Diecast #93: Nintendoh, Game Development Sucks, Mailbag

By Shamus
on Feb 16, 2015
Filed under:
Diecast

Dear young people who ask me how to get into game development: Don’t. Just don’t. I like you too much to see that happen to you.

Direct link to this episode.
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Podcast RSS feed.

Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Chris.

Show notes:

1:30 Doing a system transfer from a 3DS to a New 3DS is ridiculous.

Two weeks in a row complaining about Nintendo. They aren’t the worst in the business, but their failings are always so interesting.

Here is how you do it:


Link (YouTube)

7:00 Kotaku story about The Pizza Party Where Everyone Got Fired

Yes, it’s terrible to work in the games industry. No, this shouldn’t be a surprise. But like I said in the show, sharing these stories is the only way anything will change. Here is the SBH episode I mentioned: How Design Trends Ruin Great Games.

25:00 A week after announcing that EVERYTHING IS AWESOME FOREVER, Daybreak fired a bunch of people.

As shocking as the sunrise, but still worth talking about.

35:00 Peter Molyneux Interview: “I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more”.

MAILTIME!

45:00 Dude, do you even musics?

Dear Diecast, Shamus’s badwrong music lessons inspired me to finally get around to learning some of how to play the piano (I’ve been getting goodright lessons from a friend). Does anybody else in the Spoiler Warning crew have any musical aptitude? (aside from Mumbles, obviously) What instruments do you play?

Michael

While I didn’t mention it on the show, I’ve been dabbling in piano lessons myself. How far have I gotten? I’m at the stage where I’m practicing playing scales with both hands. So. Yeah. Long road ahead if I stick with it.

47:00 In-game advertising in games.

Dear Chessex Iscosahedron Diecast,

What is your opinion on product placement and advertising within video games?

Best regards,
Jared

52:00 “Immersion” through 5-second cutscenes.

I’ve sent emails in before about visual fidelity in moderns games and it was notably…wordy, so bear with:

After hearing George lament the repeating animations in FC4’s hunting mechanics, I was reminded of Chris’ gripe that Thorthf made Garret feel like a klepto and I think at least in part it was because of a similar issue of now having an animation play out for grabbing loot rather than having it simply disappear into your coffer like prior games. So obviously these animations are used in order to keep these higher fidelity worlds more cohesive at the cost of game flow. My question then is this:

When in gaming’s history do you think the best balance was reached between visual cohesion and interaction?

-Neil

Here is the video Neil mentioned:


Link (YouTube)

1:00:00 Bygone genres.

Dear Diecast,

Certain video game genres (flight sims, adventure games, turn-based strategy, ect) are not as popular as they used to be. Did something happen to kill off these genres? Were they actually never that popular but they seemed like it because there were just fewer gamers to ‘dilute’ the market back then? Something else that I haven’t thought of? I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Best regards,
Jared

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From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That cant be right.That video is a joke.Right?Please tell me that that video is a joke.

    • guy says:

      I was thinking “well that’s kind of a lot of button presses but it’s not too bad” and then I got to the part where you need to take out a screwdriver in order to transfer data between two devices with wireless capacity.

      • Shep says:

        Just to confirm (having done it myself), you do not need to do this to transfer. You can do this entirely wirelessly. I think this way is quicker though.

        • Nixitur says:

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but the video said that you need wireless broadband internet access, even if you transfer by PC. Do you need that for the initial setup or the transfer process itself?
          Either option is unacceptable, really. I just wanna play some games, not have to fiddle around with internet connections.
          But if the transfer process requires WLAN even if you choose to transfer via PC, then that’s just ridiculous.

          • guy says:

            I think the internet access is only needed to download system updates before starting the process, if I understand the video correctly. Though it might also be needed to sync to the databases so you can redownload stuff you’ve bought onto the new system.

        • Zukhramm says:

          You can do that, but some game saves require you to do the PC transfer so if you don’t want to lose that, you’ve got to do the extra complicated way.

          • guy says:

            That… that’s even dumber. I could at least imagine that the transfer process might mess up the wireless while it’s ongoing, but there is no possible sane reason why you’d be able to transfer system information but not game saves.

          • Shep says:

            This is not correct as far as I am aware. I transferred my profile across without transferring downloaded games from the e-shop across. i was then able to re-download from the internet, and the save data was still fully intact. The only thing you need an internet connection for is to download an update to the system before transferring. It is actually a very simple process albeit it takes a fairly long time, I don’t know why Nintendo put out that video which made it look so complicated when I imagine most folk will just want to do a wireless transfer.

      • Zukhramm says:

        As far as I can see there are only two possible explanations:

        1. Nintendo do not want you to buy their consoles.

        2. Nintendo just hate people.

      • Trix2000 says:

        You can do the transfer very easily just using wireless – I’ve done it before, and all it took was to hit the proper button on each system and let them chug on their own. Then when it finished, swap the SD card over and it was done.

        As far as I can tell, there’s not reason not to do it this way.

        EDIT: Then again, who knows what the new system will require.

  2. Thomas says:

    Peter Molyneux doesn’t just have a pie-in-the-sky idea problem.

    To give you two examples of specific lies he’s said in the last two weeks which are unrelated to that:

    1. Peter Molyneux announced Godus as a PC project with a mobile port. That’s how he got kickstarter backers.

    In secret interviews with the developers, it turns out that internally he’d never tried to focus on the PC version and actually was intent on making a mobile game.

    2. In the backer video he said that the new lead developer of Godus loved the game. The lead developer of Godus is a kickstarter backer who joined the company because he thought the game was terrible and the only way to make it even partially suck less was to make it himself (he even worked for free for like 9 months to be allowed to do this). He frequently posts on the forums about how bad a state Godus is in.

    3. When called out on this Peter Molyneux said “That’s not true he joined before we even released a PC version, he didn’t hate the game.” Completely matter of factly and assuredly.

    The RPS interviewer then reminded him that this developer joined many months _after_ they released the PC version and is on public record stating his reasons for joining the team.

    4. To get a chance to promote Curiousity, PM told RPS that he was going to release a PC version (them being a PC focused sight). There’s no evidence he ever tried to do that.

    5. Peter Molyneux said the Curiousity winner was already gaining earnings. That has never happened and never will

    ————————————-
    Peter Molyneux might not be malicious, but he doesn’t take the real world into account when he speaks. He will very happily tell you things which are completely untrue because he doesn’t see why it’s relevant that he never intend to focus on PC version etc

    • Thomas says:

      I guess the best way to put is this, he doesn’t seem to realise why people care about whether things are true or not. And he does that for both very grand game ideas, and very little details (like telling the Guardian and RPS that he was going to do his last ever interview with their respective publications and then carrying on to do more)

      I agree that was a terrible way to do an interview though, and it didn’t get them the results they wanted because they clearly went too far

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        He’s getting worse and worse. He used to actually be able to ship functional games. Fable II delivered on a lot of things, regardless of how much was promised.

        Curiosity was some kind of mad science project. When he unveiled that you could pay money purely to screw with a communal effort… that was inspired. Horrible, but inspired.

        Now this stuff? What the hell, Peter?

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Could be a coping mechanism. Had a friend who was a pathological liar because he didn’t want to confront the reality that his life hadn’t gone anywhere yet (and he was way too young to be feeling like a failure, only 19 iirc). His I.Q. got higher every time he told it. Then he was supposed to go military and that fell through. Then he stole his parents money and ran away and told us he’d gotten a security gig, showed one of my friends a gun.

        Then he was found behind a church having used the gun on himself. I think it must have happened at the point when he finally couldn’t outrun reality anymore. I think some people lie because they can’t handle the truth. Though its funny for Molyneaux to be in this position (if he is) given that he has some successes (if you measure by sane standards). Heck, when I struggled to get things together in college, I’d delude myself with my big ideas thinking I’d strike it out on my own and then it wouldn’t matter that I’d failed the traditional route. I’d just be one of those eccentric gifted types that forged their own path. When that illusion collapsed, I went into deep depression.

        But who knows.

        • Zak McKracken says:

          After reading the interview (and making some observations in RL recently) …

          …I feel bad for him.

          I know this problem where you won’t get approval for something unless you have a detailed plan, but then you know that plan isn’t going to work out precisely anyway, and you don’t particularly care because who likes project plans anyway? You do want to be allowed to do the thing you love and that’s the important bit.

          Most people I know live in that type of world at least to some extent, and I can completely understand why at some point he expects his “the dog ate the homework” excuses to work out. Because they mostly have so far!

          I think Peter Molyneux should learn to stop making grand announcements. Those are more or less betting on the future. Someone with enough money to spare should give him a small budget and let him work away on stuff he likes. With a very small team. A very small one, because he doesn’t seem to be the coordinating and project managing type. Or some studio should pay him to draft ideas for games and consult on the development but keep him the hell out of project deadlines and anything that has to do with orgnanizing stuff.

          … or he should go and acquire some more management skills than he has right now.

          My goodness, Popoulous! How can someone make that game and not dream for the rest of their lives that they can make another one like it? He’ll have to land his spaceship first, though.

          • Shamus says:

            I love that the guy who made Populous is bad at managing groups of people. That makes total sense, in a strange way.

          • Thomas says:

            I do feel sorry for him now, he’s in a really horrible situation, and especially since I believe he kind of lies habitually rather than maliciously, I imagine he never realised kickstarter might backfire on him like this. It’s never fun to be part of a media storm and especially when it’s about something innate to who you are.

            But on the other hand, his habits have led him to accidentally harm a lot of people. And from accounts, he’s a really bad design lead, constantly making decisions without talking to his team and then not even telling them when he made a decision. And we needed to come to a point where his credibility was put into better perspective, his way of apologising but not really apologising as soon as he finishes every game he made allowed people to believe in him more than they should.

            But there should be a way of doing that without kicking a guy when he’s down

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              I love a lot of Molyneux earlier work and I’d like to think those titles came from the same kind of vision that he failed to execute with Godus but the way he’s handling the issue makes it difficult for me to find sympathy for the guy, and I wasn’t even invested in Godus in any way.

            • I kinda think a lot of the negative reaction to this interview stems from people not knowing what a “pathalogical liar” is (including Peter Molyneux ). It’s NOT about being malicious, it’s about lying compulsively, often without even realizing it.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathological_lying

              That’s exactly how Peter Molyneux behaves. It was a fair question.

            • harborpirate says:

              Molyneux must have been someone that publishers HATED to deal with. Always making promises, talking about things they were building that didn’t actually exist…

              Now that he launched a kickstarter, the public more or less gets to deal with him directly instead of having the publisher act as a bit of a buffer. It turns out, without a reality interpreter that turns his moonspeak into something believable and apologizes/corrects for him when he says something in public, all you get are endless empty promises that make people upset when they can’t be delivered.

