Sunday, December 9, 2012

EPISODE 79: "In Praise of Clones"

Now showing on BLIP! The OverThinker asks if modern gaming has too narrow a definition of "originality."



ALSO: Learn the identity of the mysterious Red Guy, and witness a shocking surprise twist!

112 comments:

ytsejam214 said...

1. I agree

2. HOLY SHIT

Anonymous said...

Hmm, interesting... Will Retrothinker narrate the next episode?

Sabre said...

For those wanting to skip the story
3.25 to skip the intro, and when the red guy shows up skip to 8.40

Interesting episode, and I agree with the point as a whole, but I knew when I saw the title that you were going to find some way to vindicate retro and Nintendo games, while also having a double standard to exclude CoD from the list. My one surprise being that you didn't lump Halo in there as a negative.

You say that all CoD games are "Black Hawk Down via Tom Clancy" and don't do anything with the template. Then please explain why they started in World War 2, went to Modern Military, then to the 1960s-1980s with a weird sci-fi espionage type deal. If we count Nazi Zombies, that too has had various characters, settings, mechanics changes, and story based on clues and implications rather then being outright stated.

Of course, it's Call of Duty, so ignore that, bend over backwards and undermine your own point just so you don't have to admit you were wrong.

John M Osborne said...

THE SIMPSONS!

which was one of the games that pioneered co-op gameplay in these beat'em ups.

John M Osborne said...

@Sabre, CoD began as a clone of Medal of Honor, which was an FPS by way of Saving Private Ryan. It has been a retread of CoD4 since CoD4's release - CoD4 being one of the most influential games of this generation.

Anonymous said...

So Bob, one of the biggest snobs around, says we need to be less snobbish? Again, the hypocrisy is astounding. We know you want everything to be the same as it was in the 80s, but there has to be innovation or everything will become as stagnant as the military FPS games or your beloved overrated Mario.

And once again Bob - there are MORE modern games besides Call of Duty and Battlefield. Get a clue. Have you ever even PLAYED Psychonauts or Mass Effect?

Aiddon said...

I wish people would aim their elitism at the right targets. CoD literally hasn't even BOTHERED to improve anything about itself or use its position to do something innovative. The big problem is that people who use it as a template don't do anything with it besides that. Even Mario has innovated and changed over the years (with Iwata calling critics out by saying if their barbs were true then they might wanna explain why the series is still INSANELY popular). Like I've said before, with the FPS being the big genre of the past few years you'd think people would use it as a template and then rips its guts out to do something fresh. But no, people just sit on their asses with it and try to outCoD CoD. Not gonna happen. It's like when people tried to copy GTA and every attempt failed.

Michael Flinn said...

Good episode Bob. I've noticed this too. One of my favorite examples from modern gaming is the action/adventure genre. Look at God of War. Gameplay wise, it's more or less Devil May Cry but with Greek Mythology. The story is a bit more risky and the main character goes from an adventurous demon hunter to a mortal bound to and betrayed by the gods. That same gameplay model was also used for licensed games. A negative example being the Ghost Rider 1 film tie-in. Very lazy and not even remotely polished. Positive example: Wolverine Origins. Controls solid and it's just fun seeing Wolverine finally be able to CUT loose and bring some of that good old fashioned ultra violence. Also, just watching his character model regenerate in real time was kind of awesome.

Redd the Sock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Redd the Sock said...

This has been on my mind a lot lately, and I think a lot of it does come down to structure. Games were shorter so that once you beat ?Mega Man, you happily took one Mega Man 2 not bored with the interface, yet not possessing foreknowledge of your enemy's tactics and weaknesses. Also, games were rented more than bought so there was less concern about at most 5 bucks lost in something that's been done before than in 60 to play the same game already on the shelf. It is concerning as if this attitude toward difference was prevalent in the past, would we have chess, go, or mah jong today? Would he have lost the basics of poker or rummy in new cards and winning hands? Hack, how many of us today think something gets lost with a new Monopoly feature, or any other child's board game?

The flaw in the formula is that stories and art styles fall into the same boat, and I'm not just talking about old simplified (if true) idioms about there only being 6 basic stories, or how in such a saturated mass media something "new" is truly rare and most people mean "new for the genre or series". Over the centuries people have discovered some tropes or visuals just work better than others for various audiences. Shooter fans largely like the Tom Clancy knock offs and would find romance quests, eloquent speeches about the lifestream, or convoluted political twists offputting. Same applies to something like Walking Dead where you don't get to say the zombie bite went into remission and you'll be just fine because tragedy is the order of the day. RPGs are largely synonymous with the hero's journey and while things that get more political have an audience, they don't go over as well as heroic melodrama. It's not that new things don't get tried, but not everything new works. Some honestly decent ideas get lost because someone doesn't stop to ask why something wasn't part of the mold in the first place and just shoved something in just because. This is true if you're shoving an eating mechanic into Grand Theft Auto, or an emo bishie guy into Metal Gear Solid. (and before anyone goes off, I liked Raiden and MGS2 as a whole, but I see why others didn't.)

Nixou said...

"CoD literally hasn't even BOTHERED to improve anything about itself or use its position to do something innovative"

Why would it? It's still guaranteed to break the 10 million units threshold per game. So long as the golden goose keeps laying its eggs, Activision is not going to do anything to it.

***

"with the FPS being the big genre of the past few years you'd think people would use it as a template and then rips its guts out to do something fresh."

They do it sometimes: hell, one of my favorite game this year wa Dishonored -a game which finally made first person plateforming fun- a game produced by none other than recycling maniacs Bethesda. Of course, we can see in this game success the problem with games which try something new: its sales "exceeding expectations" means that it sold a little more than one teenth of the buggy, traped in a FPS interface, plotless Skyrim.

Anonymous said...

I played Dragon Ninja on my Atari ST as a kid.

PhilInTheBlanks said...

Great episode Bob, and I loved the story this time, I'm actually on the edge of my seat with surprise about the twist ending (anything with RetroThinker is A-OK with me). Keep it up!!

James said...

Bob, if you really want to claim to be an "overthinker", then ANSWER ME - why do you keep falsely boiling down all modern gaming to nothing but military FPS clones and sports games? That is intellectually dishonest.

MovieBob said...

@James,

FIRST: Because they are far and away THE driving force of the medium right now. "Call of Duty" IS gaming in the 21st century as much as Mario/Sonic/etc WAS gaming in the 80s and 90s.

SECOND: To claim that I even AM "boiling down all" to just those games is simply anti-factual in regards to an episode where Arkham Asylum, Assassins Creed, Braid and The Binding of Isaac ALL featured.

James said...

@Bob: Four exceptions don't excuse years of gross over-generalization and pidgeon-holing of the industry, especially when you did it in THIS very episode. You're a condescending snob who knows almost jack shit about modern gaming except whatever suits your biases.

PS: How many more people will Obama have to kill before you admit he's as bad as Bush?

Evilkinggumby said...

@Bob-

You rarely reply on the comments, why the FUCK are you wasting breath on James? lol.

Great episode. I like the fact you are not 'card reading' so obviously on this one, it felt a lot more natural. ANd I appreciate the tricks where you generally make it feel like all the characters are in the same room through simple overlays and green screening. It's imperfect, yes, but you still managed to make the illusion without feeling TOO shoddy. And I think yer losing weight,which I want to say grats on, but I also know lota folk like to troll about stupid shit like that so I was hesitant to say anything. But yea grats. If it keeps up, you gotta do an episode to say how (yoga? )

I really appreciate the episode. It opens up a nice dialogue about game design and the many aspects of it. I like the fact you admit that template gaming isn't necessarily a bad thing. I mean in thsi day and age where it takes about 4-6 years to create a custom game engine, and many times those that bulid them license them out to other companies (do a wiki search for your favorite modern game, click the game engine link and see how many other games are built in it. Go on, I'll wait. Kool huh? ) . Is it any wonder companies just grab the core concepts of a series and just build a new game around it? I almost wish MORE companies would go the template route so they could say " ok we don't have to spend x dollars trying to come up with an engine and gameplay model for this next game, just a really great story, characters, and an experience that players will love!".

As an example (and this will likely be polarizing for a lot of people) look at the modern engine that Bethesda uses. Essentially the core gameplay we saw in Oblivion is just a evolved Morrowind, but Fallout 3 and New Vegas are just that engine tweaked to all hell. Skyrim is a new engine, but if you look at it's guts it really is also an evolved version of the old Fallout and Oblivion engine as well. Bethesda is not a very big company, but they have managed to squeek out a number of games that were award winning, best selling, and completely successful for their time(though also horribly imperfect and bug ridden in their own right). They did this by grabbing the core engine and gameplay and re-designing the game around a new or evolved idea.

I would love to see this for some of the FPS's out there. Grab that engine and the wonderful graphics, physics, controls and tight handling and then expand, imagine, and use it to go in all kinds of other directions. It could still be a FPS at it's core, and that's ok, but what else can they do with it? 'The Line' seems to have kicked the walls out a bit and shown what is possible. I'd love to see where else it all can go.

ANd to be clear, I am not anti-fps or anything. Only reason I haven't grabbed the more popular recent games like MW and COD is I hate online pvp and those game's single player campaigns are WAY too short for the cost of the game.. Just means I'll buy them well after the fanfare dies down. :)

Misterprickly said...

Personally I think templates are neither good nor bad; it's all in how they're used.

For many fledgling game designers it's the best way to get the ball rolling.

I myself used either a template or an editable example to start my projects off BUT the content (art, animations, etc) is all mine.

I still remember this one instructor who'd verbally bash any student that used a template... She wasn't employed their very long.
LOL!

Jannie said...

"I wish people would aim their elitism at the right targets."

Because NOT being elitist would just be out of the question.

"CoD literally hasn't even BOTHERED to improve anything about itself or use its position to do something innovative."

That's a purely subjective opinion. I would argue the fact that they told a cohesive story over several games is more of an achievement than some overwrought "war is bad" cliche like The Line.

I've said it before but "war is bad" was an old meme when Homer wrote about it several millenniums ago.

"The big problem is that people who use it as a template don't do anything with it besides that. Even Mario has innovated and changed over the years (with Iwata calling critics out by saying if their barbs were true then they might wanna explain why the series is still INSANELY popular)."

It's only insanely popular with the fans who have made it insanely popular for years. Meanwhile sales of games like Gears and Black Ops go UP with each game, implying that people are buying more of them each time. But god forbid that reality intercede on our back-patting.

"Like I've said before, with the FPS being the big genre of the past few years you'd think people would use it as a template and then rips its guts out to do something fresh. But no, people just sit on their asses with it and try to outCoD CoD. Not gonna happen."

I'd argue that's because there are only a handful of FINANCIALLY VIABLE story templates, which you can snobbishly call "dumbed down" or whatever, but are what normal people call "enjoyable". Even if you just call it Black Hawk Down 3 or whatever the fact is people WANT that. Who the fuck are YOU to tell people they shouldn't? That's the problem with people who "demand" "new" and "innovative" ideas--what they want, something that finger quotes challenges people's expectations, are stories usually so incoherent (because of a cliched dependence on "magical realism", see Miranda July's The Future) and so cut-and-paste as to be homogenous in the extreme.

People don't care about what "new vision" you have, they want to have FUN. It's why Michael Bay releases a movie and it makes 800 million dollars. No one gives a shit about the cliche story or characters, they want to ENJOY their money, and some cockamamie ideas of what's new or "challenging" or "risky" is irrelevant.

You're literally asking people to pay money to take a chance that some film school reject's idea of art lines up with their own...which, considering that art is a completely nonexistent subjective notion, means it a gamble the house is totally guaranteed to win no matter what.

