Diecast #45: Candy Crush, Banner Saga, Total Biscuit

By Shamus
on Feb 19, 2014
Filed under:
Diecast


Direct download (MP3)
Direct download (ogg Vorbis)
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Hosts: Rutskarn, Mumbles, Josh, Chris, and Shamus.

Show Notes:


1:00 Shamus is playing Dungeon Keeper.

We also dig into the EA conversation again. Because that’s not getting old. We also discuss whales. I couldn’t find the promised link about how former EA boss John Riccitiello spent a lot of money on free-to-play games, but I did find this interview from shortly after his departure, which came with this pull quote:

What I don’t like in the games industry today is that there are too many opportunists who are there to make money

Astonishing.

EDIT: Zidynnala found the quote I was looking for, along with some context.

11:30 Mumbles is playing Candy Crush Saga!?!

Here is the statement from the creator of Candy Swipe. The guy made Candy Swipe in 2010. The King.com made a rip-off of the game in 2012. Then King trademarked “Candy”. Then they used the trademark to force Candy Swipe out of the market. That’s what’s been alleged, anyway. Snopes has a good round-up of the story so far.

14:30 Mumbles is also playing Octodad.


Link (YouTube)

21:00 Josh is playing The Banner Saga.

Here is a look at the fight between King.com and Banner Saga.


Link (YouTube)

34:00 Mumbles really likes the 3DS.

Here is the Starship Damrey game that Mumbles and Chris were talking about.

41:00 WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!

For thos eof you confused by the chaos, what happened is that Rutskarn lagged out. Ventrilo then queued up all of his chat over the space of 30 seconds and delivered it all at once. Not sure why Josh left that in, but there you go.

42:00 Guise of the Wolf

As of this writing, the Total Biscuit video in question is still down. But here is a copy uploaded by someone else. It starts off looking just a little shabby, but if you stick with it you’ll see the problems go a lot deeper than bad art.

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A Hundred!207There are 127 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

  1. Josh says:

    I left that in because making fun of Rutskarn is a Full Time Job.

    Also because we didn’t have enough left to make a smooth transition to Chris’s segment without some weirdness.

    But mostly because lolrutskarn.

    • Rutz needs to watch “Grease” and make jokes about how that was what high school was like for some of the rest of the cast.

    • ooli says:

      In Banner Saga, you forgot to mention how cool the musics are.
      And the character dialog are awesome:”You look ancient, Varl -come with being old”; And all the bits where they react to the end of the world with nonchalance, humor and class. While you’re dying of starvation Oregon Trail style.

      The pace is pretty weird, and need patience: You’re watching small dudes walking in a beautiful landscape with dreamlike music most of the time.
      If you like music and the art (you should) it’s a great peaceful experience. If you dont like , it’s boring.

      I’m glad to learn they planned a trilogy. I was only pissed by all the questions the game do not answer.

      The only game giving sort of the same experience is the old “King of the Dragon Pass”

  2. TikiTantrum says:

    With the interest in castle defense type games I wonder if any of you have heard of or played The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot?

  3. Mersadeon says:

    Haven’t listened to it yet, but it’s gonna be a tad weird – Spoilerwarning and Total Biscuit are probably my two favourite sources for videogame content, and having one talk about the other will feel odd, I think.

    Also, Rutskarn, if you’re listening: Whatever happened to Mary Sue: Kawaii Warlords? I have three former(-and-sometimes-still)-Yaoi-fanfiction-writing girls sitting here that would LOVE to play it, but I can’t find it on Dead Salesman Games or Kickstarter. Did the Kickstarter not work out? If so, could one potentially get whatever was finished? I just told them the concept and they’d be pretty darn happy if I could run a game of that.

    • Rutskarn says:

      It’s…actually still in playtesting. The good news is that’s because it’s gotten like fifty times better. The bad news is, it’s not currently my priority project, so it’ll be a few more months at least.

      • Mersadeon says:

        That sounds great! Thanks! I feared it might have been left behind. I already enjoyed Hobospy so much, so I am pretty sure that that is a safe thing to buy once it comes out.

  4. lucky7 says:

    As a new guy to Dungeon Keeper as well, and at the same place as Shamus, I agree and like this game. It’s a juggling act of building rooms, managing resources, stopping minions from murdering each other (I’m bad at that one) My only real gripe about the graphics is that the Warlock’s robes are pink.

  5. Zidynnala says:

    Still listening, but I found the original quote by John Riccitiello mentioning his past as a whale – it was in an interview or the like regarding microtransactions:

    http://youtu.be/ZR6-u8OIJTE?t=52s

    Edit’d: To be exact, it appears it was something he mentioned at a stockholder meeting

  6. anaphysik says:

    “Ventrilo then queued up all of his chat over the space of 30 seconds and delivered it all at once. Not sure why Josh left that in, but there you go.”

    I’m not sure why Josh WOULDN’T include that.

    —–

    Also, for a few minutes I was getting a weird thing where the article and the front page preview of it didn’t match up.

    e.g.:
    here: “Diecast #45: Something”
    there: “Diecast #45: Candy Crush, Banner Saga, Total Biscuit”

    here: “Hosts: Mumbles, Josh, Chris, and Shamus.”
    there: “Hosts: Rutskarn, Mumbles, Josh, Chris, and Shamus.”

    here: “0 comments”
    there: “6 comments”

    It seemed like one of those server-transition-problems you wrote about last week. I thought those were supposed to be done with :/.

    • Humanoid says:

      I also noticed that the ogg file I downloaded had an extraneous .ogv (ogg video) extension.

      But no, it’s presumably a product of the caching system rather than any server transition/DNS issues. Based on some amateur searching it seems the idea is that instead of serving (and therefore executing) the PHP to generate the articles for visitors, caching will instead execute it once every so often, then serve the result as static HTML to everyone (with some exceptions, such as logged-in people), heavily reducing server load. Unfortunately it’s resulting in delays of sometimes upwards of 30 minutes before a new cached page is generated. I’m not sure whether that’s intentional, because I’d expect it to be a much smaller delay. It might be a configuration thing, or some undesirable interaction with another plugin or separate server-side caching thing.

      I don’t want to get all over Shamus’ back over this, and I know I’ve posted about the issue a few times now, but it really does kill the comments system as a conversational medium. And given the content of this blog is heavily conducive to that style of commenting (as opposed to the fire-and-forget type many blogs tend to get), it’s not ideal in terms of fostering a active community.

      I admit at times I’ve made a few content-light “junk” comments just to force a refresh of the contents. I’m not sure about the etiquette of that and kinda feel guilty about it.

      • anaphysik says:

        I admit at times I’ve made a few content-light “junk” comments just to force a refresh of the contents. I’m not sure about the etiquette of that and kinda feel guilty about it.

        As long as you include a pun, it’s okay to use that as a means to let the site cache its breath.

        • Destrustor says:

          Also, as long as the junk in question is good and clean it should be febreazy to accept as a means to refresh the comments.

          • Humanoid says:

            Tangential comment – the comments counter at the bottom of each posts looks a little small to me, but I can’t actually remember how it used to look like. Bold? Lil’ larger? Either way it’d be nice if it were a little more prominent.

        • Torolf says:

          Traditionally, a person’s junk should remain private and modestly covered, unless it’s Chinese, in which case it should be proudly displayed in the water for all to see and admire.

    • Shawn Pelley says:

      My assumption is a caching issue; but then again, as a web developer, I *always* assume it’s a caching issue.

  7. Corpital says:

    Great podcast, there’s just nothing like the warm fuzzy felling, when a fugpusc runs face first into a wall and then insists on doing it again, but with more inrun. I hope, there’ll be more for Rutskarn to read, that was pure joy to listen to.

    Was the common theme of a company doing something without knowing, what they are doing, by chance?

  8. I’d be curious how Starship Damrey compares to the old Infocom game, “Suspended.” They sound like they’ve got similar setups to their plots.

