Friday, 29 March 2013

GDC 2013 is breaking boundaries

How come you only ever hear of the negative stuff from industry conferences, like the Game Developers Conference? Why does the games press only ever report on arrogant pleas for interactive movies or other such gaffs we all jump on like starving mosquitoes in a blood bank? Because the actual conference itself, bar the odd tech demo and genuinely interesting point, is about as interesting as watching wind erosion in real time. 
However, things took a turn for the news-worthy when a industry party hosted by the International Game Developers Association shoved the GDC into the sexism in gaming issue, when they got some dancing girls in. Which lead to industry veteran, Brenda Romano resigning as co-chair of the IDGA's women in games special interest group, as well as one of the IGDA board members. To which the IGDA responded,

"As many of you know, the IGDA was a co-presenter of the YetiZen party Tuesday evening.
We recognise that some of the performers’ costumes at the party were inappropriate, and also some of the activities they performed were not what we expected or approved.
We regret that the IGDA was involved in this situation.  We do not condone activities that objectify or demean women or any other group of people.
One of the core values of the IGDA is encouraging inclusion and diversity.
Obviously we need to be more vigilant in our efforts.  We intend to be so in the future."

To the lay man, this seems like a huge overreaction to what is little more than what you would see in most night clubs. And  quite conservative compared to how some cosplayers dress at game events. Aren't people supposed to be letting their hair down at  a party? Well, if it's a get together of friends or clearly a social setting, then yes. The GDC isn't that. It's not a convention, it's a conference. Everything is related to the profession. All those people at the GDC aren't there to get wankered on Smirnoff ice for two days straight and ending back at in the hotel room of a obese Powergirl cosplayer-not that I know anything about that. They're all there representing their employers or product. Any sort of "party" is meant to be done in the most formal manner possible. It's a opportunity to network and continue discussion points. 
So when one of the main talkers (Ramano) had been speaking about how booth babes were contributing to the portrayal of women in gaming as either sex objects or rescue objectives. It kinda looks bad when a industry part right after has hired dancing girls. Even though people objected to party sponsor, YetiZen hiring dancing girls for last years GDC after party. So really Romano had no choice but to resign. It wasn't what the dancing girls were wearing, it was that the party sponsors thought it acceptable to hire eye candy for the men folk in the first place.
I know to many will be shocked that someone in the games industry actually has principles. And this coming on the heels  of Cystal Dynamics community manager, Megan Marie's blog post  outing a journo for making sexually inappropriate questions to cosplayers- and how she got criticised because looking good in photos and wearing skimpy outfits means you're asking to be creeped on- showed Romano had a massive point about the perception about women in the industry and female gamers have every right to attend gaming events without being made to feel like they just walked into a 15 year old boy's bedroom.
"Come on darling, it's only a joke, please have sex with me. FUCK YOU!

This isn't some supposed "feminazi" that the window lickers in the MRA scene use to propagate their mummy issues by telling you one of the nasty women want to stop you enjoying partys or being attracted to total strangers. This is about someone who's been working in the games industry for years asking that it's time we stopped using women as promotional decoration, and improve gaming for all involved. Just a bit of consideration and you never know, you may actually discover women are real people, if you can drag yourself away from Reddit that is.

Monday, 25 March 2013

American McGee hates your decadent complaining

Honest citizen, who I'm sure is free to walk the streets of China  if and whenever he wants to, and corporate suck up, American McGee has, for reasons unbeknown to anyone who gives  a toss, chimed in his opinion on current criticism of  a bureaucratic, anti-creativity, pro-censorship, organisation, universally criticised for it's human rights violations and disregard for all humanity for the pursuit of commerce...EA.

In a interview with Forbes, McGee talked about the desire to make a new Alice game. Which means having meetings with the games original publisher and owners of the Alice IP, EA. Cue slavish toadying up to them, when asked about the recent SimCity debacle, McGee started off reasonable enough,

"Customers have a right to expect that products
they've purchased perform as advertised"

Good American- can I call you American?- that's all you need to say on the matter. Even EA and Maxis eventually, sort of admitted that they fucked up royally with their implementation of an extraneous, always online digital rights management. But McGee must really want that Alice sequel, went off  on some good old corporate excuse making...

"That being said,  developers and publishers face extinction if
they can't solve the piracy issue while at the same time addressing
the demands gamers make regarding connected and accessible games"

"Being in China all I see are companies  who have solved 
these issues and customers who are happy with the results."

Oh goody, McGee is still stuck on the notion that we need DRM to stop us pirating games. Even though we already bought a legit copy. While a pirated version of a game, most likely procured from China- a country synonymous with piracy and total disregard for copyright law (lest we forget the knock off Apple stores?) but seeing as his development company is based in China, he's not gonna spout a foul word toward the Chinese government, nor will he criticise his hopeful paymasters. So it was surprise he threw in some poorly worded, shooting the messenger and victim blaming in there for good measure.

"Not sure I see how incendiary media coverage or player reactions
are warranted when things don't work as expected"

"Just because you've given a restaurant you business doesn't entitle you
to throwing molten cheese fries in your waiter's face if your margarita
comes out frozen instead of on the rocks"

What a great fucking analogy American. No wonder the Alice is so revered by pubescent emo girls, with such wondrous use of the English language. Oh sorry, I'm mistaken. That was a fucking rotten way to brush off the legitimate failure on Maxis' and EA's part. If EA ran this bizarre restaurant that served cocktails and cheese-laden chips that American describes, we wouldn't get the magarita we just paid for because there's only three glasses in the entire restaurant, which is the only joint that serves margaritas so no one buys a fake margarita in another restaurant or bar. And if we want a refund, we get banned from the restaurant. But that's ok with American McGee, because he hopes to get a job at that restaurant serving up some recycled old dish that's popular with people pining for a sub-par platformer with delusions of Tim Burton. I would suggest a change in diet

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Anonymous guest interview: Working in AAA part 2

In the previous post, my interview with anonymous former CEO of a Triple-A publisher was cut short as he insisted on $5 if I wanted to ask more questions. But thanks to some smart financial manoeuvring (I swiped the cash out of some chav's fruit machine winnings) and now I can continue the interview. As before, to protect the his/her career, the name of the CEO and the publisher he/she worked for has been changed.