No one is wasting 60 bucks, or MORE, on some other person's arrogant attempt to come up with the first new idea since HG Wells (spoiler: he won't).

Or to quote Joss Whedon (via Spike): "No one has time for your damn quirks!"

"It's like when people tried to copy GTA and every attempt failed."

Except all the attempts that clearly didn't and made a profit, including Saint's Row which is now a major franchise. Oddly enough it was Saints Row 3, which deviated the most from the standard, that made fans kind of turn off to the series.

GEE I WONDER IF PEOPLE LIKE THINGS TO BE RELATABLE AND IDENTIFIABLE!

Sabre said...

Jannie-
"Except all the attempts that clearly didn't and made a profit, including Saint's Row which is now a major franchise. Oddly enough it was Saints Row 3, which deviated the most from the standard, that made fans kind of turn off to the series."

I was under the impression SR3 was the best/most loved one, because it went all out crazy fun, instead of the serious crime drama the others were.

As for The Line, I have my own opinions about it, and other "high art" games. However, the one that is relivent is that games with a message don't take advantage of the medium. Deus Ex, Alpha Protocol, even Hitman, a game about murder, allows for almost pacifist plays. In that it's possible to play the game and only kill key characters or bosses. For games like Spec Ops and Miami Hotline, they need to offer violence as an opinion. Spec Ops will flat out tell the player that all the bad stuff is their fault, but the player was actually powerless to prevent it. You can not hear these anti war messages, unless you are willing to kill. How's that for hypocrisy?

Jannie said...

For those who are wondering, because despite being a "phenom" The Line did only kind of well, let me spoil the story for you:

War is bad.

Now, shockingly, this was something the writer found impossible to summarize in a sentence. So instead he decided to use the most heavy handed narrative imaginable.

I'm serious when I say, you can GUESS the lines that come out of people's mouths before they happen...several missions before. I practically narrated the "bad guy's" monologue to my friend midway through the game, with the sole exception that I didn't anticipate he was already dead. I thought it would turn out that the player was Colonel Crazy.

Is it a good game? Yeah, it is. It's fun to play and it has a nicely dark aesthetic, kind of like Bioshock on land, very grim and fatalistic. IF they had just stuck with the idea you're going to stop a rogue mercenary outfit from massacring civilians in post-apocalyptic Dubai it would have been fine.

The problem is that, whenever someone thinks they have "something to say", they literally NEVER DO. Because people that actually HAVE something to say, people who are introspective and thoughtful enough to I mean, they're usually busy BEING introspective and thoughtful instead of puffing out their chests and arrogantly assuming anyone else finds their musings profound enough to care.

Ironically, most do, but that's only because they're usually so used to a hundred people screaming I'M IMPORTANT! ASK MY OPINION! when they meet someone whose opinion actually matters but doesn't really feel the world revolves around him, it's truly shocking.

That's why The Line is bad, not because it's a bad game, but because it's a retread of every cliche used by every cliched anti-war screed ever, mixed with anti-video game propaganda, mixed with a PROFOUND misunderstanding of why people join the military, mixed with sand physics.

Believe it or not I'm not a huge FPS fan. Halo, Modern Warfare, that's about it. I'm actually FAR MORE of a fan of Beat Em Ups and Shoot Em Ups, frankly. But I'm also keenly aware that, regardless of what Bob or Aidon or whoever has to say or how many snarky remarks Max Scoville pulls from his asshole, Gears of War had more to say about the ambiguous nature and horror of war and genocide and racial intolerance than The Line said about it. And, god help us, it was actually fun too.

Indeed, I'd argue that it's a perfect example of Bob's idea of taking a template and using it to tell a compelling story. It's also, you know, A GAME FIRST and a treatise second.

The Freckled 1 said...

Great job again! I liked the argument and the freezing effect looks miles ahead of what it looked like in the first Cryothinker episode.

Jannie said...

"I was under the impression SR3 was the best/most loved one, because it went all out crazy fun, instead of the serious crime drama the others were."

Well, yes and no. It's certainly the one that has done the best commercially, in that it brought in new players, but from what I understand many of the older fans found it alienating.

Or so I've been told. Take it at a grain of salt, I'm basing this on reviews and I should preface it with the knowledge that game reviews are hilariously biased at all times. It's entirely possible that's bullshit.

I never actually thought about the hypocrisy of The Line before now but you're absolutely right. It's like Funny Games where they say that this is wrong and horrible and you shouldn't watch it...then when the women turns the tables on the killers, suddenly he rewinds everything and stops her.

Sooo...what's the message here? Killing is bad, but unavoidable because sociopaths are actually ancient druids with time magic powers?

It misses the point so wildly it's STUNNING.

In that same vein, The Line misses the point by a country mile. It forces you to "play soldier", without the option for a bloodless path like (way, way better games such as) Dishonored or Deus Ex and THEN berates you for killing enemies.

I honestly never even realized that discrepancy until now, possibly because I was reeling from the revelation that two trained Delta Force operators were just humoring a crazy man for weeks on end while descending into a wartorn post apocalypse, and never stopping to tell him he was seeing and hearing things that weren't there (or just shoot him since he's clearly treasonous at that point). Jesus that's even worse now.

Jannie said...

Actually I'll just concede the point about Saints Row 3 since I realize I shouldn't be depending on reviews to determine the fanbase's reaction to a game.

Disregard all of that part.

Nixou said...

"Meanwhile sales of games like Gears and Black Ops go UP with each game"

Really?
Jannie and numbers: toute une histoire

Omorka said...

One thing that hit me when Cryo and Pyro showed back up: your acting (and possibly your brother's as well, if he's still playing one of them) has improved since their first appearance. Their "conversation" here wasn't nearly as risible as in their original episodes. And Retro's reaction was significantly better acted than some of his previous appearances have been, too.

I'm a little surprised that you put the "demonized pre-Christian deity" line in RetroThinker's mouth - I wouldn't have guessed someone from the '80s would have that idea so close at hand, and it's more of an Ivan line - but it tickled me anyway.

I have very little to say about the actual content, as my preferred gaming genres never came up in the discussion. I'll admit, I wouldn't mind a few Masters of Orion or Civ clones, but I doubt they'd sell much, except maybe as iPad games.

cyx ceven said...

It's worth mentioning that the sheer amount of games being developed today is enormous.
You are statistically bound to run into barrelfuls of similar games being played on the same machine designs. There is only so much action you can abstract into buttons & sticks or touchscreens & accelerometers.

P.S. Pulstar might look like Gradius & R-Type, but it's much easier.

P.P.S. Sunset Riders kicks Moo Mesa's tail.

Anonymous said...

I guess it all depends on what the audience wants.

Nowadays it seems to me that most of the people who are into the FPS genre just want something to relax after a day's work. They don't want to delve too deeply into human psychology or the grimness of war, they just want to have fun. And I can respect that. And for the vast majority I can understand that. Activision has a golden goose on their laps, why the hell would they do anything to make the money stop rolling in? They're a company, after all, and they need money to operate, so if companies want to rely on some of their mainstays to keep the cash flow steady I can understand that from a business perspective.

The problem I have is when said companies NEVER take any risks, ever. Why not try something new with one of your other games if you have that safety net to fall back on if it flops? (I'll admit I haven't played a lot of FPS, so I could be wrong on this, but this is my observation from an outsider's perspective. And as a counter to my own argument, MW1 actually did something very risky with that nuclear bomb scene; I was absolutely stunned that a game had the balls to put me in that kind of a situation.)

But there are times when I want a change to the basic formula. Chrono Trigger and Metroid Prime are my two examples of games that innovate both in the gameplay and narrative. I've yet to see another game that uses the battle system CT uses (though I could be wrong), and Prime pretty much invented its own genre in its switch to 3D. And yet, both had some really good narrative and story to go along with that to keep me invested. If more games could do what these two have done, I'll be a happy man.

So to sum it up, if you want to use an already established template to do something interesting with the narrative (while not spitting in the face of what the audience generally wants) then by all means go ahead. But sometimes... take a risk. You never know if you have lightning in a bottle.

Jannie said...

Nixou:

I can't get that link to work for some reason but I know what you're talking about. I find it inconsistent with what most major news outlets are saying though, and with the actual figures. MW3 took two months (IIRC) to sell a billion dollars worth of games, Blops 2 did it in two weeks.

That's not "declining" sales, in fact if you're looking at the sales figures each game has gone up, and been a bigger draw than the last.

What that is, from what I read, is "analysts" saying this based on some kind of market speculation not the actual sales figures or fan reactions--which means it's meaningless for measuring how stable the brand is.

Or else I'd like to hear why the last three COD games all sold MORE than the one before them. Since game PRICES aren't going up, it either means that major media outlets like CNN and MSNBC are lying about a fucking video game launch (not likely) or they're telling the truth and you're just cherry picking (more likely).

Look let me put it this way: either somehow, this is fraud on a huge level, orchistrated by Activision, CNN and MSNBC all at once or that analysis is simply incorrect. Now which is more likely.

The thing is, I (almost) completely agree with Bob on this, there is nothing wrong with taking a working template and building on it. The problem is when that template becomes outdated, it is time to discard it. ALL adventure games were basically the same at their core, that's why they were called "adventure" games, after the first of their ilk, called Adventure. But after a while it was obvious they were outmatched by more modern games like platformers and "real" RPGs (Final Fantasy and it's adherents) and so there was no place for it anymore.

No one needs, nor should they try, to "reinvent the wheel"--there is a reason why that term means to do something futile and pointless for only marginal gain, or purely for novelty's sake. But if someone invents a hovercraft, then wheels become redundant.

Ironically, as I've said before, this is called EVOLUTION, where a dominant species (design) replaces its forebears and is in turn replaced by its successor, and so on and so on. Which is why I find it irksome and flatly hypocritical to criticize modern gaming for not taking "enough risks" when risk is literally the last thing you want or need to take. Nature abhors risk. Slow, gradual transitions seem to be the norm in every other evolving species so I see no reason games should be different.

Redd the Sock said...

Anon 6:55

The traditional answer is that despite Mitt Romney's assertion, corporations aren't people. they're owned by people that want the fruits of their successes for themselves, and putting money into pet projects means less for them to buy shit with. We like to armchair quarterback these companies, but in the end, it isn't our money we're asking them to risk.

A less traditional answer is one of psychology: some will always think they are close to failure no matter how successful they are. Yes, we can rationally see Activision could fund a few small pet projects out of it's reported billions dollar profit in 2011 to put on PSN or XBL for 10 bucks to see how it goes without killing to bottom line even if they do flop. But that's not how they might see it (I can't speak for any specific business, just running with the general tone of a lot of the commentary since obama got elected). To them, that project's flop would destroy profits entirely, and there is no safety net. That and of course, there's far more chance of a Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within level flop than a portal level surprise success, and prime examples like Beyond Good and Evil or Okami which didn't have commercial success despite being critical darlings keeping them thinking that the cries for innovation are just a loud minority.

It isn't rational, but little of business these days is.

Damn, James is trying to ruin it for us here too. Guess one blog wasn't enough.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you never bring up the Prototype series;

Basically it's Hulk:Ultimate Destruction mixed with John Carpenter's The Thing.

It's a template within another template (BWOOOOOONG!).

Jannie said...

I believe PART of the reason people say that COD games are "all the same" is they're exclusively talking about the multiplayer.

I say that because, one, I don't think these people (especially Bob) ever took the time to play the game or else they'd see several preconceived ideas about the stories are simply wrong--for example I've heard him say you "fight arabs" in these games, despite the last two MW games having precisely zero arabs in it whatsoever, and you fight mercenaries and Somali pirates.

