Stolen Pixels #241: The Gaming Afterlife

By Shamus
on Nov 5, 2010
Filed under:
Column

Today’s comic was more or less written in the comment thread of last week’s column. Thanks for the help!

This column was way harder than I’d anticipated it would be. Constructing it turned out to be a fairly complex logic puzzle.

Requirements:

* Between four and seven companies.
* Companies must appear in both lists, which means the companies I choose must have exceptionally strong points and weak points.
* Because I don’t want to thread-jack my own joke, I should stay away from controversy if possible. For example, my hatred of Rockstar’s gameplay is not universal and so including them in the bad list for gameplay would just muddle things. Same goes for Bungie and other hot-button developers.

In order to make this comic, I had to make a chart with all of the possible properties (gameplay, marketing, QA testing, voice acting, etc) and fill it in with the names of companies that would be exceptionally good or bad at those things. Then I had to trim it down to attributes which had both good and bad entries. Then I had to try to build a list that formed a closed loop where a set of companies would appear in each list exactly once.

There were a lot of companies I wanted to work in there but couldn’t. For example: In Hell, Zynga would be in charge of marketing. But adding one entry like this creates two dependencies. First, Zynga must be exceptionally respected for something else so that they can appear on both lists. And then I need to come up with another company to do the marketing in Heaven.

I had a few companies in both the good and bad lists, sometimes for the same thing. You can make the case that id Software could be listed for gameplay in Heaven. (The rampant popularity of Quake III Arena.) Or in Hell. (Doom 3’s monster closets.) I did this because it made it easier to construct the loop when I had a lot of possible candidates. At first I didn’t want to list someone for the same thing twice because it felt like cheating. But eventually I remembered that I was trying to write a joke and not solve a puzzle, so I ran with it and listed BioWare for dialog on both sides.

I really wanted to include id Software for “technology” in Heaven. In my chart I had it so that id could be in charge of “story”, “dialog”, or “character design” in Hell. I could include Bethesda for “technology” in Hell, but then what would Bethesda do in Heaven? And then who would do that in Hell? I went round and round on this. I had a few lists that nearly worked but required eight to ten companies. I had a good list constructed, except that it needed a company that was awesome at story and horrible at technology. (And Obsidian was already used elsewhere in the list.)

Still, fun puzzle. Take a crack at it if you’re so inclined. As a reminder, here is mine:

IN HEAVEN:

Story: Obsidian
Dialog: BioWare
Cutscenes: Square Enix
QA Testing: Valve
Release Schedule: Capcom

IN HELL:

Story: Square Enix
Dialog: BioWare
Cutscenes: Capcom
QA Testing: Obsidian
Release Schedule: Valve

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A Hundred!A Hundred!202013253. There are now n+1 comments, where n is a big-ish sort of number.

From the Archives:

  1. Psithief says:

    Bah, Heaven and Hell are constructs of religions. They are evil lies. Perpetuate them at your own peril!

  2. Jarenth says:

    So first you lift the idea for this joke from the comment thread, and now you’re asking us to improve upon it? Is this so you can re-post it next week? I’m on to you, Shamus Young.

    Still, I’m not a bad sort, so I offer you this tidbit: In Heaven, Notch is responsible for designing the game mechanics; in Hell, he’s responsible for timely bug fixes.

    • Deoxy says:

      In Heaven, Notch is responsible for designing the game mechanics

      Really? Who would he be ripping them off from, then? :-p

      • Jarenth says:

        God, obviously.

        They both seem to have world-building down, but the specific bug fixes need work. The infamous Appendix Bug, in particular, really should have been fixed by now, as should the Flu Bug.

        • acronix says:

          Not bugs, they are game mechanics. We are suppoused to get rid of them once we get our Science and Medicine skills high enough; or deal with them until we reach the endgame!

          • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

            But bad mechanics. One of them serves no other purpose than to be a pain in the ass, and the other is horribly random. One guy gets sniffles, the other one nearly dies because of a high fever. Might as well be bugs when they’re so poorly implemented.

        • Heron says:

          Actually it turns out that the appendix isn’t a bug, it’s a failsafe for when your intestines need to be rebooted.

          (Seriously though, I remember reading an article a while back saying that they’ve figured out that the appendix serves as a repository of bacteria in case sickness wipes out the good bacteria in the intestines.)

    • Hitch says:

      If he wants to steal a Stolen Pixels joke from the comments sections, that’s fine (and in a certain sense, appropriate). It gives him more time to recreate Chime in Minecraft.

    • Kaeltik says:

      On November 5, 2010 at 9:07 am, one of the best comment volleys I have ever witnessed outside of poetv was initiated. Thank you to all involved.

      (and yes, the appendix is a bacteria storehouse, a tiny version of the caecum of reptiles, birds, and herbivorous mammals)

  3. Raygereio says:

    How about; In a perfect world id Software handles the engine and Bethesda the setdesign.
    In hell it’s the other way around.

    • wtrmute says:

      Indeed — Shamus asked what Bethesda would do in heaven; I was surprised he didn’t think of level design. They’re great for setting up atmosphere by clever placement of items through the level…

      • Sekundaari says:

        I’d also specifically mention traps, which came up in the Fallout 3 Spoiler Warning too.

        I wonder if you’ve done a post/column focusing on trap design in games yet, Shamus? A quick search didn’t find one, and in Spoiler Warning it sounded like you have good points to talk about concerning traps.

  4. Brendan Byron says:

    In Heaven, Crytek does the graphics and Notch does the gameplay.

    In Hell, a humorous reversal occurs.

    • Brendan Byron says:

      In Heaven, the games are tested by Team Ninja.

      In Hell, Team Ninja tests YOU!

    • Ian says:

      Minecraft with a power suit? Block launching rifles? Korean creepers? Driving around LEGO vehicles?

      I dunno, that might actually be awesome.

    • Xakura says:

      You know, some of us quite care for the gameplay in past Crytek games. They have, in my opinion, created the best non-forced stealth game. That is, until the aliens showed up.

    • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

      You know, some of us quite like the visuals in Minecraft. It is, in my opinion, the best combination of style and not burning everyone’s processors.

      Though, seriously? You really think anyone has a machine at home that could run Crytek’s engines with Minecraft’s mechanics? Mutable enviroments make things a hell of a lot heavier than you realize.

      • Brendan Byron says:

        Hey, I LOVE the graphical style of Minecraft. It was just the only game I could legitimately complain about graphics-wise.

        As for Crysis, I don’t generally do stealth outside a Thief game, so for me it was strictly meh gameplay.

        Oh right, um… (Without reading ahead)

        Nostalgic RTS Time!

        In Heaven, the game balance is done by Blizzard and the soundtrack by Westwood Studios.

        In Hell, all the ingame songs sound the dreary same, and everyone plays Yuri.

        • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

          That’s not a humorous reversal! That’s not a humorous reversal at all!

          While kidding, and I thought that was obvious when you compare to Xakura, I feel the need to note that there has to be a better game to “legitimately complain about graphics-wise”. Although I would change the word “graphics” with “visual”, so I might be talking about a different thing.

          I didn’t comment on the gameplay in Crysis so I don’t… ooh. Right.

    • Dev Null says:

      In Hell, a humorous reversal occurs.

      Best Definition Ever.

    • Fists says:

      Your heaven would be more like limbo because no computer could run it.

  5. Sean w/o an H says:

    Thanks, Shamus, that definitely made me cackle.

    Seriously, licensing issues aside, I would totally hang that comic as a poster in my office.

  6. Someone says:

    My hat is off to you, good sir! I always found Stolen Pixels to be amusing, sometimes they caused a chuckle or two, but this one was the first SP in a long while that caused me to laugh out loud for several minutes.

    Also, in Hell everything is designed by 3d Realms.

  7. acronix says:

    The hell Square Enix´s caption almost made me spit my drink on the keyboard. Then the Valve one succeeded.

    • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

      Did you know the text bubble in Square Enix’s In Hell -caption isn’t completely made up? The story really is that nuts. Okay, so the main character’s father isn’t literally Satan, at most an allegory or something, but it’s pretty spot on. Especially about the “underwater football”, assuming you think “football” means “american football”.

      • Someone says:

        Yeah, it’s actually a pretty accurate summary.

        • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

          It would be interesting to see what would come out if Square-Enix would pitch one of their insane story ideas to another company that’s better at storytelling. It wouldn’t even need to be a game company. Just hand it to Pixar for all I care.

          I really feel I should write more, but that covers it. Just imagine Square-Enix pitching a story idea to another company with better writers, who then run with it. Just imagine how crazy, but in a good, hilarious way, the outcome would be.