Suicide Gaming: Going back to the subject of the games press. You were saying they were, essentially, a form of promotion for your games. Is that really the only purpose they serve?

John Dickirollo: No, we tend to use it as a talent pool for PR work and community managers. They tend to have a good connection and are just as inarticulate as most gamers are. It saves on agencies. But other than that, as far as the publisher is concerned, magazines, TV shows and websites exists purely to promote our products. Their audience comes from the showing of our products, that's why exclusive, early reviews are so fought after. Being first to review a game brings a huge boost to your viewership. It doesn't matter if it's crap, gamers only judge games writing on whether it agrees with their personal views. The games press are the cigarette and the we're the cancer.

SG: What?!

JD: The games press are the delivery system by which we reach our target audience with our advertising.

SG: Then I must ask, do reviewers get blacklisted for writing scathing reviews of your games?

JD: Absolutely not. If a  writer wants to negatively critique a game we've published or criticise our business practises, they are well within their right to do so. Much like we are within out right to pull our advertising from the publication it appears in and to never invite that writer to any of our press events or early previews.

SG: I can't help but be reminded of when Jackson Finger was fired from gaming site, Game Slot, right after he wrote a less than glowing reviewing for your third-person action title, "Barmy Army 2." Many suspected your company had a hand in his firing. 

JD: You'd have to ask the people in charge at Game Slot. I'm sure they felt he wasn't to the right standard for someone reviewing rEAlly titles and let him go...right after he gave seven out of 10 to Barmy Army 2...he'll come crawling back, just you wait.

SG: You mentioned the current economy has contributed to rEAlly'd financial woes, and to an extent, you stepping down as CEO. Are pre-owned games also part of the problem?

JD: Absolutely. Piracy is a problem too, but nowhere near as much as the pre-owned market.

SG: Why?

JD: Software piracy has been occurring before rEAlly games existed. But there's no real data on it. Pre-owned, however, does. You only have to go into any game retailer to see the size of their pre-owned section. And the mark-up they make on those games is ridiculous.  In some cases they make more money on the pre-owned games than they do on new titles.

SG:  So you view a pre-owned sale as a lost sale?

JD:  Absolutely. If someone is playing our game and they never paid for it, as far as we're concerned it's legal piracy. And retail has the audacity to beg us to reduce the price of each unit because they're struggling. To hell with them!

SG: So this explains the thinking behind the rEAlly online pass system, where gamers trying to play online with a pre-owned or borrowed game must sign over their soul to the extra dimensional super-fiend, Ian McGinty.

JD: That's common practice if gamers want to make sure they get early access to all exclusive and future DLC packs as standard. For people who hate the games industry and cheaped out on pre-owned, then selling what's left of their soul to Ian -we're on first name terms, don't you know- then they need to contribute to the upkeep of out business. It's shameful that people can buy our code and either sell it or give it to a friend without our say so. What if just one person bought a new copy of the new Bread Face spin off, "The Finger of Fudge" and  he sold it to someone, traded it in to a store or gave it to someone, then essentially he is regurgitating that game to someone who could of bought it brand new or whatever follow up we release next year. And what of that second guy trades in his pre-owned game again? The store could potentially sell the same one unit over and over!

SG: Much like you make a sports game and resell it year after year, with minor changes?

JD: Hey, there are genuine progressions made to all our sequels.

SG: No, they are basic add-ons that are disguised as sequels because you put a number on the box.

JD: Well I never! (bangs his fist on the table) It's bad enough I have to step down from cushy job in a industry I know nothing about, but to hear all my previous attempts to cement the legacy of rEAlly games are nothing but fodder for the ungrateful minority and gutter press, like yourself. Like sharks in a paddling pool full of ham, you all swarm on the slightest infraction or mistake, like forcing people to play on online servers that don't work. And the mean spirited way you all acted so offended at my amazing price plan of charging microtransactions for the slightest thing, like reloading a gun in a first person shooter. And the crap we got off the mainstream press for demanding players donate their first born, so we can cover the foundations of our head office with the blood of the innocent. It's all mountains out of molehills! Frankly, this forced resignation has been a blessing disguise. I'm well out of, what's it called?

SG: Video game.

JD: Yes, the video games business. I'm better off without it. Just remember. You cannot kill the great beast. You cut off one head and two more take it's place. You can never avoid rEAlly games foolish mortal.

At that point Jack Dickirollo disappeared in a cloud of smoke, bringing the interview to an end

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Anonymous guest interview: Working in AAA games

Being a small-time, shitty video games blog, I'm at the very bottom of the games media food chain. I don't get news early, I don't get review code nor do I get invited to press events. But thanks to my anonymous guest spots, industry professionals have kindly contributed material here, without risk to their job by revealing their name. And thanks to that concept we have a bit of a change. An anonymous guest interview! Obviously, I can't reveal their identity or the name of the publisher they worked for, but I can tell you they (up until recently) worked very high up for a triple-A publisher. And they he/she has promised to answer all my questions, with 100% honesty.

"Jack Dickirollo" has been the Chief Executive Officer for  rEAlly games  for about six years- earning 800,000 sods a year, until recently, where he  stepped down for unknown reasons.

SuicideGaming: Thank you for granting me this interview. So, I'll just come right out and ask the burning question, why did you resign?

