The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for getting back in the saddle. And so after an extended Christmas break, the Sunday Papers returns with a roundup of the best writing about videogames from across the week (and beyond).

Game developer and founder of the studio who made Hand of Fate, Morgan Jaffit, wrote this past week about the cost of doing business. That cost is online abuse, which Jaffit argues has become normalised. It’s hard to disagree and I think a lot about how what we write here at RPS can better shape the discussion that surrounds videogames.

Yet there’s a striking difference, in 2018 at least. In the last twelve months a single topic has come up every time I’ve spoken developer-to-developer either in person or online : abuse. The difference between my Grandfather and I is that he did his work in peace. While there were surely frustrated punters, the chance of one of them calling my Grandfather lazy to his face was small. None would pull him up to call him greedy, stupid, ignorant or bad at his job.

Yet every game developer receives these messages daily.

Supreme Commander Forged Alliance is the best real-time strategy game ever made, so of course I was interested to read this Making Of about the base game. There’s lots of quotes in there from the game’s lead designer, Chris Taylor.

Today, Taylor is working on a brand new RTS which he hopes to talk more about in 2018. “My goal is to take the experience to a whole new level and break the genre out of the rut it’s been in for what seems like an eternity,” he says. Having already done that twice with Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander, we should have high hopes the designer can achieve his objective. “With SupCom, we knew there were a few ambitious and silly features in there that we could have cut – but we didn’t know they were like that until we implemented them. And why even bother making games if you’re shy about something being useless or unnecessary in a game? You have to take chances, try things and see what works, especially if you want to push the boundaries and create something new and unique. People who do that truly love to explore the unknown, and those are the types of people that worked on Dungeon Siege and the SupCom games.”

I liked US Gamer’s list of indie games to watch out for in 2018. There’s a few things on there that weren’t previously on my radar, and a few I’d forgotten about.

Before I was officially writing about games, back when I was still just a lowly intern, one of the first news stories I remember writing was about a new teaser trailer for Knuckle Sandwich, the fanciful RPG from game developer Andrew Brophy. While some may compare it fondly to the likes of Earthbound, Knuckle Sandwich takes the cutesy pixelated RPG formula to, uh, low-poly Pokemon battles against Garfield-type critters, exploring the woes of living in a new city, and it’s somehow laced with even more eccentricities. With a guaranteed release window of this year, I suspect Knuckle Sandwich will be the game to take players by surprise.

I enjoyed this profile of MDickie, the independent developer best known for clunky, bizarre work like The You Testament, who has now hit it big as a mobile game developer.

Dickie said he’d been working all day, every day on games and it no longer appealed financially, creatively, or personally. So at the depths of his despair, frustrated by the lack of critical acclamation for his games, Dickie stepped away from the hobby that he wanted to turn into a career. He started developing educational apps alongside being a teacher, a move that coincided with a big drive in the UK education system to integrate technology such as interactive whiteboards and iPads into the classroom. Nine years of work had come to an end—and he never planned to return to game development.

Final Fantasy 12’s remaster is coming to PC. That news prompted someone in the RPS Slack to dig up this post by Robert Yang from last year which i) celebrates the efficient use of texture memory in the original PS2 release and ii) criticises the remaster for what it does to the environment textures.

As efficient as it is, there are a few drawbacks to this technique. Symmetrical UV mirroring means you want to avoid noisy high frequency details, and make sure your textures are relatively clean or homogeneous — it would look weird if you had symmetrical scars on your face, or symmetrical patterns of dirt on both of your arms, etc. I think this symmetry explains why the Final Fantasy 12 skin tones are so boring and flat, and why Vaan’s abs looked so weird — it has to look flat in order to look consistent.

Also at Eurogamer, Chris Bratt’s Here’s A Thing series tells the story of the pitch that convinced Shigeru Miyamoto to back Mario vs. Rabbids. There’s a text version of the story for those of you who hate moving images and noises.

Davide Soliani isn’t just your typical Nintendo fan. 15 years ago, upon finding out that legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto – the man that had made him want to create video games in the first place – was going to be visiting Italy to promote a new Zelda game, he decided he had to meet him in person.

I haven’t found the time yet to play Battle Chef Brigade, and so I have contented myself by reading lots about it. This, in which developer Tom Eastman talks about the game’s design, is good.

There was a multitude of prototypes. Another one was all about taste and texture profiles, and so we’d work through like, this ingredient has this percentage savory, this percentage sour, this percentage salty, and the judge wants a percentage set and a texture set, like from mushy to crunchy, like three more of those. And each ingredient would that coming in, if you fried, baked or boiled it, all those values would change in ways unique to that ingredient, but that was getting little too “chemistry set.” (laughs)

Tim Sweeney created lots of features for the Unreal engine because he thought, based on screenshots he’d seen, that other engines already had those capabilities.