          • Someone says:

            I think the other company will just turn it into a kiddie game, cause everyone knows kids are stupid and eat up that sort of nonsense without questioning.

            It would be interesting to see Obsidian’s take on it though, I mean they somehow reanimated their own lore after Bethesda had its way with it, maybe they can do that too.

            • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

              I kinda meant that the company with better writers isn’t staffed by idiots, but actually creative people who would pull it at least as a “fun for the whole family” in the vein of Pixar. In that sure, it’s an animation, sure it’s suitable for children, but it has parental bonuses and is enjoyable from an adult perspective. And doesn’t leave a taste of patronizing in your mouth.

        • Amnestic says:

          Almost scarily so in fact, and it really does highlight how utterly ridiculous the story is.

          Though to be fair it’s really no less bizarre than any of the other Final Fantasy games, and still better than VIII.

          In Heaven, the game is directed by Kojima.
          Published by Capcom
          Patches by Blizzard
          DLC by Rockstar
          Soundtrack by Bungie

          In Hell, the game is directed by Kojima
          Published by Blizzard
          DLC by Capcom (Yeah, I haven’t forgotten RE5. Got my eyes on you Capcom.)
          Soundtrack by…shit, hang on, gonna need to think this through again.

          This is harder than I thought ;<

          • Yar Kramer says:

            It’s because pretty much everything has a good soundtrack.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              You know,its funny how I cannot name a single bad soundtrack.I can name quite a few excellent ones,but not one really bad one.It seems like no one can make a really bad soundtrack,with average being the worst they can do.

              • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                I think it’s that either a game was good enough to overcome the soundtrack through other measures (gameplay, story, whatever) and you just put sound volume down or it wasn’t so you’d rather forget the game as a whole.

          • MintSkittle says:

            In Heaven, the game is released and needs no patches, ever.

          • acronix says:

            In Heaven, games have no DLC: anything that can be in the game is already in the game.

            • Amnestic says:

              Maybe I’m a weird sort, but I think expansions/DLC released after a game hits can improve the title even if it’s ‘complete’ and more than satisfactory in its original form.

              When done right, anyway. Part of the fun of an expansion to me is not just getting more content, but getting more content *later*. A little bonus addendum like a Christmas present you forgot about until halfway through January.

              If Blizzard had released WoW with the first three expansions of content already there, that’d be incredible, but part of the fun of a new expansion is the anticipation for it.

              To me, anyway. Like I said, maybe I’m a weirdo :P

              • MintSkittle says:

                There’s nothing inherently wrong or bad about DLC, it’s just the delivery/marketing of it that defines it.

                If the game is already out, and one of the Devs says, “We just thought of this cool thing, and we’re gonna add it,” that’s fine, but when it’s “We have this cool thing, and it’s in the game at launch, but you can’t have it unless you bought it new or payed us an extra $10 on that used game that we already got paid for, just not from you and registered your game on our website,” that really gets me all riled up (I’m looking at you EA).

              • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                Why do people keep comparing MOGs to “normal” games? They use a completely different income model.

                Look, MOGs need to change. If WoW were originally the same it will be with all the expansions after the Cataclysm comes out from the very beginning, other expansions would’ve had to come out instead. Stagnation is doom of all MOGs because people need to keep playing.

                That said, I do understand the “ooh, new stuff coming for game X, how exciting!” It’s just that… well. Compare non-MOGs to non-MOGs, please?

                • Amnestic says:

                  Well if you insist.

                  Take Warcraft 3. Good game, great game even. Lots of stuff to do, world editor, heroes, great campaign and fun online multiplayer.

                  Then they announce Frozen Throne. More stuff with Arthas: Awesome. New units: Awesome. New improvements to everything: *Awesome*.

                  We’re now psyched up for a game all over again, one that perhaps we didn’t much care to play anymore because we’d played it out as far as it will go.

                  I only recently played Red Dead Redemption through so this applies less to me, but how many people broke out their copy and played some more when they started seeing stuff for the Undead DLC and got excited for it? That’s what I’m talking about. I used WoW as an example not as an MMO but because it’s a game with a number of expansions and because it features so prominently on my shelf above my monitor.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  But imagine if the game had such a great ai and divergent story and dynamic missions that you could replay it dozen times,and still not discover everything,and get a completely different experience.Thats what a heavenly game would provide,and it wouldnt need anything new added.So no patches,no dlcs,no expansions,no sequels.It would be a complete and perfect experience.

                • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                  Amnestic: Thank you. Much better.

                  Daemian Lucifer: Procedural generation of events (quests etc.) and content? That would be very interesting, assuming the algorithm would be well done. But I don’t think it would work for everyone. I’ve noticed that some need “proper” expansions for games, one where it’s clearly mentioned that there’s a new thing X, and a new game mechanic Y. Regardless of game type or quality.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  “assuming the algorithm would be well done”

                  We are talking about an ideal place,so of course it would be properly done.With a true ai and all.

                • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                  Daemian Lucifer, I was thinking if it were attempted for real.

                • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                  Additional explanation: the first part, which you’re quoting was meant as “what if in the real world”, the latter about not being everyones cup of tea however was about the hypothetical Heaven situation.
                  I really suck at making those distinctions, don’t I?

          • Jon Ericson says:

            You can fix this by figuring out what Bungie is good at that Rockstar isn’t. Something like public relations with mainstream media ought to do it.

  8. Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

    I really don’t get it. How can I find “horrible dialogue”-jokes so funny? I chuckled, again, at the Fallout 3 perk list’s “Moo”-bubble when you linked to it, and now I find the In Hell Capcom’s frames highly amusing as well. Really not helped by the fact that I keep imagining the “you’re a very bad guy”-sentence in Shamus’ voice. With the patronizing tone that people in children’s shows use when they say stuff like “oh, he’s a bad man, isn’t he?”

    In Hell: Team Ninja is responsible for characterization.

    In Heaven: What Team Ninja?

  9. krellen says:

    On the subject of the original ethnic joke: British food really is that bad, and the Italians are horrible organisers, having had 70-some governments since the end of WWII (a mere 65 years ago).

    I have no comment on the viability of the Swiss as lovers.

    • Mari says:

      How bad could the Swiss be? I mean, they’re famous for CLOCKS! Mechanical clocks. Sounds like a recipe for sweet love to me ;-)

      Oh, and I can’t specifically comment on British cooking as I haven’t been to the UK to try it out, but I use several English recipes at home that are big hits around my house. Like a fairly authentic (well, I’d say very authentic since I got the recipe from an online buddy in Yorkshire) shepherd’s pie.

      • Ingvar M says:

        British cooking is famous for (although seldom actually contains) things like “cabbage boiled until pink” (about 3h, renders normal white cabbage close to inedible) and lard. You can’t go wrong with lard. Slather some on the pink cabbage and you have a meal fit for a king!

        • Roll-a-die says:

          Britain’s food is among the greasiest and heaviest food in the world. That said, it’s not that bad tasting, it’s just bad for you.

          Traditional British Breakfast
          Sausage
          Bacon
          Fried or Grilled tomatoes
          Fried Mushrooms
          Possibly Fried Toast or Eggy Bread(often called french toast in the US), possibly just plain toast
          Eggs
          a mug of Tea
          Possible additions include Black Pudding or Hash Brown/Fried left over mash.

          • Mari says:

            Where da kippers at?

            Also, take out the mushrooms and substitute coffee and it sounds like what we like to call a “farmer’s breakfast” around here. I make it most mornings.

    • Zukhramm says:

      [Insert joke about holes in cheese here]

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Whats the blandest thing on the menu?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdo79znnHl8

      Oh,and one about the italians as well:
      http://www.albinoblacksheep.com/flash/italy

      • Mari says:

        Sooooo….the US really was founded by Italy?

        • Jon Ericson says:

          I’m really curious where you are coming from (and going to) with that comment. We’ve mostly rejected English cooking and consume plenty of dishes inspired by Italians, but we have only average organizational dysfunction. Having visited Italy (and loved every chaotic moment) and living in perhaps the most disorganized US metropolitan area (Los Angeles), I can tell you the Italians are in a league of their own. Maybe you’ve seen too many mafia movies?

          • Mari says:

            Lord no. I typically avoid mafia movies like the plague. They just don’t entertain me. And no, I’ve never been to Italy. I was responding solely on the basis of the video linked in the comment to which I replied.

