Diecast #23: Phil Fish, Gamer Fury, Company of Heroes

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jul 30, 2013

Filed under: Diecast 187 comments

I have a non-binding promise from Rutskarn that we’ll be getting a new splash image that will include Mumbles. But then Rutskarn didn’t show up this week. And neither did Mumbles. So I don’t know.

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Hosts: Chris, Josh, Jarenth and Shamus.

Show notes:

1:00 What’s everyone playing?

Josh is playing Primordia.

Chris is playing Rogue Legacy.

Jarenth is playing SCIENCE! By which I mean he’s doing science and not playing many videogames.

Shamus is playing Darksiders, Ultratron, and Strike suit Zero

15:30 Phil Fish vs. Marcus Beer. Too many kinks to round them all up. You’re either following this story or you aren’t.

37:45 Gamer Fury: Tweets to Call of Duty developer @DavidVonderhaar from angry players over balance changes related to the SMG weapon.

45:30 Company of Heroes and historical inaccuracies. Specifically, charges of being anti-Russian.

56:30 MAILBAG.


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187 thoughts on “Diecast #23: Phil Fish, Gamer Fury, Company of Heroes

  1. Akri says:

    Wait wait wait.

    You mean to tell me that you have a story about two people named Fish and Beer and Rutskarn isn’t around to make puns?!

    1. Destrustor says:

      what a shame, too.

      It would’ve been as easy as shooting fish in a barrel for him.

      1. Akri says:

        He’ll always remember this story as the one that got away.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Why do you think he and Mumbles didn’t show up? They’re probably stuck in some sort of fantastic pun vortex right now! A rip in spacetime! An, unbeerable fishure, if you will.

          1. Akri says:

            Someone needs to hop to it and lure them out of there.

            1. somniorum says:

              Ale admit, their absence seems fishy.

              1. Akri says:

                You’d think a story like this would have tipped the scales in favor of them showing up. This is the worst time for them both to be absent, bar none.

                1. Halceon says:

                  Somehow I’m now envisioning a morning show, where the two comment on the day’s news in their most punishing manner. Ruts and Mumbles in the Morning.

                  “It’s been beerly hours since the latest controversy was angled up from the dark depths of the internet.”

                  1. AyeGill says:

                    We should get a kickstarter going.

                    1. Cuthalion says:

                      I’d back it.

                    2. Cuthalion says:

                      Oops. I mean, this idea has me hooked.

  2. abs1nth says:

    I’m very sure Marcus Beer didn’t send him an e-mail or was talking about himself as a journalist in any way Jonathan Blow and Phil Fish were send e-mails by news outlets asking to comment on the then xbone self-publishing rumor and to what Blow responded on twitter (don’t know what Fish said) in a somewhat condescending way that it makes no sense to comment on a rumor with almost no information to which Marcus took issue.

    Marcus Beer is not a journalist. Marcus Beer is not a journalist.

    I can’t help but feel like Fish is a wuss – quitting game development by saying “You win.” I hate people that victimize themselves he actively made dickish comments that were bound to cause hate. He is at least partially as bad as the people attacking him.

    Then again I realize I’m in a position that is very different to most people in that insults by people who are not friends/family can’t hurt me unless by some chance they hit a personal issue that I myself am conscious of.

    Phil Fish wasn’t ready to be a public figure, he needs to either mature or what he did stop being a public figure.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      And, as he says on his site, there are a lot of factors that contribute. It’s possible that Fish was getting fed up with some un-related issues, and is just using this fiasco as an easy excuse to do what he wanted to do in the first place, without having to answer difficult questions.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        I wish this is true.

        I mean, I don’t wish general overwhelming hardship on the fellow.

        But I do wish his retirement amounts to more than a ragequit.

        I was going to post more about it but I find myself hesitant to comment thinking there might have been more going on under the hood than some unkind sentiments.

        1. DerekTheViking says:

          “I do wish his retirement amounts to more than a ragequit.”

          It’s fair enough to wish that, but I don’t feel that anyone other than his employees and colleagues is owed anything more.

          Everyone is entitled to a working environment free of personal insult and aggression. If Fish was a bus driver, and the Twitterati attacks from his passengers, he would have recourse to the Law to remove them. As it is, he doesn’t have that recourse… I can understand his frustration. Responding like-for-like is unprofessional, but I can understand if he felt he has no other way to express how out-of-order this behaviour is.

    2. papersloth says:

      Anything Phil Fish got from “gaming community” is just reaping what he has sown.
      A lot of people don’t care for another gaming “journalist” doing silly things, for them this story does begin and end with Fish.
      With him being a dick before the release of FEZ, during its release, then claiming he reconsidered his behaviour, and then being a dick again afterwards, including the release on Steam. Then saying “you guys are dicks, I’m quitting” after an insignificant thing usual to twitter. Sure he might have other reasons, but at this point it isn’t relevant.

      Defending him seems hypocritical, especially in a strawman “4chan said mean things” way.

    3. papersloth says:

      Also, Chris kinda contradicted himself about people blaming companies or individuals. Yes, it would be unfair to blame others at Polytron for comments Fish made. Also the other way around (e.g. some people who criticized McMillen for programming(!) in Super Meatboy and Binding of Isaac). But it’s totally fair for people to respond to some aggression directed towards them, and surely “hating” on Fish personally (as opposed to projecting it onto his game or Polytron) is justified.

      People (generally) didn’t blame EA policies for ME3 writing, they blamed Casey Hudson or whatever the guy’s name is (some of his comments helped). And when Bioware employees consciously came down to a level of a twitter shitstorm, they deservedly got their aggression back, amplified. That’s how internet works, the message is exaggerated, but it isn’t without a reason. Again, generally, people saw that having arbitrary multiplayer with a bunch of DLC probably isn’t ME3 writers’ fault.

      The reaction to some COD balance changes just shows the audience IMO. I can’t judge here (don’t really know what the situation is), but sometimes the community manager has to take the heat for failing to communicate between the devs and the players (Tribes Ascend was entertaining to observe in that regard).

      1. Touraxus says:

        Are you saying a dev who helped make a patch that apparently was aimed at balancing the playing field of a fps is warranted in having death threats hurled at his family by cod people because they are unhappy?
        If you are unhappy at the game, you lash out at the game maker and publisher like the rest of us. Making personal attacks and threats is by no means the right method to take because you are unhappy with a change. Or better yet, don’t buy this years brofest shooter which might contain your unholy abomination of a downgraded gun.

        It’s god awful reactions like this past week that makes me wonder why any developer bothers to talk to the gamers. Too many of our ranks are loud, easily excitable and overly rabid to the point of short bus riding necessity. Being a huge fan of a game is one thing, being an over zealous asshat towards the people who make games you “supposedly” enjoy is another. Too many of the overly vocal community are the latter though.

        1. papersloth says:

          No I’m not, I just said I don’t even know what the guy’s job description is. It might be his job to communicate with playerbase and receive heated criticism after unpopular actions his company makes. Just googled him, and it says that he is “Treyarch’s unofficial Community Manager”, though a Studio Design Director officially. So it kinda makes it all the more unclear to me, because I was talking about community manager’s responsibilities.

          To put it short, if his main source of income was communication with the players, nobody should feel pity over him doing his job (and maybe failing at it).

          Sure the over-reaction is childish over some single nerf. I don’t think it always is. Exaggeration replaces intonation on the internet. Cherry-picking responses and saying “oh we’ve got such a poisonous community don’t we, maybe we should only allow positive feedback from now on” isn’t constructive, death threats or not.

          1. Touraxus says:

            And at no point did I say that.
            This is not ren and stimpy where the only choice is happy happy joy joy playing nonstop or bashing ourselves in the head with a hammer.
            If a person can’t come up with anything other than “you need to go die and so does your family” because they are unhappy, they should not be viewed as a voice of a community. Too many others take the time to voice opinions good or bad and give reasoning why, for the vocal stupidity of these people to overshadow them.
            It is not like this is a one time incident that could be called cherry picking, gamers are constantly petulant brats whenever something happens they don’t like. However this crap should not be allowed to continue to be the norm.
            We should always attempt to strive for actual discourse with the developers who want to talk and try to shun the death threat morons. The problem is that too often it requires shouting of a ridiculous decibel to be heard over the moronic masses for it to end up being worth it to normal level headed people to continue trying.
            For every 1 fan who compliments a company or tries to explain why they are unhappy, there seems to be 2 knuckle dragging sloped brow mongoloids who can’t write a sentence without obscenity or references to someone’s sexual preference, screaming because 1 thing was not up to the ideal they expected. That is what as a community we should try to curtail, but since that won’t easily happen we need to make sure the normal people put distances between themselves and the screaming mob with pitchforks.

            1. papersloth says:

              “they should not be viewed as a voice of a community”
              “this crap should not be allowed to continue to be the norm”

              See, I don’t like this attitude. That’s pretty much my silly imaginary quote without extra exaggeration.

              I see your point though (constructive criticism being drowned), just disagree with your way of separating feedback that “matters” from feeadback that doesn’t. Shouting at “death threat morons” is just getting down to their level and contributing to hostility. It doesn’t have any effect.
              I’d rather tolerate underage kids thinking they’re cool for using swear words than ally myself with oversensitive self-righteous pro-censorship people who dismiss a hint of negativity as “trolling”. With the former you at least learn to interpret it. (To be clear though, I don’t mean you belong to the latter)

  3. Aratrok says:

    Weird, I played through Rogue Legacy and several NG+ cycles without any grinding involved. You get enough money just from killing the boss to move on without any fuss.

  4. hborrgg says:

    Ok, so for context I beat Rogue Legacy, thought I was pretty cool, then went to youtube and saw a video of someone beating the entire game within 25 minutes.

    The thing about Rogue Legacy is that is sort of feels like it’s trying to punish you for grinding. All the upgrades become exponentially more expensive over time (every time you get an upgrade all of the upgrades you didn’t buy get more expensive btw) but give you less return, you need to get a certain amount of gold each run in order to progress, for all of the best weapons and armor you need to make it into the harder parts of the dungeon and beat mini-bosses, etc. It’s like at some point you’re just supposed to realize that paying 3000 gold for another +10 health is BS and that it would be more expedient to just lock down the castle, teleport straight to the boss room, and then keep dying over and over until you’ve learned all its patterns and figured out how to beat it with what you have.

    I’m not entirely sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

    1. Mersadeon says:

      I guess in my eyes it’s more about how much you want to grind. If you are shite at learning patterns like I am, “grinding” is what you want to do. And really, I’m playing the game to play the game, so “grinding” isn’t really applicable here – it’s 90% of the gameplay. That’s like saying “oh I don’t like all that fist-fighting in Zeno Clash!”

    2. Humanoid says:

      So, uh, all this time I thought Rogue Legacy was some Star Wars title. Yeah.

  5. Phantos says:

    We lost an artist. Someone in the games industry trying to make something unique and interesting, something that isn’t a first-person shooter. And we crucified him. Because he had an opinion about Japanese game development? For not putting up with childish nonsense from Gametrailers and 4chan? And we wonder why nobody takes video game seriously?

    If Phil Fish is a monster, he’s a monster we created.

    1. abs1nth says:

      It wasn’t about his criticism about Japanese games it was about the way he said it. People took issue because he told someone to kill himself, again not about the action itself but the way it was performed.

    2. Dearth Flips says:

      I really think you need to look up a log of the twitter thing. Fish’s position is untenable. There was a point where he could have been reasonable and emerged as the better man, but that vanished as soon as he started telling people to kill themselves. Beer said something annoying and particularly unfunny, and if Fish had treated it like the molehill it was people wouldn’t care.
      In fact, people probably wouldn’t have even jumped on him if he didn’t have a history of stirring things up for no reason.

