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Archive for the ‘Our Industry Is Awful’ Category

DO NOT WANT: Bioshock 2

Posted by nfinit on January 16, 2010

Take 2 Interactive is has been holding the threat of a new Bioshock game over the gaming community for the past year and a half, and despite please for reason and requests for a list of demands, the company seems intent on foisting Bioshock 2 upon us three weeks from now.

The parts everyone loved about the original Bioshock were the parts that had absolutely nothing to do with being a videogame.  We fell in love with the sharp writing, were enamored by the original concept, engrossed in the singular, unique world that Bioshock inhabited.  In fact, when Bioshock tried to be a game instead of a stark object lesson in Objectivity and Libertarianism run amok, it was distressingly bad.  The combat was awkward.  The upgrade system unbalanced.  The fights with Big Daddies ranging from nerve-wracking engagements in sheer frustration to loot hunts in the blink of an eye.  The simply unforgivably awful final boss battle.

Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Bioshock.  It was my game of the year for ’07 and I’d gladly stand by that even given the benifit of hindsight.  But it straddled that Metal Gear Solid-esque line between enduring a potienitally awful videogame in return for experiencing a fantastic gaming environment better than anything even Kojima himself has ever produced.

Furthermore, Bioshock was allowed to finish it’s story.  There were no loose ends, no obvious hooks for a sequel, no halfway finished storylines that were left there purely to build a franchise around.  Instead, Ken Levine was allowed to tell his story.  Done.  No need to go back to Rapture…. provided, y’know, the game wasn’t enormously successful and a sequel was all but ordained by the market forces that drive the games industry.

So those of us enthralled with Bioshock 1 greeted the news of Bioshock 2 with more than a bit of trepadation, especially following so quickly on the heels of it’s prececessor.  And indeed, our worries quickly snowballed into what we’ve all pretty much agreed has become the Worst Possible Scenario.  Gone is the superb writing.  Ken Levine is nowhere to be found near Bioshock 2.  Gone is the unique and interesting world– It’s a decade later, and you’re back in Rapture.  The concept?  More Ayn Rand.

Bioshock 2’s focus?  The game.  That awful, awful videogame that wrapped up Bioshock’s world and made it presentable.  Worse yet, 2k Marin– a studio created expressly to exploit the Bioshock franchise (which is apparently a franchise now, -and- exploitable) is focusing on multiplayer.  Deathmatch Libertarianism.  This is not what any of us wanted.  Bioshock 2 isn’t just going to be awful, it’s going to be so awful that the original game’s repuation will suffer irreperable damage.

Posted in Oh God No, Our Industry Is Awful | 3 Comments »

Game of the Year follies Gamespot edition

Posted by nfinit on December 26, 2009

The end of the year is upon us and with that comes the intoxicating mix of easy content and page view-generation that are the Game of the Year awards. Every site/magazine/newspaper-with-a-gaming-column gets in on the action, which is why you wind up with GOTY packaging on seventeen different boxes come January. Gaming is weird like that– aside from the hilariously inept Spike Videogame Awards, we don’t really have a consensus year’s best panel/award thing in the same way as there’s the Oscars or the Grammys or the Nebula Awards– pretty much any jack-leg outfit with access to an HTML editor and webspace is allowed go get away with this foolis—

— as I was saying. Admittedly most major publications at least will make some attempt at making their awards meaningful in a grander games-are-important sort of way– then you have some publications that are rather obviously just selling those same awards to the highest bidder. Some will even attempt to give these awards to the games which are actually the best in their respective category for that particular year, but this practice is frowned upon.

Then you have Gamespot.  Their GOTY for 2009 was Demon’s Souls.

Demon’s Souls. You remember Demon’s Souls, Japanese dungeon crawler, about as approachable as James Joyce’s Ulysses, no actual pause function? Yeah, that.

Demon’s Souls: GOTY 2009, Gamespot.

Admittedly, I’ve not played Demon’s Souls. Maybe it really is Game of the Year. Maybe it really is a better role playing game than Dragon Age, maybe it really is overall a better fundamental game than Arkham Asylum, maybe we really will remember it as more of a cultural touch-point of the console gaming community than Modern Warfare 2. But the selection begs credulity. After all, Gamespot’s own review described the game as “unforgiving”, “stubbornly difficult”, “unusual and unforgiving” and “You are meant to die, and you are meant to die often. ”

Judging from Gamespot’s own review, Demon’s Souls isn’t exactly a game that was meant to be enjoyed as much as it is endured.

I dunno. But if I look at a game and the general consensus for that game is that that it’s a dense, frustrating, inaccessible experience, I’m not sure if that makes for a very good videogame, despite how many times you throw around the terms “innovative” and “visionary” in your review.

And sure, you can’t criticize an opinion for being wrong. I mean, I’ve sat here and tried to explain to you people why Magician Lord is one of the best games of all time based on its sprite art. But when you’re in a position of authority such as Gamespot (or, alternately, if you squint until something resembling a “position of authority” comes into focus), where you’re actually being paid for your opinion, that opinion should carries with it some weight of credibility. It’s sort of like if ESPN were to announce that the Cincinnati Bengals were the best team in the AFC. I mean, maybe they are, if you play around with the definition of the term “best team in the AFC” actually meant “best offensive line in the state of Ohio”, but the Indianapolis Colts are sitting at 14-0 right now.

