Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 21, 2014

Email: Anti-Hype

You mentioned earlier why people even bother being hyped about games anymore, because if they were good, then they’d always be good regardless if you got them on the day they came out or a year after the fact.  I know ever since I started reading your site I began adopting this mindset more and more.

I think the biggest example for me was Aliens Colonial Marines.  I’m not sure if anybody mentioned it to you before, but the game was basically in development limbo for years (not sure if it was quite as close as Duke Nuke’em Forever, but it was up there).  Eventually its development got pushed through and it started getting hyped up by the Publisher, Gearbox.  The more I watched, the more skeptical I became.  I thought, “Well, I’ll just wait and see what other people have to say about this game and then see out it turns out.”  There was even a now infamous demo of the game at the E3 before it came out, showing how cool it was gonna be.
What was promised:
What we wound up getting the next year:
A friend of mine wound up getting it out of curiosity a few months after the fact and I played it with him, and it’s every bit as awful as they said.  Rightfully, many people rose hell over why there was such a difference between that E3 demo and the final product.  Unfortunately, it seems with the whole Assassin’s Creed Unity fiasco (requiring a 40 GIGABYTE PATCH), or with The Master Chief Collection not fully working on launch, people still aren’t learning, though you are seeing more people raise hell over these things.  Hell, people are now starting to flatout regard the developers of Call of Duty as being liars because they promise to put things in their next game–like dedicated servers–and then don’t.  They promise to balance things–like the sniper rifles–and don’t.  They promise the game will look “next gen” but it winds up looking the same as–or worse–than the game before it.
Because of all of this, everybody is losing faith in the gaming industry to deliver the steak, because all they can do is sizzle.  As someone I was watching before said, “It’s like paying 60 dollars for a two dollar steak that’s been overcooked.  You hyped this up to be an amazing steak, but all you did was disappoint me and waste my money.”  Hell, even last night one of my friends was lamenting that he spent 100 dollars on the special edition of The Last of Us, which he really loves, but if he’d known there’d be a new version for the PS4 a year or so later, he’d have probably not bought it.  Considering how they handled Street Fighter 4, do you think people will be rushing to buy up 5?  And then get hit with more DLC and “expansions”?  I think even the “hardcore” gamers are finally hitting their limits for this stuff:
As for myself, I’ve pretty much become anti-hype and “wait and see it for myself” in the past few years.  I was interested in Dragon’s Dogma but didn’t buy it for myself until I saw several of my friends play it for themselves.  Or I’ve bought games after they’ve been out for a year or two, or a few months after just to see if there’s anything unfinished or game-breaking about them.  I even just bought Diablo 3 last month and ordered Reaper of Souls this week at discounted prices, which seems to be the smart thing to do considering the game’s rather rocky and dissatisfying first year.  I’m now more or less playing the ideal version of the game now, which I wouldn’t have been if I’d bought into the hype from the outset.  And D3 is pretty enjoyable, but my friends who played it from the outset had a very different opinion on it.
And of course this has also been my attitude to Nintendo now for awhile.  As you said, what is rotting out the game industry is also rotting out Nintendo.  If I won’t give in to the hype for the rest of the industry, then I’m most certainly not going to extend it to Nintendo.  Hopefully Nintendo will get their act together for the next generation.  But I’m not holding my breath at this point.  I’ll just wait if they can deliver the steak, as well as the sizzle.
Girls do this with guys. “Hey girlie! I just met this guy… HE IS THE ONE! OMG OMG OMG OMG! I can’t wait to see how things work out for us!” They then discuss how things might work out for the next twelve hours. Hardcore gamers are like girls.
Of any great video game I had, I cannot think of when I was ever *hyped* for it (exception being Super Mario Brothers 3 which DID live up to the hype.) Great games are never hyped, they appear unexpectedly. I never knew games like Master of Orion, Master of Magic, Ultima 7, Chrono Trigger, among others would be so cool. Of all my gaming experiences, the hype only led to disappointment.
I actually got this anti-hype from someone who works at Blizzard (started before Starcraft 1 was released). “Why hype yourself over a game? It will be either good or bad, no point in obsessing over it.”
Hype seems to be a way for people to buy a game and like it before it is realized the game is not that good (and most games aren’t that good). This might be why most sales collapse after a month or two.
I’m beginning to suspect console companies love hype for games because the hype leads people to buying the hardware while waiting for their hyped game to arrive (while they buy other games as they wait). Nintendo does this all the time with games like Zelda and Metroid. “See? A new Zelda is coming. Look at the technical trailer! Buy our new hardware now. While you wait for the new Zelda, buy all these other games too!” Never has a console company, like Nintendo, said, “Just buy the hardware when the game comes out.” But that hype has led people to buy the hardware who do not really like the games on the system.
Going Anti-Hype has been much better on my wallet and my Internet browsing time.
One fun thing about retro gaming is that there is no hype whatsoever. The games have been out for decades. We know if it is good or not. There can be no trickery.
Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 20, 2014