Carmack had written this really advanced editor on the NeXT. I’d read all about it and I had seen screenshots of it, but I never actually used it. At the time, I thought to myself “Holy shit, Carmack wrote a real-time BSP editor!” What I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t actually real-time, there was this re-build process and all this other offline stuff. I didn’t know that, and so I thought I had to create a completely real-time thing, and so I did. [laughs]

A handsome chap wrote about the stories revealed by Plunkbat’s new replay mode over at Eurogamer. What?

Leather coat, hockey mask, need the rest – m4w (Erangel)

You, kitted out in black, running towards your buggy near the southern coast. Me, wearing a T-shirt, shooting hopelessly in your direction from 400 yards away. Our eyes met across the grassy field, but then you were gone. What I’d do for another chance…

–Man it turns out you murdered three minutes later

This is the best article about a shade of red I’ve ever read.

Falu red was made from the byproducts of the mining process; the pits weren’t dug for the sake of paint. The copper mined in Falun would be used to fund Sweden’s military advances throughout the 17th, and 18th centuries, including the Great Northern War. (The country even tried to switch over to copper currency for a time, a failed experiment that ended with a public beheading that “greatly pleased the Swedish people.”) Many would die in the Falun mines, suffocated, crushed, or burnt alive. Their bodies would be found later, preserved by the same hard mineral matter that they were seeking to excavate, dark red mummies covered in sulfate crystals, their muscles seemingly turned to stone. The most famous example was a man named Fet-Mats who was discovered in 1719, over 40 years after he drowned in a poorly placed tunnel. His former fiancée identified the body. For decades, Fet-Mats was displayed in a glass case in the Stora Kopparbergs Church like some plebian version of Sleeping Beauty. The poor guy reached his final resting place in 1930, nearly 300 years after his death, but not before inspiring a folk ballad, a short story, and a Wagner libretto.)

Music this week is… Have I linked this before? It’s Kuj Yato by Clap! Clap! Also available with a video on YouTube.

86 Comments

  1. Merus says:

    “It’s hard to disagree and I think a lot about how what we write here at RPS can better shape the discussion that surrounds videogames.”

    I’m still quietly fuming (well, as of now openly fuming) over that time John Walker opened an interview by accusing his subject of being a pathological liar. While the subject was Peter Molyneux, who had made a career out of, essentially, making grand promises instead of describing actual goals, it’s still astonishing to jump from there to accusing someone of having a mental sickness as an opening feint, and then have the rest of RPS’s staff give it the all clear to run as a bit of straight talk.

    The timing’s right for RPS to have contributed to legitimising abuse as a method of communicating to devs you disapprove of; I appreciate that RPS, when it got to that crossroads, at least did not take the same path as shouty men on YouTube.

    • LuNatic says:

      Given Peter Molyneux’s track record, I think the liar comment was fair. Calling someone out on their bullshit, when said bullshit is a matter of public record is fine.

      The problem is all the anonymous internet ‘tough guys’ telling people to kill themselves, or sending death threats, or rape threats, or doxxing, or swatting etc. Those are the real cancerous behaviours that need to be addressed.

      • Baines says:

        “I’m more successful/better than you, so my opinion means more” is a classic rebuttal. But it just doesn’t feel like Spambot has its heart in the argument.

    • Ghostbird says:

      I think I’d argue that – to choose a real example – people making and distributing fake RPS screenshots of John Walker’s reviews to direct outrage against him is rather different from a combative interview with someone known for exaggerated claims, though I agree journalists need to be mindful.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Absolutely dead on.

      That piece by Walker was not only a pisspoor piece of Bill O’Reilly-level “journalism”, but a direct contradiction of RPS now assuming for themselves the position of arbiters of decorum in online discourse. And it was approved by RPS staff and lauded by many RPS regulars who would decry the very same behavior if it was directed at a favored developer.

    • YogSo says:

      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      John Walker: Do you think that you’re a pathological liar?

      Peter Molyneux: That’s a very…

      John Walker: I know it’s a harsh question, but it seems an important question to ask because there do seem to be lots and lots of lies piling up.

      John Walker: My first question wasn’t, ‘Are you a Machiavellian and spiteful liar’, it was ‘Are you a pathological liar?’ It was, do you say stuff that isn’t true without meaning to?

      (Emphasis mine)

      Anonymous: FUCK YOU STUPID CUNTS FUCK MODERN WARFARE 4 REMASTERED. YOU ARE ALL A BUNCH OF STUPID FAGGOTS WORTH NOTHING MORE THAN A PUBE HAIR. FUCK YOU ALL YOU STUPID BASTARDS I HOPE YOU ALL BURN IN HELL FOR YALLS BULLSHIT RIGGED ASS GAME HANG YOURSELVES

      (Emphasis mine)

      One of these things is not the same as the others.

