Dénouement 2019 Part 3: The Disappointments

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jan 2, 2020

Filed under: Industry Events 146 comments

It’s pretty common for critics – movie critics in particular – to end the year with twin best / worst lists. That’s a good way to organize things, but it doesn’t really suit my habits. I’m not obligated to cover particular games by an editor. I pay for the vast majority of my games, and I’m not keen on spending $60 and a week of my life on something I know I’ll hate. Which means I rarely play games that could qualify as “terrible”. So instead of WORST games of 2019 we get “disappointments of 2019”.

I realize that’s not nearly as fun or enticing, but feisty hyperbole isn’t really my style.

Now that your expectations for excitement have been sufficiently lowered, let’s talk about what I didn’t dig…

Untitled Goose Game

Yes, I know this was a beloved indie darling this year, and only a complete monster would put it on a “Worst of 2019” list. But see, this isn’t a “Worst of 2019” list, remember?

I’ll admit that this game is clever, charming, and innovative. The world is wonderfully built and the titular goose is beautifully animated. Indeed, it’s probably the greatest waterfowl to ever appear in any video game on any platform.

The problem is, I just didn’t like playing it.

Two things bothered me. One, I wasn’t really into the ultra-specific laundry list of goals the game gave you. I would have preferred something more open-ended and exploration based. Instead of “Steal all the items for a picnic and bring them to this location”, I would have preferred something more like, “Frustrate this person so they leave”, with the game giving you lots of ways to do that and allowing you to discover them on your own. I also didn’t like how vague some of the goals were.

The other thing that annoyed me was the long reset times. When the game tells you to “make the kid wear the wrong glasses”, it takes you five seconds to solve the problem conceptually and five minutes to enact that solution. I immediately knew I had to steal glasses from the store, honk at the kid as he was cleaning his glasses, and then swap the glasses when he dropped them. But then you end up standing there for minutes on end, watching the kid cycle through his activities and waiting for “clean glasses” to come up. Oops. I missed the timing window and he recovered his glasses. I guess I’ll just stand here doing nothing for a couple more minutes until the next window opens up.


The most enjoyment I got out of the game was when I watched a speed run of the whole thing. The punchline at the end got a laugh out of me, and the goose will go down in history as one of the greatest villains in video game history. It’s a clever game, but it’s not one I enjoy playing.

Rage 2

Ugh. The writing in this game was atrocious. It wasn’t just bad in the sense of having boring characters and a dumb plot with no stakes, it was bad in the sense that it really interfered with the gameplay. Like I said in my Escapist column:

It takes about 23 minutes from the moment after you start a new game for Rage 2 to cut you loose to explore the open world. In that time, there is, at best, about three and a half minutes of actual gameplay. Everything else is static cutscenes, scripted events where you have no input, or moments where you stand around with nothing to do while someone takes an exposition dump on you. If story doesn’t matter, why is there so much of it?

I’ll do a longer analysis on the writing in this game at some point in the future. The important thing to note here is that this ID Software game has lots of story, that story is mostly terrible, and the game itself is filled with bugs. It’s very clear that the corporate culture and priorities of parent company Zenimax have been creeping into ID Software since the buyout a decade ago. In a few more years they’ll probably be indistinguishable from Bethesda.

EDIT: I forgot this game was made by Avalanche, not ID. Still, same publisher, same problems. But it’s important we put the blame on the right studio.


Dragon Age Inquisition made it clear that BioWare was a technological mess. Then Mass Effect Andromeda made it clear that the magic had left BioWare in terms of worldbuilding and storytelling. Now we get Anthem, revealing that the company is also bereft of leadership. Jason Schreier’s expose was heartbreaking. I wanted to believe this was a project that went astray due to too much ambition or executive meddling. Maybe their problem was that the team was just… you know… too creative? Maybe we can blame those villainous suits at EA?

But no. In the end, it was the product of a team with no leadership, no coherent vision, and no identity as a creative group. Are we interested in making shooters? Creating characters? Storytelling? Worldbuilding? Fostering multiplayer co-op communities? Building a numbers-driven loot grind? Apparently the answer was “none of the above”. Anthem was a game that nobody asked for and nobody wanted to make. The game had lavishly produced cutscenes that told the bare minimum of a stock story. It had characters that barely mattered and an antagonist that was the plain, lowfat, no-salt, gluten-free cracker of villainy.

It was a looter shooter without any exciting loot and with broken shooting mechanics. It was an open world game with excruciating loading screens and very little to do in the open world. It was a game about grinding dungeons for loot that only had three dungeons. And only one of them was worth running.

When I was in high school, we spent a semester of phys ed playing volleyball. Because we were all conscripts, the league was somewhat… uneven. Some teams would end up with several ultra-competitive jocks who dove for the ball in search of glory. And other teams – like the one I was on – were populated by people who had no passion or aptitude for sport.  The ball would come over the net and everyone would remain rooted in place, assuming that someone else would step forward and handle it. The ball would land in the empty space between players and we’d all look at each other accusingly, “I thought YOU were going to get it!”

This is what Anthem feels like. It’s a game where everyone stood by and waited for someone else to make it interesting. This is a leadership problem, and those are very hard to cure. It doesn’t matter how brilliant your artists are. If you can’t get everyone to embrace a singular vision, then you wind up with a confused mishmash like Anthem.

The most heartbreaking thing about it is that you can see how expensive the dang thing was. This isn’t a lazy AAA asset flip like Fallout 76. Anthem wasn’t boring because the team cut corners. EA didn’t force the developer to rush the game out the door. The budget was there. The time was there. The problem is that the budget wasn’t put to good use.

Circling back to the topic of blame: I don’t know what to think of this mess. The bulk of the BioWare leadership all departed a few years ago, leaving the team without a unifying voice. So we can blame BioWare, right? Except, part of EA’s job as a parent company is to keep an eye on its subsidiaries and make sure they’re running properly. In the book Significant Zero by Walt Williams, we see that 2k Games dispatched Williams to various developers to make sure their projects were on track. If the EA leadership knew anything about game development, then they would have an equivalent person on their team. You need someone to stop by every few months and see how a project is going. Is it on time? Is it suffering from feature creep? Are they making the game they pitched or have they drifted off-mission? Are there any messy office politics or toxic people that are causing problems? Is there a lot of staff turnover? How is the budget? Do the low-level people seem frustrated, mistreated, and disloyal in a way that might encourage them to talk to Jason Schreier?

This is all part of running a company. If Andrew Wilson can’t do it personally, then he should know how to hire someone that can do this job.

This means the question of “blame” becomes a bit murky. If BioWare was healthy, then the lack of support from EA wouldn’t be a problem. If EA was engaging in proper due diligence as a parent company, then the problems at BioWare could have been corrected.

It’s a bit like someone that contracts cancer, and then the cancer weakens their body so that they get pneumonia and die. Do we blame the pneumonia, or the cancer?

It seems like the most truthful answer is, “It’s complicated.”

Metro Exodus

I didn’t finish this game. I’m not even sure how long I spent playing itThis game came out on the Epic Game Store, and EGS doesn’t track hours played.. I do know that it completely failed to grab me. I can’t put my finger on any specific flaw that made me quit playing. I just didn’t care.

I play Metro games for the tension and paranoia of being isolated and crawling through dark spooky tunnels in a hopeless world. So when Exodus dumped me into a brightly-lit open area and told me my goal was to escape this desolation to find the safe, non-destroyed parts of the world with my friends, I felt like I had too much confidence, too much hope, too much companyAlthough I bet a bunch of them would have died if I kept playing., and way too much sunlight.

Maybe it was a fine shooter, but for me it was like a Tomb Raider where you spend the whole game hanging out in hotels and chatting up attractive people. It might be good, but this isn’t what I’m here for.

The Outer Wilds

Like Goose Game, this is yet another indie darling that just didn’t work for me. Outer Wilds (Not to be confused with Outer Worlds) has you playing as a space explorer. You jump in your ship, explore your miniaturized solar system for twenty minutes, then (spoiler) the sun blows up, time rewinds, and you find yourself back on your ship just before takeoff.

My experience with the game went something like this:

  1. Fly around for a bit with no sense of purpose.
  2. Finally find something interesting to check out.
  3. Land, get out, and approach the novelty.
  4. The sun explodes and I realize I don’t know where I was or how to get back there.

Like Goose Game, I often felt like Outer Wilds was going out of its way to waste my time. I found the twenty minute reset to be immensely annoying, and I didn’t care enough about the world or the characters to push through it.

Borderlands 3

Link (YouTube)

It’s a shame. I waited for this one for years, and I really thought this was going to be a contender for GOTY. I’ve already summed up my feelings with this game and where I think the team went wrong, so there’s no need to re-hash that rant here.

Sad face.

Not a Disappointment But Also Not a Favorite: Warframe

I played Warframe this year. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t dislike it enough to put it on my disappointments list. I don’t know.

It’s weird. It’s different. It’s obviously the product of a team with a very strong artistic vision. This isn’t a clone of any other MMO like WoW or Black Desert Online. It’s not a clone of looter shooters like Destiny 2 or Division 2. It’s sort of a looter-shooter but also sort of an MMO but also an RPG but also kinda a story-based space adventure with characters and dialog? Warframe defies categorization and genre labels. It’s very much its own thing.