            Specifically, the opening “highways” bit reminded me of DFW traffic during rush hour, especially in those areas that are under perpetual construction. The “parking” sequences reminded me of downtown Midland, TX where I have actually witnessed wrecks as multiple cars attempted to simultaneously parallel park in the same slot and pretty much any parking lot I’ve ever been in here in TX has two or three areas made up of people with brand new cars who deliberately park in such a way as to take up two-four parking spaces so that nobody dings them. “Pedestrian Crossing” reminded me most strongly of the crossing near my own local grocery store. I’ve nearly been run down there so often it’s almost comical.

            I could go on with a segment by segment analysis but suffice it to say that almost everything in it (with a few exceptions) reminded me strongly of the US in general and Texas in specific.

            Also, if we have only “average” organizational dysfunction I do hereby rescind my desire to actually visit Italy. It once took me three months to get my car registered because of the bureaucratic nightmare of trying to get the paperwork on a car owned jointly by a married couple signed, initialed, and notarized in all the right places with all of the attendant identification, proof of insurance, proof of loan release, etc documented properly. It took seven (7) different forms being filled out, which had to be obtained from 3 different, completely unrelated, government agencies. And in the end it took another two years to actually get the state to send the registration renewal paperwork to the right address (the one at which I had already lived for 3 years, which was on my drivers’ license and voter registration card, which I provided to them no fewer than 5 times).

            • Jon Ericson says:

              Perhaps Texas was founded by Italians. However, having driven through Midland (proceeded by Dallas, Austin and San Antonio) recently, I suspect your tolerance for disorder makes Italy out-of-bounds for you.

              I have a friend who married an Italian. Unfortunately, he was living in Italy under an expired student visa so he had to obtain legal residency in Italy before the US would allow him and his wife to return here. The process involved months of bouncing from one official to another and was finally resolved when a local police chief (?!) simply granted him residency. Seems that having visited so often, my friend had made an acquittance with the cop which in turn facilitated getting the signature he needed.

              Apparently your car registration problem is trivially solved by many Italians with the simple expedient of not bothering. Turns out there are rarely consequences to not registering or insuring vehicles.

    • Jon Ericson says:

      I get the impression Italians feel that having already done the organization thing with the Roman Empire, they just want to move on to having a good time. If that means the trains run slow, who cares? More time for a sip of espresso!

    • swimon says:

      I don’t get the “police are german” line actually. I haven’t been in Germany that much (mostly travelled through) but the police seemed nice enough. Italian police on the other hand is scary as shit. They stand around intimidating people with assault rifles. I’m guessing the idea is to scare people from doing crime? Also I don’t know anything about the “Carabinieri” (the scary part of the police force) other than that so they might all be perfectly fine people, but still assault rifles!

  10. Jos says:

    Funny. But I think I would’ve replaced both Obsidians with Troika Games.

    I liked the story (and dialogue) of VtM: Bloodlines better than that of Alpha Protocol.

    Or are we not allowed to use defunct companies?

    • Shamus says:

      I wouldn’t have, just because The Escapist audience trends young and Troika is less likely to be a familiar name to them.

      But I don’t think the Joke Police will come after you if you try to use defunct companies.

      Heaven: Gameplay by Looking Glass.

      Hell: Business Management by Looking Glass.

      • Jos says:

        Drat youngsters need to learn their history, then. :P

        • Shamus says:

          That’s actually a good idea for a column…

          Looking Glass, MicroProse, Troika, Black Isle…

          These giants shaped the industry, and they went extinct over a decade ago. That might make for a good topic.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            *sigh*No one even remembers 3do and might and magic games anymore.

            • Someone says:

              Nonsense! To this day M&M vs Wizardry and M&M6vs8vs9 flamewars continue in dark corners of the internet.

              • Galad says:

                “M&M6vs8vs9” – wait, what? I thought HoMM5: Tribes of the East expansion was the last game up to date from this series? Or is my sense of humor malfunctioning in this early Saturday morning hour of 1 pm? :P

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Might and magic 9 is way older than homm5.

                • Someone says:

                  Oh, the irony.

                  No, I am talking about Might&Magic series, not HEROES of Might&Magic.

                  For the record, Might&Magic was a successful series of first person, party based RPG’s. So successful, that 3DO decided to make a series of spin-off TBS games, Heroes, which used the already established setting and borrowed some of its game mechanics from King’s Bounty (the original KB, the Russian KB was a remake).

            • Aldowyn says:

              Hey, I played one of the might and magic games! and 3do sounds familiar..

              And all of those companies sound very familiar, even if I can’t place them. … I thought Black Isle was the one that made the first couple Fallouts (wikied)

              • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                It’s really interesting how people who should know better (some of my friends are Fallout 1 & 2 fans, for example) and still think that the first one was a “Black Isle game”, when it Interplay back then. Black Isle came around after, just in time to get it’s name on the second Fallout. And it’s not just nitpicking either, most of the Fallout 1 creators quit as soon as they could (contract obligations forced most to stay until Fo2 came out) so “the Fallout people” aren’t the same as the “Planescape: Torment people” or the “Baldur’s Gate people”. Unless you really mean “the Fallout 2 people”, which I suppose could be true.

            • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

              From my experience, it’s for the best.

              I just hope that no-one* even accidentally buys King’s Quest/Space Quest games from Gog.com.

              * No-one who shouldn’t know better. So people who have played them before are excepted, especially if they’re one of the dirty liars who wrote a review in there. Those guys deserve what’s coming to them.

              • krellen says:

                What exactly about the *Quest series did you not like, and what review “lie” tricked you into trying them?

                • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                  Oh, I wasn’t tricked into buying them. But have you read the reviews on gog.com for those? Five stars, “must play adventure games” etc. Yet anyone who actually remembers those mention little fun facts like getting killed for curiosity without any warning or anything to indicate actual danger and having to start from the very beginning, or at least several hours back, because they either didn’t do something they should’ve, and can’t go back to fix it. Or didn’t get something they were supposed to, but now it’s too late (bonus points if it’s because of an arbitrary reason).

                  And how about the fact that at least in King’s Quest I you have to type “swim” or your character drowns? Nevermind that anyone who can swim should do it instinctively. Or the bridge over the moat that doesn’t run straight, so you have to do a little “right-down-right” dance everytime you want over it? Or that it doesn’t recognize the word “trident” (IIRC, this is over ten years ago), despite there being one quite clearly in that one beach? Or other similiarly irritating “we put one word for this, because we hate our players”-things?

                  A series that has all of those should never be mentioned as a “must have”, nor should get 5/5 marks from anyone who isn’t completely insane or a complete idiot. Especially now that there are other, much better, adventure games. Claiming that “they were the originators, so they should be played only to now where the genre is coming from” is bullshit. They should only ever be played either to see what you should never do in a game or torture.

                • krellen says:

                  I think you miss the entire point of GOG, then.

                  And since I started with Infocom games long before Sierra, I didn’t find the interface oddities to be that annoying. I also heavily disagree on the subject of “better”; adventure games these days are graphical, point-and-click types. I don’t think point-and-click really compares (although I still think KQ6 was the best of the series.)

                • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                  I didn’t know the point of Gog.com was to make everyone who hasn’t played old games think everyone who likes them to be reminiscenting idiots who view their games purely through rose tinted glasses. It’s difficult enough to get people to give a chance to old games, when they’ve been burned by reviews like the ones on Gog.com it’s damn near impossible.

                  And I didn’t complain about the interface alone. I have nothing against parser systems, I really liked the Starship Titanic for example, but the X Quest games sound by all sane accounts something that most people should avoid. And by “better” I mean no “sudden death” syndrome, no puzzles you can’t solve because you didn’t know that you had to do something somewhere else and can’t do it anymore, that also wasn’t obvious in any sense of the word. The problem is bad game design, especially when the route is cut because of a poor excuse. I’m not speaking of “better” as in “X is a better game than Y because I like it” but “X is bad, because it’s made with horrible game design philosophy”, and it’s fine if you like them. You just shouldn’t claim they’re something they’re not. Which is, at the very least, a “Must Play”. Even among old game enthusiast.

                  Example: I watched Freelance Astronauts Let’s play of King’s Quest 6 (nice coincidence), despite knowing what to do the player forgot to get one item on the Island of Copyprotection (the one with the “Wall of Knowledge”) so he can’t do one of the spells in the game. And there’s no reason why they couldn’t have made the situation so that the King of the place would just say “okay, you’re fine with us, but we’d like to keep our political situation friendly with that one dude, so you may not access our city again” as opposed to the whole island. It doesn’t even matter if the spell isn’t necessary, because that’s still poor design.

