Diecast #128: Activision, N7 Day Trailer, Tomb Raider Release

By Shamus
on Nov 9, 2015
Filed under:
Diecast

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Hosts: Josh, Rutskarn, Shamus, Campster. Episode edited by Rachel.

Hope you had a fun Halloween. Here is an hour of us talking about videogames.

Show notes:
00:01:35 Activision buys Candy Crush Developer for $LOL billion dollars.

My column on this will go up later today.

00:20:19 Warcraft Trailer

It’s very shouty.


Link (YouTube)

00:22:23 N7 Day Trailer


Link (YouTube)

Oof. Right in the feels.

00:40:05 Tomb Raider releases on Tuesday.

Opposite Fallout 4. And Starcraft: Legacy of the Void. And the latest Call of Duty. And it’s a platform exclusive. To the Xbox.

Sigh. I guess we’ll see how it turned out in a year.

00:57:29 Bob Ross and the joy of positive content on the internet.


Link (YouTube)

I actually worry a lot about negativity. I don’t want to be known as That One Guy Who Hates Everything. Also, red-faced nerdrage attracts a more… energetic audience. While stuff like MovieBob’s ten-minute evisceration of Pixels is insanely popular, it’s not the kind of thing I’d want to be known for. I actually think it would be bad for my outlook on life. While the initial salvo might be cathartic, I imaging there’s a pretty strong feedback loop going on that would make it miserable to produce that kind of content over the long haul.

But on the other hand, it’s pretty hard to have an all-positive show all the time. I have no idea how to make one. Explaining why something doesn’t work is usually a lot more complex than explaining why it does, so negative topics are usually more interesting. The Activision topic is a good example. If Activision did something ordinary and financially sound, then what would be the point of discussing it? Why bring it up? This isn’t a news show, it’s a commentary show.

What I’m getting at is: I love positive content and upbeat personalities. If given the choice, that’s the kind of space I’d prefer to occupy. But the engineer in me wants to troubleshoot problems. This site is basically the balance between those two opposing forces.

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From the Archives:

  1. Da Mage says:

    Oh yeah, Diescast comes out on Mondays. Perfect.

  2. shiroax says:

    What’s with the Star Trek: Enterprise intro?

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    00:40:05 Tomb Raider releases on Tuesday.

    Opposite Fallout 4. And Starcraft: Legacy of the Void. And the latest Call of Duty. And it’s a platform exclusive. To the Xbox.

    And its only exclusive for a while.Yeaah,that one is going dooooown.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I don’t want to be known as That One Guy Who Hates Everything.

    One guy?Yeah,I wouldnt worry about that.

    And whats the deal with all this negativity towards negativity?I dont HAVE to look at the positive side of everything!If I see something bad and I scream “THIS IS BULLSHIT”,its not a worthless unbalanced opinion!!I dont NEED to give everything a fair chance and hunt for the good things in every game!!!FUCK!!!!Anyway,that mildly annoys me sometimes.

    • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

      That link really should be to That Guy with the Glasses. Its an entire site full of wannabe angry critics. Angry Joe is just the really successful one.

      EDIT: I just remembered SFDebris is on their site, so I have to make an exception for him. He’s so far above the others.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Also Linkara.

        But I wanted to keep the links video game related,so none of them.

        • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

          They do have Blistered Thumbs.

          And Linkara? I’ll grant you he’s one of their better guys but he’s not on the level of Chuck or Shamus. Well, most of the time he’s not. He does have his occasional flashes of brilliance like his insights into the core problems with Peter Parker.

          • James says:

            Its funny to me that Joe used to be apart of Blistered Thumbs and then he got huge. but he now has an issue of
            a) The part of his audience who leaves comments are awful human beings by and large.
            b) Whenever he covers something big like Halo or CoD my god do the fanbois come out in force, youtube comments truly are a hive of scum and villainy. I actually saw people say he was wrong about halos micro-transactions because he was bad at the game.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Im always baffled by people defending stuff like micro transactions and preorders in the age of infinite copies being available for sale.

            • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

              Yay! We have people we can look down upon and feel superior too. My ego is temporarily bolstered. My insecurities are briefly forgotten in a rush of righteous andrenaline.

              • guy says:

                Well, the important thing is that you’ve found a way to feel superior to everyone.

                • Wide And Nerdy says:

                  Its like the whole “intolerant of the intolerant” thing. The only people I look down my nose at are people who look down their noses at people.

                  Anyone who would use the word “sheeple” and mean it. Or express a similar sentiment.

                  I acknowledge thats a flaw. I shouldn’t even look down my nose at those people but I do.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    But the key question is do you look down on yourself?Or do you leave that to people who look down on people who look down on people who look down on people?

        • Thomas says:

          I like Todd in the Shadows and the Rap Critic too. Both do a bit of positive content too but it probably works out as more negative on average. They don’t really rage out either, their sense of humours tend to be a little drier.

          • Which was why Chez Apocalypse was so refreshing before Blip poofing out basically chopped their heads off. I mean, yeah some of it often teetered on the edge of being insufferably pretentious, but it’s better than the other side of that needle…

    • Zak McKracken says:

      I think it’s a sort of cycle.

      When you grow up everything feels like that’s how it’s meant to be (because you don’t know better), then you get into that age where you realize some some things are crap and you notice, then you learn to express that and it is powerful indeed. Then, after some time of doing the punk thing you realize that broody dark Batman does get old at some point and maybe some of the old goofy one wasn’t all bad …

      On a less cultural level:
      If everyone just went about mentioning only what’s bad in live, we’d all end up depressed. Not good. Constructive commentary must mention the good and the bad, otherwise you just become a grumpy old man and loose all happiness in life.

      I think that more Good Robot posts (and similar) in here might help with this: You present a problem, you present a solution, you can still dissect problems but everyone’s ends up happy, and even a little smarter :)

      • Henson says:

        Yes, and there also seem to be cultural cycles. The optimism of the 1950’s, the hangover of the 1970’s, and then back to optimism in the 80’s. And continue.

    • SlothfulCobra says:

      It’s really easy to get really angry and let out your rage in an entertaining way once, and then try to emulate that sort of thing again and again as a crutch. After a couple of people try the schtick of being angry constantly, it starts to get really worn out.

      It’s much, much, harder to try to do a similar thing with positivity.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    A god businessman looks at something that has made a big hit and then tries to snatch it as soon as possible,before it starts losing money.

    A great businessman looks at something with a potential to be a hit,and then snatches it just before it hits the shelf.

    The problem with most of the video game companies is that they dont have many great businessmen.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Why is warcraft a serious movie?Even at its peak seriousness,warcraft franchise is never serious.I mean for fucks sake they have a race of kung fu pandas.If they want a movie,why not make something like make love not warcraft,only feature length?

    • Alex says:

      Ever heard of the Ratner effect? Blizzard makes a lot of money because other people think Warcraft is something worth taking seriously, either for its lore or for its gameplay. You might roll your eyes at Blizzard making a serious movie about the Warcraft world, but that’s a lot better than making a mockery of your best customers.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      This isn’t based on WoW, it’s proper Warcraft. The game was based on a story very similar to what’s in the trailer. Then again, that was an ephemeral story for a game, not a movie script, soo … I’m very skeptic if this can work out.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        You mean the game that has this conversation in it:
        – Weve got brains now!
        – Ive got the brains!
        – Nu-uh!

        Yeah,warcraft was never serious.It had dense lore,but not serious one.

        • Trix2000 says:

          It depends where you look, and even the WoW expansion focused on the “kung-fu pandas” was played out quite seriously in many places (with… some notable exceptions, of course).

          Warcraft’s certainly never been the height of class, but it’s also not that much focused on comedy and silliness either. I’d say it’s more that the tone varies a lot – over time and over games/places.