The Indianapolis Colts of the videogame world as of 2009? As much as I hate to admit it, it’s probably Modern Warfare 2. MW2 is as very dudebro as a dudebro game can be, but it also sold six million units and the PS3 version is sitting at a 94% at Metacritic, vs an 89% for Demon’s Souls. If we’re looking at something that ranks high purely on the basis of being a very good game and not cultural relevancy, then there’s been a whole lot of stuff that’s come out this year that have worked well as exceptional gaming experiences. Again, the overriding theme of Demon’s Souls reviews was how inaccessible the game ultimately proved to be– should that really be the defining characteristic of your Game of the Year?

Let’s dig a little further. Was Demon’s Souls Gamespot’s highest-rated PS3 game of the year? No, that honor is shared by Braid and Uncharted 2, each with a 9.5. Perhaps Demon’s Souls is Gamespot’s highest rated RPG? Well, no. That’s reserved for the PC release of Dragon Age: Origins, again with a 9.5. The highest rated game of the year as awarded by Gamespot? Well, no 10s were handed out all year, but the aforementioned Braid, Dragon Age Origins PC all received the next highest score, as did, Ballad of Gay Tony, Forza Motorsport 3, Chinatown Wars, Uncharted 2, Rolando 2, Rea Racing and F.A.S.T.

Wait, F.A.S.T?

Seriously? This is more a credible GOTY by Gamespot’s own standards? Moving on.

So what happened here? Did Demon’s Souls receive GOTY honors for being the best “hardcore” game? For being the best Japanese game? Is this some sort of twisted attempt by Gamespot to maintain some semblance of hardcore gamer street cred? In that case, didn’t all of my fellow espresso-sipping, beret-wielding console gamer intelligentsia agree we all had a heck of a lot of fun playing through Batman: Arkham Asylum? If the award just had to go to a Japanese game to maintain their hardcore gamer cred, isn’t Retro Gaming Challenge a far more interesting choice?

Of course, the easy answer is to say that Gamespot is doing this for the page hits, and it’s probably true, and is also why I’m not linking to them for the purposes of this update. However I get the feeling the real answer is not nearly as sinister. They’re probably just being the gaming equivalent of pretentious hipster twats.

Posted in Our Industry Is Awful, Sperging about games | 1 Comment »

My bad; Rogue Warrior sucks donkeys!

Posted by nfinit on December 4, 2009

Remember where I said a couple days ago that maybe Rogue Warrior might turn out halfway decent as it’s an easy concept and the developer at least had some familiarity with the genre?  Yeah, about that:

Turns out  silently rolling out a game the Friday prior to the official launch is actually a bad indicator of game quality.  Who knew!

All of which is rather a shame.  Rogue Warrior could at least have been something of a spiritual successor to Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix; instead it wound up possibly being worse in almost every single way, and SoFII was released back in 2002– this game is making mistakes not seen since early Xbox 1 FPS game, up to and including canned knife kill animations that make no account of the positioning of your character or your target.  It’s the sort of game that’s noteworthy entirely for being so remarkably awful and has provided us with a terrific Giant Bomb.com video review:

http://www.giantbomb.com/rogue-warrior/61-22858/reviews/

Wherein we learn that Rogue Warrior has introduced the phrase “goddamned cockbreath commie motherfuckers” into the gaming lexicon.  Which is lovely.  Really, it is, it’s probably the best thing to happen to videogames this year short of gay elf sex.

Speaking of which, sorry for the lack of updates this week, as Dragon Age has been sucking (hee!) most of my free time for the past three weeks and I’m maybe 3/4ths of the way through my first play-through.  I was planning on maybe picking up Assassin’s Creed II this week, but I realize I have a good 10-12 hours left in Dragon Age as I’ve not even killing actual dragons yet and I’ve only found three of the six Revenants.  This game is crazy and it’s going to bankrupt the rest of the WRPG industry as no one has time to play anything else, which sucks for Bioware as they basically are the WRPG industry at this point.

Anyway, hope to have the rest of the Top 15 of the year done sometime tomorrow.  Until then.

Posted in Our Industry Is Awful, Sperging about games | Leave a Comment »

For your own good; redux.

Posted by nfinit on November 16, 2009

So remember back when Activision and their grovelling, hand-licking lackeys Infinity Ward announced that they were closing off private servers for all versions of Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfare 2, making it impossible to play online on anything other than Activision’s own authorized servers?  Remember how we were told it was for our own good and that Activision’s only goal was to improve the player experience and how dare you concoct paranoid conspiracy theories involving paid content and the further console-ification of the PC market?  Sure you remember that, I spent like two weeks posting this picture:

(Not pictured: impoverished; weeping child begging for his guitar controller)

Well, knowing what Infinity Ward had done, and knowing how deliciously evil Activision is, what would you assume would be the worst possible outcome for this scenario?  Wait, don’t answer that– If you’re reading this I’m going to assume you’re the smart, savvy reader who already has some idea of the ultimate outcome of Activision’s fiendish mechanization.  Instead I’m going to ask the sort of slack-jawed, reefer-addled doofus that mainstream media has taught us represents gaming culture.  Hang on a second–

(Remind me to tell you all how Time Magazine allowed this guy to shit all over Shigero Myamoto. It was fantastic.)