                  And seriously, having to tell your character, who can swim, to swim manually isn’t bad interface design or a puzzle, but really mind bogglingly stupid.

          • Someone says:

            What about Sierra? LucasArts? Westwood, Bullfrog… This might prove difficult.

          • X2-Eliah says:

            I would love to read such a column, focusing on the forgotten giants of gaming development.

            Either you go on to compare them to nowadays, or look at why they’ve gone, or just general information, me thinks that would be an awesome column – perhaps even more than one.

          • Ingvar M says:

            Psygnosis? Or are they still around?

          • swimon says:

            I have to admit I had never heard of MicroProse before this.

            • Mari says:

              Thanks, Shamus. Now I’m contemplating taking hostages and demanding the resurrection of Bullfrog. Man I miss them.

              • Jos says:

                Isn’t most of the former Bullfrog team working at Lionhead these days? Or is it just Molyneux?

                • Someone says:

                  People who made Populous, Theme Hospital and Dungeon Keeper now spend their days making shallow DRM riddled kiddie games hyped as “simulators of the universe”.

                  Kinda like Warren Spector.

                  …there is no justice.

              • swimon says:

                Ah Dungeon Keeper kicked so much ass ^^ unfortunately I don’t think it holds up any more.

                • Mari says:

                  It would if I could get it to run for more than 5 minutes without crashing anymore.

                  And for Jos: EA bought Bullfrog and assimilated them, Borg-style except Pete, (who went mad from the process and was rescued by Lionhead but will never be the same again)and Mike, Fin, and Guy who founded Mucky Foot which developed 3 games before closing their doors in ’03.

                • Someone says:

                  I generally play Evil Genius as a more modern substitute, but something doesn’t quite “click” as well as DK does (maybe it’s all the bugs or poor balance).

                • acronix says:

                  I think it all comes down to the the fact that there are only two maps. One is tiny, and the other is annoying because you have to move all your assets from the tiny one. Also, because of the “move”, replayability suffers.

                • Miral says:

                  That, and also Evil Genius is more of a management sim (the whole minion training and world map missions thing) than DK was. Which I think made DK more fun. (Although you can get mods for EG that mitigate most of the more annoying aspects.)

  11. Jarenth says:

    In MMO Heaven, NCSoft does the world-building, Turbine does graphics and atmosphere, Cryptic does the combat, and Blizzard does the endgame content.

    In MMO Hell, Blizzard just does everything and lazy marketing executives decide to carbon-copy WoW whenever they get the chance.

    [Or: damnit, this matching up is harder than I’d hoped.]

    • Zukhramm says:

      I thought Blizzard would do the end game content in hell, and the graphics and atmosphere in heaven.

      • Amnestic says:

        Blizzard endgame has improved in recent years.

        It’s far and away better than initial release, no matter what hardcore nostalgia glassed persons may tell you, though whether that makes it “good” or not is obviously personal preference. I’ve not played enough MMOs up to ‘end game’ level to really comment in an informed manner.

        • Zukhramm says:

          I guess maybe all other MMOs are even worse, but what WoW does is take the most boring part of the game (instances) and scale it up. And the instances in WotLK seem even more linear and boring than the earlier ones.

          Now the questing en levelling part, that has really improved as they released expansions.

          • Someone says:

            To each their own. Personally, I always found leveling the most dreary and mindnumbingly boring part of WoW, but the instances and raids were the parts where the game really came alive to me.

            Then again, I always played tank.

            • X2-Eliah says:

              Real men roll healers. Just sayin’.

              Honestly though, is there anything about Wow’s endgame that is better than any standard MMO-endgame? As far as I can tell, only the amount of people there is different.

              • Someone says:

                Preposterous! Everyone knows healing is for girls.

                Why is it better? That is a good question. All I can say is that WoW was the only MMO in which I ever actually got to the endgame. The leveling still sucks, but at least it doesn’t take 5 years of incessant grind to reach the maximum level, like in some other MMO’s.

                • krellen says:

                  When I played WoW, I played a priest.

                  Of course, this was way back at launch time, and I was a Discipline priest before Discipline was cool (I called myself a “Holy Mage” and did as much healing as blasting (yes, I “blasted” with Smite.))

                • Jarenth says:

                  I remember reading that’s actually a part of the Discipline repertoire now.

                  Then again, in City of Heroes you can active three skills and summon six killer robots complete with laser rifles.

                • Pickly says:

                  If you haven’t already tried it, Guild Wars might be a good game for you. Depending on the campaign you start with, the “end game” (At max level) is either 1/3 of the game, or most of it, and the leveling happens much more naturally, so most of the time you won’t have to worry about doing it if you follow the quests and story.

                • Someone says:

                  @Pickly

                  Assuming you are talking to me, the name suggests a focus on PvP, and I couldn’t care less about PvP.

                  I also find the asian “anime/final fantasy” art style repulsive, it was one of the many reasons I couldn’t get into Lineage back in the day.

                  And really, my voyage into the world of MMO’s ended with my WoW raiding guild disbanding and my account being hacked, and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t think I’l ever come back (unless, like, somebody buys me Cataclysm), and if I do, it will be for EVE online.

                • acronix says:

                  But real girls roll rogues!

                  Pickly is right about Guild Wars. Levelling was very untedious and quick. There was gear grinding, though, for what I remember. And there´s GW2 coming eventually, so…

                • Pickly says:

                  @Someone:

                  The game was originally designed more around PvP, but the PvE part is still quite well developed. (I’ve been playing it since a moth or so after it was released as mostly a PvE person and enjoyed it quite a lot.)

                • krellen says:

                  @Jarenth: That’s one of my favourite CoX characters.

  12. Nihil says:

    Deus Ex 3 is going to be an Eidos game, but they had Square-Enix make the cutscenes. One hopes it’s the first step on the stairway to Heaven.

  13. Moblin_DK says:

    Loved the comic.

    A few tries:

    In Heaven gameplay is made by Rare (picture of Golden eye 64)
    In Hell gameplay is made by Rare (Picture of Perfect dark Xbox360)

    In heaven the consol’s are made by Sony and the first party support is provided by Nintendo. Reverse in Hell. (ok this one is a bit of a stretch)

    This game is hard :/

    • Jon Ericson says:

      Better:

      In heaven, Sony is in charge of console aesthetics, Microsoft is in charge of online features, and Nintendo is in charge of pricing.

      In hell, Microsoft is in charge of console aesthetics, Nintendo is in charge of online features, and Sony is in charge of pricing.

      Or:

      In heaven, Apple is in charge of handheld aesthetics, Sony is in charge of marketing (in Japan), and Nintendo is in charge of licencing.

      In hell, Nintendo is in charge of handheld aesthetics, Sony is in charge of marketing (outside of Japan), and Apple is in charge of licencing.

      The key is to have very strong stereotypes and to feel free to fudge things a bit. ;-)

      • Zukhramm says:

        Do we have to pay for online features in heaven? And are Nintendo really good with licensing?

        • Jon Ericson says:

          To the first, Nintendo is in charge of pricing, remember? ;-)

          To the second, I’m thinking of the piles of quality titles on the DS (and GBA and GameBoy) compared to the rare gems buried among piles of iFart apps. Not sure how to express that in the form of a recognizable category, however.

  14. Jordan says:

    “In Hell, Zynga would be in charge of marketing.”
    Nu uh. In hell it would be whatever company is in charge of Civony, Evony or whatever the current name is. I mean come on, ads for pornography tend to show less flesh then they do.

    • Brandon says:

      The amusing thing about this is that I’ve actually seen more and more Free to Play MMOs and things using the “boobs” type of advertisements for their games. Usually because the female characters in their games are scantily clad, so it could actually be a main draw for players. :P

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    In heaven,ea provides the funds.In hell,they do everything else.

    Also,if you had all companies different in both categories,it wouldnt be as funny as it is with bioware doing dialogue in both.

  16. Galad says:

    It hadn’t been easy, as we can tell from the intro post here, but somehow you’ve managed to make all the 10 points (heaven/hell) not only relevant and funny, but very true as well.

    Thank You, Shamus, thank You *standing applause*

  17. Aldowyn says:

    :D That was a very good one! I particularly enjoyed the Bioware joke, probably because I’m watching the Mass Effect Spoiler Warning and playing the game currently, as well as looking forward to the ME2 one.

    Oh, and that very last line: “We’re gonna need more time than that.” PRICELESS!