I have a lot of gripes with it, but who cares? All of my suggestions / requests would make the game more mainstream, and that’s the last thing Warframe needsActually, a better progression guide for newbies is probably a good idea.. I don’t like the weird pointy designs of the warframes themselves, but saying they should be more like Anthem is missing the point. It’s like saying The Old Guitarist would be a better painting if the old man wasn’t in that weird angular pose. That’s the entire point of the work! It’s not my style, but the designers made it this way on purpose and it’s apparently good enough that the game is now into its fifth year.  The developers are clearly doing something right.

I’m glad these developers were able to create this weird and idiosyncratic game. They’re apparently good people who care a lot about the community. I’m not into Warframe and I doubt I’ll ever go back to it, but I’m glad it exists.

Next time I’ll talk about what I liked in 2019.



[1] This game came out on the Epic Game Store, and EGS doesn’t track hours played.

[2] Although I bet a bunch of them would have died if I kept playing.

[3] Actually, a better progression guide for newbies is probably a good idea.

From The Archives:

146 thoughts on “Dénouement 2019 Part 3: The Disappointments

  1. Grimwear says:

    Shamus talking about Rage 2 reminds me of Middle Earth: Shadow of War which I just picked up during the Winter Sale. I remember playing Shadow of Mordor and while I never cared for the story I did enjoy the nemesis system and more importantly dominating the orcs and making my own army. Well I’m 8 hours in to Shadow of War and I JUST NOW got the ability to dominate orcs. Why is this key aspect of gameplay so far away? You need to play through the whole first act before you get it. There’s no point playing around in the first 2 areas you unlock because you’ll need to wait for any killed orcs to get replaced so you can then take them for your cause. The story is drivel and garbage and all I wanted to do was play in the sandbox but it took so freaking long to get there.

    1. Lino says:

      I don’t remember it very well, but didn’t the original also take a long time before it allowed you to dominate orcs?

      1. Grimwear says:

        I’ll be honest it’s possible I can’t remember the first game too well either. They do explain the reason in game only the story is crap and just stupid people doing stupid stuff repeatedly so it doesn’t count. Just annoying that if that is the case they once again decided to gate their best feature to midgame.

      2. John says:

        The original Shadow of Mordor didn’t let you dominate orcs until the second half of the game. I haven’t played Shadow of War (and don’t want to) but as it features the same main character it seems as though dominating orcs should really be available from the beginning. I expect that there are some sort of plot shenanigans that reset the character’s abilities back to what they were at the beginning of Shadow of Mordor, however, because, well, video games.

        Speaking of plot shenanigans, Talion unlocks the ability to dominate orcs in Shadow of Mordor when a character in a cutscene tells him “Hey, you should dominate some orcs” and his ghost-buddy Celebrimbor agrees that it’s a dandy idea. In other words, according to the plot, Talion always had the ability to dominate orcs and just didn’t think to do it until he met a creepy old lady on the second map. The story in Shadow of Mordor is just utterly awful. As a life-long Tolkien fan I knew going in that I wouldn’t like it, but it’s bad even when taken in its own terms.

        1. Lars says:

          I expect that there are some sort of plot shenanigans that reset the character’s abilities back to what they were at the beginning of Shadow of Mordor,

          Exactly that. In the Outro of Shadows Talbrimbion wants to craft a new ring, which he looses directly at the beginning of Wars, which steals all his powers. Doesn’t make sense? Oh Yes.
          I got the ring, and the domination powers back after ’bout 3 hours rushing through. Because “There’s no point playing around in the first 2 areas” until then.

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            Pouring your powers into a ring that will screw you over if you lose it is canonically and thematically on point for Lord of the Rings though…

            1. John says:

              For Sauron, yes, but not for Celebrimbor. Shadow of Mordor really did a number on his character.

              1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                The theory is sound, yes? If you follow Sauron’s Ring Making Process, then it would come with identical drawbacks. Because it’s the same process! That’s actually a logical direction to take a sequel of such a concept. Because Sauron in LOTR isn’t a character, he’s a force to oppose (maybe he’s a character in the other stuff I’ve never gotten into). And if you go through his historical errors with actual characters, that could be interesting drama.

                1. John says:

                  Putting power into a thing and then not being able to get the power back again is indeed a common theme (motif? occurrence?) in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Feanor can only make the Silmarils once. Heck, Feanor’s mom can only make the one kid. (Then she’s so wiped out that she voluntarily marches in to the Halls of the Dead–which is where the spirits of dead elves go to be, um, only maybe sort of dead–while she’s still technically alive.) Morgoth and Sauron are diminished with each defeat, to the point that, by the time of Lord of the Rings, Sauron can’t even manage a body any more. The point, I suppose, is that the thing you are talking about is a thing that Tolkien did repeatedly, albeit mostly in the Silmarillion. I don’t have any objections in principle to the idea. I just think Celebrimbor is a bad choice.

                  Also, Sauron is definitely a character in the Silmarillion, though not a major one. We may not get a look at his rich inner life. He may not have a rich inner life. Frankly, that’s probably true for most characters in the Silmarillion. The Silmarillion just isn’t that kind of book. (It’s not a novel, for one thing.). But he’s definitely a character, even if that character consists mostly of being a semi-sadistic shapeshifting bad guy who isn’t quite as smart or as powerful as he thinks he is.

                  1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                    Note I said “in Lord of the Rings”, which is the trilogy of books I was referring to. Silmarillion is a different thing, I suspected he might be more of a developed character there.

                    1. John says:

                      So I gathered.

      3. guy says:

        It did, but since it was the first game it took until the second playthrough to truly feel the lack.

  2. Lino says:

    I realize that’s not nearly as fun or enticing, but feisty hyperbole isn’t really my style.

    Now that your expectations for excitement have been sufficiently lowered, let’s talk about what I didn’t dig…

    For some reason, that made more excited than any Zero Punctuation video title ever has (and I’ve been watching him since before the Escapist)!

  3. BlueHorus says:

    The game had lavishly produced cutscenes that told the bare minimum of a stock story.

    This aspect should go on lists, as a warning sign. It’s very close to the complaints about Rage 2 (and Diablo III) ‘if the story’s not the point why is there so much of it?!’
    It’s not the only game where I’ve wanted to ask the studio ‘did THIS story really need cutscenes? Really? And how much did they cost to make? Could have money and effort gone elsewhere?’

  4. Zgred says:

    I think that one of the biggest problem of Metro: Exodus was the completly lack of vision and consistency, which made the tone of the game being all over the place. One level is like a classic Metro, next one is like DOOM, next one is like Mad Max, next on is like Fallout: New Vegas – Honest Hearts/Lord of the Flies and then it’s back to being Metro again. Some levels are open for exploration, others are completly linear. Some reward you for non-violent solutions, others are meat-grinders of trash mobs. It’s practically given that if you’d like one part of the game, you won’t like the others. With the addition of surprisingly bland dialogs and an underwhelming plot, the game fails to engage you. For me it was a huge letdown after the excellent Last Light.

    1. Gethsemani says:

      I believe Exodus fell into the trap of “bigger, better, more of everything”-sequels. Metro 2033 and Last Light are minimalist games by design, because the less you see, hear and do the greater you can build the suspense. By keeping both games mostly underground in tight tunnels, with little vision, lots of ambient noises and on a steady horror game tempo of suspense-action-break-suspense-action-etc. both games fully came into their right as suspenseful horror shooters. Exodus is first and foremost an open world game and open world games are uniformly terrible at being suspenseful. Yes, even STALKER sucked at that in its overworld, most of its horror and suspense coming from the missions in underground labs (X-16, Brain Scorcher etc.) with the overworld serving as the break and offering more traditional FPS fare.

      Exodus had some cool ideas and some neat areas (my own highlight being the meteorological bunker in the desert) but ultimately fell flat in that it wanted to be a horror game, but also an open world FPS, and it wanted to let the player decide how to play, but then forced the player into a story that would have been much better suited to a linear game, like maybe Metro 2033… Couple that with an ending that basically amounts to casually walking through some light effects and walking to avoid rather underwhelming enemies and you’ve got a game undermined by its own design at every turn.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I mean Metro, it’s in the title, and they’ve decided to do away with that opressive, claustrophobic setting and instead replaced it with a goal: a magical wonderland where the apocalypse didn’t happen; and the most basic post-apo tropes: here’s some anti-technology religious zealots, here’s a Mad Max deserty area with cars, here’s cannibals. There’s no real thematic connection between areas and it doesn’t reflect any change or journey other than the literal one, the stakes are very, very transparent from the moment your wife coughs.

    2. Felix Jones says:

      It’s funny because Exodus was the only Metro game I liked.

      The first two games were trying to be linear corridor shooters with survival horror. But those two things don’t go together at all. There’s no survival management aspect when you’re gunning down waves of trash mobs while riding on a rail. But oh wait now your filters are expiring, whoa you need to scavenge! Except you can’t plan and can’t go back and can’t prepare so it’s really just whatever the game hands you in each level.

      Exodus is the only game in the series with actual survival gameplay. There are infinite monsters and finite resources. Go figure it out. I actually needed to sneak past enemies for the first time in the series. Managing resources was a fun challenge and added much needed tension to the game. Plus the choice and consequence of the ending felt completely appropriate, unlike the prior games where it’s “Oh you shot some bandits who were trying to murder you, killing is wrong, I guess the dark ones kill everyone. Herp derp.”

  5. Ninety-Three says:

    Typo patrol: “saying they should like more like Anthem”

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      Image quality: You can find a much less pixelated “F to pay respects” image here. It is the exact same shot you’re using, just at a higher quality.