              Godus is exactly the type of game that a publisher would fund for a while, then when they finally forced the team to give them a demo and it turned out to come up long on promises and low on delivery, quietly would get cancelled.

    • Artur CalDazar says:

      Well there was that other eurogamer price that talked about how he started by pretending to be a pr company to get free computers, his big start was fraud. They also mention he would make big promises a few weeks before launch after content lock after having gone gold.
      He would have known he was saying things the game could never deliver, he was lying and did not care.

      • straymute says:

        Yeah

        “The story of how Peter Molyneux got his big break in the games industry is revealing. After his first game The Entrepreneur failed to sell, Molyneux gave up on games and started exporting baked beans to the Middle East. Soon afterwards Commodore, confusing Molyneux’s company Taurus with a networking company called Torus, flew him to the States and mistakenly offered him ten brand-new Amigas.”

        “I remember it vividly going through my head,” says Molyneux . “There was like an angel and a devil on my shoulder. One saying ‘Go on you’ve got to tell the truth, you can’t lie like this.’ Then this other voice saying ‘Just lie. Just lie, get the machines, and sort it out afterwards.’ Of course, I ended up lying.”

        This isn’t really a subjective thing. Molyneux lies in every sense of the word. He knowingly does it with the intent to deceive people and he actually lies in the RPS interview about his lies. He is not an idea man in over his head, the man knows exactly what he’s doing and he has done it extremely well.

        • Thomas says:

          That’s such a Molyneux way of explaining it too. He never ever accepts any kind of real responsibility for what he’s done whilst at the same time trying to position himself as a nice guy who’s willing to make up for past ‘wrongs’ anyway

        • Akhetseh says:

          Derailing a little, but found it curious. Last month, a domestic appliance company named Taurus got its web hacked, apparently, by jihadists because, apparently again, they confused it with a weapons manufacturer. I guess that name is a jinx?

        • Artur CalDazar says:

          Eurogamer’s coverage of this has been rather good, certainly lacking the needless aggression of the interview at any rate.

    • Grudgeal says:

      Like someone on a games forum I once habited summarised it ten years ago: “Peter Molyneux has a habit of promising us the world and then giving us Iowa.”

  3. Wide And Nerdy says:

    What I’m wondering is, we’ve known this for a while. I’ve known about this just listening to various people for at least a few years that the industry cuts devs loose when the game is ready. Why don’t the devs just go ahead and plan based on that assumption and not wait to be told? If I was going into this, thats what I’d do.

    Are they actually being promised that there’s more work waiting for them and then fired anyway?

    • How easy would it be for you if you had to expect being fired every 1-2 years, then face yet another job search and possible relocation, often to places where it’s very expensive to live? Add a family into that for many, if not most, people.

      And as was said in the Diecast, those who were fired at the pizza party were not told that they’d be laid off.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Its not easy and I’m not trying to argue it is. I’m a government employee in an area where cuts are annual. I do have some sense of what that’s like and what its like to feel trapped. I’m actually worse off in some ways. I only have my work experiences to say that I’m good at anything. I don’t have a bachelors. And I’ve been stuck places where my bosses would never give me a chance to be more.

        But if you go in with the certainty that you will be fired, you can plan for that. You take on the roommate to make ends meet or make sure your spouse is working in a more stable area and so that you have some money and in the meantime you keep an eye out for other opportunities.

        The thing is, even if you go in not knowing about these companies’ hiring and firing practices, you HAVE to know that this is a hard field to make it in. Its just plain common sense. OF COURSE there are going to be tons of people who want to make games for a living. In other words, when you make this commitment you’ve decided that you have a tolerance for uncertainty. Its a tolerance I don’t have which is why I decided not to bother going this direction.Someone like me would never be in this situation because I’m too risk averse. Its a tradeoff. The price I pay is not getting to pursue my dreams and work on something I find truly meaningful (or at the very least, I’m going to have to wait much longer). This is also why, in spite of having interests in art and acting, I never went that direction either.

      • Wolf says:

        Actually that very nicely describes the current situation in acedemic research. The similarities also do not seem to appear out of pure chance, both fields have this “problem” that people just want to work on their own stuff and are willing to make sweeping sacrifices in job security and pay to be able to do that. Regrettably they are then rewarded for this devotion quite poorly.

        I hear pilots and artists have similar problems.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          Rewarded poorly?

          By your own description, these people “just want to work on their own stuff”, likely with little regard to whether or not others have identified a need for it. If someone happens to want to fund you living essentially a student’s life for the rest of your life performing esoteric research, or making paintings people don’t buy, more power to you. But I’d say they should be grateful there’s any financial reward for it at all.

    • Chris says:

      Well that’s the thing – sometimes there is work waiting for them. A lot of studios have multiple games going at once and you might get switched over to that when you’re done. Or if you’re working at a big company like EA or whatever you might get shuffled between studios without having to move/find a new job. And even when places do post-successful-project layoffs they don’t usually gut the studio down to like 2 people; they just reduce staff to keep overhead costs down. You might be one of the QA/artists/programemrs they keep, you might not be. So it’s not like it’s a certainty you can plan your life around, and indeed companies try their hardest to deny this sort of stuff happens when they hire you.

      Also not all layoffs are end-of-successful-project layoffs that you can kinda predict or have any foreknowledge of. Sometimes a project just gets canned – it wasn’t working out creatively or they couldn’t get the tech to work just right or 2014’s big game didn’t do as well as we had hoped and that third team we were gonna ramp up we can no longer afford to keep at all.

      A lot of that is endemic of the software industry at large – the tech sector in general is a terrible place to work for a bajillion reasons – but the short turnaround time of game projects and the sheer unpredictability of their success or failure results in an even more tumultuous employment setup. It’s also made worse by the stuff Shamus talked about – hordes of kids eager to squeeze in to any part of the games industry they can means that wages are lower and employees don’t have much sway.

      The end result is that we’re just churning through talent and no one wants to stick around. Why put up with the constant job insecurity for lower pay and crazy work hours? It’s exciting to be part of Gears of Duty VII when you’re 25 even if it means 80 hour weeks and a pink slip at the end of the ride, but when you’re 35 and looking to settle down and have some kids and be a human rather than a game-crunch-bot you start wondering how nice it’d be to have a 9-5 for more money and way less pressure. And the idea that the games industry is just a meat grinder – whether people going into it know it or not – really sucks. :/

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Well if thats the case, then maybe we need to stop complaining about things like DLC. If we want our games to only cost 60 bucks AND we want these companies to be able to afford to provide that stability in a risky enterprise, then they need revenue streams. But we as gamers complain every time a new model arises for them to try to introduce some stability. And its because the companies that would want to do things right are competing with companies that are completely mercenary.

        Don’t get me wrong, I agree that change should happen both for the well being of the workers and because its a long term benefit to the creative output of the company if you’re not constantly afraid of your inevitable termination (plus the benefits of group cohesion that develop over time, heck I’m an example of that. My boss had to be patient with me to give me the time to develop skills and in turn I’m more skilled now than she anticipated. There’s definitely a benefit to that investment. Of course in her case its partly because they couldn’t afford to pay what a fully qualified dev doing my job would be worth, and I accept the on the job training and patience as the benefit of that.) I do think businesses underestimate the cost of letting these devs go to hire a new batch after they just got 2 to 3 years of hardcore coding experience and getting used to your workflow and business culture.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “Well if thats the case, then maybe we need to stop complaining about things like DLC. ”

          No.The solution is not “accept any dlc,no matter how crappy,just so these guys can stay afloat”.We as gamers are not complaining that dlcs are a thing,we are complaining that shoddy dlcs are a thing.

        • Shamus says:

          Actually, I’ve been saying for years that instead of trying to squeeze MORE money out of me, they could just spend LESS on the game. Games production costs have skyrocketed, but “fun” hasn’t skyrocketed. Games are shorter, shallower, and the fancy graphics make the other shortcomings more obvious.

          Again, it goes back to publishers wanting to be the New Hollywood. They keep trying to make hundred million dollar movies instead of twenty million dollar videogames.

          • Wide and Nerdy says:

            Do you think we can put the genie back in the bottle? I’m sure a lot of customers are used to those big budget games and would complain about the scale back (especially wondering why they blew 400 bucks on a new console.)

            At least Ubi Art and some of the bigger Kickstarted prodents are producing in this space.

            • Wide and Nerdy says:

              Can’t edit comment. Prodents should be productions

            • Shamus says:

              Getting the graphical genie back in the bottle? That’s a really interesting question. I mean, Minecraft was a smash hit, but you can make the case that it was an anomaly. I think that with the proper application of art, most people wouldn’t notice that the graphical budget had been cut. But I seriously doubt the industry is capable of making that kind of shift.

              I think this is why people are talking about some sort of collapse, contraction, downturn, crash, or other euphemism for “everyone loses their jobs, money, and minds.” We’ve got teams working grotesque hours for low pay to make games of middling quality that are a huge risk and middling return for the publisher, and that cost more money and hassle than the consumer is willing to pay. The games are hyped by a media nobody trusts and then returned to the game store everyone hates for a pittance of trade-in value. Oh, and make sure to buy a $400 console if you want to keep playing these short, shallow, overpriced games. There’s nothing any one party can do to fix this. Everyone hates this setup. It’s like this horrible four-way prisoner’s dilemma.

              Still, if I was in charge of a game I’d rather make a $10 million game than a $100 million one any day.

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                Is there any kind of asset sharing they could do? Seems like if you’re going to produce high fidelity graphics that there are plenty of cases where you could just resell asset packs to other studios or share and trade. I figure thats already going on intrastudio, Bioware’s animations are clearly shared between Dragon Age and Mass Effect (not the first thing I’d share).

                Or maybe we could see more third party generic asset production. (I have no idea what I’m talking about.) Then you could just have a smaller graphics team to produce the more distinctive pieces of your game world.

                • Supahewok says:

                  Low and mid-tier developers are already getting on this with Unity. Unity has a store where you can buy graphical assets (and maybe other things, I dunno) for like $2-$10 a pop. Unity and the original developer get their cuts of that.

                  Don’t know if it’s possible to do it between high-tier studios. Only within a publisher I say, publishers don’t seem capable of playing nice with each other.

                  On an unrelated note: you wanted us to let you know if stuff broke with the site theme change, Shamus. Well, I’m writing this comment, and there appears to be 2-3 characters worth of horizontal scrolling going on. I didn’t notice it in the comment I made below this one, that started a thread. Whereas this is a reply, and one that’s pretty high up the reply chain. (The highest, maybe?) Maybe the text box is wider than the comment box at this point in the reply chain?

                  • Wide And Nerdy says:

                    I’m having the horizontal scrolling problem too. Using chrome.

                    Not nearly as bad as it is on Blip with their Facebook widget container.

                    On the other stuff, would be interesting to see if the crash happens and these smaller studios expand to fill the void if they take this culture with them of sharing assets or buying from common pools. Would make sense. I’d heard there was something like this, but didn’t know how good or extensive the system was.

