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  1. Man, Dungeon Keeper is a great call. In a similar vein: Settlers 2. Loads of DOS-era PC games crafted their own little atmospheres that felt like no other game. Betrayal At Krondor was another particular fave for me. It had hunger, weapon degradation, a meaningful day/night cycle etc. even though the open world was incredibly crudely rendered. You could really get into the mindset of this little band of fugitives trying to carry out a mission with meagre resources and their wits. Great writing too. The original STALKER is a standout for me. I think it worked so well because the devs were very careful to only try to simulate places and things that their engine could do convincingly (bleak landscapes, ruins, usually masked soldiers/stalkers) so there was rarely anything to break the illusion. The tech is roughly on par with Half Life 2, but HL2, as atmospheric and fleshed out a world as it was, was constantly pulling you out of the moment with its obviously stylised sound design, dumb enemy AI and uncanny NPCs. Metroid Prime trilogy is another obvious pick. Again, constantly almost subconsciously reinforcing the idea that you're a physical entity in the world. Thinking about it the other day, I don't think we appreciate how games of that generation were designed to look best on CRT screens. The colours Metroid Prime uses for the HUD really glow on a CRT, it really sells the effect of them being hologram projections. While the earthy tones of the world fall off into shadow more smoothly. Machinarium is also incredible. The music. The pale light and washed out colours. The thick rust and grime and lichen on everything. BOTW didn't really blow me away with atmosphere, but then I mostly played it in handheld mode. The few bits I played docked (including the last boss) did feel much more epic. I think I find Zelda games in general a bit cartoony and impersonal? I think it's harder to connect with a world that you know at some level is a theme park designed to accomodate millions of players. Finally: Batman AA. Compared to the voice work in most games having Mark Hamill feels like cheating.
  2. Yeah, to be fair to Amazon they sell a product precisely for this purpose with basically zero configuration required. I sympathise with some of the cases in the BBC story (i.e. the obviously vulnerable people) but not the ones that have the hallmarks of being puffed up to distract from the bill payer's idiocy. If you've done customer support for a game you start to recognise this as the way some people justify asking for a refund without admitting they spent more than they meant to. Usually describing in meticulous detail technically impossible scenarios (such as being charged multiple times for downloading the same app, for instance).
  3. £60m in the bank, multi-million sales over 2.5 years, 100,000 concurrent Steam users at Next launch. If that's niche, sign me up.
  4. Sterling doesn't mention that video is three years old and the talk is being given by the head of a company that's done little of note and seems to no longer be active. The biggest cheerleaders for cynical practices in the industry tend to be like this. (PocketGamer.biz is lousy with them.) They're not describing a strategy that has worked, they're trying to pathologise the success of other companies and extrapolating that by being MORE evil you'll be MORE successful.
  5. It's strange that anyone would assume he has more insight into the games business than any other sector selected at random, just because he consumes the industry's output. ... Describing industry hot topics in the hyperbolic style of a wrestling promo is entertaining, but if we're going to call that investigative journalism you might as well lower the bar far enough for people like Ben Kuchera and Brian Crecente.
  6. I wonder if there's some sort of wraparound bug going on with the controls. The weird hard veering to the right seems to happen when I tap all the way to the left twice quickly.
  7. It has changed a bit, but short answer: 2% of players in Candy Crush's base is still millions of players. The games I mentioned up top there are much more dependent on getting a tiny percentage of whales (think: casino high rollers, bored Saudi princes etc.) to spend $1000s of dollars a year rather than $10 here and there. It's his entire schtick? Sorry, to clarify: it's dying back in games where it's not a good fit (e.g. single player action adventure games) hence EA being able to make a song and dance about Jedi: Fallen Order not having loot boxes.* That 50% (or thereabouts) figure will be almost entirely the EA Sports games, which are essentially just wrappers for Ultimate Team and the like at this point. *And Randy Pitchford trying to do this re Borderlands 3 but fucking it up
  8. I've not gone and crunched the numbers, but the impression I get is that the trend of putting MTX in most AAA games is dying back because it was a poor fit. Other than King's games I don't know what Activision's big money spinners are these days, with CoD in decline. What I take exception to is Sterling trying to paint the entire industry (at least any studio larger than one person) with the same brush as the worst excesses of EA and Activision. There is never any modulation.