  18. Neil Polenske says:

    Congradulation Shamus, you’ve ascended to the hallowed halls of Halolz!

    http://www.halolz.com/2010/11/05/in-heaven-in-hell/

  19. Jon Ericson says:

    For Metroid fans:

    In heaven, Nintendo is in charge of original IP, Retro Studios is in charge of story and Team Ninja is in charge of cut scenes.

    In purgatory, Retro Studios is in charge of original IP and Nintendo is in charge of cut scenes.

    In hell, Team Ninja is in charge of story.

    It’s a cheat and the “between four and seven companies” has me stumped.

    • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

      No. Dear God, no. I’ve been for several years fed up with cliched and misogynist bullshit in Japanese media and Team Ninja is one of the worst* example of this behaviour. And if you really think they wouldn’t at least stuff bouncing boobies there, that would at best make everyone seasick, you’re sadly mistaken.

      * or best, if you’re approaching from the “good example of how not to do it”-direction.

    • Lovecrafter says:

      Don’t really know about the Hell part, since “Other M” was basically 80% “Metroid: Fusion”‘s storyline and setting.

      And Team Ninja being in charge of cutscenes in Heaven? Samus sounded like she was hooked up to an IV filled with valium.

      I think Metroid needs to be handed out to other companies before we can really make this joke. Maybe Obsidian? Or Bioware?

      • Zukhramm says:

        I have a hard time calling the story of Other M bad, bland maybe, it’s very standard “weapons research gone wrong”. Now Retro Studios in charge of the story… The first two games were fine, but an evil planet sending out poinson meteors? Really?!

  20. Pickly says:

    4X games:

    In Heaven:

    Galactic Civilizations 2 supplies the AI
    The MoO series supplies the units and combat system
    Alpha Centauri supplies the backstory and setting

    In Hell:
    Galactic civilizations supplies the units and combat system
    The MoO series supplies the backstory and setting
    Alpha Centauri supplies the A.I.

    (I suppose a lot of 4X games could apply the A.I, actually, but Alpha Centauri got shoehorned in.)

    And this is surprisingly hard, even though I find that most 4X games have some elements done well and some done poorly. For some reason its hard to match up the poor parts and well done parts into this sort of combination.

    • Someone says:

      What was wrong with MoO setting?

      • Jon Ericson says:

        I can’t remember it having one for starters. Wasn’t it: here’s the Orion system–go conquer?

        • Jon Ericson says:

          But to be fair: MoO’s backstory and setting weren’t awful as one would expect in hell and a 4X game doesn’t particularly need either.

          [Not sure why I don’t have permission to edit anymore.]

        • Someone says:

          Well, that’s how all 4X games work. And I’m sure the MoO manual had 200 pages explaining the backstory of all the races, conflicts and historical events, etc.

      • Pickly says:

        Nothing particularly wrong with it, just that there isn’t much there from what I remembered when I was writing the comment. After thinking about it a bit more, this might be a bit harsh. :)

        (Though this is likely one of those matters of opinion that we just view differently. After thinking about it a bit I can pretty easily imagine how someone would approach the list differently.)

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Galciv has pretty decent units and combat system.Not as good as the other two youve mentioned,but still good one.And alien crossfire does improve the ai of alpha centauri.

      How about:In heaven x-com gets re-released with polished graphics and music.In hell x-com becomes a shooter in the 50s.

      • Someone says:

        Oh no! We live in hell!

      • X2-Eliah says:

        Since it also lost the dash in real world, Hell is therefore a slightly better place than this, right?

      • Pickly says:

        Its a bit subtle, but Galactic civilizations does have the issue of being strongly rock paper scissors oriented, without much of a way to influence combat after the ships were designed, which is how I’m judging combat systems separately from the rest of the game. (Compare something like civilization games, or games with tactical combat screen, where movement and terrain can be used to influence how well or poorly a battle goes after the units have been made.)

        In the game as a whole, this didn’t matter much at all for how fun it was, but combining that sort of combat system into a games with different sorts of economies and settings would work out pretty poorly.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Well you cannot expect empty space to influence combat.But there were numerous ways to influence it even after you designed your ships:lure enemy near your military base to get combat bonus,or create a fleet,or weaken them with other ships before moving in with your main force.True,I too wouldve liked to have more of an influence over the battle,but the system is pretty good the way it is.Plus,even if you choose wrong defenses,you still have a chance to deflect the attack completely.

          • Pickly says:

            Did forget the military bases.

            Still the rest of the combat system is quite basic, and wouldn’t fit well into most other games. A chance ot deflect attacks with the wrong defenses is still something out of the player’s control unless they design ships, and weakening with other ships does depend on having other ships to spare, and depends just as much as the “main” battle on the combination on what equipment the ships were built with.

            • Someone says:

              Well, if you do some number crunching, you can use different types of defense to your advantage (1/1/1 armor gives 3/3/3 defense points!).

              If anything, the combat system in GalCiv is a simplified version of Civilization combat pre Civ V, there is plenty of strategy involved, but not as much tactics as a wargame would have.

              • Pickly says:

                That’s more ship design than combat, though. (Unless you have enough money to simply upgrade everything before each battle) (Remember, for purposes of this example, I was comparing how combat works after the fighters have been designed and built)

                Civ 4 would definitely be on my list for combat hell if I’d thought of a natural heaven category (and fit some other games in around it, as fits the difficulty of this sort of joke), though some mods seemed to improve the combat in the game. Civilization 2 is something I wouldn’t have included as hell thanks to having terrain and movement effect, plus differences in attack and defense. (Though it was a system that definitely could have used improvement.)

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Civ4 has movement and terrain effects as well.So why is civ2 any different?Civ5 is the only one with essentially different combat.

                  Also,if we are going by that,civ series(without 5 and the spinoffs)has less complex combat than galciv,because you cannot customize the conditions as much(forts vs fleets and modifieable bases and combat resources).

                  You cannot really compare tactical combat in games that dont utilize it at all.On your list,only moo series has it.

                • Someone says:

                  That’s why I said strategy. Ship design is part of the war strategy: you know Korx are going to hit you with rockets so you get a fleet of fighters with point defense and a cruiser carrying defense amplifiers, just like, in Civ, you build up spearmen against good cavalry.

                  The tactical part i.e. moving your fleets around the world map and engaging, is less complex since the terrain is largely out of equation, but it’s still there. You still use scouts for recon, lure enemy into traps, protect your troop transports, build up space stations on dangerous directions, hide behind asteroid fields and so forth.

                  The combat, as in engagement of two fleets, is just like in civ, determined by a series of dice rolls.

                  For the most detailed TBS combat simulation you can pick Total War series. Not sure if it fits the “heaven” though, RTS combat is just not for everyone.

  21. somebodys_kid says:

    Best. Comic. Ever.
    Seriously.

  22. Gandaug says:

    Couldn’t read it all before posting. Love the list, Shamus, except for Valves doing QA in heaven. Their games have turned into buggy, unbalanced messes for me.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Yeah, that seemed like an odd choice for me, too. The TF2 updates seemed to have a “just push it out the door, we’ll patch the bugs/balance later” mentality behind them. Blizzard would’ve made for a better choice, for the exact same reasons.

  23. Jokerman89 says:

    I really expected Bethesda in the dialog hell section.

  24. Nentuaby says:

    I got a big ol’ chuckle out of Bioware doing dialogue both times. Oh, so very true! :)

  25. TheAngryMongoose says:

    Whoopse. Entered this into the wrong post. Quit… Think of something witty.
    How about story writing QA and gameplay by Stellar Stone?
    Fallout NV was buggy, but at least you couldn’t reverse faster than the speed of light.

  26. Dang, the mention of Westwood reminds me of Blade Runner The Game.
    I still got the box squashed in a pile in the corner of the room here.
    If it’s availøable on GoG or sumpt get it as the athmosphere there is amazing.

    Best movie to game conversion in my oppinion. The story runs parallel to the movie.

    Oh and they used a mix of pre-rendered art, and Voxel pixel characters. (Doesn’t Minecraft use voxel pixels?)
    So Westwood where ahead of their time as nobody had really used voxels like that before.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner_%281997_video_game%29

    PS!
    I just went to http://www.gog.com/en/support/contact/other_questions_issues
    and pointed them to that wiki article.

    If anyone else wants to see this game on GoG you might want to do the same.

    • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

      Voxel pixels? What the fuck is a voxel pixel?

      Voxels are explained as “3D pixels”, but they’re more like pixels in an image file that contains depth data. So voxels have only one color. They do not have a texture. If a Minecraft map would be represented in voxel graphics all the blocks would be of a single color. So for an example grass blocks would be green. One color of green.