    3. Sagretti says:

      I will never say Phil Fish deserved the abuse he’s received. I will say he does deserve some criticism, though. While he often makes reasonable points, he usually phrases them in the most inflammatory, trolling manner. For example, he didn’t just say that he didn’t like most modern games from Japan. He told a Japanese developer and fan, in front of a crowd, that all games from his country sucked. I know that he isn’t trained in PR or anything, but that doesn’t mean he can’t communicate like a reasonable person.

      I think the biggest loss is that Fish didn’t get a chance to develop his talents. Fez seemed somewhat interesting, but puzzle platformers are an indie cliche at this point, and it had some gamebreaking bugs that have yet to be fixed from what I gather. Still, there was a lot of potential for future games, much like how Klei went from decent games like Shank to some of the amazing stuff they’re producing, like Mark of the Ninja.

      And to be fair, Marcus Beer sounds like a pretty shoddy journalist and I doubt I’ll be watching his show anytime soon. As for the gaming community in general, there are some extremely deep issues that need fixing, including a lack of respect and common decency.

      1. postinternetsyndrome says:

        What’s sad is that Fish should have realized a long time ago that he would be best served by just staying off the internet. And even if he didn’t realize it himself, surely he’s got friends and family that could have helped him do so? Well obviously it didn’t happen but it really should have. This has gone on for quite some time now, as he himself pointed out, and the obvious solution was always to just close his twitter account and stick to slower communication.

        People have always been horrible to each other; the internet is the real culprit here and we should all really get a hold of ourselves and learn to handle it better. I know for sure I have written a lot of stupid things that I’ve immidiately regretted.

        1. Klay F. says:

          Its easy to sit here and say “well he should stay off the internet”. The reality however is Fish’s livelihood depends (or rather depended) completely and utterly on making his games successful. If you were a member of a 200 person team it would be pretty easy to avoid the press. Avoiding the public/press as an indie developer who’s success depends on the existence of the internet is impossible full stop.

          1. postinternetsyndrome says:

            Well of course it’s easy for me to say “he should have done this”, but I primarily meant he should stay off twitter. He needn’t cut off all contact with the gaming press. But yeah, I’m sure it’s not that easy.

        2. Trix2000 says:

          I wouldn’t go so far as to blame the internet simply due to its facilitation of this sort of thing, but then I don’t think its a point that needs debating in the first place… so meh, maybe I shouldn’t even bother with the last sentence.

          Regardless, it doesn’t excuse this sort of behavior in general – online or not. No matter what hardship or abuse a person might endure, that doesn’t give an excuse to stoop to the attackers’ level (IMO, of course). I mean, imagine if he’d been reasonable and/or not responded? We probably wouldn’t even be talking about this (or at the very least, commenting about how stupid this Beer guy sounded).

          Oh well, I wish I could say this sort of thing was shocking to see, but its pretty indicative of certain vocal minorities of people from my perspective…

          EDIT: Oops, think I might’ve entered my email in wrong… gravitar didn’t take.

        3. abs1nth says:

          To get somewhat philosophical: The internet is a largely lawless place. You don’t get punished in a meaningful for misbehaviour which is why a lot of people behave the way they do. The moment there is no punishment for wrong behaviour people stop exercising self-control and just become the shittiest people.

          There is severe lack of morality in the majority of people and that’s the problem. The internet is just a place where this becomes obvious.

          1. MichaelGC says:

            I think it’s also that the ‘lack of consequence’ thing appears to go both ways.

            There is definitely no punishment for misbehaviour, but as far as the average, er, miscreant is generally aware, there also seems to be no real negative consequence either for their target. They don’t see the tears or the upset that they cause, except when something like this situation happens and it all comes flooding out.

            I don’t believe there is a severe lack of morality in the majority of most people – most flamers, etc. wouldn’t treat people IRL they way they do on the ‘net, because they would see that they have upset someone, and that would make them feel bad. However, there is a definite general lack of empathy, exacerbated by the at-a-distance nature of this ‘consequence-less’ communication.

            (That all said, I would certainly agree that there is a severe lack of morality in a minority of people – the type who thrives on creating negativity whether right in front of them or web-based. I definitely hope it is a small minority, anyway!)

        4. Cybron says:

          During the “never shipped a game” incident before Fez came out, he himself actually said “I need to stop using twitter forever.” He clearly did realize it, though it apparently didn’t stick.

    4. Nidokoenig says:

      It’s less that he had an opinion about Japanese game development, it’s more that a Japanese man at a con with faltering English asked him his opinion of modern Japanese games, since Super Metroid, Megaman and Mario Bros are such touchstones for modern indie games, and all the he said to him was that they suck. The guy didn’t even speak English well enough to know what “suck” meant in that context, but he picked it up from the whole room laughing at him. He could have said something constructive, which Jon Blow tried to intervene and do by saying that a lot of Japanese games are all tutorial, which is a big sin of the games industry everywhere. It just seems like two guys who occasionally play a Japanese AAA game generalising boring games designed by committee over the whole country’s output and rubbishing the competition when they could have just said they don’t play many Japanese games, which for indie games is fair enough given the language barrier.
      This isn’t a thin skinned guy who tried to be polite and got piled on, he presents himself in a combative and obnoxious way. Nice and polite people just roll their eyes and ignore him and he gets surprised when he’s getting most of his attention from arseholes. The community that follows you around is based on the example you set and the feedback loops you keep going. Shamus gets the odd bunch of migratory haters but they don’t stick around because he doesn’t feed them the vitriol they crave and they move on to more fertile pastures.

      The Japanese guy Phil Fish embarrassed in front of a whole audience is called Makoto Goto, by the way. He’s been working in the industry since the early 90s, he mentions working on Shbibinman 2/Shockman for the PC Engine/Turbografix 16 on his Twitter account, which came out in 1992. Once he’d digested Fish’s remarks he took it as a challenge Japan will have to rise to, and he’s currently tweeting encouraging messages to Phil Fish about how awesome Fez was and how he should make more games. That man is a class act and I’m very interested in whatever game he might be working on and how I might go about throwing money at him.
      Fez I’m not going to touch, which was my decision long before any of this happened, when Phil Fish said he wouldn’t be patching out the savegame killing bug on the 360 version. Or when he mocked the idea of putting his game on PC and called it a spreadsheet machine. Basically, I only seem to hear about this guy when he’s talking shit, or treating people lining up to give him money like shit, so why I’d want to do business with him is beyond me.

      1. Midnight on Mars says:

        To anyone interested, here’s the video of Fish being rude.

        It should be noted though, he did apologize afterwards and Mr. Goto doesn’t bear him any resentment as NidoKoenig pointed out. And they did try to offer some constructive criticism, although, like NidoKoenig, I think their criticism applies to AAA gaming in general, not all of Japanese gaming.

  6. Thearpox says:

    Ok, since none of you actually played the game, I’ll expand a little. Also, since I know Russian, I’ve watched the BadComedian video that was linked in the Polygon article, and I have to say that the Company of Heroes II is absolutely disgusting.

    It basically portrays Russians as incompetent criminals, and actually manages to be more sympathetic to the Nazis than to the Russians. Just to hit a few highlights of the video:

    1). The Russians don’t want to fight for their own country. They only run forward because they have no choice, not because they care about their own land. Forget that Company of Heroes 1 portrays the Americans fighting on an alien soil as heroes when they charge.

    2). In the first mission, they burn their own houses. With people inside. Why?!

    3). The main hero is a hopeless “romantic” (don’t want to swear) who does not understand the basic truths about war.

    4). There is a scene of a soldier being shot for rescuing the main hero. In the real Red Army, he would be given a medal.

    5). There is a scene of Warsaw Polish partisans being killed for no reason…

    6). The game features out of place quotes by people. (Out of place, meaning referencing something in WWI, and with a completely different meaning when in context).

    7). The game mentions that the Red Army left behind deserted and defenseless cities and villages when advancing after the Germans. Never mind that the Germans are probably the ones to blame for this. After all, they were the ones occupying them.

    8). The game is supposed to be about Heroes. It showed Americans to be Heroes. It shoes Russians to be Criminals and Cowards, and does not talk at all about the bravery of people defending their own land. Why?

    9). It does not show the actual war crimes committed by Red Army, and shows those that have not happened.

    Okay, I think I’ll stop here. There’s much more, but really, I think the point has been made. Let me just add that BadComedian repeatedly compares the designers to the Nazis, and not in a favorite way. And you know, after watching the video, I can understand where he’s coming from.

    So yeah, hope you understand where Russians are coming from.

    1. Ofermod says:

      I can’t speak Russian so I haven’t watched that video, but I’d imagine the bit with Warsaw Partisans being shot was a method to represent Russia delaying their assault on Warsaw so that the Polish army would be weaker once they did get around to liberating it. Or, possibly, an attempt to represent Katyn? Not sure. The burning of houses is almost certainly meant to represent scorched earth tactics, although they definitely could have done without having people inside them. Seems needless, unless they can point to some historical research that shows it actually happened. Having the main hero be a hopeless romantic who doesn’t understand the grim truths of war, eh, that seems understandable for a war game, assuming the guy’s a recruit. The shooting of the man for rescuing someone might have been on account of disobeying orders/deserting in order to do so? Again, having not played the game or watched said Russian video, I can’t say for certain.

      The rest, though, yeah, that seems totally inexcusable. Especially since… no offense to Russians, but you *could* make a solid historical game with “Russia vs. Germany is just everyone being a dick” as a theme without making things up. It really sounds like they could have done a lot better with it all around.

      1. Thearpox says:

        I just want to point out that I have just briefly touched on each thing, I haven’t really gone in depth. So yeah, you can argue for just about everything I wrote. But… just trust me, it’s pretty bad.

        And I really don’t feel like writing a hopelessly long essay on this, especially when all I would be doing would be restating that video.

    2. postinternetsyndrome says:

      I think a lot of the complaints are justified, and a lot of them not. I think it is relevant to point out when two games in the same series, purportedly about “heroes”, treat different nations in the same war so differently. But in the end, I think what Shamus said about looking for hooks for your game mechanics is the main reason this happened. The mechanics of RTS games have been thoroughly explored, and if you find some straw to cling to that will allow you to make some new interesting game mechanic, of course you’re going to use it.

      Games (and movies, and books) have never prioritized historical accuracy, why is it suddenly a big problem in this case? I can’t help but feel a bit of the resurging soviet romanticism in russia behind this outrage. As I said, I’m sure a lot of the critique is justified, but not the level of indignation, it seems to me.

      At the same time, I find it disingenous of Relic to answer this critique with “nono, it really was like this, and look how heroic it made the individual soldiers”, instead of just admitting that they took some well-established tropes and expanded them into game mechanics in order to make something new and interesting.

      In conclusion – and I feel I’m beginning to repeat myself here – the game is not historically accurate, but no game is, and how could it be, considering the base mechanics. Is this particular game especially slanted towards the “soviet zerg” trope in comparison to other games? Maybe a little, but I see few reasons to single out CoH2 as some egregious evildoer that is extra damaging to the historical events in question.

      I feel it would be more interesting to take a wider look at how different nations and groups are treated in gaming as a whole, and which tropes are prevalent. No new ground is broken here.

      1. Thearpox says:

        I think they went above and beyond exploring the RTS mechanics here. As for the historical accuracy, there’s a difference between simply setting history aside, and seriously putting in insulting cliches left and right.

        For the level of indignation, I would probably agree. But it doesn’t excuse anything.

        As for this: “In conclusion ““ and I feel I'm beginning to repeat myself here ““ the game is not historically accurate, but no game is, and how could it be, considering the base mechanics. Is this particular game especially slanted towards the “soviet zerg” trope in comparison to other games?”
        Have you actually played the game? because I’ve only watched the video, and I’m basing my opinions on that, so I don’t feel I can just outright say “you’re wrong”. But you may still be severely underestimating it, or perhaps over-generalizing. Because I feel like we may both need more research.