Jack Dickirollo: Glad to contribute,  no one is ever gonna read this anyway, so I'm golden. In answer to your question, it was heavily advised by the Chief Operating Officer and our share holders that the best thing to do - in light of the poor financial returns for last year- that I step down as CEO of rEAlly game. As the CEO, the buck stops with me. I've done some great things that I'm really proud of. But I also have to accept responsibility for when things go less than our research predicted...Plus, I get a severance pay of two years wages. So I don't have to sell my ivory yacht just yet. 

SG: So what cause the board and COO to lose such faith in you?

JD: It was a culmination of things. Like I said, last year was one of our worst financial years. On the surface things have looked like we were sailing along like normal, and we were. But a lot of our profits went into very risky and expensive projects...

SG: (interrupting) You mean the failed MMO?

JD: That was the main one. We threw the chequebook at B.O.Ware, they had made us some successful RPGs and some moderately successful DLC for them. It seemed a no-brainer to have them make a MMORPG. At the time every big publisher was trying get a bite of the WOW cherry. This was before having a free-to-play model for MMOs was even a idea to our research. We saw all the potential for a world-wide, constant userbase that would always be connected to us 24/7. And when we purchased the rights to the movie, The Lawnmower Man - which our research showed was a great IP to exploit and had great recognition amongst 28 and a half - 29 year old males. It had mega-hit written all over it. 

SG: So why wasn't it a hit?

JD: By the time, Lawnmower Universe Online was finished, the MMO bubble had burst. We spent millions on developing the servers, setting up the intricate systems of  of buying new kinds of hair and even got Pierce Brosnan involved with the marketing. But the initial reaction was less than stellar. less than half of what our research had  had predicted. Less than six months later, that userbase has reduced by 9% and then we got caught up in a pointless media shit storm.

SG: I take it you're referring to the now infamous planet of exclusively gay characters?

JD: It was the media trying to make a story out of nothing. We thought it shrewd to cash in on our research into LGBT gamers who wanted the option of same sex relationships in Lawnmower Universe Online. It was a option in B.O. Ware's previous title, "Brass Effect" so we decided to have a gay planet, so if players wanted to gay up their game experience, they could. What's so bad about that?

SG: Well some took offence that the gay characters couldn't leave the planet and the planet was called, "Nancy-Prime 075"

JD: And it cost us a small fortune copyrighting that name as well. Some transformers fetish site wanted it. But by that point the free-to-play model was becoming the new thing. And it seemed like a great way to instantly recoup our money, but the failure of LUO began a snowball effect that pushed the need for more profits on future titles, to help cover the costs. We always had the foundation games, you know, yearly updates like BIFA: 5-a-side football and John Craven's Rugby. Those games keep the lights on in the office and maintains the upkeep of my luxury catamaran. The B-Games, like Bread Face do slightly less business but are worth investing in, in hope they cross over into big sales.

SG: On the subject of the Bread Face series, the critically acclaimed survival horror game set in a haunted cake shop Why do you think the third in the series failed to meet it's sales expectations?

JD: Partly because of the massive debt left by LUO, but mainly it was simple because the developers had gone made with power. Sure they included our original idea of 17-player co-op and a in-game system of upgrading your shoes for real money, that was great, but the producer lost the plot and overshot the budget. Prior to LUO bombing, that wouldnt' have been too bad, but when I saw the money being spent, I had to step in and insist the game be wrapped up and shipped, to stop the production hemorrhaging any more money. Fact is, AAA game budgets need AAA game sales figures. And Bread Face 3 just didn't sell well enough for a sequel.

SG: Some blame Bread Face 3's drop in sale on the new co-op and microtransactions as well as the game looking unfinished in paces. 

JD: It wasn't unfinished, the producer stupidly included too much if anything. He left almost nothing for DLC. I just stopped him including too much free content. 

SG: By "free content", you mean the game that comes on the disc?

JD: Precisely. We put up all the production and marketing costs. It's our game code, our IP, not the gamers. All they own is a plastic circle and the box it came in, so we'll sell them the media to play our game in any way we see fit. And no way did we cheap out on Bread Face 3, we spent millions to get Elkie Brooks to sing on the TV ads. The failure of Bread Face 3 is just the series running it's course. 

SG: On the subject on the media people play their games on. One of your biggest achievements at rEAlly games was the creation of the online distribution store, rEAlly: Oh-Press. The service recently came under heavy criticism when-

JD: (interrupting) I know where this is going. We spent millions on those Oh-Press servers. Our research simply could not have predicted the huge rush of people on the release of our digital wendy house sim would cause them to crash. How could we have known that would happen? A crystal ball? Reading tea leaves?

SG: Making a educated guess from pre-orders? 

JD: Market research doesn't work like that. It takes years and millions of dollars to fully conduct it. The servers are, more or less, working now and we made amends with our customers by giving every Oh-Press user a free tyre change in our digital racing game, Drivings. That's worth $2.99 in real money. 

SG: Would you not admit that Digital Wendy House needing a always on internet connection was probably the cause of the server crashes? Why did a mostly single player game need to connected to your Oh-Press servers anyway?

JD: Well how else are we supposed to monitor everything our customers are doing and deliver more microtransaction more efficiently? That's the main appeal of the Oh-Press system.

SG: So are you saying DRM and microtransactions are just ways to keep your customers on a short leash?

JD: What else is it good for? Fighting piracy? That's just what we tell the press. Once we have customers in our grasp we don't let go, that why we want them always connected to our servers. And it gets them into a pattern of behaviour where they get used to always being connected to us and a future of freemium games.

SG: So you think the future is the free-to-play market?

JD: I think every game should be freemium, in a sense. Our research shows people are less inclined to buy a title they're never tried before, so the best way around that is to sell them the opening portion of a game, and if they like it, they can pay to unlock other aspects of it. 

SG: It sounds like a paid demo.

JD: Because it is! It's the future of the industry.

SG: So you don't see a link between everything you just talked about and your resignation?