      1. Lino says:

        Somehow, the lower quality version is more fitting – it illustrates the fall of BioWare and how they’re not even a shadow of their former self – they’re a low-pixelated copy of something never really understood, and there is absolutely no chance of them coming back to what once was. All that is left for us is to pay our respect to their former glory.

        Next week, we’ll be talking about DM of the Rings and how it relates to the topic of schizophrenia, as a counterpoint to the way it was explored in Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        Shamus isn’t new at this internet thing. He either put a low-quality image on purpose or used a low-res one by mistake. I certainly don’t think it was because he couldn’t find any higher-res version.

      3. Kathryn says:

        That’s a real screenshot??? I assumed it was a Photoshopped joke.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          All those “F” comments you see in twitch chat? Not shorthand swearing. Or, not entirely anyway.

          1. Kathryn says:

            Ah, thanks for the explanation. I don’t play shooters due to being too old and slow (and also not interested…but mostly the first part), so I had never seen that before. (Also have never seen “twitch chat”, probably because of the being old thing.)

            1. Paul Spooner says:

              No problem. Man, it’s hard to keep up these days isn’t it? I turn 36 in a few days, and I’m just barely hanging on. Who knows how Shamus does it.

              1. Karma The Alligator says:

                Apparently he complains a lot to us.

          2. Philadelphus says:

            I’ve heard of “Press F to pay respects” before, but never knew where it came from, so thanks.

  6. Carlo T says:

    I am a bit surprised by the comments regarding Outer Wilds. In particular, I am somewhat puzzled by two of Shamus’s observations.
    The first is the idea that at the start of the loop you would “fly around for a bit with no sense of purpose”. This seems a bit odd to me – I think the introductory sequence of the game is very effective in providing you with some clear “plot hooks” to follow, leading you to specific locations to investigate.
    Second, I also find a bit surprising that you did not know where you were when you died, and did not know how to return there. While the environment itself is definitely geographically complex, I think the ship log (which is persistent and does not reset) is very good in showing all the locations you have been at and in summarising what you have discovered. Most importantly, it also allows to track locations on your HUD, so I found it quite easy to go back to any interesting places I discovered.

    Still, I agree with the “wasting time” issue. You sometimes encounter sections which require either a long wait for the right “event” (the game is a bit like Zelda: Majora’s Mask in this), or problematic platforming which can waste many minutes of gameplay due to a single jump accident (Sun Station, I am looking at you!). I also think that the narrative, while strong at the start, becomes a bit muddled towards the last third of the game, when the driving motivation of the player stops to be understanding why the sun is exploding and you are stuck in a loop (you understand why this is happening, you just cannot do anything about it), and fundamentally becomes finding the eye of the universe, even though it is not completely clear how this can help (or even what the eye really is).

    All in all, though, I really liked it! Its originality makes up for the occasional frustrating moments, and it also shows how photo-realistic graphics are not needed to create impressive and creative environments. The writing is surprisingly charming, and the soundtrack is amazing too.

    1. Chad Miller says:

      problematic platforming which can waste many minutes of gameplay due to a single jump accident

      I think I’ve just been given my final confirmation that I should just uninstall this game. I’ve died in this game something like 4 or 5 times and in none of those runs did I ever live long enough to find out about the 20-minute reset. There’s a part of me that wishes I could un-learn that fact just to find out how mad I’d be if I played the game long enough to encounter it first-hand.

      My sum total of the experience with The Outer Wilds went something like:

      * I do most of the tutorial but then accidentally fall to a ledge partway down the mountain. I can’t find a way up so I try to see if there’s a way to gradually work my way down the mountain. I don’t find one. Die of fall damage. Roll credits.

      * I go a different direction at the beginning of the tutorial and end up meeting some kids playing hide and seek (obviously part of the tutorial for the scanner) I find both kids with the scanner but nothing happens. Am I supposed to tag them? One of them is sitting on a tiny island in the river. I try to get to the island. I miss and land in the water. This is also lethal fall damage. Roll credits.

      * On the third try I get the passcode for the spaceship. I set a course for the only planet anyone has really talked about so far. At some point I notice I’m going toward the sun. I thought I had deliberately checked the angle to make sure the autopilot wouldn’t so something like crash me into the sun? Apparently not. This time I get sent back to the home planet without any credits rolling and I’m starting to get annoyed.

      The previous two deaths, I had thought “Well, I thought rolling the credits was excessive, but maybe it’s just me. Maybe they honestly didn’t expect people to die that early and it rolls the credits every time.” Now that I know this isn’t the case I’m starting to wonder why. Why would you deliberately roll the credits at a time where the player’s total playtime is likely less than the time it would take to view said credits? When they’re least likely to be invested in your game and therefore least likely to care who made it in any positive sense? Is this for real?”

      * On the fourth run, I finally get to the aforementioned planet. I talk to a dude who talks about the time loop a bit and seems to be the only other person who remembers it. Afterward I see a nearby tunnel and decide to take a look. Then the entire area floods and I’m dead less than two seconds later.

      People keep telling me this game becomes great if you get into it, but I feel like it’s only hype that kept me playing as long as I did. I suppose it’s unparalleled in its ability to make me feel like a dumbass.

      1. CT says:

        I would suggest you to try persevering for another couple of tries – I think that once you start properly exploring the first planet you mention (Giant’s Deep, right? ) you begin familiarising with the mechanics and to enjoy the world.

        I can understand your frustration though: first, I believe that the initial area is not very well calibrated for new players, as the two main “tutorial” activities you can to do (piloting the drone ship and performing simulated “space repairs”) are quite harder than almost all gameplay in the actual game, so they add frustration for no reason. And, as you note, it is possible to have an unlucky fall and die even in the starting area, which is unfortunate (as an aside, you get the credits if this happens because the “time loop” actually starts only once you gaze into the eyes of the Nomai statue. If you die before that, you are REALLY dead, so credits roll.). Also, yeah, nothing happens when you find the kids, searching for them is just supposed to help you understand how to use the “music” scanner.
        In addition, the various planets are all quite dangerous in their own specific way, so you need a couple of visits to understand how each of them “works” (talking with the characters on each planet – if any are available – can help, so that is normally a good starting activity once you land).

        Overall, I think that these frustrations are worth it – they are a byproduct of the game not holding your hand, so at first you do have multiple very “dumb” deaths, but once you start to understand how the world operates you get much more satisfaction in exploring and discovering (and, to clarify, you should not be far away from that point).

        That being said, I think the game might suffer a bit from a dissonance between its very whimsical atmosphere (which I love) and the mechanical reality that death is SHOCKINGLY easy to come by while exploring Outer Wilds’ universe. Certain parts of the narrative and lore are surprisingly dark too. Together with the reckless nature of the characters, this can give the game an “Alice in Wonderland” vibe – and I am not sure this was the aim of the developers. If this were a book or movie it would be a massive problem, but exploration, atmosphere, and puzzle-solving are so good that I did not really mind. Still, a pity Shamus did not play it, I would have loved to hear his opinions!

        1. Richard says:

          Some of the trouble may be because it’s an Epic Games exclusive.

          There are supposed to be achievements for these ‘starting area’ mini-quests, but Epic does not have achievements.
          So you have practically no indication that you’ve actually done them!

          Outer Wilds is more or less a “walking simulator”. The idea is to explore the solar system and discover the lore and the rules.

          If that’s not your bag, then you’ll hate it because there’s no clear goals (the original demo had no end at all), only hints from the NPCs and your discoveries.

          I quite enjoyed the reckless nature – jump off the cliff, what’s the worst that can happen?

          That said, I went straight to the Observatory to get the launch codes, and did the tutorial activities on the way back to the ship. Perhaps the initial area level design should have more clearly pushed (if not outright forced) the player to do them in that order.

          1. Chad Miller says:

            I played the Xbone version (via Game Pass) and don’t really remember if there were achievements. I suppose some popup saying “hooray you scanned the kids” may have kept me from, uh, accidentally drowning before the plot started.

            Re: the flying controls, that’s another odd thing; I often see people talk about those being unintuitive or difficult, yet for me they clicked immediately. This also held true in the spaceship, my “autopilot into the sun” moment notwithstanding. The “repairs” tutorial was actually the point where I thought I was going to like the game. Then I left the cave and fell off a bridge.

          2. Syal says:

            There are supposed to be achievements for these ‘starting area’ mini-quests, but Epic does not have achievements.

            Absolutely the game’s fault for that. If you’re relying on achievements to explain things, they’d better be in-game achievements, and the player had better be able to reset them. I’ve played games before where I get thirty minutes in and then don’t play it for six months; if your tutorials are one-shots then that’s the stopping point.

    2. John V says:

      I have to disagree with the “waiting” complaint since the game gives you a couple tools to mitigate that problem. You can rest at any campfire (including the one at the start of the loop) to make time go faster. Plus if you miss your window of opportunity or get stuck, Gobbo can teach you how to meditate and immediately go to the start of the next loop.

      As for the platforming, you can take it or leave it I guess. I enjoyed it but I can see how others wouldn’t like it.

      1. Drathnoxis says:

        Wait, what? Does the game actually ever tell you that? Because I played the whole game and never knew that campfire’s were for anything other than a useless health refill that you could also get at your ship.