Hey kids, it’s professional gamer Johnathan Wendel!

Alright, Mister Fatal1ty,  if we may begin by–

suuuuuuuup

Yeah, sup.  Johnathan, knowing what you know about Infinity Ward placing Call of Duty 6, Modern Warfare 2’s online component behind Activision’s own secure walls, what would you assume is the worst possible outcome Activision and Infinity Ward could then ultimately leverage this into?

Probably Activision using their immense pockets and PR skills to further justify the heartbreaking endemic of virgin rape currently ravaging Africa.

Okay.  Wow.  You’re much more savvy than I give you credit for, Johnathan Wendel.

Words hurt, you know.

Fair enough.  Okay, what’s the second worst possible thing to come about as a result of Activision making it impossible to play Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfare 2 on anything but Activision’s own severs?

Oh, that's easy. Activision charging money to play online for services that are traditionally free.

DING DING DING!

And there you have it.  We all suspected Activision would use the immense popularity of COD6:MW2 to shut out free maps and mods, but this is particularly brilliant– Activision plans on blending Call of Duty in with its other money cow, World of Warcraft, into a soul-crushing orgy of profit that EA, Ubisoft, THQ and Take 2 can only look on with lip-slavering envy.  Yea, for truly it the end of times, just buy a 360 already, yadda yadda.

So I guess maybe it's too late to talk you into buying a Zalman CNPS9700LED Fatal1ty FC-ZE1 Champ1on Series Gaming Tower?

Die in a fire, ratface


Posted in Oh God No, Our Industry Is Awful, Sperging about games | 3 Comments »

Good Willl Hurting

Posted by nfinit on October 26, 2009

No one likes being told something is happening “for their own good”.

It’s condescending.  It’s patronizing.  The implication is that the person being spoken to is incapable of making their own decisions.  Usually these words are uttered right before medical personnel are about to perform an outstandingly painful procedure upon your person.  In most other cases, it’s complete bullshit.  In any event, the words “it’s for your own good” never  results in something good happening to the person being spoken to.
Yet this is exactly what Infinity Ward’s Community Relations Manager Robert Bowling has been tasked to tell PC gamers.  The removal of dedicated servers in favor of Infinity Ward’s closed, console-like system is for their own good.  Finding servers, the PC community has been asked to believe, is hard.
Now gamers aren’t, as a rule, naive.  Our hobby demands building an intimate relationship with psychotic multi billion dollar corporations; we know when we’re about to get fucked.  If Infinity Ward had just said “hey, piracy sucks and if you want us to keep PC games this is the way it’s gotta be” then people would probably be more willing to give Infinity Ward the benefit of the doubt.  No one’s going to argue in favor of piracy  But they didn’t do that.  We were told, in essence, “finding servers is unfair for some and whatnot”

Which, okay– they have a point.  It’s discouraging to open up a server list and be presented with a litany of server types and hosts without any way of knowing the quality of servers or who they’re playing against.  But is shutting down public servers the answer?  Is there any intrinsic reason why the operation of private servers owned and operated by Infinity Ward would require the shutdown of public servers?  If the public found Infinity Ward’s system compelling and easy to use, wouldn’t they migrate over there anyway?  Then you could take those numbers and point to them to use as an excuse to shut down public servers for Call of Duty 7: Modern Warfare 2 Part 2.

And who knows, maybe Infinity Ward is telling the truth.  Maybe their intentions are entirely altruistic and not related to a to sell PC gamers downloadable content or to facilitate moving gamers over to the next CoD game by shutting down Modern Warfare 2 servers.  Maybe we should be taking their issues at face value, no matter how flimsy their rationale may sound  Problem is, Infinity Ward is owned by this guy:

No one trusts Bobby Kotik, not even his own employees, and as a result no one trusts anything that comes out of his properties.  He’s on the record as saying he wishes to make game development as joyless as prospect as possible, that he’s focused on The Bottom Line above all other concerns, that games are actually over-valued.  The fact that Activision is selling Tony Hawk: Ride, Band Hero, Guitar Hero V and DJ Hero– all $120+ packages– this holiday season only serves to enforce this message among gamers.  And let’s not forget that Infinity Ward is asking PC gamers to pay the $10 HD console tax that cropped up with the Xbox 360.  Not only are PC gamers being told to make do with fewer options, they’re being asked to pay sixty bucks for the privilege of doing so.

My question is, now that we know Infinity Ward is not immune to Activision corporate meddling, where does this leave Blizzard?  Yeah, World of Warcraft is a money cow.  So is/was Call of Duty.  If Infnity Ward isn’t sacrosanct within the halls of Activision, neither is Blizzard.  We already know Starcraft is being sold in a three-box set, the full game will cost you between $150-180, depending on if Activision can get the console tax to stick to PC releases (and Activision being Activision, you know they will).  This is very much in line with the Guitar Hero model.  Also, Blizzard has been willing to sell services on WoW Blizzard has previously been skittish about implementing, services such as cross-server character transfers and faction switches.  Before we thought this was just Blizzard testing their market but now you have to wonder.  More importantly, you have to wonder where it stops.

Posted in Our Industry Is Awful, Sperging about games | Leave a Comment »

Gamerpocaylpse Now!

Posted by nfinit on October 20, 2009

If there’s one thing gamers can’t get enough of it’s creepy Deviantart pages dedicated to Sonic the Hedgehog characters!