        1. guy says:

          The main Soviet zerg thing is that in the campaign they can call in base-level conscripts for free and merge them in to refill more experienced squads and weapon teams. Their squads are also pretty much all six-man while the Panzergrenadiers are mostly 3-4. It’s hard to do an apples-to-apples tank comparison, because both sides have restricted access to their top-end stuff and the germans have various specialist armor but no light tank, but I think the german tanks are slightly better. However, Tigers ate Shermans for breakfast in CoH1 too.

          Also, you do not throw conscripts at machine guns unless you’re hoping to lob a grenade at them, and then you still want some cover on the approach. Taking out well-sited machine gun nests is where mortar teams, rocket trucks, and armor earn their pay.

          1. Thearpox says:

            I honestly wasn’t talking about the gameplay, just about the cutscenes, and the overall story, and the mission briefs, and the objectives, and the dialogue.

            Good to hear at least that the game mechanics work. Except for that order.

            1. guy says:

              Okay, true, the game has Order 227 beginning in 1941, not 1942, apparently due to confusion with order 270.

      2. Thomas says:

        I think it’s clear Relic were looking for historical accuracy, the previous campaign was fairly meticulous and they displayed knowledge of sources well above and beyond whats in the common domain. But they were reading it with their biases of it being an army led by a tyrant.

        Although, you said it made the Russians look worse than the Nazi’s and yes? Stalin started policies to eliminate ethnic minorities before Hitler did, killed an equal number of people directly and deliberately starved a further 5 million to death (again specifically targeting non Russian nationalities). Stalin instituted death quotas. The Soviets and Nazi’s were responsible for about 50% each of the deaths of polish civilians. Neither were under the Geneva convention to each other and neither afforded the other’s prisoners geneva like rights and were content to let them starve to death.

        Stalin or Hitler isn’t an easy question to answer and the Soviet union before 1942 had committed more in the way of atrocities than the Nazi’s had yet managed.

        1. Thearpox says:

          Russians do not equal Stalin. If you want to bash on Stalin, be my guest (although probably not on this blog).

          I’m not arguing Stalin vs Hitler, and the game did not really give me the impression that it was going there.

          But what I meant, was that at some points the game shows the German soldiers in a more “sentimental” way than it does Russians. In how the main character can perceive Germans, in how the camera rolls, in how the cutscenes are structured. NOT, in it’s Stalin vs Hitler debate.

          And after it demonized the Russians for cliches and stereotypes, the Germans can actually begin to feel more sympathetic than the people you’re playing as.

          And I just want to point out that the game does not discuss death quotas and starvation (at least not that I’ve seen, because I haven’t actually played the game). It demonizes Russians for cliches, and does not address legitimate concerns.

          1. guy says:

            I think you are speaking nonsense. Admittedly, I’m only halfway through the campaign, but I have seen absolutely no cutscenes that portrayed the Nazis in a particularly sympathetic light and plenty that show the Russian line soldiers in a good light.

            1. Thearpox says:

              I think I’ve been pretty clear that I’ve only watched the video by BadComedian on this, haven’t played the game.

              So if you are playing the game and do not see this, hooray for you. The way the game portrays Germans may have actually been one thing where I overextended my reach. Too bad I can’t edit my comments after 30 minutes pass to cross it out.

              For the point where they portray the Russians in a good light, I do however want to point out that what to an English speaking person may look like a positive light, to a Russian can be horrible under the nested layers of bullshit. Especially when they portray the soldiers themselves in the positive light, but the commanders, the orders, and the tactics to be completely moronic. (They could also have been moronic in real life, but I mean moronic by the standards of real life.) Just something to keep in mind.

              1. shiroax says:

                It seems to me this Bad Comedian is either a troll or an idiot and is rallying more of the same. Where did you pull this soviet soldiers don’t want to fight for their country bs? Not the campaign. Soviet soldiers are shown as heroic as Americans in CoH1, it’s their stalinist officers that shoot them for shits and giggles that are shown to be the bad guys.

                The people burned were not in their houses, but the church, it was mission 2 not 1 and the intro scene to the mission shows Red Army evacuating civilians, meaning that the ones that stayed behind were either collaborators or suicidal.

                I admit that the campaign has it’s flaws, it should have showed more (or rather any) atrocities committed by the Germans: the siege of Leningrad gets 1 lame mission and 1 reference to having no food (makes you think they skipped lunch one time) and I had to google Lublin to find out what I just played; but most of the complaints about it (from people who haven’t played it) are baseless (like your 1 and 8), idiotic (like 3 and 9: it’s not hopelessly romantic to think you should be afraid of the men with guns you’re charging at instead of the men with guns behind you, and showing wrong war crimes wtf?) or can be debunked with the slightest research aka playing the game (2, 5).

                In conclusion, I think BadComedian is a garden variety youtube troll and the only good thing to come from this is that Polygon article.

                1. Thearpox says:

                  “It seems to me this Bad Comedian is either a troll or an idiot” Blame it on me, not on him. He isn’t here to defend himself.

                  “Where did you pull this soviet soldiers don't want to fight for their country bs?” Cutscenes. Seems to me they attack because of the iron grip of the state.

                  “The people burned…” After which the Red Army set fire to the the fields along with their own men, turning an organized retreat into an absolute chaos.

                  “it's not hopelessly romantic to think you should be afraid of the men with guns you're charging at instead of the men with guns behind you” There’s more to it. That was perhaps the one not idiotic thing.

                  Also, the thing with the Polish partisans, I really didn’t elaborate nearly enough. Probably because I was tired. And I still won’t elaborate nearly enough because I’m lazy. The Red Army in the game didn’t help the Warsaw resistance because it didn’t want to fight them again after freeing Poland. In real life, the Warsaw resistance didn’t actually ask for help, for many reasons. And… I suck. Because I’m kind of bored.

                  Honestly, if you don’t trust me (alright with me) try to go and see what exactly are the concerns in the Russian media. Maybe watch the video after someone subs it. Because I’m reaching the point when to argue with something I would have to basically transcribe what I watched to avoid misunderstandings, and I don’t feel like doing that.

                  1. shiroax says:

                    He translated his video and actually makes a lot of good points I agree with. I’m guessing the devs went for a dark approach because they wanted to be more like Spec Ops: The Line. However I stand by my troll assesment because of reasons.

          2. Thomas says:

            Even ignoring the testimony of the people who’ve played the game, I still don’t buy it

            ‘Russians do not equal Stalin. ‘

            Okay, yeah, but Germans don’t equal Hitler. We’re back in the same place of why would it be contentious that one is portrayed worse than the others? Stalin didn’t purge millions of people by himself, he instructed his army and bureaucrats to do it and they did. He didn’t personally shoot the polish, his army did. I’m not saying Russians are evil. In fact one of the truths of the world is that Germans and Russians are just people and in the same circumstances all of us people who think we’re genuinely good instead of good out of circumstance would do exactly the same things, just as the Germans would turn out to be one of the most pacifistic of the the european countries 50 years later.

            I don’t see how there can be any argument that creates an imbalance between the two. You can’t hold the German army at large responsible for Hitler’s atrocities but then only blame Stalin on the other side.

      3. shiroax says:

        About the “soviet zerg” bit, the Soviets have 6 man squads and are cheaper to reinforce, just like Americans in the first game, plus another mechanic that makes it slightly cheaper and quicker to reinforce in the field. Also, losing a lot of guys will still set you back a lot of manpower, making zerging a terrible idea.

    3. X2-Eliah says:

      Whatever the case, this is definitely something that, imo, can only be judged by those who have played the game themselves. Repeating other pundits’ opinions as fact is.. well, it’s an echo-chamber. And with a debate like this – which essentially covers issues of national pride and interpretation of history (and don’t get me wrong – the WW2 us-folk know of is different from the WW2 german-folk know of, and it’s different from the WW2-russian folk know of, not to mention of all the countries that were caught in the middle of the meatgrinder. It is not only the victor that writes the history, but also the faction that tunes the outlook) – there’s a lot of potential to go terribly wrong and/or offensive…

      But basing a hard-stanced argument about how the game is, only having watched a video and read some articles – that’s not right.

      1. Thearpox says:

        Probably not.

        The problem really is that that the shitstorm is in the Russian media, and the people receiving it usually don’t know Russian nearly well enough to understand what’s going on the other side. Bonus points when nobody has actually played the game.

        So I interested a bit in bringing what I heard on the Russian media here, and curious what the others had to say about it.

    4. shiroax says:

      It seems to me this Bad Comedian is either a troll or an idiot and is rallying more of the same. Where did you pull this soviet soldiers don’t want to fight for their country bs? Not the campaign. Soviet soldiers are shown as heroic as Americans in CoH1, it’s their stalinist officers that shoot them for shits and giggles that are shown to be the bad guys.

      The people burned were not in their houses, but the church, it was mission 2 not 1 and the intro scene to the mission shows Red Army evacuating civilians, meaning that the ones that stayed behind were either collaborators or suicidal.

      I admit that the campaign has it’s flaws, it should have showed more (or rather any) atrocities committed by the Germans: the siege of Leningrad gets 1 lame mission and 1 reference to having no food (makes you think they skipped lunch one time) and I had to google Lublin to find out what I just played; but most of the complaints about it (from people who haven’t played it) are baseless (like your 1 and 8), idiotic (like 3 and 9: it’s not hopelessly romantic to think you should be afraid of the men with guns you’re charging at instead of the men with guns behind you, and showing wrong war crimes wtf?) or can be debunked with the slightest research aka playing the game (2, 5).

      In conclusion, I think BadComedian is a garden variety youtube troll and the only good thing to come from this is that Polygon article.

  7. rayen says:

    hey someone said something about The Phantom Menace that i didn’t immediately disagree with. And Spore as well. How surprising. Yeah Spore and The Phantom Menace are the two sides of a movie/video game coin(… that sounded alot better in my head). Including the part where I generally liked them for what they were rather than dumping on them with everyone else for not meeting their unreasonably high expectations.

    Also The Room of videogames:
    Any Sonic the Hedgehog game after Sonic Adventure 2.

    The Superman 64 of movies:
    Super Mario Brothers; The Movie. or one of the many many terrible TV shows based on videogames that Moviebob has covered in a Big Picture episode.

    Green Lantern = Mirror’s Edge (Good Idea with a big budget but ultimately a flawed concept)

    The Avengers = Super Smash Bros. Melee (Awesome Mash-up crossover action)

    Taken = Assassin’s Creed (Stupid Action Plot presented well)

    Transformers 1,2,3 = CoD Modern Warfare 2,3, Black ops (Stupid action plot presented stupidly but still somehow makes millions)

    Citizen Kane = System Shock 2/Deus Ex (things i have never seen/played but are universally loved and placed on a pedestal and anything that slightly retreads the material draws unfavorable comparisons)

    E.T. = Kingdoms Hearts (something with a alot of heart)

    Clerks = Minecraft (First time Indy Effort Garnering high praise both critically and publicly)

    The Dark Knight Trilogy = Saints Row Trilogy

    Pulp Fiction = ???

    Rocky Horror Picture Show = ???

    1. postinternetsyndrome says:

      I would disagree that Mirror’s Edge has a flawed concept. On the contrary, the base mechanics were excellent, but the execution was sometimes lacking, and the game didn’t always realise where its strengths were.

      1. rayen says:

        i guess i didn’t use the right word. I put those two together because they both had the same problem. The Green Lantern Movie didn’t have a flawed concept, but same as mirror’s edge flawed execution(?).

        1. postinternetsyndrome says:


    2. Syal says:

      Rocky Horror Picture Show = Deadly Premonition?

    3. Corpital says:

      Do you remember Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor?

