RE5: Don’t You Feel Stupid Now Edition confirmed for March

See, this is why I don’t buy games right when they come out – because I’ll be kicking my own ass six months later when the version that’s actually complete is issued. You have to hand it to Capcom, though: they don’t fuck around like those amateurs at Bethesda. Sure, there’s a Game of the Year edition of FO3, but it’s really just the game with all of the DLC in one convenient package at a bargain price. RE5 Gold has all of the game’s launch content and DLC, but it also has an entire new prequel scenario with fan favorites Chris, Jill, and Wesker romping around in (Sweet Buddha Are We Back in) the Spenser Mansion. And the evil genius part? Reports are mixed, but it sounds like you can’t get the new scenario as DLC; you have to buy the entire package, RE Fanboy, and pay full price for all the download content you already would have bought if you hadn’t read this post.

In a beautiful and perfect world, this would come back to bite sales of the DLC (which will be on the disc that everyone’s buying in March anyway) in the ass. There will probably be a few hardcore fans who buy the DLC to have it as soon as possible, then nab the disc for the new story. I’ll probably get the big enchilada version when it comes out, but only because it’s a pretty good deal for someone who hasn’t actually spent anything on RE5 yet.

Between this sort of shit and making people pay on day 1 for “DLC” that’s already on the disc, Capcom is getting close to the edge of my tolerance for being soaked. I like Resident Evil, it massages the nostalgia centers of my gamer lobe, but they’re taking too much advantage of that with all this soaking. I’ve already been voting with my dollars, and now I’m looking askance at pretty much everything they put out.

[h/t Destructoid]


SF Gate Slips It In

Last weekend’s gang rape at Richmond High School was almost bound to happen. All it needed was a spark – the elements were already there. […] Take the poverty-driven frustration of inner-city Richmond, a youth street culture that glorifies thugs and applauds degradation of women, and the desensitization of young men through violent video games, music and language, and you have a template for trouble.

Richmond gang rape seen as nearly inevitable –, Nov 1, 2009

Blah blah no scientific studies proving causation blah blah what about the parents blah personal responsibility blahdy blahdy blah. Setting aside the question of since when the fuck gang-raping teenagers next door to a high-school became “inevitable”, you know where I stand. It’s a horrible story and we’ve seen stories like it before; what’s new to me is the casual mention of violent video games (along with those other evergreen bugaboos, popular music and uncouth language) as an “everybody knows that this causes” font of young male barbarity. This isn’t even one of those insipid scare pieces about violent games and how “some people say” they’re dangerous corruptors of youth. Our author, one Kevin Fagan, up and tosses that little fauxtoid in there like we’ve all long since agreed that before continuing with his explanation of how some gang rapes are just bound to happen.

I’m disturbed, and more than a little upset by this casual assumption. On the emotional level, it’s pretty insulting to have my hobby just lumped in with poverty and thug life as a root cause of teenaged gang rape. And on the intellectual level, it’s really messing with me that reporters can get away with this sort of thing without an editor stepping in and asking for a little more accountability or restraint in these kinds of accusations.

And even if you want to allow that sometimes lazy, shitty reporters need a way to fit a couple more commas into their preposterous run-on laundry lists of social problems, why the hell was that needed here? Did the author truly think that growing up in the murder capital of California, with gangs hanging out next to your school and grinding poverty all around you wasn’t desensitizing enough? Seriously, in an article trying to probe the roots of a horrific crime in the depths of the East Bay ghetto, he had to turn to video games and music to find his culprits? Never mind that this is in a town with the highest per-capita murder rate in California, a town where you can literally walk down the street from a high school to get a fucking gang’s opinion of the day’s news:

“If we’d gone over there earlier, before it was over, those mother- would have been shot. For real,” said 24-year-old Chuckie Pelayo, leader of a pack that hangs out at the corner of Hayes Street and Emeric Avenue, one block from the rape scene. “We’ve all been to prison, and we know the code of how you’re supposed to behave. These younger guys, they don’t know the code.

Even fucking gang members are backpedaling from being remotely associated with this type of crime. How do you think gamers, musicians, and people who invent new swear words should feel?

What’s hilarious to me is reading a breezy indictment of the violence in other media from the medium that invented “if it bleeds, it leads”. Games and movies are violent because violence is the most basic, easy-to-understand form of dramatic conflict; exactly the same reason that the papers and TV news always run stories about gunfights ahead of stories about the economy. For fuck’s sake, this very article decrying the desensitizing effects of violence in the media spends four paragraphs describing the brutal rape of a 15-year-old by ten other people.