If there’s two things gamers can’t get enough of, it’s hashing over what horrible imagined threats wish to strip our games away from us and force us to get real jobs and/or pay attention to our spouses. While most of these are irrational bogeyman, it’s an understandable reflex; our industry is composed of highly creative individuals whom we wish to support who happen to be managed by awful, awful people who are horribly ineffective businessmen and/or outright sociopaths. In addition, every time a new school shooting takes place we’re the first people the media want to blame, which leads me to question how William’s pinball division avoided a media firestorm when Charles Whitman climbed atop a bell tower in Austin, Texas.

But that’s for another day. For now let’s take a look at who’s currently trying to ruin our industry, and how they’re going about it, both from within and without and their odds for doing so:

Bobby Kotik

Title: CEO, Activision

Accomplishments: Reduced the Tony Hawk franchise to a flaming ruin, made Guitar Hero a tedious chore; urinated upon grave of Kurt Cobain; turned Infinity Ward into the most hated name in PC gaming; Ruined Blizzard, crushed creative spirit of all subordinates.

Method: All-consuming hatred; greed.

Synopsis: Bobby Kotik hates you and wants your money and has exploited this managerial philosophy to make Activision Blizzard the largest and most profitable videogame publisher in the world. Bobby Kotik cares not for the creative process or the idea of “games as art” or even for “games as reasonably price mediums of entertainment.”. He is possessed of nothing but contempt and greed, and you kinda have to respect that sort of singularity of vision.

Odds of Success: 1:10. Seething contempt and unlimited power are a powerful combination for success, something any student of Soviet Russia can attest. We are fortunate in that Activision has overstepped its bounds somewhat this console cycle, what with Guitar Hero 5, DJ Hero, Band Hero and Tony Hawk Ride all selling for $120 each and their absurdly large boxes competing for shelf space inside the cramped confines of your local Wal-Mart electronics section this holiday season.

Peter Moore

Title: President; EA Sports

Accomplishments: Head of Sega of America, Corporate VP of Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business, destroyed Sega as we know it Worldwide five time Head That Most Resembles Creepy Alien Skull winner.

Method: Shifts focus of EA to digital distribution and PC hardware; Mastery of sinister telepathic powers.

Synopsis: Okay so maybe Peter Moore isn’t that much of a danger to the console world, but it was his recent speech at the PLAY Berkley Digital Media Conference that inspired this update, wherein he described the current console business model thusly:

“I’d say the core business model of video games is a burning platform”

Which would seem to indicate that EA doesn’t have a lot of faith in the way console games are currently sold. Which is all well and good, but you do also wonder if we’re going to make a shift to a download only retail model if there’s any real need for the console at all at that point and if we wouldn’t be better off just playing games on our computers– which is not something I necessarily disagree with, to be honest.

Odds of Success: 1:100. Let’s not forget, Peter Moore might be hugely successful, wealthy beyond all reason and can dent the side panel of a ’74 Buick via headbutt, but this is also the guy who oversaw the Dreamcast launch in America and Sega’s subsequent departure from the console market. Also the disastrous launch of Microsoft’s first Xbox, wherein Microsoft managed to release a popular console that they did not own the rights to manufacture. Or the Xbox 360, a wildly successful console with a 57% failure rate. What I’m saying is, EA may well abandon the console retail market, but only to see every game downloaded also infest owner’s computers with child pornography and/or the code for Skynet.

David Jaffe

Title: Co-Founder, Eat Sleep Play Games; Creative Director, SCEA; Game Development Dude, leader of the Cult of the One Console Future

Accomplishments: Directed the Twisted Metal games; also the God of War games; berates interviewers; engaged in an unhealthy and destructive relationship with NeoGAF.

Method: Refuses to shut up about the One Console Future; excessive use of Quick Time Event elements in God of War.

Synopsis: David Jaffee and his legions at NeoGAF have hit upon the hellish idea of the One Console Future, the insane concept that it would be far preferable for there to only be one console and we’d like it very much to be a Sony console thank you very much
Odds of success: Even. Well, it’s going to happen eventually of course, but hopefully not until some point fifty years in the future where there’s one little company in Brazil dutifully producing Sega Genesis consoles. Other than that, Not Bloody Likely, as Jaffee and his proponents forget that we already did the one console thing twice over– the first time lead to the Crash of ’84, the second Nintendo was sued for anti-competitive business practices. Luckily as long as Jaffee remains tied to Sony he remains utterly harmless

OnLive

Title: Online distributed computing client; lousy controller

Accomplishments: Soaking up millions of venture capital; raising hopes to ultimately be dashed; allows Steve Perlman access to only the finest Columbian blow with which to snort off the asses of $1k/hour Japanese hookers; instantly erased any gaming community credulity built since the announcement of The Phantom; promises to rid Newegg of millions of dollars worth of USB v1.1 hub back stock.

Method: Dissolution of console games industry through use of secret internet alchemy that allows data packets to travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum.

Synopsis: OnLive promises to rid gamers of the restrictive, DRM ridden, expensive console games industry with its own restrictive, proprietary games-to-rent system using games you’ll never own in physical or digital form. It aims to accomplish this feat by a system of distributed gaming cloud computing, where instead of sitting in front of a television attached to a gaming console, you’d sit in front of your PC, which is attached to a OnLive Router, which is attached to the Internet, which is attached to the OnLive server farm somewhere in Santa Clara, California, where the game would be played on a computer there instead, sent back through the internet to the router to your computer back to you. OnLive proposes to accomplish this feat through “secret optimization code” that may or may not involve ground unicorn horn and fresh pixie blood.