                    Do they allow free use for prototyping?

                    • guy says:

                      I don’t think they allow free prototyping, since data is so easily copied. But they’re purchased, not rented. I don’t know how well it would work for people not using common engines. At the very least, different shading and lighting techniques require different data to work from. And then there’s stuff that could be made compatible but might not have a standardized format.

                  • Gabriel Mobius says:

                    Low and mid-tier developers are already getting on this with Unity. Unity has a store where you can buy graphical assets (and maybe other things, I dunno) for like $2-$10 a pop. Unity and the original developer get their cuts of that.

                    Unreal Engine 4 also does this, and their model is pretty interesting. I still have to check out what comes with the whole package, but they definitely have an asset store as well.

                    A fun fact: If you just want the engine to noodle around with and don’t really care about updates to it, they mention that if you buy a month’s subscription, grab all of the downloads you’re entitled to, and cancel the subscription after a month, you get to keep and mess around with everything you’ve gotten up to that point, you just don’t get future engine updates unless you resubscribe.

              • Tizzy says:

                Ultimately, if the budgets do go down, expect to see massive layoffs anyway: the number of games coming out eachyear cannot be extended indefinitely.

                Point well taken on the smaller budget being more comfortable to manage. Return on investment should be the driver. But high tech tends to have overwhelming winners who wipe the floor with the competition, so no one wants to be a mid-weight player in such an environment.

                Also, I am beginning to wonder if the AAA space is some sort of pyramid scheme: managers at all level benefit from the growing size of teams: many of them would have to be laid off altogether if the teams were to be scaled back to more reasonable sizes. I imagine most of these managers don’t have to worry about regular layoffs, so they would have absolutely no incentive to reduce budgets.

                • Shamus says:

                  Oh, I agree on the layoffs. I IMAGINE that what’s going on right now is a system where new people are entering the field to replace all the people who get disgusted and leave. This is awful. The game colleges get to brag, “80% of all our grads get jobs in the industry!” (Which are terrible odds anyway, but whatever.) But the sad truth is that most of those people probably leave after a few years and do something else.

                  A proper correction would have teams shrink down to a manageable size. The remaining people would then KEEP their jobs, and all the newcomers would find it harder to get work. This happens sometimes. (When we end up with a glut of workers for whatever reason.) And it would suck for those people. But this would make life much better for people who stay in the industry. When people finally figured out that gamedev jobs were hard to come by, they would stop signing up for gamedev school.

                  This will probably happen eventually, but I doubt it will be nice and orderly like I’ve outlined. It will happen over the long course of employee turnover, studio closings, changes in management, and brutal corporate darwinism.

        • Zak McKracken says:

          It’s the same thing as with ethically-sourced raw material for stuff you buy: By just paying more for it you are only making sure that the employer gets more money, but they still get to decide how much to pay their employees.

          Properly paying cotton-pickers in south America and the people who sew your T-shirts in India would cost less then half a Dollar extra per T-Shirt, but if you see a T-Shirt für 10 Dollars, and another just like it for 11 Dollars next to it … do you think buying the 11 Dollar one will get those people paid better? It’ll just make the vendor more money.

          The only thing that would help here is something that gives the employees more leverage when negotiating wages and terms. And that is either that there aren’t enough people who can do what they do (which is sadly not the case for most), or they’d need to organize … something tells me that’s not too probably, at least in the US.

          … “Fairtrade Games”…?

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            I was gonna argue with you on this but I ran the numbers and assuming a team of 50 is still the norm and their average pay is 50,000, then a month’s severance would run roughly 200,000. Thats assuming you layoff everybody. Of course, that doesn’t factor in any benefits they might get (I have no idea). But you could factor that into a Triple A game budget.

            There could even be something like a gold seal program for companies that do three months (in such a volatile industry, three months seems pretty solid), attracting both devs and prosumers. You might offer withholding to help impulsive young devs set aside a portion of their pay for unemployment. Call it the “Employment Stability Fund” or something.

    • Shamus says:

      I’m not sure what you CAN do. I mean, if you know you’re going to be fired “sometime in the next 4 months” it makes it pretty hard to line up a new one. And when you’re working 70 hour weeks (plus HOW MUCH of a commute?!?!) you probably don’t have time for job hunting.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Well, see my post above. I agree change should happen.

        I’m just wondering what you think you’re going to do in the first place when entering such a volatile high risk industry with such competition. They have to have some inkling of how hard it is going in. When I was considering becoming an actor or an artist back in high school, I read around and found out just how hard it is to get steady work and decided to make those into fun side things. And I was a teenager with, at best, unreliable internet access (18 years ago). The information is out there about the games industry. Has been for a while.

        I’d live with roomies and try to save as much as possible so that I can afford to go a little while without work and look for job opportunities during lunch. But as I said above, I don’t have the temperament for such a competitive and unstable field anyway so you would never see me in this situation.

        EDIT: I wonder if this is another factor in why there are fewer women in gaming. Women, I’m told, are conditioned to value work life balance. This is not the industry for having that balance (unless you go indie? Maybe?).

          • Wide and Nerdy says:

            It was a woman in the industry who suggested that theory in an article I recently read. Just remembered that she basically asserted that. Can’t remember where I found it.

            Thought she only mentioned the work life balance thing, but I remember now that she basically posited the conclusion as well.

            • Anandy says:

              I wouldn’t say ‘conditioned to prefer work/life balance’. It’s more ‘forced to handle necessary but not-in-the-description tasks that need to be done but won’t because men think it beneath them’. And yeah, women make the choices that let them keep their sanity, which often means either dialing back the professional life to keep their heads above water everywhere else or being called names that rhyme with witch (see: any study of who does housework at home, any study of who cares for kids/parents, and also this good if occasionally ragey summary of women’s treatment in the workplace: http://jezebel.com/women-at-work-were-doing-all-the-office-housework-too-1684271715).

              This doesn’t mean the games industry is any less terrible, though. Honest question – are you deliberately using the idea that work conditions are so hostile that one gender avoids the industry to argue against the need to push for industry change? Because so far that’s definitely the impression you’re giving.

        • harborpirate says:

          You mean during the lunch hour that you’re expected to be working through, right? When everybody else works through lunch and you don’t, you’re “that slacker guy” who’s first on the chopping block.

          I doubt if most college students have a real grasp how bad the industry has gotten, and even if they did, that seldom stops people.

          Look how many people get useless college degrees. (Like these: http://college.usatoday.com/2014/08/13/the-top-10-lowest-paying-college-majors/ and these: http://www.thinkadvisor.com/2014/06/03/30-worst-paying-college-majors-2014) Common sense tells us that people should avoid these like the plague and yet schools keep cranking out grads with huge debt, no job prospects, and only a piece of paper to show for their time there. Game dev, as it turns out, is just another one of these dead-end degrees; only you’re slightly better off if you learned how to write code because other types of businesses will give you a stable job at a good wage to do that.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      In defense of software programmers and graphic artists, if they were willing to look for work elsewhere in the face of layoffs, they probably didn’t want to work on the project they were on in the first place, and probably would’ve had a job search way in advance prepared and an exit plan to leave before the layoffs hit.

      The ones that get laid off? If they weren’t laid off, they’d probably want to continue the work they were doing.

      The layoff I had the…fortune to survive through ended up laying off someone else on the team I was on, and they got laid off just after a standup meeting where they were totally willing to take on a series of features for the project. they got told by their manager after the meeting that they were laid off (They were in a different building than mine)…and then we held a second standup meeting that day just to figure out what we were going to do – since they were the senior developer on the team, with myself as a junior developer not having all the permissions to do the things they did (Eventually ended up pulling another senior developer from another team to handle the deployment details), and discussed details for how to continue with the product post the end of my contract – since with our Agile setup, we still had a product that worked for everything but any new features the project manager and shareholders wanted that hadn’t already been added.

      And this is just programmers wanting to continue their work even through the layoffs – I’ve known graphic artists who are really dedicated to their work, and more than anything else, want their work to become a public portfolio piece they can point to, instead of having their work locked up due to not being finished with the project falling through.

      When you’re doing what you want to do, you want to do it, even if you’re expecting that you might not be able to keep doing it – it’s similar to why everyone seems to be okay with extensive crunch times.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      In a slightly different world, you’d just start applying for another job as soon as the delivery deadline draws close, so you have a job offer on the table as soon as the game ships and can hand in your resignation unless they give you a contract you like better than the last one.

      In the real world, I think the choice is between holding on to whatever’s left of the current job or going without one…
      I think there are only two ways out of this:
      1: There need to be “consultancy” companies who have reasonably long-term contracts with their employees who are then hired out for other companies’ projects. This means changing projects often, sometimes working on several at once and doing the work noone else wanted to do, but for more job security, possibly even more pay because you’d also be in the fire-fighting department, and developers will pay more if they urgently need competent people.

      2: Have a proper union. I have no idea how feasible that is in the States.

      Solution number 1 works nicely for Nurses in the UK (which are usually not well-paid but in rather high demand): If you switch to a private contractor, you can get more than twice your old salary, but do even less work because you’re more expensive, so the regular staff will do more overtime than you.
      … now that’s grossly unfair to those nurses who are not working for a private constractor, and it’s not good for British taxpayers, but it’s the logical conclusion of making the nurses’ jobs so unattractive by trying to get them to work more for less in order to try and save money. Didn’t quite work out…

      Then again, the demand for nurses is much much higher than for games programmers, so that may not work too well after all.

  4. Thomas says:

    Wait that Nintendo video is _official_?!

    I was watching it thinking that Eurogamer or someone had created a slightly snarky fan guide to how do it. But Nintendo made it themselves?

  5. Re: the “sneering asshole” about jobs in the games industry

    Welcome to this really oddball era where workers have been turned on each other. The idea of having a halfway-stable career has pretty much been vilified, if not likened to communism in this day and age. I know there have been people here who think school teachers have it easy and will happily sneer at their low salaries, crappy working conditions, and blame them for a ton of problems that are out of their control.

    Sound familiar?

    This isn’t just a problem in the games industry, of course. It’s more visible in the games industry because the people being overworked, underpaid and discarded are still seen as rock stars by those who consume their products. That grants their troubles visibility, but it also gets more of the ol’ sneering asshole factor going, since the position of “rock star” isn’t “hourly shift-worker” in their eyes, and must be a rewarding gig that only an ungrateful layabout would kvetch over.

