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  • Shingro 7:44 pm on February 25, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , , wall of text   

    @CMWhittington That is a *Badass* name, only cool people are named Alex 😀 I dunno what happens with the Vita, but I am starting to think that launch is never indicative of the final quality of the product, going to be a while before we have a good sense of the system, I think waiting is a pretty smart move all told.

    Well, I guess considering how civil the tone remained on here I can’t really complain that we’ve all sorta decided to move on, so I guess I’ll drop my last post on the topic too

    *TL:DR at the bottom, probably good to use, I gotta break myself of this Wall Habit >_>*

    @sinfony I think in the end we’re talking about the same thing and agreeing on the same points just from different directions. Perception does matter only because it’s part of the bottom line, how the consumer feels about your product is a huge huge element of selling a thing to that same consumer. Nintendo is an excellent example considering they decided to actually apologize for dropping the price on their handheld That’s complete madness unless they needed/wanted to manage the perceptions and feelings of people who already bought consoles, and were perfectly willing to give free stuff away just to keep them feeling positive about the choices they made in relation to that company.

    As for the budgets thing, that’s just a miscommunication, I ment budgets for producing a game rather then the budget of a consumer. Comparing budgets in the 2010s compared to the 2000s and the 2000s compared with the 1990s, There’s no way Majora’s mask cost as much to develop for Nintendo as Mass Effect 2 did for Bioware, and there’s no way Majora’s mask cost less to develop then Link to the Past. It’s just the nature of technology. I never intended to bring exact numbers into the conversation, just the note that it didn’t cost 20 million to develop psychonauts, but Tim claims that’s what it’d take to do Psychonauts 2, why is that? Nothing’s changed except the console and the expectations. It’s a trend that I think becomes dangerous down the road, what’s the budgets for PS4 or PS5 games going to be? What sort of game has to be made that we’d become willing to pay $80-$110+ for? If we’re comfortable paying that, how many games do we buy a year? Will studios need to hit the million sold mark or close?

    I think there needs to be some more fundamental reexamining of the models. I don’t want to see that excruciating hammering of dev studios like the early PS3 days when the system wasn’t doing so hot and many places bet the farm to dev on a console that just didn’t have the market penetration to satisfy the super-budgets developing for high def entailed. I don’t think that every single game has to be made in the mold of “Bigger, Better, More Badasser” and conversely, I also don’t see anything wrong with some games that do want to go that way. For example, Mass Effect 3? Should totally go Bigger Better More Badasser, that is reasonable for a game with a pedigree like that, and chances are the resulting product will be worth the extra monetization of the content to a great majority of it’s fans. But that can’t be everyone, and when it’s so much of the mentality of the marketplace, I think we miss other models that work, free to play is hugely profitable, steam 75% sales are hugely profitable and rumor is, often trump day 1 sales at the full price. Iphone is hugely profitable. Devs have said ‘we’d love to sell our game for 40$ but we’ve found people believe there’s something wrong with the game then.’ Heck, there’s MMOs that took 20+ million type budgets, released, and then tripled their profits when they *stopped charging for the client and removed all subscriptions* That’s madness, and scientifically, it’s repeatable, happened multiple times now.

    Then the last point is again something I agree on, EA isn’t ‘bad’ for trying to monitize extra stuff, they’re just trying to find what works. I still believe their primary objective is to make a profit, and the rest of their decisions are framed by that, but it’s not ‘evil.’ for trying to do so, it’s just a company. All other things being equal they’ll take the higher profit option, but a powerful influence on that is consumer perception so that’s fine, few companies will do horrible things because backlash would be tremendous. Consumers similarly aren’t bad or evil for being uncomfortable at trends, or specific bits about how this or that element of how the game is presented. They’re the one with the pocketbook after all, and what they feel comfortable shelling out for isn’t on the hook to any authority but their own. Just like you say, the consumer’s decision has to be in it’s own land of ‘Is this worth it to me?’ For one, it isn’t, for someone else it is, and they’re both totally right and justified in thinking so. We’re really on the same page with each point, just taking a general vs a specific view. Heck I also agree about Apple, I’ve never understood why with generic MP3 players clocking in around $20-30 dollars people are grabbing 200$ machines from apple, but still, if it’s worth it to them and I’ve never tried them, maybe they’re great. More power to them.