Odds of Success: 1:100,000. Games currently run at anywhere from 30-to-120 frames per second at HDTV resolutions. If OnLive had the sort of technology that allowed transfer of that much data at that sort of speed why in god’s name are they wasting this tech on Burnout Paradise? Even if this works, it’s instantly shut out of any ISP that institutes bandwidth caps and wholly removes gamers who do not have access to broadband speed. Although I’m sure OnLive also has a plan involving unmanned zeppelins and microwave beams to help these poor benighted folk.

Jack Thompson

Title: Lovable buffoon

Accomplishments: Through a series of comical misunderstandings obtained a license to practice law in the state of Florida; subsequently stripped of right to do so sometime shortly after

Method: Incessant legal filings; clowning around before the media; somehow hired to write state law for the state of Louisiana.

Synopsis: To be perfectly honest Jack Thompson, who was more or less a marginal threat to begin with has been largely neutered by the fact that he is now incapable of practicing law. His once formidable powers are now bent upon the destruction of Facebook, which he has sued for forty million dollars as well as his new quest; to seek bloody vengeance upon the entire judicial system of Florida.

Odds of Success: Nonexistent. Games legislation is advertising for Jack Thompson and he knows it. If gaming goes out of business, he goes out of business.

Barrack Obama

Title: US Senator; De Facto 44th President of the United States of America; Anti-Christ

Accomplishments: First African-American President, Appeared on cover of Amazing Spider-Man and Savage Dragon

Method: Use of executive powers to force gamers into slave labor camps

Synopsis: He’s on the record as saying parents need to force their children outside instead of sitting inside playing videogames– We can only assume this is to make it easier for government officials to round up the confused, winded gaming masses and force them into government-operated gulags. Also his daughters love the Wii, which itself is attempting to destroy gaming. Plus a significant portion of the populace is convinced he is the Son of Satan, so that might be a concern for some.

Odds of Success: 1: 100,000,000. Luckily there’s no way Obama gets to pass anti-gamer legislation without someone at the Huffington Post mis-hearing it as “anti-gay legislation” and thus subjecting the administration to three weeks worth of hyperbolic, knee-jerk blog commentary and the administration decides to meet everyone halfway by buying everyone in the nation a Nintendo Wii as long as they promise to buy a copy of Wii Fit.

Ghost of Jack Tramiel

Title: President; destroyer of Atari Computers; Hate-fueled Specter of Death

Accomplishments: Possible responsible for the Crash of ’84; Destruction of the US videogame industry; power from beyond the grave.

Method: Seething hatred for fun; vengeful ghost powers

Synopsis: More powerful than death than he was in life, the Ghost of Jack Tramiel seeks to finish the job he only began while still living: The utter destruction of the games industry. Driven by hatred and shockingly poor business acumen, his spirit lives on in every 360 Red Ring of Death, in every failed Wii disc drive, in every cracked DS screen hinge.

UPDATE: After further research it turns out that Jack Tramiel is inexplicably still alive. It remains unclear if this makes him more or less powerful than before or if perhaps he is a Litch, his shambling husk driven on by an all-consuming hatred for electronic media. If he is a litch, then no doubt his phylactery remains hidden in a place no one think to look or dare touch, most likely a Game.com or a copy of the Jaguar port of Primal Rage. As always, be vigilant and consult your local Romani for proper defense against undead.

Nintendo

Title: Leave Luck To Heaven (rough translation)

Accomplishments: Resurrection of the videogames industry immediately following the Crash of ’84 with the Famicom/NES; Third most valuable company in Japan; crushing the dreams of Ichiro Suzuki to one day play in a World Series game; murder of Gunpei Yokoi; ruined gaming; creation of the worst controller in the history of the world in the Nintendo 64.

Method: Continued success of the Wii; being Nintendo.

Synopsis: Founded by the Japanese Mafia to distribute gambling peripherals and to launder yen, Nintendo has built an empire of the family friendly racial caricature that is Mario Mario. Using this vast wealth Nintendo then produced the Wii and the DS, a two-pronged attack against good gaming that has proven enormously successful.

Odds of Success: It already happened! For fuck’s sake the top selling game of the console generation has been a minigame collection where gameplay largely consists of spastically waving your arms! It’s over! They won! I told you this would happen but none of you believed me! You maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you all to hell!

Sony

Title: Sony Corp; Sony Computer Entertainment; Sony Financial; Sony Pictures Classics; Sony Pictures Mobile; Sony Pictures Studio; Arista; Arista Nashville;
BNA Records; Columbia Records; Epic; Sony Music Japan; RCA; Sony Ericson Sony Group.
Accomplishments: one of the largest media conglomerates in the world; establishment of the Playstation brand; complete and total destruction of the Playstation brand

Method: Overpowering incompetence

Synopsis: Despite such confusing signals as a price drop to $299 for the PS3, Sony remains a potent force in the dissolution of the console gaming market– The PSP Go looks to wholly ruin any hope of digital distribution gaining hold in the console industry and their continued bungling of over twelve years of industry dominance and community good will remains an inspiration for such global luminaries of incompetence as General Motors; AIG and America Online.