          • Felblood says:

            Part of the reason that the grimdark and serious stuff in Warcraft works is becasue Blizzard knows how to mix comedy and drama, to modulate a tension wave.

            If the RoC Human Campaign had only been about Arthas’ fall to the Dark side and Obi-Wan Uther and company trying to talk him back from the brink, it would have been as narmy and depressing as the Star Wars prequels.

            Instead we get a lot of scenes where dramatic story turns are played for comedy, and silly voice lines, and black comedy easter eggs. (Careful observers may notice one of the elite ghouls you fight shares the same name as an anoying child Arthas rescued in an earlier quest, in the same town.) This makes the actually, very dark nature of these chapters a lot more bearable, without actually excising any of the weight that makes the Campaign ending Cutscene so rewarding.

      • I think the trailer was the only thing coming out of blizzcon (except the demon hunter getting loads of warlock stuff and a lack of warlock love) that no one was saying more than meh about, or at least that was the case on my twitter feed (which has a lot of former and current wow bloggers).

        I looked at the trailer, said “oh that story,” and shrugged. Not exactly my fav one from the ‘verse, and the trailer didn’t make me any more interested in it.

  7. Galad says:

    The combination of the “$LOL billion dollars.” and the warcraft trailer thumbnail made me chuckle profusely :d

  8. Andy says:

    I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite trailer on the internet.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      I think that trailer says nothing about the game. The text sounds like it’s about sending the first colonists into space on a century-long journey to the next planet, so when thew hyperspace things started happening, I was not at all thrilled. And it gets orbital mechanics wrong :)

      Then, it says nothing about the game, which is supposed to come out in more than a year, so whatever.

  9. squiddlefits says:

    Warning: Wall of text incoming. On the subject of King:

    1. Candy Crush alone has a daily revenue of $915.000 . It is losing audience but that is happening at a very slow pace. King has other mobile IPs that rake in 50-100.000 a day. So in pure revenue this is big.
    2. King has something that Activision lacks and is much more valuable: a massive female market. Think about it: this is a massive audience of female gamers that you can target ads for.
    3. The mobile games market is very volatile, it is incredibly difficult to get your game to become popular and stay popular. It is far more valuable to surf on the triple-whammy name-recognition of King/Candy Crush/Activision to leapfrog new products through the initial slog to establish a market.
    4. King probably has a large library of research on how to get people to send you lots of money. That R&D alone is probably worth the 6 billion. Activision can use this to finetune their existing free to play/ingame purchase market and “enhance” new free to play games. What would a King-made MOBA look like?

    Additionally, 3.6 billion of this deal was made in cash. Meaning this was 3.6 billion activision had lying around and had to find a purpose for. Now, you can do other things with this money but none of them are as risk-free as the King-purchase:

    1. You can set up new studios. Problem: a new studio requires a lot of micro-management and support, moreover: quality programmers and designers are in a finite supply. If you want to set up new studios there is a high chance of failure, the costs are large, the rate of return (compared to the mobile market) is low, and the support/management requirements mean that you split the focus of your organisation – which is also a finite resource.
    2. You can buy an existing IP. Problem: how will you make money off of it? After you buy Marvel or Star wars or whatever you need to sink in more of your own money to actually build the games. Also you have no guarantee that you can increase your income from this IP (compared to the previous holder of said IP). You can churn out x2/x3/x4 times as many games, but odds are you won’t increase your audience by x2/x3/x4 consumers. So that would be a waste of resources.

    TL;DR: this purchase is disappointing because we don’t value Candy Crush and scoff at the amount of money spent on something we don’t care about. But this might just be the least-risky investment Kotick et al could think of in the short term, that also allows activision to expand in new directions.

    Additionally, Activision is a publicly traded company and boards of directors are rarely risk-seeking individuals. Funding indie devs and interesting new design concepts is many things, but risk-free it is not. IF they spent this money on indies and they didn’t create a decent rate of return on those – the retaliation from shareholders would be … unpleasant.

    edit: here’s a good breakdown of King revenue from may 2015: . Candy Crush was +- 40% of their revenue, the sign of a flagship property but hardy a one-trick pony company. Quarterly revenue averages out to about 500 million – or +- 2 billion per year. If Activision-owned King can stay steady at that rate for 3 years they have their investment back, ignoring additional revenue from ads promoting other activision products.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Think about it: this is a massive audience of female gamers that you can target ads for.

      And then they will bombard them with this type of brilliant ads:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKkPFDEiC6Q

    • squiddlefits says:

      More fun stuff: bloomberg quote

      By using $3.6 billion of cash stored outside the U.S. to help finance the acquisition of King Digital Entertainment Plc, Activision will save about $1 billion in taxes it would have had to pay to repatriate the money, according to tax consultant Robert Willens

      • Joe Informatico says:

        This! I thought I heard about tax saving being a motivator in this and a few other recent big tech purchases that seemed weird on the surface. Thanks for digging that up.

      • Clodpool says:

        Wasn’t that also part of the reason for Microsoft’s purchase of Minecraft?

      • Felblood says:

        If you consider the fact that their are hundreds of equally profitable opportunities in that sphere, which would have cost a tiny fraction of this staggering amount, nothing Shamus has said fails to hold up.

        Unless there was literally nothing else they could spend this money on, this was not a good buy. Nothing that comes out of King is going to justify this preposterous opportunity cost.

        Odds are the guys who made this decision are well aware of this and they are just looking to prop up their stock options until they have time to “diversify” their retirement investments, and then take the golden parachute.

        Funny thing about the golden parachute, it’s paid for with money that should have been used fixing the engines in the first place.

    • Xedo says:

      Moreover, King is more than just its video games. It has over 93 million daily users and who knows how many total accounts made, and the corresponding data about their demographics, play habits (when, for how long, how many days in a row), and purchasing habits (how much real money is spent, how often, how is it used in-game, what triggers real money purchases).

      If Acti-Blizz is stupid they’ll just put King on making new games. If they’re smart, they’ll spread this information internally and prime all of their internal studios to design mobile games that know exactly how to hit the mobile games free-to-play market for maximum revenue.

    • Eric says:

      Great post. I don’t like King or Candy Crush, yet despite the high price tag I think the valuation is not too far off. Activision is not just paying for the daily revenue. It is also paying for the R&D to improve revenue in its future titles, for future games made by King that will make money, and for the devoted userbase that so far it has had difficulty reaching.

      That final point is probably the most important, because in the mobile world, it’s not just the revenue that matters, it’s the number of users who are playing your game because they are basically an exponential multiplier in bringing in new users. It’s possible to buy talent, IP, R&D, etc. fairly easily, but you can’t so easily buy userbase.

      When it comes to the mobile market, Activision basically has two choices: it buys up someone who is already successful, which has a good chance of succeeding, or it spends millions/billions on attempts to penetrate the market which has a much lower chance of succeeding. In fact, it’s already tried and failed to be successful multiple times, so it has significant motive to try something else.

      Even with the high price of buying King, the price for missing out on mobile gaming into the future is even greater for a company like Activision, which, in light of dwindling Warcraft subscribers, lower-than-expected revenue for Destiny, and Call of Duty starting to lose traction each year, is in significant danger of slipping into irrelevance.

  10. Shunro says:

    So, Lara is looking for this particular city in Siberia? Now that’s going to be a disappointing enterprise…
    I mean, that whole russian-related stuff in the first game was laughably terrible, but this… this just might take the cake.

    I kinda want to play it now.

  11. Christopher says:

    I think the problem with people looking at the Warcraft Trailer is that you either know what it is and like warcraft, know what it is and dislike it, know what it is and don’t care, or don’t know what it is.