    In my view, this is about a hair away from the other popular troll meme: that people CHOOSE to be poor/miserable, and from there it’s not hard to claim that they DESERVE to be miserable. Which is, of course, hooey of the highest order. I’d also point out that said trolls would leap on Chris’ caveats that not all games industry employees are burnt-out 35-year-olds or that there are some people with fairly stable jobs in the industry. These are the same sorts who will point to one person in a million who became successful from an impoverished childhood without any higher education as a sign that education and welfare are unneeded, because if one person makes it through…

    I’d really violate the political prime directive here if I went into a lot of the incentives that companies have for shafting their workers vis-a-vis salaries, benefits, and working conditions, and I may have already done so. I will say that it’s interesting that this issue is finally coming up among the classes of job that previously was the source of anti-labor sentiment, that if you worked hard and went without a union, you’d be elevated as far as your talent could take you. Clearly, that’s not what happens. If you show yourself to be really good at coding games, you’re not promoted to project head or a management position: You’re told to work more hours and make more games or you’re fired.

    It’s getting to be like this across the spectrum, and the whole “at least you have a job, stop whining” attitude needs to change.

    • Michael says:

      “The idea of having a halfway-stable career has pretty much been vilified, if not likened to communism in this day and age.”

      …What!? What country do you live in!?

      • Tektotherriggen says:

        I’m not sure about vilified, but in the UK we’ve had a steady drip, drip for years about how “the world of work is changing” (World of Work sounds like the worst MMO ever); “no more 9-to-5” (often said in a tone that implies that this is a good thing, rather than being code for “work longer”); “flexibility is key” (note that it’s usually workers who have to be flexible, rather than employers); “no more job for life” (again, often with a positive spin, as if it’s GREAT that one day technology will eliminate our jobs and we’ll have the chance to retrain for an exciting new job).

        • Thomas says:

          It’s crazy the times companies expect you to be available now, I’ve got a friend who does consultant work and companies just phone him up randomly at 10pm and expect him to respond.

          If you work in investment banking, they can send a taxi round your house at 3am without notice and expect you to get inside.

          • I’d argue investment bankers caused a lot of our woes at the moment, but I don’t think the ones who reaped the benefits are the ones getting called up at 3AM.

            And it is, indeed, crazy. I’m sure loads of computer-related fields have non-compete clauses so that if you DO have free time to work on stuff, the company will claim it’s theirs. Not to mention that a few of the more draconian contracts stipulate that you can’t work in your chosen field for X number of months after quitting of your own volition. A great many of these non-competes have been struck down in court, but what average person has the time/money to fight that kind of thing before a judge?

        • Bubble181 says:

          Don’t forget the whole job hopping thing – late 90s till…well, still going on, I guess. “No more boring job for life!”, “you can pick and choose and explore new opportunities every 2-5 years!”, “Staying in a job for more than 5 years will simply loo k bad on your resume! Keep moving upwards or sideways, keep re-inventing yourself!”.

          Coupled with the modern vision of working from home (more hours, less compensation, be eternally on call 24/7, etc) which has morphed from where it was an employee benefit and has become pretty much horrible, and…yes.

    • Grudgeal says:

      “An old soothsayer’s trick, but well-played: stir up old enmities and shift attention from yourself.”

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That thing about the shitty treatment of workers:Isnt that the exact same thing we had during the industrial revolution?This new technology that required a huge influx of workers quickly got oversaturated and workers lost their value.Thats why the unions were invented.And then we had the same thing with movies,when this new technology required a huge influx of workers,got oversaturated and workers lost their value,and were forced to form their own unions.Now its the same thing in video games,when this new technology required a huge influx of workers,got oversaturated and workers lost their value.So we are to expect programmer unions soon.

    What Im trying to say is that its all about cycles.

    • Except the monied classes learned from those previous “mistakes” and have put any number of legal roadblocks in the way of actual organization or advancement. Unionization is being outlawed in a lot of sectors in the U.S., with about only 12% of our workforce in a union. Yet somehow they’re still held up as some kind of black-hat economic villain while another hedge fund gets a bail out.

      • DHW says:

        “Unionization is being outlawed in a lot of sectors in the U.S.,”

        What? No. That’s not true at all. Can you back up that statement?

        • See: Governor Scott Walker, for one.

          • Jonathan says:

            That’s misleading. All he’s doing is eliminating the practice of forcing people to join unions they don’t want to do.

            • Kylroy says:

              Yes, and with an open shop, it’s just a matter of time before you have enough free riders to make breaking the union trivial.

              • DHW says:

                So the takeaway is that unionization is not, in fact, being outlawed then. Glad we’ve cleared that up.

                • Peter H. Coffin says:

                  It’s a little more refined than that. “Closed shops”, where the union forced employers to only hire union members were outlawed in 1947 as part of the Taft-Hartley Act. The only way that union membership could be required was if it was part of the negotiated contract between the union and the company management. If it was not required, though, the union was still required legally to represent the worker the same way as union members “in good standing”, who were legally obligated to pay “agency fees”, a fraction of the union dues that directly go toward worker representation: no strike funds, no salaries to union administration, etc. And companies were required to withhold the agency fees from employee wages and pay them to the union.

                  The thing that most Right To Work laws really aim to do is remove the requirement for those agency fees to be withheld and paid to the union, without removing the requirement that the union continue to represent workers that are not union members. Which essentially makes every non-union employee nothing but a financial drain on the union organization, and (hopefully, in the opinion of those pushing for these laws) make the entire union financially unfeasible in spite of the wishes of the majority of workers or even the company management.

                  See, one of the strong reasons for unions to exist was touched on during the podcast during the discussion of Hollywood, where there’s a strong union presence in the industry. When companies/producers need functional work to happen, the unions provide it, with the union’s implicit assertion that these members are competent, experienced, and willing. There’s little to no reason for the production administration to interview, review, or negotiate with every individual worker. They’re hiring the set of work, and drawing on the experience of the union regarding how many people are needed for a very high success rate at meeting a given production schedule. (After all, the union’s been through hundreds of these productions. The management/production people may well be on their first production.) And this is a mechanism that’s very well suited to game production. A given kind of game of a particular amount of “space” will need a predictable amount of competent artists to make the textures and object to “dress the set”, model the mooks, etc. They’ll need a set number of recordists and audio techs to handle sound effects and a difference set of recordists, talent, and audio techs to handle voice acting, for an amount of time proportional to the number of pages of script, etc. And there’s little to no reason for a lot of that to be done in house. It ought to be a hireable service, and the options for that are “union” if you want control over the quality and to negotiate how much you want and what’s reasonable to pay, and “outside services” if you’d rather let the market let take over that choice for you.

  7. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Whats sillywood?

    • MichaelGC says:

      I’ve wondered this before, as I’ve only ever heard Campster use the term! It’s those old FMV games like 7th Guest, or the Tex Murphy ones. Actually, this is Campster’s definition on Twitter which I stumbled across:

      It’s slew of games getting B-list actors to make FMV titles in the mid 90’s once CD-ROMs hit it big.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Thank you :)

        • Chris says:

          Yeah, it’s that. It was a term d’art in the 90’s that has sort of been written out of history, mostly because we want to pretend we would never do something as goofy as trying to become an interactive Hollywood. But we totes did, and there are still old pieces that reference it: Here and here and here. So I swear I didn’t just invent the term out of whole cloth!

          Here’s a nice quote from a different Fortune article:

          Intrigued by the thought of being able to display digital video and film clips on computers, Hollywood production companies formed CD-ROM partnerships with gearheads (technospeak for nerdy programmers) from Silicon Valley. SiliWood — pronounced Silly Wood — was born. Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, moved his entertainment software company to Los Angeles to be closer to the Hollywood creative community. “The big studios are spending lots of money to figure out the business,” he explains. “In the process, they’ll up the ante for everybody else. We’re working on a title with an animation studio now, and our entire $2 million budget was probably the catering bill for the last film they worked on.”

          (Aside: “Gearheads” == programmers? Talk about terms d’art no longer in use…)

          Note that all these articles are dated in the mid-90’s, when the term was in use (and when I picked it up). These days we’ve largely tried to forget a time when Mark Hamill and Biff Tannen were in Wing Commander and that Christopher Lloyd was in Toonstruck and we moved our E3 convention from Atlanta Georgia out to LA. But it was definitely A Thing – a combination of CD-ROMs and FMVs tempting developers to attempt interactive movies, movies trying to figure out if they can tap into growing game markets, and a nascent video games industry in general wanting in on a lot of the cultural cache that film had by more or less trying to pretend to be movies with big name actors and such.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            Thank you so much. There’s an evening’s reading :)

            Funny that Spoony did such a long series on FMVs and never used that term himself. But then his highest profile insider work was probably his column in Knights of the Dinner Table.

            • Chris says:

              It was more a business term/fad than a term kicked around by particular genres. Like, a lot of games were clearly the product of Sillywood (Sewer Shark! Pyst! Various Interactive Multimedia “Experiences”!) but the term itself is basically “Silicon Valley Goes Hollwood” -> Siliwood -> Sillywood.

              So I guess in some sense I do bastardize the term a bit (though the third link I posted does a similar thing). I use it to refer to the games produced as a result of that era, but when it was popular it was more focused on the idea of Silicon Valley going Hollywood. That’s such an old hat idea at this point, though, that I’m not sure it makes any sense. Software and video games in particular have been seen as part of the Los Angeles/Southern California cultural capital of the world thing for over a decade now (which is also probably a contributing factor in the word’s demise). So I guess in a way games got their wish.

          • Zak McKracken says:

            Mark Hamill in Wing Commander was sooo cool! Seriously, I played the hell out of those games, and I loved them, and I’m not too proud to say so.

            By the way, for all Germans reading this:
            That one guy in Wing Commander, who sits in a corner once and drinks a drink in the bar, (whom you definitely don’t remember) — That’s Smudo. From Fanta 4.

            Also, this may well have started Mark Hamill’s second carreer, seeing as how he was doing the Joker in recent Batman titles and stuff. Malcom McDowell, though… don’t know if that helped him at all but I didn’t mind.

          • RTBones says:

            Gearheads…when I was writing software, the term used for programmers and engineers was coneheads. Gearheads were guys that liked to work on or generally were just car fanboys.

  8. DrMcCoy says:

    Hey, Toonstruck is a great game! >:(

    Phantasmagoria 2 is also not a bad game, in a B-movie kind of way.

  9. Vect says:

    The Peter Molyneux interview reminds me of that Penny Arcade comic about the reporter from Mass Effect:

    http://i.imgur.com/lZd7vfI.jpg

    The dude had it coming, but the interviewer didn’t need to start things off with a kick to the balls.

  10. 4th Dimension says:

    About sim games. Actually the situation in the flight simulator genre ain’t half bad. If you want high level top notch simulators you have things like MS Flight Simulator X and X Plane with reasonably realistic terrain and autogenerated cities in the regions where they lack the data (alltough FSX is kind of verry bad at representing coast lines*). And then there is a freeware alternative Flight Gear which might feature less well terrain but is free and has a community.