Email: The Console Wars book

I think I briefly mentioned that book when I sent you the Gail Tilden video.  I really liked “Game Over” by David Sheff, so I was curious about this new book.  I was thinking about getting it, but now I’m not going to.  It seems it engages in blatant historical revisionism and romantic delusions that have arisen well after the 16-bit era ended.  Here’s an example noted in a Wall Street Journal review:

One reason Nintendo ran into trouble in the early 1990s, he tells us, is that the company was heavy-handed with game developers. It limited the number of Nintendo games each software company could bring to market each year, insisted on exclusive rights to those games and extracted a large royalty on each sale. Developers therefore, supposedly, leapt at the opportunity to do business with Sega, helping the upstart succeed by enabling it to offer superior games.

But in his 1993 book on Nintendo, “Game Over,” David Sheff contends that as Sega prospered its own licensing terms became almost as tough as the other guy’s. Mr. Sheff quotes one licensee: “Sega was as bad as Nintendo because Sega wanted to be Nintendo.” Mr. Sheff’s story and Mr. Harris’s do not jibe.”

http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303627504579557694201371798?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303627504579557694201371798.html

I’m going to trust a 1993 book by a Playboy writer far more than a 2014 book by some unknown (possibly a “hardcore” gamer) who romanticizes the 16-bit era and Sega’s short-lived victory.  I saw the 16-bit era with my own eyes.  Sega didn’t win all the developers.  It just managed to share them with Nintendo, similar to the Sony/Microsoft situation of today.

On a related note, some supposed video game “documentary” was on Netflix, so I decided to watch it.  This is the one:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3214002/

After watching it… I wanted to puke.  It was nothing more than an hour and a half love letter to the modern video game industry.  It was literally the exact opposite of your blog.  Everything that you criticized is praised.  I couldn’t stop laughing when the narrator told me that gaming didn’t “grow up” until the PlayStation came out and developers were able to share their grand narratives with us. Nothing but “story telling this” and “narrative that.”  They even had some dipshit, hipster game writer being interviewed for a large portion of the film.

Meanwhile, the NES is only mentioned briefly as a type of nostalgia trip, the 16-bit era is basically ignored, and the Wii is avoided like the plague.  Oh, and Space War is celebrated as the greatest invention ever.  Don’t watch the film.  It’s terrible.

There is no actual interest in video game history. Certainly, not from a business perspective. What I think these movies/books are doing is getting a few sources and writing their stuff around those few sources. The big picture is certainly missing.

This is how everyone missed the Wii. The esteemed video game analysts knew much about the business of the Playstation consoles… but they knew nothing about the NES. All they knew was that it was ‘ancient’, that it was ‘bad’ because it had no competition, and that “Nintendo had no role in reviving the market, they just got there first.” There are so many dead consoles who believed in that. The analysts had no idea why the Atari 2600 succeeded. Nintendo designed the Wii around studying the NES era. It is not a coincidence that the Wii-mote is a NES controller on its side and why there were lightgun shells.

You’d think people would be interested in how the Wii did what it did, but they are not. “It’s just da casualz…” They come up with all these made-up terms. From a business perspective, you’d think people would notice that not only did Nintendo create the handheld gaming market, it has remained king of that market forever. But there is no curiosity. There is no interest. Instead, they just sneer and say, “Doesn’t matter because it is all dead. Those smartphone games!” I suppose that is why PC gaming killed the NES and home consoles back in the 1980s, yes? But that is not mentioned.

