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The unsaid subtext was "millions of Gamers JUST LIKE US."
April 7, 2013 4:30 AM   Subscribe

"Today I donated my Xbox 360 Elite to Goodwill. It represented a time in my life as a developer that I'm not overly proud about living." A former Microsoft game designer reflects on how his ex-company turned gaming into a bro thing and perfected a formula for the modern console title.
posted by Rory Marinich (128 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
With the direct call-out to Bioshock Infinite fitting the Rote Game mold, let's call in our resident capslocked media reviewer for an opinion.

Though one place the Xbox didn't focus on high-quality material was the audio.
posted by persona at 4:43 AM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Xbox put machismo, ultra-violence and chimpboys with backwards caps in the spotlight.

Awesome. That's exactly what a world struggling with equality, war, and poverty needs. Well-done.
posted by nickrussell at 5:01 AM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't played Bioshock Infinite – it's not running on my Boot Camp, frustratingly – but the original BioShock really bothered me in how its ingenuity in storytelling and visual direction never felt like it was spilling over into its gameplay. And that's bothered me about a lot of AAA titles, actually, including the Red Dead series and the more recent Grand Theft Autos. The gameplay just feels stagnant. Well done, but stagnant.

I've been devouring scores of acclaimed indie games recently, looking for ways to define the nature of gameplay a bit more for an essay I'm writing, and I'm not exaggerating to say that there're a number of indie games whose ingenuity in design outstrips pretty much anything I've played on a console recently. Starseed Pilgrim, Corrypt, and Cart Life are each astonishingly innovative. And they're nothing alike! Starseed Pilgrim is a platformer where you have to grow your own platforms, using a series of colored seeds that each follow their own rules for growth. Corrypt is a top-down puzzle game with the fantastic mechanic that you can cast "magic" on any tile on any screen to transform all the tiles on other screens in similar locations into that one. And Cart Life is a simulator game with such depth that it's intimidating to me; I haven't been able to play it for long because it's just too damn complex.

Looking back, I do think that there was a sea change in game development that occurred when the Xbox was launched with the original Halo. I recall my youthful gaming culture changing substantially after that. I don't want to spam my own thread, but I wrote a comment on the Hacker News story that gets into why that shift was so frustrating, and why it's ruined modern game titles for me in more ways than one.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:12 AM on April 7, 2013 [26 favorites]


This post reads similar to that which he decries - gaming company X slams other gaming company Y for being Z - but without the massive billion dollar marketing budget.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:28 AM on April 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Call Of Dudebro

> Xbox put machismo, ultra-violence and chimpboys with backwards caps in the spotlight.

This
posted by GallonOfAlan at 5:31 AM on April 7, 2013


I feel that sometimes people emphasize too much on innovation.
Yeah it's great when it's done right and you get a game like the original Portal, but often times refinement and perfection of old school gameplay is by itself something wonderful.
We stick with games like Basketball and Chess for decades without the need to change the gameplay, do we really have to redefine FPS mechanic every few years?

Basically, what I'm saying is that just because your game has some new gimmicks, doesn't mean it's better than Bioshock.
posted by yifes at 5:33 AM on April 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


We've told the joke about the chicken crossing the road for decades too. We've told elephant jokes forever. Does that mean people are wrong to call attention to Louis CK and Kristen Schaal and comics whose styles are exciting and new?

Games are, by their nature, extraordinarily open-ended. More so than books. More so than movies. The very medium changes with the design of every game. So yeah, I'm fucking enthusiastic about what games are made of, and I'm mildly disappointed when major-league games fail to innovate in any way.

"Better than Bioshock" is a stupid fucking mentality. "More thought-provoking than Bioshock" isn't. "More challenging than Bioshock" isn't. "More interestingly designed" isn't. "Focused on more demanding goals" isn't. "Telling a more compelling story" isn't. And when you have a wide enough list of "things which small games developed for zero dollars do better than Bioshock", then maybe you have a reason to think that there are other games that are more exciting, for you personally at least, than Bioshock is.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:47 AM on April 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


What happened after I read this post:
I googled Spry Fox games.
I downloaded TripleTown.
I started playing.
An hour later, I finally came back to mention that you should just say "Screw Metafilter. I'm playing TripleTown all weekend."
posted by hydropsyche at 5:51 AM on April 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


Over two console generations, a highly cynical marketing team spent billions with no hope of immediate payback to shift the market. Nintendo was slandered as a kids platform, not a leading light. Xbox put machismo, ultra-violence and chimpboys with backwards caps in the spotlight. Wedge, wedge, wedge.

This is exactly why I got out of gaming. Growing up around titles like Wolfenstein 3d, Doom, and Quake, I don't ever recall anyone, whether on the playground or in reviews, disparaging a game for not being as violent or "mature" as those titles. It may have been fun to blast demons with a rocket launcher, but it was equally fun to shoot turtle shells at other racekarts.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:51 AM on April 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Incidentally, Daniel Cook (author of the linked post and designer of Triple Town) is hella insightful and I recommend reading pretty much everything he writes.
posted by Jpfed at 6:03 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really don't get it. I can relate to not finding a lot that appeals to me in games anymore, but I think that's the aging process as much as anything. Games became popular and mainstream because we grew up with them. I was born in 1975 and got an Atari on my 6th birthday, then later a Commodore 64 and a Nintendo. Everyone around my age in my neighborhood played games regardless of their personality type or socioeconomic status or whatever. Now they're adults and games are mainstream because they kept playing them. Decrying the state of a popular media as bland or aimed at the lowest common denominator is just hipsterism— this stuff that I liked when I was an unhappy kid has been co-opted by the people that didn't like me, ergo it's crap now. It's not like the local movie theater is full of art films this weekend.

All that said, does anyone know of sites that do a good job of curating video games for us hipsters? My addiction to games broke around the time of GTA V— I'd loved III and IV but at some point early on in San Andreas, I hit that wall where the grinding just felt like showing up for a job. I try mainstream titles once in a while but I tend to find my fun in gams that provide a very different experience, Rock Band, Warioware, things that aren't so focused on a linear projection toward an end. However, I loved Max Payne 3, but mainly because the story was so much fun. I fear the writer of this piece would decry the writing as appealing to "dudebros", but I took the writing as a subtle (well, maybe not subtle) tweaking of that kind of thing.
posted by yerfatma at 6:46 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not that it needs to be said, but the use of "chimpboys", "bros", etc. really undermines his post for me. If you have 0 interest in trying to understand people who aren't like you, what can you explain to me? Defining an Other that we all agree to hate on is, at best, lazy writing.
posted by yerfatma at 6:48 AM on April 7, 2013 [52 favorites]


Triple Town is so damn addictive. I first got it on my tablet, and now I play on FB, and have given them more money (they have done a damn fine job of making a game you WANT to pay for instead of it being a chore (well... ok, maybe a little chore)) If you have an Android tablet (I assume they have iThing versions too?) I would highly recommend those as they are fully no-pay options (I haven't yet tried the executable PC version that's on Steam - it looks like the Facebook version, but I hope they removed the having to pay for extra money/diamonds thing).

------------
I guess I didn't realize it was such a shift. I mean, I did. But... I mean - Halo was originally supposed to be PC, then XBox brought it over, and I think the only concern was control mechanics. And they were the first to really nail FPS on console (Turok for N64 came close, and I suppose Goldeneye was pretty solid as well, but aside from those two, everything else sucked). Then it took off from there.

But there were always "dudebros" playing... Who the fuck do you think bought Madden since like always?

Of course, the fact it's now a targeted market with shitty recycles of the same "AAA" titles with minor changes in gameplay (just like, oh, you know... Madden). I'm not necessarily decrying a market for the trogs, but it is a bit disappointing.

I'm glad the PC is an open architecture where we're allowed to design and explore and play without having to be tied to the dictates of the publishers at large. But even the big console publishers (In particular, Sony) have had some interesting games. Shit, Papa and Yo is coming to the PC which I'm quite happy about and wasn't expecting.

Anyways, not sure what my point is, but down with dudebros! BOOO.
posted by symbioid at 6:50 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


yerfatma, if you want a site that's more towards the indie side of things (which is really what you're talking about), you should check out Rock, Paper, Shotgun. There used to be another site that was heavily indie influenced, but they folded shop a year or two ago (GameSetWatch, I think they still have archives up if you want to read on some past experiences). There's also Indiedb which has a crapton of games listed that you can peruse and download. And also, TIGsource... That one has a very active community in the forums (though I haven't actually really read the forums much, I know it's pretty well respected).

I'm sure there's more that others can recommend, but there's plenty to get started and read up on.
posted by symbioid at 6:56 AM on April 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's only recently I've come to realize how much I'd given up on games because I assumed they were for boys and manchildren. I've been content to play virtualnes.com, some puzzle games, board games, and just . . . stopped assuming that games had more to offer me than that. I thought my biggest video game days were in the past, a happy past but a past nonetheless.