      There is a possibility of shading etc. But that’s a different thing, and is usually used to make things look more round.

      Minecraft uses polygons. They just form cubes with textures. Nothing weird, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing wrong. Just not voxels.

      • Someone says:

        The first (and last) time I have heard about voxel technology was in Worms 3D, I believe they wanted to use a combination of voxels and polygons (voligons) for the destructible terrain.

        • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

          The Build engine used voxels, check pictures from Blood from Gog.com or something. Incidentally, came out the same year as the Blade Runner game. Nowadays it gets mostly use in medical/science circles because you can simulate mass better with them. Also you can have as much details as you want if the “resolution” is high enough without additional strain on hardware (compare bitmap to vector graphics).

          Also, something a noticed (from Wikipedia):

          “…we hadn’t even mentioned the 750,000 polygons for the characters yet.”

          Voxel graphics don’t have polygons. And the way it was explained in the wikipedia page doesn’t convince me there was anything special about the voxels. I suspect it’s the same thing as with the “trixels” (or whatever) in that it’s just marketing fluff. Trixels are basically voxels with a shading system that’s purpose is to make it look pixellated, as opposed to most which try to make everything look more round or “organic”. By the same logic cel-shaded graphics aren’t based on “polygons” but “trilygons” or something.

  27. Otters34 says:

    Um, the bit with Square-Enix writing the stories doesn’t sound bad, just weird, and bad and weird aren’t usually close comrades. Perhaps you should have gone with XIII’s story, which is so cliche and bland I can barely remember it.

    All the rest was great though, especially the BioWare bits.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “which is so cliche and bland I can barely remember it”

      Arent those the markings of a bad story?See,he did hit the spot.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        He’s trying to say that XIII was a better example of bad story writing than X. Which is untrue. VIII beats X for being convoluted and rife with contrivance, but in terms of sheer awfulness, X has clearly the worst story in the FF series.

        Final Fantasy X has four good points:

        The battle system

        The temple puzzles (YMMV, but I loved them)

        “Otherworld”, the heavy metal track that somehow makes whatever is happening when it’s being played seem awesome.

        Auron, Rikku, Kihmari, and Lulu are all genuinely likable (and Wakka only makes me cringe some of the time).

        X has some sort of inverse likability-to-screentime ratio that marginalizes the characters that should have been given more attention. I found Tidus and Yuna to be barely tolerable. Everything else about X is mediocre at best and pathetic at worst. Y’know, other than the actual cutscenes, but XII and XIII’s cutscenes actually do manage to surpass the Square Enix standard of Really Good FF Cutscenes.

        EDIT: Oh wait, the progression system and weapon customization in X were actually good too. In fact, pure-game-wise there’s little to criticize FFX. But the game mechanics are supposed to be secondary to the story in FF games, which is why the badly-written ones stick out so much.

        • Jarenth says:

          My little brother and I are, to this day, hoping for another Final Fantasy game with the game mechanics (especially the battle system) of FFX, preferably without Tidus.

          Also, I’ll agree that a weird story isn’t automatically bad — but FFX’s main story actually ís bad. The side-stories are different degrees of ok or not (Wakka’s growth as a person in learning to overcome his Al Bhed-racism and the loss of his brother come to mind), but the main story is just nonsense and confusion with a side of… well, Tidus and Yuna.

        • Mari says:

          Lulu was likable? I think I probably would have opted for describing her as visually appealing, because I don’t remember a ton of personality, just boobs with legs. Then again, I liked her a whole lot for exactly that reason, especially when she leaned down to attack.

          I loved the leveling system in that game, though. I went crazy trying to plot the optimum path through the sphere grid. That was almost more entertaining than the game itself (well, it was more entertaining if you factor in the story).

  28. DrMcCoy says:

    You could have put BioWare into the hell technology section, though. If you’ve ever seen their 2DA (2 dimensional ASCII table) and GFF (hierachical random data, conceptually similar to XML) formats, you know what I mean.
    For KotOR, they then made the 2DAs “binary” (but managed to create two incompatible binary 2DA formats).
    And then for Dragon age, they combined the two formats from hell, by implementing 2DAs as GFFs.

  29. Vegedus says:

    In Heaven: Blizzard is in charge of patching and polishing.

    In Hell: Blizzard is in charge of innovation.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Really?I stayed clear of world of warcraft,so maybe thats what you are talking about,but blizzard introduced so many great things.3 distinct races for an rts,autocasting,funny unit chattering,heroes,…Then the whole genre of rpg(sort of)games.And now extremely varied dynamic maps.I dont remember many sequels that managed to have basically the same concept as the original,yet still offer plethora of new stuff like starcraft 2.You dont have to radically change every single thing with each new game in order for them to be innovative.Evolution sometimes works much better than revolution.

      • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

        I don’t see how adding another race to a game is innovating, or funny unit chatter for that matter. The latter is like saying that Z was innovative, because it took a humorous approach to RTSs. And the former is most likely the outcome of starting as a Warhammer 40k game.

        Whole genre of rpg? Are you talking about Diablo? I’d like to introduce you to the term “Roguelike”. Granted, turning something real-time could be considered innovative, but the people in question aren’t working for Blizzard anymore.

        Not that I agree with Blizzard being in charge of innovation in Hell. Not only do they innovate, at least occasionally, and they don’t end up making things worse when they do.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “I don’t see how adding another race to a game is innovating”

          Distinct races.There wasnt a single rts before that had three completely different,yet fully balanced races.And it was later copied by everyone to the death.And dont forget all the innovations these three races brought(zergs were maybe the first race in an rts that made swarm of weak critters a viable strategy,pylons and creep were later used by so many games in numerous different ways).

          “The latter is like saying that Z was innovative, because it took a humorous approach to RTSs. And the former is most likely the outcome of starting as a Warhammer 40k game.”

          I cant comment on z,but I think warcraft preceeds it with humour in rts.As for the later,does the reasons why something happened negate it?People discovered how to make fire so that they could be warm.Does that mean that that discovery was insignificant and not innovative?

          “Whole genre of rpg? Are you talking about Diablo? I’d like to introduce you to the term “Roguelike”.”

          Soo,wolfenstein was just another copy of contra?Shoot at enemies,collect bonuses,etc.You have to admit that diablo was a breakthrough back then.And dont forget all the other things that have set the standard for the genre(skill trees,randomized equipment,sockets,…).

          And so what if the people who made it left blizzard?Did that significantly change their development strategy?The company still works more or less the same.

          • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

            Distinct races because they were distinct in the tabletop 40k. They took something that already was in a strategy game and applied it to a RTS video game. I don’t see that as innovating. Good idea, but not innovating as is. And what does fire making have to do with this? That’s a completely different thing. No-one did fire first on top of a table, and then some other guys then did on the floor, with the latter getting praised for innovation. At least I don’t think so. Damn, I hope not. I mean burning your furniture should be considered idiotic, not doing so should be considered sane and normal.

            I don’t really think you understand the similiarity of Roguelikes and Diablo nor the fact how much gameplay was, understandably though, dropped from it. They put a graphical overlay, dropped what couldn’t be controlled (manual potion use,wands etc.), set a time for each turn and turn it on. The outcome is a game with a distinctively different feel, but it feels strange to call this innovation, when, taking from your example, Wolfenstein gets all of it’s innovation cred nowadays from it’s engine. Which was the first one (almost, I think there was one game before it) with a first person perspective. Although I do faintly remember people complaining that Wolfenstein 3D was essentially Wolfenstein, but with a perspective change and graphical lift.

            And I never called Diablo a copy of Rogue. I’m an old-school thinker, and I never got behind the thinking that every game that used the base idea of Diablo were “Diablo clones” unless they did something to deserve it (add nothing new to the mix etc.). I’ve never gotten behind that every game should do it’s own thing completely separate from others. Ripping off good things from other sources is a traditional method of improvement, but it should be acknowledged. And for some reason whenever anyone mentions the Roguelikes to the Diablo crowd they get crucified for it. Which is silly, because the same people will incessantly complain how every action RPG is “just a Diablo clone” and they’d rather wait “for a real sequel”. Which got tragically funny when Torchlight came out.

            And when you talk about establishing a new genre, which they haven’t done since the guys left, I’d say something has changed. Granted, those guys are doing new Diablolikes, but they weren’t the only ones who’ve left since Blizzard’s more innovative times.

            And, ah ha! But Z put humour at the forefront. It wasn’t just easter eggs for people who clicked their units several times.
            Look, you can talk all you want about “minor innovation is innovation as well”, but you’ll just end up ignoring other companies’ minor innovations, while making others’ more significant than they really were. At least in comparison to the innovations that you ignored.