    Frankly, I’m interested in it succeeding because I’d like to see high fantasy as a genre brought back. The film industry has been in this sci-fi attitude for what, the last ten years? Maybe longer? LOTR and The Hobbit are the only high fantasy movies I can think of that came out in the last two decades to really “hit”.

    Serious spoilers ahead possibly, based on the expanded lore stuff:

    I also admit I’m curious if they’re going to go with the canon ending of WC1. Because if they do that might be a twist that movie goers who aren’t familiar are unprepared for. The “Good orcs” all get assassinated or driven into hiding, the humans lose, King Llane is assassinated by Garona (who the movie trailer is setting up as being a ‘good orc’), Medivh turns out to be possessed by Warcraft version of Satan and has been working to help the orcs the whole time, Ogrim Doomhammer becomes a bad orc, and the humans lose, their city is destroyed, and the ones that are left after the refugee ships flee are all enslaved or killed.

    If they actually include all these endings in the movie I’d applaud it just for that, because it’s so rare to get a movie or anything really that ends on such a bleak note.

    • Henson says:

      “The film industry has been in this sci-fi attitude for what, the last ten years?”

      Really? I thought we were in a Comic Book attitude. Or a dystopia attitude. Or a teen vampire attitude…

      • Christopher says:

        Most comic book hero movies also cross into science fiction. Things can be more then one genre, you know? Flying aircraft carriers, iron-man, the hulk, Red Skull and Captain America is a period science fiction type deal. Of the current batch Thor is the only one without explicit sci-fi stuff going on, and even then Asgardians are just super advanced aliens in the comic book universe aren’t they?

        Dystopia is also sci-fi. It’s a specific subgenre of science fiction.

        Teen angst is ALWAYS in style!

        But really, the fantasy genre has been sorely lacking.

        • Mike S. says:

          Asgardians are advanced aliens in the movies. Unless they’ve changed it, they’re still supernatural gods in the comics.

          Superhero stories have heavily used SF tropes since a scientist rocketed his infant son from a dying world in 1938. But I’d say they’re still different, if overlapping, genres.

          (Though SF is much broader and more amorphous, so it depends if you’re more of a lumper or more of a splitter.)

          E.g., you can tell the difference when you reach the point of “[character] has developed a new technology that allows [personal flight/an incredibly strong adhesive that dissolves in an hour, leaving no residue/a vast array of useful gadgets that will fit on a belt or in an arrowhead/shrinking objects to microscopic size/etc.]”

          Does the story then show how society is irrevocably changed by the spread of this new application of human ingenuity? Then you’re probably reading a science fiction story. Does the protagonist keep this awesomely useful invention a closely held secret that only she (plus maybe one or two allies) is wise enough to have access to, and use it to fight comparably unique opponents? Then you’re probably reading a superhero story.

          (Similar analysis can be done with superpowers. Philip Wylie’s 1930 novel Gladiator and Action Comics #1 feature protagonists with exactly the same capabilities. Wylie explores what, if any, use strength and nigh-invulnerability might be in a realistic modern world. Siegel and Shuster’s character puts on a primary-colored outfit, adopts a codename, and fights evil.)

          Just as there are SF mysteries and stories in which magic is dealt with in an SF mode, there are stories that take superheroes and run them through an SF approach. Generally by the time the story is over you’re mostly out of superheroes, because if superheroes hit anything approaching reality, reality tends to hit back. (Case in point: Watchmen) Likewise, there are superhero stories set against a more straightforwardly SF background. (The Legion of Super-Heroes, Guardians of the Galaxy, many Green Lantern stories.)

          But I’d say superhero movies and shows from the last wave have been pretty firmly in the central band of that genre, with SF gimmicks used as the enabler or driver of individual heroic conflict.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Hmm… don’t know the extended stuff but actually the stories of WC I and II, and partly of SC1 actually had some interesting things in them. You don’t often see movies where the good guys and bad guys aren’t clearly distinguished or where even the bad guys have some story to tell which makes sense and suddenly they’re looking a bit less bad.

      I wonder whether the movie will dare to feature that aspect prominently…

    • Tuck says:

      Do you include Harry Potter as high fantasy?

      If you think about it, though, there hasn’t at any time been a significant number of high fantasy movies that have really “hit”…

    • flyguy says:

      god I hope they end it like that. I’m not at all excited about this movie, but if someone came to me after the fact and said “they went there” i’d go and see it

    • Joe Informatico says:

      I’m not a Warcraft/WoW fan at all, but I also want this to hit. Because I want more diverse fantasy stories being told. Both the Tolkien films and Harry Potter use the traditional “quest to stop the Dark Lord because he’s evil” plot, usually with some kind of Chosen One, prophecy, and special artifact being involved. There have been numerous failed attempts (e.g. Eragon, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, Seventh Son) to start new fantasy franchises based on children’s and YA novels of varying quality, but they’re also doing the “stop the Dark Lord because he’s evil” plot.

      This trailer, however, has much more of a Kingdom of Heaven vibe than an epic fantasy quest: there are two sides, and most of the people and leadership on both sides just want peace, a homeland where they can prosper and raise their children in safety, but there are belligerents on both sides who are going to drag everyone into a disastrous war. It’s more of a historical tragedy than a Chosen One quest. For the mass audiences who only know orcs as the faceless thugs in the Tolkien stories it’s a much needed “the monsters have dreams and feelings too” deconstruction.

      • Mike S. says:

        Though Tolkien subverts the “Chosen One” idea . (Because while he was a big model for the formula he predates it, and was basically doing his own thing, while riffing on lost heir stories that didn’t usually include high fantasy existential clashes.)

        So the lost heir whose coming was foretold in prophecy isn’t the hero of the story. He is unquestionably heroic. But one of the ways he demonstrates this is by fully understanding that his rallying of forces and exercise of leadership are all fundamentally a sideshow, to distract the enemy from the important bit that’s entirely unlooked-for and unforetold, enacted by a people who don’t even show up in the old stories.

        (Rowling also plays with the trope a bit, by establishing that it wasn’t really the prophecy that chose Harry, but Voldemort’s response to it. But that’s a classic mythic device: Oedipus became the man who would slay his father precisely by way of trying to avoid that foredoomed conclusion, etc.)

        • Kylroy says:

          Reminds me of Pratchett’s Captain Carrot, who as a foretold returning heir comes back to the (generally peaceful and functional) city and…becomes a really effective cop, because *that’s what the city needs*.

          And sadly, Warcraft’s story picks up it’s own Chosen One in Thrall. But that would be two movies away, should sequels actually happen.

      • Dasick says:

        I don’t care about this being a hit, and I’d rather it not be. I’d rather my favourite genres remain niche actually. If a high-fantazy movie is a hit, it’s going to attract more people to make high-fantazy movies sure. But it’s not going to attract talented people who are passionate about high-fantazy, it’s going to attract people who are passionate about money. Which means more crap to filter through. No thanks.

        I mean, sure, it can result in a situation where someone really passionate and talented got the funding and the big-wigs are smart enough to grant him the creative freedom to make something really good because of the interest… but I’m not sure how likely it is to happen. That doesn’t happen often, right?

      • Vermander says:

        The problem is that “epic” fantasy stories (as opposed to smaller stories with some fantastic elements) usually require a fairly substantial budget to pull off on the big screen without looking incredibly cheap and silly. If a studio is going to invest a ton of money in something they want to be sure it has broad appeal to attract as big an audience as possible. These days that means not only do you have to make a film that most people feel comfortable taking their kids to (or at least their older kids), it also has to be something that can be understood and embraced by audiences in other countries, particularly in Asia. If you make your movie too morally complex you run the risk that different cultures might interpret your story complete differently and feel alienated or even offended.

        It’s really hard to write a story that fits those requirements and yet also eschews clear-cut good vs. evil morality, features complex, nuanced characters and doesn’t end on a happy or upbeat note.