      The first and second game had an especially designed…well, I don’t want to call it a mere controller, since it consists of 4units with two joysticks, three pedals and over 40button. It was done more as a proof of concept and in limited numbers due to the controllers cost.
      Everything to simulate you really sitting in a big war mech, with more buttons than anyone could ever want, running around and doing war mech stuff.

      And then we have the 2012release Heavy Armor, which uses the Kinect. Apparently its characters and story weren’t that bad, but the game itself was utterly unplayable with all the problems coming with motion control, which is probably all that will be remembered.
      So…at least an interesting idea, but executed with two shotgun shells to the back of the head. :<

  8. Spongioblast says:

    Patch rage. Patch rage never changes. Even something as simple as when a change happens can and will spark mad frothing at the mouth. I played World of Warcraft for a while and one of the memes from way back in the day (2004-2005) was “Bus Shock”. The background of this was shaman were promised a huge class overhaul but for whatever reason it was very delayed. The main CM took sick and was replaced in the forums by another guy. Then the patch was delayed again and the shaman forums went nuts. Shaman were hopping servers trying to crash them, they were spamming the forums into the ground, and worst of all taking it all out on the CM, hoping he would be hit by a bus. That’s the main issue of having some kind of community outreach and I don’t think there is a clean way of dealing with it. Do you mass ban or try to connect to foster a better community?

    1. Bryan says:

      Yeah, I remember the “nerfing” of the sniper rifle in Counterstrike (the HL1 mod version), taking it from a weapon that could kill any player with a shot to the *foot*, to a weapon that only took fully-armored people down to like 10% health when you shot them in the foot, still killed any player without armor, and still killed armored players when you shot them in the chest or head.

      There was no twitter at the time, but there was plenty of hate around the change. Personally, I just kept shooting people in the chest (as well as I could, which wasn’t great), in the rare case where I actually used that gun… Of course part of that was probably that I hadn’t been playing it for very long, so I hadn’t gotten terribly used to the overpowered rifle.

      1. DerekTheViking says:

        The volume and hatred in this particular patch rage is an indictment of certain CoD players, but it still serves to remind me of truly bad software development behaviour: patching out hardware features.

        Anybody else remember how you used to be able to put Linux on a PS3?

        OK, so maybe, MAYBE they could argue that was a security risk. How about this:

        A couple of years ago, Canon updated their software so that I could no longer use it to remote-shutter my camera (I didn’t realise until far too late, and thus have no backup). I now have to buy a £40 piece of third-party software if I want to regain that functionality.

        At what point does a patch change what we bought so much that it is legally not even the same product?

    2. Syal says:

      Do you mass ban or try to connect to foster a better community?

      I don’t see why the two are mutually exclusive. You can make an effort to convince people to be patient, while at the same time banning the people who decide to act like jackasses. In fact I would think doing both would have the most positive effect.

      1. Fleaman says:

        You can raise average customer satisfaction by shooting everyone who complains. In most situations this is considered, at best, bad practice. But then, the Blizzard fan community is a reeking nest of termites that could use a good spraying.

  9. Mr Compassionate says:

    The Superman 64 of movies? Valhalla Rising.

    I encourage any and all to go see that movie and tell me you know a movie worse than it. Valhalla Rising isnt even bad in a funny way, its rather fittingly like being dead. It feels like death.

    1. Dearth Flips says:

      I-I sort of liked it.

    2. bucaneer says:

      Yeah, no. I grant you that the film is not entertaining in a conventional sense, but there’s a huge difference between not being entertaining because a movie was made very deliberately pursuing an artistic vision that does not involve entertainment value, and not being entertaining because the people making the movie didn’t know how to make it entertaining or good. Valhalla Rising is clearly on the deliberate side. To wrap the tangent back its origin, the movie is going for the effect of “Aguirre, the Wrath of God”, which was one of Roger Ebert’s top 10 films of all time, and another instance of a film that could just as easily be called “the best” or “the worst” depending on your expectations and mindset.

  10. Lord Nyax says:

    Yes! Red Alert 2 was one of my favorite RTSs of all time! I still have the music from the opening cinematic on my computer. I know it seems kind of corny now, but I actually miss games with live action cutscenes between levels.

  11. Hieronymus says:

    I hope I’m not too late (downloading the cast now).

    Shamus, I highly recommend that you put down Darksiders and never pick it up again. Ever. In fact, you would be doing yourself less mental damage taking up something relatively harmless in comparison, like crystal meth.

    1. Trix2000 says:

      Is there… a particular reason you say this?

      I’m genuinely curious, as I haven’t played it myself and don’t recall hearing anything about it being terrible (yet).

      1. Syal says:

        Sounds more like he’s saying it’s addictive.

        1. Trix2000 says:

          Oh, in retrospect I should’ve seen it. Oops!

        2. Hieronymus says:

          No, no. It is not addictive.

          From start to finish, it is a bad game. Visually, aurally, narratively, mechanically, structurally: I can think of no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

          1. It’s not “Ride to Hell: Retribution”?

      2. Hieronymus says:

        I can’t imagine what people see in this game.

        It is not good.

        1. Mersadeon says:

          Are we talking about the same game? I mean, yeah, it has big problems, but it’s still a fun game in my opinion. The combat was fun, the story was… eh, ok I guess. The characters were nothing to write home about, but the voice acting was really good in some places (and horrible in others). The aesthetic was really great, though. The puzzles weren’t hard enough to be a challenge and thus ended up being a chore, but all in all it was a game I don’t regret playing. So, where did it go wrong in your opinion?

          1. Hieronymus says:

            Note: Any perceived anger detected below is directed at the game and only the game.

            I suppose if you enjoy the gameplay you won’t quite experience the cascading failure that I did. I was bored with it before the opening sequence finished. There were no tactics I could develop or make use of, no way to play off of the level design, just clicking and clicking, and more clicking through the same pattern of combos that kept the enemy disabled. And that’s not mentioning the horrible copy-paste mini-boss fights.

            That being said, the story is logically inconsistent. There are multiple points in the game where the protagonist (if he can be called that with a straight face, I don’t know how) admits that he’s doing things in inherently stupid ways, but then growls and decides to kill the thing pointing this out and offering a completely fair and sane alternative because grrr.

            The level design is atrocious. I stopped seeing the caves, tunnels, and cityscapes after the first twenty minutes, and started seeing the bland cube-based development environment instead — because I kept running into the freaking invisible walls.

            And I can’t comment on these “puzzles” you’re talking about, because I refuse to call them that.

            As for the setting. I think this part annoyed me more than it should have, because I tend to like how these settings are explored and presented with some semblance of sense and instead ended up getting something out of a sitcom that didn’t understand the source material well enough to do anything other than string words together and hope the viewer didn’t notice. Kind of like whenever a crime drama deals with computers.

            There’s more, of course, but I think I’ve said my piece. I can carry this on in the board, if necessary, though.

            1. Mersadeon says:

              I don’t think we have to carry that to the board, I understand your point, I guess I just don’t share all of it.

              I guess the combat is a lot less fun on the PC – I played it on an X-Box and it’s a lot more fun on that. Now, it might also be that I’m the kind of guy who loves this KIND of combat, but hates God of War and Devil May Cry combat.

              The interior level design was quite bad, yes (especially the sewers…), but the exteriors were well done in my opinion.

              Source material? Wait, is this based off of anything? I mean, it has a very “comic book” feel to it, but I though it wasn’t an adaptation. Or did you mean the biblical stuff? Well, it’s obvious that they didn’t go for an accurate depiction, it’s more “inspired by” that stuff. I enjoyed it, even if the story didn’t really make sense.

              I admit, though, that most of my pleasure in this game was purely in the aesthetic and design (not War’s character design, mind you, I did not like that).

              1. Hieronymus says:

                I’m entirely willing to concede that the gameplay could be a different beast on a console. The port aspects are terrible.

                To clarify the setting bit, yes I’m talking about the religious mythological background aspects. I firmly enjoy seeing different interpretations and explorations of this kind of material, even to the point where it breaks from the source material. This, on the other hand, was basically plucking names and visual designs from something, and getting all of the details wrong. Kind of like how some game reboots don’t really follow their source material.

            2. Leviathan902 says:


              I 100% completely agree with you…about Darksiders 1.

              Darksiders 2, however, is incredible. Seriously. I don’t know how, or why, but it is.

              Darksiders 1 I stopped playing after the first “dungeon” out of boredom and frustration. The main character was poorly designed and drawn, poorly written, boring, and handled badly with terrible combat. Oh and the environs were and bland and boring.

              I got Darksiders 2 on a steam sale and it seriously fixes all those problems. Death, the character, is flippant and amusing. He’s agile and quick making both the combat and platforming segments enjoyable. There are loot drops for variety, and the characters are more interesting (thought the plot isn’t great). Also, the environments are a vast improvement. I could not enjoy Darksiders 1, but I LOVED Darksiders 2.

              I guess what I’m saying is, Darksiders 2 is a vast improvement and worth a shot if you have the inclination.

              1. Hieronymus says:

                I’ll keep that in mind, come the Winter sale.

  12. Hitchmeister says:

    In Saving Private Ryan Tom Hanks used a sock, grenade(s) and grease to make a sticky bomb to take out a tank. You’re telling me I can’t trust Tom Hanks?

    1. Canthros says:

      I dunno. Some machine lubricant greases are pretty thick and are useful partly because they stay where they’re put (whereas a lubricating oil tends to run, migrate, etc–which is also useful in some application!). Whether whichever particular grease we’re discussing would be sticky enough to hold, e. g., a brick of C4 to the side of a tank, I don’t know.

      1. RichVR says:

        Sticky bombs as portrayed in Saving Private Ryan were real things. Including wrapping them in floppy cloth like socks. The grease used was incredibly viscous and adding that to a fabric worked more than it didn’t. FYI

    2. ehlijen says:

      Not sure if engine grease and motor oil are the same thing (I think they are, but I’m not a mechanic), but motor oil is specifically designed to be lubricating at engine operation temperature, which unfortunately as a side effect more or less always results in significant stickyness at room temperature.

      That said, you can use water to make chalk stick to a blackboard, so stickyness isn’t really a requirement for adhesive capability.

      1. False Prophet says:

        I haven’t seen the film in years, but watching a couple clips on YouTube, they say “axle grease”. They mean one of the thicker greases that has a consistency kind of like peanut butter or cream cheese, not motor oil which is still very much a liquid. And that kind of machine grease won’t let you defy gravity–it’s not a proper adhesive by any means. But it will probably help prevent a grenade or a bundle of dynamite sticks from rolling or sliding off an inclined or vibrating surface.

  13. Paul Spooner says:

    I know we’re not supposed to swipe blog threads, but Beer/Fish was in the forums first… or more accurately, you recorded the podcast and wrote the articles first, and then it showed up in the forum, and then the blog posts went up. Anyway, here are a few more comments on the topic by some people you all might recognize.

    In short, yeah, a bad deal all around.

  14. Amstrad says:

    Shamus wasn’t too mistaken about Battlecruiser 3000AD, the most common abbreviation for it was BC3K.. I can see where the confusion would arise.

  15. Klay F. says:

    That Gamerfury link throws everything about this Beer/Fish thing into stark contrast. Imagine getting that level of hate for YEARS, and you’ll understand what Fish put up with, all because he didn’t think before he opened his mouth a few times.

    But really, Fish is basically a product of the gamer community. When the culture behind a hobby is as poisonous and as throughly packed with degenerates as gaming, it is no surprise when developers starting behaving the same way their audience does. Expecting devs to keep to some lofty standard of professionalism when the audience doesn’t hold itself to similar standards reeks of hypocrisy. Fish is just a product of his environment, though that doesn’t excuse his behavior. I expect this kind of behavior will get even more common once this current generation of gamers start entering the industry.