            Let’s have another: Darkstone, a crappy Diablolike with 3D graphics, had skills and one of them was called Lycanthropy, which turned the character into a werewolf, and replaced Strength value with Mana value. Essentially turning a caster into a melee character. Man, you remember how it got praised for innovating? This was before Diablo 2 after all, and I don’t remember there being a game before where you could turn into another creature to have your stats boosted. Excepting any tabletop/board games and non-action rpgs of course. I didn’t play those, so they don’t count.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Fire was first taken from nature,probably from a lightning strike or a forest fire.Same can be said for any invention we ever made,except maybe for the wheel(but thats beside the point),so basically there was never any innovation in human history.

              Wolfenstein was essentially any other action game,only from a different perspective.Say what you want,but diablo is as far from other roguelikes like rtss are from tbss.Or are you going to say that all strategies are basically the same,only using different times for their turns.

              So if you want to nitpick,there never is any innovation and all the games are just ripping off stone throwing,or whatever was the first game played by humans.

              And Im not putting just every minor detail as innovation.The ways you played humans,zerg and protoss are fundamentally different,and they were very innovative.Cost,resources,speed of production,armour and attack,…All of those were used before.But the way they were combined was pretty novel.

              Innovation does not mean something revolutionary,nor something without any background.

              • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                What the? Fire making was the big thing for humans, and natural fires rarely started when two different types of stones collided with each other. And it still sounds strange to call it an innovation. Invention, discovery, sure. But innovation?
                Have you played RTSs and TBS? Most share nothing similiar in gameplay over the other group (outside of resources, having troops etc.). Actually, just compare Europa Universalis games to either Starcraft. Both are realtime, yet they share barely anything with each other. Compare Europa Universalis and Civilization games. Those look at most on the surface similiar (units being moved, income, upkeep etc.), yet there’s a lot going on under the hood of EU3 that isn’t going on in Civ5. And no doubt vice versa. Compare Starcraft and Galactic Civilizations.

                Whereas you could get Diablo (the first one, without the expansion. Of course Diablo 2 had to do something more simply by being a sequel) from a Roguelike by dropping everything fiddly (verb commands replaced by context, so a scroll/ doesn’t need to be read/drank, just used for example), changing the engine to a realtime one with a graphical interface, and adding more story. (Roguelikes tend to have a story, but it’s usually more in the background, and gets much less attention, than in any action rpg.) They had generated items, they had boss battles, they had towns (some of them anyway), they had magic, they had everything Diablo had minus realtime gameplay, annoying chatter in town and anything beyond ASCII graphics. That’s not innovation, that’s noticing marketability in a mash up (action roguelike).

                And yes, Wolfenstein 3D was essentially 2D Wolfenstein with a better graphics and a perspective change. Big surprise. Ocarina of Time is, when you go deep enough, just a 3D Zelda game. That doesn’t mean it’ll feel the same, or the experience is the same, because small things can have big effects. But I’m not ready to lift someone to a pedestal because it occurred to them to try a different view point instead of the established.

                And that’s even ignoring my main point! Which is that Blizzard hasn’t done anything similiar to the Roguelike->Diablo since the people who actually came up with it left. If companies are supposed to be judged by something they did over ten years ago, why not judge Nintendo as a card company? I mean, if you’re going that far, you might as well go all the way. It’s not like people working at a company ever leave.

                Actually compare other companies new ideas to Blizzard’s and think if you can seriously claim that your description of innovating doesn’t give the others’ more milage than you’ve previously thought.

                And seriously, “And Im not putting just every minor detail as innovation.”? Really? So you didn’t post “funny unit chattering” as one of Blizzard’s innovation, because that’s what I was thinking when I made references to Z and Darkstone.

                My point about ripping off, was that, yes. Everything new is very likely ripping off something older, and that’s how progress works. Just because I’m using phrases with negative connotations (“ripping off”) doesn’t mean I’m against it. It’s what happens. Actually: “Ripping off good things from other sources is a traditional method of improvement, but it should be acknowledged.” I wrote that right before railing on Blizzard fanboys for complaining that other action rpgs are “just ripping off Diablo”. Didn’t it occur to you that I might, just might, not consider ripping off a bad thing?
                Innovation through realizing what other’s did wrong, or what they lacked, in order to make it work is how progress has been, and is being, made. And that’s fine.
                But Blizzard rarely, if ever nowadays, does anything without someone else first coming up with an idea, taking that idea and combining it with another idea. That is also from another company. And this wouldn’t bother nearly as much if everyone wasn’t yelling “Blizzard did it first” everytime something they’ve done appears elsewhere. As if people wouldn’t know about Blizzard and despite the fact that it most likely was done by someone else before Blizzard, therefore making their point moot.

                Short: My original point was, that while I think that Vegedus is completely ignoring everything Blizzard has ever done, you’re overvaluing what they’ve done and what they are.
                Also I hate fanboys, but that’s always a point in my ranty comments.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  About the fire thing:I was deliberately exaggerating becuase you did it first,though on a different scale.My point is:Where do you put the line?You can say that sphere is just a circle in 3d.And you can say that circle is a polygon with infinite sides.And you can say that polygon is just a mesh of triangles.So basically you could say that sphere is just a type of triangle.So,where do you put that line between games?You yourself said that europa universalis is vastly different from starcraft,even though both are rts games,yet you go on to say that turn based roguelike games are basically the same as diablo.And thats not even considering how roguelike games can also be very different from one another.

                  “Which is that Blizzard hasn’t done anything similiar to the Roguelike->Diablo since the people who actually came up with it left.”

                  Really?World of warcraft didnt introduce anything into the concept of massively multiplayer games?(ignoring the fact how most of those things are really updated now and should die but everyone is using them simply because it is so popular)I also say that wings of liberty introduced a lot of really intriguing evolutionary changes(dynamic maps,moving over cliffs,etc).And yes,other games were skirting around these,I know.But not like this.

                  “Really? So you didn’t post “funny unit chattering” as one of Blizzard’s innovation”

                  Yes,as one of,not as the only one.Autocasting,heroes,distinctive building manners,etc were much more bigger innovations,and Ive listed those as well.

                  Just because Ive focused only on the good parts of blizzard games doesnt mean Im overvaluing what they are doing.Sure,blizzard mostly just fused and polished already existing concepts.But does that mean that not one of those was novel?My point is that evolution is just as innovative as revolution.Even when they breed something bad,or trivial,or something that was almost emerging for quite some time,both evolution and revolution are innovative.

                • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                  A “shpere” made in polygons is always a polyhedron. What people usually call a sphere, is when it looks round enough. What you’re saying is a sphere doesn’t look like a sphere to me, so I call it a polyhedron. Just because I don’t agree with your point when it changes from one to the other, doesn’t mean I don’t have a point where I’ll start calling it a sphere.

                  The differences between roguelikes is irrelevant, unless you also consider them to be innovative (say, Rogue vs. Nethack vs. Angband) to a similiar degree that Diablo was. While I didn’t make myself clear, I don’t think Diablo is exactly the same as any roguelike. Otherwise I wouldn’t have used terms “diablolike” or “action rpg”. Just similiar enough to ones already existing that I wouldn’t call it innovative.

                  About WoW, I thought your point about Diablo was that Blizzard birthed a new genre, not that it innovated within one?

                  I don’t know what “dynamic maps” means, but moving over cliffs was at least in CnC: Generals. And Dawn of War, though in a different way. I don’t see how either was “skirting around”, as some of the units in Generals were only useful because of this ability.

                  And how does listing “funny unit chattering” as one of innovations grant it automatic pass to be an innovation all by itself? So if some other company had come up with it first, but didn’t come up with anything else, it wouldn’t count as an innovation? You talk about line, but if it’s allowed to shift depending on the company in question, or what they’ve done before, does it really exist at any one point? An innovation should be able to stand on it’s own.

                  I meant that I thought you were overvaluing Blizzard’s good parts (that is, how innovative Blizzard is), not Blizzard as a whole.

                  I don’t think novelty is alone enough for me to consider it innovative. Nor is evolution, but that might be because I consider evolution to mean minor changes over time. Not polishing or improving. Just little tune up here and there. Something that happens naturally, should be expected of everyone, and nothing particularly notable. Something that, when it doesn’t happen will cause stagnation.
                  I suppose I’m using it a bit too much in the biological sense.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  What Ive asked is where is that point of yours?Sphere thing was just an example,because I was asking where is the point when games differ enough to be in different genres.