JD: It was LUO huge budget and lack of revenue that did it. We should of gone with a freemium pricing policy from the get-go. The knock-on effect on other titles to perform outstandingly in this economy was the unavoidable. I'm stepping down as a way for rEAlly games to streamline their corporate operation. It's been a tough year for rEAlly. Especially with the press using every slight mistake as a opportunity to publically bash us. No wonder out COO, Paul Minks felt he had to tell those arguing bastards on 

SG: You don't think games media should openly criticise publishers?

JD: No, that's not what they're for. They're the last line of publicity. No one cares about review scores because they make no difference. And they would all go out of business of we pulled our adverts. That's the only purpose magazines and websites have, to publicise our games. When they report on a release date or preview, or some promotional item, it's publicising our game. Or do the dude-bros at IGN, the weaboos at Kotaku or the smug hipsters at Polygon think we send them free stuff and invite them to fancy events because we like them?

At this point, Jack Dickirollo said he wouldn't answer any more questions until I paid him $5. Something this blog doesn't have. So unfortunately I had to cut the interview there.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

MCV says EA are the best

As night follows day, you can always rely on a big publisher to cock things up royally, just like you can also expect the wasted genetics that comprise the ranks of hack,  games journalism to defend said cock up. And the lying cowards at MCV are no different with their latest piece of corporate cock sucking, in which the editor-in-chief, Michael French had the brassiest of necks to write a lovingly written piece, that wanks off EA, actually stating that the SimCity  server failures were a good thing for EA. Yes, really.

Whether Michael French had a straight face when he described the servers for SimCity dying on day one as, "teething problems" is unclear. Those dead eyes, that radiate pure evil indifference, are very hard to read. But the sheer stupidity of the term, "teething problems" to express a game not actually playing is. No Michael, a teething problem is maybe a bit of screen tearing from time to time, or the icon for a power station randomly turning into a tiny portrait of Harvey Keitel. Buying a game from a sole online service, that required to be always connected to it, then doesn't actually play is a fucking disgrace. And EA have only themselves to blame by forcing  DRM on their customers for no good reason. Especially in light of modded versions of SimCity able to play offline -something French thinks is a option that would require Maxis to create Skynet to do. And the recent revelation that Sim City didn't really need to be online in the first place!

In the compromised opinion of Michael French and his demonic pay masters, all that crap wasn't a PR disaster and good reason never  to buy a EA product ever again. Not to dear Frenchie ,

"Every time a publisher has a widely-publicised problem with something like DRM or "always on" 
games, it isn't another nail in the coffin for that strategy- it's another nail in the coffin for whatever that strategy is trying to kill off.  Because companies usually get smarter as they try and try again with things like this"

Which -via the help of PR bullshit translating software- means, "Yes, EA are technically stupid for this carry on, but EA buy advertising space, so they could stab my own mother in the face with a rusty fish slice and I would say it was a brilliant idea, the second the cheque clears." 
We really shouldn't be surprised by MCV's constant justification of publishers and their brain-dead ideas that serve to only hamper the game playing experience in the name of progress. After all, MCV is a trade publication and it's focus is on the industry, which means suckling on the teat of advertising revenue and contributing to the ego-inflating hullabaloo of free consoles, and the odd line of Bolivia's finest, that is the GMAs. They don't give a monkey's toss about gamers. Otherwise, why else would French liken always-on DRM to Xbox achievements- unless it was the kind of sorry, excuse making, that would make a battered spouse blush with embarrassment? Is that it? We just know EA like you do? We don't see their sensitive, non-shitty-to-gamers side?

Thing is, dear Frenchie, Xbox achievements and PS3 trophies are  a extraneous bonus for gamers to compare some level of expertise against each other. If they disappeared tomorrow, it wouldn't affect any game I own on my Xbox 360. Hell, I don't even have to be connected to Xbox LIVE to unlock them. EA's attempt to keep tabs on their customers at all times is a built in part of the game. No online connection, no game. The slightest glitch on your internet connection and it's no game for you.  Achievements are something anyone (within reason) can take or leave. A game not playing when you want it to is kind of a deal breaker. 

And why should EA be excused, because they'll learn from their mistake and make things better in the future? Fuck that! EA are one of the biggest publishers in the games industry, not some plucky start up company, who exist day to day. If they've got enough money to buy the opinion of the gaming press, then they bloody well splash out on a online servers that can handle the strain or hire someone smart enough to realise DRM does nothing more than promote the idea of game piracy

Friday, 15 March 2013

CVG asks the tough questions

In the previous post, I made a slight jab at whatever wasted ejaculation at Eurogamer didn't press Josef Fares on the "who cares about value for money" remark. That was misplaced -what can I say? Old habits die hard. And of course, I forgot CVG  existed (no, I don't care if you want me to call it C&VG). Much like one would block out a childhood memory of walking in on your bloated slug of a step father giving it to your mum, I had learnt to phase out their PR-led drivel and cosplay wank offs.  Until the other day, when I saw a link to a CVG interview  with Lucy Bradshaw, the general manager at Maxis, who developed the barely working Sim City. The always online DRM of which brought untold misery it's players on account that they couldn't actually play it. So did the associate editor of CVG give Bradshaw a intense grilling over the hot topic of DRM and the slightly eroding relationship between big time publishers and the audience? Na, he just did a glorified Edge-style interview where he regurgitated Bradshaw's PR guff.

The man of dubious editing decisions, Rob Crossley, essentially asked Bradshaw about the Sim City servers conking out on the day of launch and refusing their customers the basic consumer right of a refund (seriously, why is that such a outlandish demand?) and the overall shittyness of DRM but got a scroll of pointless, corporate mewlings that offered no real insight or genuine apology or recognition of how EA fucked up big time. And Crossley thought that was news worthy enough to put up because he had a nice chat with Bradshaw at GDC last year and she's alright, because if she wasn't in charge of all the Sims related titles, then she'd be one of the many being denied the game she paid for or the basic right to a refund, so she's allowed a pass for not properly answering any  question and Crossley not to have pressed her on any matter. Yeah, great stuff Rob. Your headline should of read, "Person doesn't answer anything we asked, but here it is anyway!"