    1. Dearth Flips says:

      Well, okay, but the problem is that the gaming public isn’t one person. I mean, there are plenty of people in the gaming public that hold themselves to a standard of professionalism, and even more that hold themselves to the far better standard of just being nice. It’s a generalization to say that it’s hypocritical for EVERY member of the gaming public to want him to be nice.

      There was an unfortunate escalation between him and the people that took him seriously, though. Even though Fish is wholly responsible for the mess he’s in, things would be better in general if an understanding had been reached. That’s the responsibility of both parties. As much of a shit-stirrer as he is, it’s all (seemingly) accidental, and that’s kinda sad.

      If a consensus had been made to collectively ignore Phil’s comments, he might have had the motivation to continue making games and he could have moved beyond highly derivative puzzle platformers.

      1. Klay F. says:

        I realize that, unfortunately these are the only type of people you hear from. Its easy to forget because we are here on a blog that still retains civility and rational thought. That Gamerfury link, THOSE people are the people the rest of the public sees most prevalently, and THOSE people make up a huge part, if not the majority of the gaming public, or at the very least the portion of the gaming public that follows gaming news. They are the loudest, and I have no reason to believe the number of people who act like that is shrinking. Like I said, he’s a product of the prevalent culture.

        1. Nidokoenig says:

          They’re a portion of the people who follow gaming news, want to comment on gaming news, and aren’t utterly repelled by the existing comments on gaming news and decide not to bother. The fact that gaming news comments quickly turn into distilled arseholery says more about the filtration system, feedback loops and level of care on the part of the moderators than it does about the percentage of arseholes in the general gamer population.

          1. Klay F. says:

            People keep saying this, yet I don’t really see any evidence for it. I don’t mean any disrespect, but this is the real backwoods of the internet. A normal person casually interested in videogame news isn’t going to find this site. These people infest every gaming news site like the plague. If there ARE decent people just lurking around, they aren’t doing the medium any favors by sitting on the sidelines and just letting the bile continue.

            But this is all academic anyway, it doesn’t matter that decent people exist out of sight. Developers cannot interact with people who are keeping silent. The only choice then is to either engage with the degenerates, turning into one in the process, or don’t interact at all. Its easy to see which is the more popular choice for most devs, but that just turns the industry more and more insulated against legit criticism, which it already is. The people who are keeping silent are indirectly fostering this shitty gamer culture, just as much as the degenerates are directly fostering it. In doesn’t matter that decent people exist out of sight because the degenerates are all people ever hear.

    2. ehlijen says:

      I agree with this, and in some ways as a result I don’t agree with Shamus’ point that it’s somehow less bad to insult EA employees than indie developers.

      EA is still made up of people. From what I hear, their working conditions aren’t too great, so are we really helping anything by then despising them for what they’re told to make? Are they not just as annoyed by our feedback as Fish seems to be just because the EA PR department won’t let us hear their retorts? Or is it because we didn’t read the game’s credits and thus don’t know their names? Fish overreacted, and EA employees are protected from that to some degree, yes. But the initial annoyance is still there and won’t help make them any happier.

      The idea that you need to speak in superlative extremes to infuse your statement with validity needs to go. If someone threatens to kill you in person, you call the police. Why is no one doing so online? At least a good chunk of such messages could probably be traced. And even though there likely wouldn’t be consequences having to explain to a police officer that you’re an exagerating fool might do something to get people to rethink what they’re doing. Hopefully.
      But that doesn’t happen because too many people don’t take online statements seriously and assume that if they don’t, no one else does and that therefore they have no ill effects. (This problem exists in many other areas as well, but I don’t want to go into politics more than I already have, sorry).

      I wish gamers were better than this, but sadly we’re not. I try to be, but I know I fail more often than I should. (My voice was amongst those hating on EA for ME3 as some might recall for example.)

      That said, this is not a condemnation of criticism. ME3 was bad, we should be allowed to say so. Even point fingers. But without hate, for it wasn’t a crime.

      And then there is also the fact that how we say things transcends and eclipses what we say. Fish made that Bender quote. Why? Because he thinks Bender is funnny and cool, presumably. But he forgot that he’s only funny because of how he says things, not what he says. What Bender says is horrifying! (We all want to be able to be a bit like Bender when we feel pressured by others, but almost no one would actually tolerate a person like Bender as a friend for long.)
      But the point is that we’ve somehow come to the conclusion that saying anything is fine as long is it gets your general sentiment accross in a way that sounds amusing in your head.

      “Ima kill you in a gross and humiliating way!” = “I don’t like what you did, please change it. Also, everyone else, please acknowledge that I’m funny.”

      I’m not sure if that has anything to do with smileys or ‘lol’ (which I think do have a place in non face to face conversation in measures), but I wouldn’t be suprised if the idea that sentiment > than the words spoken comes from there. Either way, that needs to stop. People need to be held to their words. We need to teach, and learn, old platitudes like ‘make your words sweet, you never know when you might have to eat them’ both known and adhered to again.

      That or increase funding to all psychology schools so we have professionals to help deal with all the rage and frustration coming our way.

      1. Klay F. says:

        You also raise something that I was thinking of earlier. When somebody is part of a 200 person team like Bioware or whatever, unless a person’s job is PR, then they have absolutely no cause to give a damn what the internet thinks. The only people who even remotely care what the internet has to say about something are people who talk to the press on a regular basis, like a Director, or Lead Designer. But even so, for a massive corporation like EA, they have PR people whose sole job is to basically be a buffer between the developers and the press/public. Just having that buffer in place removes basically all direct interaction between the public and the creators. We’ve seen what happens when people who are used to that buffer suddenly find themselves without it (David Gaider).

        Maybe Fish should have just hired a PR person to act as a buffer so he could focus on what he’s good at.

        As for my part, I’ve narrowed down my rage over the years to be just directed at the suits that have no interest in the actual games. But I’m not so naive that I think just removing them all would solve anything.

        All in all this industry is totally and completely fucked up. Your only choices are either to become an easily replaceable cog in a machine for a regular wage, or to make your own games and have to deal directly with the gaming public, knowing that the people who actually like your game will never actually speak up and make themselves known over the massive swirl of hate and bile.

        1. ehlijen says:

          The third option seems to be to become an obscure niche hit and slowly grow that niche into a market of its own (minecraft?). Of course that takes too long to make a living out of and doesn’t always work well enough in actually becoming a big hit instead of just staying obscure (dwarf fortress?)

  16. StashAugustine says:

    The problem with discussing COH2 is that the comments start out with “Y’know, it’s kinda weird that Russians are supposed to zerg rush early until German tanks crush their inferior T-34s when that is an exact inversion of history” and end with “Katyn Forest never really happened.”

  17. Paul Spooner says:

    “X-Com is really good turn based strategy”
    Perhaps for a modern game I suppose. There are just so many dominant strategies in there… but I guess we shouldn’t complain too much.

    1. ehlijen says:

      It’s not perfect, but it is a lot of fun and it shows that turn based can be fast paced and action oriented, which is important if we want more turn based games in the future.

      Yes, the original Xcom was a lot closer to hardcore number crunching games while the new one is closer to JRPG style ‘fight/defend/potion/spell’ games, but if number crunching games can’t get the fanbase needed for commercial interest on its own anymore, turn based JRPG fans are one of the more closely matched other interest groups to reach out for, I’d think.

    2. Trix2000 says:

      You know, if there are so many, that kinda takes away from the ‘dominant’ label and looks more like a variety of strategic options. Which I would kinda expect from a strategy game.

      Sure, some things are stronger than others (point blank shotgunning stuff was way too effective for me) but I think the strategy came more down to positioning, what turn-to-turn actions to do, and base management than picking what people to bring on a mission. Then again, I played on normal difficulty with save-scumming because I didn’t want my nice team of peeps to die. :(

      1. Mersadeon says:

        For me it was less “some strategies are way too good” and more “oh no, X-COM is dicking me over with its bullshit again” that kinda ruined my enjoyment. It glitched out too often. Once, I was playing an Ironman Classic Difficulty game with a few Second Wave options enabled, and during a mission the game spawned three Mutons IN THE MIDDLE OF MY SQUAD. While in full sight. I could SEE them SPAWN.
        Or all the times when you can’t really tell if you will have a shot at something once you moved, even though changing the UI just a little bit would make that absolutely possible.

        (Also, Multiplayer strategies vary wildly from Singleplayer. Chryssalids are useless in MP, but on a Terror mission with lots of civilians they are essentially a death sentence for your team.)

        1. rrgg says:

          The problem comes when none of the dominant strategies feel super fun. I wanted my guys to fight like men! To stand toe to toe with the alien menace and never show any sign of cowardice under threat of execution!

          Except you can’t do that in xcom because you only ever get 6 guys on a mission and losing a single one feels like a massive setback as you need so much grinding xp just to level them up and make them useful.

        2. rrgg says:

          The problem comes when none of the dominant strategies feel super fun. I wanted my guys to fight like men! To stand toe to toe with the alien menace and never show any sign of cowardice under threat of execution!

          Except you can’t do that in xcom because you only ever get 6 guys on a mission and losing a single one feels like a massive setback as you need so much grinding xp just to level them up and make them useful.

  18. Ilseroth says:

    I wanted to post something saying how wrong Shamus was with regards to Spore and Star Wars Episode 1, but in retrospect it actually does make sense; even from a personal standpoint.

    I am 24, so I did see the original trilogy first, but at a young enough age that they weren’t really meshed in there. I never took them as something to seriously considered or that the plot between them even mattered. I saw dudes with laser swords fighting other dudes with laser swords and as a kid, hell that was good enough.

    As an adult I can look back at episode one and see precisely what pissed people off when they came from the original trilogy. All that being said lets bring this back to spore.

    I didn’t follow spore seriously, I found out about spore because of the creature creator, I thought it was neat, and indeed it is/was and honestly, I think will continue to be. The creature creator itself is an interesting tool.

    I played spore, granted at an older age, but with no expectations beyond making cool animal things and walking around and doing stuff with them. I actually played the game a lot, in fact I beat the game. Granted there is no *technical* end but I got the “ending”, which is more then what a lot of people can say.

    But, same as Episode 1, looking back at preview videos I see the game it *could* have been, the expectations set forward which due to the producers and publishers were kind of stripped back to something a little more simple.

    I should honestly write something on spore, I think as a game it managed to be so close to something truly amazing, and skimmed so closely without ever quite reaching it simply due to some missteps.

    I am sure plenty of people will tell me the game was hot garbage, but honestly I think it really did come very close to being a classic, it just needed… well I could go on for hours, so going to end it there.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Spore isn’t a bad game by any means; it was just the old chestnut about people being told it would be some kind of gaming revelation that would blow the audience right out the doors and then turned out to be a fun, oddball timewaster.

  19. Just Passing Through says:

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Russian caricature Josh described is pretty much the Imperial Guard from WH40k. Relic has always done the Dawn of War games, and the last one was the one that reintroduced the IG into the series. It sounds to me like they just turned around and said “Hey we can do the same thing to make the Russians mechanically distinctive” and it ended up being a bit offensive. Or maybe that’s not that insightful and I just wanted a chance to talk about 40k.

    1. guy says:

      Cause and effect there is backwards. The Imperial Guard have commissars who shoot retreating troops as a specific reference to the Red Army.

      1. ehlijen says:

        Indeed. There are many anecdotes that go that way. Commisars were told to shoot grossly disloyal officers. Retreats without orders or permission were sometimes seen as disloyal. Stalin’s purge of the Red army of political enemies did lower the overall competence level. Tactically, the Red army was less experienced than the Wehrmacht when germany attacked. The supply situation was so desperate that the two soldiers to a rifle approach was used and sometimes the crew assembling a tank in the factory were told to drive it straight into battle without training.