                  About wow and diablo,true I do think diablo spawned a new genre.Call it real time roguelike if you want(similar to the distinction as with rts vs tbs).But thats not what I was talking about here.You can make many innovations in one genre and still have it be the same genre,but if you do the same ammount of innovations in another,it will still remain there.So the innovations that went in wow didnt spawn a new genre,but they have defined an existing one(for better or for worse is beside the point).Some people left,but the company still operated more or less the same.

                  By dynamic maps I refer to,for example,a map where you have lava rising from time to time to drown all the units in the battlefield.And there are many more examples of that,but I wont spoil it for those that didnt play.

                  Generals had it?I dont remember.I remember that and weather effects were trumpeted to be its big new thing,but that it didnt deliver.But,it was a while since Ive played it,so memory can deceive.As for dawn of war,its a bit moot.For one,it did have a handful of units able to jump over obstacles.For the other,its more of a tactical game than strategic one(and I know the two words arent that well fitted for that distinction there,but I wont go into that now).Which is why I said skirting.

                  “So if some other company had come up with it first, but didn’t come up with anything else, it wouldn’t count as an innovation?”

                  I never said that.Ill grant darkstone the same about that morphing thing.Ill even grant the same thing to bethesda about vats,even though I think fallout 3 sucks big time.Just because I love blizzards strategies doesnt mean Ill grant them a special treatment.For example,I think diablo gets really boring really fast.But I still think it was a game that spawned a (semi)new genre.

                  “Something that happens naturally, should be expected of everyone, and nothing particularly notable.”

                  *sigh*How I wish it was expected of everyone.Sadly,for every game that evolves one thing,there come dozens of same old cash ins.

                  Buuut,I dont really find polishing and fine tuning to be evolution.Though its a moot point.For example,merging the attack and defense into a single value in civ4,I consider to be an evolution of the concept,while some people may think its just fine tuning.

          • krellen says:

            The classic RTS Dune 2, while not having completely different races, had significant and play-style defining differences between the three sides. It preceded Starcraft by six years, is largely recognised as the innovator of modern RTS design, and is almost certainly the source of inspiration for Starcraft’s diverse three races.

            Blizzard does not innovate. They borrow, update, consolidate, but they do not make anything new. Blizzard is a “good parts” developer, taking the good parts of games before them and mashing them all together into a single whole.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Yes,dune 2 was pretty much the starter of rts games.But,the differences for races came from special units and buildings,not the whole economy and all of the units and buildings.Sure,you can say that this is just the refinement of the concept,but evolution still is innovation.

              And again,if you say that borrowing all the good from different sources and then fusing them together is not innovation,then nothing humans ever did is innovative.

              • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                By “whole economy” are you referring to the unit cap system being different between races in Starcraft? Because otherwise they used the same materials, gained the same way.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Overlords vs pylons vs supply depots,and 3 different types of collector drones with 3 different type of collector buildings.Plus,you could have 400 zerglings,200 marines or 100 zealots(first combat units).So if you are going to say that that does not mean completely unique economy,then you are just nitpicking.

                • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

                  In short, yes, you did mean the unit cap system as well. And I don’t know what you mean by “completely unique economy”, I don’t even know what you’re comparing to so I don’t know how I could properly nitpick. Economy is after all where strategy games tend to differ the most.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  By economy I mean the way races build buildings and units,the way they gather resources,the way they research,the way they increase their allowance for units.And while starcraft has the same crystal gathering and quasi-same gas gathering,the rest is completely different for every race(and I would love it if they did something similar to warcraft 3 and the way undead harvest mines,but oh well).

                  Strategies dont differ that much in the economy department.Most of them usually take one of the two routes:buildings or checkpoints.Then you just build/spawn units,send them to die,rinse and repeat.Not all of them though.Universe at war was different,for example.In this aspect,starcraft 2 is pretty much the blandest of all,since it copies 1 completely.Luckily,it has other things that are way different.

    • acronix says:

      I´d put Blizzard in charge of Heaven´s intro cinematics. But not sure what they´d do in Hell.

  30. Irridium says:

    In Heaven, Activision is the financial backing.

    In Hell, Activision is in charge of everything else.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Hey,dont steal my jokes!

    • Pickly says:

      Given all the recent lawsuits and the “we need seuels” stuff,the baggage coming with the financial backing might even be too much for this category.

      (I did try thinking up a more filled out joke for this sort of thing, but I guess I don’t follow the news well enough to really know for sure.)

      • Irridium says:

        Perhaps, but most of the money would be coming from Blizzard, so yeah. Not exactly fond of them, but I’d rather go through them then Activision proper.

        @Daemian: NEVER!

  31. Supah_Ewok says:

    About what you said about Valve in the comic…

    At this point, I’m thinking that Valve has completely given up on Episode 3. What they’re really working on is Half-Life 3, a true sequel. Only reasonable reason why it’s taken 3-4 years of development on Episode 3 without even having a release date, when it took them a little more than a year after Episode 1 to release Episode 2.

  32. Agiel7 says:

    I don’t think Square Enix is THAT terrible when it comes to story, though I base this on Final Fantasy XII.

    I quite liked the focus on power plays and political manueverings in XII, and the localization, from the translation of the Japanese script, to the voice acting is second to none in my book.

    • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

      From what I understand the writing, if you like power plays (aren’t those always political maneuverings?), the FF12 is one of the best in the series. At least in the 3D era, as I understand 4 and 6 (came out originally as 2 and 3, respectively) had good stories as well. But really, most of the Square-Enix games don’t have very good stories. By which I mean that they’re either cliched or completely off their rocker.

      Edit: It occurred to me, that I wouldn’t have put them in cutscenes in Heaven. Yes, they look fancy and all that. But they’re non-sensical, irritating, often go too long and have a habit of leaving me yelling at the TV because the characters act like pillocks. Come to think of it, there aren’t many companies with cutscenes that don’t irritate me, especially in Japanese companies since they seem to go straight for the Anime Cliche Checklist.

      • krellen says:

        They came out originally as 2 and 3 in the US. Since FF7 came to the US as “FF7” and not “FF4”, we’ve started looking at the whole series from the Japanese side, not the American side.

        FF4 and FF6 were, in fact, the fourth and sixth instalments of the series, but were only the second and third instalments released to the US.

        • Sumanai - a grouchy ball of bile and cynicism says:

          I originally wrote “in the US” but when I rewrote the part, I forgot to add it back in. And I meant “were originally published as”. And I’m aware that a lot of people have started counting according to the Japanese numbers, but there are still many who don’t even know about the whole renumbering stuff, so I thought I’d clarify for their sake.

  33. RCN says:

    Personally, I’d put Bioware for last, since it is the punchline in the joke and everyone knows the secret of comedy is… pie! And timing.

    The “We’ll need more time” punchline is also good, but if it was followed by Bioware’s punchline it’d kill me outright. As it stands I just laughed really hard at Bioware’s then had a chuckle at Valve (because it didn’t top Bioware).

  34. Tauren Warlock says:

    Heaven:
    Bioware creates the setting,
    Toady One designs the core systems,
    Platinum Games handles the game’s pacing
    and CCP handles the graphics.

    Hell:
    Platinum Games creates the setting,
    Bioware designs the core systems,
    CCP handles the game’s pacing
    and Toady One handles the graphics.

    IKYDK Toady One does a little game called Dwarf Fortress. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get a head start on the Bioware fanboys.

  35. Sauron says:

    If I get half a minute to sit down and think about this later, I think the joke would work best if you selected it such that *every* listing was the same company in Heaven and Hell. (Valve, for example, could remain on the QA by removing Release Schedule and having it be a factor of QA, or whatever. I don’t know. This isn’t the most thought through yet.)

  36. Final Fantasy has its obscene moments, but I still love it. Dissidia really made me enjoy the entire series again, not just everything before VI.

    I’d do:

    Heaven:

    *Addictiveness of Blizzard
    *Epicness of Square-Enix
    *Output rate of Facebook apps
    *Balance and Q&A of Valve
    *Story flow, exposition and design of Bioware
    *Pace of Id Software
    *Strategic/execution depth of Capcom

    Hell:

    *Repetitive game design of Blizzard
    *Insanity of Square-Enix
    *Output rate of Valve
    *Balance of Facebook apps
    *Story flow of Capcom
    *Pace of Bioware
    *Strategic depth of Id

  37. Rob Lundeen says:

    In case you don’t get my email, I’m parking this here for your referrence. This got ripped to imgur and submitted to reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/f3kto/video_game_heaven_and_hell/.

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