Other Than Game of the Year
December 30, 2023 6:27 AM   Subscribe

BG3 was the first game that I sunk a lot of time into in many years. I thought it was great! Then it won "Game of the Year" from what I guess is the organization that awards that? Which I didn't know was a thing. And then I heard a lot of people were mad about it winning, which seemed odd, and pretty much confirmed that even though I'm playing the biggest commercial and critical success of the year, I'm still pretty badly out of touch with the gaming community as it stands today.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:45 AM on December 30, 2023 [4 favorites]

Every gaming media organization awards game of the year. Popular games get it awarded dozens of times.
posted by aubilenon at 7:28 AM on December 30, 2023 [1 favorite]

The gamers who are mad about BG3 winning are mad because they wanted Spider-Man 2 to win. It's not so much being out of touch as simple tribalism. Spider-Man 2 was technically superior, but Baldur's Gate 3 had more heart.

As for the awards, this wasn't a gaming media organization. This was the Game Awards, which is an industry-wide award programs whose selection board consists of the various hardware companies and which are then voted on by the major gaming outlets. It has its own share of issues, since it is heavily commercialized and this year there was more time devoted to talking about next year's releases than this year's winners.
posted by gwydapllew at 8:13 AM on December 30, 2023 [2 favorites]

I'm 53 and have played video games since the mid-'70s. I took a break from gaming in my 20s, but otherwise that's decades of games. Baldur's Gate 3 is my favorite game of all time.

I'll also add that being on Metafilter since around 2000 (got a new account a few years ago, long story) leads me to think BG 3 is one of the most Metafilter-games of all time. I recommend it to everyone here. There's a learning curve if you don't know D&D and especially D&D 5e system, but the game does a spectacular job of explaining things and showing you choices you can make on your turn. And it has an easy mode if you really don't grok the gameplay. And after the first few levels the game gets easier, and playing on Normal is a cakewalk by the time you reach level 5... so easy must be really easy. Even if you screw up, there's a ton of ways to revive, change every character's class and multi class and stats at any time. It's so user friendly.

Happy new year, play Baldur's Gate 3.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:38 AM on December 30, 2023 [11 favorites]

As an industry employee I’m wondering where “huge wave of cancellations and layoffs caused by publishers panicking realizing people aren’t going to spend on video games at quite the same rate as 2020/2021 as other entertainment options returned” will be on this list- this year has been brutal, probably the worst since 2008. Let’s see…
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:26 AM on December 30, 2023 [3 favorites]

Pretty close to the top it turns out!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:28 AM on December 30, 2023 [3 favorites]

What Embracer has done and is doing to the industry should be considered a crime. So many studios are going to disappear or be cut to the bone as a result of Embracer placing all their bets on "Saudi investors will save us!"

Embracer feels like a microcosm for the entire tech industry, really: get big in the era of cheap money, decide that trends during a once-in-a-lifetime event like a pandemic are actually the new normal, and then take it out on your workforce when that guess turns out to be wrong.
posted by chrominance at 12:43 PM on December 30, 2023 [6 favorites]

Also, re: game of the year: the only game of the year that matters is the one you pick for yourself. All other game of the year awards are just cudgels to be used against people you disagree with on the internet, and are therefore less than worthless.
posted by chrominance at 12:47 PM on December 30, 2023 [1 favorite]

That movie link isn’t very convincing. Super Mario is good based on the metric of money but not Rotten Tomatoes score, but Castlevania is good on a Rotten Tomatoes score alone. Never mind that both are 30+ year old brands. I hear The Last of Us is good, but god damn Halo was cold dog shit.

Did video game movies and TV get good this year? No. But the ability of studios to mine any IP for a penny remains as good as ever.
posted by munchingzombie at 1:42 PM on December 30, 2023

Regarding layoffs, from The Verge,
It doesn’t have to be like this. In 2013, Nintendo executives famously took a pay cut after the Wii U’s poor sales to prevent laying off developers. “If we reduce the number of employees for better short-term financial results, employee morale will decrease,” said then Nintendo president Satoru Iwata in an investor relations Q&A. “I sincerely doubt employees who fear that they may be laid off will be able to develop software titles that could impress people around the world.” This wasn’t the only time either. Two years prior, in 2011, Iwata and Nintendo’s board took pay cuts after sluggish sales of the 3DS prompted Nintendo to slash the handheld’s price.