    In the area of military flight sims we have DCS, base of which is FREE and for free you get SU-25T ground attack aircraft and TF-51 trainer aircraft. You can pay and buy other aircraft. And all of them are not only faithfully recreated in terms of flight models but they even feature fully clickable cockpits in which you can click and use ANY BUTTON. Also Warthunder itself is a flight sim if you fly in Flight Simulator mode. What’s more that mode allows you to play multiplayer battles.

    So while yes it’s not owerflowing with content Flight Sim genre is still here being supported by it’s enthusiastic fanbase.
    That thing about joysticks is one of the problems (hell I can not even buy a decent joystick in my country), but most of the games give you the ability to play using the mouse or even gamepad. It’s not joystick (allthough mouse joy aint half bad) but it’s workable.
    As to players expecting a high degree of realistic scenery. It’s also arguable. If you are flying a regular plane you certanly will not be flying that low and slow that you need anywhere near level of detail of the modern games. The only things that need to be as detailed as possible is airports and the area around them, terrain and roads since they are used for navigation. All of this of course flies straight out of the window if you introduce helicopters.
    In mil flightsims you might be able to cut even more corners since you are not there to find your home, but not to be shot down by SAM.

    • ET says:

      I was just about to mention FlightGear, but you beat me to it! Not to the link, though. :P

      I really think open source might be the best way to get simulator games out in the real world, with the same level of fidelity as other games. A couple of reasons:
      1. The game mechanics don’t change often.
      2. The game mechanics are very complicated and might still need some fixing-up, from the previous year’s version of the sim.
      3. There’s a relatively easy way to get high-fidelity assets into your game world: use existing navigation maps. They’ve got tonnes of data for roads and topography, and even pictures of ground-level buildings via Google’s street-view.
      4. It doesn’t have a huge amount of profitability.

      Numbers 1-3 would imply a game genre that still could be made by AAA*, but including #4 means that basically, open source is the only way to go. But yeah, if you cut out the high-fidelity requirement, well, that’s what you described military sims as being, if I understood you correctly. :)

      * Like the yearly sports games.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        While Flight Gear is good it’s not excellent. One of it’s main problems is it was built for Linux systems and is thus suffering from the problem nearly all open source community projects suffer from. It’s a bitch to start on a Windows system. Clearly it was made to be configured via command line, and GUI has been designed by different people with different ideas and no clear design document.

        Also while the publically available terrain is good enough it has also made Montenegro a mountainous rocky country into a desert by using desert textures where it’s not their place. They basically need to streamline things and make it clear to developers what are the design guidelines they need to stick to.

        While as a cheap Balkaner I like free things, developers cost money, especially developers and designers that are good enough to recreate a plane down to the last button and dial, so I would prefer the DSC model where you get the game and 1-2 small simple aircraft (like Cesna) with simpler flight models for free, to test and see if you like the game, and to learn to fly. Than you can choose what to fly next by buying what you need.

  11. Supahewok says:

    In regards to ingame advertising:

    I think its possible to do well, but the industry hasn’t figured it out yet. Here’s two ways I thought up while listening:

    1) MMO’s. If they succeed, it’s because they have lots of players, and the exact number can be tracked over time. Location can be tracked. You can drop advertising in places where lots of players gather (quest hubs, cities, crafting hubs) and be able to guarantee to sponsors that people will see them. If it were me, I’d only have the ads show to people playing for free; one of the perks to paying a sub would be no ads.

    2) Loading screens. We’re already trained to sit through commercials as our “loading screen” for live TV (metaphorically speaking, I know that’s not how broadcasting works). What the hell else is on loading screens? Tips that we already saw half a dozen times before? Far more productive to have an ad. We the players don’t pay that much attention to the loading screen anyway, and immersion is already broken when you gotta wait 10 seconds to enter a building, so I don’t really see how it would negatively impact the player.

    As for rampant advertising in sports games, I would call that more of a feature to add authenticity to the experience, wouldn’t you ;)

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Agreed. There is a lot of opportunity here, though a lot of the goodwill has been burned off through shovelware. I remember Chex Quest was an enjoyable game, and I still carry goodwill for the product because of it. So, the third option is immersive advertising, where the game is built around and themed on a product. If I owned a (successful) business, I would totally advertise by selling games in which my company was portrayed in a positive light.

      • Anandy says:

        Chex Quest was awesome. In-game advertising can be done right, but I think it needs 2 things:

        1) Honesty. Don’t try to BS us, just say what you’re doing.
        2) Actually enhance the game, or at least don’t detract from it. Chex Quest was a fun game.

    • Torsten says:

      Funcom actually tried the first point with Anarchy Online. There were billboards in gameworld that could show simple image advertisements or play short videos. Content was dependent on your home country, so you might get an ad for a new movie, while your friend had an ad for a motor oil. The problem especially the videos were that the small looping ads got really annoying after a while, and they caused stability issues.

      Apparently they did not see it worth the trouble anymore, cause they have not have those in couple years.

    • tmtvl says:

      Could pull a Darkened Skye: cast magic with Skittles (yes, the candy).

    • Zukhramm says:

      Do people still watch TV with commercials though? I thought people watched their stuff on youtube, Netflix or with torrents these days, where you most of the time at worst get one commercial before you start watching.

      And I’m not sure there’s no negative impact of commercials during loading screens, maybe it’s not “immersion” (though if immersion is so fickle as to break for a loading screen I don’t think it has much value anyway) but it’s definitely some kind of disruption. And games seem to have mostly stopped with loading screens too anyway.

      • Supahewok says:

        Internet people, sure. Those over the age of 30 who aren’t tech smart? They’re still watching TV on… the TV.

        Anyways, the point was more that if you’d grown up watching TV with commercials (like anybody over the age of 13 today) you’d be used to it. I think it would work, although now that you mention it, yes, the move towards open world sandboxes as the big games of the years has drastically reduced the prevalance of loading screens. I still think it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to include them, because really, what else are you going to do? I’d rather the game devs get a few thousand bucks or whatever to help polish the game (Lord knows that AAA games today need that).

        As a related point, I honestly don’t give a damn about immersion. It’s useless as a metric because everyone has a different breaking point, and for some people, loading screens break it. Me, I grew up playing PC games on outdated hardware, having to deal with slowdowns, choppy screens, and occasional movement lag. I’ve discovered that I have effectively trained myself to regard any interruptions within the game as so much “white noise”, even with my now modern rig. I tune it out.

        Either that, or I’m incapable of the feeling of immersion that some people I’ve seen place on the highest of pedestals.

        Either way, I don’t give a damn about immersion complaints. They’re useless because they apply only to the individual doing the complaining. This wasn’t directed at you, I just have the unfortunate tendency to ramble and I don’t feel like deleting it this time. Eh.

    • Macfeast says:

      Sports games is definitely a genre where I wouldn’t object to the premise of product placement; As you suggest, it might even add authenticity to the experience, playing in true-to-life arenas with players wielding the right equipment. If EA could find a way to have every arena in the NHL-series (which I have played plenty of) feature correct ads on the boards… I would probably think of that as a cool feature, rather than an obnoxious distraction. Heck, I’ve downloaded mods/texture packs that do nothing but update the in-arena ads to be correct, because that is how authentic an experience I am looking for.

      I might also be okay with it in citybuilding games, as long as it isn’t like the SimCity Nissan thing, where the in-game building is all win (produces happiness, doesn’t require power, water, workers, produces no pollution, etc), with little to no downside (as I’ve come to understand it, at least, correct me if I’m wrong). If I were to just look down upon a street in my city and spot a McDonalds, that functions just like any other building… I could live with that.

    • Joakim says:

      The Sims has had sponsored Stuff Packs, by Ikea and H&M among others.

      Given that a goal of that game is to be a simulation, I’d argue it makes sense to license real life products.

      On the other hand, that’s probably how Nissan Leaf became a sponsor for SimCity.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Humor would work well for product placement.Chuck a quest in wow that name drops a brand in a jokey way,and people will like it.

    • Primogenitor says:

      No 2 is already here. It’s all the “powered by Nvidia” and “works best with Intel” and all the other 5-second intro clips.

      But imagining a Mass Effect game where every lift has a “What do you use to wash your spacesuit?” / “I use whiter-than white Zad! Gets that Krogan blood out first time!” – blech.

  12. Bloodsquirrel says:

    The 360 did allow you to transfer you game fully to new hardware. You either had to have a special transfer cable (if you had the old system) or you had to call them up and get them to transfer them.

    Still, you could do it.

  13. Paul Spooner says:

    Seems like the flight simulator content problem needs to hang out with Google Earth.

    • Ayegill says:

      IIRC there’s a simple flight simulator built into Google Earth, so this idea is probably not that far-fetched. Although I don’t think it had height data for most areas last time I used it, which would probably make it pretty boring.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Hight is not the problem since reasonably accurate height data is available and most flight sims have that. Also due to the fact that most maps now are roadmaps your air sims ussually have a good enough grasp of where the roads are. The problems is with textures that texture the ground (and copying Google’s satelite/aerial photos is not an option due to size) and 3D models of houses/buildings and other landmarks, their types and theri placement.

        A lot of the city sprawl is ussually procedurally generated. The game knows where the major roads are and that a certain section of terrain is let’s say low density housing and the program is capable anough to copy paste series of houses and roads. it looks bad upclose but it’s fine from 1000+m

  14. Wide And Nerdy says:

    BTW, really enjoyed the Outro this week. Was that another of yours Shamus? I mean I like the other stuff but this one is a step up even. Really like the pounding bass.

    And FYI, I really like the opening too. Just so I make sure I properly compliment you on at least one piece I know you did.

    I think I like your stuff more now because I have a better headset to listen to it with.

  15. Paul Spooner says:

    So, it’s interesting that Peter Molyneux failing his commitments to the public raises more ire than him failing publishers. Do we know what he promised his publishers in the past? Is there legal recourse for the backers of Godus at this point?

    • Thomas says:

      Apparently he’s put a lot of his own money into his games, and they’ve generally sold well enough that I imagine he makes a profit for his publishers (heck Godus is probably making his publisher a profit now).

      You can sue people for failing to meet kickstarter promises, I imagine that’d be an incredibly difficult battle though, especially since he can just dump more developers back onto the project or say it will be completed eventually.

  16. spelley says:

    All I can say is I am so happy to be part of a software development company that *does* care about their employees and are incredibly generous with their benefits and having a semblance of work/life balance. It really wouldn’t be worth it now for me to do otherwise nowadays.

  17. John says:

    Among his many, many other remarks, Josh mentioned that people are reluctant to buy flight-sticks just to play flight sims. I bought one just to play Tie Fighter, so I’m probably atypical then.

    The flight sim market has changed a lot over the past twenty years. In the 80s and 90s, sims ranged from the arcadey to the ultra-realistic. Now, my impression is that only the realistic end of the spectrum survives. The other important difference is that joysticks were far more common as general purpose gaming peripherals. Once upon a time, I used them for almost all my games, from Pac-Man knock-offs, sports games, arcade ports, and the original Prince of Persia, to, yes, casual flight sims. I went through at least four joysticks before I got my first flight-style stick in 1995 (so I could play Privateer properly), and even that stick was merely a traditional two-button joystick with a flight-style grip. I don’t think joysticks really started dying out until at least the PlayStation era, when it seems to me that PC gamepads became more popular.