I read it as a kid, I didn't realise it's always been shit

You gotta love how Bradhsaw answered the question about Origin customers being denied refunds, and whether there should be some legal precedent for future, inevitable Origin server fuck ups,

"We have the best fans in the world, some of whom have stuck by us for more than 20 years."
"With reguards to legal precedents, I will leave that to the experts."

Which, for the sake of those not fluent in PR bullshit, means, "We've got loads of fans who have so far bought all our products and put up with any old crap we've pulled. We've got their money now so fuck 'em"
You may notice producers, PR scumbags and the like starting to use the term, "We have the best fans in the world" or words to that effect, being used more and more recently, especially when it concerns a grievance gamers happen to have about a particular game. Right before said game-making type tells said gamers to fuck off in (usually) the most polite, passive aggressive way possible. 
It's like that classic hypocritical prefix people use, when they say, "I ain't racist, but..." and then they say something quite racist. That's what, "We have the best fans" is. It's easy, look...

"We have the best fans, but if they expect a refund for a product they can't even access, they go fuck their dead mothers for it. Because we hold on to revenue like it cures us of the demons that have invaded our very bodys where our souls used to be."

Try it yourself, send it in on a postcard to the usual address. There's no prize or nothing, but I'll enjoy it. And will be certainly a lot more enjoyable than read the sad excuse for games journalism Rob Crossley forces on you. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Josef Fares is great at games promotion

Indie games are great, aren't they? You don't have to trudge down to the high street with the risk you wasted your journey because your games shop sold out of the game you want or the slack-jawed warranty floggers at GAME either don't have it or only have it pre-owned at a shit price. You can download it right away or play it via a streaming service and there's a more broad spectrum of genres and art styles that have lead to the rise of games that, due their relatively small budget, have the freedom to far more experimental with their aesthetics and concepts compared to the Triple-A publishers. And they are much cheaper too!

But it seems Swedish film maker and part of the creative force behind Starbreeze's latest title, Brothers- a tale of two sons, is a bit iffy about the last part with a top act of foot in mouth.
In a interview with Eurogamer, Fares brought up the subject of overlong running times and how he and Starbreeze proactively wanted to avoid a bloated play time,

     "everything you see, it happens only once. It is a three or four hour game. We could of made it 
      ten hours if we wanted, but it's more important to keep the player curious, and on a journey"

Nothing wrong with that. After all some of the more popular and acclaimed indie games have had relatively short game-spans. Games which have shown the player all it has by the second or third play though at most. And Fares makes a fair point about it's better to have a short, good game than a long bad one. However, Fares shit in the Ikea cake of promotion when he stepped onto a topical landmine, price. 

"Who cares about value for money? You never question how long a movie was"

Well, if it cost £40 to see a movie, people wouldn't question how long the film was. Because they'd be too busy wondering if the cinema manager had lost his fucking mind or if it was just company policy to make cinema tickets more of a rip off than the price of their snacks. 
That's not to say Brothers will be disproportionately priced, at least you would hope not. But in the climate of locked off disc content being sold back as DLC, microtransactions in full price games, basic content held behind pay walls, DRM crippling games from launch and online passes, it's a little beyond insulting your potential audience. Who cares about value for money? The people who the money belongs to, that's who. Great job on challenging him on that point Eurogamer.

In terms on dick headdery, it's up there with Cliffy B telling gamers to stop whinging about the extra cost of DLC because he's rich as a bastard, and can afford it all, so all gamers should be able to as well

The only upshot of Fares' twattish statement means if gaming loses Jonathan Blow or Phil Fish, indie gaming will have a egocentric turd to step into their shoes. As a test, lets see what Fares has to say about the value of a game if gamers either wait two weeks from launch to buy it (a rather stellar tactic devised by Jim Sterling) or get a pirated version. Actually, just do the second option, because who cares about game developers getting paid for their effort? 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Look what you've done Anita Sarkeesian!

...Is it safe to come out yet? Has the premier episode of Tropes vs Women convinced all our ruling governments to eradicate all games consoles? Because the internet said all that special kickstarter money that Anita Sarkeesian raised was gonna be used to hire an entire army of Godless mercenaries to come 'round our houses (or studio flat) and stamp, with extreme prejudice, on every single game -be it cartridge, disc or one of those TV plug-in things- until all our game collections are nothing more than a pile of fine dust, moistened only by our tears...Oh, wait a minute nothing fucking happened. Well except a video got uploaded to Youtube and, in Youtube tradition, a shower of morons felt the urge to pollute the universe with their opinions.

NO!  My PS3 is like a penis to me. Except it still works

It does beg the question, much when those in the tabloid media try to drum up a clearly false scare story about video games, have the biggest detractors of Tropes vs Women actually seen it?  Because I watched it, and at no point did Sarkeesian say any game should be banned, that any one game producer was sexist in of themselves or any particular game was inherently sexist. Just there is a over reliance on the old chestnut of, "bad guy takes your best gal, go rescue her." It wasn't sarcastic or overly critical (except from her clear disdain for the girlfriend-punching opening to Double Dragon) and brought up the fact that you can love something but still be critical of it. You know, like every fucking gamer does all the time, and has done ever since  games magazine had a letters page. If anything, it reminded me of a Open University educational series, where video games and their common plot devices are being explained to the layman.  A layman who would clearly see the knee jerk, stone-melting anger that preceded the video is evidence enough that there is a serious problem with misogyny in gaming, which I touched on previously.
But, as we know, Youtube is the place where common sense and reasoned debate goes to die, and even though Sarkeesian had to turn off the comments on her videos -which  at least follows the advice of the indifferent shruggers who don't understand why they don't actually have the right to scream "faggot"at Adam Sessler for making a mistake about the wording of a Trophy on a God of War: Ascension review. "If you don't like it just disable comments"- which she did and even then she got criticised for. By the golden human being -wait, sorry- I meant arrogant wank-filled, woman hater, known as the Amazing Atheist.
Who, in a recent video criticised  Sarkeesian for disabling comments on Tropes vs Women. His point (to save you watching the video) being that you always will get the lunatic fringe commenting and do cut off all comments only cuts off anyone who would praise or legitimately criticise it. "What's wrong with that?" you may very well ask. Well, nothing unless last year, you shat a massive MRA-turd on Reddit, telling a rape victim they deserved it.