Nintendo, developer of some of the highest-quality video games ever made, is saying here, in the long run, it is far more important to prioritize people over profit because those people will be better incentivized to make good games.
I think that one of the things people have really responded to with respect to Baldur's Gate 3 is that it feels like the (privately-held) studio has prioritized making games that people want to play -- and the game developers who want to make those games -- over more purely profit-driven considerations.
posted by Slothrup at 4:00 PM on December 30, 2023 [2 favorites]

Tossup between Baldur’s Gate 3, The Finals, and Tears of the Kingdom, for me.

TotK: to be completely honest I always thought the praise for Breath of the Wild was overblown - yes, the granddaddy of Japanese studios finally gets on the North American open world train and does it really, really well. But there was nothing there I hadn’t seen before, and areas where it still needed some polish (random encounter pacing vs, say, the Witcher 3).

Tears of the Kingdom was everything good about BotW, plus the verticality I love in any action game, and they directly integrated Besieged into the core loop and it just works. Mind blown, jaw on floor: Tears of the Kingdom is something new, something I never suspected Nintendo - or anyone else - was capable of making.

The Finals - just released so it’ll be counted as 2024 in a lot of corners - is like someone took Unreal Tournament, gave it two decades worth of design refinements plus every lesson Apex Legends had to offer at its peak, and then stirred in a massive building-scale destruction system that in just under 100 hours of gameplay has never let me down: I can destroy everything I think I should be able to, and it only ever enhances the core game loop of the slickest arena shooter in years, possibly ever. I’m not very good at it, but this is the game I’m playing most evenings.

Baldur’s Gate 3: it’s everything everyone here and elsewhere has said and more. It’s a worthy successor to Baldur’s Gate 2, which is not a sentence I thought I would ever write. I am the sort of Baldur’s Gate fan who, after having played the games through a couple times, went through the impossible arcana of early Weidu modding. Weidu was a large set of scripts where Baldur’s Gate 1 was - with enormous struggle - directly imported into the Baldur’s Gate 2 engine as a content pack to create one seamless playthrough. I added and rebalanced about 80 other mods, including unofficial extra-difficult encounter mods by Black Isle employees, to create a sort of ultimate playthrough of both games and expansions in one sprawling, end-to-end experience.

As someone at that level of fandom: Baldur’s Gate 3 is better than I dared to hope or deserve. Hats off to Larian - Divinity 2 was great, but this is truly next-level RPG gaming.
posted by Ryvar at 4:58 PM on December 30, 2023 [2 favorites]

BG 3 is one of the most Metafilter-games of all time

This is so true, and I'm enjoying myself playing my way through the game as well right now. I kind of wish there was a place on MeFi where we could beanplate about BG3... fanfare doesn't do games right now, does it?
posted by destrius at 11:23 PM on December 30, 2023

And also while I'm really enjoying BG3, there are still a lot of bugs, especially once you leave the extensively play-tested Act 1. Some are pretty disastrous plot-wise too, like certain plaques containing critical information showing the wrong text. It's probably still several patches away from being fully polished, but I get the impression that's the way most games are nowadays anyway.
posted by destrius at 11:25 PM on December 30, 2023

Erm... I made this post to talk about 2023 things in gaming that are not the Game of the Year, but MeFi's gonna MeFi, I guess.
posted by May Kasahara at 6:59 AM on December 31, 2023 [2 favorites]

I am the sort of Baldur’s Gate fan who, after having played the games through a couple times, went through the impossible arcana of early Weidu modding

Having done some BG2 modding with the more recent generations of tools, which still even now is an uphill struggle, I read your whole BG3 paragraph with a certain amount of awe.
posted by notoriety public at 10:27 AM on December 31, 2023 [1 favorite]

I am not a huge console gamer but I am still playing TotK in 1-2 hour chunks once or twice a week and I am still having a blast and I am only halfway through the story.
posted by mmascolino at 12:38 PM on December 31, 2023

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