Odds of success: 1 : 10,000. Although Sony’s continued efforts in destroying their good name and the good will of the gaming community are commendable; they remain hampered by their continued inability to sell games and thus extend their reach of soul-crushing incompetence to a wider market.

Microsoft

Title: Microsoft Corporation; The Black Ram of the Forest with a Thousand Ewe; Wife of the Not-To-Be-Named-One

Method: All-encompassing predatory evil; Red Ring of Death; silent dread; hard drive attachment that’s tantamount to goddamned highway robbery; Space Marines
Synopsis: Sinister, cynical, openly malevolent and greedy as all fuck, Microsoft has launched a full-on assault on the gaming industry by producing a games console that at once possesses the largest and most compelling game library while at the same time making it an utter fucking chore to actually participate in the hobby. Between their constant nickel-and-dime tactics via overcharging for online play, wifi access and any sort of data storage combined with 57% hardware fail rate they’ve done more to destroy the public’s trust in console gaming than any single entity.

Odds of success: 1 : 10,000. Despite Microsoft’s best intentions developers remain intent on producing games for the system.

****

Wow, so that went on way longer than I expected and I still never got to Bernie Stolar or Ubisoft or Micheal Pachter.

WALLET ABUSE WEDNESDAY NEXT~!

Posted in lolsony, Oh God No, Our Industry Is Awful, Sperging about games | 1 Comment »

Dan Marshall is a fucking idiot and other stories

Posted by nfinit on October 13, 2009

So John Marshall of Zombie Crow (The Time Gentlemen, Please! guys, if that means anything to you) got liquored up and gave an interview at Gamasutra where it’s revealed thinks that all games journalists should be well versed in videogames– to the point of being forced to make a game themselves:
“As a developer I think you’re slightly more understanding of the process involved, but as a gamer you know whether or not you’re having a good time,” Marshall said. “I think all games journos should be forced to make a game somehow, see how they get on. It gives you a more rounded perspective.”

There may also be confessions of pederasty involved.  I dunno, I didn’t actually read the article.  There’s probably not any drinking either, I sort of just read the bit that Joystiq quoted.  Basically this entire paragraph is full of lies and slander.  Except for the part I just quoted, that’s real, swearsies.
You ever notice other industries don’t have to deal with this?  You never hear, say, Stephen Spielberg bitching about Indy 4 being slagged at over at AITC for being “The Indy 4 you were dreading to see”.  You know why?    Because people would tell him he’s acting like a whining child, that’s why.

I don’t need to know how to code to know that Need for Speed Shift is a buggy, unplayable mess.  I don’t need to know level design to know that the people responsible for Bionic Commando 360 don’t know anything anything about it either.  I don’t need to be a script writer to know that thus far Mass Effect 2 sounds like something out of the notebooks of  a 13-year-old Magic: The Gathering enthusiast.  I am qualified to talk about these things because I am a gamer, I know games and I know from shit.

But his idea of a game journalist being well-rounded has merit,  but not anywhere in the way Dan Marshall uses the term.  A games journalist doesn’t need to know how to code a game any more than a movie critic should know how to develop film, but a games journalist should have a solid background in simply playing videogames.  For instance, one of the criticisms N’Gai Croal has always faced was how he somehow landed the title of “senior statesman for games journalism” despite not showing an interest in the hobby until sometime after the Dreamcast launch.  On the other end of the spectrum you have Chris Kohler, a guy who lives and breathes games and is wildly overqualified in every concievable way to be a simple games journalist, and as a result his stuff is a joy to read is a credit to the industry.

Kohler in his natural habitat.  Hes the tall white dude radiating awesome

Kohler in his natural habitat. He's the tall white dude radiating awesome

(not that being well-rounded always helps, mind you– Dave Halverson has probably played more games than the combined viewership of this blog, yet that didn’t stop him from dry humping his copy of Bullet Witch.)

In honest truth, the last thing the videogame industry wants is actual journalism in their “games journalists”, and the games journalism industry has been happy to oblige that wish.  Game Informer, Game Pro, 1up and other mainstream news sources are little more than unpaid adjuncts of the industry’s Public Relation corps, filling vast swaths of paper and html with regurgitated talking points and softball developer interviews.  As a result developers are cloistered from any meaningful criticism from what they view as credible sources and become hurt and confused when met with the harsh reality of the enthusiast press.  It is only understandable that a game developer would love his creation and seek to shelter it from the slings and arrows of a hundred thousand neckbearded manchildren, but at the same time these developers need to understand that we are also emotionally involved.  We would not have slagged so much on Mirror’s Edge if we didn’t want it to be good.  We wouldn’t bitch incessantly about the end of Bioshock if we weren’t so utterly enraptured by the first 3/4ths of the game.  We wouldn’t have chased Marc Ecko from the gaming industry if we did’t want to play Jet Set Radio meets Prince of Persia so badly.
In wholly unrelated news, Konami just revealed a trailer for Rocket Knight HD that makes the tragic mistake of reminding people of the days when they used to do spritework for 2d games instead of cheap looking 3d models.  Basically it’s an advertisement for downloading  a Rocket Knight Adventure ROM.  This industry is fucking weird.