It's not a big feminist grownup-type decision I made. I just came to believe it, without noticing. I need to examine some of these unquestioned assumptions. Maybe I should buy a ticket on this here Minecraft train all the kids talk about.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:00 AM on April 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


I watched the movie version of Bioshock Ultimate last night. It is a walkthrough with all the cut scenes plus enough of the action and puzzles from each level to make you really get a sense if the story. Almost 4 hours long. Obviously it contains spoilers and is nsfw for violence. I thought it was well written for a blockbuster video game. I think the criticisms above are pretty reasonable; though I liked the story.
posted by humanfont at 7:06 AM on April 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I, too, am not sure it is entirely fair to blame X-Box for the existance of idiots or their introduction to gaming.
posted by Artw at 7:13 AM on April 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


Well, if it is, I want the author and everyone else who does to also blame inner-city kids too. They wear their hats backwards sometimes and don't demand innovation in gaming either, content to purchase each year's Madden/ CoD/ etc. But it's only ok to shit on Chads from Omega Theta Pi.

towards the indie side of things (which is really what you're talking about)

Thanks, I am familiar with RPS (and will put in a plug for Kill Screen as a friend of one of the founders and since I built the initial site :), but I'm not necessarily looking for "indie". I feel like the focus or insistence on focusing on the size of the creator/ publisher just distracts from whether the game is good. I've seen great games from single person shops and from giant companies. And they're both capable of producing shit too.
posted by yerfatma at 7:17 AM on April 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


The author REALLY, REALLY WANTS YOU TO KNOW that he doesn't like what some other people like. Snore. Everybody has experiences where they feel like they don't belong to the culture of their workplace; not everybody turns that into a rambling, laughably one-dimensional indictment of a group of people that numbers in the millions.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:43 AM on April 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not that it needs to be said, but the use of "chimpboys", "bros", etc. really undermines his post for me. If you have 0 interest in trying to understand people who aren't like you, what can you explain to me?

From this, I deduce that you've never spent an evening on XBox Live.
posted by mhoye at 7:44 AM on April 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


I guess I didn't realize it was such a shift. I mean, I did. But... I mean - Halo was originally supposed to be PC, then XBox brought it over, and I think the only concern was control mechanics.

This essay, linked to in an earlier video game thread, is a bit long but gives a good narrative of how Halo and the rise of the console shooter crippled the FPS genre.

I, too, am not sure it is entirely fair to blame X-Box for the existance of idiots or their introduction to gaming.

Yeah, I think it's more the fact that X-Box has been the dominant console just at the time that broadband internet became mainstream enough to make console online multiplayer gaming possible. Suddenly you have this huge demographic of not always very sensitive or polite dudebros dominating online gaming when before that it had been a somewhat more nerdy, niche market. The next step was that PC games started taking their leads from the consoles, dumbing down in the process.

The contrast between the past decade in gaming and the mid to late nineties, when the PC was largely in the lead may even be greater just because that was the golden age of PC gaming, with a huge revolution in FPS and RTS gaming happening in a few short years, while there was also still room for innovative, quirky games brought out by mainstream companies, before everything was focus grouped to death.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:44 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Hipsterism" is exactly how this post struck me. He hits Microsoft for being evil, sure, but that isn't really his point. His point is that back in the day when he started there, it was the place to work and he was elite, and now it's gone to shit but he has gone back to his roots and is producing games he can be proud of, so please donate to his Kickstarter/Spry Fox.

The most important lines are "I'm okay with not fitting in," and "I am not actually a bro. Don't tell anyone." The former tells us he is special and unique, which is important for us to know; and the latter is punctuated cleverly with "Don't tell anyone" so we won't think he is claiming superiority over bros, nonono, that would be arrogant and he's being self-deprecating and sincere.

I understand the impulse to work someplace cool and then posture like it's totally changed since you've moved on. I've been there. I've felt it. But then I grew up and realized the five or six ways that attitude was idiotic, and also that while the place is different now it's still a very cool place to work for the people who work there.
posted by cribcage at 7:44 AM on April 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Come to think of it, just the existence of mainstream online multiplayer gaming, is part of the reason why games may have been less innovative in the past decade or so. Why invest money in AI or clever gameplay if you can get people to play against each other and treat it like a sport?
posted by MartinWisse at 7:45 AM on April 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


From this, I deduce that you've never spent an evening on XBox Live.

I'm beginning to suspect that the real issue here is the transition from being able to see the stupid things fellow gamers typed in the corner of the screen to being able to hear it constantly.
posted by Artw at 7:49 AM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, I just saw this RPS (RockPaperShotgun) article on their stance... This is pretty much THE antithesis to "dudebros".
There is a clear message: Rock, Paper, Shotgun will never back down on the subject of sexism and misogyny (nor racism, nor homophobia, for that matter) in games, the games industry, and the games journalism industry. Good times are ahead – we can see them.
This can only be a good thing. Supporting diversity in gaming enhances design by allowing more people to want to play more variety, which means more evolution.

If all games are taylored to one specific demo, it's harder for evolution to occur (i.e. limiting the gene pool). By opening up to listening to various groups of people besides the "20-something male gamer" (I could probably add "white and straight" there too, but that's not necessarily the case, so I'll abstract it a bit), they allow for more avenues of design to open some of which may succeed some of which may not, but clearly that's at least got to be good for the overall industry and survival of it. I think that's what Nintendo is doing - even if they seem to be failing with their models (but I don't think it's the idea of what they're doing that's wrong, so much as their specific implementation). They try to reach different demographics than the bro-gamer. But there's the spaces in between "kiddie" and "bros". And that doesn't mean that "bro" games or "kiddie" games don't have their place, a real gamer can appreciate and respect each of those styles of games (if they're done well). Just like someone can appreciate Opera as an art form, even if it's not their "thing".

It's the overwhelming dilution of variety that is the main issue here (specifically when it comes to the driving force of console games).

Anyways. Yeah - good on RPS.
posted by symbioid at 8:01 AM on April 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


yerfatma: "... but I'm not necessarily looking for "indie". I feel like the focus or insistence on focusing on the size of the creator/ publisher just distracts from whether the game is good. I've seen great games from single person shops and from giant companies. And they're both capable of producing shit too."

Oh I hear what you're saying (I think I mentioned "Papa and Yo" coming to PC and that was, IIRC, produced by Sony - or at least an outfit pretty tight w/Sony)... I think there's what I consider "indie spirit" in games, even if it's not necessarily by a small studio. Parappa had the "indie spirit"... Katamari did. There are tons of quirky fun little games that exude creativity and style and innovative mechanics. Yes many of these are truly indie (super meat boy, minecraft, etc...) and many others are from large corporations.

In fact, is it really fair to blame Microsoft for Sequelitis when probably THE biggest offender is Nintendo? I mean, sequelitis is only part of the problem, however they certainly do play a role in that problem

This is one of the problems, I think, with capitalism in general: Lowest Common Denominator/Mass Market Media production. The big companies publish big titles, which are guaranteed to sell out to the largest market. The Sims was really something when it came out, but then it became another formula. But it showed that there was a different market out there than the usual gaming markets (at least for the big publishers -- the shareware scene was always full of a variety of game styles). I feel like I'm just talking too much in this thread now, so I'll shut up and read.
posted by symbioid at 8:10 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the specific charge of depicting Nintendo as the kiddy console, that has been going on since Sega did what Nintendidn't. Microsoft didn't invent it.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:27 AM on April 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


The author sure woke up to a half-empty glass today, didn't he? I'd argue that the DudeBro games like Call of Duty and Battlefield are pretty great games. And I think he's crazy to call out Bioshock: Infinite of all things; the story is complex and poignant, the shooting is not so great. But if DudeBro games aren't your thing, I'm right there with you.

He's ignoring the other half of the Xbox catalog, the creative part. A lot of it is on XBLA: Fez, Minecraft 360, Braid, Super Meat Boy, World of Keflings, Limbo, Bastion, Shadow Complex, .. So many great, interesting, small games. And there's a lot of great mainstream console releases too: the Mass Effect series, Oblivion and Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire, Viva Piñata, ... And that's not even mentioning the third market, the Xbox Indie Game market, because frankly who has the time to explore all that? (My favorite game there so far is unapologetically dudebro: I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1. The most hilarious fun you'll ever have for $1 short of a water balloon).

Yeah, the Xbox is a consumer platform. And the horrible Gamestop shops are dominated by the few top sellers, some of which are awful. Big surprise. But Microsoft has done a good job of encouraging and supporting more thoughtful games too.

Also: I guess this means Triple Town isn't coming to XBLA?
posted by Nelson at 8:39 AM on April 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wonderful post. I think he nails some of the problems facing the contemporary games industry.

(Though having finished Infinite a couple nights ago, I found that it was really thought-provoking and interesting in a way most games aren't, so I'm not sure it's the best example for Cook's argument. Still, it's got top-of-mind awareness right now and it does meet the criteria he lists, so I can see why he used it.)
posted by HostBryan at 8:55 AM on April 7, 2013


This doesn't have anything to do with the XBox, it doesn't even have much to do with the video game industry. This has to do with mass-market media realities. Most of the big budget movies are polished, action-packed drek. I feel sorry for the rooms and rooms of visual effects artists who go into making stuff like G.I. Joe. Then again, they sell well, so lots of people enjoy them. I'm not upset about everyone not sharing my taste.