      • Ghostbird says:

        Convenient to pretend they are, though, for a certain kind of person.

        • Vinraith says:

          Very convenient. The first defense of the abuser is to try to confuse the hell out of the issue.

        • FrumiousBandersnatch says:

          Whoa, “certain kind of person”? That’s quite a thing to say, an attack lower than both the Molyneux thing and Meru’s comparing John to angry teenagers, maybe even lower than the edgy cuntfaggots comment you’re quoting.
          In your place i would ask myself if maybe i am that “certain kind of person”, just one meta-level further (and yes, i see the irony).

      • malkav11 says:

        Yeah, I think people are misunderstanding what pathological means. And frankly, considering Molyneux’s track record, it’s not an unreasonable question. Rude, for sure, but not unreasonable.

    • Babymech says:

      Like most people here I read that interview quite differently, and think that you’re willfully misreading it. Walker asked if Molyneux believes he might be a pathological liar. He didn’t accuse him of anything – we know Molyneux repeatedly tells untruths, so that’s not an accusation – the question is if his behavior could be pathological. Not necessarily by a clinical definition – neither man is qualified to assess that – but from the vernacular sense: is Molyneux unable to help himself when it comes to grandiose untruths, even if lying does him no good at all? To me that’s a fair question, given Molyneux’s track record, and not poor online decorum.

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        Ninja Dodo says:

        Well.

        link to cc.com

        I don’t feel as strongly as Merus up there, but I do feel that was… not a good interview.

        • Babymech says:

          Oh come on, that’s not remotely similar. Walker didn’t make up a faux question to coat wild speculation – he directly, and repeatedly, asked the subject for their take. The problem seems to be that people are reading ‘pathological’ like it’s an insult, and something that could never be legitimately asked of anyone. It’s not – it’s blunt, but it’s not invective.

          A less blunt way of asking the question would have been: “You have historically made several untrue statements about the quality, state, or functionality of products you have been working on. These untrue statements have as far as anyone can tell been unprompted and unnecessary, as well as outlandish. These untrue statements have further been detrimental to the public reception of your products, and have preemptively eroded trust in future products. These untrue statements have often been made in response to being called out on previous untrue statements, instead of owning up to past untruths. To an informed outsider, these untrue statements do not appear to be directed toward any rational gain or plan, since they are not necessary, not likely to be believed, and not possible to deliver on. Has been there a rational plan behind these untrue statements, or do you have reason to think it might be the case that you actually could not help yourself from making them, even when they are almost a form of self-harm?” I much prefer Walker’s phrasing, though.

    • Beanbee says:

      That was a watershed moment for myself with RPS as well. Feeling that it was done under the banner of consumer protection, or in other words protecting me as consumer, was heartbreaking. While it’s indisputable that the language of the Dox-a-lots is far more vile, it still doesn’t invalidate that for at least several people that interview sprang immediately to mind.

    • KidWithKnife says:

      While that particular example didn’t come to my mind (I don’t think I read that article), some of John’s other past work absolutely did. I’m not trying to suggest that John is some kind of evil dude or that he’s necessarily the only RPS writer who’s ever written something that would have been better off left unwritten (Quinns comes to mind); I do think, however, that RPS’ writers should really take responsibility for their own past roles in contributing to this problem. I realize I may be being a little bit unfair in singling out John here, but he’s the only current RPS writer who I remember stepping out of line in this way. That doesn’t necessarily mean he is the only one, only that he’s the only one that’s stuck in my mind, which probably has a lot to do with my having been a fan of his work in the past.

      • BaaBaa says:

        I have no sympathy for Peter Molyneux and yet John’s interview really rubbed me the wrong way, not unlike seeing an executioner who’s enjoying his job too much. It was plainly mean, and I’m the kind of fella who doesn’t enjoy seeing people treated that way even if they are assholes.

        By the way, you don’t need to go that far to find examples of RPS’ questionable record on the matter. This was merely 10 days ago: “Farmer’s Dynasty feels like it was made by a farm animal pretending to be a human.” Never played the game, no idea who the developer is, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t call them a farm animal to their faces, would you guys?

        • Babymech says:

          It’s almost like colorful, inventive and over the top style is part of the value you get out of a small, writer-focused site like RPS. I hope they replace all that with a simple point system.

          • BaaBaa says:

            Oh hai straw man!

          • Babymech says:

            But what else can I give you, Baa? We both (hopefully) understand that “would you say it to their face” has never been a standard for how to do quality media criticism, so why even start there? And you literally bring up an example of colorful style that makes this site stand out, and imply that it would be better without it.