I’ve found there is no interest in the business side of gaming. There is only interest in soap-operas. We should call it the Days of Our Gaming starring the consoles of the past and present. “On the next episode of Days of Our Gaming, will third party company Capcom hook up with Sony or Microsoft next? Or even Nintendo? Stay tuned to find out!”

Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 20, 2014

Email: Oil and Gas

Hello there, Sean,

>The  problem  is  that  oil  is  not,  and  never  has been, a scarce
>resource.  The  drop  in  price  should  show  even the most stubborn
>scarce-resource  believer that oil is infinite and in massive supply.
>Oil  does  not  come  from the ground. Oil comes from the Human mind.
>Just  like  all resources are not the bountiful gift of Earth but are
>products of the Human mind. Iron ore is just a rock until Man gave it
>purpose.
Don’t quite share your optimism here. Any hard data to back it up? Of course,
there  always  will  be some oil somewhere, but the real question is
for how much and for how long we could really excavate it? By “for how
much” I mean  EROEI, by “for how long” I mean it’s not a viable energy
resource  to  support world’s current, let alone rising, level of consumption
in long-term scenario (= decades to come).

How about the last 200 years? Oil and Gas is an extremely OLD industry. The reason why it has busts and expansions is because it survives while other industries vanish altogether.

There is no limit on oil. Oil is endless. The reason why is because oil is produced, like everything else is produced, by this thing called ‘technology’. Technology comes from the Human mind. It is the Human mind that is the resource. Oil does not flow from the Earth, it flows from the brilliant minds of the Oil and Gas industry. They are the best paid engineers and scientists in the world for a reason.

Saying that oil comes from the ground is as ridiculous as saying computers come from sand. The material does not create the resource or product. The Human minds create it.

Unless there is a Dark Age or a nuclear war or some other disaster, I do not see how technology would go backwards.

 

>Oil  prices  are down because there is too much oil. Just like today,
>the  idea of expensive natural gas only belongs to the past, the idea
>of  oil  being  expensive  may  only  belong  in  the  past.  Future
>generations  may wonder why people thought oil would remain expensive
>and cannot imagine what the fuss was all about.
Not  quite  my  perspective  as well. Drop in oil prices and crisis of
2008  is  certainly  not a coincedence but merely a sign of collapsing
debt  bubbles.  It  went  down  dramatically  in 2008 and would have
dropped  more  if  not  for  US  money  printing  machine that fixed
nothing, but postponed the process until very recently with the end of
QE3.  So no surpises that the  process  has resumed. With debt bubbles
collapsing I don’t see how demand  could  be on the same level. And if
demand  is  down,  scissors  of  falling  demand  and  ramping  up
production costs annihilate anything above cheap or super-cheap.

Many things went down in 2008, not just oil.

 

//As for the whole shale thing. It always seemed like Ponzi scheme to
me and it indeed proved to be excactly that. “Analysts” and  “experts”
screamed “Buy! Buy! Invest! Invest!” from every frigging gadget  with
a  TV  remote  or Internet connection, competing for “fools capitals”.
The  recent  drop  has  already  started  the  process  of  the  shale
bubble    colapse,  it  just  needs  time  until  it  reaches  every
“investor’s”  mind  (last time in took about half a year, somewhere in
the  end  of  2008  –  early  2009,  before  rig count went down into
oblivion).

You clearly aren’t familiar with the Oil and Gas industry. There is no ‘bubble’ as you think in traditional financial terms. The shale revolution is a technological one such as the invention of off-shore oil rigs. Shale oil will always be around now. The next Civilization game will likely be having ‘shale oil’ as a technological innovation just as it already has offshore rigs as an innovation.

The Energy Corridor is not unlike Silicon Valley in attracting brilliant minds. But what gets me is that no one wants to mention ‘brilliant minds’ in connection with Oil and Gas. Also, oil and gas is mentioned very differently than other resources. Why doesn’t iron or copper get the emotional response that oil does? Oil is just a commodity after all. Perhaps it is because energy market is the bottom of the pyramid of society. We simply need it for everything. The military needs it to run. The food markets need natural gas to fertile its crops and power its tractors.

