In the column I talk about how the nature of E3 drives publishers to engage in aggressive over-promising as they compete for eyeballs. Of course, I think the real way to break free of that trap is to stop chasing stupid photorealism. The publishers have witnessed the success of Fortnite, Minecraft, Cuphead, everything that Blizzard ever made, and everything that Nintendo ever made. They’ve seen proof that you can make billions of dollars while at the same time making your game more visually distinct and also spending less on graphicsThis is not to say that adopting a non-photorealistic art style will automatically make the game cheaper to make. It depends on the game and the art style..
The big offender here is Ubisoft, who are enamored of their realistic-looking worlds that run on crazy funtime cartoon logic, and who constantly over-promise visuals at industry events.
I realize that EA is usually seen as the big bad these days. And that’s probably fair. But there’s something about Ubisoft that personally rubs me the wrong way. I know Ubi is pretty good about funding low-budget titles, their workplaces are reportedly pretty healthy, and they only control a handful of AAA titles. You could make the case that they’re the good guys compared to the likes of EA. But for whatever reason, I grit my teeth whenever I see the Ubi logo. Between their horrendous DRM, obnoxious Uplay, their same-y collect-a-thon games, their cringe-y staged multiplayer demos at E3, and their brazenly fictional graphical promises, these guys seem to be running their company in a way designed to maximize my annoyance.
 This is not to say that adopting a non-photorealistic art style will automatically make the game cheaper to make. It depends on the game and the art style.
Push the Button!
Scenes from Half-Life 2:Episode 2, showing Gordon Freeman being a jerk.
There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.
The Gradient of Plot Holes
Most stories have plot holes. The failure isn't that they exist, it's when you notice them while immersed in the story.
Final Fantasy X
A game about the ghost of an underwater football player who travels through time to save the world from a tick that controls kaiju satan. Really.
The true story of three strange days in 1989, when the last months of my adolescence ran out and the first few sparks of adulthood appeared.