  9. I saw the postings about the Total Biscuit thing over on Reddit, and maybe someone can clue me in if I’m off base about this:

    The e-mails looked fake to me. The odd font discrepancies (as if copy-pasting from another document) and juvenile language set off my BS detector. Issuing a phony takedown request sounds like a complete troll to me, just to piss off a developer, TB, or both. I don’t think TB is behind them, as it would be career suicide. It seems like YouTube’s current draconian takedown procedures allow anyone to make claims against just about any video without much fuss, and if it works, I’d expect more just from people looking for “lulz.”

    I did see someone tracked down the header info from one of the e-mails, though it’s still not open and shut yet. It’ll be interesting to see what shakes out from this.

    • Mersadeon says:

      The takedown notice definitely came from FUN, otherwise Youtube would have long removed it (he still can’t put some links into annotations because of this). It has to be from a developer or publisher, otherwise being part of a network like Polaris would have completely protected him from it in the first place.

      The inconsistent font and all that seems pretty believable to me, especially once you read their twitter messages towards TB. These people are a few idiots that feel hurt and now act like they are a big company, in my opinion.

    • Humanoid says:

      I get many emails at work with horrible wandering fonts and sizes. At one point Lotus Notes was inexplicably setting text to be a few sizes larger and in a weird shade of purple. Admittedly none of this would be sent externally, but eh, you could say it matches the quality of the game. Wouldn’t be surprised if they just had some poor admin intern send out all the notices.

    • Disc says:

      I think this pretty much proved they’re real. Funnily enough the FUN Creators posted this on their own Twitter feed, which is where I found it.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NqXWgqtx1M

      • In addition to that, I didn’t notice they were based in Amman, Jordan, which could explain the apparent lack of savvy when it comes to writing letters expressing dislike with criticism.

        It was just such an odd thing to see such a lack of professionalism that I thought it couldn’t be from a development house in this day and age. Or rather, when I see one melt down, there’s usually at least a little more of a threatening tone to it along with profanity, questioning the target’s genetic heritage, etc.

        You learn something new every day, I guess.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          So, without speculating too much, I too find it interesting that this kind of behavior seems acceptable in Jordan. Does their culture operate in this way in general? Is it based on arbitrary threats and intimidation?

          The term “Self Investment Company” seems a lot more significant to me than is given credit in the discussion. It basically means “the people running this company are independently wealthy” which I guess means special treatment in their culture? It also implies that they aren’t trying to sell copies of the game, because, already independently wealthy remember! I suspect that getting it greenlit (by buying votes?) and published on Steam is an ego milestone for whoever is funding it.

          It seems like FUN Creators is essentially saying “Hey, we don’t need your reviews or your goodwill. You’re wasting your time reviewing our game, because we don’t need sales either. We know you’re a big deal, but we’re not afraid of you.” Not that TB is doing anything wrong either. He’s basically saying “Don’t buy this game.” and FC decided to take it personal.

          But, from FC’s perspective, they probably feel a bit bullied. As Chris says below, it’s difficult to be on the recieving end of a harsh cricisicm like this, especially if you’ve got a small team. If their response is any indication, bullying and thuggery is the norm wherever they come from. Responding by “fighting back” using take-down notices and threatening e-mails is probably their way of demonstrating that they are actually impressed with TB’s clout. Add to all this the “fact” that they probably have a multi-millionare (or more) who is their patron, (and who himself probably has to put up with intimidation from his betters) and you can see how a bit of blustering on their part might seem justified.

          Whatever the case, the “condescending tone” and “illogical” demands probably has good justification in wherever they are coming from. This kind of thing is pretty common when crossing cultural boundaries. Keep in mind that “westerners” come off just as insane, entitled, and pushy when operating in other countries as well. FUN Creators obviously know how to make software, better than any of us (Shamus excluded). Best to give them the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to a cross-cultural misunderstanding.

          • Muspel says:

            It may be that they don’t speak English well enough to understand the connotations of some of the things that they’re saying. Which doesn’t excuse the copyright takedown notice, but might explain the e-mails.

            Or maybe not. They could just be assholes.

    • KMJX says:

      Here’s a video i found on TB’s subreddit, explaining What Really Happened!

  10. Tychoxi says:

    As a Banner Saga backer I must say I was engrossed from start to finish. And I did like the combat! The smaller party doesn’t technically get more turns, their party cycles faster than yours because it’s smaller. I dunno, many people disliked it, but I did like it! And it was thought out, they released a multiplayer to test the combat (Banner Saga: Factions), well before they released the game proper. You also have two stats, armor and health, and deciding which one to chip at is a big part of the combat.

    It has minor drawbacks, mostly because of its budget I’d say. It’s rough on the edges, I’m sure many people will find dialogue parts or other elements a bit sparse. You’ll also jump between playable characters a couple times in an awkward, non-organic way. A couple characters get dropped *hard* like Josh says, it’s lacking in NPC development and more follow-ups on events, and things like that.

    Overall it looks gorgeous and is a very ambitious game that deserves a chance in my opinion.

    Also, the Dredge are stone people, not robots! Jeez!

    • Humanoid says:

      The Bioware comparison to Banner Saga was interesting if only because the developers, Stoic, are primarily ex-Bioware staffers. The three principals are all SWTOR alumni, for better or worse.

    • Deadpool says:

      I loved Banner Saga…

      Sure the initiative mechanic makes the strategy WEIRD (it’s better to leave someone at 1 HP than kill him) and the fact that letting your entire caravan starve to death has no effect on gameplay paradoxically enough… But the story was amazing, and the tone was dead on. And it was fun…

      • Merlin says:

        Having just cleared the Banner Saga out of my backlog (was searching the archives, curious to see if it came up in a Diecast), I have to agree that the bigger issue with the combat system is that it’s weird, not that it’s bad. And I loved that! It’s not something I’d like to see become a staple of the genre. But as a thing for this one game/series? Sure, absolutely.

        I’ve been amused & disappointed by how frequently I’ve seen it called “poorly thought-out” though. Ultimately, it’s just a different take on how to “fix” the issue of focus-firing. Nearly every strategy game tackles it differently, but it stems from the idea that you’re as effective at 1 HP as you are at 20 HP. That feeds the strategy that you should dogpile and kill enemies one-by-one, giving you more actions per round by virtue of having more units alive.

        Traditionally, SRPGs mitigate this by adding in an element of unit-level target prioritization. In Final Fantasy Tactics, Alice may have a great shot on Zeke, but her buddy Bob has bad zodiac compatibility with him and would rather be attacking Yuri. In Fire Emblem, it’s the weapon triangle or type weaknesses. In XCOM, it’s cover and line of sight. But fundamentally, these are elements that say “You as a player want to use all 5 of your units to attack 1 of theirs, so I as a designer want to give those 5 units different things they’d like to be doing. Because strategy.”

        Banner Saga flips that set of assumptions on its head. They embrace the death spiral – a unit at 1 HP is terrible while a unit at 20 HP is a killing machine – but they equalize the action economy to compensate. That change feeds the idea that you should maim units rather than killing them, since it clogs up the enemy team’s initiative with weaker units. But there’s also some counterplay built in to the fact that low-HP units are still just as effective at breaking Armor and can still have powerful abilities. Rook’s special, for example, is dependent on having powerful allies in range while ignoring his combat stats entirely.

        The “Pillage!” mechanic – switching to dogpile mode when a side has only one unit left – is an important counterweight. Weak units dragging down your effectiveness suggests that you should intentionally sacrifice them to the enemy, or just not bring them to battle in the first place. That leads to a weird eventuality where you’d rather have 1 or 2 awesome guys than the same awesome units and their 3 only-decent buddies backing them up. Pillage mode adds an element of risk to having a small party by putting you closer to a 1v6 beatdown that you WILL lose, even if the 6 enemies are crapsacks. That in turn encourages you to find a use for low-level or injured units. (Also, it keeps battles from dragging on forever. There’s value in recognizing when everyone’s ready to wrap up and move on to something else.)