        Retreat was not against the soviet doctrine; scorched earth and death before retreat are fundamentally incompatible.
        Just because Stalin had many competent officers removed doesn’t mean all the new ones were bad. Some were, but some weren’t.
        The russians learned tactics very quickly from the germans, while the germans strategically stagnated once hitler went insane(r). Once Moscow and its factories were saved and the arctic convoys brought in american tanks and planes, the soviets were able to run a fairly well equipped army and had enough combat veterans to run it acceptably at the least.
        Soviet gear was of generally good quality as well. The germans built the Tiger and Panther tanks in response to the T34 blowing through their PzIIIs and IVs.

        So yeah, the 40k IG army is based in elements on the Red Army at its worst during its deepest crisis and then with all the extremes turned up to 11. Games Workshop gets away with it because they make it a clearly fictional faction with inspired elements from other nations as well. CoH2 is claiming historical accuracy while doing the same turning to 11 and those two aren’t really compatible.

        1. guy says:

          The main problem with your argument is that CoH2 does not, in fact, turn it up to 11. First, insofar as the game has morale mechanics they affect both sides equally aside from the aformentioned army-wide orders from Stalin to shoot retreating troops. Russian and German soldiers are equally unwilling to charge at full speed into machinegun fire. Second, T-34s do in fact do pretty well against Panzer IVs; I have yet to actually see how the heavy tanks of both sides stack up against each other, but suspect they’re reasonably well-matched. Third, guard rifle units and shock troops compare quite well with Panzergrenaders, and properly-equipped conscripts are not bad either. And both sides have comparable weapons teams and light vehicles, too.

        2. The Rocketeer says:

          The Wehrmacht strategy did stagnate badly in the long run, but the Luftwaffe were even worse.

          People focus on how they had the chance to revolutionize jet technology and wasted time on no-hope mad science projects instead, but that’s how military engineering works for everybody else, too. Their real fault was that they sent their best pilots back into battle to fight until they got shot down, which made the Luftwaffe incredible until they ran out of hardened aces. Meanwhile, the Allies would bring their best pilots back and have them teach the next generation of cadets, slowly enriching the Allied air effort around a generally educated force, which worked pretty well pitted against a dwindling number of elite pilots partnered with a flock of raw cannon fodder.

          1. ehlijen says:

            Nevermind that from plane design, the Luftwaffe was a tactical force, but kept being pushed into strategic roles.

            Most of the failure came from the direct interference of the easily frustrated fuehrer himself, though. From ill advised funding changes to refusals to authorise badly needed retreats, for all his political prowess (which he sadly did have), he didn’t understand war.

            1. The Rocketeer says:

              If you’re interested in the subject, you might look up the Monograph Project, or the Karlsruhe project, which the USAF began to find out everything they could learn about the German air strategy, where it succeeded and failed, what they were trying, their methods, culture, everything, from the highest levels of their leadership on down.

              The army tried a similar project with the Wehrmacht but reportedly figured out everything they got from them was bullshit. The Luftwaffe were apparently much more frank and upfront, and the monographs that exist now are gold for interested parties.

              The planned series of monographs were never completed, and some of the ones that were were never translated. In the past, I’ve run across a couple of academic papers referring to them, but I’ve never been able to track down the monographs themselves; they might not exist online, or might simply be somewhere I don’t know how to find. If your interested, good luck tracking them down.

          2. 4th Dimension says:

            Also according to at least one Soviet Ace German efficiency in combat suffered from their kill count obsession. it seems to them kill count was everything, and while it did allow them to wreck havoc on opposing enemy pilots, it also somewhat blinded them so they would forget their actual flight mission. They would often leave the bombers unprotected simply to chase enemy fighters and not break off pursuit even when enemy fighters were clearly no longer a threat. According to this guy they would often use one group of fighters to bait the escort, while the other would move in once escort is away and shoot town the TAC bombers.

        3. 4th Dimension says:

          One nitpick. It wasn’t tanks and planes from Lend Lease that were essential. More important were hundreds of trucks and wagon cars that were sent to Russians. And planes and tanks that were sent usually were prior generation crap (old variant Huricanes) ot things that they didn’t like (Cobras). And these planes mostly helped that transition period of 41-early 42 until they started stamping perfectly competent Yaks and ILs.

          All in all I agree with you, Soviet ‘incompetence’ in first part of the war steams directly from Stalin’s brilliant idea to kill off something like 50+ % of officer corps. In order to fill those places they had to over promote junior officers and fresh cadets. And on top of it all he tightened the political control over the army through commissars.

          But as the war went on and as soon as Red Army started wining political control lessened, and unlike Hitler Stalin left the nitty gritty parts of command to his proven generals.

  20. anaphysik says:

    “I have a non-binding promise from Rutskarn that we'll be getting a new splash image that will include Mumbles.”

    While he’s at it, he could spell “incompetech.com” correctly as well… Also “Buttskarn”

  21. Epopisces says:

    Hey Shamus!

    A spelling point–‘anti-Russian’ needs a quick fix, unless you are going for irony lol.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,lets try a scientific experiment:

    *khmhm*THIS PODCAST SUX!

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I strongly disagree but respect your opinion and wish you and your family all the best.

      (Am I doin this rite?)

      1. patrick johnston says:

        No. you need at least 200% more hate and at least 5 more spelling errors.

    2. Gruhunchously says:

      Oh my deity, Daemian Lucifer, go terminate your own existence you bundle of twigs!

    3. Syal says:

      You’re a podcast!

      1. SlowShootinPete says:

        At least he’s only one

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    To me,the funniest thing about westerners thinking of soviets as merely a zerg race is:Normandy was won because of zerging.

    1. ehlijen says:

      Don’t discount excellent operational security, perfectly executed decoy maneuvers, Hitler’s rising paranioa and the fact that the allies brought many ingenious purpose built tools and specfialist units into the fight.

      Yes, Omaha was basically GIs running at german machine guns. The other beaches, where Sherman float tanks and Hobart’s funnies made it to shore on schedule and target, were very different stories. And that’s not counting the Airdrops behind the coastal fortifications or the major efforts needed to actually exploit the beachhead gained.

      It wasn’t a zergling rush any more than the eastern front was.

    2. 4th Dimension says:

      Normandy was as much a zergrush as was Operation Bagration, in that it was not. It was a complicated operation that successfuly hid your intentions and made the enemy relocate his elite forces to the wrong sector (Calais with Normandy, South with Bagration). Both were complicated by supply situations and terrain and both resolved their problems excellently, and completely crushed their opponents with superior strategy and superiority in air and numbers.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    TBS that everyone who likes turn based games should play is king’s bounty remake(legend,warrior princess,or warriors of the north,any of them).

    As for forgotten RTSs that are worth playing:Empire earth and rise of nations.

    1. Trix2000 says:

      No one wants to mention the Age of Empires series? :(

      Granted, I practically grew up with the first two so they molded how I look at RTS games quite a bit.

      1. Mersadeon says:

        Is that really a “forgotten” RTS? I thought everyone played Age of Empires.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Because I dont find it as good as the other two.I dont think its a bad game,I just find the other two to be much better(which is a shame considering that only age got worthy sequels).

    2. Lovecrafter says:

      Homeworld could use a lot more love as well.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Oh god yes!A 1000 times yes.I love that gem of a game,and I feel such a shame that it slipped my mind before.

    3. rrgg says:

      Empire at War, despite its faults is still a pretty awesome game if the idea of something similar to total war meets starwars appeals to you.

      There are also some really old games I could rattle off but I don’t know how you’d ever play them. (Anyone know where you can find Sid Meier’s Gettysburg these days?)

  25. silver Harloe says:

    Turn-based strategy: Bloodbowl? I haven’t played it, though I played the board game when it first came out (and it looks like there have been several expansions since) and there’s a lot of depth there.

    1. Primogenitor says:

      I find BloodBowl’s core mechanics very frustrating. When your team fails to complete something – a throw/catch, blocking a player, etc – that ends your turn. On the one hand that creates a very interesting cost-benefit analysis problem; do you do the low-risk but unimportant tasks before the high-risk but critical task? But when an action goes wrong, then that’s it for the turn and you can’t do anything about it. I expect that works better in person around a physical board, but on a computer I find it very frustrating.

      1. ehlijen says:

        That’s what rerolls are for and where the management of them comes in.

      2. Mersadeon says:

        Well, it gets better once you really get into it. You see, with the right strategy, you will most likely only suffer few turnovers per game. It’s about risk management – first, do everything that very likely results in you NOT having a turnover before you attempt the riskier stuff. Except if your safe, game winning move requires you to do something super risky first… it’s all about the risk. And, you know, you can have a lot of re-rolls if you save up for them.

  26. Karthik says:

    Primordia is the only point-and-click adventure I’ve played to completion, with many, many lookups to a walkthrough. I would have quit around the same point that I quit every adventure game I’ve ever played, (from Beneath a Steel Sky to The Longest Journey) but the intriguing setting and story kept me going. It’s a welcome spin on the post-apoc setting, and Crispin and Horatio make a fine pair of protagonist bots, with copious amounts of amusing banter and leg pulling.

    It even made me feel smart for cracking some of the codes or remembering to use some incidental knowledge picked up hours ago.

    Some of the puzzles, though. Given the “guess what the dev was thinking” mechanics, I’m surprised this genre managed to survive as long as it did by masking frustration with humor.

    1. I played a TON of “What Was the Dev Thinking” when I was a lad, for I was an Infocom text adventure addict. This was before there was an interweb to be had, dear children, and your only way to find out how to solve some puzzles was by word of mouth or if one of your colleagues bought the walkthrough book.

      I think just about every game had that one “wait, WHAT?!” puzzle that made little to no sense and just drove us up a wall.

    2. PhantomRenegade says:

      Same, normally i really dislike point and click because of the pixel hunts and the “figure out what the dev was thinking” game but i stumbled into Primordia while searching for games under 10 dollars on steam and the trailer sold me on the game enough for me to ignore all that.

      I have since gotten it on the most recent steam sale and i do not regret it at all.

  27. The Rocketeer says:

    This might be jumping the gun a bit, but I was itching to hear Chris’ thoughts on Moviebob’s GOT episode on ludonarrative dissonance.

    Although, I can’t really help but feel there isn’t much response to give aside from: 1) He doesn’t have the slightest idea what the term means, nor does he have the slightest idea what immersion is or should be; 2) It isn’t encouraging that he tries to sabotage any counterargument by discrediting both terms out of hand as pretentious whining, and opening by stating outright he doesn’t care to hear anyone’s thoughts on it anyway; 3) Holy crap, I had no idea Game Overthinker was couched in the world’s most ludicrous framing device what did i just watch

    I do want to say, I don’t necessarily think it’s fair that I or anyone else should run to Chris to defend it, just because it’s something of a pet concept of his, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t already planning some small comment on it given both how weighty Moviebob’s opinion can be, and how tremendously negative (and petty and uninformed) it was.

    I do really, really like and respect Bob’s work, and it does sting a little to see one of maybe only a couple times when I’ve thought the guy was genuinely out of his gourd.

    1. Chris says:

      I thought long and hard about writing up a response, but I decided generally against it for a lot of reasons. First, given all the negativity and cattiness we’ve seen this week I wasn’t in a rush to call someone out and challenge them to debate even in a polite way. Second, while Chipman’s pull is stronger than most other game critics by a fairly wide margin his GameOverthinker stuff is probably among his least popular/least accessible to that wide audience, so I’m not sure it’s worth getting as upset about as it would be if he were making a Big Picture episode hosted on The Escapist about this. Third, I’m not sure that he presented enough of a meaningful argument to justify responding to; he conflates issues and doesn’t seem to really understand the concept he’s trying to tear down. So I don’t think I’m going to do any real writing on the topic unless it seems to have legs (and it doesn’t look like it does).