          • BaaBaa says:

            Guess I just subscribe to the odd notion that you can be colorful without resorting to ad hominem attacks on the creators of the things you are critiquing. And no, that doesn’t make RPS stand out. There is plenty of that toxicity on the internet, as the original article points out.

          • Babymech says:

            I am surprised that you can’t see much that stands out as different between RPS style and, as you say, the examples in the original article- “F*** YOU STUPID C***S F*** MODERN WARFARE 4 REMASTERED. YOU ARE ALL A BUNCH OF STUPID F***OTS WORTH NOTHING MORE THAN A PUBE HAIR. F*** YOU ALL YOU STUPID BASTARDS I HOPE YOU ALL BURN IN HELL FOR YALLS BULLSHIT RIGGED ASS GAME HANG YOURSELVES” for example.

            I guess I subscribe to the odd notion that tweeting that at a developer is not comparable to anything RPS has ever published.

          • napoleonic says:

            Babymech, the “would you say it to their face” standard was explicitly stated in the article linked to by Graham, and even excerpted here. It’s right up there at the top.

          • Babymech says:

            Napoleonic: No, it really wasn’t. That article was 1) about customers, not professional critics, and 2) about literally contacting the game makers to insult them, not making professional reviews. There is a huge difference between professionally critiquing media in harsh terms, and seeking out the makers to insult them. The article is explicit in criticizing the culture of consumer hostility toward game makers, not game reviewers being negative. There’s a massive difference between angry consumers and critical reviewers, and not being able to tell those apart is both emblematic and problematic.

            The article literally puts up the following standard: If you are contacting someone to tell them something directly (via Twitter), use discourse that’s appropriate for face to face conversation. It is not saying that you should apply that same standard to reviewing media.

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          Ninja Dodo says:

          I recently tried to recommend the site to someone (a developer) and they told me they stopped reading RPS when they called the creator of Spelunky lazy for not including mouse aiming.

    • Noc says:

      I’m not sure if I completely agree! Or at least, I’m not sure about that article being a catalyst, though I definitely had a similar reaction to it at the time.

      I think John Walker does tend to stick out from the rest of the RPS writers, though, in that he lays on the “grouchy critic” thing a lot — but that was a popular schtick, years ago! You’d take something people didn’t like and verbally eviscerate it and it’d be an exercise in hilarious schadenfreude, and we’d cheer to see something dumb pulled off its pedestal.

      Like, Yahtzee and Old Man Murray immediately come to mind, and I’ve never been into The Angry Video Game Nerd but he’s called “The Angry Video Game Nerd” and he’s popular enough for me to have heard of him! Being entertainingly mad at things on the internet was a Thing.

      But I think it was about the time of that Godus article that it really started to feel like things were changing, and that the vitriol had sunk down into the bedrock and rage was bubbling up everywhere, and suddenly it wasn’t funny anymore. It felt like the entire internet was out for Peter Molyneux’s head, and then John reduced him to tears during an interview and called it a victory for consumer advocacy and I was like “yeah no, I don’t want this.”

      Nowadays I just tend to feel worried when John Walker reviews crop up, like: a lot of them are good! He seems like maybe he’s happier! But then occasionally it’ll feel like he just dipped back into being incandescently angry at a game he doesn’t like, as though it personally victimized him by wasting his time, and I feel like maybe I should ask if he’s okay.

      But anyways, the point is that I think it’s been a broader cultural shift: ranting on the internet used to be funny, but then the internet grew and now it’s already full of millions of people screaming at each other about everything. And we were all part of how it got here, really? We were the culture that became this one, and now we’re here and it kind of sucks.

      • BooleanBob says:

        I kind of agree. Angry, acerbic pop-culture rantiness was the ideal by which the current generation of the chattering classes was raised.

        Around the middle of the 00s we were cheering Drs. Cox and House on our TV screens, Charlie Brooker and Frankie Boyle on the stand-up circuit and, as you say, Old Man Murray and John Walker on our interblogs. The idea everywhere seemed to be that the way to transcend the hopeless cruelty of the world around us was to hone the cruelty of our response to it. Then Twitter came along and we all got to have a go at unleashing our inner angry cultural commentator.

        In a way I wonder if the defining conflict came with Jack Thompson. The games media and the gamer base were as one back then, cheerfully dog-piling the guy as though, in so doing, a great war for consumer advocacy was being won. And maybe it even was. But that might have been what set the tone for all this.

  2. welverin says:

    Hey people look, Graham gave two sources for the music this week, just like you asked!

  3. Kollega says:

    Ah, Supreme Commander. It’s a game that I have fond memories of, despite not being old enough at the time to properly get a hang of it and truly master the gameplay. It was interesting to read about the decisions that motivated its creation, but sadly, the article was a little too short to really dive into the nitty-gritty. I would much prefer a vast retrospective covering the game in great detail – because it’s unlike any RTS before or since.