        Is the system perfect? No, not by a long shot. But it IS unique, well-considered, and, well, strategic. Which is basically what I’m looking for from an indie strategy game! It’s been annoying to see a bunch of complaints that “this system is dumb,” when in actuality the problem is more “I’m doing what I do in games that are totally different and it isn’t working.” You don’t run into goombas as Mario just because Tetris teaches you to put things in adjacent lines. The problem here may not be the game.

        ***

        As for letting people starve, shouldn’t that be tanking your caravan’s morale? Low morale reduces the Will that your warriors bring to battle, so there is some consequence. I’d also think that that affects the war events; they describe how your army stacks up against the enemy’s beforehand, and I have to imagine that that dictates the difficulty of the fight you face. You could probably make the penalties more severe, it’s true. But thinking back, Oregon Trail was easier if you had fewer people in your party as well, and all those did was show you a score at the end based on how many survived.

  11. hborrgg says:

    I was pretty worried about letting my characters die in battle to when I first started playing Banner saga. (This wound up making the game a little tricky later on when Alette was still level 1 at the end of the game).

    Although in retrospect, trying to keep specific characters alive in combat isn’t really something that’s supported very well by the mechanics. If someone is on the front line wounded and about to die their really is basically nothing you can do about that. You won’t be able to outrun the enemy unit even if you get a chance to retreat and even if you tried any turns you spend trying to retreat certain units or keep certain people alive turn into basically free hits for the enemy (due to the “each side gets the same number of turns” thing).

    Anyways, yeah, characters tend to only actually die if you make bad decisions or lose battles. (Oh, that’s the other thing josh forgot to mention. With a couple of exceptions, the game doesn’t generally do the “win this level to continue thing”, the battles tend to act more as just, events that effect the story, if you win the battle you get this outcome, if you lose the battle you get this outcome and the story changes sort of thing.)

    As for the ending, it really isn’t a bad ending necessarily (it definitely ends on a high point). Basically you you hold off the baddies just long enough for a desprate last-ditch plan that results in destroying the death star or one of them at least. But if you aren’t expecting that it does feel rather sudden and lacking closure.

  12. Hitchmeister says:

    Since this was recorded, TotalBiscuit’s “WTF is…? Guise of the Wolf” video has been reinstated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZB8YRafUfCY

    This is one fan’s (probably fictionalized) dramatization of what happened at FUN Creators: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrdH0i-E7Vo&feature=youtu.be

    • Chris says:

      I’m still kinda weirdly torn on this.

      On one hand, using copyright strikes to censor criticism is inexcusable. Utterly and completely inexcusable. Any company that tries to do this is just a bully manipulating a broken system, and FUN Creators are a bully. No doubt about it. Anyone who uses this tactic has earned my contempt and disgust.

      On the other hand, indie games really are different from AAA titles. If TB goes and rags on Halo or whatever no one’s going to care. I mean, people who care about his opinion will care, but it’s not going to impact Halo in the grand scheme of things. But say he posts a quite negative review of an indie game no one else is really talking about? Then suddenly he’s created a PR nightmare for a team that’s barely managed to launch a game. He could literally be ruining lives and careers of people who invested thousands of dollars and countless hours into the title he’s trashing in front of hundreds of thousands of people. It’s a different thing to criticize a smaller game than a mega-budget title, and I think that difference is sometimes forgotten.

      So while I’m utterly repulsed at how FUN Creators responded to TB’s video, I’m also uncomfortable with the dogpile? I mean, the Steam tag service had the game plastered with uncouth epithets after the takedown. See also what happened to Game Tycoon 1.5, which somehow launched without an executable on Steam and had Jim Sterling rake them across the coals for it on his YouTube channel.

      I guess what I’m saying is: By all accounts Guise of the Wolf was a pretty mediocre indie game. Not trainwreck ripoff abhorrent, just sorta not TB’s thing and kinda cheaply made. While the wrongness of their response to that criticism cannot be understated, I think we need to recognize that tearing into Mass Effect 3 in front of an audience of 1.5 million is very different from tearing into a small 2-3 person project in front of an audience of 1.5 million. One can more easily be seen as abstract criticism, the other can often feel like an attack on people.

      • Humanoid says:

        I’m a lot less sympathetic, I view it like I’d view a small restaurant getting a bad critic review. The purpose of a game is the same regardless of scale and it’s doing a disservice to the show’s customers (i.e. viewers) to intentionally withhold that information. Either way you go with this, someone’s going to lose.

        I mean in practical terms, it also means the options here are to disregard the indie games, which means ignoring both the good ones and the bad ones from the show, in which case a lot more people lose, or otherwise try all these games then only publish the articles in which positive things can be said. Silently suppressing the bad reviews (which would look pretty suspicious anyway) would be pretty poor journalistic integrity, and so damage the show itself. There’s also the factor of having made the effort into researching the title then have to throw that effort away.

        • Disc says:

          Pretty much this. While I can sympathize with the hardships of poor developers, it’s still about them trying to sell a product and there’s no reason why it should be held to another standard than any other product out there from the customer’s perspective. I’ve a finite amount of money to spend and I’d rather I invest in it something that’s going to be worth it.

      • Has that happened? I mean, apart from the current early-access-this-game-isn’t-ready critiques I’ve seen, has there been an undeserved bad review that wasn’t then answered by fans or other critics?

        I guess you’re the man who killed Half Life 2, so you’d know about this, right? :)

      • Alex says:

        You seem to be suggesting that criticism is only okay if it doesn’t actually achieve anything. If you are selling a product on the open market, and that is a product people don’t actually want (because it sounds bad, looks bad and plays bad), isn’t it your fault if people find out what it is like and thus don’t buy it?

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I have no sympathy for indies myself.Yes they are pouring themselves into this,and yes they are risking everything,but so what?That doesnt excuse lack of talent or effort.Throughout history how many genius people died in poverty simply because their art and their effort was not recognized?And somehow I am supposed to feel sorry for a bunch of talentless hacks simply because they werent backed up by big money?Not gonna happen.

        Now if the released game was any good(say one of the eschalon books),then I would indeed feel sorry for the indie being pilled on.

        Incidentally,eschalon book 3 is out,and as always,there is a demo,so everyone should check it out.

        • Corpital says:

          Ever dabbled in the RPG Maker community? While there are a lot of good games and even some that reached a somewhat broader audience, we’ve seen our fair share of bad games over the years. It is not that hard to make a game there when you use the sprites, sounds and code samples the maker comes with, but more than a handful still look, sound and play like a 90s myspace homepage.

          The retort to any criticism is often along the lines of “But I’m just doing this by myself as a hobby, you can’t expect me to invest countless hours into polishing a game.” Why? If the indie doesn’t want to spend time into making something worth playing, why should anyone else waste their time to play it?

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats no retort.If you half ass something and give it out to everyone to try,you lose the right to complain when people tell you that its half assed.

            Also,you know what game was done as a hobby?Mardek.And chapter 3 offers more freedom,better humor,better explained world and more engaging combat than final fantasy XIII.

          • Trix2000 says:

            RPG Maker is incredibly powerful, even without doing any real scripting, so a smart and dedicated developer can make some good games out of it… even without much custom stuff.

            But yeah, too often there are examples where it just looks like the maker didn’t care to spend the time on it. Unbalanced combat, boring or poorly-written story, etc… basically like someone took the bare minimum of effort to make their ‘dream game’. Heck, you get plenty of examples where they use custom scripts to make things shiny and STILL fail on several levels.

            I don’t fault people for trying and making something small just to have fun with the maker (heck, done it plenty myself before), but you can’t expect people to buy a game unless the quality is good enough… and that can take a lot of effort and time. A commercial game has to compete with every other form of commercial entertainment that the money could be spent on – I don’t think there’s any free pass when it comes to the market.