      That said, yeah, I’d generally agree that he doesn’t quite understand what the term really means. Granted, there’s not a super solid definition in general – as Chipman says, it’s basically a made up term. In some of the earliest uses of the term it’s a conflict between the themes and tone of the narrative and the themes and tone of the gameplay, and I still generally stick to that as a rough definition. My go-to examples remain Uncharted and Max Payne 3. Nathan Drake is a cool, suave, kinda lazy everyman – until the gameplay segments where he’s an action hero who has killed hundreds of people. Max Pane is a guy wallowing in guilt and self-pity after the death of his wife and child, bogged down further by a midlife crisis and an all-consuming substance addiction. It’s gameplay is slow-motion manshoots. These are games that feel completely disjoint between their cutscenes and their gameplay; there’s a clear tonal and thematic shift back and forth between the embedded narrative and the minute-to-minute actions of the player.

      A lot of people suggested that I implied there’s ludonarrative dissonance in, say, The Last of Us. But I avoided using that word for a reason. It’s not that there’s dissonance, it’s just that the gameplay is underutilized in telling the story. But it doesn’t feel like it conflicts with it tonally or thematically; the two actually work together to form a nicely textured piece. So that’s sort of where I draw the line on my definition – where the story tries to be ‘about’ something or has a ‘feel’ to it and the gameplay ignores that entirely in favor of something else. Hence, dissonance. So that’s where I’m coming from.

      As for where Chipman’s coming from… well, it’s no secret he holds the eight and sixteen bit console eras up as a golden age and high water mark of game design and development, and consequently that informs his views of what games should be. He views ludonarrative dissonance as something not worth considering because it only happens when games try to have stories – and his favorite games had virtually no stories, and what stories they did have were light on themes and tones the gameplay could conflict with. Final Fantasy had a story, but it was a high-flying adventure of a story that supported high-flying adventure mechanics. Well, not adventure genre mechanics, but you know what I mean. It’s a game whose narrative tone was “Let’s go on an adventure!” and whose gameplay was about going on an adventure. Contrast that with a game whose narrative tone is “regret, alcoholism, desperation” and whose gameplay is “bam bam bam I shoot u in ur face lol.” This is why he conflates ludonarrative dissonance with immersion even though the two have nothing in common – he views ludonarrative dissonance as an extension of cinematic games; that games shouldn’t have stories told like films to begin with so why are we surprised that a merge of the two has problems? Don’t invent a fancy word to describe this disconnect, just stop making those sorts of games!

      But this is a discussion game academia had in the early 2000’s with the whole ludology vs narratology “debates” that never really happened. And while we’re still figuring out how to use embedded narrative and how to get it to play nicely with emergent narrative and gameplay in meaningful ways, game criticism has long since moved beyond the idea that stories don’t belong in games.

      Also, some of what Chipman refers to as ludonarrative dissonance – players dicking around instead of playing the quest, or abusing systems that don’t make sense in ‘real life’ like the Zelda jars – is closer to subversive play, stepping out of the magic circle, rejecting the idea of player characters, or even simply being pedantic about how games-as-systems differ from the real world. All cool topics worth discussing, but none of which really equate to a fundamental disconnect between play and narrative from a design perspective.

      Also, not to get all “tone argument” on the piece, but it’s hard not to say it comes off as dismissive of game criticism as a whole. The whole introduction of the phrase could totally be reframed in cinematic terms and be just as condescending:

      So what is Mis en scà¨ne? Basically it’s a fancy French word (as if using French makes you seem smarter) for “stuff that’s laying around the scene.” That’s it. These film guys will come up with fancy words for EVERYTHING to justify their work, eh?

      It’s just really easy to be snarky and dismissive of something, I guess.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Actually, I’m glad you pointed this out: since I’m mainly acquainted and comfortable with your particular definition of the term, I didn’t consider there might be a more general disagreement about how it’s really supposed to be used.

        In that light, I can view his weariness with a lot more lenience; it’s entirely possible that he’s done a lot more brushing up on the term than I have, and really has heard a ton of disparate views that might not have as clear or useful a grasp on the term as you seem to. If his encounters with the term really have led him to believe that that’s what ludonarrative dissonance is, then I can’t really blame him for disparaging it. I’d still say that’s more a matter of listening to the wrong folks, and that that shouldn’t color his perception of what you and I think is a pretty nifty concept, but that’s a pretty tall order.

        That doesn’t excuse his thoughts on immersion, though. He might need some Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage in his life. As do we all.

        The one thing I have to agree with emphatically is that the term itself is dreadfully unwieldy and pretentious sounding. I agree that nothing simpler really comes to mind, but if we’re going to coin a neologism, we could really stand to work on a neologism with about three or four fewer syllables, and- and this may be my gravest remonstration- some frickin’ zazz. At this point though, I fear we may have been raising an ugly baby too long to toss it out and try for a cuter one.

        Again, I don’t think it’s fair to treat you as Knight-Errant of Ludonarrative Dissonance, because the heraldry is appalling and it never works in practice how it’s described to you, but I suppose I just couldn’t help myself. Thanks for chipping in.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Dammit Chris,stop being an adult and jump into the fray.Everyone needs a nemesis after all.Shamoose has the Film Crit Hulk,Mumbles has Rutskarn,and Josh has sobriety.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          Don’t worry, I’ll be your nemesis DL.

      3. Henson says:

        Having seen the video in question, this response was really nice to read. Keep posting interesting things.

      4. BenD says:

        Chris, when am I going to be able to buy your book?

      5. krellen says:

        I find Chipman’s game “criticism” to be a lot easier to take when I remember that his expertise is actually film (and to a lesser extent, TV and comics), not games. It is literally impossible for him to have the breadth of knowledge he has about film, television and comics and any sort of comprehensive knowledge about games that actually entitles him to speak about them. Unlike you, he has played relatively few games to expand his knowledge, and unlike Shamus (or Yahtzee, for that matter), he has never had a hand in actually creating games either.

        He’s just a dude spouting off his opinions about video games like the rest of us commenters, trying to play off his knowledge of other topics as a springboard to bolster his voice.

        Don’t get me wrong: I greatly respect his knowledge in those fields where he clearly has it, but he really irritates me when he tries to translate that same knowledge into gaming. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for it to be possible to have a deep knowledge of film, television, comics, and video games.

        1. hborrgg says:

          I’m not entirely sure that’s the right way to think about it and assume that everyone needs to have some specialty. Using that logic you could just as easily say that Shamus is only really qualified to speak about writing or that that Yahtzee is only qualified to speak about running bars.

          Chris I’m sure also does other stuff.

          1. burningdragoon says:

            Pretty sure Krellen wasn’t saying you only get one thing to be good at. It’s also worth pointing out that sometime after Bob switched his show format he admitted that part of the reason was he wasn’t going to be able to cut it purely as Insightful Commentary Over A Slideshow Guy since other people who knew more were also doing shows. It was right around the time Extra Credits was getting big.

          2. “Chris I’m sure also does other stuff.”

            It’s a statement like this kinda is at the heart of what bothers me about Bob…or game critique as a whole. It’s a statement that presumes that what Bob and Chris do are similar to the point that they can be compared against each other and that’s really not the case. Chris’ Errant Signal are game analysis and Bob’s Overthinker are opinion pieces, but game critique is so poorly defined among even its own culture, that these shows can still be conflated to be one and the same in function and purpose simply because ‘it’s a guy who’s talking ’bout vid’ja games in an internet video’.

        2. False Prophet says:

          While I’ve always been a big fan of Chipman as a film critic, because as you say, he definitely knows his stuff in that arena, I’ve had similar issues with him as a commentator on gaming, until I parsed a few things.

          Like Chris said, Chipman holds the 8-bit/16-bit era of console gaming as The Golden Age of Video Games–especially Nintendo’s efforts. His knowledge of PC gaming, whether historical or current, is next to none. I don’t think he ever owned a Playstation 3. By no means should he be considered a serious game reviewer, critic, analyst, or theorist.

          What he is, though, is a gaming pundit. A passionate and articulate apologist for a specific viewpoint, and not likely to ever reconsider it. And in the ranks of gaming pundits, he’s pretty unique. There are plenty of people online who will sing the praises of PC gaming today or 5/10/15 years ago. There are commentators who will praise the PS1 or 2 era, or extol the virtues of current console gaming. There are those who praise early 2000s Bioware over late 2000s Bioware, or late 90s FPSes over current FPSes. But there’s not very many proclaiming the era of Nintendo’s utter domination of the American and Japanese markets (ca. 1985-1994) as the greatest era in gaming.

          Do I agree with his stance? Quite the opposite: even as a child I was never a big fan of Nintendo’s first-party game franchises (compared to the Capcom, Konami, and Sega titles of that era) and found Nintendo’s tyrannical business practices at the time to be disgusting. But Chipman is the only one I’ve ever heard argue the contrary position with such passion and eloquence, even when I disagree with about 80% of what he has to say. So I find his Game Overthinker show interesting as a reliable Devil’s Advocate, I suppose.

  28. Mersadeon says:

    Well, just to add to the whole Company of Heroes stuff: I haven’t played the game, so I won’t say “The Russians are just overreacting!”, but well… I’m German. We’ve been the puppy-eating, baby-slapping bad guys in videogames for a long time. There aren’t many games that show that there were a lot of non-Nazis in the Wehrmacht, or that they didn’t usually resort to war crimes at the drop of a hat. Or that they mostly really disliked the SS and always evacuated their own first.
    (Also, almost no WWII game shows civilians at all. But that’s more a problem with FPS and RTS in general.)

    So, on the one hand, I understand the Russians here since we’ve been in the same position. On the other hand, they can at least complain. When a german does that, all you got is “you’re just a Nazi!”.

    So yeah, all in all, I don’t like the way CoH2 got some stuff wrong, but it’s not enough to be that angry about. Might be that Russians are a lot more “nostalgic” for the Soviet time than Germans are for Nazi Germany.

    1. Tomas says:

      And the same goes for movies of course.

      I totally agree with everything you said (and I’m not German by the way). Personally I mostly avoid movies or games about WWII, because while often having the pretensions of gritty realism (e.g. showing soldiers minced to pieces by machine-gun fire in slow-mo) they can almost never shake off the fairy-tale notions of good and evil, heroes and villains.

      1. ehlijen says:

        Then try Schindler’s List, Valkyrie, Das Boot or Die Bruecke. There are probably more movies, but those are the ones I’ve seen about non evil germans.

        Germany is a convenient bad guy. Mostly because nazi germany was in fact a bad guy. (I’m german, btw). But it was also clearly the aggressor, having struck first against all the major allied powers and refusing to stop until after the madman in power was dead and someone not in the SS was finally next in line to give the surrender order.

        Not all germans were evil, but enough were either evil or not discontented enough to speak up allowing the nazi regime to stay in power. That fact should not be forgotten, even if we do celebrate what few good germans there were.

        1. Tomas says:

          Just nitpicking here, but if I remember correctly, UK and France declared war against Germany, not the other way around, so “struck first against all the major allied powers” is not the best way to describe it.

          “Not all germans were evil”

          It sounds that you’re implying that most Germans were evil? That somehow an entire generation (in a nation culturally almost identical to the Allies) for some reason were bad seeds. That sort of proves my argument though.

          1. Fleaman says:

            Nitpicking here, but declaring war isn’t “striking”. Invading Poland, however, is. C’mon, man, pick the devils you’re advocating.