  9. There is a problem with aggressive monetisation targeting people with poor self control. FIFA Ultimate Team, Game of War / Mobile Strike, CS:GO and (although I'm not sure to the same extent or as blatantly) Fortnite are clear examples of this. I think it's in everyone's interests for publishers to take it seriously to avoid legislation treating games like gambling (which they legally are not) and constraining how they can be designed, marketed or monetised too broadly. I echo Sterling's disgust at that entirely awful and dishonest Polygon EA Sports PR-wank piece. But Sterling paints the picture that all game 'developers' (he uses the term interchangeably with 'publishers' and 'companies') are financially stable by default, every game makes a fortune, and that all games can (or could) be profitable as stand alone single purchase full price console games.* The entire battle royale genre (which can only exist as a commercial proposition because 10,000s of concurrent players can 'pay' by turning up and participating to populate matches) flatly contradicts his thesis. It is a net positive for the industry that burning a game on a disc and paying a small fortune on console bureaucracy is no longer the only route to market. That play-it-once-and-trade-it-in is no longer the only option, and now we can have games that grow over time (even though only a few of them have managed to get it right so far). Nor is it remotely true that every game that has ever included MTX or loot boxes is targeting whales. Candy Crush isn't for one - they'd rather get a huge audience to occassionally throw in a few $$$ than target niches. Most 'AAA' games where cosmetic MTX have been tacked on aren't betting on a 1% of players coming along and spending thousands, they're just trying to eke out the game's life and lower their risk in a more cost effective way than commissioning massive monolithic DLC packs. They're essentially digital merch. I laughed at Sterling trying to head off complaints that his rants are designed to farm outrage clicks. I'm sure he does feel strongly about this subject but I'm sure anti-vaxx protesters are passionate as well. Having a strong opinion about something isn't a substitute for understanding how it works, nor does it make one's approach (of boiling a complex problem down to us-and-them with a clear pantomime villain to boo at) helpful for developers who already face constant negativity from an ill-informed and entitled subset of the audience. * His argument is generally 'why can't the business model that worked for the subset of games that he (and his audience) was aware of as a teenager still work today now that literally every aspect of the technology and consumer expectations has changed dramatically?' a.k.a. 'Why don't Sega want to make a Dreamcast 2, everyone I know would buy one'.
  10. Haha, I didn't know they'd made a video version of Monster Fuck. Loads of the Bonzos and Viv Stanshall stuff is wonderful, e.g. Annoyingly YouTube doesn't seem to have a good quality version of Neil Innes's 'Down That Road' from The Innes Book of Records (it's a - pretty much - straightly performed song with an incredible developing visual gag in the video). This gets a lot of play around here.
  11. Ugh, it's the night of the disconnecting shitstains on PC this evening. How have they not implemented a penalty for quitters yet?!
  12. Boiling eggs in hot springs in BOTW. Also I didn't realise the extent to which wooden structures were destructible/burnable until quite late in the game (e.g. archer towers). ETQW had lots of cool ideas, lots of which have been rolled into Battlefield and other shooters in later years. - A map that's split between an equatorial desert and arctic tundra by a portal - Shortcuts that one player class could use by tossing a teleport target through vents and gaps - Building and jamming radars to see enemies on the map - Sticking mines to vehicles - Strogg players being able to convert ammo into health and vice versa
  13. It's quite funny that Adam is surprised that Eliza Cassan is an AI. Chinese TV networks have started experimenting with CG newsreaders.
  14. Part of a publisher's job is to try to minimise risk as well as maximise return. Now, it's possible that Deep Silver have just had a positive experience signing previous games to EGS so have gone back to milk that cash cow again. But it's also possible that Ys need to explore every avenue to get the game over the finish line. If you think that the ~$6m raised by the Kickstarter is enough on its own to fund the development of a game of this scope.... um, it isn't.
  15. Until Dawn - the deliberately cheesy 'teen comedy' first act with all its terrible sarcastic one liners seems to go on for hours before the game proper gets going. An obscure one: Yucatan. It's a trippy arcade racer / stunts game with handling right out of the Sega late 90s golden age. If it was a coinop it would get to the meat of how amazing its central drifting and jumping mechanic was in the opening seconds, but it makes you go through maybe 10-20 minutes of quite clunky boring opening levels first. (It's in early access so might have improved since I last tried it.)
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