        On a related note, I read (or used to read) a lot of fantasy literature. While I absolutely love A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones (or at least the books), I’m starting to resent its influence on the genre. Suddenly it seems like every fantasy story is as dark, gritty and bloodsoaked as possible. All the characters are amoral killers or scheming backstabbers and any genuinely good people end up getting raped or murdered. I’ve also noticed an increasing number of cable series featuring historical or pseudo-historical settings with tremendously exaggerated levels of sex and violence. I’d actually like to see some more hopeful, upbeat takes on the genre that don’t require us going back to “child of destiny saves the kingdom”.

    • Ivellius says:

      Looking at the trailer…

      I don’t know why, but I’m getting the feeling that it’s going to subvert the main Warcraft canon somehow. I couldn’t explain what gives me that feel, but there’s just something about it that seems off.

      • Kylroy says:

        Could it perhaps be doubting that a major motion picture would keep the “bad guys win” ending of the actual Warcraft 1 plot?

        • Ivellius says:

          Not really that–I think that would be an obvious move, honestly. It seems cynical to think that they’d change the ending drastically just because the perception of mainstream audiences is that they wouldn’t like it. I think it’s just a lack of being familiar with more recent Warcraft stuff (like Rise of the Horde, maybe?) that makes it focusing on the orc leaders who didn’t push for the invasion in the same way feel really off to me. I’m old-school, though–been a fan of the universe ever since Warcraft II came out (and played the original as part of the Battlechest–man, those games were ridiculously far apart and only separated by a year).

    • Blovsk says:

      Well, also the director for the WoW film has some amazing work behind him. I normally wouldn’t care but I’m always interested to see what a talented director does with material that’d normally put a lot of people off.

  12. Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

    Valve doesn’t go out and buy stuff? I don’t have the fact sheet in front of me but I thought Valve bought a lot of stuff. Aren’t some of their games originated from modders of their other games? Granted. They don’t go out and buy Mass Effect. They buy fan projects and help the fans turn them into proper games.

    And I want Steam Machines to succeed but right now people are scratching their heads over that one.

    EDIT: Um, Shamus I think something wonky is happening to your comments. Mine appears above Daemian’s in spite of him clearly posting first and squiddlefits comment was nested within Daemian’s originally. Now its not.

    • Shamus says:

      Exactly. It’s the difference between

      “We need a television. I’ll go to Wal-Mart and buy one.”

      versus:

      “We need a television. I’ll go buy a Wal-Mart.”

      EDIT: Damn it, Shamus. That’s a good line. You should have put it in the column.

      • squiddlefits says:

        That’s a terrible analogy. What you said in the ‘cast is more the difference between “I need a car, I’ll go buy one” vs “I need a car, I’ll go build one”. Shamus, did you build your own car (/motherboard/airconditioning/table/…)?

        Well why the hell not? It’s stupid, why don’t you just learn to make it yourself? This buying a car is such a blunt instrument.

        … see where I have a problem with your reasoning? Buying a car is valuable, learning how to build a car is too. In the one case you’re better off in the long run (now you know how to build your own) but have to through the whole learn-by-failing (with its own costs and with no guarantee that you actually succeed), in the other you get a known value-for-money return on your investment.

        • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

          The car analogy doesn’t work for what Shamus is trying to say but it doesn’t work against him either because its apples and oranges. Buying a car is cheaper than building one because car makers have efficient manufacturing processes and can spread their fixed overhead over lots and lots of cars. They can thus afford better car making tools and better car makers. And Shamus is just one guy.

          But Activision is a big company with lots of money and they already make games. In fact they’ve made games targeting different specs and play environments. They have at least part of the expertise needed to do this in house and they could hire the missing talent, make a new game, and promote it for far less than they paid for King Digital.

          Buying King Digital to become a mobile gaming mogul is like making a calculator clock by gluing a calculator to a clock.

        • Have you read the book about the guy who made a toaster? Here’s a link. It took him over a year, going around the world, and it wasn’t a great toaster. Freaking fascinating book though.

          I don’t even want to guess how long it’d take to build a car from scratch, a lifetime?

          If we’re going to stick with a car analogue, I’d go with EA buys Ford, Valve buys some of their engineers who have an awesome new idea. Still not perfect, but it seems a bit closer.

          • Falcon02 says:

            It might actually be better to say if for example Ford decided they wanted to make Motorcycles and decided to buy out Harley Davidson instead of creating their own Motorcycle division.

            I’m not sure if Ford does have Motorcycles of some sort I’m not aware of, if they do, I’ll assume they don’t for the sake of the analogy

            Ford already has most of the resources needed to make the things required for a motorcycle of some sort (Engine, Wheels, Frame, Factories, Supply networks, etc.). But they don’t have the specialized experience with motorcycles that can differ quite a bit from normal cars (making the engine smaller, ideal seating, storage space, etc.). These are all things that Ford in it’s car experience could deal with and overcome fairly easily if they wanted to, but they’d also be the inexperience new comer in a specialized market and at a disadvantage.

            So they can build it in-house and accept that it may take them several years (if at all) to be able to compete with those already in the market, or spend a premium to buy an existing Motorcycle company in the hopes that they’ll be able to compete right off the bat.

          • Henson says:

            Analogies are never perfect. If they were, they wouldn’t be analogies.

        • Shamus says:

          Like I said in the show, they’re basically a one-hit wonder, just like Rovio and Zynga. At the current rate, it will take Candy Crush 16 years to pay for itself. That game obviously isn’t going to continue making this much money for another 16 years, so this purchase only makes sense if they have a second hit. Which has yet to happen in this genre.

      • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

        To be fair. I think it would be a bit harder for Activision to do this. The modding scene exists because the kinds of games modders want to make are kind of big and complex so its easier to start with someone else’s game thats close to what you want and make your changes there rather than writing everything from scratch. A lot of ideas start with “If only this game were a little different.”

        And because they’re mods, they’re at your mercy. The only way they can monetize their mod of your game is if you buy their mod

        But for something like Candy Crush? You’d just write your own game and publish it (assuming you were reasonably confident that your game is different enough to dodge King’s legal team.) They’re on the market before Activision knows about them.

        Now they could go and find a newly published mobile game that looks promising but could benefit from a budget. And maybe they should. But at that point they’re dealing with someone who is already in business.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      EDIT: Um, Shamus I think something wonky is happening to your comments. Mine appears above Daemian’s in spite of him clearly posting first and squiddlefits comment was nested within Daemian’s originally. Now its not.

      That happens when someone edits a comment that has been replied to,and it gets sent to moderation,or is flagged for deletion.Everything just breaks.

      EDIT:See,its unbroken now.

      • squiddlefits says:

        I made some edits to my original post – rephrasing, fixing a link, etc…. – which is what caused the originally un-moderated post to get tagged.

        Shamus, a preview of finished post would be very helpful. You know, because you don’t have enough to do already.

      • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

        Thats weird but I guess thats kind of working as designed. If the comments can be unnested, its easier to remove an offending post without some obvious “Post banned/blocked/deleted. -Trollzapper 5000” which I think is the sort of thing that feeds bad stuff.

  13. Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

    I think what you could do (and what you to an extent already do) that does separate you from the bileslingers is that troubleshooting approach. Are you going to fix Duke Nukem Forever or that Truck game that I can’t remember the name of where you can drive backwards at inifinite speed? No. What would be the point?

    The space you occupy is salvaging. Why fix something thats not worth fixing? Why spend 7 columns on Fallout 3 and at least 27 columns so far on Mass Effect. You don’t do that because you hate these things, you do it because there’s good there and it makes the bad frustrating. And your series on Mass Effect so far has been a split between the positive and negative.