        1. Carlo T says:

          I also did not know this! It definitely would help with the waiting

    3. JakeyKakey says:

      I think with regards to your Outer Wilds spoiler section by the time you get to the Sun Station and Ash Twin Project, it’s fairly obvious that the universe is ending for…some unspecified reason, and the timey-wimey Groundhog Day situation this coincidentally puts you in, isn’t going to un-supernova your local star so seeking out The Eye Of The Universe is just about the only thing you *can* do.

      1. Carlo T says:

        Agreed. I think my issue was not necessarily with the “objective” of the game changing, but with the fact that the in-game character is not provided a clear reason for pursuing the eye of the universe to solve his problems/save his planet and friends. Obviously as a player pursuing the eye of the universe is the only thing you can do, so you follow through, but I would have liked if the narrative supported this a bit better in-world.

        1. Richard says:

          I think I agree with you on that, Carlo.

          That said, the only way to indicate this would be in dialog with one the two other characters who knows what’s going on, and at that point it’d be even more strange that you can’t take either of them with you to the Eye

    4. Drathnoxis says:

      I’m surprised that both Shamus and Yahtzee couldn’t get into the game, and for basically the same reasons. It’s a shame because I thought it would be right down both their alleys. An actual exploration game where the game doesn’t hold your hand and actually lets you explore and piece together the puzzle yourself rather than spoon feeding you the answers. I didn’t even touch the ship’s log at all. I love that you can discover the answer behind all the little mysteries and it all fits together in the end.

      I also don’t really get his complaint about flying around aimlessly. The planets are so small you only need to walk about 30 seconds in any direction to find something interesting to look at that gives you another little clue to one of the mysteries. And if you die and don’t remember where you were just go to a different planet and look around there. There’s nothing saying you need to fully explore one place before moving on to the next.

      The tutorial isn’t very well done and the NPCs really are the worst part of the game, though, so I guess I can understand the start leaving kind of a bad impression and failing to hook a player on the mysteries. I hope Shamus will give it another chance some time.

  7. Dreadjaws says:

    Funny how most of these are EGS exclusives. It’s like Sweeney is picking up games due to their potential popularity and not because he’s been following their development to know their quality. Which is, of course, exactly what’s happening, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from believing his whole “We’re doing this for the developers” BS.

    Granted, some of these games are still critical darlings despite their obvious misgivings. I guess some people don’t have a problem because they either work by playing games or don’t work at all, but I absolutely despise games that make me waste my time. Having to repeat a long area because I want to grind or find secrets? Sure! Having to repeat a long area because I made a mistake? Fine. Being forced to repeat a long area because the game is obtusively designed to pad its run time? Screw that. We’re way past that.

    Developers that purposely put outdated gameplay elements in their games when better alternatives exist just so they can artificially raise the games’ length are a pet peeve of mine.

    1. Hector says:

      I may have pointed this out before, but logically an Epic Exclusive has two parties making opposing wagers. Epic is gambling that they will sell much more than they paid upfront. The developer or publisher is, if they are being honest, wagering that they will sell less. I suspect most of the latter are not being entirely honest with themselves, but that’s only a guess based on common human instinct.

      The net result however may be to see games with a lot of hype but no staying power on EGS.

      1. Liessa says:

        It’s interesting how the pace of new Epic exclusives seems to have slowed right down, and several of the more recent ones are for games that already appeared to be in deep trouble (e.g. Shenmue 3). I suspect that many devs/publishers have taken note of the public reaction to previous exclusives, as well as the curious lack of actual sales data for most of these games, and drawn the obvious conclusion. I could be wrong, and maybe we’ll see a whole lot more high-profile exclusives in 2020, but I’m not the only person to have noticed this.

        1. Mattias42 says:

          Not to mention, seems like there’s been some real bombs over at Epic, too, if you read between the lines

          Like, take Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. That game sold barely 100-150k something on PS4, I think it was… and well, the lead producer doesn’t have that sort of public meltdown over review scores if the game sold well. Then it tends to be some smug chuckling over how ‘critics didn’t get us, but our fans did,’ you know?

          Makes me wonder how hard some of the Epic exclusives are going to crash and burn once they try hitting Steam and other retailers, honestly. Like, one full year is a LOT of time for people to forget and move on to the next shiny thing, let alone nowadays.

          You have to have something really special for people to keep giving a damn that long, and… well, to be blunt, I don’t think all the ex-exclusives are going to manage that trick.

          1. Dev Null says:

            I didn’t even realize that their “exclusives” are exclusive for only a year. Shows how much I’m paying attention. I can’t even remember the last time I played a game that was less than a year old…

        2. shoeboxjeddy says:

          Has the pace “slowed down”? What does a slowed down pace mean? Like, were there 3-4 exclusives every month at first and now there’s 1 or 2? I’m not convinced this is real data at all and is instead something you would personally LIKE to be true. The year ended with several high profile Epic exclusives and the New Year is… 2 days in. Where is this slowdown accounted for, exactly?

          Also poor thinking, “the curious lack of actual sales data”. That’s actually true for most games across the board since sales switched to digital metrics being more important. The only time you hear real numbers is when a company wants to brag or when it feels the need to give real info to their stockholders.

          1. Lino says:

            Actually, thanks to sites like SteamSpy and Steam DB you can get a lot of fairly accurate sales data for video games (or, at least, orders of magnitude more and more accurate sales data compared to before digital became widespread).

            And I think it’s precisely because Epic hasn’t shared any sales data that it’s safe to assume that said data is probably very bleak.

            1. baud says:

              On Steam, you can get rough sales data by multiplying review numbers by a number between 60 and 100 (depending on the developer talking about it, I personally heard it a few times). Not that much better than Steamspy, but still another data point.

            2. shoeboxjeddy says:

              “And I think it’s precisely because Epic hasn’t shared any sales data that it’s safe to assume that said data is probably very bleak.” No information is just that… no information. Some companies just like keeping to themselves. In fact, Valve does the same thing and people have found work arounds for it. Does Valve not sharing data publicly mean the data is unfavorable to them? No, provably it does not.

              1. galacticplumber says:

                People would be a lot more inclined to believe that if they didn’t make a point of regularly making brags that weren’t actually impressive when you examined exactly what was said. Epic is not a quiet company.

                1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                  People go full on alien conspiracy theory with this shit. “This is the fastest selling Metro title yet.”
                  THAT MUST MEAN IT’S SELLING FAST but… less somehow? I NEED to find a way to make that obviously positive statement a lie or negative somehow!!!

                  1. galacticplumber says:

                    Even if that were a legit brag with no weasel language that was verifiable, and I’m going to give you that for the sake of argument, it still completely disproves the idea that the company in any way prefers to keep things close to the chest. They try to brag, whether or not successfully, therefore they’re not quiet.

        3. baud says:

          Or it could be just that they’ve grabbed enough games to have a big catalog ready for their end of year sales and some for next year (I guess, I’ve not really followed what went exclusive or not). And maybe they’ll do again next year, snatching games as they get closer to their release date.

          Perhaps it worked swimmingly well for them, from their point of view; it depends on their goals there: maybe they just wanted a critical mass of games to start a self-sustaining store (solving the chicken-&-egg issue of no games=>no buyers, no buyers=>no games), without too much regard for quality and disregarding reactions from the public, which wouldn’t have much impact on their bottom line anyway (or even brought a lot of “free” advertisement since the exclusivity deals made a lot of waves, so a lot of coverage on the EGS).

      2. Gethsemani says:

        I don’t think you quite get the business logic here:

        Epic is drowning in money, Fortnite is the current golden goose and it is laying eggs faster then Epic can eat. So Epic is funneling tons of cash into their next venture, the one that will eventually be their main revenue stream when Fortnite inevitably stops printing Epic money (compare to WoW and Blizzard for a similar situation and realize how Blizzard basically spoiled all their chances of becoming a gaming industry giant alongside Valve by pouring all their money into mostly fruitless game prototyping). Epic doesn’t really care if Borderlands 3, Control, Metro: Exodus or whatever other game they get exclusives on makes its money back for Epic. Epic cares about the number of people that gets an Epic Games Launcher account and interacts with the Epic Games Store because of those exclusives. The more people it gets to sign up for EGL/EGS the better, as those people will have a much lower barrier of entry for later games on the EGS. Epic are paying tons of money to claw into the market, because they know that the best way to get market shares is to try and corner specific parts of the market (compare to how LIDL basically used all its profits from its German stores to strong arm into Scandinavia and then cornering the low price supermarket segment).

        The developers meanwhile get an offer they can’t refuse. They get a guaranteed profit from their game, plus the usual profit from selling on EGS. Most of them also get the additional hedging that if EGS offers poor sales, they can release again on other storefronts a year later when the exclusivity deal runs out. For developers, working in an industry where a single bust can literally force you out of business, the Epic deal is as good of an offer as they can ever hope to get. Instead of worrying about downsizing immediately after launch unless they release a smash hit, they can instantly pour Epic’s money into preparing a new game and thus secure the continuation of the company for at least a few more years. This is not a bad deal in any sort of way, short of the PR hit you’ll take with “core gamers” because of their entrenched hatred of Epic.

        Whether this will work out for Epic or not is still too early to tell. They’ve been doing it for barely a year and their plans for EGS probably stretch for at least a decade if not more.

        1. Hector says:

          While you may be correct as a psychological examination, the British and cold economic logic is the same. Your stance only holds if Epic has literally no alternatives to either Fortnite or EGS. However, they can invest it a million different ways if they wish. The only way their plan makes sense at all is if they believe they can earn above-market returns by building the Epic store up. But their net position regarding exclusives is the same and burning cash to build market share has not been a strong strategy historically, nor recently. And even if they have cash now, they are making the same gamble and face losing the advantage if exclusives don’t work out well for them, so those need to pay off as a risk factor.