And the other reason is that it simply doesn't jive with the facts. Assuming that these folks WOULD change their opinion if met with evidence that proves them demonstrably wrong--see above--then they'd see that the story of MW2 and MW3 are both NOT based on Black Hawk Down or 24 or whatever the liberal boogieman is today (I am a liberal, by the way, not that I should need to "qualify" that statement but whatever) and that they're mainly based around something closer to the Dale Brown "Air Battleforce" series: e.g., Russia is taken over by militants, stages a sneak attack on America, a team of mercenaries have to stop them using advanced tech and so on.

So if we assume they're basing this on preconceived notions and not just bullshitting when they say things like "Modern Warfare 2 is all bout killing arabs" and "you fight people in the desert" neither of which is...even remotely realistic or accurate (the last two games almost exclusively take place in cities, in Russia and the US) then I would also assume they're not discussing the STORY of Modern Warfare but they're discussing the MULTIPLAYER.

Even that is not a sound critique though because the multiplayer has NOTHING to do with arabs, the middle east or sand and yet if this theory holds is accused of being about such things...which either means that they're STILL lying and have never actually seen the game played nor read the synopsis on Wikipedia for Christ's sake, or they're purposely misinterpreting it.

That or it's just playing to stereotypes and hoping no one notices, which is almost as bad. It would be just as asinine for me to say that every Mass Effect game is about a serial rapist, based purely on the fact Shep gets around a lot.

Jannie said...

By the way if you want to see what REAL stagnation looks like, I'd advise you to download (NOT buy, they don't deserve your money) Avengers Arena because it's a doozy.

It's a hilariously wrongheaded story based purely on the notion that killing off characters makes the news and sales will spike a bit so Marvel decided to kill over several CHILDREN in gruesome ways in a mock Battle Royale/Hunger Games setting.

In fact they used the Battle Royale poster as the cover for the comic. Literally.

It's...like...it's like Countdown to Final Crisis and Ultimatum had a baby, a horrible deformed baby that any sane midwife would hurl in a fireplace on sight. People who read comics get that reference, everyone else just go see Linkara's reviews of the aforementioned miniseries and imagine that but stupider and with children dying every issue.

Until video games become THAT stagnant, when we just line up children and execute them until sales go up like some kind of insane ransomers, then we need to understand that games are not at all that stagnant...or stagnant to begin with for that matter.

Stagnation means desperation, desperation means executing children to get sales. We're not even close to that yet folks.

Rant over.

Yamato-san said...

this episode made a lot of good points. I agree that the whole reason we have "genres" in gaming in the first place is because a lot of clones got made, but they managed to still be appealing in the variety of their story and characters. Although, I do think this episode failed to emphasize that it's not purely aesthetic, as the skills and abilities said characters would be capable of vary from game to game. Hell, just a single gimmick or two would oftentimes make up the core of the entire game (ex. Kirby's a platformer, but the titular character can fly, attacks enemies by sucking them in and swallowing them, and can copy their abilities).

Also, this probably comes off as no surprise coming from me, but I once again agree with you on how FPS games are dealt with (as well as Aiddon, whose earlier post is quite worthy of being complimented on). It's hardly that the genre itself is bad, but it's how they constantly execute the model. On that note, more people need to see this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1I7N_0JR9s

Sylocat said...

Saying that Spec Ops: The Line was a "war is bad" treatise is... not very accurate. SO:TL isn't "about" actual war (in fact, it's considerably less judgmental about actual war than it probably should be, at least when exploring several of the hot button topics). What it's "about" is the popular culture's perception of war, said perception's relationship or lack thereof to the real thing, and what that means to a society. It's a psychological horror game.

(and spare me the "If you have to explain it, it failed!" line, since judging by the popular reception, most people who played it didn't have any trouble figuring out what it was saying. In fact, by Jannie's logic, this means she and Sabre are wrong by default, so there, nyah nyah).

*sigh*

Anyway, onto the actual video:

Bob, you really might want to swallow your pride and get another actor, I'm worried someone's going to show up and I won't be able to tell if it's a new character. Nice reveal as to who the red guy was, though, and nice reaction.

And now the mention of online gambling has me picturing a techno-thriller set in a world where the courts have outlawed online gambling and there's a whole underground sub-industry, like the gambling parlors of the prohibition era. Though ironically, I doubt you could just take the template of a formula gangster flick and slap new proper nouns onto it... it'd have to be science fiction primarily.

As for the main thesis, all I can think of now is an MLP:FiM game based on Animal Crossing/Harvest Moon (and not that horrendous Farmville knockoff on the iPhone).

Nixou said...

Activision has a golden goose on their laps, why the hell would they do anything to make the money stop rolling in?

They could use a fraction of that money to develop more than one poorly done experimental game per year.

Or they could give bigger single player campains to their flagship series.

***

"The problem I have is when said companies NEVER take any risks, ever"

They don't necessarily "never take any risk", but when they do, said risks are often half-assed and/or under marketed. Of course, since even great games correctly marketed tend to perform more poorly than the generic gruel that sells, this is not a behavior likely to change in the near future.

***

"MW3 took two months (IIRC) to sell a billion dollars worth of games, Blops 2 did it in two weeks. "

It took MW3 sixteen days to reach the billion dollar mark -and nearly 80% of this money came from the first five days after the release-. Do you ever bother to look things up?

And we just have to watch the actual sales: MW3 sold 13,3 copies in the week following its release, Black Ops 2 sold 11,7 million copies. In the two following weeks, both games sold around 4,1 million copies, which means that BO 2 is still over one million and a half copies behind MW3. So unless the Wii U version pulls out a miracle (which would be deliciously ironic), Black Ops 2 is going to end up less succesful than Moder Warfare 3: which, given the fact that the number of "hardcore" gamers is stagnating and not enjoying any meaningful income growth is certainly not surprising, but since it runs against the delusion than the "AAA" industry is fine so long as developpers and manufacturers keep on churning more expensive hardware and eye candy, it's one of those things that must not be said.

Nixou said...

"they're owned by people that want the fruits of their successes for themselves, and putting money into pet projects means less for them to buy shit with"

Of course, putting money into pet projects of talented game developpers means the possibility of creating new popular IPs and/or types of gameplays which will become new streams of income and potentially economic bastions to fall back to once the big popular franchises stop bringing money. Of course, the people who own companies often suck at long term planning: that's why we keep having bubbles and economic crisis.

***

"and prime examples like Beyond Good and Evil or Okami which didn't have commercial success despite being critical darlings keeping them thinking that the cries for innovation are just a loud minority.

Don't mention Good & Evil: I'm French: when the game was announced, the french gaming press started to wallow into a mix of chauvinism and syncophancy regarding this game: it had the deepest story ever written, the game world was going to be humongous, the creator of the game was a genius of biblical proportion surrounded by the best team of programmers the world had ever seen: take the pre-Iraq-invasion jingoism of the US punditry, and apply it to a video game, and you'll get an idea of the gargantuan hype this game received in France. "Critical success" my ass.

And of course, neither Okami nor BG&E were ground breaking innovative tours de force. They were two Zelda-like with some twists added (BGE had a sci-fi universe and the unfulfilled promise of building a plot and gameplay mechanics around journalistic investigations; Okami had the best protagonist ever and used the celestial brush as a replacement for the inventory system), and both suffered enormously from crippling cuts and dummied out content, which put them squarely into the half-assed attempts category.

***

"when we just line up children and execute them until sales go up like some kind of insane ransomers"

You means: like the Ultima series? :D

theSweetest said...

I remember Moo Mesa! It came on before Sonic SatAM. It wasn't that great though. Remember Mr. Bogus?

Oh, and you forgot Simpsons Arcade.

Jannie said...

"Saying that Spec Ops: The Line was a "war is bad" treatise is... not very accurate. SO:TL isn't "about" actual war (in fact, it's considerably less judgmental about actual war than it probably should be, at least when exploring several of the hot button topics). What it's "about" is the popular culture's perception of war, said perception's relationship or lack thereof to the real thing, and what that means to a society. It's a psychological horror game."

No it's not, but ok let's say that were true. It still just amounts to "war is bad", not that you have to explain it, it's obvious what it's about.

It's the same kind of pointless finger wagging that you see with a lot of anime after EVA came out, "oooh this is really, secretly bad and you should feel bad for enjoying it oooh so big" but it just amounts to "war is bad".

And really, you're giving them way too much credit and so am I. When they made the game they decided to (or so they claim) do a version of Heart of Darkness with heavy handed foreshadowing like the bad guy being named "Conrad" and such. It's silly on its face, it's narrative is overwrought and flat out TELLS you what to think instead of allowing it to sink in on its own (probably because they realized how schizophrenic the plot was, and how many holes it has) and it doesn't even allow you to seek a different path through.

If the ONLY way to win is to kill, then it mocks you for killing, that's the literal definition of hubris--the "I just killed my parents feel sorry for me because I'm an orphan" definition.

Nixou:

Fine ok, lets all just accept that (never mind I got this information from the news which is why I hedged it with If I Recall, because I'm not sure if it's right or not, so don't blame me) but ok so what is your point?

Let's say you're right. OK so these games are doing "horrible" (while also stagnating the industry and having a stranglehold on everything somehow) and everything is declining and whatnot.

And? So? Even if you were right that first article speculated that HALO was the cause of it, so if that's true then it only means the same games you hate so blindly are just competing with each other, that's not a sign of declining sales that's a sign of competition. That's how the free market works. So unless you can prove otherwise YOU'RE STILL WRONG.

Someone may or may not have had incorrect information that I then quoted and therefore, I'm wrong. You're still not proving anything other than one major game release has had an effect on ANOTHER major game release's launch, and at that not a HUGE one. And again that's if we choose to believe that everyone who says otherwise is wrong as opposed to market analysts having a baby over something that may or may not be indicative of anything at all.

If you were right, then Halo 4 would have had no impact at all, since it would be just as "stagnant" as Blops. You said it yourself, this game sells to the "same 10 million people every year". Yet according to YOUR OWN ARTICLE THAT YOU POSTED it was Halo 4 that allegedly caused this "huge" drop off. And the Wii U's "deliciously ironic" (what?) impact will be irrelevant on sales...why? Why would it be? The Wii U was heavily marketed to core gamers, with the whole "we're making a real controler this time too, honest" reveal and the way the system now has real online, and GOOD FOR NINTENDO because I think it's the right idea. So why wouldn't it make an impact? Why would it be "ironic"?

Or do you think I hate Nintendo out of some blind passion the way you hate me, instead of the simple fact I was dissatisfied by the Wii? That's a rhetorical question of course you do.

Jannie said...

Also, really, who gets so much "meaning" out of The Line?

Like, I'm sorry, but I've played that game enough to see at least all the different ending permutations (spoiler, it has "multiple" endings, which all basically amount to "shit was bad, you probably died") and so far all I've come up with is this:





SPOILER WARNING!




A guy went crazy at some point, and led some soldiers to find his old mentor in Dubai. Once there he found out some people his mentor once led were also crazy and killing civilians. You stop this.

The CIA is also involved for reasons that are neither explained fully nor made any clearer, other than, I guess, because "government conspiracy bad"? Maybe?

At any rate you meet the crazy mentor and he turns out to be dead (maybe?) and you were tripping out (maybe?) so you now have the option to kill yourself. If you don't, you "win", kinda, and then meet some other soldiers--from here and why who knows or cares. They may or may not exist.

Why?