    I used to find things like Moviebob’s Pixel review entertaining but the likes of you, Red Letter Media, Chuck SFDebris Sonnenberg, Extra Credits, Super Bunny Hop, you don’t just bash. You educate and inform. You’re specific and to varying degrees constructive.

    • Ranneko says:

      I really enjoy MovieBob’s Really That Good series. It is is exactly the kind of thing that Shamus talks about in the post. A series looking at good movies and what worked to make them that good.

      • Joe Informatico says:

        I thought Bob’s Pixels review worked because it was so extreme compared to his usual reviews, you knew he absolutely hated it. And frankly, maybe a cynical, soulless nostalgia cash-in that shits on the very things it should be celebrating deserves that kind of review. But it wasn’t Bob’s usual MO.

        Maybe 6 or 7 years ago, his film reviews were a lot more coarse and full of bile, but in fairness almost all internet video reviewers back then were: the early YouTube era was the house Angry Video Game Nerd, Nostalgia Critic, and Yahtzee built. It wasn’t until a few years later that people like Extra Credits, SF Debris, and the Nostalgia Chick dialled down the snark and bile in favour of more analytical and reasoned commentary. Compare Bob’s reviews from a year or so ago to those early ones, and he’s totally mellowed out. Even stuff he hated like Michael Bay’s Transformers and The Amazing Spider-Man films he came across as more resigned and disappointed than berserk with rage.

        The problem was Bob’s Pixels review went crazy viral, so he’s made a few attempts at trying to replicate it since. And I’ve just shaken my head at the forced profanity, hoping that he’d review something halfway decent so he could provide some informed context. The Martian review was positive and his Spectre review, while negative, is at least informed by some deeper thinking on the Bond franchise he’s been ruminating on for years. So I’m hoping he’s over this experiment with frothing-at-the-mouth reviews. Because I really prefer him when he’s on his game doing stuff like Really That Good.

    • Christopher says:

      For me there’s a difference between people soapboxing and people using their anger at something constructively, to make something that’s funny or educational. I remember Super Bunnyhop getting crap back when he did his E3 video, and the difference between his video and Yahtzee’s E3 videos is that Yahtzee uses his indifference and contempt for the hype machine to make funny jokes, while Super Bunnyhop just complained. Or how Giant Bomb gathers all of their staff in a room to watch E3 and stream it out, poking fun at the show all the way. Everyone rants about Mass Effect, none more than Shamus, but what makes me love his ME column that’s posted every week now is that he uses what frustrates him to talk about the entire thing in depth, from his perspective as a lover of the world building in 1.

      It’s not about people having negative or positive feelings about something, or that you personally agree with someone’s opinions, it’s about having a picture saying HARD TRUTH in your video versus having a picture of stick figures illustrating what you say in an unexpected way to provoke a laugh.

      • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

        Yeah, the Hopmaster did go through a burnt out phase for a short time where he was just relentless cynical. But he’s snapped out of it and I don’t think it represents the bulk of his work.

        I think he’s just young (he comes off older than he is a lot of the time especially with his grognard sensibilities but lets remember, Rutskarn has grognard sensibilities too and as of last week, thanks to Rachel’s appearance on the show, Rutskarn is now canonically 16*), still kind of new at this and wasn’t used to being constantly bombarded with video game industry stuff to the point where it looked like the industry was stagnant when this past E3 looked actually pretty lively.

        *They need to have Ken St Andre on so that Shamus’ age can be pushed up to 70.

        • Christopher says:

          Yeah, to be clear, I’m not trying to say Super Bunnyhop or Bob are bad people for making videos I don’t like, or even bad at making videos in general. I just like their informative or funny stuff(videos about old movies featuring killer orcas I would never have known about and Metal Gear analyses respectively) much better than their ranty angry stuff.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        But if you strip the humor from yahtzee he is saying hard truths and he is giving constructive criticism in practically every video.

        No,the real difference is that sexy british accent.

  14. Dragmire says:

    The rumor I heard about buying King is that is was paid for with mostly money that couldn’t be brought back into the US for tax reasons. Kinda makes sense then.

    • Alex says:

      They couldn’t keep all the money if they brought it back, but I’d still rather have 2.6 billion dollars after tax then spend 3.6 billion dollars buying King.com.

  15. Henson says:

    I fully acknowledge that Bob Ross’ paintings are all very much the same. But I really don’t care because, ironically, I don’t watch Bob Ross to learn to paint. I watch it to get into that smooth, comforting place. His voice is a miracle cure.

    • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

      “With just a liiitttlllee bit of titanium white. Ah. Thats good.”

      “And remember, no mistakes in painting. Just opportunities.”

    • I’ve done a couple of paintings based on his videos and books, and loved it. It’s not easy, exactly, but his instructions are clear enough that it is never frustrating. I realize that making a couple of flea-market landscapes doesn’t make me a master artist, but I feel a certain amount of pride to look at my paintings and say, “See that nice picture there? I made that!

      P.S. Shamus, you definitely need to make a procedural Bob Ross Painting Generator program. Like as a screensaver or something. Sounds like fun, yeah?

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Jim Sterling is doing his things about fallout 4 now that the embargo is up,and he just said something that infuriated me:Your companions replace the karma system,and instead of (dis)pleasing the world,your actions (dis)please your companions.Damn you bethesda!How dare you do an actual factual good thing?!Dont make me actually want to buy this game you bastards!

    And you get to romance multiple people with no fuss?And no crappy bioware sex scenes?!Arrrrghh!Im sold,Im buying this game now….Screw you bioware,and screw you Sterling.

    • Tuck says:

      Oooh, that sounds like the companions from Ultima (at least in V, VI and VII): they’d get pissed off if you didn’t act like the Avatar should, and occasionally even leave the party in protest. Or at least roll their eyes and make exasperated comments when you wasted time sleeping with people instead of defeating evil.

      • Nidokoenig says:

        Fallout 2 had it, kinda, I remember the ghoul guy would leave if your Charisma hit 1. Others might have triggers, but coming down off a mentat high and having him leave is what I remember. Not a whole bunch of reactivity, but it’s a thing.

        • ehlijen says:

          More importantly, Fallout 2 had factions that liked or disliked you based on your actions. I hope that wasn’t replaced with the companion stuff.

          Also, I wanted a reverse reputation system that would have allowed me to scream at Marcus “Backstabber” Minigun

    • Ninety-Three says:

      How do people actually use companions in Fallout games? I have a few hundred hours logged against FO3 and NV, and I played with companions for maybe two of those hours. I always play a ranged character, so fights with melee enemies involve a lot of backing up while shooting, and the companions don’t seem to figure out the “backing up” part of that strategy, so combat is always a quick trip to companion permadeath. I never figured out how to keep the idiots alive, so I gave up on the system very quickly.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        You should definitely give melee build a try.Its stupidly overpowered,and not just in fallouts.

      • Extra backpack space, an early warning system, and for the nifty sounds (I heart the robot eye thing from F:NV). I’m generally going “ooh, what’s over there” while my companion (s) are shooting at stuff I hadn’t seen yet, so for me they’re kinda useful.

        • Henson says:

          I can’t tell you how many times I would be looking for the enemy, because of the ‘battle music’ change, only to be interrupted by the slow-mo kill cam from my companions wasting the threat. In a way, it got kinda annoying; like, I don’t even need to be here.

          And then I’d die to Caesar’s Legion.

          • Thomas says:

            I heard in Fallout 4 companions use your ammo to shoot with? And the dog is the most usable one. So I’m not optimistic.

            There’s always an infinite npc ammo mod though. Its a vital one for me

      • djw says:

        In fallout NV you can tell them to used ranged (well, except for Rex). In any case, it doesn’t really matter unless you are playing Hardcore, since they will just take a knee until you are done killing whatever it is you are fighting.