There are plenty of good games for me to play, more than I have time for. Indie video games are very popular now and there are a lot of people willing to pay for projects that they're interested in. There's room in the market for different kinds of games, just maybe not if you work for Microsoft or EA or Activision. Both XBox and PS3 supported medium sized indie games fairly well with their downloadable game features. Better than the Wii U does, at least.
posted by demiurge at 8:56 AM on April 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


Halo was originally supposed to be PC

Mac/PC. In fact I believe that it was to be Mac first, and then ported to PC after the Mac release.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:00 AM on April 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


> An hour later, I finally came back to mention that you should just say "Screw Metafilter. I'm playing TripleTown all weekend."

DAMN YOU.

Also, favorite bug fix message of the week:

* Fixed villagers being stuck with speech bubbles over their heads when a bear scares them mid-conversation.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:32 AM on April 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had a job I got tired of once too.
posted by bongo_x at 9:42 AM on April 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


There is a great piece waiting to be written about the rise of toxic masculinity in video games as gaming culture solidified into a "hardcore, edgy" in-group... from Doom to Sonic to Goldeneye to Soul Caliber to Metal Gear Solid to Halo to Ninja Gaiden to Call of Duty, Gears of War and beyond. And the parallel fall of Nintendo's "gamer cred" throughout this period. This rant isn't quite it; it's preaching to the choir and expects you to already agree that "bro culture" is a bad thing without explaining why. It places the blame entirely on Microsoft (again, without fully explaining why outside of hazy details of the work culture) when the reality is much larger than that. And it's combined with self-aggrandizement and a plug for his business. I'm just gonna rewatch Part 1 of Tropes vs Women in Video Games.
posted by naju at 9:54 AM on April 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


His argument is a akin to arguing that its a real problem that science fiction publishing houses only publish formulaic science fiction novels targeted at large fan demographics and how the popularity of the genre is destroying the industry. I don't see greater meaning in this than that working for Microsoft can burn you out.
posted by Jernau at 10:19 AM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, at least gaming has now caught up to pleasure reading and movie watching in at least one respect: the existence of people happy to say "sometimes, I don't want creativity, imagination, craft, forward thinking, innovation, or spirit, and there are millions of people just like me."
posted by Nomyte at 10:39 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be fair, Nintendo has repeatedly stated that their products are directed mainly at children and/or families. The lack of ultragory headblows and the like in their titles is no accident.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:45 AM on April 7, 2013


And, to summarize years and years of comments I've made elsewhere: there are lots and lots of nuanced, complicated reasons why tens of millions of people consume the same mainstream entertainment, and very few have anything to do with people individually "liking fun" in a vacuum. We consume entertainment in the bro-context of our bro-environment. We don't retire to some kind of insulated chamber of cogitation to weigh in our heart of hearts whether we really prefer Mainstream FPS to Weird Small Game XYZ.
posted by Nomyte at 10:46 AM on April 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Xbox put machismo, ultra-violence and chimpboys with backwards caps in the spotlight.

Glass half empty much? For "put in the spotlight" read "induced to stay home for hours every day". It's the best goddamn flypaper ever invented.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:50 AM on April 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


How is this not just a plug for his new startup? There are multitude of genres of games ( lego/batman/nba/battleblock/skyrim/portal ..to name a few instances) on xbox and some catch on to become bestsellers and some do not. Is he complaining that his specific team of devs/publishers were not receptive to his ideas?
posted by asra at 11:20 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


George_Spiggott: "Xbox put machismo, ultra-violence and chimpboys with backwards caps in the spotlight.

Glass half empty much? For "put in the spotlight" read "induced to stay home for hours every day". It's the best goddamn flypaper ever invented.
"

And by "stay home" you mean run up and down the fucking stairs every 5 minutes to catch a smoke and have their bro-buddies come in and out right above symbioid's room and make a shitton of loud noise."

(no, no I'm not bitter, not at all). :P
posted by symbioid at 11:58 AM on April 7, 2013


Well, at least gaming has now caught up to pleasure reading and movie watching in at least one respect: the existence of people happy to say "sometimes, I don't want creativity, imagination, craft, forward thinking, innovation, or spirit, and there are millions of people just like me."

But then you are left with the Transformers franchise: crude violent racist robots engaged in inexplicable violence and human characters who are uniformly mean-spirited dickwads. Shia L'Beef's character is an asshole and he's the chimpboy human you are supposed to identify with. The movie's make the cartoon seem sensitive and humane: did our culture change that much and, if so, how?

The process of removing the imagination, creativity and craft doesn't automatically install the racism, fetishized violence and assholery does it? It hasn't been a value neutral process and where did those values come from? I'd rather believe that it came from XBox marketing budget than that people just suck.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:59 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does Microsoft have an interest in becoming less of a monoculture? Not with all the indie games in the arcade section breaking the mold outside the company and keeping the XBox going.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:21 PM on April 7, 2013


"chimpboy"?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:22 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't like the article because of the way the author frames sexism and machismo in gaming as if it has something to do with a lack of innovation. As the founder of an indie game company, there are obvious reasons why he would want to promote this idea, but I think it's a harmful one because of the way it turns the issue of sexism into a problem of underserved markets. It implies that sexism in games (or comic books, etc.) is bad because it makes it hard for women to find media that they enjoy.

We're told that the problem with sexist tropes is that they're cliches, and this can be solved by developing markets that allow artisanal game creators to be more creative. But actually, the problem with sexist tropes is that they're sexist, and what we need is to create egalitarian tropes and run them into the ground until they are boring and cookie-cutter. This would sooner be achieved at large scale game companies with billion dollar budgets than indie developers on kickstarter.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:32 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


How is this not just a plug for his new startup?

His post is well within the cultural norms of Google+ as I've inferred them from my interactions on the site. It's longer than a Facebook status update would normally be, but what he posted is the Google+ equivalent of a status update.

He made a public post on his G+ stream about some thoughts he had about gaming (which is a very common thing for him to do). He mentioned his (not actually new at all) startup in his post, but that's not frowned on among the users I've interacted with; the people that see your public posts are most often people that explicitly put you in a circle (though there's nothing stopping people from resharing the post or linking to it from elsewhere, as happened here). That is, he expected his post to be seen mostly by people that already knew who he was.

Incidentally, if you thought that Cook's post here was not impressive, but are interested in game design, I encourage you to circle him anyway, because most often he writes about game design, and on that topic he is gold.
posted by Jpfed at 12:35 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: ""chimpboy"?"

It's new to me, too. Regional slang?
posted by brundlefly at 12:37 PM on April 7, 2013


I really enjoyed (and to this day still do) original mechanics and will trade cutscenes for gameplay in a heartbeat....Next are intermittent dollops of plot. These are voice acted because it is a quality signal.

This traces a long, long way back, to the original system shocks. There are very few cutscenes in the *Shock series of games, and yet they're generally dripping with plots, characters and dialogs. That's what the voice acted recordings are for. You pick them up, and they play while you continue looting / exploring / maiming things. Or people radio / speak to you directly. Voice acting is a direct trade of cutscenes for more game play, at the expense of budget.

Obviously he's more focused on the original mechanics aspect, and yea, you don't need Microsoft's scale to make Triple Town. You might need their lawyers to defend your original game ideas from cloning.
posted by pwnguin at 12:46 PM on April 7, 2013


Though one place the Xbox didn't focus on high-quality material was the audio .

Strictly speaking, this isn't true. I work on the audio team of a console developer, and the only real difference between the PC and 360 versions of our games, audio wise, is the amount of memory we can throw at it. The 360 *has* enough memory and CPU power, easily, that it could match the audio experience of a high end PC. Far more easily, in fact, than it could match the graphics. Which is where the problem is - because people care more about the visuals than the audio, generally speaking, most of the system resources get allocated to visuals, leaving us with not quite enough memory for a hi-fi audio experience. As a result we often have to downsample the audio content to fit a pretty tiny amount of memory - on the PC, it is left at full resolution. But the issue isn't the console's capabilities - even if the 360 had more memory, it would likely go to higher res textures and more anims, anyway, because that's where people's priorities tend to lie when judging a game. Sadly, the number of people with decent speaker setups is pretty small. The overwhelming majority of console gamers play through their TV speakers, which, since the advent of flatscreen TVs, are actually way worse than the speakers in the old 32in CRT tvs.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:09 PM on April 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


The frustration is easy to believe. There are many mini-cultures that didn't have to become what they are and what they now self-select to maintain, and where rooted problems are difficult to remove: military, higher education, Las Vegas gambling, Hollywood film-making, LAPD, porn industry. All developed a pretty strange concept of what is to be human and what good work looks like. More insular, more longer days, the weirder it can go.