Well, see, you may or may not also be a ghost because one ending, has you say you "may not have survived" basically. Or you could fire on them, and they kill you, therefore maybe he wasn't a ghost?

Meanwhile, during all of this, the crazy mentor guy says you're a bad person because you wanted to be a hero (funny, the guy just seemed to want to rescue his old friend and help the civilians to me) and then you find out he's dead so...who was phone?

Well possibly it was ALL an illusion and you die in the intro level, since the player character says this may be happening. Even wikipedia put a massive I DON'T KNOW mark on that so go figure.

Anyway, you're either a ghost or insane, and ghost is the most logical (ha!) answer since everything else requires two trained Delta Force operators to follow a crazy guy into the Road Warrior for no other reason than the plot demands it.

It's obvious they WANTED to make it like Jacob's Ladder where everything was a dying illusion but they either chickened out or were told to change it or ran out of time or just lost the train of thought...I dunno.

Anyway, The Line is hardly the deepest exploration of war, what with the stereotypical "crazy army dude" story arc and glaring impossibility of it all, to say nothing of the likelihood it's some kind of "HA YOU WERE DEAD ALL ALONG!" twist that got un-twisted half way through production. But either way, if you want a "war is bad" story that at least retains some internal consistency try MGS3 or MGS4.

They're stupid but in a fun way, and they at least go deeper into what war means and WHY it happens (protip: it has nothing to do with wanting to be a hero) then "War Is Bad" and "You May Also Be A Ghost? We're Not Sure!"

And don't say that's inaccurate, it's not, that's a literal description of the game's plot. Read any review of it, it's all there, even the EC videos mention all of that AND point out some of the same plot holes.

It's not a BAD game, it's a competently designed shooter, it's just so overwrought and long winded and the plot is so meandering it gets lost in there.

Jannie said...

Oh and also, there is some half-baked stuff about "moral choices" that mean all of nothing when you reach the end.

Like, even if you literally just did most stuff at random, shot civilians, and still make it to the end then the game ends the same way. The ending isn't appreciably changed because you help the civilians or Conrad's men, nor does it explain who is leading them if Conrad is dead, or why the CIA seemed to think Conrad was totally alive enough to send someone there to thwart his "plans".

Jannie said...

Sorry for the tripple post but actually, for the first time I glanced at the Wikipedia page and, not only is there another ending (I was unaware you could "defeat" the soldiers at the end) but the guy who made the game Walt Williams, whose name sounds like a stage name meant to take off of Walt Whitman but whatever, seems to confirm that I was right in my guess the game was supposed to at some point be like Jacob's Ladder.

Apparently he says: "His personal belief is that the helicopter crash in the sandstorm actually killed Captain Walker, and that the rest of the game is his hell".

So...yeah then he says it's "up for interpretation", which is film school talk for "that's about it, yeah".

Again I have no idea why they added all that other stuff if that was their intent. It's not a clever ending but it's one that handily explains the major plot holes, by changing or adding to it they created a multitude of problems that don't need to be there.

Again, IT'S NOT A BAD GAME, but the narrative is so twisted in knots and yet so braindead simple its truly stunning. Apparently they spent a lot of time "protesting" the addition of multiplayer so maybe the company made them add that too. Makes sense, executives meddling around with the story and all that, kind of why Haze was so shitty.

The Dord said...

I'd buy a Call of Duty game if the single player wasn't severely short. I like to play multiplayer from time-to-time, but I like to have a single player FPS that has a decent length offline campaign.

(FarCry 3's story is at least 10-15 hours long, plus all the extra things to find makes it 3x longer than that easily)

Sabre said...

Yamato-san- What so important about that video? You can do that with any game, genre or series. Bob even does it with Megaman in the video.

Nixou- The sales from MW1 to MW3 were all going up, with a small dip for Black Ops 2, even with this dip, it's still selling 10 times more than a mario game. (NSMBW, a game which you defended as a mega hit and as proof thet mario is culturely relivent sold a million iirc.) Over 10 million is alot of games. For contrast, Arkham Asyslum sold 4-5 million.

Jannie- My Saints Row 3 experience is with the PC version. Yeah, there were people who hated it for having less clothes, less side missions and the like. However, SR2 on PC was a bad port. So maybe it did alienate fans. Also the DLC I hear was terrible.

Nixou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nixou said...

"it's still selling 10 times more than a mario game. (NSMBW, a game which you defended as a mega hit and as proof thet mario is culturely relivent sold a million iirc.)"

New Super Mario Bros Wii sold over 26 million copies.
You know, one thing I don't get is: why inventing a lie so easily debunked? Anyone can google it. What's the point in making such bullshit: anyone with a functioning brain will know within seconds that you're pulling numbers out of your ass. In the pre-internet era you could have gotten away with it, but today, in a post "Say it louder Candy" world, where fact checking is child-play, you're just putting above your head a giant neon sign that tells "I'm a liar and an imbecile".

Jannie said...

No it didn't, it sold that over the course of several YEARS, and at launch it sold barely a million copies in America and over three in Japan.

If you look at the actual sales, at launch, it sold a little over four million--or about the same as Black Ops 1 did in a day--over the course of seven weeks.

It took a year to break the 10,000,000 mark and more than three total to double that. So if what YOU SAY about Blops 2 is any indication, that's not just less than Blops 2 but less than Blops 1, Gears of War 3, Saints Row 3 and both MW 2 and 3 in their own times.

That's if you count the launch window.

So stop puffing out your chest and making cute topical references to things that are beyond irrelevant to the discussion, ok.

And anyway, smart ass, if you were to take into account the lifetime sales of a game then Angry Birds is far more "important" than Mario since its sold a billion copies. Peggle alone has twice that many sales, clearly it's the most relevant and culturally impactful game of all time and not just some silly bobble people play on their free time.

I don't BELIEVE that mind you, but since you're being an asshole I feel like I should retaliate.

Jannie said...

I'm wondering what precisely you hope to prove, by the way. As in, what do you WANT? What do you expect me to say?

And not some smart ass bullshit about "I WANT YOU TO BE LESS DUMB HEPH HEPH HEPH!" I mean really, what is your fucking point?

Like do you want me to denounce everything I like and all my friends and convert to Nintendo fan worship or something? Do you think that these games shouldn't exist? That I should feel ashamed to play them? Do you feel they're illegitimate or what?

Is it honestly so hurtful to you that Mario ISN'T as important as he was TWENTY YEARS AGO? Was it such a huge part of your childhood you can't function without it? Or do you actually care at all and this is just some internet feud you're on because anonymity makes it possible?

You want to know why Nintendo isn't the world-spanning empire it used to be? Because it did the same thing that Disney did and Warner Bros. where you have these iconic characters but you never, EVER, let them change or evolve or grow up--in fact for example Mickey Mouse has REGRESSED in maturity over the years. So no one really gives a shit about Mickey Mouse anymore because it's impossible for all but the youngest children to relate to him.

Mario isn't THAT BAD yet, mind you, but only because he hasn't been around half as long.

Sabre said...

Ok, I admit, I didn't look it up, and got it wrong (though I did say iirc)

But even so, my point still stands. By your logic that Black Ops 2 sold "only" 10 million, then Zelda, Metroid and Kirby are all failures because they never broke 4 million.

Not only that, but Carnival Games is better than Zelda, Metroid and Kirby because it sold more.

Anonymous said...

The concept of "originality" is one I find puzzling, and a little paradoxical. Cultural and artistic advancement are much like scientific advancement in that they are processes of accretion, i.e. building upon everything that came before. Can the product of a process that is inherently iterative and derivative truly be called new? There's a quote attributed to Isaac Newton which I think sums it up beautifully:

"If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Also, holy fuck - I could be wrong, but I think I can vaguely recall Moo Mesa.

Evilkinggumby said...

Sabre: Jannie- My Saints Row 3 experience is with the PC version. Yeah, there were people who hated it for having less clothes, less side missions and the like. However, SR2 on PC was a bad port. So maybe it did alienate fans. Also the DLC I hear was terrible.

I got SR3 off steam when the complete pack was on sale and played through the whole game and most of the dlc. I also got a chance to play SR2 on ps3 back in the day and so got to see the fun of that. I found SR3 to be a lot of fun and the dlc not that terrible. Granted there was a lot of "stuff" packs that were simply cars, guns and outfits. But the actual playable dlc was pretty kool. I also liked the fact a lot of the characters from the dlc appear randomly in the base game in various scenes, so they're not simply out of nowhere.

But I will also say when we played sr2 we made the main character look damn silly and had fun doing strange and goofy stuff, so in a way sr3 was right up our alley :)

Sam Robards, Comic Fan said...

Jannie said:

By the way if you want to see what REAL stagnation looks like, I'd advise you to download (NOT buy, they don't deserve your money) Avengers Arena because it's a doozy.

I think it's funny that you complain about people "cherry-picking" bits to support their arguments when that's exactly what you've done here in reference to comics. And for no real, reason, it seems.

Now, I don't read AA because I just don't care about any of the characters or the creative team, but how is it any different or worse than any other Battle Royale-style story, including Hunger Games? Are books now creatively bankrupt because Hunger Games involves kid-on-kid murder? I'm just not seeing your point.

But yeah, being a comics fan first and foremost, I think videogames are WAAAAAY more stagnant than comics from a creative perspective.

It just seems to me that 9 out of 10 games I see advertised nowadays are FPS's. I like the genre but I only buy one series (Killzone) because there just isn't enough narrative or gameplay variation within the genre to warrant buying from multiple franchises.

My two favorite genres are RPGs and fighting games. Within each of those genres, each entry has some means of defining itself against the rest of the genre. This is mostly done through narrative, but there are a few examples of games stepping out of the traditional gameplay mold. Xenogears (my favorite game of all time), Final Fantasy VII and Chrono Trigger all innovate (mostly) through narrative, while Final Fantasy XII, The Last Story and Xenoblade innovate through gameplay: well, Xenoblade (one of my favorite RPGs) kinda innovated with both narrative and gameplay, but still.

Regarding fighting games, hardly any of them have narratives worth writing home about. Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown is my favorite fighter, but sometimes I want to play Street Fighter x Tekken or Street Fighter III Third Strike or Dead or Alive 5. There's enough gameplay variation within those titles (and the genre as a whole) that makes each of them worth playing.

I could never see a reason to play Call of Duty or Battlefield (or any other FPS) over Killzone. There's just not enough variation there for me to bother. And since the FPS is the big genre right now in videogames (both in sales and cultural awareness), the entire medium is suffering as a result.

And sorry, in a world where Uncanny X-Force, All-New X-Men, Wonder Woman and Earth 2 exist, I find the claim that comics are somehow more stagnant than videogames to be pretty laughable.

Yes, all of this is just my opinion, so there's no need to point that out. I just wanted to give you my two cents and tell you why you're wrong about comics.

Peace out!

Sam Robards, Comic Fan said...

Also, Jannie, your openly telling people to pirate Avengers Arena rather than buy it is really low-class (to put it kindly).

Say what you will about the work itself, but if you want to read it, the creators deserve to be compensated for it.

Anonymous said...