When the price of oil rises, it is running out. When the price of oil lowers, it is running out. If the price of oil is steady, it is running out. You guys are insane. It’s not running out because it is generated by minds, not by geology. It is like saying geology created the farms and not the farmer or the ocean creates water trade and not the boat merchants.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 20, 2014

Email: Animal Crossing Mechanics

Hey Malstrom,

Animal Crossing mechanics in Zelda would be a bad idea. Real time sounds cool in theory, but in practice, it’s time wasted either waiting for the day or time you need to accomplish something specific, or activating whatever mechanic lets you move time to where you need it. Or cheating by changing your console clock. Or having to schedule your life around playing a video game at a specific time or on a specific day if they account for all of that. AC is a leisurely game so it’s fine, Zelda is an action game, who wants to stick to an MMO style-schedule of having to be in spot [x] at [specific day] to do [thing], or having the game will yell at you for not playing it enough.

Animal Crossing mechanics doesn’t mean doing what Animal Crossing does. I find that to be very boring!

Zelda is not just an action game, it is also a RPG. When I think of an RPG, I think of Ultima with NPC schedules, with baking your own bread, and doing whatever you want as the game world is its own world.

Instead of a trigger based RPG system which is actually popularized by Final Fantasy and its ‘stories’, I think Zelda is better fit for a world based system (e.g. more like Ultima). The world itself has its own clock, it doesn’t have to be tied to the system hardware’s clock. At night time, certain things happen. At day time, certain things happen. While that has been done, it is a launching pad into more intricate world.

Video games, especially fantasy based ones such as Zelda, are not ‘gameplay obstacle courses’ or ‘puzzle trivia’ but worlds to escape into. That is Zelda’s job: to provide a world to escape. Now, not every gamer wants a world to escape (the Wii Sports gamer comes to mind).

There used to be a buzzword that no one uses anymore: immersion. I want a Zelda that has immersion. This cannot be done with trains, with lame ass NPCs, with monsters that look ridiculous, and so on.

 

Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 18, 2014

Why do gamers bother with hype at all?

Especially with Zelda games… You guys are fools. When the game comes out, it will be either good or bad. Making endless threads on message forums will not change it one way or another. It is like cooking a souffle by placing it in the oven and then writing tons of papers on whether or not the souffle will rise or not.

I have heard mention of Animal Crossing mechanics in Zelda U. That is actually a good idea. Why? I see Animal Crossing as a series that is going to die off since the killer gameplay feature of *real time* going on like a world inside the game going on even if you aren’t there will get tiresome sitting by itself. I’ve always wondered why Nintendo didn’t incorporate Animal Crossing mechanics into other games. Imagine a Mario game where, at certain times of the day, the levels change or vary.

The Splatoon single player doesn’t look compelling. WTF is with those enemies? A shame since Splatoon really has some good characters from the Splatoon girl to the cat that judges everything. Good games need interesting villains. Just ask Donkey Kong, Bowser, Ganon, and Metroids.

And, oh God, working 40+ hours and taking classes is completely draining to me. Literally can’t keep eyes open. Time for sleep.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 13, 2014

Email: How about the low oil prices?

Specially about this article: http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21635505-will-falling-oil-prices-curb-americas-shale-boom-bind?