    • Trainzack says:

      I bought a joystick just to play KSP, but it was worth it. And I can imagine that gamepads would be more popular, because it really does seem like they’re more versatile. Of course, I rarely even touch one, so I don’t know.

    • I’m kind of surprised he didn’t mention steering wheels as well. My kid will soon be playing video games, and I figured he’d like Burnout: Paradise. I’d seen steering wheel controllers on clearance before, so I went looking.

      Holy Frijoles. Not only do they cost quite a bit, but there are chairs for racing enthusiasts (and flight enthusiasts, too) that let you mount your controllers “just like a NASCAR racer” if you’ve got at least 500+ bucks to drop on a chair for one specific activity.

      • John says:

        I suspect that the same sort of thing that happened to flight sims also happened to racing games. The casual racing games all migrated to consoles, leaving the PC as the domain of the hard-core-realist sim and simmer. Anyone still playing racing sims on the PC is unlikely to want a cheap wheel.

  18. Jokerman says:

    I like Shamus’s attempt at George’s bored voice there, he didn’t quite nail it… but i liked the attempt.

  19. Steve C says:

    On PR speak and lying, the diecast crew have a much different definition of lying that me. I guess a lot of people think like the diecast crew but I don’t get how people forgive that sort of stuff.

    @37min the stuff you are talking about is bold faced, unadulterated fucking lying. “Well that was meant for the publisher.” Is such a non-reason to me it’s not even funny. It’s still lying! The guy who is a pie-in-the-sky guy who cannot deliver is a fucking liar. It maybe fun to listen to the lies and believe– and I get that! That’s what makes magic acts and card tricks fun and entertaining. Doesn’t change anything about the fact they are lies and the person saying them is a liar. Penn & Tellar do a great act while lying, cheating and deceiving and they are even upfront about their lies. Still makes them liars!

    @40 Chris says, “That constant optimism, dreamer kind of thing. He’s an idea man in the purest sense of the word. He doesn’t concern himself with implementation. He concerns himself with thinking big and moving people to his vision and then walking away. That does not make him a liar, it doesn’t make him a cheat…”

    Yes it abso-fuckingly-lutely makes him a liar. Yes it abso-fuckingly-lutely makes him a cheat. No ifs. No ands. No buts. LIAR. This is snake-oil salesman bullshit. I know I’m in the minority here with this opinion. It completely baffles me why people at large give these professional liars and cheats a pass. Whether it be the used car salesman, the lawyer or the politician or Peter Molyneux– you are lying to yourself they are not liars!

    @40:50 Chris adds: But’s ok because it was just sort of marketing-PR-hype-preview-speak.

    No! Not ok! Why the hell does anyone ever think that’s ok! It’s not!

    • Shamus says:

      There’s a difference here, if you can calm down enough to stop raving like a madman: (Protip: DO.)

      This is different from a snake oil salesman who KNOWS what he’s saying is bullshit. There’s a difference between “unrealistic optimism” and “deliberately misleading people”. Even if that optimism is so strong it’s simply self-delusion. My point is that Peter believes the stuff he’s saying.

      Now, you can disagree if you like. But that’s how I read him. I’ve seen liars when they’re exposed and I’ve seen people who are habitually WRONG, and Peter very much comes off as the latter sort of guy.

      • Jokerman says:

        I do find it hard to believe a man as smart as Peter Molyneux to be that incompetent for this long. There just has to be something malicious there for me.

        • Anandy says:

          The guy probably has a psychological issue. Either narcissistic disorder of some type or pathological lying disorder of some type. I hope he faces reality and gets help.

          Also, that people stop funding his delusions based on years-old games.

        • Artur CalDazar says:

          I think it’s worth noting that he doesn’t have to be lying all the time or honestly wrong all the time. Also he can lie and not be malicious, he seems the kind to think “I will exaggerate this knowing it’s already past the point where it could be done or with no idea if it could be done, but I will make up for it with my next project so it will all work out in the end!”. A man thinking that way might not even consider what he says to be deceptive.
          Even if he is malicious which I reject even though I think he does lie at least sometimes, it wouldn’t be entirely his fault. This is really the first time the media is holding him to task and not treating it all like the past was a silly joke but Moly will really pull through next time. Granted it’s never been as much of a disaster as it has been this time and hindsight is 20-20.

      • Broken promises are basically lying (they did not come true after all).

        However as far as products go it’s a little different.

        Now if Peter promised a bunch of stuff and people pre-ordered and was unable to refund the game later than that could per consumer laws (in the few countries that still have them) be considered false advertising.

        Now if there was no pre-orders or if refunds where given then that is not an issue for the consumer, besides loosing trust in the developer/publisher obviously.

        If promises where made but reviews/previews showed that various promises was not kept then the consumer has technically been “informed”, and if they buy after the fact then they where not fooled or lied too, they where instead disappointing.

        Getting someones hopes up are not against the law, promising things that may never come true is not against the law.

        But selling someone something and claiming it fulfills all the promises on the other hand would be breaking consumer protection laws and considered lying.

        The issue with Peter is that he should never have been the spokes person, he’s the thinker, the idea man, not the PR guy.

        I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall during dev meetings.
        “Dev 1: Are you crazy Peter? Why did you say that in the interview, we can’t do that, not enough time nor budget to implement it.”
        “Peter: What would it take to do it then?”
        “Dev 2: A decade and another 100 million maybe and a tripling of the staff?”
        “Peter: Can’t you scale it down somewhat to the bare minimum then?”
        “Dev 1: Um, that’s what we got now!”

        As Jim Sterling said recently, Peter Molyneux should have let someone else do the PR/marketing/hype stuff after Fable 1.

        Also, on their own neither Fable 1 nor Fable 3 (never tried Fable 2) was decent games on their own, certainly no worse than any other A, AA or AAA games.
        But if you compare the games to the hype/promises made it is obvious they are not the same/envisioned games, but the games themselves are not bad.

        People should stop listening to the hype on games (and movies/TV etc) anyway and wait until previews/reviews or recommendations from friends are available so you can make a informed decision.
        Getting something blindly is just stupid.

        For example, I pre-ordered GTA V, but only because GTA V has existed for liker a year and a half/two years now, and I’ve heard/read/seen about the original release, the Next gen/re-release so I know pretty well what I’m getting in March.

        Same thing with Dragon Age: Inquisition, I did not pre-order that as I was uncertain, instead I (surprise) waited until previews and reviews started appearing, I actually saw video footage of actual gameplay before buying it.

        People who blindly buy a game based on Peter Molyneux’s words about it is as much to blame as Peter putting his own foot in his own mouth is.

        If you buy a product then make an informed decision, and if you sell then make sure the info for the product is representative of the product.

        Provided it isn’t dinner you can actually afford to wait to buy something until you can get more reliable information about it.

        • Shamus says:

          I really hate this blurring of the definition of lying.

          If I promise I’m going to post music later this week and I really intend to do so, then I’m not lying, even if I get sick later and it falls through. I did not deliberately attempt to deceive you.

          If I say I’m going to post music later in the week and I KNOW it’s not going to happen, then I’m lying. I was trying to mislead you.

          If I say I’m going to post music later this week and I really mean it, but then I change my mind and goof off, then I’m lacking in integrity. But still not a liar.

          If every single week I say I’m going to post music, and it just never quite happens, or it’s always less than I promised, then I CLEARLY have integrity problems, and I’m pretty obviously incompetent. But I still might not be a liar.

          If you just can’t accept this definition of “lie”, then fine. But it’s my definition and I’m sticking with it. :) I think the distinction is really important. There’s a difference between malice and neglect, even if the impact on us is the same.

          • Ah. Intent.

            I was speaking from a consumer point of view, to a consumer intent is irrelevant (well not really, if someone over hypes something and I fall for it, that’s my mistake).

            As to the creator there is definitely a intent vs non-intent (unintentional?)

            Peter may have believe all he said, he may have wanted to do all that. But to the consumer/user it’s completely different.

            It boils down to intent as you mentioned, and proving intent is very difficult unless you are a mind reader.
            Hence why it would have been interesting to been at a dev meeting with Peter.

            From a certain point of view breaking a promise can be seen as lying.

            Also you said you hate the blurring of the definition for lying, but that has existed for ages, like “white lies” for example.
            Again it boils down to intent, hence why I said that a consumer should hold off, get informed, Peter may mean well (good intentions) but the consumers that get burned do not see it as that.

            I am actually agreeing with you Shamus, but I guess you misunderstood my intent. ;)

            I’m neither saying Peter is lying or not lying as I can not know his intent, Jim Sterlings video is spot on in showing some odd behavior, but even he does not call Peter a liar, neither do I.

            I just tried to point out that people may perceive it as lies, and then there is the consumer protection laws that define false advertising as lying about a product or lying in the marketing of a product.
            They may be using the word wrongly, but I cant not explain it without using the word that way in that context.

            Also the antonym of a “lie” is “truth” (AFAIK).

            Now “deceit” is lying with intent (AFAIK) and I’d never call Peter deceitful without doing some serious research first, to be honest I think he is the opposite.
            And I’ll end by saying what I said earlier, Peter really should have let somebody else do the PR stuff for the game, the artist is not always the best advocacy (advocate?) of their own art or visions.

          • Steve C says:

            Hmm. I don’t mean to come off as a madman. Oops. I do mean to rant a bit though, ;-) as I also really hate the blurring of the definition of lying. Except I’m on the other side of it and believe that your examples are blurring the definition. Though I’m pretty much resigned that I’ll be fighting that fight forever as I’m in the minority and and the majority feels as you do Shamus. Except I don’t understand that majority or why they stick with that definition.

            I totally agree there is a material difference between malice and neglect.
            I totally agree there is a material difference between intent and circumstances.
            I just don’t think those matter if something is a lie or not. If it is untrue then it’s a lie. Simple and black and white. All of your examples I consider lies. The circumstances can make it completely forgivable and understandable. Doesn’t change if it’s a lie or not. If in your examples I had paid you to put music on your website then I want my money back and an apology. I don’t care if it’s a lie, the truth, malice, neglect, intent nor circumstances. But if when caught in a lie you still claim you’re not lying…

            There’s a big difference between lying and dishonesty. You can have an honest lie, and a dishonest truth. I’m completely ok with honest lies (like all except 2nd example). I’m not ok with dishonest truths. I’ve had a roommate who was a full on pathological liar. (It was not that bad after I figured that out. Certainly an interesting experience.) Molyneux probably isn’t a pathological liar. He’s just really good at saying lies (of all kinds) and dishonest truths of the worst kinds.