Triple-A game development is now mature enough to have its own recognizable culture, and it is no wonder it is twisted in some ways.
posted by Free word order! at 2:12 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


So does that mean this Triple Town will not be on XBLA?
posted by Ad hominem at 2:26 PM on April 7, 2013


countess elana - i've had similar feelings in the past. i was a big gamer in my youth, but it seemed like fewer and fewer games appealed to me and more and more of the ones talked about a lot were geared to the halo/call of duty/madden crowd. there were a couple of franchises i liked and i followed those and occasionally a shiny spark would catch my eye, but i felt the best gaming i would find would be in places decades old. but- in the last few years, with the rise in indie gaming and conversations about broadening the appeal beyond the AAA market, i've found a lot to like. here's a list of steam games i love (or know i will love when i get around to sinking my teeth into them). some of these are gimmies and probably already known to you. some might not appeal at all. i don't suggest that these are better or worse than the newest faceshooter3k, just different. some of these are available on other platforms, some you can find flash versions for free. i got them all through steam.

1000 amps
and yet it moves
bastion
binding of isaac
bit.trip games
botanicula
braid
cave story
costume quest
crayon physics deluxe
dear esther
diamond dan
dinner date
dynamite jack
eufloria
frozen synapse
ftl
hotline miami
limbo
little inferno
machinarium
plants vs zombies
recettear
rock of ages
sideway
snapshot
sugar cube: bittersweet factory
super meat boy
swords&soldiers
retro city rampage
stacking
thomas was alone
wizorb
world of goo


now a couple straight up puzzle games since you mentioned you like that sort of thing. i happen to love that sort of thing - going back to tetris, qix, minesweeper, klax, etc. these are a few that i have gotten hooked on in the last few years.

chime
clickr
cogs
lightfish
luxor evolved
yosumin
posted by nadawi at 2:29 PM on April 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


To elaborate a little on Rory's post, there is something beautiful happening in the indie games scene now that's hard to describe. People are trying to make games more diverse both socially and mechanically. I think these goals are far more intertwined than they may first appear. It's not hard, for example, to imagine how the typical shooter plays into a certain kind of male power fantasy.

As someone at the periphery of this movement it was really interesting and inspiring to see a lot of this play out at the Game Developers Conference this year. Richard Hofmeier, whose Cart Life won a bunch of awards this year, decided that he didn't need the publicity anymore and spray painted over his booth with another game, Porpentine's howling dogs. In reaction to the expensive and hierarchical nature of the conference, another group organized Lost Levels, an unconference where anybody could attend and anybody could speak.

The industry sees the excitement crystallizing around this movement (the New York Times even noticed), and I think they are looking for a way to capitalize on it or at least incorporate it. Andy Schatz, who hosted the IGF awards this year, gave a pretty gross speech where he basically said, "Indie games aren't counterculture anymore, they're culture." From where I was sitting that didn't seem true at all. The industry knows on some level that they need this scene to revitalize their stale mechanics, but they seem to want it without all the other stuff -- the radical inclusivity, the attention to gender/race/class issues, etc. They don't seem to grasp that they are basically inseparable.
posted by speicus at 3:01 PM on April 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


I guess I'm just a hopeless dudebro. Er, uh... chimpboy.

I enjoy playing big-budget games on my gaming console.

I thought Braid was a tedious exercise in Jonathan Blow repeatedly tapping me on the shoulder to remind me how clever he is.

I LOVED the combat in Bioshock Infinite. Loved it. Once I got that the game was encouraging me to stay in motion and think in three dimensions, I had great fun. (I think the game is a masterpiece, narrative hiccups and overreach included.)

I play golf online. Regularly.

I've never played Call of Battlefield: Duty Ops, and I have no desire to. Nor have I played beyond the demo of Super Meat Boy, because it's way too hard for these old slow hands and ain't nobody got time for that.

From where I sit, XBox and XBox Live are standout products and services. They're far from perfect, but damn if Microsoft didn't get something right for a change.

So whatever, game developer dude. Go work on your indie games and best of luck. It's a big wide wonderful world and there's room for tons of different styles of games.

But I'll make you a bet: you will not make a game that I will enjoy more than the forthcoming South Park: The Stick of Truth. A sprawling parody-RPG written by the South Park guys collaborating with the team that did Fallout: New Vegas? Fuck yeah.

That sounds like a big-budget blockbuster game made for chimpboys like me.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:38 PM on April 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


i loved one of the tiger woods on the gamecube. i keep wanting to find one to get into but i can't get a good solid recommendation on what the highlight of the series thus far is. i mean, is it as simple as "always buy the newest one" or did they fuck up somewhere along the line?
posted by nadawi at 3:59 PM on April 7, 2013


How does he explain Viva Piñata.

Microsoft Game Studios produces what will make money. They tried quirky stuff.

If people wanted to play Cart Life, Microsoft would be buying Super Bowl ads for it. Nobody, well maybe not nobody but not many, wants to play a game that explores the futility of existence while making you type the same phrases over and over. That shit is way to close to real life.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:31 PM on April 7, 2013


i find myself imagining the response if this were written about interscope, jimmy iovine, beats by dre, and the black eyed peas instead of xbox. sure, the major labels try quirky sometimes, and there's good things to be found even in the fluffiest fluff, but it's a valid opinion to say there's a lot of cesspool and focus on the wrong things going on...
posted by nadawi at 4:51 PM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, I'm finally trying to get Boot Camp to work on my machine JUST so I can play Cart Life. I really want to play Cart Life.
posted by speicus at 4:52 PM on April 7, 2013


(nadawi: sent you a MeMail re golfs)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:55 PM on April 7, 2013


(BitterOldPunk - you are the bestest)
posted by nadawi at 5:02 PM on April 7, 2013


Man, I'm finally trying to get Boot Camp to work on my machine JUST so I can play Cart Life. I really want to play Cart Life

The typing stuff is kind of a cool game mechanic. It is pretty bleak so the small victories like making to a place before they close when you don't have bus fare are pretty satisfying. The cigarette addiction mechanic really sold me.

It is also an actual game, not an art piece like a lot of indie games where you are stuck in a room and hear whispers and then it is over and you are supposed to be like "that shit subverted my expectations of narrative in games"
posted by Ad hominem at 5:23 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think one of the reasons Daniel wrote this piece, and one of the reasons it's getting the attention it is, is because we all really want the game industry to avoid falling into a navel-gazing trap. I thought what was interesting from the the Kotaku piece, was the where they quote Ken Levine on the violence in Bioshock Infinite: "It's a limitation of the medium," he says.
"I can sit down and write a scene about just about anything. It's really tough to make a game about any particular topic. You go see a movie like Margin Call, which is a fascinating exploration of how emotionally and the kind of pressures that led to the financial meltdown were on people. To turn that into a game would be a real head-scratcher. But to turn it into a movie is really a function of: can you write a good movie about it? Because you don't need that skill component, and you don't need to sort of train people on the systems and things like that [as you do] in games.

"So we tend to have fewer forms in the game space. One of the nice advantages of a form is that it's a skill-set that people have acquired. And remember that if you hand a controller to somebody who has never played a first-person shooter, it's not something you were born with. So, you know there are certain advantages it gives you."
One of the most prominent designers in the industry believes that it's not possible to make games that are not based around huge amounts of violence. That seems like a real apathy, and lack of vision, from someone who is in the rare position of having both the resources and the credibility to make meaningful games. It's not impossible, and it's proven again and again by indie games that it's possible to make games that are both meaningful and original and also actually good.

There are places for the Michael Bays to make movies, but how disturbed would you be if every movie that you'd ever heard of was a Bay-style shambles, and Steven Spielberg was out there giving interviews saying that he gave E.T. an incongruous missile launcher and a spaceship that turned into a dinosaur because he thought that movies didn't work without things like that, so he tacked them on to be able to tell his alien-meets-boy story.
posted by breath at 5:57 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


beats by dre

Those are an outright scam like monster cables thou right? It isn't like the next Halo is Going to be $299 and is actually a reskinned Halo 1.

focus on the wrong things going on...

The dev teams making Halo, and all the other games we don't like, and all the money spent on them does not negate Steam greenlight, XBLIG, and distribution by the developer themselves.

Other people are saying that we are in some kind of Indie game golden age. Which is it, chimpboys are the cancer that is killing gaming? Or are we seeing a legitimate blossoming of indie games.

Development and distribution of consome games has never been easier. I can download XNA, write some kind of game, and get it on XBLIG in front of 2 million chimpboys. No hugely expensive dev kit, no fucking around with distributors or getting shit on the shelves.

I think more money in the industry helps everyone.

Saying is isn't possible to make a game without shooting is not the same as saying is is not possible to make a 20 million dollar AAA title without shooting. Microsoft isn't stopping people from making Kentucky Route Zero, and if they can make a few bucks off it I'm sure they will welcome it on XBLA.

The entire thing is really irnonic anyway seeing as most video games were always about violence, it isn't something games have become it is something they always were. And chimpboys are "boycotting" xbox anyway because of too much focus on "Kinnect Moms", so watch out PC master race.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:06 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Other people are saying that we are in some kind of Indie game golden age. Which is it, chimpboys are the cancer that is killing gaming? Or are we seeing a legitimate blossoming of indie games.

I think it's unclear at this point whether it's the beginning of a golden age, or the middle of a bubble that will end with most indie development financially unviable. There's certainly the creativity and the will to make it happen, but it could die on the vine (as a few here and in the Hacker News thread predict).