    And this brings me to how I didn’t buy Supreme Commander 2, after simply playing the demo. Because seriously, even the demo felt like the game tossed out everything that made SupCom 1 a unique and enjoyable game, and instead decided to go full Starcraft. I actually have SupCom and Forged Alliance installed right now, though I haven’t visited them in a long while, but SupCom 2? I don’t even bother to remember that exists. But I do wonder if I’m entirely right to do that… was it really as bad as the demo made it out to be?

    • fuggles says:

      No, it’s okay. Very streamlined, very dumb, in a good way. I like the launch unfinished options, that was good.

      The problem is it is a woeful sequel to supcom2. On its own terms it’s fun.

      Nice article, but come on, the story is crap.

    • Thants says:

      To be fair, Supreme Commander is quite a bit like the game it’s a spiritual sequel to: Total Annihilation. It’s a perfect example of a successor that takes all the good things about the original and expands on them.

      • Kollega says:

        And there’s been an attempt to continue on with TA/SupCom style of RTS with Planetary Annihilation… so, double fail! Good going there, me.

        On the other hand, it does hold true that Total Annihilation style of RTS is a subgenre of very few games. And we could really use some more of them. Which makes the mention of “Chris Taylor’s new RTS that he hopes to talk about more in 2018” in this article all the more intriguing…

  4. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    The main disagreement I have with the article about abuse (which is otherwise spot-on) is how it’s framed as a problem around gamers. I think people getting excessively angry & really very unpleasant on the internet is a much broader thing in the last few years, especially with the recent big political topics on either side of the pond, but also on many small topics which you wouldn’t expect people to get so angry about. It’s getting to the stage where I feel the “problem website” isn’t This Website or That Website (fill in your own favourite and “enemy” website, folks), the problem website is Twitter. That’s the common denominator every time there’s some internet shitstorm, and that’s where all the unpleasantness really happens. So, yeah, saying there’s a subset of gamers who are horribly abusive is true, but kind of missing the whole picture.

    • Vilos Cohaagen says:

      Yes, I agree. I’ve given up on Twitter as it really seems to be the distillation of the worst of human behaviour with little or no consequences. Though the steam communities can be almost as bad.

      That said I cannot understand the vitriol and death threat people throw around, or the other abhorrent behaviours like swatting which lead to that man’s death in Kansas. It almost makes me want to write off the entire Internet as a terrible idea.

    • ffordesoon says:

      Well, the author is a game developer. It’s natural for a game developer to be concerned with the abuse of fellow game developers above other forms of online harrassment.

    • Ghostbird says:

      I think there is a wider problem with the way social media fosters abuse, but I also think there’s a particular knot of toxic entitlement and unexamined privilege around the idea of “gamer” as an identity. Combine that with “by gamers, for gamers” marketing that tells fans of AAA games they’re nearly as important as the developers and you get a vast reservoir of fanboy rage ready to be directed at anyone who suggests that might not be true.

      • cpt_freakout says:

        With the whole GG thing the ‘gamer’ identity more often than not became the vessel for some truly horrible political positions that are underlined by abusive mentalities. On the surface, it’s great to see so much nerdy stuff go mainstream, but the spotlight’s also revealed a widespread toxic culture in which the proverbial ‘we’ were largely unconscious participants. It’s important to raise awareness, like the article does, but also to evaluate our own position within it.

        I disagree that abusive commenters “see developers as the enemy, and abuse as the only tool to keep them in line” – I believe it’s the same kind of mindset that makes assholes yell at service workers; devs are not the enemy, they’re there to provide a service because the customer is always right, as in the customer has rights over the workers’ because the money they pay establishes a hierarchy. Kickstarter projects are the clearest examples of this: people get truly crazy over creative shifts in direction or unmet goals, and treat projects as if they owned them simply because money changed hands. I’ve seen some of the worst abuse from KS backers, and I think it’s because in these peoples’ minds there’s no distinction between support and ownership, to the extent that they think they own the devs’ time, and therefore, to some extent, that they own the devs themselves. If the ‘gamer’ identity is centered upon consuming commodities, it’s not a big leap in logic to say that commodity logic is the most determining factor in the relationship between dev and ‘gamer’, so much that even figuratively the devs become things you’ve purchased.

        • icarussc says:

          Quite agree. And I’d suggest also that when you’re defining yourself by consuming commodities that often consist of power fantasies, it has an even more negative effect.

          • napoleonic says:

            I would take a step back and ask: what does it say about our society, and how alienated and powerless the majority of us are, that so many people have such a driving psychological need for these power fantasies?