          Their game giveaways are a better example of marketing to build a brand, with no direct payoff. But there are three or four services doing the same.

          1. Gethsemani says:

            Of course exclusives only is a bad proposition, which is why they compliment that with giveaways, generous discounts and all that other stuff. The thing about an online gaming store is that there is a monopoly in place right now, with Valve making the vast majority of online sales, with niche competition (Origin, uPlay, GoG, Itch.io etc.) being the only competition. Epic is, in effect, trying to break an entrenched monopoly and that’s one of the few times when spending a lot to get market shares is a proven effective (one might argue the only effective) way.

            Would it give them above-market returns? Having one of the major games distribution platforms is arguably the best way to make money in the gaming market, you need only look at how well Steam has served Valve (effectively turning Valve from a game developer to a game distributor) or GoG CDPR (the money from GoG allowed the comparatively massive budget and development time of the Witcher 3). Right now, whoever can get themselves a significant portion of the market, even if they are still outperformed by Steam, is poised to make a significant profit and will do so for the foreseeable future.

            Either way, as was my original argument, the logic behind EGS exclusives has little to do with individual sales and much more to do with creating customer awareness and retention for Epic and job security for developers.

            1. John says:

              Steam is not a monopoly. Monopoly means “single seller”, and you yourself mentioned four other sellers in the very same sentence in which you called Steam a monopoly. What Steam has is not monopoly power but “market power”, by which we mean the power to influence prices. Thanks to network effects, early entry into digital games sales, and a rich feature set that other digital games sellers mostly don’t or can’t match, Steam has quite a lot of market power–arguably too much–but it’s not a monopoly as long as there are other sellers.

              1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                You’re using “monopoly” in a strict sense, but language use is more than that. If one company controls so much of the market that their existing competitors have no bargaining power, that is certainly what people would colliquially call a monopoly. Using the word monopoly to mean “a powerful business that has no significant competition in its specific market” is useful from a descriptive sense, not that you could necessarily use anti-monopoly laws against it or that kind of thing.

                1. Shamus says:

                  “Hegemony” is the correct word to use in these instances. A market hegemon isn’t the only one around, but it’s so big it can use its power to shape the market and hinder its undersized competition. Valve isn’t a monopoly, but it IS a market hegemon.

                  Also, it’s a cool word.

                  1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                    Hegemony is more accurate but probably less useful in a casual conversation because… people don’t know what that is. If you insist on using the most ‘correct’ word in casual conversation, even though you leave your listeners behind, I don’t think that’s actually good communication skills.

                    I personally agree with you that the word sounds cool (I heard it from the Ender’s Game series before now), but am less sure about it’s utility.

                    1. Philadelphus says:

                      I prefer to educate the other participants in casual conversation about the correct word in a friendly and supportive manner. That way everyone becomes collectively smarter and better able to discuss complicated concepts!

                  2. PPX14 says:

                    I see, so that’s what the Batarian Hegemony was

                2. John says:

                  The strict sense is the best sense. I didn’t take all those economics classes for nothing, dammit.

                  More seriously, I think it’s inappropriate to use the word monopoly, when (a) it’s inaccurate and (b) there are easy ways to convey the same information more accurately. Steam isn’t a monopoly, and it isn’t bad in the ways that monopolies are typically bad. Monopolies’ original sin is that monopolies charge consumers higher prices than firms in more competitive markets. That’s not what Steam does. Not even Epic is saying that. Steam’s sin (one of them, anyway) is that Steam has so much power that it can dictate terms to smaller publishers and developers. That’s more of a monopsony or “single buyer” problem than a monopoly problem. In any case, the phrase “Steam is too powerful” is just as easy to type and say as “Steam is a monopoly”. For something a little shorter there’s “Steam is too big” or, if you prefer something a little longer, there’s “Steam needs more competition”.

                  1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                    Again, I would just say consider your audience. If you’re talking with economics professionals or for a news report, yes use the best, most accurate verbiage. If you’re talking with Joe Blow average Steam consumer and you say “Steam is too big” he’s going to say “Yeah, they’re really monopolizing PC gaming!” You could argue about that usage or you could like… not and have a more productive conversation because you know EXACTLY what he means and don’t really disagree with the point, just the word choice.

                    1. John says:

                      I really don’t think he’s going to say that. I figure there’s about a 50% chance that he’ll say “yeah” (but not the other stuff) and a 50% chance that he’ll call me a filthy Epic-lover because now we have digital games storefront wars rather than console wars.

                      Linguistic drift is real. Language changes over time. Casual conversation is casual conversation. Usage still matters. I think it’s true that everyone agrees that monopolies are bad and that most people have a vague sense of why monopolies are bad. For that reason, I think that calling Steam a monopoly is all too often a means of scoring cheap rhetorical points rather than productive conversation. In some cases, I’m fairly certain it’s deliberately disingenuous. It’s better to criticize Steam for Steam’s actual sins and to say what you actually mean than it is to be inaccurate and misleading. This is doubly true when accuracy costs you nothing, as it does in this case.

                      And, with that, I have exhausted everything I care to say on the subject.

                    2. Syal says:

                      “Monopolizing” means “working on creating a monopoly”, implying they don’t have one yet. “Almost Christmas” means it wasn’t Christmas.

                      because you know EXACTLY what he means

                      But you don’t know. You assume he’s wrong in the way you think, but he could be calling it a monopoly because he associates all businessmen with the Monopoly boardgame.

                3. Syal says:

                  Using the word monopoly to mean “a powerful business that has no significant competition in its specific market” is useful from a descriptive sense,

                  Not particularly, because the implication of calling it a monopoly is muddied by it not actually being one. It’s very easy to assume someone talking about entrenched monopolies also thinks they should be subject to anti-monopoly laws, which may or may not be the case. So challenge the definition and get them to clarify, or else the whole thing devolves into false consensus ambiguity.

          2. RandomInternetCommenter says:

            “But their net position regarding exclusives is the same and burning cash to build market share has not been a strong strategy historically, nor recently.”

            Are you talking about video games specifically? The practice of burning cash to build market share is behind most of the top valued companies of today. PayPal, Netflix, Uber, Twitter, to name just a few behemoths; but most lesser-known companies built since the 2000s follow the same route. Low interest rates funnels money towards startup investment, so might as well take cheap money from venture capitalists and spend it aggressively until you have a monopolistic position.

            This practice is referred as “blitzscaling” and is basically regarded as the be-all and end-all of business thinking these days. So as consumers, we’re stuck with strategies like this for the foreseeable future.

            1. Sartharina says:

              In a world of global logistics, you either Go Big or Go Home. If you try to start small and grow, you’ll be strangled by the competition capable of leveraging the economics of scale.

      3. shoeboxjeddy says:

        The developer is hedging their bets, not betting on low sales. Epic is paying out incentives, they don’t honestly care about flops for now because the goal is increased mindshare. For people to go “oh, Epic has free games and good sales and exclusive games, I will shop there regularly.”

      4. Ninety-Three says:

        Epic is gambling that they will sell much more than they paid upfront

        Probably not. Epic is perfectly happy with losing money on every game it buys an exclusive for if doing so results in more people using the Epic Games Store, since some of those people will stick around and buy other EGS games, making up the loss. Both Epic and the developer can end up profiting long term, by taking a chunk out of Steam.

    2. Asdasd says:

      Yeah. And it’s crazy, because padding began life as a necessary evil because budgets were too small to fill out a game with killer content. Now budgets are astronomical and games are still padded out the wazoo by design, because the telemetrics show that that stuff is compulsive to the lizard brain and keeps people in the client where they can be shown ads for the in-game store. Meanwhile the development money is splurged on superficial stuff like CGI cutscenes and mo-capped dance emotes.

      As for the EGS stuff.. I honestly think it’s an issue with demographics. They seem to be scooping up all the titles that generate glowing headlines: kickstarted nostalgia bait and twee indie chic for the ageing and novelty-starved games journo crowd. But the people who are really shifting copies of games are twenty-something youtubers and streamers, playing titles with much broader appeal. As the proprietors of Fortnite, you’d have expected them to have a more exact understanding of who’s buttering their bacon, and yet..

      1. baud says:

        Or perhaps EGS knows they already have a lot of the broader appeal, via Fortnite, so they now aims for the “gamer” (as in people buying and playing many games every year) market segment, which can be reached via the aforementioned kickstarted nostalgia bait and indie chic, plus some AAA (not all “gamers”, but I’d wager most of them will hear about EGS, which is their goal, I think).

        And I think they are trying to get more of the streamers-watching crowd with F2P titles like Dauntless.

    3. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Is there a specific game you’re thinking of with outdated, padded design decisions? Shenmue 3? Pretty much 100% of Shenmue 3 is dated, apparently on purpose. From everything I’ve read about it, Outer Wilds surely does not fit that category.

      1. CT says:

        While I love Outer Wilds, I do think that not having a manual save option (so that the only way to “save” is dying) is player-unfriendly and extends the playing time for no real reason. Without going into spoilers, there are a couple of situations in which you have to travel a bit and then wait a significant amount of time before having the opportunity to attempt a certain action needed to progress – if you fail, you have to experience all the wait again, which is definitely boring (why cannot I save just before the topical moment?!).