"CoD literally hasn't even BOTHERED to improve anything about itself or use its position to do something innovative"

Why would it? It's still guaranteed to break the 10 million units threshold per game. So long as the golden goose keeps laying its eggs, Activision is not going to do anything to it.

except... that formular itself WAS an innovation. COD4/modern warfare was innovation of itself. It took the basic gunplay and mechanics from world war II and shifted it into modern day. It was a change, and innovation, and why it made a splash. It went from allies vs nazi world war heroics, to a more ambiguous modern day war story, and ultimately the futility of war.

and it was an innovation activision resisted like it was having a tooth pulled. They wanted COD4 another WWII game. World At War was specifically ordered as a world war II game because activision 'knew' modern warfare would fail. They had already made IW make COD2 instead of a modern warfare game, and they kept trying and trying and trying to make COD4 another WWII game, and I don't doubt IW refusal to budge was at least part of what let to the post MW2 incident (its been suggested that MW2 only happened for much the same reasons COD2 happened, and that activision perhaps didn;t get that maybe they should trust the guys who handed them a huge bundle of money to come up with an idea to give them an even bigger bundle of money)

Sabre said...

Sam- I was with you right up until you betrayed your total ignorance of the subject by saying
"It just seems to me that 9 out of 10 games I see advertised nowadays are FPS's. I like the genre but I only buy one series (Killzone) because there just isn't enough narrative or gameplay variation within the genre to warrant buying from multiple franchises."

and was sealed with
"My two favorite genres are RPGs and fighting games. Within each of those genres, each entry has some means of defining itself against the rest of the genre."

I'm not a comic fan, I read a few (Gold Digger, and before that Astounding Wolfman and Green Lantern Corps) yet I don't bother because there aren't many comics that interest me.

I'm not going to repeat what I've said here and elsewhere. However, the fact is that FPS games are more innovative than Nintendo games and JRPGs. Yet ironically, nostalgic retro gamers such as Bob cry foul, and originality is their go to excuse, despite the games they defend barely changing.

Saying that you like JRPGs is no problem. Saying you like them because each is different is flat out lying.

Samson Jinks said...

4:54....


~I'll be attending soon~

fox said...

Hey, I think I cracked Bob's formula:

a) Start by presenting any phenomenon relating to gaming culture (really, it can be anything).

b) Compare how such a phenomenon was treated during "The Golden Age" to how it is treated today. (tip: you can change the date of said age to better enforce your overall point, see next step)

c) Develop your comparison by explaining that during the "The Golden Age", the phenomenon was overall better, or better treated, or not as bad as it is during modern times.

d) Exemplify your points by presenting modern examples of games where the phenomenon is shown to have degraded (Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo, Call of Duty, Halo, Call of Duty).

e) Present modern examples that "get the phenomenon right", just so people see that you are not some other retro gamer on Youtube. Instead, they will realize that you are a highly original, intelligent person who is also humble enough to see both sides of a problem (this will allow you to be as smug as you want).

f) (optional, but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED). Suggest that the overall problem lies, in fact, in the behavior and lack of critical thinking of modern gamers, who enforce stereotypes and racism by buying games that mistreat the phenomenon. (Tip: The precise profile of this modern gamer can also be manipulated in order to achieve better results, but it is generally accepted that s/he is anyone and everyone different than yourself).

g) Close up with a joke. Doesn't need to be funny, you already educated minds. You've done enough.

See? Now you can be YOUR VERY OWN OVERTHINKER!

Sabre said...

Fox- How dare you make it seem like Bob is only doing those few simple steps every episode. You totally forgot long winded ego stroking 'story' sections that are poorly produced even by internet standards, and picking images and music from games that are well know enough by old schoolers and retro gamers, but not enough to recognisable as 'mainstream'. (Extra credits does that last one alot)

Seriously though, there is a template that Bob (and me) use, even if he's not aware of it. It goes by various names, but I know it as the 80-20 method. 80% of the information is in 20% of the document, a rant in this case, but is often used in reports, articles, reviews, lectures, all sorts of stuff. I can go into details if you like.

Nixou said...

"the cries for innovation are just a loud minority."

I forgot to add something about it:
I don't think that the people who cry for innovation are a loud minority: I think that they are for the most part pretenders: that is: the people who keep asking for more innovation are a subgroup from the crowds who buy only "safe" games and well know brands and do not touch new ips until they fall into the used bin.
The rainfall crowds are probably one of the most blatant case: they whined for Xenoblade, the Last Story and Pandora's Towar, claiming that their Wiis were gathering dusts because of the lack of great games, that the JRPG genre was stagnating and in dire need of new blood, yet, when the games were released, not that many people lined up to buy them, which gives credence to the idea that operation rainfall was for the most part fake hipsterism.

***

"No it didn't, it sold that over the course of several YEARS"

Let me spell what's happening: you and Sabre tried to build a two-person jerk-off-circle by making wild claims which were demonstratively false, and when you were called out for it, you decided to move the goalpost. Moving the goalpost will not hide the fact that you've been trying to build a two-person jerk-off-circle built upon a foundation of false claims.

***

"You want to know why Nintendo isn't the world-spanning empire it used to be?"

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Jannie and numbers: once again: toute une histoire

Sam Robards, Comic Fan said...

Sabre, I don't really see how I showed myself to be ignorant.

I've played a lot of FPS's from a variety of series, and I don't see enough variation for me to play (to say nothing of buy) installments from more than one series. I don't really see how that's ignorant.

I also don't see how the second comment you commented on contributes to my "ignorance" either, considering I tried to flesh out my case (without being overly verbose), but oh well.

In terms of FPS's being more innovative than other genres, I dunno. I agree that Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was a game-changer for the genre, but it seems like since that game came out, the majority of FPS's have tried to emulate that game instead of trying to stand apart from it.

Yes, the market wants it, so the market'll get it, but how does the market know it doesn't want something else until it tries it?

To use a Golden Age example, tons of NES side-scrollers tried to be Super Mario Bros. because that's what the market wanted. However, when Sonic the Hedgehog came out, it blew our minds, taking a basic side-scroller and super-charging the speed, creating a new craze within the market.

In other words, the genre is at the point where it needs that Sonic- of MW-style shake up to keep it fresh. Even if that something as superficial as a setting change that catches on.

As for my original post, if you replace the word "innovate" with "differentiate," it probably gets my point across better. That's my mistake.

And yes, RPG's are all different enough to me (whether through narrative or gameplay) to make them worth playing. So I am anything but a liar.

Anonymous said...

Nixou-

Are you so fucking insecure, you have to constantly, rabidly defend Nintendo from any possible criticism?

Are you so afraid that if someone speaks ill of Nintendo, that they're just going disappear off the face of the planet?

That my friend, is the very definition of "Fanboy." And you're going to go to a very special place in Hell, where the rest of the sycophants burn.

Nixou said...

"Are you so fucking insecure, you have to constantly, rabidly defend Nintendo from any possible criticism? "

I described them as scammers when they showed their pro controller predicting -accuratly, I might add- that they would sell a mostly useless piece of junk for 60 bucks. That's far from "defending"

I also know enough about the industry's history to know how much a bully this company has been when they were quasi-monopolistic during the 80s-early 90s.

The thing is, success has nothing to do with morality and even the worst business bully can be competent -gifted even- in its domain of expertise. People like Jannie, Sabre & you would like to see the state of the industry to be a morality tale where the divine invisible hand rewards people based on what you consider to be artistic rectitude. So for instance, Jannie decided that, since she did not like the Mario series or the JRPG genre, then, obviously, this type of games were not succesful anymore. And when told that her fantasy world of "extinct" JRPGs rightfully punnished for lacking in innovation or "irrelevant" Mario brand rightfully punished for not conforming to her esthetical preferences was in fact a fantasy, that reality did not work that way, that available data showed that reality does not work that way, she decided to pretend that this unpleasant reality was the product of my "fanboyism", followed by people who shared her distate for the actual state of the industry and did not like to be reminded about it.

Some people believe that arguments can be won by "pedagogy": I don't: If I see someone peddling demonstrably false bullshit, I will call them out for it, refuse to play along and pretend to believe that they believe their own bullshit "to be polite" and be relentless until they yield, one way or another.

Sabre said...

Sam- "the majority of FPS's have tried to emulate that game instead of trying to stand apart from it."

This is true, but much like Bob often assumes that all FPS or even Modern Gaming is toxic, the assumption that all FPS are CoD rip offs is based on ignorance of FPS.

I'm cool with you liking JRPGs, I'm cool with you not liking shooters, but the reason you gave, the lack of difference, is one that is hard to defend, especially when your point of comparison is JRPGs. Battlefield and Medal of Honour rip off CoD, no question. What about Bioshock? FEAR? Halo? Payday? Metro 2033? Alien vs Predator? All FPS games this generation. All radically different. From a mix of horror, bullet time, and tactical combat, to an interactive version of all the best heists in movie history, via a distopian road trip through a post nuclear Russia loosely based on a book.

These games are all from this generation, none would be considered obscure, and all completely different both in gameplay and story telling. To brush all of that off and file it under "CoD knock off" is ridiculous.

Sabre said...

Wow. I'm stunned at Nixou's post.

I don't know what to say. Making stuff up, stretching legitimate arguments into straw men, trying to win people over with persistence rather than valid points, and a delusional world view.

...then he turns around and says it's everyone else who has the problem.

I should do a point by point, but where the hell do I start? I don't think I need to bother, the post speaks for itself.

Anonymous said...

Sabre-

Don't bother. It's fruitless to argue with the insane.

Redd the Sock said...

Nixou, actually I could pen a lot of other factors on the failure of more innovative products: poor marketing, poor availability, lack of incentivised pricing (making something new cheaper), lack of rentals, putting them up to compete directly with the big games instead of waiting for quiet weeks, almost completely giving up on longer term sales based on positive word of mouth, games being more massive time sinks leaving less time to experiment, and all that's assuming graphics or control weren't destroyed in creation making the innovative unfun as well. Then again I was elaborating on a corporate mindset that is at best irrational and at worst, only in the industry for the easy money, so it really doesn't matter what the reason or if it's true.

Of course there's one other problem: be more innovative is a suggestion that is surprisingly vague. This conversation routinely devolves into everyone decrying genres they aren't fond of while overlooking their favoite's own stagnation, and if I were a developer, I'm not sure what I could take away from all of it. If I made FPSs all I get is you don't like the Tom Clancey knock off. Fine, but what do you want to see? Am I now supposed to read your mind through the internet, or blindly toss out ideas in completed game form until I find something you like for the moment until you're bored again and we start the process over? Toss out a premise or maybe a plot outline and developers can have something to work with. Otherwise you can't really question why a company would try and appeal to the fans that know what they want rather than those that can't show a sign they have a clue themselves. Could be some good ideas that developers might not have thought of, or just could be encouraged if through word of mouth more demanded said idea.

Just yes, do show up to buy these things you ask for. I give Project Rainfall a pass since Xenoblade's viability was neutered by the penetration of the Wii in it's demographic (aka I didn't want to buy a wii for one games that looked awesome), but from Serenity to Scott Pilgrim (and more than a few fan saved TV shows), we have a tendency to be hyped for something only to not show up int he end.

John M Osborne said...

@Anon

"And once again Bob - there are MORE modern games besides Call of Duty and Battlefield. Get a clue. Have you ever even PLAYED Psychonauts or Mass Effect?"

I believe he has, and said so, even devoted an episode to Mass Effect. And this is a bold claim considering he refers directly to Spec Ops: The Line as a *good* example of a clone with artistic merit. You know, a modern game besides Call of Duty and Battlefield.

John M Osborne said...

@Jannie - the point of Spec Ops: The Line is NOT War is Bad. It's looking at shooting gallery games and the definition of choice and agency. Much like Bioshock did, this takes it to a different level. That you have NO choice but to progress by killing is the point - because that's how CoD and other shooting gallery games work, and always have. There are choices you can make where you don't kill anyone to advance here and there - but even those are invalidated by the ending, which is also saying something - what's the point of binary Moral Choice when murder is the order of the day.