    • DEspresso says:

      I am unsure myself to the reason as why it happened but it seems the loudest part of the net has lost the ability to reflect before posting. The vomiting of opinions/emotions without any kind of filter or reflection became unbearable in the last few years.

      We, as in society, are to blame at the end. Instead of changing this behaviour, like the moderated discussion of the 90s Internet Forums, we ignored it on the ‘new’ social media. It got even worse when another vocal yet loud minority decided they could decide the ‘correct’ narrative and censure different opinions by using vile insults. Unsurprisingly this stance and tactic got adopted by extremist opinions soon thereafter and here we are.

      Sometimes I wish there was a delay to posting where after some minutes a calm voice would read back your drivel and after a pause would ask the heavy question.

      ‘Do you really want to post this?’

      / I just tried this and deleted a whole paragraph, so maybe onto something..

      • Face In The Punch says:

        I agree, there is a great xkcd covering this (as there always is)

      • YohnTheViking says:

        A bit late on this, but something that struck me a couple of weeks back.

        If you extend the unreflected opinion to cover all the social and political spectrum; we’ve always had those types of people. The difference being, as many has pointed out; social media.

        Because when someone had strong opinions about the new neighbours who weren’t as white as themselves in the 60’s. Those opinions generally only got voiced in smaller groups, often groups it was slightly shameful to have association with. If you wanted to go louder you had to go through a newspaper editor who vetted your writing and communication skills, as well as the opionin being one the newspaper was interested in printing. Social media has no editor, and all the stupid is out there on proud display.

    • draglikepull says:

      I don’t really agree with this. Yes, it’s true on some level that you can find rude people in many parts of the Internet, but it really is worse in gaming communities. Here’s one example of that:

      The other day someone linked me to a video of Tim Schafer showing off the latest build of Psychonauts 2. The top recommended video next to it was a 21 minute video accusing Double Fine of fraud. The video currently has ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY THOUSAND views. And I’ve seen that kind of thing on a number of occasions with a number of developers/games, where I’m just browsing trailers or making of videos or whatever and suddenly angry videos start showing up in the sidebar.

      That just doesn’t happen for other hobbies that I might look up on Youtube. For example, I watch a lot of sports, but I’ve never come across a massive, long-winded diatribe against a player or team that had tens or hundreds of thousands of views on YT. I’m sure players do get abuse on Twitter from angry fans (obviously some sports fans get very angry and rude, especially after they’ve been drinking) but there’s just nothing like the ecosystem that supports these massive anti-game brigades.

      That’s just one example, but yeah, there is a pretty big corner of the video game community that really is more active in terms of abuse than in most other kinds of communities online, and I don’t think pretending it’s just a generic “Internet” problem is going to do anything to deal with the issues that are specific to gaming communities.

      • Frosty Grin says:

        You seem to be arguing that any kind of negativity is “abuse”. The studio’s track record is fair game, and it really is questionable in this case.

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          Ninja Dodo says:

          It’s not. They had ONE failed project (Spacebase) that people had a legit reason to be upset about. Everything else was manufactured outrage. The only reason people are still attacking Double Fine is that they stood up to the GG stalkers.

          • wengart says:

            Around 2013-2015 Double Fine had a few fumbles that kind of culminated with spacebase eating it.

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            Ninja Dodo says:

            I already mentioned Spacebase and the only other ‘fumble’ was their kickstarter getting delayed which happens to 99% of videogame kickstarters. Broken Age may not have been an instant classic (though underrated imo) but they delivered both game and documentary as promised.

    • poliovaccine says:

      I think to the extent this issue exists elsewhere, you’re right, but we’d all be remiss to deny that abusive bullshit is, in fact, kind of a thing amongst gamers. Not all internet discourse is quite so toxic and hairy as what some gamers are capable of excreting. I mean, it isn’t normal people who invented *swatting.*

    • KidWithKnife says:

      You are spot on about Twitter. It’s astonishing to me how some industries treat Twitter use as a de facto requirement for porofessionals, given how mind-bogglingly aweful it is and how little interest the company itself appears to have in any sort of moderation beyond the absolute bare minimum to cover their asses. It would bother me a lot less if not for the fact that the requirement to use Twitter (formally or otherwise) weren’t becoming so normalized in the professional world.

  5. Scare Tactics says:

    Solution to online abuse? Grow a pair. The internet was always like this and it will always be like this. Anonymity and faceless communication brings out the best in some. If you can’t handle some teenagers hormones going batshit insane over a completely arbitrary and unimportant point then maybe..I dunno, write books.