        That being said, this happens only in a couple of instances (really only 3 in the whole game spring to my mind), so I agree that the game itself, as a whole, is not significantly “padded”, even though there are a couple of moments which definitely feel like dated, old-style hardcore gamer processes of “repeating the section from scratch 5 times before passing”. So, if you can play only half a hour a given day, I could understand you would be unhappy with the game wasting your time. But again, it is not a generalised problem for most of the game.

        1. Richard says:

          Yes, that was my main gripe too.

          While there are several ways to kill yourself, most of them take a few minutes to do and then you have to travel back to the location and wait for the timed event again.

          Worse, there are a several locations that you can only reach after about 10-20 minutes, for about one minute of gameplay so the stakes are very high if you mess one of those up.

  8. Smejki says:

    Rage 2 was developed by Avalanche Studios from Sweden, who are slowly becoming infamous due to dwindling quality of their open world games. Just Cause 2, which came out 10 years ago, is the last universally praised game. It’s all downhill from there with the culmination of Just Cause 4 (65% pro reviews, 49% user reviews), Rage 2 (67%/58%), and Generation Zero (51%/53%).
    AFAIK id Soft was only in control of the combat design and Bethesda had their own producer(s) on site.
    We’ll see if id Soft ware contracted some form of bethesditis when they finally release the next Doom this March.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Man, I loved Just Cause 2. I haven’t had the hearth to try 3 and 4. The mixed reviews are not the issue, but the fact that both games started to be sold dirt cheap so soon after launch is definitely a telltale sign of poor quality.

      1. Lars says:

        JC 3 is a good game – for a while. And the first JC I could run without game destroying bugs. In JC2 I had a godray-triangles directly pointing a Ricos head – blocking a third of the screen. And glitching through the ground things and so on.
        JC1 had most enemies spawning right in front of me – killing massiv amounts of health and joy.

        1. pdk1359 says:

          I’ll second that ‘JC3 is a good game – for a while’. I played maybe 40% o the game and I haven’t gone back. I got it on sale, so i don’t feel like I wasted my money, but i don’t have much interest in continuing the story.
          Though one serious annoyance – you stick to rooftops, you can’t walk off. Rico can grapnel to the ground and take no fall damage but he respects ledges now, for some bloody reason.

          I almost 100%’d JC2 (you can’t there are a couple collectibles you can’t reach), and I’d play hat again, sooner or later. Also, the multiplayer mode is amazing.

          No interest in the fourth game,can’t help there, I waited till I could get actually player reviews and I wasn’t hopeful.

  9. boz says:

    There was a rumour about Rage 2 originally being a Mad Max sequel (another Avalanche title, surprisingly decent). Then I believe they lost the license for Mad Max so it got converted to Rage.

    As for Anthem, that blame is on fully Bioware (or what’s left of it). EA purposefully try and distance themselves from their non-mainstream titles (mainstream being yearly battlefields and sportsballs). They know how their executive meddling recieved in popular media.

    1. Pax says:

      That actually makes a lot of sense, what with the same pastel colored paint cloud bits. If anyone has played both, is Rage 2 actually significantly comparable to their Mad Max game, because that actually boosts my interest quite a bit.

      1. Smejki says:

        The games are very different. Desert postapo and open-world are the only similarities.
        Mad max had good driving model and even dedicated vehicular combat which was fun. It was also 3rd person and and combat was largely based on Batman Arkham games. Honestly, a bit bland but well focused and competently made game. Also the desert was pretty.
        Rage 2 is a focusless first person shooter with uninspired world and terrible vehicles.

    2. Abnaxis says:

      This came up back when we were talking about ME: Andromeda, but I want to get back to it here: I absolutely put the blame on EA for what’s happening at Bioware. A lot of what the insider stories show, is that all of the EA subsidiaries have to compete for exclusive access to resources–for example, a lot of tech issues with ME: A weren’t just problems with the Frostbite engine, but that Bioware could never get Frostbite support because all that support went to FIFA instead. EA is not shy about gutting dev teams and yanking critical resources for fickle reasons, even before a project has had a chance to fail.

      The leadership at Bioware is clearly lacking, but that’s because they’re working in an environment where the leadership is better off trying to bullshit their way through without committing to a clear vision so as to not provoke EA into gutting their project

      1. Thomas says:

        I doubt EA would have gutted their project. Bioware looked like they had a free hand to do what they like and spend what they like with Anthem.

        If it was one of the Bioware spin-off studios, sure

        1. Abnaxis says:

          I guess I could have phrased my point better.

          EA has effectively cultivated a culture where all it’s studios are like jealous brat children infighting amongst themselves to win Daddy EA’s love and money. In this analogy Bioware Edmonton might be the favorite son, but it’s still a toxic culture either way and that’s 100% on EA.

      2. Agammamon says:

        Thing is, Bioware wasn’t obligated (according to Schrier’s sources) to use Frostbite. If getting the dev help with Frostbite was so difficult they could have changed engines – and they certainly had long enough to do so, multiple times – especially when they came to the conclusion that they needed all that help because Frostbite wasn’t suitable (in that version) for everything they wanted to do.

        Yeah, this was a roadblock for them but, at some point, when there are alternate paths, your leadership can’t get away with saying ‘I’m waiting on ‘x’ to get back to me’.

        1. Abnaxis says:

          “You can use whatever engine you like, but we pay your paychecks and we want you to use Frostbite and all our corporate tech support resources will be dedicated to supporting Frostbite. But y’know, if you’re handy with googling around on Stack Overflow I’m sure you smart guys can work out whatever engine problems crop up once you’re 8 months deep into your Dev cycle…” *wink wink*

          1. Agammamon says:

            They didn’t say ‘we want you to use Frostbite’. Yes, all their corporate tech support is dedicated to Frostbite – but if you’re not getting that tech support *anyway* . . . then there’s no real cost there when you switch to a new engine.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              This is backwards thinking. The time when you realize you’re not receiving engine support is after you’ve already devoted time and resources to the engine you need help with. Switching engines would necessarily mean throwing out the work you did and starting again. Does the budget cover redoing all that existing work + paying for the new engine? Consider that the budget was written with the cost of using the Frostbite engine to be $0 because they were just given it to use, as an internal engine. You can see how a large cost to pay for the Unreal Engine and support for that is greater than $0. There’s also budget allocation, which is where, yes, you have money, but you can’t spend it. You can’t take money allocated for salary or whatever and just spend it on the Unreal Engine, generally.

              1. Agammamon says:

                Does the budget cover redoing all that existing work

                They threw out their work and started over multiple times over SIX YEARS – yeah, the budget would have covered an engine switch in the 2nd or third year if they weren’t faffing about.

      3. John says:

        As I see it, EA is damned in the court of gamer opinion no matter what happens. The narrative of “EA kills studios” is too entrenched in the gamer collective consciousness. There were only ever three possibilities for Andromeda and Anthem. The first two were “Bioware’s new game sucks because EA management interfered too much” and “Bioware’s new game is great because EA management didn’t interfere this time”. The one I never thought I’d live to see–and also the one we actually got–is “Bioware’s new game sucks because EA management didn’t interfere enough.” EA is damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t, and at best ignored when things actually go well.

        Which I suppose was Shamus’ point.

        I’m not saying that EA doesn’t kill studios, because of course that’s perfectly possible, but it always amazes me how gamers refuse to recognize that studios–even and, I’d say, especially independent studios–can and do kill themselves off all the time. All studios die eventually, whether they get acquired by a publisher or not. Staff turns over, gaming technology changes, the market for games changes, and studios gradually and inevitably lose their touch. If independent studios run by beloved developers can’t stay golden forever, why would you ever expect publisher-owned studios managed by disinterested corporate types to do any better? You can blame EA for not saving studios if you want to. That’s arguably EA’s job. Just don’t pretend that everything would necessarily have been just fine if EA hadn’t acquired the studio in the first place.

        1. Abnaxis says:

          I feel you’re doing a lot of putting words in my mouth there.

          The job of any manager is to enable the people under them to succeed, both by finding the right people and by giving them the right support. By all accounts, EA has fostered a toxic environment among their lead developers, and even so far as those same lead developers keep screwing up (which I’ll definitely acknowledge) EA is very much complicit in their mistakes.

          1. John says:

            Sorry, not my intention. I didn’t mean to imply that you personally said or thought all of those things. Your comment, however, fit just a little too neatly with a narrative–i.e., “anything bad is the publisher’s fault”–that has irritated me since I first started reading about the history of studios like Origin and Westwood. History suggests that there’s lots of blame to go ’round and contemporary reporting like Schreier’s seems to confirm it.

  10. Andrew says:

    You can untie the kid’s shoelaces, and then grab his glasses while he’s bent over retying them. No waiting required!

    1. Crimson Dragoon says:

      I did that, but honked at him so he’d fall down and drop his glasses. Very few of the puzzles require much waiting, and most of them do have multiple solutions, though its far from being very open ended. There are some valid complaints to be leveled at the game, but I enjoyed my (too) brief time with it.

  11. Pax says:

    Do the low-level people seem frustrated, mistreated, and disloyal in a way that might encourage them to talk to Jason Schreier?

    This is just the best line. I love Jason’s articles deconstructing these disasters, but I’ve got to admit, his ability to find so many sources is just such a sign of the industry’s sickness.

    1. Asdasd says:

      I think there’s a compounding effect at work. Not to take anything away from his articles, but with each successive expose he seems to have solidified his position as the place for developers to forward their disgruntlement.