Development and distribution of consome games has never been easier. I can download XNA, write some kind of game, and get it on XBLIG in front of 2 million chimpboys. No hugely expensive dev kit, no fucking around with distributors or getting shit on the shelves.

...

Saying is isn't possible to make a game without shooting is not the same as saying is is not possible to make a 20 million dollar AAA title without shooting. Microsoft isn't stopping people from making Kentucky Route Zero, and if they can make a few bucks off it I'm sure they will welcome it on XBLA.


Microsoft still acts as a gatekeeper for a large segment of the market, and while I don't personally have experience with this, what I've heard is that over the past few years they've been changing the service in many ways, which are closing off viability for indie developers, they're kind of also hurting the viability of AAA games as well in their rush to deliver movies and TV shows.

It's one thing to say that an indie developer is playing in the lottery of a hit-driven industry, but it's quite another to say that they have to play that lottery with special tickets that won't win the main prize and have much lower chances of any payout at all.
posted by breath at 6:33 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


well, there are arguments to be made about big titles on xbox specifically being a scam - buying basically the same games for $60 every 12-18 months that are riddled with bugs, that come with dlc preloaded on the disc, and, one of the biggest fuck yous - you have to pay a monthly fee to even get access to the multiplayer part of the game which seem to be becoming more and more of a focus.

i think there's room for a lot of perspectives and directions in the industry, from freemium to triple a console games - but think it makes sense how someone who lines up more with the current indie mindset would get burnt out at a place like xbox development.
posted by nadawi at 6:35 PM on April 7, 2013


I think naju's got it right - while there is an explosion o all sorts of cool and creative and awesome indie games, it also feels like mainstream productions have gotten more and more ridiculous in their portrayals of masculinity and are selling it to "bro" types who take manliness as an important part of their identity.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:40 PM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


More scattershot responses:

I'm not actually a huge fan of Triple Town. I mean, it's not bad as a game, but the for-pay unlockable system neatly encapsulates all that sucks about iOS gaming.

(GameSetWatch, I think they still have archives up if you want to read on some past experiences).

They do. Some of that stuff is mine.

I've seen great games from single person shops and from giant companies. And they're both capable of producing shit too.

But what signifiers do you use to determine what's good or not? The best thing about the linked article is that it lays it out there many of the signifiers many people use to decide if a game is good or not. Hardware-justifying graphics? Voice acting? Most people have undeveloped tastes, they don't know what's okay to like, so they look for superficial signifiers of quality and take those to be quality.

A lot of game development is drudgework. Edison was right in that success is 10% inspiration and 90% persperation, but without the inspiration the persperation is wasted. And, while the persperation is available from many sources, the inspiration is elusive, fleeting, and often difficult to recognize.

People will take the most brilliant amazing overwhelming awesome work of genius and say MEH to it if it's not presented exactly to their liking. I've seen it many times. I used to do it a lot myself, and probably continue to do so to some degree although I'm trying to break myself out of it. The thing is, companies are great at taking advantage of this kind of thing, because it requires no real discernment to produce, just take an intern and tell them what to code, while one-man developers have to trudge through that stuff in order to reduce the number of turn off points players can find in their work to give themselves an excuse to not engage with it.

Thus it is that the most amazing game I can currently think of, Dwarf Fortress, is derided for its lack of graphics and obtuse interface, because its developer has put the effort that most other developers would put into making it prettier and -- let's be honest here -- user-friendly, and put it into making something transcendent, practically by himself.

In fact, is it really fair to blame Microsoft for Sequelitis when probably THE biggest offender is Nintendo?

Nintendo used to be a lot better about this (note how Yoshi's Island is radically different from Super Mario World) than they are now (how many versions of New Super Mario Bros. have they made?).

at least for the big publishers -- the shareware scene was always full of a variety of game styles

The shareware scene has always been full of a variety of knockoffs. For every Id Software there's a hundred recreations of Breakout, Shanghai, Solitaire and Puzzle Bobble.

* The author REALLY, REALLY WANTS YOU TO KNOW that he doesn't like what some other people like. Snore.
* "Hipsterism" is exactly how this post struck me.
* The author sure woke up to a half-empty glass today, didn't he?
* I had a job I got tired of once too.

Whatever allows you to dismiss his point without engaging with it.

This doesn't have anything to do with the XBox, it doesn't even have much to do with the video game industry. This has to do with mass-market media realities.

But isn't that just a way of saying "it makes money, ipso facto it must be good?" Lots of terrible things do well for reasons other than objective worth, and believe me, there's lots out there you would love if you only had opportunity to learn of it during your brief life. But more on this below.

How does he explain Viva Piñata.

I'll explain it: it was made by Rare as one last interesting experiment before Microsoft lobotomized them into making Kinect games.

If people wanted to play Cart Life, Microsoft would be buying Super Bowl ads for it.

There is a fundamental thing you, and all the others who have made the financial success == worth argument, have missed: people don't know what they will like. It is not a sure thing that Cart Life would do well if given Super Bowl-level publicity; it might or it might not. But there are only so many Super Bowl spots, and they're expensive, and so they go to whatever management thinks is least risky. No one loses their job from picking the safe bet.

Other people are saying that we are in some kind of Indie game golden age. Which is it, chimpboys are the cancer that is killing gaming? Or are we seeing a legitimate blossoming of indie games.

They aren't mutually exclusive. While I wouldn't have used the word chimpboys, there is definitely a type of game that caters, panders to the young adult male demographic in much the same way Hollywood blockbusters do, and it's turned off most that aren't in that segment of the population from playing "mainstream" games. But in the small niche of indie games, all kinds of awesome, wonderful things are now being done. The scale is much smaller, so it's possible for this small but significant flowering to occur in one corner of the wasteland.
posted by JHarris at 6:44 PM on April 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


All valid points,

I would agree that the yearly NBA and NFL games are scams.

I also agree that this XBLIG limitations seem crazy arbitrary, but you have to agree that even with crazy arbitrary rules indie devs still have more access to Xbox than any previous generations of consoles. In the olden days you had Nintendo,or the shelf at the mom and pop computer store at the strip mall at the edge of town. I'm not even going to mention chrome store, where stuff like Don't Starve lives, or even selling it yourself with PayPal like Minecraft did.

I don't even know what you guys are talking about with the masculinity stuff, you talking since Duke Nukem or since Contra? Cuz that was like 20 years ago.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:47 PM on April 7, 2013


i'd say indie devs have the best chance in the pc market now. there have been some big xbla successes, but steam and other content curators like that are blowing them out of the water as far as quality and quantity.

as to duke nukem and contra - there's a difference between the masculinity being represented among other things and the masculinity seemingly being the only focus. i will say as a girl gamer, there are things to me that are better now and worse now - i think there's always been a core of games that sell masculine power and masturbation fantasies to stereotypical dudebros. it feels like the topic of the FPP is that xbox is the biggest home for this and it's because they focus on it harder than they focus other stuff and that got this guy's goat.

i have lots of love for the xbox - i could make a list of xbla games that i love, love, love - i do feel like they actively don't want my money and they seemingly find their games to be secondary on their own system. these days if i can get a game on xbox or steam, and there's no janky pc port problems, i'm going to get it on steam.
posted by nadawi at 6:56 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a fundamental thing you, and all the others who have made the financial success == worth argument, have missed: people don't know what they will like. It is not a sure thing that Cart Life would do well if given Super Bowl-level publicity; it might or it might not. But there are only so many Super Bowl spots, and they're expensive, and so they go to whatever management thinks is least risky. No one loses their job from picking the safe bet.

You are right I am guilty of making the same assumption. I would have been wrong about Minecraft also.

You guys are probably right that having Xbox sort of dictate aesthetics while merely paying lip service with XBLIG may be a net negative. I'm still not going to get rig of mine until I finish building my house in Skyrim though.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:56 PM on April 7, 2013


i think there's always been a core of games that sell masculine power and masturbation fantasies to stereotypical dudebros.

It feels to me like it's gotten worse, though. I grew up with a subscription to PC Gamer, and I feel like it used to be more cartoony, less serious. Maybe that's just a limitation of graphics, what used to be by necessity pixelated and brightly colored is now rendered in gritty and gory detail, but still. I feel like a lot of these tropes have iterated on themselves, and crept toward the More muscles! More violence! More spikes! More hardassness! And lost a fair bit of realism and self-awareness. Games are now serious business, not a silly and entertaining diversion, and that puts the power fantasies in a different context.
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:14 PM on April 7, 2013


i feel like the mainstream focus has maybe gotten worse, but as my list upthread shows - there's so much going on in the industry that isn't that - it's easy to argue there's room for way more voices and perspectives than we used to get - but it's also easy to see what's popular and judge the industry on that.

this happens in other entertainment industries - some people judge tv on two and half guys and reality shows. some people judge moves on transformers. some people judge books on supermarket fluff. some people judge print media on the national enquirer.

luckily - if you're really interested in a specific industry and want to delve deeper there's good stuff to find everywhere - some of it is a blockbuster and some of it isn't. the internet makes this discover process easier than ever (and harder just because there's so much stuff to weed through).
posted by nadawi at 7:20 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I myself love me some violent games, and I've always thought of myself as the sort of person who isn't put off by it and will defend its existence. *small spoiler* But for serious it is really not necessary to have blood be the primary focus of a game whose story is about quantum mechanics. It's disturbing now because it's clearly not even there for the fun. It's just there because everyone else has it. It's making games less fun.
posted by breath at 7:29 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


But for serious it is really not necessary to have blood be the primary focus of a game whose story is about quantum mechanics.