Finally - pretty much most of the CoD games have paid lip service to "war being bad" but never demonstrated it. Especially its use of quotation, which Spec Ops directly makes fun of.

Now I hear that Black Ops 2 actually has an innovative choice system, so bully for them. Glad to hear it. I might try it someday.

John M Osborne said...

@All -

Honestly I'd like to see a sort of "MegaMan Prime" series. It seems to me a winning formula in a 2D game, and I wonder how the - Robot world / Robot Boss / New Weapon formula would work in 3D space.

Nixou said...

"Fine, but what do you want to see? [...] Toss out a premise or maybe a plot outline and developers can have something to work with."

Game are not meant to be designed by focus groups. If anything, the lack of experimentation in the industry is already the result of giving the customers what they "want to see" (that is: familiarity). I often compare video games with food: people have their habits and preferences and if left to their own devices will always eat food from the same cook book, and it makes no sense to ask "describe to me what new taste you want to experience"

Manticore said...

ame are not meant to be designed by focus groups.

Okay this I'm going to call shennanigans on. Playtesting and focus groups are critical, essential tools of design. Now if you want to do the auteur thing fine but you'll have to use a tried and true formula (which means its been tested and QA'ed and focused grouped just not by your production) or possess long term indepth comprehension of the formula and its tweaks and cater that tweak to the audience as a whole. Which isn't going to just happen without practice of which playtesters and focus groups are a means to emulate and utilize without sending out a whole product at once.

Much like the phrase Executive Meddling, we need to stop villainizing parts of the whole process of publishing and production because we by into some grand artist bringing their soul to the unwashed massess narrative.
Games, great fun games line NintendoLand, Wii Sports, Team Fortress 2 and Portal 1/2 (the full version) can be made pretty much in response of focus testing.

Ditto Modern Warfare's 1 and 2, Metroid Prime, and etc.

As for clones. I think the issue is mainly that influence of PC gaming where customization and mastery to express yourself were the main forms of entertainment but with the transition to consoles you have a cutdown of the experience.

Also its a matter of simplicity. Shinobi is primarily about ranged attacks and dodging to attempt rescue objectives throughout the stage. Bad Dudes is more melee based and is about maximizing your beat 'emup progress with the environments providing more and more challenge. They certainly are VERY comparable but they are variations off a base of simplicity.

I'd say Rolling Thunder is More of a Shinobi clone than Bad Dudes, which struck me as more Double Dragon only with more intended co-operation than competition (you go high, I go low, we aid or let us aid each other). And even Mario Brothers while owing a shitload to joust just in not having the powerups or needing to operate on jumping and other issues makes it a different game. I'll be frank a less fun one for me.

Different mechanics, goals, objectives and paradigms.

"Clones" when I see the term used. Vary so little or come too much in alignment to the point you don't have the variation on the same base. The openings, objectives, and narratives are disturbingly similar with only in play mechanics, to a degree only aficionados notice, differentiate and even those to chase the latest tend to be pulled together. I don't object to someone not likely early eighties space anime. broadly speaking there were only three types, Gundam, Cobra, and Macross. Same for a Rider or Sentai series. or a Shonen jump action series, they can easily descend into the same issues.

Manticore said...

Tom Clancy's actually licensed stuff was interesting due to the no nonsense think like a tactical squad thing, at least on the n64 when I played it. That made it VERY VERY hard to get into but I could see the appeal. Not for me but I'd keep it in mind. The issue is when EVERYTHING is on the same variation. the world is big enough for Metal Gear, Splinter Cell, AND Thief or even Tenchu. Mark of the Ninja, Assasin's Creed III, and Dishonored.

Skyward Sword, Dark Souls, Darksiders I&II, Okami, and Brutal Legend.

Those are GREAT examples and variations of a genre. I love the competition Zelda is having in the action fantasy rpg and from darker heavier handed more patience requiring Big Bro like Dark Souls or a more sociel calculated group game like Monster Hunter or WoW.

The problem is that Spec Ops mechanical failings are that its not perfectly aligned with the standards of CoD so they made a crazy story. The Battlefield and MW and Black Ops seem to all be having the same setup, characters, and opening (well okay I have to admit I'm more sweet on MW2 and Blops II being shameless military tech porn, the dissappointment is that its the all straight all blondes, all recycled synth version in the same bedroom set sort of porn. No erotic narrative, seduction, and the closest thing to a real twist is look the woman is like uhm riding him atop and sounds like she might like having sex...or she isn't pretending to be in highschool)

Nixou said...

"Playtesting and focus groups are critical, essential tools of design"

To do some playtesting you need to already have a game to play. To have an editor correct an early draft of a novel or a script, you need to already have the early draft, otherwise there is nothing to read and to correct. Redd was not talking about such things: he was saying that players should tell developpers what they want "before" the process of producing the early draft had even begun.

Manticore said...

some games and ideas or just that. Marketing has focus tested for something and want it produced.

That isn't an inherently bad point for production. Art isn't just an excercise of eager its also a commercial product made to fulfill needs or wants.

You think Connect 4 was some great design revelation from on high? That the use of First person perspective isn't from "this enginge is hot right now, make something coll with it"

2 and half men is still on and that was virtually vomitted by the plot-o-matic.

Redd the Sock said...

Nixou, actually it works rather well with food. If I make chicken soup and you don't like it, you can tell me why: not enough chicken, too bland, too salty, or you're just in the mood for dry food like a sandwich. If I offer a snack, you can tell me if you're in the mood for something sweet, salty, sugary, spicy, ect. Then if I get it wrong, I can take complaints and try and fix things (heck, the legend is potato chips were designed for a whiny customer wanting thinner fries). But if you ask for a snack and I make apple slices when you wanted crackers, somehow I am to blame for not knowing what you wanted and will get blamed every time I don't bring crackers. Even the hint of "I feel like a starchy baked good" would go a long way.

It's the equivalent of a child complaining about being bored but rejecting all ideas tossed their way. I did that once and my mom handed me the vacuum and didn't give me a choice. I see the same thing in most entertainment, you don't say what you want, and now you're mad they're telling you what you get.

Gareth said...

While I didn't use these exact terms back then (to be fair I was 8) I thought that templates as described here (same gameplay but with different characters, stories, settings, etc) was what was meant by the term "genre".

It never bothered me that Streets of Rage and Turtles in Time played very similarly for instance because I thought that was just what genre meant.

Jannie said...

Nixou, I literally have NO idea where the hell you get these notions about me but it has nothing to do with wanting Nintendo to be "punished".

And ask for being "relentless" the only relentless thing about what you're doing is annoying the shit out of humankind. How about you quit being "tough" on the internet smart guy.

What do you think this is some kind of morality play? I don't give a shit about what insane, self-indulgent notion you have about crusading for justice. You act as if I'm the only one on Earth who has ever pointed this out.

Extra Credits--and god fucking help me for bringing THEM into this--even did a three part arc on how JRPGs are getting their skin peeled off nowadays. Go, watch, it's surprisingly not as fixated on posturing as most EC videos (it's still full of posturing and stupid, overfly florid dialogue but watchable this time at least).

Or go over to YouTube and watch some of the people who actually know about the industry have a discussion on Nintendo's allegedly unassailable standing. Adam Sessler did a video on it a few weeks back you can see on the Rev 3 Games channel. It won't be hard to find, just look for a video there where someone says something intelligent and it's likely one of Sessler's.

This isn't about aesthetics or morality or your overinflated sense of importance--and power, apparently, since you're going to force me to retreat win your relentless charge you big strong man you lol. I find it ironic that someone who chatters on about "power fantasies" every five seconds seems to be having one.

And that's another thing, since you're apparently NOT just some stock "White Knight" on the internet like all the other White Knights on the internet, how come every SINGLE thing you say about a game OTHER than Nintendo is some kind of obvious baiting insult? If I based my view of games only on you (*snort* yeah right) then I would think all non-first party Nintendo titles are:

"Power fantasies"
"War fantasies"
"Gun porn"
"Derivative"
"Unoriginal"

And other sundry insults I have neither the time nor inclination to look up. I'm pretty sure you said Mass Effect was about "fantasizing as a space dictator" or something similar during the ME3 incident--but I may be wrong, actually now I think that was Sylocat.

If you're not just some Golum knock off who wants to defend his Precious then why are you so crushingly negative about EVERY fucking thing else?

Also knock it off: with the colons ok: this is not: how any: sentence: works. K:ay:?

That's not a personal gripe, that's just some advice, it makes reading your posts incredibly bizarre because it causes odd sentence breaks.

Jannie said...

Anyway...

Discussing the topic at hand, as I said I agree with Bob that it's neither necessary nor entirely logical to constantly try to reinvent the wheel. I would also say that it's largely impossible, since you really can't, either metaphorically or literally.

Actually the image of reinventing the wheel is quite useful here because it accurately describes why people who say they crave something "new" and "innovative" never have an idea what they want. If you literally WERE trying to reinvent the wheel, you'd inevitably end up with another wheel, because physics says that's just the most viable form.

What exactly WOULD the "new" wheel look like? Like say you wanted to have an entirely new take on racing games...well we have race simulators, cartoony racing games, vehicular combat games, etc. There really ISN'T any new ground to cover here, you'd just be making one of those but better probably with better technology and graphics.

The same is true of stories. Scott Pilgrim was supposed to be this "new", uncharted story but really if you know the story of Hercules you know the plot to Scott Pilgrim--and when I say that I mean it's almost a one-for-one translation if you care to look at the source material. They changed the number of "trials" from twelve the seven, but the rest is still there, even Hercules' insane, self-destructive love life and eventual ascension to heaven. They completely ruined it by putting Mary Elizabeth Winstead in it, because that woman has precisely ONE facial expression, like a fucking Terminator, but still...

Anyway, it's been pointed out to me before, that every story that really can be told has been told and everything is in some way a retread of everything else. HG Wells is said to have come up with the last "original" idea by inventing alien invasion stories but even then it was based on preexisting "Invasion Literature", a genre of books that eventually evolved into the alien invasion stories we see now thanks to War of the Worlds.

There's nothing wrong with that and if people want to pretend its not true and keep looking for the last two or three truly original ideas, fine. But what I find irksome is some (games, movies, comics, take your pick) use these same old ideas and then act as if they're the first ones to ever express them. Or worse yet criticize movies that use the same template, but do so in a way that is more palatable to the public and so logically gets more attention.

Sabre said...

Jannie- I'm fine with the overall conclusion, but the thing that gets me is the hypocrisy of vindicating Nintendo while condemning CoD. Bob's recent run on Overthinker has been terrible, and as such, I see this as only existing so that Bob can wave away criticisms of Nintendo while having a go at CoD. We will see if that analysis holds up when his next video rolls around.

On to the point. I remember a guy who never bothered with film, books, TV or comics unless he had to, because he was a strong believer in the "there are only 9 plots" theory, and as such thought that seeing a film was pointless because once you've seen 9 you've seen them all.

That, to me, is kind of crazy. To assume that all there is to a film is the overall plot structure.

This is why I agree with Bobs overall point, but disagree with how he got there, kind of. His definition of template is to broad, comparing Batman to Assassins Creed being one example.

RaikuNH said...

Y'all need to chill the fuck out.

He pretty much isd right with the whole stop attacking games because their gameplay is like another game.

John M Osborne said...

@Nixou - When you think of it, Arkham City is closer to Assassin's Creed, Arkham Asylum is closer to a 3D Metroidvania - as it's more enclosed and uses gadgets to encourage backtracking, with some inspiration from 3D platformers like Prince of Persia.