          2. Peter H. Coffin says:

            The declaration of war was something of a moot point — Poland was an ally of France since Napoleon, and when Germany unilaterally withdrew from from the five-year-old non-aggression pact between Germany and Poland, Poland began kind of suspecting that all was not well between the countries. Poland then asked France (and her ally United Kingdom) for a mutual protection pact, which was signed just about the same time that Germany and the Soviet Union were agreeing to divide up Eastern Europe (and especially Poland) (Molotov”“Ribbentrop Pact), and about five days later (after the SS took over a German radio station disguised as Polish military) the tanks were rolling, and five weeks later Poland was conquered and split between Germany and USSR. Poland’s agreement with France and UK essentially forced them to declare war on Germany as a result, and you don’t really have to have that kind of thing be mutual and bilateral…

            The whole deal went from simmering resentment to pan-Europe warfare in essentially six months. Which does kind of get us back to that whole CoH thing and the fact that USSR was using much of the prior year to be in open talks with France and UK about “what to do about Germany” and essentially asking to buy in on this new thing that Poland wanted with France and UK and to extend it to a bunch of other countries like Latvia and Finland, and then turning around and essentially dividing up with Germany those very same countries. Some folks believe this was a massive gambit on the part of the USSR to stall any hostilities until USSR could recover enough to be a solid fighting force against Germany. But it seems to have largely failed utterly, and leaves history (or rather partial glances at history) very confusing about what side USSR is on and with whom it’s allied at the beginning of the war, and seriously colored any perception of what happened on the Eastern Front, far above merely what actually happened on the battlefield.

      2. Rick says:

        Seeing things in a black and white way is always used on war. By both sides.

        Whether it be the Soviets, Germans, British, Indians, cowboys, there’s always an opposing force we’ll see as “evil”.

        1. Tomas says:

          If this is true, where are the black-and-white movies/games/books about the Vietnam war, the Napoleonic wars, WWI, the Falklands? I can’t think of any, off the top of my head.

    2. guy says:

      Company of Heroes is pretty good about that, too. The original has an expansion campaign playing as a Panzergrenadier unit during Operation Market Garden that most definitely avoids puppy-eating. There’s also one playing as a Tiger ace, and one holding open a pocket to allow a withdrawal.

    3. The Rocketeer says:

      I might not should say this in an election year, but in fairness to the Nazis, puppies are delicious.

  29. Cuthalion says:

    It strikes me that part of the issue with the Gamers vs Fish vs Beer thing is the paradox inherent in multiple people being disparaged by one person and retaliating. Let me explain:

    1. Person A says something awful that offends 1,000-person group B. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll call the offending remark an “insult”.
    2. Each individual in group B is offended by person A’s one insult.
    3. Each individual in group B retaliates by insulting person A in turn.
    4. Person A is insulted 1,000 times in exchange for his/her 1 insult.

    An individual in group B was insulted only once and retaliated only once. Nasty, but fair, right? But even though each side is giving as good as it gets, the person going up against the group ends up being beaten down far harder. So, even though each individual responds proportionally, the result is a disproportional response.

    In conclusion, Phil Fish did not reap what he sowed. He reaped a thousandfold what he sowed. And thinking about it that way, I feel sorry for him, even though he’s been as much of a jerk as many of the individuals being jerks to him. He still gets hit harder than he hit.

    P.S. I’m kind of curious what Chris thinks of this. Not sure why Chris specifically, but *shrug*. Maybe I should find the diecast email, since I want to ask directly…

    1. burningdragoon says:

      It’s not even that simple. You’re also missing step 5, where the 1000 people also now hold a grudge and will continually and repeatedly insult that one guy even if there isn’t a new infraction on his end.

      “That guy, who tends to be too abrasive for his own good said something kind of mean that is somewhat directed at me? Well I guess I will tell him he’s an asshole and should die every day until someone else is vaguely mean to me.”

      1. Zukhramm says:

        Well, the problem shows itself in the first 4 steps, so we don’t really need a better model.

    2. papersloth says:

      He chose that by having a twitter, by hyping his game up and, more importantly, by being a part of a documentary. He is a public figure by conscious choice, so by your line of reasoning, he still is the reason for his own woes.

      You also missed the part where there is a thousand of people liking a game he made ‘once’, and if someone expresses his distaste for the game, he’s sure to get flamed by this other thousand. Not to mention all the infighting.

      Point is, don’t oversimplify internet with “A” and “B”, Fish is a polarizing person, but it’s still mostly shades of grey.

      1. Cuthalion says:

        Fish is a semi-public figure and apparently a jerk, to be sure, but I don’t think he was choosing this situation by making a Twitter and being in a low-profile documentary. Should he have considered the possibility that by being publicly visible, lots of people could express their hatred to him? Maybe, but that’s really not the point. My point was that, when it’s a large group versus an individual, the large group can feel like they’re fighting proportionally, while the individual feels like they’re getting beat down far more than they gave. Whether that makes you sympathize with Fish is up to you.

      2. Cuthalion says:

        (Separate post because separate thoughts.)

        While it’s true that he made this game once and can still have a thousand people liking it, the two are not very comparable, in my opinion. A more clear comparison might be that he could compliment a game made by a group once, and then a thousand individuals in the group could each compliment his game in turn. You would absolutely get the same phenomenon, but positive. That said, this isn’t the situation we’ve been discussing, so I don’t think it weakens my argument that I didn’t think of or mention it or the one game vs many likes you spoke of. The same can be said for fans arguing with each other.

        I’ll have to disagree on whether he chose this, too. I don’t think that’s the case. In my opinion, saying that a person who gets a Twitter, hypes up their project, and is featured in a documentary is somehow choosing to get in a situation where any nasty thing they say will come back at them greatly amplified is like saying that I’m choosing to pick a fight with a gang by walking out of my front door. Ok, that was a really long sentence and not the most airtight comparison ever, and I hope I’m not coming off as condescending, but do you see what I’m saying?

        1. papersloth says:

          I more or less agree with you on how the response seems disproportionate to a “popular” person, but he isn’t special in that, it’s how society works, not just the web. Just compare him to someone who, say, is threatened by religious fanatics over a joke, and you’ll see why I think Fish deserved/provoked it.

          Your gang analogy is too much of a stretch though. Here, let me refine it. So there’s this guy named Phil, and he knows there are several gangs on a particular street. On his way home from school he always goes down that street, even though there are safer and shorter ways, randomly insulting gang members along the way. Not that his reputation outside of there is much better, he’s known for backtracking on things he said and shifting the blame to others.

          Except in real life he (probably) isn’t under the risk of getting beaten up. And people he gets responses from treat each other very much in the same way.

          1. Cuthalion says:

            I think that’s more or less a fair analogy for this situation, what with Fish antagonizing people. To be clear, I didn’t really talk about it much in my initial post because the point I was trying to make was about the weirdness inherent in groups of different sizes (or a group and a person here) bickering, and why I thought that he received more grief than he gave from his perspective, perhaps explaining why it drove him to quit (at least for a time). Whether or not he played a crucial role in antagonizing the people that beat him down (he did), I’m just focusing on that specific aspect of the exchange and why it means I feel like he didn’t deserve everything he got.

            Edit: I didn’t say anything about antagonizing the gang because, while you do point out that it’s a more refined analogy for Fish, I just wanted to respond specifically to the point you raised when you said that he chose this by being on Twitter and in a documentary. He may have invited nastiness by being nasty, but I still stand by the idea that he didn’t choose to receive nastiness simply by being in public.

  30. Cybron says:

    First, I suspect you meant ‘links’, not ‘kinks’?

    Second, on the Fish business. I have no sympathy for Fish. He has consistently demonstrated awful behavior online. This is not a case of constant criticism wearing down a composed and kind individual. Fish has been a childish jerk on twitter for a long time. I understand what you’re saying about indie companies being especially vulnerable (though not exclusively – I certainly don’t remember any sympathy for the Microsoft “always online” twitter guy, and I think I can safely say he took it personally). But if you are a jerk, and you present yourself as a jerk, you cannot be surprised when people respond in kind. The only person I really feel bad for here is Johnathon Blow.

    The CoD dev tweets, on the other hand, just make me sick. Wow. That is some serious bile over some seriously trivial stuff.

  31. ngthagg says:

    Did anyone else notice that the picture on Phil Fish’s twitter is Andy Kaufmann? Is this just a prank?

    (I haven't actually listened to the podcast yet, maybe they mention this.)

    1. Zukhramm says:

      Well, that’s the problem. We have a bunch of “Andy Kaufmanns” running around, able to take part in instantaneous one-to-many, with a massive crowd not only spurring them on but also taking part. Why doesn’t this happen more often?

  32. Touraxus says:

    Frozen synapse is today’s steam sale as well.
    80% off as well as the dlc. Is well worth it as you get two copies so you can gift one to a friend!

  33. Zukhramm says:

    I can't speak for Beer, but what he seemed to dislike was not Fish and Blow not wanting to answer the question, but them not wanting to be asked the question. Which I definitely agree is something they should have to stand.

    1. Shamus says:

      And as I read it, their complaint was not, “Don’t ask me questions!” But “Stop asking me to make comments on unsubstantiated rumors!” Which is a perfectly valid complaint.

      I mean, this is a septic thing that “news” sites do: A rumor comes out: Microsoft planning on killing puppies for each unsold XBox One. The story is *probably* BS, but you run your headline and you get your hits.

      Then the next day the story dies down. Man, I’d love some of that juicy rumor traffic. I know! I’ll ask some famous people what they think about the puppy-killing, and see what they think about developing on a platform with such a policy.

      They respond with strong objections. Great. Now we have a headline for day 2: “Famous person blasts Microsoft over possible puppy-murder!” No new information is available. There’s no “news” in a real sense, but now you have another story to run anyway. And you didn’t even have to do anything! Just bombard famous people with rumors all day and see if they will respond with something headline-worthy.

      If you get enough of that crap clogging up your mailbox, it’s sure to get on your nerves.

      If this version of events is true, then Beer was throwing a tantrum because Fish and Blow were rude to him when he asked them to drop what they were doing and help him in his rumor-mongering.

      We don’t know what was in that initial exchange. I’m sure Fish was incredibly rude because he’s like that. But it’s possible that Beer was the villain from the beginning.

      1. Zukhramm says:

        He could be lying, of course, and he is rude about it, but to the basic idea that successful indie developers should not get angry about being asked questions. I don’t think they don’t have to comment, but they will be asked.

  34. Artur CalDazar says:

    I think what helped make the Fish Beer stuff worse was people see these blow ups as a form of entertainment. They see a person getting attacked and to them its drama to enjoy, they don’t actually stop and actually consider anything.
    We do have a problem where people want personal disagreements to be their entertainment.

    On top of that you have people saying these terrible things, and to them they don’t think about what they are saying with any perspective. TO them they are just expressing dislike, they don’t take a step back and realise the actual meaning of what they say. I’ve talked to people who have tried defending the things said and their arguments are all about defending a persons right to express disapproval or something along those lines and that is not the point at issue.

    Everything reinforces making things worse.

  35. Heaven Smile says:

    It seems that PHIL came back, which is quite logical anyway. What artist would resist the allure of prestige and success of being one?

    The Wheel of Fate must turn-I MEAN- The Will demands it.

  36. wererogue says:

    I really enjoyed this episode!

    I’m pretty sure Sid Meier was making games all on his lonesome before Derek Smart was, and I don’t think he was the only one. Microprose used to sell games directly to people in ziplocks, so I think they qualified as indie at that point.

    For the record, the Frozen Synapse turn length is 5 seconds, but it’s configurable if you make a custom game. Anybody here is welcome to send me a challenge – I’m still pretty active!

  37. BeamSplashX says:

    If I was David Vonderhaar, I would’ve tweeted something along the lines of “Why didn’t anyone tweet me about how much they loved the old SMG stats?”

  38. Chris says:

    I think entire cast of the Diecast is abnosomely delicious. Enjoy the show lots and can’t wait for more. Thanks for all the great years of twenty sided I have enjoyed. All for the great SalubriousrexLovesPerplexingplatypuses

  39. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    So I’m answering a million years old podcast and nobody will read this but still : The Superman 64 of movies was either Dragonball Evolution or Avatar : The Last Airbender.
    Search your feelings.
    You know it to be true.

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