Hence, Portal.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:32 PM on April 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Rory Marinich

No one's saying you can't highlight things that you personally find interesting. Chill the fuck out before you have an aneurysm.

>>"Better than Bioshock" is a stupid fucking mentality.

No it fucking isn't. While any statement like that involves a high degree of subjectivity, it is made in the same spirit as when people hold works like Ulysses, Citizen Kane, and the Mona Lisa in high esteem.

Games are an artform, and more so, gaming is an coherent experience. A game is more than just a sum of its parts, and when you point out that a game did one particular aspect better than Bioshock, that means as much to me as saying an artist can paint more interesting eyebrows than da Vinci.

Of course there are tons of fun and excitement to be had in the hard work of smaller developers, but excuse me if I find that Bioshock's setting, atmosphere, and story put together created a more compelling overall experience than some indie game with an innovative mechanic. If you can't see the forest for the trees, then that is a stupid fucking mentality.
posted by yifes at 7:41 PM on April 7, 2013


i feel like the mainstream focus has maybe gotten worse, but as my list upthread shows - there's so much going on in the industry that isn't that - it's easy to argue there's room for way more voices and perspectives than we used to get - but it's also easy to see what's popular and judge the industry on that.

Oh I agree, it's just that I feel like the "mainstream" gaming culture should be criticized when it's a bad influence - downfall of civilization, get off my lawn, and all that. I'm sure kids these days will turn out fine, regardless.
posted by Zalzidrax at 7:47 PM on April 7, 2013


I'm not actually a huge fan of Triple Town. I mean, it's not bad as a game, but the for-pay unlockable system neatly encapsulates all that sucks about iOS gaming.

Ugh. Pay to win games are as much a plague as Call of Battlefronts... If they're the future then count me out.
posted by Artw at 8:00 PM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Triple Town is not pay to win, by any stretch of the imagination. What most pay for is more play time. You can also buy more coins to buy things in the store, but the number of items you can buy is limited to a small number, so if you're good enough to be able to hit the limit, you're good enough to win enough coins through skillful play.

Daniel has been pretty vocal about his opposition to pay-to-win.
posted by breath at 8:05 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously developers, I know mobile customers are supposed to be skinflints but I will gladly pay $5 or whatever for your app if you can guarantee it will be free of those things. Ask the Steam store, I'm good on my word.
posted by Artw at 8:07 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a big gamer, but if you want less male-catered, violence-fantasy games, wouldn't you need to bring back the draft?

I mean we have a lot of wars and a volunteer military. I haven't done the research, but I'm pretty sure it's more fact than conspiracy theory that the government collaborates on and encourages almost all the "Call of America Duty to the Troops part 8" stuff flooding the market.

It's starting to happen in movies too, with the Department of Defense working on and having script approval on ZERO DARK THIRTY and its ilk, but video games are the biggest recruitment tool the military has right now.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:07 PM on April 7, 2013


Triple Town is not pay to win, by any stretch of the imagination. What most pay for is more play time. You can also buy more coins to buy things in the store, but the number of items you can buy is limited to a small number, so if you're good enough to be able to hit the limit, you're good enough to win enough coins through skillful play.

No, no and no. "pay for easy mode" is just pay to win dressed up a bit.
posted by Artw at 8:08 PM on April 7, 2013


I tell you what, if you must sell me something in game sell me some new game mode or maps or whatever, I'll happily buy those. Or something silly like a hat, that's dumb but nobody is making you do it and people who enjoy hats might as well have the opportunity to enjoy themselves - but don't sell me coins or extra time or life or other game-breaking but deportable items - that makes your game a non-game and you a con artist.
posted by Artw at 8:14 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suppose you could argue that since you cannot win a game that you don't have a copy of, purchasing the game at the store is just pay to win dressed up a little bit. Seriously, though, all of the objections I've ever heard to Triple Town's pricing model have been from people who haven't actually played it. One dude at GDC was griping about how every freemium developer needs to "go kill themselves", in front of Henry Smith, creator of Spaceteam, a freemium indie darling (which is great, you should play it, play it now!). There's definitely an element of "I'll know it when I see it" when it comes to odious business models, so seeing it in action is the real test. Purchasing in Triple Town does unlock new game modes and maps, which you would know if you'd played it, Artw.
posted by breath at 8:20 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I should mention now that we're talking about Triple Town that I've actually worked on it, though I felt the way I do about it long before I got that opportunity, and that's part of why I did choose to work on it.)
posted by breath at 8:24 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll play it for as long as it takes to demand money to keep going - after that it's Zynga.
posted by Artw at 8:33 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is a bad idea to have monetization that can even be remotely confused with something terrible.
posted by breath at 8:41 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I kinda concur...I'm not sold that "freemium" is a non-bad business model, but regardless, I kinda think Zynga's salted that particular patch of earth.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 8:47 PM on April 7, 2013


I suppose you could argue that since you cannot win a game that you don't have a copy of, purchasing the game at the store is just pay to win dressed up a little bit.

I refuse to believe that you believe this.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:49 PM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, no and no. "pay for easy mode" is just pay to win dressed up a bit.

It's not "pay for easy mode" either. It's more like "pay for more playable levels" and "pay for cosmetic things" and stuff like that. Cook has written extensively about how to do non-shitty (ethical, even) F2P.
posted by Jpfed at 8:50 PM on April 7, 2013


Oh, wait, I think you don't? I'm confused.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:50 PM on April 7, 2013


I do not believe that, no.
posted by breath at 8:51 PM on April 7, 2013


Yay!
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:52 PM on April 7, 2013


This thing very much seems to want my money to do anything other than play a very basic game. It also seems to want my money to give me abilities that remove skill from the game. Sorry, but this thing seems very much pay-to-win to me.

/Makes sign of warding against Zynga.
/Deletes game.
posted by Artw at 9:01 PM on April 7, 2013


Obviously I think that's not true, but it's truly a perception thing, so in some sense the belief is as important as the reality.

Someone make an indie game about beliefs shaping reality, please. Do not include chainsaws to the face!
posted by breath at 10:07 PM on April 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Chill the fuck out before you have an aneurysm.
posted by ostranenie at 10:10 PM on April 7, 2013


Artw: "Sorry, but this thing seems very much pay-to-win to me. "

Well obviously it's not pay to win because you can't win, only delay the inevitable loss. ^_^

But there's certainly in-app purchases for gameplay relevant things, so I'd call it a bit of both. My approach is to not spend coins on anything but more turns, and that turns out to be largely easily sustaining: you earn coins faster than you spend them. The "pay for a tetris piece" aspect is limited in any case, the number of purchases for any given item is limited per game. I haven't done a spreadsheet analysis, but I suspect with enough of the coin upgrades (which you purchase with coin awarded in game), you might be able to afford the turns and every item purchase as well. When I do play, I treat it as a personal challenge to play the game without spending a dime.

I understand the complaint though; I could see for some people why a game that you can be better at by buying things can be an unwelcome reminder of reality, or perhaps find in app purchases to as offensive as people playing with cheat codes. Personally, I find the evil thing about in-app purchases is the five year old factor. If a five year old can rack up a mortgage payment playing the game, you'd best not be talking about any "innovative addicting gameplay."

Perhaps we can start moralizing about something less controversial, like whether Spry Fox's existing lineup connects people or improves the world. When he asks those questions, I think of games like GWAP's portfolio (personal favorite) and Foldit.
posted by pwnguin at 11:05 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Xbox put machismo, ultra-violence and chimpboys with backwards caps in the spotlight.

Awesome. That's exactly what a world struggling with equality, war, and poverty needs. Well-done.


Yeah 'cause going home to unwind with some ultra violence is hurting the world. Enjoying the tense, well-crafted mechanics of Gears of War or Vanquish is making me a worse person. Reliving stress by blowing shit up in Borderlands 2 is causing people to starve.

Plus XBLA has encouraged indie development.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:07 PM on April 7, 2013


I feel sorry for the rooms and rooms of visual effects artists who go into making stuff like G.I. Joe.

Why? The first GI Joe movie was invented and fun. I like cute sprites and pure gameplay and indie games as much as the next guy, and would prefer less brown & grey, but let's not kid ourselves that's a moral stance. Gameplay is what matters, not aesthetics or 'morals'. Except for the Blackwater and US Military shooters.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:14 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rory Marinich

No one's saying you can't highlight things that you personally find interesting. Chill the fuck out before you have an aneurysm.

>>"Better than Bioshock" is a stupid fucking mentality.

No it fucking isn't. While any statement like that involves a high degree of subjectivity, it is made in the same spirit as when people hold works like Ulysses, Citizen Kane, and the Mona Lisa in high esteem.

