasy land, and quite frankly I cannot understand why they’re both not bankrupt yet. i.e. for naval games harpoon and dangerous waters(strategy first) were it until command modern naval operations came along. These games were worth the price of admission, which was still less than the utter crap that dominions is, and similarly offered garbage(most of it is if reviews are to be believed which I do as many look like crap just from their product pages) from slitherine and matrixgames.

          • Immobile Piper says:

            Pretty sure the prices got cut as soon as they left Matrix for Desura, which I believe was before they got to steam. But yes, Matrix prices were quite something.

          • malkav11 says:

            Slitherine and Matrix primarily handle wargames, which are often quite niche and arcane and appeal to a small but dedicated audience that’s used to prices that high. In that context, Dominions’ $55 was actually average if not relatively cheap. Gary Grigsby’s War in the East launched at $80, I think.

            The idea is that dropping their prices would just cut into their profits without generating commensurate sales increases because they’re already reaching the majority of their potential market. This seems unlikely to actually be true, especially given that Illwinter seems to be doing much better now and Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software took a similar stance for many years then immediately had it contradicted once he got on Steam and the App Store. But I can understand why taking that leap of faith would be scary.

  14. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    I was really hoping to see some RPS-chatter about the Kotaku blacklisting article from this week and the “gaming community” reaction to it.