  17. Dragmire says:

    That Orc has a nice zipper tab earring…

  18. flyguy says:

    I would be honestly shocked if a Bethseda game came out and:
    1.the graphics were current or even inventive
    2. the AI wasnt having a constant stroke
    3. the interface was pleasant, so much so that you wouldnt even notice it
    4. it had a story and characters worth mentioning

    but then that wouldnt be a bethesda game

  19. Neko says:

    Congratulations on 10000000 Diecasts!

  20. “Explaining why something doesn’t work is usually a lot more complex than explaining why it does, so negative topics are usually more interesting.”

    Actually, this is the exact opposite of the truth. It is PHENOMENALLY difficult to explain why something is good, which is why most people don’t do it, or if they do, it amounts to pointing out the flaws and then saying “but it’s still pretty awesome”.

    Most people can’t even seem to ARTICULATE what the good is.

    • Dasick says:

      Most people also assume that when something is good, it’s self-evident. They also assume that it’s not worth mentioning because there is nothing to fix, so the answer is keep doing what you’re doing (what am I doing?) Whereas a bad thing needs to be fixed, so you have to point out the bad thing to fix, the logic goes.

      But I find positivity both to be non-trivial (seriously, what was it that I was doing right???) and also very interesting as well. Definitely better for the heart :D

      • I find that a highly valuable exercise is that when you find something that is bad or doesn’t work in anything, try to figure out how you would fix it. This is MUCH more interesting and difficult than just saying “it sucks”.

        There isn’t any “one true way” to fix something, often, but it’s amazing how much impact this kind of thing can have.

        People train for years to produce things that are picked to bits by internet hacks in half an hour. Doing anything even decently well is amazingly complex and difficult.

    • Supahewok says:

      I came here to basically say this. If I play a game, or listen to somebody’s ideas, or whatever, I can make an enormous list of mistakes or flaws, but find it hard to list even 10 good points. Nitpicking is easy. Recognizing the how and why’s of success are hard.

      • It’s also necessary to be practiced at introspection to identify these things. It’s easy to say “this is interesting”. It’s far more difficult to identify “what is it about this that is increasing my interest here?”

        For instance, it’s been my experience that a “boss battle” is only interesting for about 3 “combat cycles”. The first cycle consists of you running around going “OMG WTF WHAT’S HAPPENING OMG HEAL HEAL HEAL OMG” while you desperately try to figure out what to do. Second cycle starts when you’re like “okay, I think I figured out what to do! I hit this then this then that then dodge this attack and HEY IT WORKED!!! WHAMBO!! HA OSSUM!” Third cycle is when you know that what you’re doing is going to work, so it’s just a matter of executing it again perfectly.

        Anything past that is just tedium (and frustration, if you’re having execution problems). You know what’s going on and what’s going to work. There’s no additional learning going on. It’s time for the fight either to be over or to go to a new phase. So it’s my opinion that a boss battle ought to be approached with that “three cycles” thing in mind.

        It also gives you a sort of plan for your structure–you know that you want to put the pressure on at the beginning. That’s your “scare the player” moment. I learned this, oddly enough, in tabletop. I found that if I put the pressure on in the first round of combat with a good description and a nasty hit, even if the players literally FACEROLLED the fight, they still remembered it as a good and very tense fight! That first hit coming in when you’re not ready for it makes a big impression. It makes the boss a BOSS.

        For the second part, you want to have enough stuff going on that the player has to sit up and pay attention–but likewise not so much that it’s not obvious what is causing anything. This stage is all about communication–tells for attacks, informing combat taunts, symbols–whatever means you’re using to communicate with the player “this is what you need to do”.

        The third cycle is all about having a good denouement. It’s basically putting in a dramatic reaction to the player’s actions. It’s even better if you have alternative endings–one if they execute properly, and one if they don’t. It doesn’t have to be a cut scene or anything like that, just something big (within the context of the game) needs to happen.

        But notice what doesn’t work well with this model? Chipping away endlessly at an enormous health bar. That is not a “boss fight”. That is a chore. Like mowing the lawn or something.

        Anyway, I digress–I was just trying to show that there is a lot in analyzing what does work in something.

        Heck, just look at Shamus’ poor flailing around in his recent Escapist articles trying to define what is “scary” in a computer game. Or, not even bothering to really try to define it, more like.

        • Shamus says:

          “Heck, just look at Shamus’ poor flailing around in his recent Escapist articles trying to define what is “scary” in a computer game. Or, not even bothering to really try to define it, more like.”

          Fun fact: My target demo at the Escapist isn’t actually epistemologists. I only get so much column space, and blowing three precious paragraphs categorizing the various types of emotional responses of “scary” games would result in most people hitting the back button.

          • I’m not criticizing your articles, just saying that this is an example of choosing to focus on what’s not working (video games not doing fear properly) rather than trying to explain how to do it correctly.

            The other fun part of trying to explain how to do something well is that you generally discover that every way to do it that you were able to figure out is subject to subversion, inversion, up, down, left, right, put your foot in and shake it all about . . .

            This is basically what TVTropes does, but they’re more in the line of just describing things than actually trying to put that information together.

            The other OTHER fun part is that if you try to explain how something works–even if you’ve done a very good job and your effort is highly constructive–people often get mad because you’re “telling them how to think”. There usually isn’t a similar response if you say that something is bad.

          • Also, it’s not necessary to do a big scholarly article categorizing every single type of scare. Trying to be exhaustive is pretty much death to any process like this, anyway. What might be more interesting (I’d certainly enjoy it) is if you focused on one single standout moment that really scared the bejeezus out of you and analyzed that. Try to categorize the particular elements that play into it. Maybe give some pointers as to how those elements are present in other horror.

            One of my recent standout moments was when I was playing Dragon Age: Inquisition right after the battle at Haven. The few minutes when you’re walking through the snow really struck me. There’s basically no gameplay to it whatsoever, just holding down the forward button, but it really conveys the loss and isolation and struggle of that moment spectacularly well. It’s the first (and last) time that you’re really alone–no other characters around, no one to talk to, no quests to do, no stuff to find/gather/interact with. It’s extremely primal. Personally, I think it was the high point of the game. There were other good moments, but they tended to come packaged with distractions and didn’t have that purity of impact.

        • Oh god, I’m having Ragnaros flashbacks. Because nothing is more frustrating than healing perfectly over and over and over and over, only to die because you have no way to help kill those little guys in time because disc priests didn’t stun. Only fight(s) that come close are Heroic Sindragosa and Putricide, and that was as much about just being damn sick of only having the one raid for over a year (with a side order of it’s really hard to play pass the plague when you’ve got two shadow priests and they look identical in shadow form).

          Only boss I never killed while I was raiding (in what was current content at the time. Even after my guild downed heroic Deathwing, no one wanted to go back and try again, we were all that damn sick of it). Goddamn I hated that fight. OK, now I kinda want to go resub to go to Firelands and kick his arse.

        • Steve C says:

          EDIT: And I replied to the wrong comment again! This was a reply to Jennifer Snow above. I don’t mean I intended it be either. I mean it was. I double checked. I think something technical is happening with replies being matched to the wrong parent comments.

          I would tend to disagree with most of this (Jennifer’s comment). I’m sure some (many?) believe as you do. I was a part of a ranked WoW raiding guild back in the day. I found the art of mastering the dance and the interlocking skills and teamwork to be a lot of fun. Failure included. We had over 300 attempts against Heroic Lich King for example. I believe it was the 303rd attempt we killed him for the first time. The journey was more fun than the result.

          Contrast that to Deathwing. We cleared that entire raid in less than 6 hours. We were extremely disappointed and even a little angry that it was so easy.