      • Deadpool says:

        Yeah, I feel for small developers but… A bad product is a bad product regardless of how hard it was for them to put it out. Yes, it’s harder to be an indie, but I don’t feel they should be treated with kiddy gloves.

      • Greg says:

        Others have already pointed out the major issues with this, but I’d also like to say that, at least as I understand the story, the indie developer in this case specifically gave a copy to the reviewer, for the express purpose of being reviewed. Sure, it sucks for them if the reviewer hates it, but it is literally the reviewer’s job to “tear into” a bad game, especially this particular reviewer. If they can’t handle a highly public bad review, they should not have solicited public reviews.

        • ET says:

          I have to agree with this.
          If I were an indie dev, and I didn’t want bad public reviews, I’d have play-tested my game more first.
          I mean, things like audio clip normalization, and adding bounding boxes to basic objects like trees?
          They should have known better.
          This game was released in a state that looks and plays like a prototype, but they’re charging fifteen bucks for it.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Actually they didnt.He said that it popped up on steam suddenly.

          Nevertheless,he bought the game,so he has every right to review it.

      • Zukhramm says:

        But is that relevant? No matter what you one might think about TB’s video, that still isn’t what copyright is for. Even if they’re both issues they are separate issues.

        A bigger problem with differing treatment depending on size is that when a small developer does this we hate them forever but when a big company does it we don’t seem to care as much because that’s what we expect them to do anyway, and they’re releasing too many games we want to play.

      • Amnestic says:

        I’m going to admit that when I saw the Steam page for Guise of the Wolf, I was intrigued and considered buying it. Some sort of survival stealth’em’up puzzle game with werewolves in an old timey castle? Sure, that sounds like something I could dig. But I waited to see if any critics/reviewers I follow put out anything and TB did. And based on his two videos (his WTF is… and his longer raw stream upload) I opted not to buy it. He saved me dropping £10 on a title I wouldn’t have enjoyed.

        If a more ‘mainstream’ game ‘fails’, a studio might close and you could see dozens of people out of the job. If an indie title fails, you might be looking at a half dozen. Both suck because unemployment sucks in general, but what’s the alternative? Prop up studios that release games people wouldn’t want to play?

      • poiumty says:

        We don’t owe these developers anything. They make a product that we are supposed to like, that is supposed to stand up to anyone’s standards of quality. And it doesn’t. Just because they worked really hard on a crappy product doesn’t save it from being a crappy product, regardless how much sympathy we have for them.

        People tore into Fun Creators for their dishonest attitude, bullying and false accusations. Likely the bad PR wouldn’t have been nearly so bad if they didn’t get involved – the game could have become a cult classic like The Room or Plan 9 From Outer Space, with people playing it just to see how bad it is. I really don’t like the idea that we should treat some people more leniently than others just because they did the amazing feat of making a videogame and/or are relatively poor. That’s favoritism.

        Like Gordon Ramsay says, they’re the ones who should feel ashamed for disrespecting their customers by asking their money for such a bad product.

      • MichaelGC says:

        Isn’t that a risk taken by any creator of a work intended for public consumption? It may face negative criticism, or it may be lauded to the skies. It may fill up remainder bins, or it may sell like gangbusters. I don’t think the potential positive outcomes can exist here without there also being potential negative outcomes.

        TB’s vid certainly wasn’t an attack on people (not that I think that’s what Chris was suggesting). If people were attacked (and given it’s the internet, they no doubt were…) then they were attacked as part of the dogpile. So, is TB in some way responsible for the dogpile? (I’m not actually 100% certain of my answer to that, although I would certainly tend in the direction of ‘no, he isn’t.’) I think that, for there to be a strong criticism of this sort of negative review, it would need to be shown that he is indeed responsible. (And I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the room if anyone were ever brave enough to suggest that to him directly!)

      • Artur CalDazar says:

        Keep in mind, they are selling this product, it costs money to own this game.

        We should absolutely consider the situation of the developers, but for some people like TB they are usually more concerned about people who will buy the game, spending money on a product that is defective.

      • KMJX says:

        As stated above, FUN Creators themselves asked for a review, and they got an honest review.

        Fix your product, maybe ask for a re-evaluation when things are fixed, and the bad publicity can turn into good publicity, as opposed to the current ongoing shitstorm.

        If you disagree with an opinion you are of course entitled to your own opinion, but you still have no right at all to try and censor views that differ from your own.
        Being a small company, or just one or two people who risked it all to get to this point does not change that fact.

      • Shamus says:

        I share Chris’ discomfort with unloading on a small company. It can feel good to really nail a big enterprise to the wall, but I just don’t get the same joy out of doing the same to a little operation. It just feels a little too… personal.

        I can enjoy someone eviscerating Ride To Hell: Retribution. It’s obviously a ghastly game and deserving of shame. (Disclosure: Haven’t played it.) But Guise of the Wolf is such a small project and done so poorly, dumping on it feels like criticizing children’s refrigerator art. Someone was probably trying to make a good game, and they lacked even the basic self-awareness to understand just how badly they missed.

        While writing the last paragraph I realized what it is that bugs me:

        1) I love to rip on games where the designers COULD have done better, and where they likely knew they messed up. I really get mad when someone makes a terrible product, knows it, sells it anyway, and tries to cover up their artistic failure with marketing and spin.

        2) I dislike tearing apart games where the creator doesn’t know what they’re doing and doesn’t realize their work sucks.

        This is not to say we don’t need reviews of indie stuff. Either way, the audience needs to be informed. I’m just not enjoying the FUN Creators sideshow and I really wish they would stop being so monumentally dumb.

        • kanodin says:

          Seems like a matter of perspective to me. You and Chris both responded to it as reviewers, as people who would have to actually give it that negative score and tear down their hardwork. Your audience, me included, are free to be a lot less sympathetic as we aren’t the ones who actually do the tearing down, just the people who lose money if it isn’t done.

          • MichaelGC says:

            There’s also a distinction to be made between types of reviewer. TB’s stated main focus is consumer advice, so tonal malice in one of his reviews can be seen as directed (metaphorically) towards the proposition that one should buy the relevant game. Where giving consumer advice isn’t part of the aim, then a negative comment – even the very same negative comment – would have to be viewed in a different light.

            So, whilst it’s totally valid for e.g. Chris or Shamus to say they feel uncomfortable dumping on indies, it doesn’t immediately follow that it’s valid to say that anyone dumping on indies should feel uncomfortable, because their goals may be different.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Interesting – in some senses there are parallels between the ‘did they know better?’ dichotomy, and the discussion about authorial intent during the show.

        • Tychoxi says:

          Yes! After watching his video review I did feel he was dumping on ’em a bit harshly, and I do think this feeling comes because I felt the creators actually tried their best. Then again, after their reaction, my sympathy for these “FUN Creators” has pretty much disappeared.

        • Abnaxis says:

          I’m not sure the problem is so much with negative reviews, but more with the tone negative reviews tend to take.

          I mean, look at how you’re describing it. “Dogpile,” “tear apart,” and “trashing” don’t strike me as constructive criticism. They barely count as consumer advice.

          The fact is, “negative review” is by-and-large a euphemism for “publicly shaming the creator for daring to release a substandard product, usually in as inflammatory a way as possible for hits.” I think that’s where the line is crossed when comparing AAA reviews to indie reviews. If negative reviews just said “this is bad because of X, Y, Z reason, don’t buy it,” instead of “OMG how did this ever get made trollololol!?!?” I would be less inclined to sympathy for indies.

          Incidentally, the fact that you tend to go more into the “why” of something that is bad, rather than extolling just how bad it is, is why I value your opinion more than any other review site (despite the fact that I disagree with you quite often).