But you're right about the "9 plots" (last I checked, it was 4 plots - man vs. man, man vs. himself, man vs. society, man vs. nature) in that plot is not story or genre, and story is dependent on several aspects.

Jannie said...

I think, really, there are more than just four or nine plots--but it would also be realistic to admit there are probably no more than a dozen if you don't split hairs.

Like, for example, if you just picked ten random movies the chances of half or more of them having the same basic story structure and plot is going to spring up by random chance.

The thing is most people will never notice, if you do it right, because other elements like the thematic tone or the aesthetic will be able to distract from this.

A perfect example is Children of Men and American Cyborg: Steel Warrior.

The latter is a (honestly, much better) straight-to-video movie from the 1990s and the former is a movie made more recently, I believe based on a book.

However the plots are literally the same, watch: in a future suffering from an epidemic of infertility a lone soldier is hired to escort the last fertile woman on Earth to a secret cabal of scientists hoping to cure the problem. That literally is both movies' plot.

Even going deeper--the endings are almost one-for-one identical, with the sole exception of Children being more depressing and American Cyborg being open to at least an optimistic ending.

American Cyborg was an action movie, so instead of gangs or riots or whatever like in Children of Men they were facing a unified threat from android soldiers who wanted to wipe out mankind, but other than the aesthetic difference between the two films you could be excused for assuming the newer one was a "remake" of American Cyborg. It's not but then again, that SAME plot has shown up in a dozen other movies. Just for example Hell Comes to Frogtown was a gender-swapped version played as a comedy (and again, much better than Children of Men) and SyFy channel did at least two similar movies in the 1990s and 2000s respectively. There is also two Italian post-apocalypse movies with the same plot as Children of Men but I'm blanking on the names, and one I saw on Showtime back in the early 2000s, I believe called Terminal Earth, Terminal Virus or the like.

The point is "guy has to save last fertile person on Earth, get her to scientists to cure the infertility epidemic" is just a stock plot--these movies were all wildly different (two were basically porn movies and one was spliced together from an old Italian movie) but that's mainly window dressing.

There's nothing wrong with that...as long as you remember the onus is on the creators to change the aesthetic, tone, etc every so often for novelty's sake. THAT is why you can't really say "I've seen nine movies I've seen them all" because tone and tropes change from one telling to the next even if the plot remains the same.

The PROBLEM arises when the plot, and everything else, remains completely the same. For example even though I've never been a fan of Zelda games--at all--I will at least admit that the aesthetics, and NOTHING ELSE, have changed over the years so you can at least say someone was trying.

Conversely, an even better example is the Castlevania series where the aesthetics, tone, general tropes and narrative changes wildly from generation to generation but the plot is identical throughout: i.e., kill bad guy in fortress.

Jannie said...

"Conversely", I used that wrong. Shit.

But you get my point, all the Castlevania games are the same basically but they change enough from one to the other that each one can be genuinely called "original".

Simon's Quest is a totally different game than Castlevania, while SOTN was almost a JRPG but done as a Castlevania game, and one of them was a fighting game etc etc.

Also to be PERFECTLY FAIR to Mario, at least three Mario games I'm aware of have broken the mold somewhat--not counting Mario Party or the kart games which are just "Mario brand titles" not games in the canon series--being that one of the Yoshi games was a shooter for the Super Scope 6, Mario 2/Doki Doki Panic turned it into what amounts to a very cute Double Dragon clone and however shitty it was Hotel Mario was at least a change of perspective.

Sabre said...

That's the big though. A game doesn't need story, though it is often nice. Like how films don't need music, most have a score, and for musicals, it's the focus. The story can be the same every time, provided the gameplay is different. Zelda is not only the same game as OoT, but has the same items. In a way, they are just texture packs for OoT with some of items moved around. Ok, that's exaggerating it a bit, but you get the point.

JRPGs have a focus on story, and the gameplay is a tedious grind with little variation between games. Even Persona had this. With the story front, centre, and important, having the same story over and over is a problem. To use your example, it would be like remaking children of men over and over and over with only the tiniest of changes.

Nixou said...

"I did that once and my mom handed me the vacuum and didn't give me a choice."

Your mom not allowing you to become a lazy, blasé tosser before you even hit puberty has nothing to do with the problem at hand.

It's not that people "do not say what they want": it's that people lie about what they want: they say they want new stuff, but the fact that they vote with their wallets for the established brands shows that they want more of the same. When a good original game sells a lot less than bland-o-matic episode fifteen, it's not the result of some miscommunication between the poor developpers and players failing to give them detailled clues about what they want: it's the result of most players never wanting a good original game in the first place.

***

"the point of Spec Ops: The Line is NOT War is Bad. It's looking at shooting gallery games and the definition of choice and agency"

I think the point of Spec Ops is to adress the "John Wayne Syndrome": people who grow up with a vision of the army deformed by fictions which try to idealize and/or make it look much more exciting that it is in reality, then who end up with massive PTSDs when they get to experience the real deal. Spec Ops is about giving us happy civilians a "taste" of what it is. And if Bob's video is to be believed, it worked on him.

***

"When you think of it, Arkham City is closer to Assassin's Creed, Arkham Asylum is closer to a 3D Metroidvania - as it's more enclosed and uses gadgets to encourage backtracking, with some inspiration from 3D platformers like Prince of Persia. "

I always considered Assassin's Creed to be more of a Zelda-like (much more than a grindfest like the soulds series), you get around by auto-jumping, you have, starting with Ezio"s games, quasi dungeons with a few (simple) puzzles to contend with, you get a battle system built around duels (so much than in AC the ennemis wait for their turn to fight the hero one on one) with an "Errol Flynnesque" aesthetics, and of course, you have this long line of similar looking heroes who grow from brats to terminators during the course of their games.

Nixou said...

"What do you think this is some kind of morality play? I don't give a shit about what insane, self-indulgent notion you have about crusading for justice."

You're a liar, and a lousy one: you are all about turning the world into a self-indulgent morality play:

You're the one who invented this big, elaborate masturbatory fantasy where your preferences were validated by sales figures:

You're the one you pretended that the JRPG genre was extinct because of its stagnation despite the fact that sales figures showed that not only was this genre far from extinct, but it was the most bland and/or generic products which were by far the ones selling the most among JRPGs, with the original games trailing far behind.

You're the one who kept giong on about the lack of relevance about the Mario 2D plateformers despite sales figures showing it's ongoing dominance of the genre.

You're the one who claimed that Nintendo's lack of devotion toward the hardcore gamers and their refusal to enter the hardware pissing contest spelled their doom despite the fact that it remains the biggest video-game company by far and despite 20 years worth of economic data showing that when they tried to cater to the hardcore crowds, they did worse than when they just ignored them

All your pet theories have painted an imaginary world where the products which did not abide by your tastes were economical failures, and all of them have been proven false by the fucking public record.

***

"If I based my view of games only on you (*snort* yeah right) then I would think all non-first party Nintendo titles are:

"Power fantasies"
"War fantasies"
"Gun porn"
"Derivative"
"Unoriginal""

And you'd be right: most "hardcore" games are power fantasies -often doubled with a militaristic flavor and some firearm fetichism- which are derivative and devoid of any new idea. And Nintendo is being "original" only insofar as they don't target hardcore gamers exclusively: the Metroid Prime are as much power fantasies than the Halo series, the Zelda games may not start as power fantasies when Link has only three hearts, but by the end of each game, it's pretty much another variation of the never-getting-old (alas) Kung-Fu Jesus motif, and the less is said about the pokemon brand, the better.

***

"I'm pretty sure you said Mass Effect was about "fantasizing as a space dictator"."

ME3 was a bit more subtle than that: after playing the Cassandra for two games, Shepard is pretty much turned into Cincinnatus in Space. And of course, Shep's newfound political clout does not stop the end of the world from happening, thus showing that being in charge does not means that things will magically go your way, which is a welcome change from the too often authoritarian tendencies of military SF.

What I said was that many players did not want to delve into the story interesting point about the limits of power and authority and just wanted to play Space Emperor Supreme, something I'm not the only one to have noticed.

Anonymous said...

If we can agree that templates are tools for good, here's some things I want to see in the future:

A game like Psi-Ops: Mindgate Conspiracy

A CoD style FPS set in Warhammer 40K

A Dark Void style jetpack bruhaha

More RPGs like Fallout 3 and Skyrim.

More RPGs like Mass Effect (the first one).

Jannie said...

"You're the one who invented this big, elaborate masturbatory fantasy where your preferences were validated by sales figures"

Says the person who tries to justify everything by pointing out the Wii sold a lot.

"ME3 was a bit more subtle than that"

Jesus, give it a rest. No, it's not about a "space dictator" and it's not some bullshit about "exploring the limits of power."

It's basically a retread of the same "we have to band together to fight the Evil Empire!" story that has existed since time began, including Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. And 90% of all RPGs actually, including virtually all FF games and most Western RPGs. In that respect Mass Effect is quite stock. It's variance comes from the individual characters and their stories which are quite rich and nuanced, and change based on interaction with the player in many respects (see Jack's story in ME2).

The ENDING on the other hand was EA rushing Bioware to get it done and out the door which resulted in a mishmash of endings taken from other games, namelt DX Human Revolution and Fallout 3, then later they released the ACTUAL ending as free DLC. It's not a meaningful statement on anything other than how fucking stupid EA is and how even a reputable company like Bioware will cave when pressured to push DLC...the only "deep" thing about it is that the backlash was so extreme EA ended up giving away the DLC ending for free anyway just to keep their fanbase from hoisting their heads on pikes.

No one but you gives a fuck about space emperors, nor does anyone (but you) think the ending meant anything other than "Thanks for buying our game, now buy more of our game--XOXO Electronic Arts".

I mean, Bob hated the Retake Mass Effect thing but even still he admitted that, really, the ending was shit; that his logic was "to defend ALL art we must defend BAD art" shows that much (and yes he said that, or something like it, using the ridiculous Lost ending as an example of why we just have to take the rough with the smooth or some such). So even the, like, one guy who defended Bioware online thought it was bullshit.

I don't care to refight that battle since its over now and literally EVERYONE involved (again, but you) has come to grips with it. I was just pointing out that your obsession with Japanese games in general and Nintendo in particular is so laser-focused that your claims of being some crusader for truth and justice is laughable on its face. You're just like all the other White Knights on the internet, and by that I mean when pressed you immediately start projecting as hard as possible.

Keeping charging those giants Don Quixote.

Sabre said...

"A CoD style FPS set in Warhammer 40K"

They tried that, and it wasn't good. Warhammer 40k Firewarrior. I thought it was ok, but that's because I like the Tau.

I've heard good things about Space Marine, but not played it myself.

Jannie said...

Sabre:

"That's the big though. A game doesn't need story, though it is often nice. Like how films don't need music, most have a score, and for musicals, it's the focus. The story can be the same every time, provided the gameplay is different. Zelda is not only the same game as OoT, but has the same items. In a way, they are just texture packs for OoT with some of items moved around. Ok, that's exaggerating it a bit, but you get the point.

JRPGs have a focus on story, and the gameplay is a tedious grind with little variation between games. Even Persona had this. With the story front, centre, and important, having the same story over and over is a problem. To use your example, it would be like remaking children of men over and over and over with only the tiniest of changes."

While that's true, I give SOME lineancy to the Zelda series because at least when you play as the little elf boy again and again and again they have the sense to add some aesthetic changes.

Also, the Link to the Past is kinda one of my favorite games, so my biases force me to defend the series somewhat more than I should. I also liked Wind Waker, or the look of it at least. That may just be because the "huge freakish head and giant eyes" thing is cute to me.