Games are an artform, and more so, gaming is an coherent experience. A game is more than just a sum of its parts, and when you point out that a game did one particular aspect better than Bioshock, that means as much to me as saying an artist can paint more interesting eyebrows than da Vinci.

Of course there are tons of fun and excitement to be had in the hard work of smaller developers, but excuse me if I find that Bioshock's setting, atmosphere, and story put together created a more compelling overall experience than some indie game with an innovative mechanic. If you can't see the forest for the trees, then that is a stupid fucking mentality.

[+] [!]



Bioshock isn't the Mona Lisa, though, and I'd expect any commercial shooter to have better mechanics than an action game with no penalty for dying. It's fooled people into thinking its the pinnacle of gaming, but its not. Dark Souls or Mario, maybe. Bayonetta for third person action. But Bioshock is a game who's core mechanic is bad.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:20 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I turned the Vita chamber bullshit off.
posted by Artw at 11:24 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's starting to happen in movies too, with the Department of Defense working on and having script approval on ZERO DARK THIRTY and its ilk

Just a small point of order, but Zero Dark Thirty did not have the cooperation of the DoD precisely because they would have asked for script approval, and the filmmakers did not want to be bound by that.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:50 PM on April 7, 2013


I still remember the Army had a recruiting table set up outside the Gamestop when I bought Halo 2 on release day, in the wee hours of the morning.

Man that was creepy.
posted by macross city flaneur at 11:57 PM on April 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bioshock isn't the Mona Lisa, though, and I'd expect any commercial shooter to have better mechanics than an action game with no penalty for dying. It's fooled people into thinking its the pinnacle of gaming, but its not.

It's the console introduction of the quicksave/reload mechanic.
posted by jaduncan at 4:54 AM on April 8, 2013


JHarris: " For every Id Software there's a hundred recreations of Breakout"

You can never have enough Breakout.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:58 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


there is, in fact, a breakout on my list upthread.
posted by nadawi at 8:37 AM on April 8, 2013


Okay, revile me as you wish.

I liked Bioshock. I liked Bioshock 2 (and I carry a mancrush on Minerva's Den - The ONLY thing I have ever purchased Microsoft Points for).

And I just finished my second playthrough of Bioshock Infinite.

I felt engaged with all of their stories.

OTOH, I cringe to think someone like LoversLab will come out with a nude patch for Elizabeth at some point. (All I wanted to do with Elizabeth was pick her up, cuddle her, make her hot chocolate, and tell her it will be all right and we WILL see Paris together.)

I also like a lot of other types of games too.

(Although some of my fondest shooter memories involve massive marathons of Left4Dead with other MeFites and telling them numerous times it's okay to just call me Sam as no one could apparently pronounce my nick.)
posted by Samizdata at 8:52 AM on April 8, 2013


Yeah 'cause going home to unwind with some ultra violence is hurting the world.

It's worth noting that the term ultra violence was coined by A Clockwork Orange, which shows a world in which it has seeped into every pore.

Plus XBLA has encouraged indie development.

This is true, although in the wake of the iOS and Play store it looks less like admirable foresight and more like a survival measure. And just like with Apple's devices, to make your own software for the box you yourself bought you have to pay the manufacturer $100 a year for the right. Why? Why not!

Why? The first GI Joe movie was invented and fun.

"Invented" is not a compliment in this context; I think you're looking for "inventive." Me, my memory of this crappy film will be forever defined by how a friend of mine remembers the bad guys "weaponizing" the MacGuffin everyone is chasing: they put it into a machine, it floats up in the air, spins around, glows, there are special effects, and presto: weaponized. Like they bombarded it with weaptrons, which are composed of two hurt and one fuck quarks. (Another quality physics joke from JHarris Indutries!)

Gameplay is what matters, not aesthetics or 'morals'.

It's taken me awhile to realize this, but this is not accurate. Scenario matters. The trappings in which the gameplay are wrapped plays a role, and it does matter.

I still remember the Army had a recruiting table set up outside the Gamestop when I bought Halo 2 on release day, in the wee hours of the morning. Man that was creepy.

Dear god, creepy doesn't seem strong enough a word.
posted by JHarris at 9:17 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, revile me as you wish.

I liked Bioshock.
I mean, Bioshock is a very easy game to like. It's "perfected" to a tee. Ken Levine, its lead developer, is a renowned "perfectionist". He likes everything to be "perfect".

For what it is, Bioshock is close to being perfectly executed. And yeah, there's something cool about seeing that level of craftsmanship in game design. Video games like this are more intricately crafted now than ever. They're like Fabergé eggs.
Of course there are tons of fun and excitement to be had in the hard work of smaller developers, but excuse me if I find that Bioshock's setting, atmosphere, and story put together created a more compelling overall experience than some indie game with an innovative mechanic. If you can't see the forest for the trees, then that is a stupid fucking mentality.
Clearly you play video games for reasons beyond the "game" part. I'm the sort of gamer who is interested in games. New games, interesting games, challenging games, rewarding games.

Bioshock Infinite's well-written. It's pretty. The voice acting is less than completely terrible. It's "fun" and "satisfying to play". But its mechanics are not thought-provoking. They don't encourage introspection, or challenge you to understand the deeper relationships between things. The writing, the gimmick they keep doing where they steal your agency, maybe that's provocative, but it's provocative in the same way a movie's provocative. Bioshock reminds me of Michael Haneke's Funny Games, where the loss of character agency is a central artistic intent.

And there's a place for video games that feel like movies but are more immersive. Even by that benchmark, though, Bioshock Infinite is not super impressive. Thanks to the mechanics of any generic FPS, the only story they can tell is an action movie in which many people are shot and killed. They might come up with a good excuse for why there's so much shooting and killing. But ultimately, it was the game's choice to make your only option as a player shooting and killing, and it leads to stories where the solution involves shooting and killing, and I find that kind of story shallow and unsatisfying.

By the standards of movie-making, the best cinematic video games fall short of even middling movies. Compare a video game's story to the best in cinema, and it's a fucking slaughterhouse. Same as when movies pretend they're literature, or TV shows pretend to be movies. They're different mediums, they have different strengths and weaknesses, they succeed when they understand their own natures.

Video games are all about play. And play is defined by the limits and freedoms it bestows upon its player. Bioshock's play is not super interesting. It's nowhere near as interesting as, say, basketball's. It is a very very polished iteration of its sort of play, but that playstyle is pretty vapid, all things considered, especially in a single-player game where you're not even limited by the skills of the other players. (Counter-Strike is an FPS, sure, but it's so unforgiving that the real challenge is learning to compete with other players. Like basketball! Like chess! Both of which were your examples, yiffy, not mine.)

Your stupid argument about how indie games don't offer compelling experiences aside (Braid? Bastion? Limbo? The Void?), the thing which I prize in games above anything else is how they engage me. Some brilliant young people are creating games whose mechanics have never existed before. They're using technology not to slap a fresh coat of paint on something old and rancid, but to create new challenges that push their players in ways that those players haven't quite been challenged before. Portal, to use a non-indie example, does this quite marvelously. Minecraft does too, in a different way. There are scores of games doing really neat things in a thousand different ways at once. It is an exciting time.

Like Bioshock all you want, but your original comment was "I feel that sometimes people emphasize too much on innovation" and "just because your game has some new gimmicks, doesn't mean it's better than Bioshock". It was an extremely stupid way of framing the discussion started in the initial post. And when I posted a short, nice little comment reminding you that games are a rich, wide, constantly burgeoning field of entertainment, you decided to double down and get extra snotty. Don't feel upset just because you decided to say something dumb and got called out for it. It's not like anybody dislikes you personally. They're just addressing the silly things you decided to post on a public forum.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:21 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's taken me awhile to realize this, but this is not accurate. Scenario matters. The trappings in which the gameplay are wrapped plays a role, and it does matter.
I think the trappings help to define what the gameplay is. Like, a surprising number of first-person shooters are set in battlezones and wartimes, even though the mechanics of a shooter could be used to make paintball games or absurd Katamari-style whimsyfests in which everybody's a ghost trying to exorcise other ghosts.

A part of the satisfaction of your average Call of Duty game is the part where you imagine that you're killing other people and being more badass than them. It's a feeling of power. While the mechanics itself contribute to some of that feeling – you're defeating an enemy before they defeat you – the game scenarios themselves are designed to amplify that emotion considerably.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:47 AM on April 8, 2013


the mechanics of a shooter could be used to make [...] absurd Katamari-style whimsyfests in which everybody's a ghost trying to exorcise other ghosts.

I want to play this game.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:05 AM on April 8, 2013


Rory, I agree.

I do have to note that Portal's mechanics were largely derived from the indie predecessor Narbacular Drop though.
posted by jaduncan at 10:10 AM on April 8, 2013


"Derived" is a funny word for "development team was hired to make a commercial game of their student project".
posted by Nelson at 10:18 AM on April 8, 2013


While the mechanics itself contribute to some of that feeling – you're defeating an enemy before they defeat you – the game scenarios themselves are designed to amplify that emotion considerably.