          I do agree that it is harder to define exactly why something is so good over why something is not. Defining and recognizing something as good is pretty easy. Being able to analyze exactly why to the extent it can be reproduced is far far more difficult. That’s why iteration is a successful strategy. Where as trying to get it perfect in one shot is not.

          • I don’t mean that you shouldn’t ever fail. Maybe even fail over and over and OVER if that’s the type of game you’re going for. (Dark souls?) Just that I’ve found this is how a good fight tends to play out in overall structure. It’s not about how many times you have to try to beat it, but how many times you have to run through the identical sequence from “fight starts” til “VICTORY!”. 3 is a very good number in my experience because it follows this learning pattern.

            If you’re just chipping away at a huge health bar, though, you generally wind up executing your attack sequence something like 600 times with nothing much to break it up. That’s unspeakably dull.

            And, also, you generally don’t want the player to just walk in and say “oh, I see”, execute the sequence once, and move on. That’s a trash fight, not a boss fight.

  21. Muspel says:

    Look, it’s obvious how Shepard is alive again– Cerberus revived her/him.

  22. Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

    Regarding Skyrim faces. Yes they looked ugly but they looked ugly in a way that was more intentional. Its like they realized they make ugly faces and put that “talent” to work for them presenting Nords as the product of hard living.

    Then we turned them all into swimsuit models.

  23. John says:

    Buying King.com is a perfectly reasonable thing for Activision to do–provided, of course, that they paid a reasonable price. It’s hard to imagine a figure in the billions of dollars being reasonable, but then I’m not a businessman with army of spreadsheet-wielding minions and access to all the relevant information.

    The value of a business can be expressed as the sum of (i) the present discounted value of its current and future revenues and (ii) the value of its assets. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? For some businesses it actually is that simple, but those businesses aren’t in the video game industry. The mobile-game business in particular is still in its infancy and bound to be disrupted in ways which are at present unforeseeable. I’m willing to concede that Activision may have a reasonable estimate of King.com’s revenues over the next, say, five years. But any estimate of the value of King’s other assets, such as the Candy Crush brand and other intellectual property, is bound to be woefully imprecise.

    So good luck to Activision. They’ll probably need it.

  24. 4th Dimension says:

    Bioware Bioware don’t do that. Don’t make promises you won’t be able to keep. Here you have me interested in an exploration game where I might be an explorer, but we all know what you will make. A shooter mans with some light RPG elements and one big binary or maybe trinary choice at the end. Something along the line of do we explode the bridge that brought us here or not. And when we play this we will be dissapointed and the disappointment will turn into pointless anger.

    Huh, WC the movie will actually be a WCI (prequel?) story? Interesting. I think I know the actors from that Medvith book.

  25. Dasick says:

    Don’t worry Shamus, I don’t think of you as that guy who hates everything. To me, you’re the guy who isn’t hating things enough. HOW DARE YOU SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT THING X I HAAAAAAAAAATEEEEEEE?!?!?!?

    Joking aside, I do a similar “nitpicking” thing you do with things I kinda like or see potential for. So for me, it’s not a problem at all to see where you’re coming from and that makes your tone more of a “let’s take apart this car to find the problem so that we can make better cars” rather than “let’s smash this car because it’s stupid and no one should make it”

  26. SlothfulCobra says:

    I can’t believe you guys didn’t mention Popcap! They used to be top dog in the casual games market back before EA bought them. Sure, they’ve mostly missed out on the phone games market, but they’re the classic example of a casual game company getting big and then bought.

    I remember Yahtzee complaining about how after you make millions of dollars off of your casual games you’re supposed to start cranking out AAA games, and that’s basically what Popcap ended up doing after EA bought them.

  27. Thomas says:

    I really feel like Tomb Raider is being hit hard for signing exclusivity to the much less popular console (for that matter, for signing exclusivity at all but the PS4’s audience size and hype would have made it suck less).

    Even worse, it’s releasing around the same time as Halo 5. As an Xbox One exclusive.

    I’m not going to say it was a bad business decisions for Square Enix yet though because
    1) I don’t know how much Microsoft paid them.
    2) They’ve excluded _so_ much of their fanbase that I’m pretty sure everyone will be hyped again when it’s released properly in 2016. They’ll have to double dip on advertising though.

  28. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

    Are you going to talk about Fallout 4 anymore?

    It’s released already in my country, so I hope to see (well, hear) you guys do something about that.

  29. Burek says:

    Concerning Mass Effect, the trailer to me didn’t sound like Shepard is alive or that you will be playing as him/her. It more sounded like a farewell speech to colonists who were sent to the Andromeda system before everything went dead (including Shepard) in our galaxy.

    • Mike S. says:

      That was my read too. The whole point seems as if it has to be to create a situation that’s independent of the endings, including them leaving before everyone becomes a cyborg in the Green one. So Shepard gives the inhabitants of the CSS Hail Mary a pep talk in between scanning for inspiring scriptures in Reaper-occupied systems.

      Leaving questions like:

      1) Did they include a breeding population of genophage-cured krogan? Because that’s arguably more important to the long-term future of Andromeda than anything else. (And maybe the medium term, if they’re having a thousand kids at the same time as the human couples are having one.)

      2) Has Andromeda been dominated by AI to the exclusion of biological life for the last billion-odd years? Because we were kind of told that was the inevitable result of there not being Reapers, unless it’s a galaxy with no intelligent life at all.

      3) Aside from whatever magic use-only-once method gets them to Andromeda, will they be limited to local FTL range due to the lack of mass relays there, or will there be a different fast-travel tech available– something that no one bothered looking into in the Milky Way because there was already this convenient system in place? (Or the locals could already just have a relay network of their own, but that would be a little convenient and boring.)

      Could be interesting if part of settling involve setting up first-generation, Conduit-level mass relays (like the ones Aethyta presumably wanted to try building), so that you gradually expand the area open for exploration and contact.

      • INH5 says:

        As far as 1 goes, we know that at least one krogan makes it to Andromeda, because a krogan can be seen in the background of the first teaser trailer. As for the genophage, my money is still on the colonists leaving for Andromeda before the events of Priority: Tuchanka to avoid negating player choice. Presumably that would mean that the Andromeda krogan would still be under the effects of the genophage, because if it took more than a thousand years before anyone in the milky way figured out how to cure it, there’s no way the much smaller population of Andromeda colonists would be able to crack it even if they wanted to. But there’s really no way to tell at this point.

        I don’t know about 2, but if I had to put money on it, I’d guess that Bioware and EA will want to as much as possible avoid bringing up ME3’s ending and the related concepts.

        As for 3, the teaser trailer seems to show travel via non-relay FTL (at a ridiculously fast speed, but that might just be creative license). Given that and the frontier theme that the trailer seemed to be pushing, I would guess that travel in Andromeda will be non-relay FTL only, at least at the start of the game.

        • Mike S. says:

          In ME2, we learned that the genophage needs periodic fine tuning by the STG to keep krogan population stable. That might allow for initially slow krogan growth, as they begin to naturally evolve resistance to it.

          (With their growth rates returning to fast exponential a potential problem, but one that can stay in the far future until and unless they want to focus a game on it.)

          I agree Bioware doesn’t want to deal with ME3’s ending. But I think they need at least a handwave on that after making “AI always rebels and takes over, and no making peace between the quarians and geth and making friends with EDI doesn’t change that” so central. Just ignoring the question doesn’t strike me as their style.

          • Mike S. says:

            Thinking about it further, the Reapers were such an effective answer to the Fermi Question (and related issues like “why didn’t the first starfaring intelligences settle every habitable planet eons before we even evolved?” and “why is everyone at roughly the same tech level?” that it does make an Andromeda that’s a settleable frontier something of a mystery.