            More importantly he’s taken money, not delivered, hasn’t given the money back, and hasn’t apologized. Then claimed everything is great! It’s this part that’s actually important.

            • krellen says:

              To most of the world, a lie is a sin. You imperil your immortal soul with a lie. Simply telling an untruth should not do this – it’s the act of knowingly doing so that does.

              You’re not going to win this one because it is not mere semantics you are arguing against – it is fundamental morality.

      • straymute says:

        At the BAFTA awards Molyneux flat out admitted he makes up shit to keep journalist awake. Dude is one of the best con men I’ve ever seen, even after confessing to the con people still back him for whatever reason.

      • Karthik says:

        > There’s a difference between “unrealistic optimism” and “deliberately misleading people”. My point is that Peter believes the stuff he’s saying.

        The slew of recent write-ups on Molyneux suggest otherwise, or at least that he does both. The one I found most revealing was Requiem for a Dreamer. There’s not much room for the “unrealistic optimism” argument when you’re promising features while your game is going gold. That’s pretty much a thing spoken with intention to deceive, a lie.

        And in the can of worms that the RPS interview opened is several instances of the man contradicting himself from two minutes before. At one point he says “There’s not a single person in this studio who isn’t working on the game [Godus].” In an answer to a different question, he reveals that more than half of his team is working full time on a different game.

        It would be bad form to armchair-psychoanalyze the man, so I won’t guess his motivations for saying the things he does. But it’s pretty clear that he’s said things (espoused, even) on multiple occasions that he knew to be untrue while he was saying them.

        —–
        EDIT: Here’s one of many bits:

        RPS: “Why did it take my writing an article about the fact these things don’t exist for you to get round to start making them?

        Peter Molyneux: I’ll tell you why, John. Because we’re so fucking busy trying to make this game a great game. Everybody here, every single person here is doing something on the game.”

        And a little later:

        RPS: OK, can we just clarify one thing. A number of sites have reported this week that the Godus team has been hugely reduced, there’s very few people left working on it, but you’ve implied that the whole of 22cans is working on it. Where’s the truth in that?

        Peter Molyneux: No, I didn’t say that.

        And a little later it comes out that at least half of 22 Cans is actually working on The Trail.

  20. ehlijen says:

    I think there are some regional differences that need to be remembered when it comes to the proliferation of game genres. The US AAA industry is clearly focused on shooters, Japan seems mostly divided between jump’n’runs and JRPGs?

    Well, last time I was in Europe I noticed adventure games and economic simulators were far more prevalent than I’d ever seen them here in Australia.

    Most new squad tactics games and mods for them seem to originate from german or Russian speaking regions as well.

    I can’t speak to the quality of most of them, though I’d guess without US AAA money they won’t compete at that graphics level.

    I think with the move to only app markets, most genres are still around?
    Though I guess that’s not really going to save flight sims (where is Freespace 3, btw?)…

  21. On Nintendo:
    Nice way of stabbing yourself in the gut Nintendo.

    On Pizza Party Layoff:
    Nice going assholes, how about handing folks the layoff papers first, then invite all to a goodbye party instead. Laying off people at/after the party is just a major asshole move.

    On Daybreak:
    This is typical asshole moves in the industry, saying nice positive things to keep investors/shareholders/suits happy then turning around and doing sever cutbacks and then turning around saying that things will be even better from now on.
    How about just being honest and saying that the current cash flow is not enough to sustain so many employees, it still sucks but at least you won’t be labeled as backstabbing assholes.

    On Peter Molyneux:
    Jim Sterling said pretty much exactly what I think so I have nothing to add besides going “Yeah, what he said!”.

    On bygone genres:
    Some of these are coming back aren’t they? Sure we got two space/flight sim MMO thingys and the X3 reboot did not go so well but they are still popular enough it seems (perhaps due to so few existing).
    Adventure games will never go away, that genre has ballooned into sub genres now (action adventure etc.)
    If adventure is meant to mean Monkey Island or similar then these point and clicks are mostly indie but Telltale Games has a sub-genre of it in a way.
    Turn based games, hmm, if this means games like Baldurs Gate or Planescape: Torment, NWN, KoTOR then those kind of games seem to be having a small renaissance if one can call it that (Pillars of Eternity is in that genre I think).
    A lot of people judge what genres are popular by the AAA titles only and are forgetting about smaller European or Asian studios, heck Japan makes a lot of turn based games, all you need is some studio to translate/port that to the European and English speaking markets.

    • ehlijen says:

      I don’t think the examples you give are at all turn based. All three are, to my knowledge, pausable realtime, albeit based on tabletop turn based systems.

      Pausable realtime seems to have become turn based tactics successor, in fact. The UFO:After— games all used it, and I believe most the spiritual successors of Jagged Alliance did?

      • I only went from memory.

        And also, KOTOR is turn based, you queue up actions so does the enemy and any attacks are in turns (dice is thrown under the hood it is KOTOR is D20 based AFAIK).
        The fact that you can pause is just convenient, and that you can change the queue is also very convenient.
        I can’t recall if you can interrupt the enemy or not, but if you can then KOTOR is still turn based.

        The fact that you do not consider KOTOR a turn based game just shows how well it was made, giving the illusion it is not despite being so.

        Some might say that 1st/3rd party shooters could be turn based as after all the game engine does cycle through enemies.

        But the key difference here (maybe Rutskarn can chime in on this? I’m not that familiar with D20 and similar systems) is that KOTOR has stats like initiative, you have action points and so on, a shooter does not.

        In a turn based game you may get to attack an enemy twice if your initiative is high
        enough (or vice versa if low enough).
        In a shooter it’s all realtime based.

        In a turn based game you always “hit”, and the actual hitting part is calculated using dice mechanics or similar after the fact.
        In a shooter you only hit if you aim correctly (possibly there is a aiming modifier involved too).

        I do not normally play turn based games (not my thing usually unless the story is awesome) so my example list was probably bad in that respect.

        • ehlijen says:

          To my knowledge that is not how the phrase turnbased is used in games design.

          Yes, the system was based on a turnbased one, but it has all actors continuously acting without pause, unless the player hits the pause button. That’s called pausable realtime. The turn based origins were very visible in Kotor, but it was in no way comparable to Jagged Alliance, X-COM or Atari’s Temple of Elemental Evil in play style.

          Turn based means the player moves some or all of their units up to a certain time allotment (action points, time units, actions) and then presses their End Turn button to allow the other side (AI usually) to do the same.

          Kotor may be internally tracking ‘turns’, but as it never halts on its own it doesn’t give the player turnbased gameplay. While Kotor may track time in big ~3s increments, that’s not really all that different from a shooter tracking time in .01s increments or whatever they use. Neither have defined ‘this is the turn of the player and I’ll wait until he’s done’ mechanics.

          • Well, there is a option in KOTOR to autopause upon entering combat, so there is that.

            Bug I’ll repeat myself, as I don’t really play turn based games, those games where the only turn based “based” (basedbased?) games I could think of.

            But you are right, as a genre they are not (as per your criteria of the player controlling when a turn changes).

            Does chess count? :)

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              The term I’ve met with for these kinds of mechanics is “active pause” though frankly a lot of the Bioware stuff (I’m 100% sure about KOTORs) really was pretty much turn based semi-D&D mechanics obfuscated by the rolls happening under the hood, attack autocast and real time animations.

              That said there’s a crapton of turn based stuff released these days: Shadowrun series, XCOM, Blackguards, lotsa roguelikes, tons of strategies, numerous boardgame digitalizations… obviously quality is debatable in some cases but that is beside the point.

            • ehlijen says:

              Chess does count, yes, and so does Magic the Gathering. In fact, the majority of meatspace board and card games are turn based (though with notable exceptions).

              The big turn based names are Civilisation for god games, XCOM for squad tactics, I’d probably say Fallout for RPGs and Panzer General for strategy war games.

              But other excellent entrants I would recommend are: Jagged Alliance, Master of Orion, 40k Chaos Gate, and Atari’s ToEE.

              I enjoyed most of the pausable bioware games as well, but as entirely different experiences. Both KOTOR and ToEE are based on DnD’s d20 system for example, but they couldn’t be playing more differently.

  22. On In-game advertising in games:

    I have no issue with this. Be it movies, cartoons/anime, TV, games, any product placement is fine is done properly.

    In a shooter if you run through a store or past a store window and you see a real world brand, or if you are in a cafe (in a game) and a TV is on or there is a ad poster on the wall with a ad for a real product or movie, that is fine.
    All this ad to the authenticity.

    Most games (and anime) use fake but similar sounding brands/names for products, there is no reason why some of those can’t be real.

    Roadside billboards in games or similar is also fine, some racing games do this.
    If these in-game ad/product placements help fund the game development I have no issues with it.

    I’m even fine with a main character drinking a certain brand of soda, real people do that, no reason why a character shouldn’t as well, provided it seems like it fits the character.

    It is possible to go too far, but as long as it looks and feels authentic and like it fits in the scene then there is no issue.

    As long as characters and vehicles in games do not end up looking like people in sports (football, car racing, skiing, etc.) that are plastered in logos these days, then I’m fine really.

    Some of the real world sports these days are almost silly, I’m sure a billboard skiing down a hill ain’t far away, they already have virtual logos projected digitally live on the grass in football matches, now that is going too far, having sports people make sure they turn the skis just the right way so the logos on them can be seen is also going too far IMO.

    People are more responsive when the use of a product seems natural instead of forced. If a celebrity uses a product and it seems natural then that is more likely to give a better return than a fake smile and a logo angled towards the camera.

  23. On short cutscene/animations:

    The skinning animation in Far Cry 4 is a nice touch, but you really need more variance if it’s a action that will be repeated again and again.

    Why not provide a slider/setting? “Skinning animation: Never | Always | Sometimes | First 10 times only” or similar to that.
    And default it to “sometimes” or only “first x times”.

    Some games let you set the killing animation behavior to things like never, always or frequently. Jedi Knight: Outcast and Academy did this for example, letting you set it for last enemy in a group or not as well.

    Developers should steal more ideas from classic games IMHO.

    Add lots of nice options, set them to a nice default and then let the players themselves tweak things if they want.

    Myself I always try to hide as much as possible of the GUI/UI in games and it annoys me when I can’t, as an example.

    In modern game engines it should not be that hard to expose more of the settings of the engine/game to the user, and feel free to tuck it away under a “Advanced Settings” menu, I don’t mind that at all, at the very least they are available that way. Messing with .ini files or hacking game files should not be necessary.

    And if for some reason such settings are not desired in the game (due to cost/time restraints), then make sure a easy to access .ini file can be edited to tweak such, or add some mod support. And please stop encrypting single player game data files it makes modding very difficult or too inconvenient and modders will flock to another/competing game instead, remember, modders helps keep the long tail og games alive for decades sometimes.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The second bunny hop video:Well he kind of is right.I mean having universal controls for every game isnt that bad.Being able to pick up any game and instantly know how to walk,jump,shoot,etc is a good thing.