    Though doxxing and swatting are new, I agree. These are easily avoided by not giving out your real adress and, to an extent, try to communicate anonymously. I don’t care if game dev XY posts stuff under a nickname instead of his real name. Privacy? Nah, because I don’t have anything to hide ™. So y’all wanted Twitter and Facebook instead of companies/indies having their own forums where they could easily moderate incoming feedback. Delivered as requested.

    • Ghostwise says:

      Well, that was remarkably dumb.

    • cakeisalie says:

      Wow, how ignorant can you be!

    • Babymech says:

      “The internet was always like this and it will always be like this.” The mainstream use of the internet isn’t even thirty years old. It is way, way too early to say what it will ‘always be like’ – the internet of today is radically different from what we had five, ten, or fifteen years ago. In the future it might be more toxic, less toxic, more thick-skinned, more thin-skinned – but to pretend that we know what it will always be is just silly.

      • malkav11 says:

        And it’s worth pointing out that it is like this and that it shouldn’t be, and trying to figure out ways of at least tamping it down some, even if it may never be wholly solved.

    • Captain Narol says:

      Blaming the target’s lack of balls rather than the agressor’s unacceptable behavior is totally wrong and makes you part of the problem.

      Get civilized and educate others to learn respect, rather than playing the archaic and out-of-date manly card, so that we can collectively evolve in the right direction as a human group.

      • Sandepande says:

        It’s always nice when rape is the victim’s fault.

        • Scare Tactics says:

          Of course someone had to throw rape in a totally unrelated manner into this discussion. How cute. Triggered much?

          Captain Narol: I’m not blaming anyone. Look up the definition of blaming, then read my comment again. I agree with the rest of your comment. But guess what? There will always be assholes online (inb4 “like you” – c’mon, if you want to flame me you gotta try harder). Just like in real life. Can’t change other peoples actions and motifs. Just learn to get a thicker hide.

          • Urthman says:

            Hahaha you can always tell when you’ve made a good point that a troll doesn’t know how to deal with because he’ll say, “Triggered much?” to try to convince himself he didn’t just get owned.

            “Triggered much?” = “If I think about what you said, I’ll realize I was wrong which is an idea I’m too immature to handle.”

          • Sandepande says:

            I simply find useless advice like “growing a pair” to be fairly similar to the odd habit of blaming the victims for all kinds of abuse. Rape included.

            Grow a pair if you can’t take my comparison.

        • Babymech says:

          Please don’t make rape a catch-all comparison for any and all abuse. That’s gross.

          • Scare Tactics says:

            Urthman: Yeah, because getting called names online is absolutely the same as being raped. Deep winter outside, yet the temperatures are staggeringly higher than some peoples IQ here. Please go play some more Undertale or I dunno, hug your pillow. I would suggest improving your reading comprehension but pigs cant fly.

            Triggered 2/2

      • Cederic says:

        The thing is, there’s all this outrage about online harassment and abuse – and almost all of it is going on about misogyny, abuse of women, how it’s impossible to be female on the internet without being harassed.

        The research and stats show that men get more abuse than women (and that women abuse women and men more than men do).

        The reason that all the resources are focused on women is because the men do exactly what you’re berating, which is be ‘manly’ about it. Yeah, someone abused me. Oh well, lets get on with life.

        If more people shrugged off the idiots and ignored them they’d find themselves suddenly a lot happier.

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      Ninja Dodo says:

      This is the dumbest shit I’ve read today and I follow geo-politics.

    • baud001 says:

      I agree with you, in the way that if you are not ready to public exposure, you don’t produce public work. Or you do it anonymously. Or you hire a PR guy who filter and deal with your public social media accounts.

      • Scare Tactics says:

        Which is exactly what I was meant to say. Guess not all hope is lost.

        • poliovaccine says:

          Even you don’t seem to deny the existence of this culture of abuse. You do, however, seem to defend its existence.

    • poliovaccine says:

      If the only standard we ever held ourselves to was “how it’s always been,” we’d still be splitting each others’ heads with clubs over territorial disputes.

      • Scare Tactics says:

        Idealism is a nice trait but tends to crash and burn when confronted with reality. So what exactly are your plans to counter it? Wiggle your index finger repeatedly from left to right towards abusers, saying “no no no”? By the way, from where exactly do you get the idea that I defended them?

        • Captain Narol says:

          Ban them from forums,ban their gaming account, deprive them of their internet access, take them to court fro death threats in the most serious cases.

          Some games have a very strict policy against abuse and protect their community, while some others are more liberal on the subject and end up totally toxic : It’s a question of choice and will to enforce your stance.

          There is solutions against the culture of abuse, if the authorities take it seriously and DO ACT against it.

          Part of the problem comes from the fact that the US have elevated “The Right to Free Speech” to the state of an absolute principle, but I believe (and many others do too) that ABUSIVE TALK SHOULDN’T BE PROTECTED BY THE LAWS ON FREE SPEECH.