Posted in Our Industry Is Awful, Sperging about games | Leave a Comment »

A children’s treasury of Sony PR douchbaggery

Posted by nfinit on October 12, 2009

My favorite subtext this console generation is witnessing Sony’s complete meltdown as they flail blindly at Nintendo and Apple and Microsoft and the horrible damage they’ve inflicted upon their loyal; insane fanbase as a result.  Most recently– as in two hours ago– this particular bit of corporate malice came to light:

Also reported by Destructiod who are, of course, being way funnier than I am.

For those of you who don’t know exactly what’s going on here– A couple months ago when Sony announced the release of the PSP Go, they also announced plans to (hopefully) allow PSP Go owners to download the games they’ve already purchased free of charge– This was something of a concern to prospective PSP Go owners as the PSP Go doesn’t actually incorporate the regular PSP’s disc drive.  Thus if you already owned a substantial legal PSP library (and to be fair, not many people did, thus necessitating the release of the PSP Go in the first place), you wouldn’t be shut out of playing your catalog of games.  Don’t worry, Sony said.  They had A Plan.

The Plan turned out to be waiting until the Go was released to reveal that they couldn’t actually figure out a way to do it.  The Go is a new system; go out and buy some games!

But wait!  Sony Europe actually had A Plan.  Sorta.  The PSP Go Rewards Program– If you registered your regular PSP  online with at least one UMD in the slot you were thus entitled to download three free PSP games from a list of seventeen.  It only worked once per system, but it was something.  Well, until, y’know, this.  Now PSP Go owners who download their free Go games through their PS3s– as Sony encourages PSP Go owners to do– find their PSP games locked inexorably to their PS3s instead.  Sony says they’re working on it, but well.  We’ve already seen what happens when Sony says “We’ve got a plan”, the “plan” will likely involve something like buying separate PSP Go units for each free game you are entitled to, or keeping your PSP Go tethered to your PS3 using a special iridium-coated USB cable sold separately through a program insured by Lloyd’s of London.

But as far as great Sony PR cock-ups go, this one is largely forgettable.  Indeed, it’s becoming of an endearing tradition:

PS3 Backward compatibility yes/maybe/no/how ’bout we sell it to you instead?

It’s a testament to the staggering number of Sony PR embarrassments over the past few years that this incident has received so little press.  A couple weeks ago minutes from a Sony Computer Entertainment America/Sega meeting from August were leaked online, revealing, among other highly classified items, that Sony intended on selling every single PS2 game released online through the Playstation Network Store for emulation on the Playstation 3.  Ordinarily this would be terrific news, after all the network infrastructure to sell these games is in place and the PS3 features a cavernous hard drive made for this sort of distribution model.  However (you’ll notice always a “However” with Sony PR, said in dark, ominous tones like the lid of a sarcophagus slowly scraping open) this came to light shortly after the release of the Playstation 3 Slim, of which backward compatibility had  been, according to Sony’s final word on the matter; killed dead.  They had no intention of ever returning PS2 functionality to the PS3, please stop bothering them about it.  Once again; It’s a new system!  Buy new games already!

Then this was revealed.  In other words, Sony killed PS2 compatibility in a blatant and cynical attempt to instead sell  those games on the Playstation Network Store.  NeoGAF meanwhile, where the story was leaked, rejoiced in news that there would soon be more shit to buy.

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To recap:  Pay-to-PS2 good, four legs baaaaaaaaaaad.
Philadelphia to Sony:  GTFO

Then there was the time Sony defaced the city of Philadelphia. Well, not the entire city, just the parts where kids hang out.

Around late 2005 street art (hipster terminology for “graffiti”) started randomly sprouting up in American cities depicting  poleaxed children using PSPs as lollipops and skateboards, and well…

That, generally.  It didn’t take long for it to come to light that America’s foremost street artists weren’t all, in fact, Ridge Racer fanatics that decided to do a bit of coordinated free advertisement; instead it was all part of a Sony viral ad campaign.  It was very slimy and of course backfired, creating a wave of resentment among the very people with whom Sony was trying to generate buzz with, but at least Sony wasn’t actually just generating more urban blight, they had the uncommon good sense to obey local ordinances….

…except in Philly.  Turns out Philadelphia takes that whole “City of Murals” thing seriously.  Any company putting up outdoor advertisements must first apply with the city and state that they will take steps to clear an equal amount of square space of outdoor advertisement or seek special approval from the city.  Sony did neither and was met with a deadline to remove said art or be charged for each violation.  The marketing campaign was mysteriously withdrawn nationwide just before this deadline was to be met.  In other words Sony’s PR department ran an ad campaign that ultimately saw the company run out of every major city in America.

Vatican to Sony:  Also GTFO

Then this happened

The Netherlands to Sony… Oh c’mon, really?

Yes, really:

Okay so Sony sucks at PR, at least there’s not a pending class action lawsuit–

Wait, yes there is.

Turns out Sony doesn’t actually test their firmware very well before pushing out updates.  As a result every patch results in a wave of new bricked PS3 units, of which Sony is more than happy to repair provided you mail them your stricken unit and a check for $150.