    In retrospect I really am not bugged by the reddit dude’s ME3 argument itself (I agree with some of it) as much as I was irritated in how he/she argued it, by setting up a strawman argument ‘this is what the opposition thinks, how stupid is that?’ and not breaching any of the wider discussion. It’s a dishonest way to argue, which in fairness to him/her, could have been entirely accidental. It just tweaked my nose pretty hard when I saw it as a more sinister manipulation. Besides, it’s been One of Those Weeks >_>

    Super grateful to the squad for being big hearted and minded enough that these sort of discussions are not personal. So often in so many places if you disagree with someone’s point/game/console/choice they feel like you’ve personally attacked them and things devolve into sad places. Don’t see any of that here and that’s a real nice change of pace.

    much ❤ to everyone here. If nothing else, it's helped me make my peace with ME3 specifically, I still don't like any type of gate being in front of narrative content, but I think that for a game as big, capable and polished as ME3 with the finishing of a trilogy, I'd say that it has earned itself the leeway to make a decision like that, and they aren't really raking the consumer over the coals or anything. As Pete pointed out, there's far worse out there.

    *Ties a bow around the discussion, files it under 'Squadron of Shame is a pretty cool guy'*

    TL:DR: Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, companies aren’t evil, neither are people. Decide for yourself what’s worth it to you, talk about it civily, and wow, I’m always impressed by the level of maturity every member of the squad brings to even contentious discussions, top marks to all participants =)

  • Shingro 12:58 am on February 17, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , wall of text   

    Hmm, this is touching on a point that has been niggling at my brain recently so I think it’s time to get out the soapbox and that tri-corner hat again, over the ridge!

    For myself I’ll back feen but I’ll also say that regardless of what group you belong to there’s a far more graduated sliding scale of it. I’ve met ‘enthusiasts’ who seem only pleased to talk about what they don’t like about their hobby, and ‘nerds’ who can rationally talk about a topic. Attitude has far more to do with who is willing to go after people and enthusiams then the level of ‘hardcore-ness’ you bring to your hobby. I’ll describe myself as an otaku, but I’m a rational otaku, I’m more then happy to say what’s good about what I enjoy, but there’s nothing wrong with what other people enjoy, be it shooting/sports/whatever.

    If you tell me the concept of ‘moe’ is a pox upon the human race, great, sounds like the starting point for a good discussion. Paint ‘weeabo’ on my door in blood, well… I probably won’t be happy with you exactly, but neither is that a reason to hate the whole group of whatever that person belongs to. Similarly, no reason to paint all nerds with the same brush just because some of them lack any tact or are unable to get distance from their own fandoms. A high level of enthusiasm for a topic or item does not necessarily make your very nature insufferable. (or at least that’s how I see it, I suppose it is possible to hate the nature of enthusiasm, but I don’t think any of them would survive here, wrong PH levels. Just to find the squad you have to be a pretty hardcore enthusiast (that includes you feen )

    And there’s still so many missions waiting out there… I don’t think we’ve ever talked any Microprose, Space Quest, Kings Quest, Police Quest and how that informed things like Heroes Quest/Quest for Glory(depending on how early you got it.) I don’t think many missions even poked at the early console days. There’s a lot of history left in gaming and I don’t think it is getting looked at. Now, more then ever things are starting to draw back to that cyclical area, and the old is becoming more relevant then ever. Even looks at modern things with that informed awareness of the past is important.

    Tim Schafer’s Kickstarter showing that maybe the problem with Telltale games isn’t an intrinsic problem with the genre. the X-com and Syndicate reboots, and how x-com got a sequel Them taking another stab at tactical x-com even! The indie space too is a veritable primordial soup of new ideas and evolutions of gaming just aching to find it’s way to dry land. Biggest winner of game of the year 2011? Portal 2, but Portal 1 was a school project a scattering of years ago. now you can’t move for indie-made-big games (bastion, minecraft, terraria, etc.)

    We are (or at least were) all about the really deep dive to end all deep dives. I challenge you to find another gaming podcast anywhere on the internet that talked about how Persona 3 was related to the ancient story telling history of the Tarot, (if someone does, by all means pass me a link. =P) It is (or was) our most unique and interesting feature it was “The Mission” to find games that no one talked about and talk about them, and it seems somewhere along the way as the squad grew it picked up enough ‘specialists’ to

    I dunno, the squad is made up of everyone, we sometimes roll up for the most casual of suggestions “Hey guys, dead space 2 is pretty good, give it a try!” and sometimes we drop walls of text on the nature of life as seen through the lens of gaming. both are totally fine, and we all have perspectives to speak at the table, be welcome here =) but I will shed tears if the deep analysis goes away, because there are still important things left to say. If not us, who?

    Sure we don’t necessarily have the people and expertise for a full and comprehensive review of everything that has ever been done in gaming, but we’re a pretty damn sight further and more comprehensive then anyone else I’ve seen. Besides, isn’t that sort of the purpose of being a squad in the first place? Different people have different specialties, and if you don’t know, it’s likely you have access to someone who does, and if you’re lucky if they’re a real die hard true blue nerd they’ll be so excited to talk about it they’ll drop everything to talk about it for free. It won’t always be 100% right out of the gate, and maybe we won’t even have the right specialists… but it’s a starting point, and if someone rages for an inaccuracy that’s just another opportunity for a great and enlightening conversation. Where else can you say that happens regularly?