Any thoughts? Do you think OPEP can keep prices too low for enough time to take away shale oil?
Or is this a movement just to crash Russia?
Hope your position is safe!
.
Oil and Gas always has a boom and bust cycle. The big problem for many companies is all the debt they have in trying to make their ‘riches’. They will be sunk.
.
Remember that whenever someone thinks “this will always make money!” is the time to run away as that market is about to tank. Consider the Dot Com crash. Or the housing crash. “Everything goes up, up, up!” No, it doesn’t.
.
Oil prices will go up again just as they will go down again. It was only a few years ago that oil was at $140 a barrel. Of course, that coincided with the 2008 crisis. The drop in oil price may likely coincide with a 2015 financial crisis.
.
The shale revolution really isn’t about the oil. This is just what the media has focused on. The big thing about the shale revolution is the natural gas. The United States has, based on current consumption rates of known amounts, 700 years before it runs out of natural gas. This is why there is so much talk about exporting natural gas. Before the shale revolution, natural gas and oil prices followed one another. When one went up, the other went down. Natural gas prices plummeted and became so cheap, producers didn’t want to bother getting it. Oil may be catching up with that.
.
It is not just Oil Industry. It is Oil And Gas Industry. “What do you use the gas for, Malstrom?” Why for all sorts of chemicals.
.
What I do is not aligned with the Oil and Gas industry. It is where I live (Houston) that aligns me with Oil and Gas. What I do has me aligned with Automation. I could easily work at nuclear power plants or food processing.
.
The problem is that oil is not, and never has been, a scarce resource. The drop in price should show even the most stubborn scarce-resource believer that oil is infinite and in massive supply. Oil does not come from the ground. Oil comes from the Human mind. Just like all resources are not the bountiful gift of Earth but are products of the Human mind. Iron ore is just a rock until Man gave it purpose.
.
Oil prices are down because there is too much oil. Just like today, the idea of expensive natural gas only belongs to the past, the idea of oil being expensive may only belong in the past. Future generations may wonder why people thought oil would remain expensive and cannot imagine what the fuss was all about.
.
What is this? Does the reader doubt me? Oh, reader! Know that the reason why Columbus sailed in 1492 was because spices were expensive and funded the trip. Spices, the stuff you take for granted on your food, were very expensive. Just imagining that type of world is impossible for us.
Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 13, 2014

Bought a Super Nintendo and blew it up

This is a sad and tragic day. I have blown up a Super Nintendo. Well, only the AC adapter.

I’ve been slowly buying some of the classic systems and games because… well… Nintendo isn’t making stuff for me anymore. And Nintendo’s VC service is a complete and utter scam. I’d rather pay 10x the price for a game on the VC since I will actually OWN a physical copy of it. Tired of buying the same game over and over.

I bought a Super Nintendo. Made sure it came with an ORIGINAL controller, not one of those third party crap controllers. Third party video cord and third party AC adapter were given. I thought that was fine since cables are just cables and so long as the console gets power, what does it matter?\

I have discovered that it does matter.

Testing out my new (old) SNES, I tried out some rigorous games on it. I started with Starfox which played fabulously. Other games worked fine. Final Fantasy III would not work which scared me since the game would be expensive to replace. But on repeated tries, it did load up.

Then I tried the Super Nintendo.

Super Nintendo loads fine. The gameboy games do not. They would freeze at the Nintendo logo (which would get scrambled). I know the Gameboy games are clean because they haven’t been moved from their little casing in DECADES aside from a short stint of playing in an original Gameboy. Then I heard a POP sound. Super Nintendo wouldn’t turn on anymore. I think the AC adapter blew up. Not sure if the Super Nintendo was drawing more power than normal Super Nintendo limits, but it does matter enough to say that integrated hardware and software also includes the power adapter. Get a First Party one.

I’ll insist on a First Party one when I go return it.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 12, 2014

What would happen if Malstrom had a son…

Very interesting read. So long as the dad keeps him away from MMOs, he should be fine.

I wonder if this retro gaming at an earlier age would work with PC gaming. Start a kid with the Apple II, go to Commodore 64, then DOS, then Windows 95/98, etc.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 11, 2014

Customer Imagination Vs. Aonuma Imagination

Will catch up on things in a few days. But for now…

This is what people, drinking hype, are imagining for Zelda U:

This is what the actual reality will be.

Any questions?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 7, 2014

Final Fantasy VII at TGS was not the big troll

This was not trolling compared to this…

…and we got this instead…

Zelda basically ended as a franchise then.

In fact, Aonuma’s entire career is one of trolling. “This next Zelda will be like the original…” BULLSHIT. The technical trailer for Wii U, which looked awesome, and then Zelda U trailer we got at E3 was another troll.

Sakamoto somehow surpassed Aonuma in trolling the audience.

“Metroid: Other M is the sequel to Super Metroid.”

hahahahahahahahahahafhfhahsadfllolololololozlolzozlzozlzlzohahabahjahahhahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!

Above: The ‘sequel’ to Super Metroid!!!!!

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