John Kennedy (the disgruntled PS3 owner, not the assassinated 35th President of the United States) of Florida rightly thinks this is bullshit and has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Playstation 3 owners who’ve had their systems bricked by Sony’s mandatory software updates.  Sony has yet to release any statement on the issue (aside from a second update 2 weeks later intended to fix said firmware 3.0 bricking issues… a software update that can also randomly disable Blu-Ray playback), but it’s all the more perplexing when you realize Microsoft has for whatever reason managed to avoid a class action lawsuit for its own Red Ring of Death fiasco.  Of course Microsoft has also apologized profusely for the incident, offered to fix all units free of charge for three years after the system was sold and has up ’til now avoided being censured by the Pope.  So take that for what you will.

Posted in lolsony, Our Industry Is Awful | 1 Comment »

Wherein I’m confused by numbers

Posted by nfinit on October 6, 2009

Perusing Gamestop for the next Wallet Abuse, I was made aware of the following situation.

First we have this:

This would mark the year Activision started cross-marketing with Lisa Frank

This would mark the year Activision started cross-marketing stickerbooks with Lisa Frank

Guitar Hero III.  Makes sense, as this is clearly the third Guitar Hero.  This is the accepted form of sequel notation for mass entertainment media, for instance  Rocky 1/2/3.  Jaws 1/2/3d works as you still have 3 coming after the 2..  Star Wars 4/5/6 also makes sense as these are still sequential, even if 1/2/3 were filled back in later on.  Sometimes you may mix things up and not name your sequel Whatever 1/2/3, you’ll do something like Philosopher’s Stone/Chamber of Secrets/Prisoner of Azkaban, but you’ll typically put something on the cover denoting that these are sequels in your main series, this prevents people from trying to go from Twilight to Moby Dick to Return of the King.  The videogame industry, no, it’s too good for that shit.  Witness:

Our grandchildren will look back at this game as the exact moment our culture Went Too Far

Our grandchildren will look back at this game as the exact moment our culture Went Too Far

Looking at this, you would not expect this to be the fourth Guitar Hero game.  One would think perhaps it’s the first World Tour game, or maybe Activision was giving the mainline series a rest for one year and come back with something fresh for Guitar Hero 4 to counter Beatles Rock Band.

YOU WOULD BE WRONG, GOOD SIR

Then came the time we gave Coldplay billing over Johnny Cash.  Later that night we took turns feeding our genetalia to large dogs as clearly we didnt need them anymore--Excerpt from Confessions Of An Activision Graphic Artist

"Then there was the time we gave Coldplay billing over Johnny Cash. Later that night we took turns feeding our genitalia to large dogs as clearly we didn't have any use for them anymore"--Excerpt from Confessions Of An Activision Graphic Artist

What the fuck happened here?  There was no Guitar Hero 4!  You don’t get to do this unless you come back later and release GH4 as “The Lost Sessions” or something.  We have a notation system, it works, if it was good enough for the fucking Papacy since the year 63 it’s good enough for Activision.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL

In a couple months this is coming out:

Oversized Wii game packaging continue this remarkable trend where at first glance you swear its a box full of tampons

Oversized Wii game packaging continue this remarkable trend where at first glance you swear someone must have misplaced an economy-sized box of tampons.

HOW ON EARTH IS THIS NOT GUITAR HERO SIX?

But far be it for me to only accuse Activision of game sequel notation tomfoolery.  Capcom is by far the worst offender, with their loose, childlike understanding of the Arabic Numeric system.  For instance this:

All the horrible jokes about killing Africans have been played out, instead Im just going to note that there is no way Sheva is not fucking the hell out of that gun once Chris leaves

All the horrible jokes about killing Africans have been played out, instead I'm just going to note that there is no way Sheva is not fucking the hell out of that gun once Chris leaves

Is at least Resident Evil 6 or 7, depending on if you wish to count Zero and/or Code Veronica.  Also this:

Least sexy appearance of a thumb since Megan Fox.

Least sexy appearance of a thumb since Megan Fox.

Is somehow not Call of Duty 4, part 2 nor Call of Duty 6.

I was going to end this with Madden 2010 being Madden X, but it turns out EA actually had some self respect and ruined my joke.  Moral of the story:  Activision is better than EA because Activision makes things easier on me.

Posted in Our Industry Is Awful, Sperging about games | 2 Comments »

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Posted by nfinit on September 28, 2009

So now there’s this:

Just so we’re clear, that’s is not a joke. It’s something that’s actually happening. This, however, was a joke–

This was -also- a joke:

Watchmen sockpuppets in a 2d platformer?  Not a joke!  VIDEOGAMES~!

Which, y’know, just leads a person to question– if you’re a Watchmen fan, this sort of thing makes you nauseous, and if you’re not a Watchmen fan you hated the movie and won’t buy this anyway. So what’s the point in this, aside from driving Alan Moore into (another) heroine-induced stupor?

This is over and beyond the point that aside from a maybe a Phoenix Wright-style visual novel, there’s just no natural application for The Watchmen to videogames.  We tried this before and wound up with The End Is Nigh, an attempt to fuse late 70s Cold War paranoia and Final Fight, and it was about as awful as you could expect.  This needs to end before we wind up with Petz:  Bubastis or Silk Specter’s Fitness Ultimatium or Rorschach appearing in Smash Brothers.  Is it asking too much for the Industry to treat something like Watchmen with the same gravitas and dignity awarded ODST and Gears of War?

Posted in lolsony, Oh God No, Our Industry Is Awful | 3 Comments »