          • ET says:

            This is pretty much how I feel.
            Total Biscuit had a lot of valid points about why the game was bad, but his tone could have been a lot more formal.
            His review would have been received better, I think if it was more “Non-normalized audio clips is something I would expect to be fixed by the time a game is finished in beta.” and less “Avoid this game like the plague!”

            • Trix2000 says:

              To be fair, I got the impression he just couldn’t hold back given the ‘quality’ of it. And he did once or twice mention parts he thought were done right, however few they were.

              He might’ve been too strong with his tone, but to me he didn’t seem unfair in his criticism.

        • Paul Spooner says:

          I agree with Shamus and Chris. It feels like TB is holding the software to a AAA standard when the game isn’t really trying to be that at all. He probably plays so many super-polished games that the experience was a bit shocking, but that doesn’t make it okay.

          The other thing is that, as people who create, Chris and Shamus both probably looked at the game and thought, “Man, I wish I could make something that looked and played even THAT well.” I know I thought that. Then, to see TB tear into it with both hands kind of felt like he was attacking ME, and MY aspirations. After watching the video, I didn’t feel like “Wow, those FUN Creators are HACKS!”. Instead I felt more like “Man, if I can’t even make a game that good, I must be terrible. If TB says that you have to be AAA or go home, and he knows what he’s talking about… I’m a waste of a human life! My parents are probably ashamed of me, and don’t even have the heart to tell me! No wonder I don’t have any friends! …” and so on.

          So, it touches a vulnerable place for a lot of us who know how much work it takes to even get as far as “Guise of the Wolf” got. When I saw the game I thought “Huh, you know, that’s not half bad.” and to hear “This is so bad!” from TB felt pretty unfair.

          • MadHiro says:

            Even a basic glance at the list of Total Biscuit’s game reviews demonstrates that the idea that he is only used to ‘AAA standards’ and ‘super-polished’ games is false. DLC Quest, Hero Siege, Jazzpunk, Castleminer Z, the infamous Garry’s Incident are just a random and incidental smattering of ‘indie’ games he has reviewed. This guy plays All Of The Games.

            He’s holding it to the standard of ‘not really bad’, and ‘is it worth 10 pounds/ 15 dollars?”. Which is where it falls down, of course. If you want to take a gander at, for instance, the current Humble Indie Bundle has (so far) six fantastic Indie games for $4.50. Take a look at ’em. Antichamber, for example was made by five people. Its pretty critically lauded, and Total Biscuit seems to think its rad.

            • Paul Spooner says:

              Well, the “standard” of “not really bad” is highly subjective. I’m not saying that I would personally pay $15 for “Guise of the Wolf”, but it runs… which is more than can be said for a lot of EA titles and DRM failure states.

              If the message was “Don’t pay $15 for this game” I could understand it. If it was “this game has hilariously low production values” I’d be laughing along with the rest of them. But it felt more like “the developers should feel ashamed of selling this game”, which, I just don’t see. If they want to charge $100 for their game, fine! Let them! No one has to buy it. But I don’t appreciate shaming people when they over-value their own work. It doesn’t help anyone.

              • MadHiro says:

                It is impossible to escape subjectivity in a review. When I said it was being held to the standard of ‘not really bad’, it was in comparison to your obviously false assertion that Total Biscuit was unfairly holding the game to ‘AAA standard’s. Total Biscuit, having played many, many, many, many indie tier games knows precisely what to expect from them. This game failed to meet those measured expectations.

                And here’s where the WTF video is excellent; he clearly illustrates what those failings are. He lists them out, and explains them, as they are happening. He’s not just saying,” This sucks this sucks this sucks this sucks.” He says,” Listen to this awful sound effect”, and then walks over the bridge a bit. He says,” Look; this is what they mean by ‘stealth’, crouching”, and then he does it. If the game designers actually paid attention to this video and addressed the problems presented in it, their game would be better. This is a literal example of constructive criticism. That its spackled together with the phrase,’ This is dreck’ is probably because, well, the game is dreck. Watching it being played most reminds me of something a friend and I made using HyperStudio when we were in the 6th grade.

                As to its cost; well, yes, they can ask for any amount they want. But it is pretty absurd to say that a review of a consumer product shouldn’t consider whether its worth what is being charged for it. If they asked for a hundred dollars, discussing this would probably be a significant point of any review as whatever enjoyment or quality in it would need to be balanced against its preposterous cost.

          • Lalaland says:

            I don’t agree with the idea that he’s ripping on this game for not being AAA but rather for charging €12/$15 for a product that is clearly not finished in any real sense. The bizarre thing is that if they had only released this as Early Access this probably would have gotten a pass. If there was any promise of continuing refinement and improvement it might have been acceptable as an alpha with the promise of a fully realised game later.

            I unsubscribed from TB a while back (because of the sheer volume of content he puts out) but he’s always been fair to indies and is usually quite positive and willing to overlook flaws to find the game beneath. This title has clearly failed on every level, the mechanics are bad, the gfx is bad, the sound is bad, it’s masquerading as a finished title and the price is €12/$15. You could support several other indie developers for that price who aren’t passing off unfinished alphas as full games.

            • Paul Spooner says:

              Well, hang on. From what I’ve seen, nothing in Guise of the Wolf justifies the statement “This game is an utter disgrace in every possible respect” which is how TB summarized his review. Everything seems to work… It’s not pretty, but it works. It’s not complicated, but you can interact with things, move around, use your inventory… It feels like it’s a first attempt at making a modern game. And recall that many modern games have the equivalent mechanics, story, and player freedom (when you boil away the pretty presentation). I feel like TB kind of went overboard with his sensationalism here. I wouldn’t buy GotW, but I wouldn’t have even without the TB review.

              If it’s mostly a matter of the price/quality ratio then, as I said above, there’s nothing wrong or disgraceful with charging too much money for a product. Big AAA publishers do it all the time, and no one seems to raise hue and cry over it. That sorts itself out pretty quickly with the “no one buys your product” outcome. In this case, I feel like the scathing review was simply adding insult to injury. The devs would have found out they were charging too much when their sales were in the single digits.

              You say Guise of the Wolf has “clearly failed on every level, the mechanics are bad, the gfx is bad, the sound is bad” but I challenge both the first and second premises.

              The first premise is that all “levels” of the game were demonstrated, which they were not. What about the story? What about the lore? What if the world opens up later on? Certainly what was shown was not flattering, but that doesn’t mean that the entire product is a failure. I’m not saying you must play the whole game to make a judgement, but simply that you seem to be engaging in the same kind of sensationalism that TB is so fond of.

              The second premise is that the three things you list, namely mechanics, graphics, and sound are “failures”, which I also do not agree with. The mechanics are simple, but they are also fairly straightforward. The game at least doesn’t (seem to) waste your time like many other titles do. So you need to read the manual… Why is this a crime all of a sudden? The graphics, while not cutting edge, are functional. You can tell what things are supposed to be. Houses, roads, trees, guards, chests, everything has a clear representation. Things don’t randomly glitch in and out of view. The sound… well, you can hear it at least. The leveling and foley isn’t great… but that stuff is harder to pull off than it seems.

              My point is not that Guise of the Wolf should win awards, or even that you should buy it. I don’t think TB should stop making sensational remarks about games he dislikes. My point is simply that TB’s sensationalism (which is absolutely what his review boils down to) should be taken with a grain of salt.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                It functions?Thats enough for a game to be reviewed positively now?Thats not worth 0.01$,let alone 15.And so what if many AAA games are as bad or worse than this?That doesnt make this one any good.Just because game A is contempt worthy,doesnt mean that game B which is slightly better is not also contempt worthy.

                And no,the mechanics dont work.Sequences must be played verbatim,even when the game presents them as skippable(the levers thing and invisible walls),stealth is just crouching,you can clip into a bunch of things,and quest relevant NPC became transparent once you turned into the wolf.Also,stealth mechanic is never explained in game either,and that is a crime.And there is the whole thing of pressing enter and playing it windowed.