    TL:DR. The otakus are not always creepy, the nerds not always insufferable, some of us are rational and reasoned. Don’t shut us out, we just love some things very much, even the insufferable nerds at the core ‘only want to help you make the right choice’ misguided, not bad. The squad is made of all kinds, including nerds and nerd-kings. No reason to keep the squad ❤ from any particular people, they're more complicated then you might think. I'm pretty sure that everyone in the squad is here in good faith which is why we can talk between all levels of enthusiasm. Also: I love our unique brand of analysis and the amazing depth and perspectives some of you guys can take while looking at things. I hope beyond hope that always remains part of the squad.

  • mjpilon 4:13 am on February 10, 2012 Permalink
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    Okay, finally have a moment to relay my thoughts about Chrono Trigger. Wall of text incoming.

    Initial feeling: Holy crap I actually beat a JRPG! The last one I can remember prior to this was Super Mario RPG (I don’t count the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi Games as they don’t strike me as “true” JRPGs but I will leave that to the experts around these parts). I’m not sure how much the story really kept me going or if it was just my “Goddamnit I finally need to do this” resolve that the Giant Bomb Endurance Run spurned on. Not to say that the story wasn’t engaging (far from it) but there was a time where I completely lost track of what the heck was going on because of all the time traveling and the effects of what my party was accomplishing in each era. The fight with Lavos also felt strangely anti-climatic because I accidentally started the fight when it first becomes available to you, so I knew that in the end, I needed to remember the patterns of the “bosses” I fought previously. The march through the Black Omen felt more like the true final battle because I didn’t know what was coming with the Queen.

    The game mechanics are what really got me. I am amazed at how well the game holds up after 18 years. The active combat system keeps the pace lively but doesn’t rush you through the point where you can’t think about your actions as you go. I never ran into the need to level grind – the game kept things lively enough so that my party was never at a disadvantage with the enemies at any stage. That eliminated a huge sore spot for me that usually dissuaded me from most JRPGs. The armour and weapon selection and upgrade process was also nicely streamlined – there is never a spot where you are really unsure about what to equip. There is always a clear choice which eliminates much headaches and the classic “inventory overload” syndrome that hits me usually.

    There are things from the game that are clearly rooted in 1994 which took time for me to get used to again. First, no clear quest log – I really needed to keep track of my activities and my conversations with NPCs. Second, the need to speak with every NPC because certain mission elements (despite my understanding of where to go without the queue) won’t activate unless you have the right conversation. Third, the translation – the DS version appears to have been fixed somewhat (compared to what Ryan Davis and Klepek dealt with on the SNES) but some of the tech descriptions made ABSOLUTELY no sense. Finally, the DS version saved me with the map that it has on the bottom screen – made backtracking a little less frustrating (but not really – WAY too much of that in this game and unnecessarily so especially given the re-generating enemies that pop up)

    Anyway, I truly enjoyed my experience and finally feel a slight weight lifted off my shoulders. Not sure I tempted to play that many more JRPGs but I’m open to suggestions from you on where to go from here on that front. Next up, I’m going to try and finish Bayonetta because I have unopened copies of Saints Row 3, Revelations, Uncharted 3 and Ico/SotC HD sitting here waiting for me. All the talk on the board here has convinced me to try Katawa Shoujo. Just downloaded it and while I will probably be on the @Feenwager side of this one, I figure why the hell not. Not costing me anything except my time.

    Quick hitters to end this:

    I use this moment to comment on the awesomeness of the Double Fine Kickstarter project. So happy that people (me included – went 30$ although the chance to be in the credits almost got me to 100$) were willing to pony up for a point-and-click adventure game. Beyond excited for this – especially for the documentary that will film the process. Interesting game changer here financially – although I hope most developers realize that this is only possible in certain situations and with a certain long-term credibility attached to them. I can’t wait for “THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE” articles that we’ll get in the near future 😉

    Regarding the game scores topic, I have nothing to add to the debate except that you are all awesome and debates/conversations like that one are why I love the Squad 🙂

    Wall of Text complete.

    Off to bed I go…

  • Shingro 6:16 pm on August 14, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , wall of text   

    This actually touches on something that’s been poking around my head as I’ve wandered the sea of responses to Catherine.

    Almost everyone agrees that Catherine is hard. Some people find this a fatal flaw, and conversely some people find that its the most wonderful part of the game. Indeed, some people can’t seem to have fun without the game savagely beating them to a bloody pulp occasionally (@beige :D). I’m fairly sure though that Catherine has the full range, Super Easy you are basically just skipping all the puzzles, I watched a guy go through the entire game without learning anything more then the basic Cyclone (he refused to talk to anyone on the landings @_@). Easy has a dinger or two in floors 5,6 and 8 but is pretty heavily telegraphed… Normal is tough, requiring serious thought and investment to progress in most areas, and Hard is… well… for the beiges of the world, people who, once they’re experienced at the game want to test their mettle against the highest possible challenge. Babel appears to be an eternally replayable random-esque mode for longevity and the Vs Coliseum is a whole can of worms I haven’t touched yet.