Really, the Amazing Atheist, or Terroja Lee Kinkaid as his regretful mother calls him, answered his own question, Sarkeesian turned the comments off to get some respite from  emotional grooming, repressed, backwards, mouth breathing man-children like Kinkaid. Let me clear something right up, being a atheist doesn't automatically make you smart or superior. Nor does it mean you're always right. No more than wearing a pair of glasses alone would make you clever. Kinkaid may have apologised for his entry for  the biggest cunt on the internet contest, and the current video may be , on the surface, civil. Don't buy it. He's merely replaced out and out twattery with passive aggression at best. At worst, he doesn't give a toss and  thinks leaving Reddit is enough for a fresh slate and he can go back to his very shaky moral high ground, unaware that his MRA bullshit makes him as anti-progressive as the religious types he so likes to criticise. And don't think that means I'm religious, because I'm not. But Kinkaid's zealotry to a lost cause and needless  attempts to try and catch out one person's opinion, based on established facts (sorry but Tropes vs Women is the least emotional or subjective gaming video you'll find for quite a while yet) makes him no better than the Spanish Inquisition. And at least they were entertaining
Don't deny my male rights. Link must never be a woman!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Anonymous guest spot: Why gamers need to STFU

Brace yourself, because this is a big one. Previous guest writer spots have been from those within gaming media. But the allure of being able to write totally uncensored for a do-nothing blog (under the guise of total anonymity) on the subject of their choice. And even though I'm obligated not to reveal their identity, I can tell you it's someone really high up in the world of game development. I'm talking triple-A of the big boys! So I won't waste any more space with my nonsense and as agreed to the mystery writer, I will forget what I saw backstage at last years E3..

Why gamers need to shut the FUCK up

By Cliff E. Breeze

What's up gamers? I'll tell ya what's up, the volume of your voices. See, the thing is we now live in a new golden age of communications technology, where we can share ideas and thoughts with pretty much anyone on the planet. As someone who used to spend entire evenings waiting on 33K internet connections to slowly boot up Ultima message boards and read every gaming magazine cover to cover as it was the only way to access information about upcoming video games and who actually made those games, I'm hugely impressed and thankful I live in a world where I can come up with a awesome new IP and send it to, say, the wonder CEO of EA, Peter Moore, and he can give me instant feedback on how to make it more awesome. But this new age of ultra-fast communication is a double-edged assault rifle.
Before the boom of high speed broadband and affordable computers, the only way gamers got their information and communicated with each other was either through the letters page in a game magazine or -in some cases- those who had set up a message board for their favourite game. So gamers either digested info from the magazine or exchanged it with each other. But now we live in a  world where anyone can voice his opinion, even when no one wants to hear it. And that's the problem.

Case in point, the online, verbal garbage that is still going on about the slightly delayed Sim City launch. Can you believe it? People are still clinging on to their butthurt because they couldn't play a game they paid money for right away.  Really, bro? And then every d-bag with a keyboard got on their high horse about how EA are so awful for making a new Sim City game that so many people wanted it crashed  the Origin servers. So EA bring back a much loved classic, decide to distribute it on a easy to use, available to all digital medium. And because the rush to play it causes the servers to grind to a halt, it's EA's fault? Dude, that's retarded. And then those entitled babys then use it to bash EA further over Sim City's DRM and the clearly false rumour that every EA game from now on will have microtransactions in them. And then the games press -the very people who should be promoting the games industry- started some ol' bullshit about adding microtransactions and co-op modes to Dead Space 3 got the series shit canned. It got so bad, that the very fair and wicked cool CEO of EA, Peter Moore had to address the totally fake non-story personally! 

That the very busy CEO of EA had to take time out of his ultra busy schedule, greenlighting awesome EA games, to deny a obviously made up story is bad enough. But for every fanboy loser to pee their pants over a slight wait to play a new game, having a game needing to be always connected to the internet and the option to buy awesome new stuff in their game, over and over, all the fucking time! And that's why all gamers need to shut the fuck up.

Do you actually know how much it costs to make a AAA game? All the overheads, development time, Beta testing, promotion, distribution? It all costs money, BIG money! Hell, on [censored] our art department coded 206 different shades of gray alone! Do you know how much that costs? A lot, that's how much!
But do these gamers care? Shit no. I guess gamers gotta hate on something, right? Even though they know nothing about the games industry, they think they have the god given right to mouth off about it. 
Bro, I produce AAA games, know the delicious Peter Moore and have a very young girlfriend. You are some loser fanboy, playing video games in your mom's basement and couldn't bang a PR girl if your life depended on it. So shut the fuck up.

We in the games industry actually make the games and own the intellectual properties that you pay to play. You don't own the games, we do and we'll decide what price to sell them for, and for whatever fashion we want to sell them, ok? And it's not as if the price of DLC or microtransactions in video games cost a lot anyway. I just bought my very young girlfriend a new Lamborghini -her feet can't reach the pedals yet, but it's the thought that counts- and that cost WAY more than a multiplayer map or a cool, neon pink weapon skin. 
And it's all part of the gaming experience. In real life, if you were a space marine or stuck on a winter planet, being stalked by John Carpenter's The Thing, and you wanted to upgrade your weapon or paint it with a leopard print design, you would to PAY for it. A magical gun fairy doesn't come and do it all for you while you sleep. Wake up and smell the Red Bull, you nerds. We're just giving you added realism! So shut the fuck up!