Anyone? Bueller?


A Quick Question for Peter Molyneux

Peter Molyneux has given an interview with Edge Online wherein he talks about the decision to re-release Fable II as an episodic download, with the first 45-minute “episode” available for free:

Now, I hate demos. I think demos are the death knell of experiences. Over the years I’ve done demos and they’ve either completely ruined the game, given too much to the player, or they’ve confused people, so I said that we should give away the very first 45 minutes of the game, completely free, and just before you get to Bowerstone up comes this message saying, ‘If you want to continue playing press this button, but if you want to buy the rest of the game, press this’. So people that are interested but don’t want to commit to the full purchase can play more, and people that are into it can buy all of it, and they don’t lose experience or gold they’ve collected.

So, uh, Pete. How is that not a demo? Maybe you and I are using definitions of demo from different sides of the Atlantic or something, but last I checked, a game demo was a brief taste of the entire game that allows you to try it out and see if you want to buy the whole thing. I’ll grant that you may have streamlined the process a bit (letting people buy the product from within the demo? slick!), but what you’re describing here? A 45-minute experience that ends with a tease to get you to buy more of the game? That’s a demo, buddy.

45 minutes. Come on, man. I can get longer “episodes” of Mad Men.


Once Again, Incomprehensible Developer Commentary Theater

Kotaku has an interview up with Capcom producer Jun Takeuchi, and while I appreciate that the man has to say things that will keep people buying the new games, he chose a really unfortunate tack to this:

“I think, while Resident Evil 4 is a great game, its appeal was limited somewhat to maniac players,” Takeuchi said. “With RE5, I wanted to bring the series to a larger audience. I think its important to do the same for the next RE.”

Ummmmmmmmm. What?

Resident Evil 4 has garnered significant critical acclaim, averaging a score of 96 on Metacritic.[12] It has received dozens of awards from various organizations and stellar reviews from various video game websites.[46] The game was considered by critics as a top contender for 2005’s Game of the Year. The game was a successful crossover hit as the new gameplay alterations and immersive style appealed to many not previously familiar with the Resident Evil series.[47] Nintendo Power named it their 2005 Game of the Year, and ranked it number 1 on their list of the “Top 20 Best GameCube Games of All Time” in their 20th anniversary issue.[39] Resident Evil 4 was ranked number 1 on IGN’s Top 99 Games of All Time list.[48] The Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine named it the Game of the Year for the PlayStation 2. Game Informer gave both editions of Resident Evil 4 a perfect score, and along ranking number one on their list of “Best GameCube Games of All Time” they named it their 2005 Game of the Year.[20] It tied with Kingdom Hearts II as Famitsu’s Game of the Year 2005.[49] Subsequently, Resident Evil 4 was named “Game of the Year” at the 2005 Spike TV Video Game Awards.[50] Also, the G4 TV show X-Play named it the greatest game since the beginning of the series in April 2003.[45]
The Nintendo GameCube version sold over 320,000 copies in North America during the first twenty days. The European release sold its entire 200,000 units during the first month. As of January 2006, over 3,000,000 copies of the GameCube and PlayStation 2 versions were shipped worldwide.[51] According to January 17, 2007 sales figures provided by Capcom, the GameCube version of Resident Evil 4 has sold a total of 1.6 million units worldwide, while the PS2 version has sold over 2 million units.[52]

I wouldn’t call myself an RE fanboy, particularly – I haven’t even played RE5 yet – but I like the games, and RE4 was great. It was a technically impressive and consistently enjoyable action title. I certainly wouldn’t call it a niche game by any means. I know that Mr. Takeuchi is just trying to hype RE5 and the surely-upcoming-at-some-point RE6. RE4 has probably sold about as many copies as it is likely to, so it makes sense to hype the newer titles in comparison. At the same time, what he saying is silly bullshit, and we shouldn’t let that slide when we see it. When developers say things like that, they are treating us like we are milling, dollar-fleeced sheep who gather to the exciting tone of their voices without pausing to listen to the content of their words.


[h/t Destructoid]

Is Kevin Martens Being Foolish, Or Just Bragging?

Gamasutra has an interview up with this Martens fellow from Blizzard, and they’ve pulled out one of the passages from it to entice us to read further. Let’s see what insight he has to offer:

Blizzard lead content designer Kevin Martens has told Gamasutra that the key to Blizzard games like Diablo III is simple enough: “endless iteration”.