                Graphics dont work either,as can be seen by numerous tears on almost everyones faces,the ridiculous black outline on both the main window and objects,and not to mention the badly implemented looping of idle animations.

                And while the sound can technically be heard,it is atrocious(that walking over the bridge),and some of it actually cant be heard,like that quest giver guy.Also,just because something is difficult,doesnt mean it should not be done,so lack of normalization is a big deal.So no,it doesnt work.

                Compare that to another indie TB has reviewed:Risk of rain.It uses 8 bit graphics,and your character is just a few pixels tall,yet there the graphics work superbly.You dont need 3d and human features for a game to look well.Mechanics here are all explained during the game,and work well,with no clipping,no suddenly invulnerable enemies,no problems with resizing the resolution.And the sound works superbly as well,despite it being just a simple music with no voice acting,and its all on the same level.

                By the way,whats wrong with TB using hyperbole and lots of descriptive words?He speaks in a clear and understandable way and shows you everything he talks about,so you can decide on your own if you like it as much as him or not.You dont have to trust his word that this game is a buggy,barely functioning mess,because his video clearly shows that it is a buggy,barely functioning mess.

          • Kana says:

            One thing:

            “He probably plays so many super-polished games that the experience was a bit shocking, but that doesn’t make it okay.”

            You’d be surprised. TB plays a LOT of indie titles. Here’s the “WTF is…?” playlist. He does a good mix of all types of games, even ones in genres he does not like. I’ve seen videos where he actually tries really hard to compliment a game that obviously isn’t that great.

            But, I think it mostly comes down to one thing: They tried to sell a bad product. Its broken, has ridiculous mechanics, and omits telling you about a lot of things it should have explained.

            I don’t think you should take that as an attack either. It says nothing about you. I’d love to make games for a living, and ‘Guise of the Wolf’ would look about the best I could ever hope to do on an early run, but I wouldn’t sell that for $15. Especially not with how buggy the thing was.

            If it ever comes back, watch his research steam. He spent 3 minutes stuck in a rock for looking at it. The “WTF is” seems harsh because he spent an hour before that just trying to wrangle the game into cooperating.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          I get where you and Chirs are coming from,but you are both wrong.You should not feel sympathy for someone just because you have one trait in common:Sharing your work with the public.Ive seen you respond to honest criticism,Ive seen you respond angry(and apologize afterwards),but neither once have I seen you try to bully someone into submission just because they criticized you.Heck,even when people were rude to you,I still often saw you try to calm them down first,before resorting to the ban hammer.

          And heck,you are just a man yourself,and you did do bad things as well.Would you rather that no one told you it was bad,and let you live in delusion,or be honest with you like they were and tell you what and how to improve?

          Furthermore,would you ever dare to charge people for something you did quick and dirty without lots of testing?For example,people would gladly have paid you for your side projects,like pixel city.yet you gave it out for free,because you knew it was not optimized and not thoroughly tested.Heck,plenty of people would give you money right now for good robot,yet you are still doing testing on that one.So why feel sympathy for someone who was not only arrogant enough to not test their work even half that well,not only charged for it,but also had to act like a child and try to bully someone for daring to criticize their work?

          So please,dont identify with someone just because they share one single trait with you.

          • Shamus says:

            “And heck,you are just a man yourself,and you did do bad things as well.Would you rather that no one told you it was bad,and let you live in delusion,or be honest with you like they were and tell you what and how to improve?”

            I never said the criticism shouldn’t talk place.

  13. hborrgg says:

    So do any of you have any thoughts about Twitch playing Pokemon? I don’t know if that counts as gaming news but I find following all the updates as the game progresses seems really, really exciting for some weird reason.

    • Chris says:

      I don’t have a particularly enlightened or insightful comment on it other than to say I’m amazed Nintendo hasn’t shut it down already.

      I also found it interesting as a corollary to that RPS article on Day Z, since I heard about them at about the same time. I tweeted how horrible Day Z was and a few people insisted that the game was fine; that it just showed human nature and what’s wrong with that?

      But I’d like to think the Pokemon stream shows that Day Z’s systems really do facilitate sadistic, horrific behavior. Twitch Plays Pokemon is just as open to griefing and assholes, but despite that people are coming together united under a common goal. Where Day Z divides, TPP unites – and even as a few people try to ruin the fun so many more are interested in making progress. I find solace in the fact that game systems don’t just reveal how shitty and cruel people are, but that they can be used to explore both our worst and best qualities.

      • hborrgg says:

        When I started playing the standalone I quickly noticed that Dayz does not provide any significant goals other than pvp (waiting hours for your hunger/thirst to dip down really is not riveting gameplay). Expecting cooperation between strangers would be like playing TF2 and expecting the red and blue players to realize that fighting is pointless and then sit down and talk out their differences.

        • Disc says:

          I think the game would just need some GOOD reasons to convince people that teamwork is a more effective strategy to stay alive. Like make the zombies a lot harder to deal with or introduce some new AI enemies that will guard important resources and/or actively hunt the player characters.

      • ET says:

        I’ll have to disagree that both Day Z and TPP are both just as open to griefers.
        First, since TPP is run by democratic vote (as best I can tell), it would take a sizeable group of griefers, or griefers with botnets, to affect TPP in any meaningful way.
        In Day Z however, you can start griefing somebody all by yourself, although having one or two accomplices would help.
        Furthermore, being a sociopath in Day Z is rewarded with more power to act in any way you want, with ammo and other items.
        Acting kindly can help you beneficially too, but is a long-term investment, compared to griefing, which can ruin other peoples’ days in an instant.

        I’ve only played the original mod, and not the standalone beta/”early access”.
        However, a friendly forum-goer kindly enlightened me on numerous ways in which Day Z actually encourages antagonistic behaviour.
        Largely, though I think it just boils down to the huge difference in benefit/cost to both acting friendly vs acting not-friendly.

        • Cybron says:

          TPP is not run by democratic votes. Every command entered into the chat is processed and executed. When, say, trying to cross a ledge, all it takes is one person entering ‘down’ to cause everyone to have to start over again.

          It did briefly become a democratic vote thing, for reasons I won’t detail. The chat exploded in protest, and did nothing but pause the game for a substantial period of time.

          Now it has two modes, anarchy (the way the stream was before democracy was introduced) and democracy, with people voting for which is active at any given time. It has remained almost entirely in anarchy mode, with the majority of the userbase (especially the entrenched users) favoring anarchy.

          There are people who grief TPP, but most of the trouble actually comes from well intentioned users not accounting for the input delay.

          • kanodin says:

            I think the ledge area is a great example of the griefing in it. Like you said, most of the time people were trying to progress but all the inputs coming in at once made it easy to accidentally screw everything up with those commands. The ledge on the other hand is a simple path to the right and the only reason to hit down is trolling, sending them over the ledge and back to the start of that route. I wasn’t following it that closely at that point, but I think it took them like 6 hours to finally get past the one area with trolling ledges.

            I think that largely reinforces Chris’s point. There are some griefers and there always will be, but ultimately the group working together still got past that section, despite how easy to wreck it was.

            • Cybron says:

              Assuming you’re talking about the route 9 ledge, it took them 20 hours to get past it. But there was in fact reason to hit down. The shape of the path meant that most of the time the way people needed to approach was an L shape. They needed to go down to get to the point where they go could right. But because everyone is on a delay, which even varies from person to person, you have people going down when they’ve already reached the point when they need to be going right.

              This was eventually solved by spamming the start button to ‘absorb’ the overshotting inputs. They’d sit there in pause mode for a little while, effectively allowing everyone to see where the character actually was, as opposed to where he was a minute ago. This worked so well they actually crossed the ledge twice in a few minutes, after the first try was reset by hopping down a ledge on the other side, after the initial, difficult ledge was crossed.