I and the and the healthy, big-dicked  bros at EA - or any developer/publisher for that matter- should not be expected to jump at the slightest bit of aggro from you Axe wearing virgins, who think they have the right to say anything to me, just because they bought a game I made. I'll tell you right now, if you ever get your panties in a bunch over a ending of any game I produce, follow my previous advice and shut the fuck up. Shuck the fuck up for infinity because me and the entire games industry don't owe you jack shit. Just smile, buy the games and shut the fuck up. 

...And be sure to tune in to my new web series, where me and my very young girlfriend travel around finding desperate gamers (who have the decency to keep their opinions to themselves) and giving them dating tips, life advice and general hair care. It's gonna be called, "Cliff 'll Fix It" so keep a look out for that, Peace!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Things are going great for EA

It's often wondered, do game publishers hate their customers? No, of course not -unless it's Capcom- it's nothing personal. It's just the people in charge of most big publishers are run by money hungry bastards, who  see you as walking wallets who only exist to prop their profit margins up. Of course they don't say it, that would be insane. No, they hide their clear desire to milk you of every stray penny by disguising it in corporate buzzwords, or "bullshit" as it's known. Because frankly, there's more evidence to suggest that the big publishers are just fucking clueless and any success they have is mostly blind luck. How else would you explain EA's latest shenanigans?

According to Eurogamer, Dead Space 3 has sold far below expectation of it a supposed target of five million sales. Even after EA did everything to make it as appealing to the mainstream as possible- which is PR jargon for, "Lets make it as much like Battlefield as possible and chuck in a load of microtransactions, so we can wank more money out of those poor souls who don't know any better." And now the rumour is that the Dead Space franchise has been cancelled. Although Dino Ignacio at Visceral Games says otherwise, the recent spate of lay offs can't bode well for the future of the IP. An IP the big nobs at EA don't seem to understand, as Dead Space was never a game that was gonna knock Battlefield's (another series that's at risk after severe sequel fatigue) sales figures into touch. It was a moody, atmospheric horror game that showed the days of captivating single player experiences, in the over familiar sci-fi setting, were alive and well. But EA honestly thought that shoving in a co-op mode, into a horror game, and adding in the kind of microtransactions that core gamers openly resent would make it a massive hit.

And, as anyone who tried to play Sim City on Origin will tell you, the servers have ground to a halt at launch. As reported in Rock Paper Shotgun, players, who for paid for the online only game that requires the  always on  DRM that is their online games service, had to wait while the servers settles out after the US launch. What a great idea, far more convenient than just buying a  disc and playing it. No, EA force people to buy your game through one medium and force them to be online all the time on a service that can't handle the kind of traffic that still seems to catch big publisher's unaware.

Of course those mass irritants would be labelled as, "improving the player experience" and "protecting the industry and our IP" which just means doing their up most best to force gamers into a future where the only way to play EA games will be to connect a cable directly in their brains, where Origin will stream one military first person shooter into your cerebral cortex and part of the Origin agreement means staying connected for the rest of your life. That's what it really is. isn't it John Riccitello?  You and the overlords or mediocrity that pay your wages fear the idea of consumer choice and freedom. And the only solution is to force gamers into slowly accepting a existence where they are totally dependant on being connected to your machine of evil intent. Admit it Mr Riccitello, you're making the fucking matrix, for real! Aren't you?!
Because that's the only logical explanation I can think of for all these fun-killing ideas.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Video games seems to have a woman problem

And no, I don't mean period pains, give me some fucking credit. It's been a while since I've chucked my two cents worth of opinion into the torrent of sewage that is gaming media, and the continuing hot topic, much to the dismay of internet misogynists, of sexism in video games. The seemingly never ending argument between the politically correct and angry lady-haters came to my attention when I read of a Sony  Online Entertainment's is offering a scholarship to American graduates on Gamesindustry International as part of their, "Gamers In Real Life" (G.I.R.L.) design competition where the successful student wins $10,000 towards their tuition and a paid internship with SOE. Not bad eh? But unfortunately the writer of that article,  the shockingly entitled  and unfair Rachel Weber, had to piss on everyone's bonfire by bringing up a interview with SOE senior VP of global sales and marketing, Laura Naviaux (another bloody woman) who said he hoped the G.I.R.L. scholarship would encourage more women to work in the production of video games,

"We want to help make the games industry even that much more
approachable and our goal with the G.I.R.L. Scholarship is to provide an easy
way to usher even more women into the industry"

You only have the read the litany of boring bastards that comprise the comments section (yes, Bruce Evriss, we're talking to you)   see G.I.R.L. as unnecessary tokenism. Even though the scholarship is open to both male and female undergraduates, most  see it as as a bad thing that is being sexist to men or not warranted because they don't see it as  a important issue, much like any gaming forum which brings up the topic of sexism/feminism in gaming. Those people would ask why is there any need for G.I.R.L. or other initiatives. like a women only gamejam. Why do such events that want to focus solely on women that work in gaming -by which I actual making of video games- treated with either the lazy indifference of, "Well I've not seen any sexism so it can't be a actual problem" or mouth-frothing, "Those damn ladies want to cut our bollocks off and make us only play Farmville" rantings of the men's rights activists. Or as everyone else calls then, "fucking morons." Of course in between those two extremes are plenty of gamers and industry workers who don't hate women, treat any positive action for women in games without contempt or think of them solely as sex objects. But the moderates tend to be drowned out by the extreme minorities on the internet. Who, ironically, are the very answer to their main question, why do we need things like G.I.R.L?

Granted, the G.I.R.L. scholarship is most likely, deep down, a way for Sony to pat themselves on the back and go, "Look, we might hire a woman to work for us in the design department. We've fixed gaming culture!" But Laura Naviaux's comments about wanting G.I.R.L. to encourage more women to seek work in the games industry are what should be focused on. Because that's the main reason why these things occur. A fair few people will tell you the main reason there are so few women working in the creative and programming side is because there are so few applicants. So why is that?  Why do so few women want to work for developers?