    Still, I have trouble backing the statement “Catherine is difficult.” because I’ve seen so many people of various mental acuity, on various streams experiment their way past all problems. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone solve the tough ones the same way… ever, and I’ve seen quite a few streams. Not always efficiently and not always first try but I’ve not ever seen anyone stuck so bad they couldn’t progress as long as they were willing to push blocks and undo. My girlfriends *little sister* was able to beat the game in a day, because she loved the story and had the investment to push the game back when it pushed her. I suppose it’s possible she’s completely atypical, but I’ve seen the same thing on too many streams to discount the experience.

    It just seems the more accurate statement is “Catherine doesn’t guarantee you a smooth ride to the end” In fact, it’s probably more proper to say that Catherine guarentees that you WILL not have a smooth ride to the end no matter how smart/good at puzzles/prepared you are. It seems a matter of effort and investment rather then a bar of challenge. To me, Ninja gaiden is “difficult” Shinobi is “Difficult” some people just can’t move their hands fast enough to handle everything coming at them. or they aren’t used to multitasking enough to keep all the threats and their reactions in line. Some people’s “Capacity” just isn’t enough to hold everything serious action games like that throw at you. SHMUPS and Danmaku games are the same way.

    With Catherine however, I think everyone has the capacity to pass easy/normal. The trick is, whether they *want* to pass easy normal enough to experiment life after life to see what they can hash together. Frankly, there’s no more then what, 10 reasonable moves on any given line? and of them 3-4 are some sort of progress or setup, combine that with Undo and anyone intrepid is going to be moving on.

    The game is definitely odd though, it will ‘stop’ you, but there’s just so many ways to get to the next block up that I can’t see anyone being incapable of doing so if they’re making the effort, What Catherine *will* absolutely do though is stop you at least a few times even on easy. The question is whether you want to continue enough that you experiment your way past or whether you sorta go “meh” and throw your hands up because you don’t care enough about what’s beyond it.

    It’s clearly not about some intrinsic metal acuity, I’d expect everyone here has certainly demonstrated at length they are prone to exercising the ol grey matter. Redsirl in particular has amply demonstrated a quick wit and ample mental capacity from here and the 1up days. At the same time however clearly something doesn’t click with some people. At first I wasn’t sure whether it’s a matter of their threshold of tolerance being lower due to modern game’s “every moment spent in this game is guaranteed progress” barrier (Garnett Lee mentioned he stopped playing it because it passed the “two strikes” he’s willing to give a game he’s playing during his free time) Or whether the story and anime tropes isn’t compelling enough to them to entice some people to give the game as much time as they’ll give to say, perfecting combos in MvC, or managing plays in madden or shooting dudes in CoD.

    Reading what Red wrote though, I see now the truth is much simpler… they’re just not having fun. For me the fun and thrill of the game is successfully overcoming challange after challenge by thinking in a different way or working out some convoluted McGyver way to pass a puzzle area. (And like McGyver, there’s a ticking time bomb often involved.) I’ve always loved that sort of “Yeah it’s shoddy, but it’ll work” sort of thing. Still, if someone didn’t find that process fun, I could easily see the fun quotient of Catherine being incredibly small, far lower then the challenge it’s presenting, however surmountable. I think someone’s said it before but frankly, the puzzles ARE the gameplay, the story won’t save the experience, the endings won’t save the experience, the Atlus touches won’t save the experience if you aren’t finding the experience of pushing past those puzzles fun.

    (on that note, how did so many people not expect so many Atlus touches out of this? It’s like people have forgotten the story elements/twists/meters that have happened in everything from SMT to Persona to… well… basically anything they’ve personally developed ever -_- )

    I’m actually a bit surprised the reviews came out 80% positive since it seems the layman’s reaction (judging from twitter/tumbr/facebook is that people either really really love the game, (and there’s been a shocking amount of “couples co-op” on this title which is an interesting factor in and of itself) and people who get in and go “Mmmm…. meh :\” and just… run out of steam. Perhaps its like a riddle? You either snap to the experience immediately or you immediately go “I don’t know, what’s the answer?”

    So I guess from now on when someone says “Should I get Catheirne” I’ll continue to say “Play the demo, maybe try to connect the main world to the islands with sheep on them. If you like it you’re good to go, if you don’t, then stay away, because it’s very unlikely that any other part of the game will overwhelm the fact that the puzzling is 80% of the experience”

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