  12. MelTorefas says:

    I can totally see what you are saying about Outer Wilds, but for myself I absolutely loved it. I found the core loop and the time reset really compelling, and thought the gameplay itself was pretty solid. I also really liked the graphics style… it all just worked for me. …That said, I never actually played it because screw EGS, but I loved watching Day9 play it (until it made him too physically uncomfortable to continue).

    1. Michael Miller says:

      Too physically uncomfortable? Was he playing it in VR or something?

  13. tomato says:

    When I saw the Outer Wilds title I thought you were going to mention its naive depiction of fairy-tale astrophysics. But you didn’t even get that far. Your comments read like you expected a hand to guide you through the first couple of clues to get you going. But you could have visited literally any planet and discover something. The clues are laid out in such a way that they will lead you to other planets and form multiple paths for you to follow through the game. Give it another try. Have a rough plan for what you want to do at the beginning of a cycle. You can even look at all the clues you’ve gathered in your ships log, a narrative inconsistency for player convenience.

    1. Richard says:

      That narrative inconsistency might be the problem.

      If you don’t open the computer before setting off the second time, you might never realise that it does remember everything you’ve done in every cycle – because it doesn’t make any sense that it would!

  14. King Marth says:

    Ah, Warframe. It was nice to have the analysis even if split across a bunch of podcast episodes, and I maintain that you’d probably get a real dev response if you poked them on Twitter with a link to an article putting the gripes in one place. All the discussion recently has been focused on the new Railjack content, it’s super valuable to have feedback from a new player stubborn enough to both keep trying to play and to avoid Stockholm syndrome with accommodating flaws that you can route around.

    1. Hector says:

      I love that game despite its flaws. In fact, I sort of had to stop playing because it was consuming my life a bit too much. Brilliant game though and while it has tough edges, they’re also honest about it.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I actually started playing Warframe after Shamus wrote/talked about it and reading some comments. I still don’t have enough time to fully catch up but I love the game to bits, and boy do they keep updating this thing. And every time anything comes from the devs they just seem so into making this game their enthusiasm is really infectious, even if they could use a bit more quality control but it seems the community has accepted that this is somewhat outsourced to them.

    2. Zagzag says:

      I ended up trying Warframe in large part due to Shamus’ commentary here. It wasn’t that he made it sound universally amazing, but more that it sounded weird and different enough to be worth seeing for myself. As it happens it clicked with me really well and I’ve been having a great time. It definitely wouldn’t be the same (or as appealing) if it was more mainstream in its design.

      (They’re meant to be releasing a proper tutorial at some point in the coming year, which certainly wouldn’t go amiss.)

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Since I’ve started playing I’ve heard that the “new player experience” is 1) already released (the Vor questline), 2) in development (perpetually), 3) never coming.

        To be fair every time I got stuck I had to do some reading and learned something about the mechanics.

      2. Lino says:

        I had heard of the game before (thanks to TotalBiscuit) , and once I heard Shamus talk about it, I decided to give it a whirl. I don’t think I’ve ever bounced off of a game harder.

        I once wrote a detailed, multi-paragraph rant on it, but I can’t be bothered to look for it now, and trying to recount all of my gripes would just make me angry. I guess my biggest mistake was playing it for the story, and not realising that the game is an amalgamation of all the things I hate about ARPGs/loiter-shooters, and getting to the story requires wading through the some of the most annoying busywork I’ve ever had to do in a game, and I never got to the so highly regarded “Second Dream” quest.

        It also didn’t help that the game never hit a satisfying difficulty with me – all enemies either died in one or two hits or were utterly unfun bullet sponges. And when you add the game’s absolutely inscrutable systems, you get a recipe for one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had.*

        *And before you suggest it, yes, I did try the wiki, as well as various guides. And no, they didn’t help at all

        1. Gautsu says:

          I started playing Warframe 2 months after the very initial release. IMO back then the game was much more streamlined and less complicated. Every decision they have made since then has made the game less and less enjoyable. I mean compare today’s solar system map in complexity to the release map. Complex systems for their own sake. They took a relatively straight forward game and turned into the least new player friendly game I have ever played. Plus it went from playing a mission to speed racing through them

      3. Dev Null says:

        Had the same experience. And I get and share the gripes about it, but for straight-up action-packed hack-n-slash gameplay, I really do find it addictive. A lot of the grindiness goes away if you don’t actively strive for endgame play.

    3. baud says:

      I played like 80 hours of Warframe then burned out on it due to reasons; but it must have the best gameplay (platforming, slicing, shooting, powers, surfboard thingy, playing with other players (in my case it was more looking at other players blazing through the levels)) of all the games I’ve played this year (and even the last few years), but everything around the gameplay (inventory restrictions, grind, convoluted stories, the open-world levels, grind, item shop, crafting, grind, upgrade system with the cards…) bring the whole thing down.

      If it has been like 4 warframe, 20 weapons (no crafting or grinding required) and handcrafted levels it could have been great for me. But that’s not what the devs want, the community seems to enjoy the game, so, there’s that.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Funny you say that because afaik (I wasn’t playing back then) the game was pretty close to that in the early days. But yes, I think most of the core playerbase really likes the “gotta catch em all” aspect of the game.

    4. Rob says:

      As someone who only consumes the text content on this site, I was surprised to see Warframe mentioned in this post. I figured he’d dropped it shortly after he first started playing since discussion about the game vanished so quickly. Hearing he analyzed it in the podcast kind of sucks because it means I’ll never know his full thoughts on it as I don’t enjoy audio/video content.

      Though to be honest I just want to know how Shamus felt about the Second Dream/the War Within, where the game suddenly morphs from plotless grinding to having an actual (surprisingly decent) story. Since Steam says he played ~650 hours of Warframe, I’m hoping he got that far.

  15. Moss says:

    I didn’t care enough about the [outer] world or the characters to push through it.

    Your oppinion differs from mine, which of course means that you are WRONG! Never again will I read your blog!

    Being more serious, it’s too bad you didn’t like it. It really is a darling of a game with cool planets to explore. RPS even made it their game of the year, and I can see why.

  16. shoeboxjeddy says:

    Probably not every task is like this, but the specific example you used in Goose Game is an example of you not understanding the system/ not being creative enough. There are a number of ways to mess with that kid, the easiest being to untie his shoelaces before scaring him. Then, any attempt to run away will result in him immediately eating dirt and losing his glasses. The purpose of the VERY specific tasks is really just to show the breadth of behaviors you can inspire (case proven by them adding new tasks to every location at the end of the game that you might not have noticed were possible). All this being said, doesn’t mean you were wrong for being bored by the game. Just wanted to defend what is definitely a case of you not “getting” it.

  17. Agammamon says:

    . . . the game is now into its fifth year.

    Coming up on its 7th year in a couple months actually. Though that depends on where you measure it from as it never got an ‘official’ release (they still say its in beta). But I think its fair to consider ‘when you start selling things for real money’ to be a suitable ‘this game is released’ marker.

  18. Milo Christiansen says:

    It isn’t true that Epic doesn’t track play time BTW. Just go into your library and there it is, the column in the middle. This info is, as far as I can tell, accurate even if the game was played before play time tracking was added to the launcher some months ago.

  19. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I don’t think it’s “murky” on who to blame- it’s that blame is not a conservative quantity. Blame doesn’t have to add up to 100%. If two people gang up to rob and murder somebody they’re not each only 50% guilty because there were two of them. And if that person was wandering around a dangerous part of town at night, drunk, for no good reason then we can say that he was at least partially to blame without exonerating his murders in the slightest.

    EA is to blame because they were in charge and they didn’t keep Bioware’s leadership on track. Bioware’s leadership is to blame becaues they weren’t on track. They’re both to blame.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I love this. Super agreed. The Pauli Exclusion Principle doesn’t apply to the onus of guilt.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        I’ll second that agreement. So many people seem to have an ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to responsibility: find one (read: usually the least forceful) person to pin ALL the blame on, criticize them, and then walk away.
        Issue solved, right?

        Well, yes and no. Yes in that everyone (apart from the scapegoat) feels good about themselves and moves on, but also no, because life is more complicated than that and everything has a context.
        But, of course, ‘it’s [not my] fault!’ is a much easier thing to think that ‘maybe I contributed to this’.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          When issuing judgements for my kids, I quickly learned that they would naturally excuse themselves from responsibility. From there I realized the principle really applies to everyone. People need to be told where they are at fault. At this point, my policy is that when someone comes to me with a problem, something they don’t like, a way they feel they are suffering unfairly, I try to help them see all the ways that it is their fault and their responsibility to fix.
          “Yes. The other person could have done better. But they aren’t here right now talking to me. You’re here, and you could have done better too.”
          I will go chase down a third party when I have to, but those times are rare. Usually the specific problem isn’t as important as knowing what you can do to avoid that whole class of difficulties.

          1. SidheKnight says:

            I bet people don’t come to you with their problems anymore after that. Clever.

            1. Paul Spooner says:

              Well, not with complaints anyway. Actual problems that they need solved still crop up occasionally.

    2. Shamus says:

      “If two people gang up to rob and murder somebody they’re not each only 50% guilty because there were two of them.”

      Okay, that’s a really good way of putting it.

  20. guy says:

    The thing that struck me from the Anthem expose was just how late in the process they settled on having the game be about flying. That’s got huge cascade effects everywhere and is the kind of thing you should settle on while you’re working on concept art, not years after you start creating levels

  21. Brandon says:

    The Epic Games Store does track hours played. Just click the triple dot contextual menu thing to the right of the game name in the library, and it’ll drop down some options, including time played.