One only has to look at the recent twitter trend of #1reasonwhy and some of the  reactions to it - and the no doubt psychotic reaction the Tropes vs Women will get- to see women in gaming is a issue. It's only now people have had to chance to actually discuss it so openly. And even then, a lot of these women were branded as being whining feminazis who were making a big deal out of nothing. As if speaking out about such things hurts video games. And if they did receive ill-treatment, then it was some how their fault. You do realise how fucking insane that is, right? No wonder so few women want to work in that environment
I only said I didn't like seeing semi-nude models at launch events

If you honestly don't believe any of the anecdotes that #1reasonwhy is a real issue within the industry and culture of video gaming or worse, think anyone, female or not, should just accept abuse and harassment as part and parcel of playing games, then I'm sorry to put this to you, but you've got to take a step back from gaming as a whole and get some fucking perspective, because your myopic  view of things seems to have deprived you of basic human empathy. A lot of people in gaming, from CEOs, to producers and gamers seem to employ a strange duality of playing the victim and the bully, if and when it suits them. Publishers will cry out over supposed lost sales from pirated and pre-owned games (because they honestly believe they are both as bad as each other)  and how they need support from gamers, then gouge them with microtransactions and locked off DLC and inconvenient them with draconian DRM. And you only have to look on any gaming forum, and you'll find threads (rightfully) speaking out over the currant misrepresentation of gaming in the media and how gaming has become the currant tabloid boogieman. And those threads will be right by a thread of angry overreactions at fake nerd girls, attention whores or why any female who suffers abuse based purely on their gender are being whiny crybabies who should just put up and shut up. You know, just like how some publishers, producers or game journalists do to gamers who bring up a grievance.
From a outsider's view it looks insane.

Of course not every gamer displays this openly contemptuous hypocrisy, but enough do to show it's clearly a problem within the culture of gaming. And even if you, yourself have never acted with extreme hostility to a female gamer, sticking your head in the sand over this issue doesn't help. Things like G.I.R.L. exist because maybe female gamers, developers or writers want to meet up in a environment where they no they can be free from the usual judgement and hatred they get branded with? You know, like many people within gaming and geek culture on the whole have do? Granted, you may feel confused or even insulted by such things. And cutting one self off from certain negative aspects of a scene you follow is only a quick fix. But is it really a big deal when once in a while female gamers or industry professionals want to meet up or celebrate other females in their field, and encourage more females to enter it? Is there really no room for that? Hell, G.I.R.L. is only open to American graduates over the age of 18 so you might as well play the racism and ageism card as well.

And to those brave Men's Rights Activists, who seem to have gotten it into their feeble brains that women speaking out about having every criticism and insult thrown at them by drawing attention to their gender -something they didn't choose-recounting how they've been groped at conventions or threatened with unfettered hatred and sexual violence, or even just bringing up the subject of the way females are portrayed in video games (which will all come tho the fore again when the the first Tropes vs Women video arrives in a couple of days) translates as, "I'm one of those horrible women you've read about and I feed off of your constant attention at my tits by pretending to like Doctor Who and tricking you into thinking I like you. And worse yet, I have a differing opinion to yours, so that means I want to completely eradicate everything you hold dear- because that's what you would fucking do- oh yes, I wasn't much impressed how that Hitman trailer seemed to fetishise graphic violence against women, so I'm gonna ban every fucking game with a gun in it!" If you are part of the MRA twat brigade (or just the editor of Now Gamer) who believes I'm just "white knighting," then first off, the term, "White Knight" is supposed to refer to someone (usually male) who tries to "save" a party (usually female) even though they don't need any help. I'm trying to help those that don't deserve it. You!
Because this closed off, circle the wagons at the slightest hint of something or someone different coming into the hallowed world of gaming and/or daring to bring up any sort of criticism, is doing more fucking damage  than any feminazi, fake gamer girl or video series  you imagine could do. And I don't say this from some ivory tower, looking down on you. Because, years ago, I thought in similar way to many male gamers do...or did you think my twitter userpic was actually me?
Yes, I slag off PR people when I'm not shagging my brother

Take it from me, that pointless mindset will achieve nothing. But I don't totally blame every woman hater in the gaming community. Some of them are still quite young and simply just don't know any better, I know I didn't and I still have stuff to work out even at the age of 33. It's no wonder so many boys have a distorted idea of  women when the predominant image of females in gaming are either paid models to act as decoration, hyper-sexualised sci-fi lap dancers or the tired and tested damsel in distress. So they're confused and intimidated when actual women bemoans a lack of relatable or fulled clothed female characters and are not impressed with constantly being called bitch, that fucking tired sandwich line or having pictures of a 16 year old's dick sent to them. And no, because you get treated like shit  online does it give you the right to hurl it back, because last time I checked, two wrongs don't make a right. And following some crappy burlesque dancer on facebook doesn't constitute a real human relationship. One day (hopefully) you'll realise there are actual women beyond the domain of a forum and xbox live and you'll meet them and realise they're real people. And wanting fair or equal treatment doesn't mean the other party has to capitulate everything they do.
There's enough space for women in gaming. Especially now, when we have multiple machines to play games on, and different means of accessing and playing those games. From PC to touchpad, there's more than enough scope for everyone and everything. So we should go out of our way to encourage anyone and everyone to get into gaming. How many Portals, Skyrims, Icos, Skies of Arcadia or Centipedes did we miss out on because the talent that would of created it gave gaming a miss because gaming has yet to take the "Boys only!" sign down.

...And before you bring up Jade Redmond, ask yourself this, does Shiguru Miyamoto or Cliffy B create every single aspect of the games they produce? Art, coding, the lot. And have you every called them attention whore for not doing so?