              There are some griefers, no doubt. There were even people suspected to be using scripts to input down during that section. But ultimately the vast majority of the viewers (and of the mistakes!) are well-intentioned, if not always well-informed.

              • kanodin says:

                Yeah I was mostly referring to when they were on the ledge itself and any down responses woulda been really really late, but like I said wasn’t following it that closely and just saw people falling off halfway through so maybe it really was delay. In which case the amount of griefing is even less than I thought, which is impressive.

        • Thomas says:

          I agree that TPP is much less open to griefing. TPP suffers a constant and fairly considerable amount of griefing. Pretty much whenever the start menu opens in a situation it isn’t called for (which is all the time), it’s because there are many, many people constantly pressing start just to screw with people.

          Equally, although some of it is confusion, in battles you’ll always get a small but significant number of people pressing right when it serves no purpose etc.

          But the griefing potential in TPP is really low because it would take a large concerted effort but thousands of people over hours and hoursto achieve _anything_, either bad or good. The griefers are no more capable of releasing pokemon than the TPP are of withdrawing them.

          And the chat have developed defensive mechanisms to deal with the griefing, for example there’s a constant stream of people pressing B to counter the people pressing start.

          Finally because the attraction of TPP is to watch a train wreck, it’s hard to really grief anything in a way that people don’t love. Accidentally releasing pokemon and throwing away TMs is why people watch it. (They almost managed to lose the game trying to beat the ghost tower:P)

  14. guy says:

    Did… did someone seriously attempt to browbeat TotalBiscuit with legal threats? Did they just not know who they were not talking to?

  15. Tea says:

    Shamus, if you want to try out android/phone games/apps without investing in a smartphone, check out bluestacks. it’s basically android for windows and mac, you can use it to run android apps on your desktop, fullscreen or windowed with mouse and keyboard inputs.

  16. Nick Powell says:

    There’s always the slim possibility that someone else submitted the strike and sent fake emails to TB to damage FUN Creators’ reputation (and claim the ad money).

    • Paul Spooner says:

      I can do that?
      Do you mean to say that, if I wanted, I could go over to Youtube right now and issue a takedown order on “gangnam style”, and that it would happen just like that? And then I get to keep all the add revenue?
      I’m on-board when people say the system is broken… but it can’t be THAT broken.

      I was going to say “let me try this” but I don’t want to get mixed up in doing something potentially criminal to find out how things work. My suspicion, though, is that just any random “someone else” isn’t going to be able to swoop in like that.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        You can file a complaint about copyright on anything,and in most cases it would go through,though only the first time.As for claiming the ad revenue,thats a bit more complicated,but it too can be done with a bit more work some of the time(you would need to drag the thing out for the whole month).

        Yes,it is an extremely broken system because youtube relies so much on automatization,instead of hiring more moders to process all the complaints manually.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I love it when pompous nobodies try to prove their worth by trying to take on a giant like that.Its almost enough to offset the crappiness of pompous giants stomping on nobodies.Almost,but not quite.

  18. Deadpool says:

    Comparisons between Banner Saga and Fire Emblem are… Odd.

    The story is closer to Oregon Trail with Game of Throne’s “Winter is coming” despair added in for good measure. Not very Fire Emblem-y.

    The mechanics are similar at face value: grid based and turn based strategic combat.

    Similarities end there. Everyone has two bars: Strength and Armor. Strength is BOTH HP and attack power. Armor is subtracted from Strength to determine damage.

    There is no accuracy. As long as your attack is higher than the enemy’s armor, all attacks will hit. If it is lower, how much lower affects your accuracy rating (you always have SOME chance of doing 1 damage).

    You can choose to damage armor instead of strength. Every character has a different rating for Armor damage, which is separate from both Strength or armor.

    So the combat is generally a balance between damaging armor and damaging strength.

    It is odd, but an interesting idea. Unfortunately, because of the aforementioned initiative issues Josh was talking about, it creates a VERY strange strategy game where killing people is bad…

    • kanodin says:

      I think the biggest difference is Fire Emblem battles are a lot bigger, with your enemies having numerous but weak soldiers. The Banner Saga is a lot smaller but the enemies are a lot closer to being your equal. Made battles a lot closer and a lot bloodier

      • Deadpool says:

        Yes, the maps here are much simpler and smaller.

        That said, I’d say the biggest difference is the lack of accuracy in this game. In Fire Emblem having high avoid and high hit rate is a big deal.

  19. Karthik says:

    Banner Saga’s turn system that incentivizes maiming opponents but leaving them alive is a weird mechanic that got a lot of flak, but in the abstract it does make combat more tactical. It feels wrong but makes combat more interesting.

    The surprising thing is, Banner Saga: Factions has been out for over half an year now. The devs had gotten plenty of feedback about the turn order, and they decided to stick with it.

    On the flip side, in Banner Saga’s combat your strength (the damage you do) is also your health gauge, which sounds logical and like a good idea, to the extent that I wondered why other RPGs didn’t do this. But in practice it has the opposite effect of making late round combat a chore. It also means some fights get decided very quickly, but you have to suffer through several more turns of drudgery before you can cut your losses and run to progress the story.

    Anyway, the game is engrossing. It’s short (~10 hours), the presentation and soundtrack are amazing, it’s dripping atmosphere, the writing is carefully restrained and understated, and despite the confusing start and a few undercooked narrative systems, it nails the feeling of desolation and of fleeing from an apocalypse in progress.

    It also subscribes to two tenets that RPGs shy away from: that anyone can die, and that you must suffer your failures even as you celebrate your triumphs. I found it a great experience.

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Yay,the blog remembers me forever once more.Im glad we are back to full functionality again.Lets hope this time it wont cause problems.

  21. MichaelGC says:

    Just wanted to mention that I hope the article about X3 (which was mentioned on the last Diecast) is still in the pipeline, as I have been looking forward to that, and was enjoying the space-sim series. (There’s been LOADS of content this year, though – certainly not complaining on that score! And not, of course, that I would have a leg to stand on if I were…)

  22. BeardedDork says:

    I purchased the full version of CandySwipe and Banner Saga, because of King’s douchebaggery.

  23. Starkos says:

    Shamus, I think you were playing the Deeper Dungeons expansion to Dungeon Keeper. The base game has been pitting me against heroes since I started playing. I just thought I’d clear that up.

  24. Paul Spooner says:

    So, the discussion kind of skipped over the whole “King is being assholes about trademark infringement” topic. I kind of agree, but I’ve also got some thoughts on why that is which might shed some light on it. I’m not an expert on any of this, but, well, here you go.

    A colossal portion of advertising these days is done by “buying” the top slots in the Google search. Usually this means controlling certain “keywords” to maximize coverage. Since Google seems to believe (right or wrong) that outright selling these slots is a Bad Thing, people end up going out of their way to acquire them through other means.

    If a company has a keyword in their title, or the title of their software, this can throw the whole thing for a loop. We saw this same kind of deal going on with “Elder Scrolls” and “Scrolls” a few years back. The issues isn’t that people will get them confused, but that the Google algorithms will conflate or confuse the two terms. This could result in the “Scrolls” game soaking up a ton of the advertising money from anything that the “Elder Scrolls” spends. I suspect the same thing is happening with King.

    But since Google won’t do any of this through official channels, it’s all behind the scenes. Advertising ends up getting done with botnets, shills, and spam comments which no one (except for Google’s omnipresent aggregation crawlers) will see or notice. Because all of this is covert, no one can just come out and explain it.

    So you end up with King saying “Look, we bear you no ill will… but we really need you to change the name of your game.” because they have discovered that they are loosing tons of search hits to an otherwise fairly distinct product. It doesn’t make it alright, but I feel a bit less outraged this way. From this perspective King isn’t being insane, they’re just trying to deal with the convoluted advertising environment that Google has created.