          The world can change, if we fight to make it better and put pressure on the governments to take the right decisions.

          Educating the kids and teaching them what is good and bad behavior is the first necessary step, how paternalist it can sound.

  6. malkav11 says:

    MDickie is definitely an…interesting… developer. I’m happy for him that he’s seeing success and getting to live his dream, even if I’m not necessarily a big fan of his work.

  7. Ghostwise says:

    I was all set to disagree with Mr. Yang (I have a bit of a fetish for HD textures) but given his examples, he’s right again.

    That reminded me of early mod packs of HD textures. Except that the persons doing the automated, batch-based process for mods do it for free, and almost always go “this is just an automated processing pass to hold the fort whilst other modders do real texture work.”

  8. Ghostwise says:

    (Double comment achievement unlocked)

    Also, Tim Sweeney’s comments about Frostbite in the excellent Gamasutra article do ring awfully true after the ME: Andromeda semi-debacle.

    (Okay, back to work).

  9. quasiotter says:

    The Unreal article was fantastic! It’s really great to hear stories like this, even though I don’t understand a lot of it!

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      Frog says:

      Yeah, the Unreal history is a lot of fun, a good read. The article makes a quick reference to Tom L. McDonald’s Game Theory column in Maximum PC, I used to get that magazine, and Boot before that just for McDonald and Halfhill’s columns. Halfhill wrote in Byte before that. Fond memories. I dumped the magazine when they got rid of him. Just not enough left to keep paying for.

  10. alms says:

    Game developer and founder of the studio who made Hand of Fate, Morgan Jaffit, wrote this past week about the cost of doing business. That cost is online abuse, which Jaffit argues has become normalised. It’s hard to disagree and I think a lot about how what we write here at RPS can better shape the discussion that surrounds videogames.

    BTW take a look at Tacoma’s Steam discussions.

  11. MacTheGeek says:

    Seriously, developers: Get. Off. Twitter.

    Twitter management has shown no real interest in solving the abuse problem. It’s time to let the platform die. Maybe some other startup will do a better job.

    • Halk says:

      How do you propose we get the word out about our game then?

      • itsbenderingtime says:

        Email the RPS folks (Or PCGamer, or other sites like that). This site is where I get all my tips about games to play anyway. You want well-adjusted people to find out about your game, and almost all the well-adjusted people I know won’t touch Twitter with a barge pole.

        • Halk says:

          That answer is a bit naive. How many emails with new trailers or demos for interesting, new indie games from unknown developers do you think RPS receives every day? And how many more emails trying to publicize shovelware? About how many of them do you think they post? I don’t know the numbers, but I can assure you that “email RPS or PCGamer” is not a viable strategy.

          I really dislike twitter as a whole, but if you are trying to get people to know about your creative work and you are coming from nowhere, you take what you can get. And for all my dislike of social media, I have discovered the work of many talented artists randomly on twitter, and I have received many kind words about my own work.

          • Sin Vega says:

            Seriously. I only write like 5 articles a year, and even I don’t have time to look at every game people email me about (including the ones that sound good – and on the off chance that you’re reading, devs, please don’t feel like you’re unwelcome, or that I’m unsympathetic). Quite aside from devs being people as well as devs and so wanting to talk to people anyway, the plain fact is that social media is where millions of people talk about games.

            There’s also a strong community of friendly experienced game devs and creators (Rami Ismail, Rob Fearon and Meg Jayanth come to mind just off the top of my head) who don’t really mingle anywhere else. . Avoiding the site isn’t a solution and isn’t a useful option for many anyway.

            Besides which, it’s not limited to twitter anyway, and never has been. Twitter’s just the place where it’s easiest, because the people running it are equivocating cowards who welcome abuse because it makes their precious Numbers look better.

    • morganjj says:

      Hey there! I wrote the article, and I want to make a couple of clarifications.

      1. I could have easily found similar threats+abuse from Steam forums and support emails. I used Twitter because it was easy, but this is not solely a Twitter issue.

      2. The reason we’re on Twitter is for our playerbase. It’s the fastest way to get in contact with a dev and get help with an issue if you’re stuck. It’s also the fastest way to get feedback to the dev. Also, unlike Facebook, it doesn’t charge you to connect to people who’ve followed you. It would be a shame if we lost that. Of course, using Twitter comes at a price, and I think everyone has to evaluate their own preferences as to whether the price is worth it.

  12. Ben King says:

    Did anyone else really like the paint history article? Just me? I really liked the paint article… Googling red crystallized mining mummies, and creepy blood-horned goats, and sharing that link with all my friends…

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      No, that was pretty great. I was familiar with the colour and the houses, but not the history. Interesting stuff.