Anon:
"A game like Psi-Ops: Mindgate Conspiracy"

Oh, I love that game! Damn shame it never got a sequel.

Also I want a Wild Guns sequel or remake, as a third-person shooter, and you kill the giant bosses like Shadow of the Colossus. (since we're spitballing here)

Jannie said...

Warhammer 40k would probably be better suited to something like the new X-Com game Enemy Unknown.

Unless you play as an Imperial Guardsman or something it would be really hard to make since the setting is filled with weird magical "stuff" and melee combat.

Space Marine was ok from what I've seen, but I've only played a little of it.

Sabre said...

"Oh, I love that game! Damn shame it never got a sequel."

Re[public Commando. My favourite Star Wars thing, ends on a cliffhanger, and no sequel. :(

There was a game like Xcom but 40k, was for the DS, was called Squad Command, or something like that. The problem was, as with most warhammer games, they botched the execution.

Dawn of War Dark Crusade is a classic game, and yet despite being a great RTS, it pales in comparison to the mod Firestorm Over Kronus. I was actually a tester on that, briefly.

I can't remember if Final Liberation was real time or turn based. All I remember was that it was terrible, with awesome FMV scenes. You can see them on Youtube and are worth looking up. This is my favourite
http://youtu.be/LOi3CzZjV0M

The problem with games based on Warhammer, as hinted at, is botched execution. The Relic RTS games were great, with Blood Bowl being ok, but I don't play much because I'm terrible at it. I think there was a fantasy game that was a knock off of total war, but never played it or heard of it since release (assuming I didn't dream it)

Part of the reason is, ironically, something Bob once said "You can make a movie out of anything, but to do so you might have to rip it's guts out." It's a game where 8 billion people can die a horrible, torturous death, and be written off as 'acceptable losses', so making anything that isn't a RTS or TBS is difficult without it moving away from warhammer. I remember some people being mad at firewarrior because a piddly infantry man can kill a chaos demi god, let alone the hundreds of Space Marines, Chaos horrors and Imperial Guard that he does. Personally, I'm fine with that stuff.

Anonymous said...

Most of the hate was the extreme disconnect: A single firewarrior taking on hundreds of foes on his first day just broke their suspension of disbelief.

A space marine Captain with over 200 years of battle experience butchering hundreds of orks and Chaos abominations?

Soundsaboutright.jpg

Anonymous said...

Nice PS3 behind retrothinker this episode, but why is it in the kitchen? Wait a second!

Andrew said...

Anyone else notice when Retrothinker got up that Bob's got a sweet ass?

Andrew Anderson said...

Really liking the back and fourth between the over thinker and the retro thinker

Angry Birds said...

Interesting Blog...really enjoy while reading..re

Anonymous said...

Get out you neo-conservative, paranoid, Bush-apologizing, SELF REPEATING IGNORANT PILE OF BIASED SHIT .

NO ONE GIVES A FUCK ABOUT WHAT A GUY WHO COMMENTS (poorly) ON VIDEOGAMES HAS TO SAY ABOUT OR PRESIDENT.

AND EVEN IF HE DID HE WOULD GIVE EVEN LESS OF A FUCK ABOUT YOU!

Anonymous said...

Bob, I'm waiting for an answer you fucking coward: how can you support Obama when he's killed as many people as Bush?

Anonymous said...

Bob, I'm waiting for an answer you fucking coward: how can you support Obama when he's killed as many people as Bush?

Anonymous said...

Keep deleting my posts, Bob, but I will keep asking until you grow a pair and own up to your hypocrisy.

Looking Down The Crionics said...

Dear James,

Because Obama doesn't make the Hollywood liberal jew elite get sand in their vaginas. Now go wipe your ass with sandpaper.

Anonymous said...

Answer me, coward.

Anonymous said...

Bob, I will keep harassing you until you answer me: how many people will Obama have to kill before you admit he's as bad as Bush?

Anonymous said...

Bob, I will keep harassing you until you answer me: how many people will Obama have to kill before you admit he's as bad as Bush?

Anonymous said...

Bob, I will keep harassing you until you answer me: will you ever admit you were totally wrong about Other M?
I man seriously man, those two vids are constantly posted as jokes now.

Also the Simpsons defense was pretty weak too.

Jannie said...

If I may...

As a liberal, I did vote for Obama twice, however in all honesty we also have to admit that--yes--the UCAV bombing raids in Pakistan and Afghanistan are some pretty fucked up shit, and kill many innocents for little gain.

The best I can say, and this in no way a defense of such tactics, is that Obama kind of talked himself into a corner by deriding direct military actions such as in Iraq while at the same time KNOWING he had to do something about the terror camps and such throughout the region.

Too clever by half, you dig?

So, with no other option (or, no option that wouldn't have meant political suicide and been extremely embarrassing for liberals in general and democrats in particular) Obama had to just cut his losses and keep literally bombing Pakistan into the stone age.

The thing is that the Democrats in particular and liberals in general have a vaguely isolationist view about geopolitics, or more so a "it's everyone's problem not just ours" kind of doublethink going on, citizen of the world and globalization and yadda yadda...and because of this they can't do what the neocons want to do which is just invade anyone who openly poses a threat.

Now, obviously, that's not a perfect solution either--there is no good or bad answer, it's war it's a bad idea from the start. But its also dishonest for liberal to pretend that Obama somehow stopped the slaughter, or whatever, because it's still happening. What Obama managed to do, and why our image in the world is much better now, is he managed to make it:

A--distant
B--quiet
C--with robots

So people around the world, or those whose opinions matter anyway, don't care. Some like China have monstrous human rights histories and wouldn't care one way or the other if we nuked the entire Mid East. Others, like the EU states, only "care" inasmuch as we keep the grim and gritty holocaust remake to a dull roar.

So yeah. It's not UNTRUE to say that Obama is just as much of an asshole as Bush, it's simply that Obama is (for lack of a better word) "more east coast" or, even more bluntly, he does less to affront the allegedly enlightened worldview of white, western, First World civilization.

That's not Bush apologia, that's just reality.

Jannie said...

That's actually an accurate description of a lot of the Obama admin, that he's a quieter version of Bush.

For example, he's deported as many illegal aliens as Bush ever did, more actually, but again he makes it quiet and less embarrassing. That's really the greatest sin of Bush, is that he was no more or less of an asshole than most politicians (I'm recalling a study years ago which found virtually ALL politicians had significant sociopathic tendencies) but he was a lot more open, vocal and "uncivilized" about it.

Western civilization is no more enlightened now than it was when MY people (I'm black, BTW) used to be used as cheap farm equipment. The difference is that the west has developed this obsession with keeping its cataclysms as quiet and demure as possible.

Now Obama's views on many social issues match my own, since he's nominally liberal (centrist actually but who cares, close enough) so on things like health care, taxes, etc I agree with Obama.

But on the other hand, he's still a politician, and like all politicians, he's effectively a sociopath. I don't know about Bob or anyone else really but I realized a LONG time ago that you just write most politicians off as lost causes (morally, ethically) and vote for whichever one is going to kill the fewest poor people. That's Obama.

Looking Down The Crionics said...

From BuffaloBeast.com, this is a much better anti-Obama argument (that does compare him with Bush) that anything James could ever scrap together

6) Barack Obama
Crimes: A post-constitutional demagogue who ran on closing Guantanamo Bay, and ended up signing away Americans’ right to trial. But you can’t blame him for it. Really. Because he’ll be out of office when it begins. The guy is literally ordering flying robots to murder people throughout the Arab world — Americans even — but if you call him a fascist people think you’re in league with Glenn Beck or Lyndon LaRouche. While playing ninja assassin abroad, he takes a decidedly different tact with the terrorists at home, often folding to the whims of insane Republicans like so much origami. In too many ways, his first term may as well have been Bush’s third — with weak Wall St. regulations, an unconscionable war on medical marijuana and whistle-blowers, and total inaction on global warming. Seemingly more concerned with the rights and prosperity of those in the Middle East, his silence on the often violent OWS crackdowns was nothing short of galling.
Smoking Gun: “I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters. The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.”
Sentence: Toothy head from Jonathan Chait.


Source: http://buffalobeast.com/the-50-most-loathsome-americans/3/

Specter Von Baren said...

So... after going through the comments I've come to the conclusion that no one here can ever reach a conclusion. I hear something from one side and I go "Hhm, that sounds reasonable" then I hear something from the other and I think, "Oh, so that's how it is, well I guess this makes more sense." And then the side from before then counters that point or says they didn't get it right and it just goes on and on and on.

I've come to the conclusion that, even if I don't always agree with his points, that I need to just assume that Sabre is the person I should trust the most in these discussions.

As to the video itself, I was just boggled by it simply because it seemed to go completely against Bob's usual arguments (Not his motives or goal mind you, just how he goes about it). And I also believe that the lead up to the actual topic is too. Freaking. Painfully. Long. It made me long for the story I don't care about simply because stuff is actually happening in it instead of "two" guys not talking for long periods and occasionally making short comments in a semi realistic way in order to set up a discussion that the video should have just started with. I read the title of the video, you don't need to pretend that this is an organic conversation that just happened to come up.

Endarire said...

When it comes to games, fun's the thing. Innovation helps fun, and is needed, but not in great strides.

I cover this topic in my presentation "Fun, You, and Innovation"* found below:

http://campbellgrege.com/work-listing/fun-you-and-innovation/

*Because you always get caught in the middle.

Smashmatt202 said...

I like how the Super Mario Land music played as Ivan flew by... Also, the Nintendo Power magazine... *sigh*

Wait, IS Bad Dudes available on the Wii? I honestly forgot...

"clones" huh? I dunno, if something is similar to something else, that doesn't necessarily make it bad. Hell, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is clearly aping the Mario Kart aesthetic, but I think it's superior to, say, Mario Kart 7 is SO many ways.

I never really thought about gambling online because I don't gamble. I think it's stupid, and I don't get that same "thrill" as others do when they gamble.

So yeah, don't dismiss games outright because they choose to use something similar to a previous game.

So the red guy's the Devil? That's... well, I'll be honest, I feel that's a LITTLE anti-climactic. I dunno, I feel like once "the devil" gets involved, it's almost like a "jumping of the shark" moment... Unless this is simply a different guy who most people associate with the devil, which seems like is what you're going for.

So now he's just gone? What was all that about?!

Also, how could you go through that list of licensed beat-'em-ups and yet not mention The Simpsons, yet mention freaking C.O.W.boys of Moo Mesa?! Which I actually remember, pathetic as it sounds.

But yeah, I get what he's saying, and I agree. Templates are fine, just use them in different ways, whether it be narrative or visuals or whatever.

OH, a link to the Extra Credits episode about Spec Ops: The Line! Yeah, those guys rock! I like hearing them talk about games...

OH, The Binding of Isaac! I REALLY want to play that game, since I love Super Meat Boy so much! And Braid, that's a very thinky game, nice for discussions and interpretations.

Back to the story, oh boy... You know, it's funny, I was wondering why Pyrothinker and Cryothinker were still part of the opening credits even though they're dead... See, that always bothered me about openings, sometimes they spoil, and it's annoying. You know what's annoying? How the screen went "Oh shit! Cryothinker's back!" I HAVE EYES, YOU FREAKING COCKFACE! I don't need you to tell me how I should feel about a given situation!

...Although it is funny how both straw ninjas are basically just standing around and gloating while Retrothinker sneaks around them. They're funny like that.

...Sorry about the cockface comment, I just felt it was approrpiate in conveying how freaking annoyed I was with that shit.