I have complex and evolving opinions in this regard. Because I do think that immersion is overrated, it's important in some cases, but it's become a sacred cow of commercial game development. There are more important things than immersion. In any case, the word "mechanic" in this case might be misused; a mechanic (or as Keith Burgun calls it a mechanism) isn't a sound effect or a recoil animation, it's a play structure, like searching to collect ammo or the relative speed of characters.

The context in which the player's actions are put also matters. And the feeling of empowerment that comes from first-person shooters -- I don't like it. I don't think it's a worthy sensation, I think such artificial feelings of empowerment are ultimately escapism, fine in moderation, but not when used to, you know, escape. And while I don't think that FPSes cause real-world violence, a culture of violence can, and it's provided here by typically hate-filled in-game chat.
posted by JHarris at 10:33 AM on April 8, 2013


Yeah, I probably could have organized that comment better. Sorry, trying to do three things at once, and all of them before going to the pizza mines.
posted by JHarris at 11:32 AM on April 8, 2013


So, hardcore dudebro gamers have completely taken over the XBox ecosystem?

Except he doesn't mention that for the past year or so, Minecraft has been the #1 or #2 most-played game on the 360.

And as far as the overall gaming ecosystem, League of Legends, World of Warcraft, and Minecraft all have more total users than any dudebro XBox shooter.
posted by straight at 12:53 PM on April 8, 2013


straight: "So, hardcore dudebro gamers have completely taken over the XBox ecosystem?"

That's not what I understood from TFA. His problem was working at Microsoft, where the dudebrohood starts near the top of the org chart and goes all the way down. In effect, he is saying that games like Minecraft are popular on the 360 in spite of Microsoft's demographic marketing focus, rather than because of it.

It's worth browsing through the subsequent discussion, where he clarifies his position further. For example:
Never mistake the poster children for the prime movers. Yes, XBLA was one of the many platforms opening up due to the advent of digital distribution. And they were particularly good about connecting with the existing press apparatus. It is important that you recognize these for what they are: "Success stories" Exactly the sort of PR tale that a new and untested platform needs in order to bring in more developers and gain network effects. It is worth noting that now that those network effects exists, the contracts for XBLA have once again turned predatory.
posted by vanar sena at 2:05 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And Kinect is Dudebro because ????.
posted by Artw at 2:08 PM on April 8, 2013


JHarris: I think I completely agree with your comment.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:36 PM on April 8, 2013


Artw: "And Kinect is Dudebro because ????"

Hey, it's not hard to imagine Chief Dudebro Officer looking at kids playing Wii Sports and thinking, "shit, we need to have that yesterday." The Grand Panicked Reaction is a time-honoured Microsoft tradition (cf. the Internet, mobile computing).
posted by vanar sena at 2:49 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seems like a pretty major effort for something they are half-adding so they can get back to Call of Bro Ops - haven't Kinect bundles been a major part of their sales since it launched?
posted by Artw at 4:11 PM on April 8, 2013


It’s also weird how your favorite indie band is not the most popular band in the world. It must be because everyone else is wrong, they just don’t know.
posted by bongo_x at 5:48 PM on April 8, 2013


bongo_x: "It’s also weird how your favorite indie band is not the most popular band in the world. It must be because everyone else is wrong, they just don’t know."

Well, you know, not everybody can find out about them before they sell out and become mainstream.
posted by Samizdata at 7:15 PM on April 8, 2013


Rory Marinich: "
Okay, revile me as you wish.

I liked Bioshock.
I mean, Bioshock is a very easy game to like. It's "perfected" to a tee. Ken Levine, its lead developer, is a renowned "perfectionist". He likes everything to be "perfect".

For what it is, Bioshock is close to being perfectly executed. And yeah, there's something cool about seeing that level of craftsmanship in game design. Video games like this are more intricately crafted now than ever. They're like Fabergé eggs.
Of course there are tons of fun and excitement to be had in the hard work of smaller developers, but excuse me if I find that Bioshock's setting, atmosphere, and story put together created a more compelling overall experience than some indie game with an innovative mechanic. If you can't see the forest for the trees, then that is a stupid fucking mentality.
Clearly you play video games for reasons beyond the "game" part. I'm the sort of gamer who is interested in games. New games, interesting games, challenging games, rewarding games.

Bioshock Infinite's well-written. It's pretty. The voice acting is less than completely terrible. It's "fun" and "satisfying to play". But its mechanics are not thought-provoking. They don't encourage introspection, or challenge you to understand the deeper relationships between things. The writing, the gimmick they keep doing where they steal your agency, maybe that's provocative, but it's provocative in the same way a movie's provocative. Bioshock reminds me of Michael Haneke's Funny Games, where the loss of character agency is a central artistic intent.

And there's a place for video games that feel like movies but are more immersive. Even by that benchmark, though, Bioshock Infinite is not super impressive. Thanks to the mechanics of any generic FPS, the only story they can tell is an action movie in which many people are shot and killed. They might come up with a good excuse for why there's so much shooting and killing. But ultimately, it was the game's choice to make your only option as a player shooting and killing, and it leads to stories where the solution involves shooting and killing, and I find that kind of story shallow and unsatisfying.

By the standards of movie-making, the best cinematic video games fall short of even middling movies. Compare a video game's story to the best in cinema, and it's a fucking slaughterhouse. Same as when movies pretend they're literature, or TV shows pretend to be movies. They're different mediums, they have different strengths and weaknesses, they succeed when they understand their own natures.

Video games are all about play. And play is defined by the limits and freedoms it bestows upon its player. Bioshock's play is not super interesting. It's nowhere near as interesting as, say, basketball's. It is a very very polished iteration of its sort of play, but that playstyle is pretty vapid, all things considered, especially in a single-player game where you're not even limited by the skills of the other players. (Counter-Strike is an FPS, sure, but it's so unforgiving that the real challenge is learning to compete with other players. Like basketball! Like chess! Both of which were your examples, yiffy, not mine.)

Your stupid argument about how indie games don't offer compelling experiences aside (Braid? Bastion? Limbo? The Void?), the thing which I prize in games above anything else is how they engage me. Some brilliant young people are creating games whose mechanics have never existed before. They're using technology not to slap a fresh coat of paint on something old and rancid, but to create new challenges that push their players in ways that those players haven't quite been challenged before. Portal, to use a non-indie example, does this quite marvelously. Minecraft does too, in a different way. There are scores of games doing really neat things in a thousand different ways at once. It is an exciting time.

Like Bioshock all you want, but your original comment was "I feel that sometimes people emphasize too much on innovation" and "just because your game has some new gimmicks, doesn't mean it's better than Bioshock". It was an extremely stupid way of framing the discussion started in the initial post. And when I posted a short, nice little comment reminding you that games are a rich, wide, constantly burgeoning field of entertainment, you decided to double down and get extra snotty. Don't feel upset just because you decided to say something dumb and got called out for it. It's not like anybody dislikes you personally. They're just addressing the silly things you decided to post on a public forum.
"

I never really said any of the things you attributed to me, other than saying I liked the Bioshock series. I was just saying I liked those games in sort of a non-dudebro fashion. But, is okay.
posted by Samizdata at 7:17 PM on April 8, 2013


Seriously, though, all of the objections I've ever heard to Triple Town's pricing model have been from people who haven't actually played it.

Then your long streak is this day shattered, for I have indeed played Triple Town, and I do object to its pricing model. It has been a while since I played it, I will admit, so I don't remember all the details, but I did review its In App Purchases list before I wrote my comment about its pricing and noticed there are a lot of "50 Coins" "100 Coins" "500 Coins" etc. purchases, which confirms what generally remains in my head concerning being annoyed with its pricing model.

Psst: the original version of the game, for the eInk Kindle version, is flat fee with no purchases.
posted by JHarris at 1:09 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's taken me awhile to realize this, but this is not accurate. Scenario matters. The trappings in which the gameplay are wrapped plays a role, and it does matter.

Don't you write a Roguelike column, which are mostly games stripped of graphics and story? I follow Tim Rogers' view that its mostly the feel of the mechanics that matter, though that can support the aesthetics (see Dark Souls' hopeless world and brutal combat). And if Bioshock is all about the story and setting, why is the only option combat? My exception to the 'gameplay is all that matters' rule is New Vegas, but that let's me talk my way out of anything.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:23 AM on April 9, 2013


Don't you write a Roguelike column, which are mostly games stripped of graphics and story?

Roguelikes do have graphics; they have ASCII characters. And they do have a scenario, which isn't the same thing as a story, and it doesn't carry the centuries of Aristotelian baggage associated with them. Stories have a set beginning and end that don't change; a scenario is a setting without an outcome, a field of possibilities to explore.

Roguelikes usually do have stories, but they are different each play, are written by the player as he goes, and they don't usually have happy endings.
posted by JHarris at 1:47 AM on April 9, 2013


I was just saying I liked those games in sort of a non-dudebro fashion. But, is okay.
Most of my comment was addressing somebody that wasn't you. Only the first little bit was a response to your comment. Sorry! :-)
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:04 AM on April 9, 2013


Artw: "And Kinect is Dudebro because ????."

Cuz MS said "Dude! Bro! We gotta get in on some of that money that Nintendo is making."
posted by symbioid at 9:16 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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