Talking in an in-depth new Gamasutra interview, conducted as the Diablo III team begin public showcases of the long-awaited PC title, over 9 years after Diablo II‘s debut.

When asked whether “the development time has been extended to a surprising degree”, Martens made it clear that he thought this was an advantage, not a disadvantage:

“Here’s the secret to Blizzard games, and this is a secret that won’t help any of our competitors: endless iteration. We’ll take something, we’ll put it in the game.

Maybe we’ll like it when we put it in, maybe we won’t. We’ll leave it in there for a while, we’ll let it percolate. We’ll play it and play it and play it, and then we’ll come back. We might throw it all out, or we’ll throw half of that out and redo it.”

Martens believes in this constant iteration as a way to actually keep things fresh when making a game:

“It can be a long time, but it is fun to work on as well. That’s the thing that keeps you going. Multiplayer always works, and the builds are always playable. We’ve played them constantly, and it’s fun. You actually look forward to the weekly play session even though the game is still in progress. That’s what keeps us going, and that’s also why it takes so long. We’ll do it over and over again until it’s just right.”

That’s not a secret – everyone would do that if they could. Valve has said basically the same thing, for instance. I’ve worked on dozens of games by now, and they all change constantly in the course of development. Nobody I’ve worked with stopped iterating their design, trying to get closer to the ideal. They all just got too close to the set-in-stone ship date and had to lock the design down in a stable state. Iteration isn’t special; what’s special is actually having the luxury of doing it for a decade and having fans who willing to wait on you.

Even so, Blizz (and Relic, for another example) don’t try to iterate forever out of the public eye. Half the point of public betas is to put the game in front of the people who will eventually buy it and keep the hype and excitement going. Ideally the excitement will continue to percolate until it reaches a boil at public release.

If Kevin Martens honestly believes that Blizzard has stumbled onto some novel design methodology in “keep working on it until it is good”, he’s kidding himself. Given his little aside about the “secret” not helping any one else, it seems more likely that he’s just sort of swinging his dick around in print: “The secret to being as good as us? Have all the money in the world and never let anyone tell you when you have to go gold master. Suckas! Bwahahahahaha!”

This is the sort of fluff that I expect to read in a press release; it’s the gaming equivalent of a quarterback telling ESPN “We’re just going to take it one game at a time.” I don’t really want to read something this puerile in a Gamasutra interview, and I sure as hell don’t expect to see it pulled out as a featured passage in its own article.


Ordo Cartographicus – A Humble Supplication

Are you there, Relic? It’s me, Rob.

I’ve started yet another DoW2 map, and I’m having some scale troubles. It’s hard to keep the map scale in mind while I’m placing things like requisition and power points. in the map editor it feels as though the place must be amazingly crowded, but when I open the map up in the game, it turns out that the whole thing is immense and everything is far apart.

This is actually affecting the entire map – I kinda didn’t mean for it to take so long to get from one side of it to the other. I suppose this is mostly me noobing it up with the world builder. And I guess I can always open the map up in-game and have a look. I could even take a stab at placing a couple of static soldier models around the map for scale reminders, or using the ruler splats you so thoughtfully included.

But to be honest, it’d be much cooler if you just had the world builder generate a little squad of scouts or something and had them run around the map so I could see how long it takes them from the nifty God’s-eye zoomed all the way out view.



Tighten Up Those Graphics

tighten_up_those_graphicsI’d like to take a few moments to discuss “The Tester”, this new reality show being put out by Sony and the good folks behind Flavor of Love. By way of establishing my bona fides to comment on this issue, I’ll reveal that I’ve been working in software quality assurance (i.e. testing), mostly for video games, since May of 2005. I’ve worked at publishers and developers both in America and abroad, and I’ve worked with literally hundreds of game testers. I think I can speak with some authority when I say that holding a talent contest to select a game tester is meaningless, deceptive, and foolish on a level that’s usually reserved for political talk show commentaries.

Come with me now to press release-land, and I’ll point out a few interesting landmarks:

Continue reading Tighten Up Those Graphics

SonicFyre Episode One

In this episode Fyre and Sonic

  • Present the “Top Five Tips for Noobs” in Dawn of War II
  • Talk about tailoring geeky theme shirts for PAX.
  • review the first seasons of Dexter and True Blood.
  • discuss the painful decline of the Harry Potter film franchise.

Bonus discussion of Fyre’s pettest peeves in online gaming included!!

SonicFyre Episode 1 MP3  45:48   41.9 MB