            It’ll be interesting to see if they dodge the question, shove it aside (“Good question, Lieutenant Exposition! Let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could possibly learn the answer for you.”) or actually make it focal to the game. Possibly echoing Mass Effect 1 in the same way the trailers do, but with a different solution to the mystery this time.

            (And hopefully they realize that it’s better to have that lead into an open ended, sustainable setting justification, rather than jumping immediately to the Apocalypse.)

            [Pure speculation, which obviously won’t be what they do]: in Andromeda, instead of the limited culls of the Reapers you just get rapid total galactic extinction events due to wild AI. Then… something… eventually happens to the AI and organic life has to start over from scratch. (So instead of 50k years between cycles maybe it’s tens or hundreds of millions, since everyone has to start from whatever extremophiles survived the last ocean boil.)

            So instead of a multispecies civilization (whether a federation like the Asari cycle or an empire like most of the others), maybe there’s one starfaring intelligent species in flight range. And a lot of comparatively simple ecologies on planets with a bunch of suspiciously circular lakes, seas, and valleys. Said locals are more than a little surprised and alarmed at an ark full of violent strangers showing up on their doorstep from the next galaxy over.

            Short term problem: get along, or if that doesn’t work, win the resulting conflict. Long term problem (which can be looming past the time horizon of the game’s setting): find a way to avoid the AI apocalypse. (One that doesn’t involve the clever idea of putting the solution in the hands of apocalyptic AIs.)

  30. Jesse says:

    I think the focus of Bethesda on their environment graphics technology is just an extension of their focus on their environments. At least since Morrowind (my first and earliest game) they haven’t cared about characters too much, and story, well they seem to be trying, but their environments have always had a great amount of detail, great visuals, even if the concept is bland, and all manner of little storytelling touches throughout it.

    I started Fallout 3 again for the first time since New Vegas last night, and all the problems that make me prefer NV were still there, but I was struck by how well they did other things that NV didn’t even seem to consider. The growing up sequence was loaded with incidental dialogue between others if you stuck around long enough, as was Megaton (as far as I got), which is something I didn’t notice in NV. There were all manner of small details in their world that made it seem like it was once a real place, for example there was a notice board outside the school which by filling in missing letters you could barely decipher to be a list of the briefly pre-bomb events, there were all manner of skeletons and corpses placed around the world with interesting stories to intuit, for example, outside the mall you had the remains of a skirmish, several wastelanders and one of their raiders, and I came across several skeletons with items around them and in nearby areas which allowed you to guess at their activities just before the bomb, such as a power station repair guy surrounded by bottles. There’s also a way they’ve threaded it all together, for example, you find a note in the overseers terminal about an expedition to megaton, which two people stayed there after as spies/diplomats. In the town, if you’re looking out for it, you discover their fates in off handed comments by the residents, one vanishes in the wastes, presumed dead, the other enjoyed freedom and just went off into the world. It’s a small touch that makes the world feel connected in a way that NV didn’t feel as much to me. NV feels like a stage, great, interesting characters and stories, but look a little too much at the scenery or the connections between areas and it falls apart, but Fallout 3 feels like a world, all connected together, filled with small details, but it’s filled mostly with bland and commonplace happenings and people.

  31. Pearly says:

    If you like positive content, I’ve been really enjoying Sursum Ursa’s “stuff you like” series. She’s cross-posted on a few “Review and Critique” sites, but her videos tend to always end so nicely and she seems so kind, and articulates her points so well that it’s a real pleasure to watch her talk about it.

    Here’s a link to the playlist thing, from Youtube.

    I’m particularly fond of her multi-part gushing explaination of why she adores the romantic chemistry between Han Solo and Leia, it was super cute and joyful, and just… Give it a shot, she makes nice things.

  32. Holy balls that trailer looks turrrrrble! There is green screen work that looks like it belongs on a game for the Sega CD! And that orc woman is laughable! I’ve never even played WoW before and I know this shit won’t fly. Who made this? How is it getting a theatrical release. It looks like an Asylum film with a sliiiightly larger budget.

  33. Artur CalDazar says:

    Kinda weird to hear Josh talk about mass effect as if it’s a pure shooter no different to gears of war, when it’s never gone that far.

    I don’t know if that’s true about nobody caring about the first game, warren spectre playing it at pax Aus filled the theatre. People cared.

  34. Hermocrates says:

    Say what you will about landscape paintings, but some of my favourite art is from the Group of Seven, especially the likes of Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay by F. H. Varley.

  35. Steven says:

    Will we ever get a spoiler story discussion on the Witcher 3?

  36. guy says:

    As of two and a half hours past Fallout 4 launching in my timezone, I can now confidently say that Legacy Of The Void is quite good.

  37. Adrian says:

    Where can I download that beginning and ending theme song for your podcast?

  38. Mersadeon says:

    Oh, that Moviebob video… while I agree with his overall “Pixels is awful” angle, there are a lot of problems with his approach. And it’s probably more than a little hypocritical to act like references to nostalgic content without any actual joke are somehow bad in themselves when that’s about one third of his videos.

  39. tzeneth says:

    Ok, I find it kind of funny how great of reviews tomb raider is receiving considering their poor choice in date of release and 1 year exclusivity deal. It’s also kind of sad because a lot of people aren’t going to be playing it because of the same reasons. Hopefully they’ll get an infusion of buyers later on when it’s released for the other platforms (including PC).

  40. wswordsmen says:

    In response to Josh liking the flaws of Bethesda games: No, but you are the only one willing to admit it.

  41. mwchase says:

    One thought on the Andromeda trailer: maybe they’re doing what some fan-works do, and having the two Shepards be relatives, and in this case, just one of them goes and does all of the eventually-lethal adventure stuff, and the other is less prominent, but lives to star in the trailer.

    Either that, or the Destroy ending with maximum EMS is canon, and they fished her out of the rubble.

  42. MichaelGC says:

    I don’t see positivity as saying nice things, and negativity as saying nasty things. As others have said in various different ways (I’m late to the party and I couldn’t figure out which thread to jump in on), I think it’s a lot more subtle than that.

    For example, Josh really enjoys how Bethesda games break – both with the straight-up bugs, and with the stat-breaks that one can often find. As he says, if they released a perfect game with no bugs or stat-breaks, he’d be really disappointed!

    Alright, so which of those sentences was positive, and which negative? I don’t think there’s a clear answer to that, but if you twist my arm, I’ll have to say they’re both positive. Josh talks of a situation which for him is a win, and mentions a counterfactual which for him would be less of one. However – assuming that Bethesda see creating a perfect game system as a worthwhile goal, it would have to count as a win for them, so there’s no or almost no negativity there.

    For me this site and its wider interconnected community is one of the most relentlessly positive on the net, and its not because of a general yay-ness about everything; far from it. It’s because of the heart and spirit in which everything is offered – the written content, the audio-only stuff, the videos, and the comments. These latter are perhaps a really useful small example of what I mean – we often see arguments in the comments; people arguing with each other, but what I almost never see around here is someone talking down to another.

    Now you could speculate that perhaps Shamus catches a vast number of negative, talky-downy comments in moderation and removes them in order to keep things positive. I don’t believe that for a moment, but alright then – QED: by such methods Shamus keeps things relentlessly positive around here! ;D

    And, I dunno – maybe I’m a sad bitter twisted misanthrope who hates nice things and wants everything to be terrible, but I’ll have to admit to giant belly laughs both at the idea of Mass Effect: Borderlandromeda and of the mental picture of the TR exclusive dodgem desperately careering around trying to avoid enflattenation by the Fallout juggernaut. (I certainly feel for Campster, and I hope he’s well on the mend if indeed not totally better by now; I’m none too chipper myself just at the moment, and so those chuckles were certainly very positive moments for me!)

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