  25. Paul Spooner says:

    On the topic of the New Dungeon Keeper:
    I kind of wonder if a lot of the more recent EA failures are a kind of “white mutiny” (or “Malicious compliance” I guess?) due to internal discontent. I can easily see some middle manager getting fed up and telling his team. “They want free to play, pay to win? Fine!” and then approve something like this. It’s the kind of thing I would expect to happen in a deeply dysfunctional giant corporation with a deep and distrustful authority structure.

    • Humanoid says:

      It’s take too high a level of complicity for it to happen on a project-wide basis I’d assume. On a subfeature specific level, sure, but there are way too many hands involved for it to be hush-hush more generally.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        Well, that’s the beauty (and terror) of obedience to the letter of the law. One can (and indeed, even large groups may) conduct it even under close scrutiny. This works best in environments where the rule of bureaucracy is the primary method of enforcement. In such environments, individuals and small groups can get away with this kind of thing without compliance from the majority. This happens because the majority have sacrificed individual judgement in favor of checklists and similar static standards which of course are not nearly so robust as human ingenuity.

        Add to all this the tendency for game companies to attract gamers who inevitably game systems they encounter, and I’d be very surprised if some level of malicious compliance is NOT going on in EA.

  26. Tizzy says:

    Note that an i-pod touch is a perfectly acceptable substitute for a smartphone for anyone who is curious about these mobile games. Single upfront cost; no monthly cost of ownership for the device.

  27. Paul Spooner says:

    On the topic of Octodad eliciting empathy:
    I feel like games really should be “balanced” around the normal human experience. So often we play games which are empowerment fantasies. Dis-empowerment fantasies also exist, though they are generally relegated to “horror” style games, complete with fantastical gore and jump scares.
    But some of the most potent experiences, for me anyway, have been those of mundane dis-empowerment. Surgeon Simulator springs to mind, along with Octodad, of examples of this kind of struggling with the everyday which can shed light on the sufferings and struggles of others, as well as help us cope with our own past, and sometimes our future.

    The first twenty minutes of Up are always really emotionally powerful for me. In part, I think it’s because they touch on the fear of growing old, impotent, and living a life that doesn’t matter. Octodad, too, seems to draw from this well of simultaneous desperation and shame in our own inability to change who we are, let alone change the world, or make a meaningful difference.

    I wish more games would embrace dis-empowerment without resorting to blatant “horror” tropes and themes. This game space is as deep as the super-hero tale is tall.

  28. Klay F. says:

    If you’re interested in Dungeon Keeper type games, you should check out Mighty Quest for Epic Loot. It was up for early access IIRC but is now in closed beta.

  29. Otters34 says:

    Having just blasted through the first two ‘seasons’ of Phoenix Wright(on the iPad, so not nearly the original experience), I have to say that so far it feels like Phoenix is always totally confused and off-balance, no matter what’s going on or where he is.

    His constant reliance on bluffing and harassing witnesses, desperate scrambling for even the vaguest connections between the evidence and testimony, shooting his mouth off and getting smacked by the judge every two minutes…okay, that’s mostly just me being utterly awful at the game, but still!

    Also, Mumbles, I gotta say that I’m getting pretty tired of EVERY tough-as-nails lady character turning out to have a heart of butter. I’m not even very socially aware, it’s just frustrating somehow.

    Octodad(the first one at least) hit me in a sensitive place too. Not in a really personal note, but I felt deeply for somebody having to say goodbye to people he loved, and who loved and accepted him despite his strangeness. The fact it was a really funny game helped because it’s not like the makers drained all the drama out by using it themselves, leaving some for the player to fill in the tone and story.

    Also, Mr. Young, that bit about you wishing you could fight good guys in the game where you play a bad guy is s serious problem. It’s come up in EVERY game(that I know of) where you play as a ‘villain’ in the story. From Dungeon Keeper to Overlord, your foes are always worse people than you somehow, and you’re eventually vindicated in eradicating them even though that’s the opposite for how it’s supposed to go!

    • Mumbles says:

      re: ladies

      nah man i agree, i like VARIETY in lady characters. but i have to say my favorite type of lady char is usually someone who is a little like stephanie brown ie athena in the new game.

  30. Phantos says:

    I’m with Mumbles and Chris, the 3DS is pretty rad. Like Shamus, I’m not one who goes out in an active lifestyle where a handheld console would make sense, but I’m really happy with it.

    Which is funny, considering how only a year or two ago everyone treated it the way we’re treating the Wii-U now. It hasn’t been too long since it was considered one of Nintendo’s overpriced blunders.

    I remember the day I stopped taking Ben Croshaw seriously was when he posted a review essentially calling the 3DS a failure right then and there… before Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing, Phoenix Wright, Professor Layton, Pokemon, Bravely Default, Mighty Switch Force 2, Luigi’s Mansion, Paper Mario and Kid Icarus came out.

  31. Nalyd says:

    Tel me the long story about your personal life, Rutskarn.

  32. Neko says:

    For thos eof you confused by the chaos,

    I had to stop reading here ;)

  33. Axion741 says:

    I couldn’t help laughing when I was reading the description, because I can only imagine the ire felt by TotalSPACEBiscuit every time he read his name. xD

  34. wererogue says:

    Hey Shamus,

    Are you using anything to improve your Dungeon Keeper experience? You can hit ALT-R to go to 640×480, which is way better than the default resolution. If you want more than that you can look into KeeperFX or DKER, which are mods intended to push better graphics features into the game.

    Probably you’re done with the game by now though!

    • Heaven Smile says:

      What is the mod that is supposed to fix all the bugs? like the LVL 10 creatures buff bug that makes all buffs suddenly become much shorter in duration. Or how about the DirectDraw (i presume that is the source) bug where all monsters are stuck doing the same attack animation in order to create the effect of an attack (like Drain, Lightning, Fireballs and whatever) but since there are too many things being “drawn” on the screen, it overflows and just REFUSES to create the particle effects of the attacks. Forcing the creatures to be stuck on a limbo of eternally trying to conjure an attack but never quite actually doing it.

  35. Crimson Wool says:

    Re: Youtube’s draconian policy.

    It’s pretty much legally required under OCILLA. If they don’t immediately take down the video upon receiving a complaint, they become liable for it, and as you can probably guess, Youtube is far too goddamn big to spend the time and money to review every complaint. However, OCILLA’s built in defense mechanism is that a false copyright claim makes the claimant liable for any damages.

    Here’s how the law works:
    – Dev sends (in this case, false) copyright claim. (It’s false because criticism is not copyright infringement; it is covered under fair use.)
    – Youtube can either immediately take it down, which frees them from any liability to both the dev and TotalBiscuit, or leave them up, making them liable for damages to the dev.
    – Youtube, quite reasonably, takes it down. Youtube must immediately inform TotalBiscuit that they did this to keep themselves from being liable.
    – TotalBiscuit can file a counter-claim, stating that it isn’t actually infringement. This is sent to Youtube, who must then pass it on to the dev, in order to keep themselves from being liable.
    – After 14 business days, unless the dev tells Youtube that they’re ready to take it to court, Youtube MUST put TotalBiscuit’s video back up, or they become liable. If they put it back up before 10 business days, they’re, again, liable.
    – TotalBiscuit can (theoretically) sue the dev under OCILLA for any damages, including attorney’s fees.

    In other words, Youtube’s policy is NOT Youtube’s fault – it’s the fault of the US law* – and if you abuse it, you can get in serious legal trouble.

    (IANAL, this is not legal advice, if you listen to me you’re an idiot and I shouldn’t be held liable, etc etc)

    *: To be honest, I find the law a reasonable compromise between all the involved parties – shifting the “must take down” to “ten days after receipt of notice” would be horrible if, for example, someone uploaded a youtube video of a just-released movie. After ten days, the damage is mostly done, and of course you can just register a new account and re-upload the movie. It does suck that you have to sit around for upwards of 14 business days to get your video put back up, but c’es la vie.

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