  22. Sleeping Dragon says:

    For me the final nail in the coffin far as Bioware is concerned was “Bioware Magic”. Because in my opinion it reveals that the people running the show today have roughly the same idea of what constitutes a “Bioware style game” that I do. They kinda have a list of components, things like “there should be companions (romanceable)”, “the PC should determine the results of conflicts”, “the PC should be on an epic quest” but they can’t deliver on quality and worse they don’t SEE that they can’t deliver on quality. Like, they look at companions in Andromeda and the KNOW they don’t seem that appealing, but when they look at companions in other Bioware games the don’t see the difference and so say that “when we put them in the game it is somehow going to become better through Bioware Magic”.

    1. RFS-81 says:

      The most bizarre part was that it sounded as if they had always been relying on “Bioware magic” to make everything come together in the crunch before the deadline. So I’ve got to wonder: Were they just ridiculously lucky all these years? Or did the people who could do the “magic” leave a bunch of cargo cultists behind when they departed?

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        I think it’s a combination of those two, plus they were still going off of an existing (although increasingly mutated and disjointed) formula that had been working before to keep them (relatively) on the rails.

        The Andromeda team was a completely different group of people, so I don’t know what they could have been thinking, other than that the formal itself was the magic and it would pull them through.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I think cargo cult describes my impressions of the situation perfectly.

      2. Chad Miller says:

        Accepting high-downside low-probability risk is a strategy that tends to work really well until it doesn’t.


        1. Decius says:

          Not accepting that risk in a highly competitive environment fails right away all the time.

          The more competitors, the larger the probability of high downside risk the winner is expected to have, assuming roughly equal average expected outcome.

  23. evileeyore says:

    “Now that your expectations for excitement have been sufficiently lowered…”

    Shamus, we’re already here, you cannot possibly lower our expectations further.

    /deadpan zing!

    Just kidding, I find your “not Worst/Best” write ups far more useful than any Best/Worst List could be.

  24. Dev Null says:

    One, I wasn’t really into the ultra-specific laundry list of goals the game gave you.

    I also didn’t like how vague some of the goals were.

    1) I didn’t play the game.
    2) I think I know what you meant. (You wanted higher-level goals, but were instead given a hyper-specific set of steps, some of which were vague?)
    But 3) I think a paragraph that starts and ends with those two complaints is liable for misinterpretation, and protests that you should make up your mind.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I’m pretty sure what Shamus means is that rather than having some kind of sandboxy “increase chaos level in this specific house” or “make all the people leave the house” objective and then being left to just have fun doing that his own way he was given very specific objectives, like “make the cook put salt in the muffins” which were specific enough to limit the freedom but vague enough that he had to trial and error and sometimes arrived at non-enjoyable solutions. As was the case with the “make the boy wear wrong glasses” objective that people in the comments above said had more handy solutions but the one Shamus figured was annoying to execute.

      I had a similar experience with Ghost Master, an oldie game where you control a host of ghosts (I mean, duh) with various abilities and have to scare people to get more energy to be able to unleash more powerful abilities and stronger ghosts until you make everyone run away from a location. It’s a lot of fun in the vaguely sandboxy levels where you’re just optimizing your ghost usage and watch people run around terrified but the later levels and some of the objectives you need to fulfill to unlock ghosts require you to take very specific actions in very specific circumstances, like “character X and Y randomly wonder into this specific room at the same time and you unleash this specific ghost power at that very moment”. Which tells me that the goose game is probably not for me… Sigh, I wish they made a Ghost Master 2…

  25. The Big Brzezinski says:

    Space Engineers was my big disappointment last year. It left early access at the end of February. The game always had one of the best building systems combined with one of the best physics systems. What they never got around to was designing a game to use them with. All the ideas I prototyped, all the little tricks I’d learned, all my single button airlocks that ran on simple timer block sequences when everyone else gave up and used scripts, all that personal investment came to nothing. My review a few days later still reads true for me. Space Engineers is deep as the ocean, and wide as a washtub. They made a desert and called it a survival sandbox. Then they started selling cosmetic DLC for it.

    Lucky for me, Steam had my back. They recommended Empyrion: Galactic Survival. Its not as complex in its block building system as Space Engineers, but it does have a lot of interesting problems to solve with it. There are abandoned alien ruins full of loot that needs to be hauled and monsters that infect you with parasites that need to be cured with meds you either made yourself from plants from your greenhouse or bought with funds you earned selling small arms and tools to an NPC faction. The planets and star systems are procedurally generated. The Steam Workshop is full of designs people have uploaded. The community is good. The dang shotgun is even good. I don’t know why it feels good hunting space dinosaurs for meat with a shotgun when an assault rifle would feel terrible, but feel good it does.

    I do still watch W4stedspace and his crew play Space Engineers every Saturday night, though. They just finished a series they started on the anniversary of the Moon landing, which they called Kerbal Space Engineers. They added a bunch of restrictive mods to make the experience more realistic, and played as if they were Kerbals. I recommend episode #14, when they finally reach the Mun successfully. Staging really is everything.

    Oddly enough, I just got back into Warframe. Part of Melee 3.0 changes to blocking that made the game very unsatisfying for me to play, and I skipped it most of the year. The next phase added manual block back in, but it also revamped the combo system. It’s all Super Smash Bros style now. Combos are accomplished by pressing E for a simple combo, forward E for a walking infinte, block E for a punishing strike or knockdown, and forward/block E for a charge move. It’s a load of fun to slice though like it was a musou game. Lots of old stances there were way too fiddly to bother with are now bread ‘n butter mods.

    You might remember that old Railjack demo. Well, that’s out now. It’s buggy, nobody agrees on how to play, there’s constant stress and danger to handle, and I’m having the time of my life with it. Now that the holidays are over, patching is expected to resume. I’m looking forward to what comes next. It’s been a while since I could do that for any video game.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Big mood on Space Engineers. Though I wasn’t particularly impressed at their physics system. Does it still limit your absolute velocity to 100 m/s?

      1. The Big Brzezinski says:

        As far as I know, speed in Space Engineers is still limited to 100m/s unless you mod it, which it seems like everyone does.

        Meanwhile, vanilla Empyrion gained basic aerodynamics and a bunch of other maneuverability options in their update last November. Small vessels, capital vessels, and hover vessels all have different absolute top speeds, assuming your design can reach them. Plus there’s an afterburner boost thing that pushes you passed it.

        I’m still somewhat salty about SE, but at least saltiness counters bitterness in the palate.

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I need to stop buying games like Space Engineers or Empyrion, though in all honesty I might have gotten them from bundles (I know Ark I have from Humble). I’m much more in love with the idea of those games than the actual playing of them, I think a big part of it is that I don’t have a dedicated group of friends who’d support my playstyle. See, my spatial imagination kinda sucks and my aesthetics are questionable leaning towards strictly utilitarian but I make for a dedicated miner. I did have a lot of fun with Minecraft mostly building stuff like giant domes or golden pyramids and later on with some friends who did the building/designing/decorating/redstoning while I cleaned up areas or hunted down for resources but no game since then really caught on with us and so I sometimes buy them, have fun with them for one afternoon and never launch them again.

      RE Railjacks: So I haven’t been playing that long but it does seem DE is kinda outsourcing quality control to the community a lot. They’d rather release the feature a buggy mess and hotfix it a bunch than delay the feature. On the other hand the majority of the community seems to have accepted it and from what I’ve seen perceive it as a “charming quirk” of their development style, kinda like Bethesda fans until that studio decided to piss on all the goodwill it had.

    3. stylesrj says:

      Am I doing something wrong with the melee system in Warframe?
      Everyone says “Combos! Do combos for massive damage!”
      And well… I’m a button-masher… I know certain mashing buttons will do better stuff but it feels clunky and slow to pull off Heavy Attacks or to use really big swords or axes and everyone keeps telling me they’re the best weapons and can one-shot high-leveled enemies all the time…

      But high-levelled enemies travel in groups and if you kill one, his buddies have already slammed you to the ground or shot you to pieces for trying to pull off that cool stab combo thing.
      So I end up using a polearm and mashing the attack button and surprisingly enough, this works a lot better. Crowds of high-powered enemies die in seconds and I don’t see what the big deal is with combo attacks… except when I have to use a different melee weapon for plot reasons or for grinding something I’m never gonna use again once maxed out.

      Melee has changed… yet I’m still doing the same stuff I did in 2.0 and it works really well. I just don’t understand combos or why I should be doing them at all.

  26. Decius says:

    > it’s probably the greatest waterfowl to ever appear in any video game on any platform

    The titular characters from Duck Hunt would have words with you.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I though the most famous thing about Duck Hunt was that sniggering dog…

    2. Syal says:

      I’m left trying to think of any other waterfowl in videogames. Scrooge McDuck was there, and the duck from Cobra Space Adventure with the exploding head. Duck game had ducks. I guess games really like ducks.

      But ducks can’t tangle with a goose. Duck Duck Goose taught me that.

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I hated Duck Duck Goose. I’ve never been fast enough to get away from anyone I tagged. Picking me out of the circle was code for the game being over.

        As for waterfowl in games, does the Unfinished Swan count?

        1. shoeboxjeddy says:

          Perhaps if they had managed to finish it, but only partial credit for unfinished work.

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