    But,games still do suffer from a overabundance of stuff that they “borrow” for no reason.For example:crafting.Every new game now has to have crafting because its a popular thing to have,so cram it in there,whether it makes sense or not.So you end up with a bunch of lame tacked on features that serve no purpose other to be put as a blurb on a box: “Has crafting,upgrades,open world,pixels,bleeps and bloops!”.

    • Same with movies, if there is a asteroid disaster movie in the works, when it’s released there is suddenly 2 more coming out.

      With a new Star Wars movie coming I can only imagine the copycats appearing: Moonbattle, The Mars Wars, Jupiter Ascending (no wait that’s actually a real thing…shesh)

      By copy cats I do not mean actually copying, but release copying.
      If something is popular then shit starts falling out of the woodwork for some reason.

      I’ve been watching Jim Sterling a lot and that poor guy sure has had his fill of crappy zombie-survival-horror games the last year or so.

      But I agree with you, it’s kind of silly, the whole point of bullet points are kind of silly.

      Any bullet point list that starts with “Lots of different weapons” or similar and my mind goes “Oh great, the story really sucks then”.
      Or “An immersive twelve level campaign” and my mind go “You didn’t really bother making a plot did you?”

      (Hey there’s a suggestion for you Shamus, now and again take the bullet point list of some game and try and interpret what it really means. ;)

  25. ehlijen says:

    On ingame product placement: does using real life vehicle and weapon brands count?

    Would Mercedes or Chrysler or Toyota want their brand present that way in GTA? Would Heckler&Koch want their MP5s brand named or not?

    Should games avoid obvious brand names and make up their own?
    Is it better if they use the iconic likenesses without the name?

    • Some brands (and their PR guys) may actually see potential even if their brand is ridiculed, I forgot which brand it was, but a brand did not mind even if their brand was joked about, as long as it was mentioned it’d stick in peoples minds.

      Some racing games take pride in licensing car models for their games.

      Vehicle and Guns do count as placements and there have been controversies with guns.

      Americas Army is a giant ad in and of itself (but it’s free to play and people kind of know it is a ad game, AFAIK).

      As to the question if games should avoid brand and make up their own. They kind of have to do that anyway. A game developer could otherwise get a letter from the trademark owner.

      (PS! I’m not responding directly to ehlijen from here on, the following is to anyone it may concern.)

      Now a little tip to any indie devs out there, if you want brand realism in your game, poke the trademark owners, depending on the game they may not mind having their brand in there, and if you are lucky they might even throw some petty cash your way or free merchandise for the devs (Soda or food for example).

      Just be aware of any potential clausuls, trademark owner requesting their brand be treated in a positive light is not an issue (at least in my eyes) but if they start making demands beyond that you might want to back out of the deal.

      And depending on the brand, the trademark owner may not have an issue with a bad guy “using” or “wearing” their brand, so don’t be afraid to ask if that is OK or not.

  26. Chris says:

    Pardon me if this is a dumb question: but is there a reason the RSS feed doesn’t have every episode? I’m trying to get it working through iTunes and it can only find 7 episodes (Firefox gets 12).

    • MichaelGC says:

      The ‘official’ RSS feed is quite new, and I gather Shamus’ decided against going back and adding the necessary tags to 80+ old files! There are a few more episodes available via the ‘unofficial’ feed set up by ydant, starting from Diecast 82:

      http://mbafford-static.s3.amazonaws.com/diecast.xml

      Edit: which must be what you’re seeing in Firefox, of course! I should never post pre-coffee…

    • That depends, Firefox probably lists what is available/presented, while iTunes probably only shows what is available/presented and meets certain criteria (probably a bit picky of the entries/formats/something).

      There’s now been 93 diecasts, a RSS of them all in the same format as the linked RSS in the post would be huge (the show notes can be long sometimes).

      Maybe Shamus can just create bulk feed links on a page somewhere so you can get lists of 25 podcasts or similar.
      Either that or a minimalistic/super terse feed with all 93 podcasts listed.

      By the looks of it the last 7 (2015) podcasts are presented a little differently in Firefox than the others (2014), could be a wordpress thing *shrug*.

      EDIT:
      Seems like the 2014 entries are missing the enclosure url for some reason.

    • Here are all current 95 Diecasts (there where two non-numbered ones).

      Do note the url is temporary.

      It looks OK in Firefox, I made sure to fetch the media sizes so those are correct, the day/month/year is correct but the time and day name where not available and I don’t feel like manually adding those right now.

      The titles and links are there, I did not fetch any descriptions/content and instead just link to the Shownotes. I did have to poke Shamus’ server a few times to get the media sizes, and it would be just rude to mine almost a hundred pages without asking IMO.
      It’s also a bit messy to make a parsing script to sanitize the post content so it looks nice in the RSS feed, so this is the compromise.

      Shamus can pull data straight from the database which I can’t do obviously, so time of the post and sanitized content is better fetched directly anyway.

      I’ll leave this rss file here for now until Shamus has figured out how to present (if he wants to at all) the older Diecast episodes.

      And to anyone interested, feel free to grab my rss file and mess with that further, it’s clean and minimalistic and should be easy enough to feed into a PHP script for further processing.

      I don’t have iTunes so I was not able to test the RSS there.

  27. Pyradox says:

    I’m so glad that I work at a games company that isn’t the horrible meat grinder you mention in the podcast. it’s lovely to actually be able to work on a game I’m proud of without constantly fearing for my livelihood, and to just be able to enjoy myself. I consider myself super lucky that my first design job worked out so well, when I know just how many ways it could’ve gone wrong.

    I think the fact that New Zealand is such a laid back country really helps, as well as having management who genuinely care about not just the game and the team.

  28. Darren says:

    You can in fact transfer things over wirelessly, although it is also a mind-numbingly tedious and confusing process. My understanding is that Nintendo is pushing the screwdriver method because differences in wifi speed (you have to be on a wireless network) and file sizes means that it can take longer to transfer than the 3DS has battery life, and the New 3DS doesn’t come with a charger. And that’s without mentioning Nintendo’s atrocious, error-prone wireless connection.

    Having said that, DO THIS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE. I lost my save file for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (I got the bundle from Gamestop) because I didn’t realize I needed to do the transfer beforehand. Days of playing gone.

    • Chris says:

      the New 3DS doesn’t come with a charger.

      Wait, wait, hold up.

      Say what?

      • ET says:

        Seems like it’s a weird regional thing:
        If you buy a Nintendo 3DS XL in North America, Australia, or Korea, you’ll find an AC adapter packed with your system. If you live in Japan or Europe, however, your Nintendo 3DS XL will not include an AC adapter at purchase.

        The really silly thing, I think, is that small gadgets like these need special wall adapters, instead of using a USB adapter. Like, the 3DS XL is rated at 4.1 V, 0.89 A, which is well within what USB 2 (let alone USB 3) can deliver. Plus, the hardware would be smaller and cheaper, since it wouldn’t need to convert from such a drastically different voltage. Plus, everyone has friggin’ USB ports on their computers. And wall->USB adapters are cheap and ubiquitous because they’re already used to charge cellphones. :S

      • Nidokoenig says:

        The chargers have been the same since the DSi, so it’s a fair bet that a lot of the market for these things already has one, so packing them in by default is making those people pay more for something they don’t need and jacks up the base price they quote in ads.

  29. DeadlyDark says:

    The only games I remember having ads is Splinter Cell and Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. First game has Pal logo in main menu, cause menu imitating PDA (Pandora Tomorrow, AFAIR, Sony logo). Chaos Theory much more intrusive in that regard, there was neon AXE ad, and there was this deodorant bottles and AMD logos as screensavers on computers. May be something else. Still, I love first and third Splinter Cell. Well, Blacklist wasn’t bad, and without ads as far as I can tell.

    Personally, I didn’t saw ad in Alan Wake, but mostly because I didn’t know that Horizon (or whatever) is real-life product. Yeah, I am not from USA so I missed that bit.

    And you can make an argument, that real cars in racing games is ad on itself, but this is far-fetching a bit.

    As for adventures, there is a kinda comeback in a way that with Kickstarter wave we have Moebius and Gabriel Knight remaster with coming King’s Quest, Broken Age, new Broken Sword, Tex Murphy and The Longest Journey games, Daedalic makes few games a year, people love Wadjet Eye, Book of Unwritten Tales series, etc, etc. Not every game is a success, but I personally love Broken Sword 5, Tesla Effect and Dreamfall with TBoUTs (hopefully, second game will be good).

  30. Starker says:

    Um… about the idea that if you wanted to play a smart RPG in 1993-4 you went to Chrono Trigger on the SNES and if you wanted to play a dumb shooter you went to DOOM on the PC…

    Actually, the first half of the 90s had some of the best RPGs to offer on the PC. It wasn’t just Ultima and a nothing else really. Just a few games you’d be able to play in 1993-4: Lands of Lore, Betrayal at Krondor, Might and Magic: Worlds of Xeen, Wizardry 7, Ultima Underworld (admittedly, it required a supercomputer to play, which is why nobody did), Realms of Arkania, Quest for Glory 4 (yeah yeah, I know it was a hybrid, still counts), Elder Scrolls: Arena. And I’m sure I’m still forgetting a couple noteworthy ones, like maybe some of the last Gold Box games and whatnot.

    Also, we’re kind of witnessing a small renaissance of RPGs today, with InXile, Obsidian and Looking Glass people all working on new RPG projects again.

  31. Phantos says:

    One of these days I want to send a gag Diecast mailbag question making fun of how absurdly long some of the Diecast mailbag questions have been.

    (“Dear Diecast, why are the mailbag questions so wordy? I first noticed it when-“)

    …and then just c+v the entire text of A Tale Of Two Cities.

  32. Nelly says:

    On the whole ‘style of RPS interview thing…’ Such a beginning is a very common way of starting an interview on British political / in depth interviewing, such as Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight or John Humphries on the Today programme. (Check out Paxman vs Michael Howard on YouTube for the example of this). These guys are the most highly regarded interviewers on British Broadcasting. Equally, the broadsheets tend to have quite an attacking style over here.

    Now, I’m not saying that John Walker was consciously aping these guys, but the style kinda seeps in to the consciousness, especially when it is always being held up as the way to carry out difficult interviews with people who don’t want to tell the truth – as I think John Walker sees PM. Should video game producers be held to the same scrutiny as politicians? Probably depends on the topic of the interview. It also may explain why I and the other people I talked about this with (in the UK) saw it as a good interview, as opposed to your reactions (this is said with limited exposure to us political interviewing, however)

    Also, Chris, apologies for repeating something I replied to you on Twitter, but this let me go a bit deeper into it (I hope…)

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