Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 21, 2018

Email: Worlds of Origin conclusion, Nintendo Online

Master Malstrom,

I had a few questions. First was if you had any timeframe to give us for when you’re wrapping up the Worlds of Origin articles. I liked them quite a bit and was bummed out that you never finished it nor started the other one about the little known company. Second of all, I noticed how you were once again right about Nintendo holding old school games hostage by locking the NES joy-cons behind online subscription. My question to you is this, are these companies straight up evil at this point?

After all the data mining that has come to light, I truly don’t believe they’re ignorant. Nintendo, Sony, and all the rest know what we want. They not only don’t care, but their solely interested in doing whatever they want while having total control over every aspect of consumer interaction. That obsession with control seems to be the motto of every tech business nowadays. I get why the big ones like Google and Microsoft act like that, but are Nintendo and the rest banking on them shutting down their OS’ to prevent piracy? That’s the only reasoning I can see behind them going so draconian on Games as a Service. If the big names lock down the PC, then they’ve effectively eliminated competition. Eventually, the old consoles and PCs will go kaput, and your only option is their terrible subscription. It really does seem like these companies are all conspiring to enslave the customer.

Always a pleasure Master Malstrom

The word is leverage. With Nintendo, their perspective with classic games is ‘How do we leverage this to boost today’s sales?’ Let’s go through some of their decisions with classic NES games…

-Animal Crossing Gamecube has NES games inside it. (People buy Animal Crossing just to get to the NES games. This wakes Nintendo up of the value of some of these games.)

-GBA NES Classic Series. (NES games re-released on GBA makes people go crazy. They buy Nintendo handheld hardware that resembles the NES.)

-Virtual Console Wii (People literally buy NES games to play on their Wii. Iwata mentions an issue is that people buy a Wii, just buy Virtual Console games, and they are satisfied. They don’t want this. They want you to buy new software.)

-3DS Ambassador Program (After the disastrous launch of 3DS, Nintendo ‘apologizes’ by giving out SNES games.)

Wii U Virtual Console (Failed Wii U console so Nintendo throws Virtual Console games to keep Wii U users happy.)

NES Classic Series (Stand-alone product sells out. Good cashflow when Nintendo just had 3DS and Wii U).

Switch Online (NES games are to push Nintendo’s online service.)

Everything Nintendo does with their classic games is to leverage them for some present day need. They will never make the product you want (a modern day NES).

I think Nintendo has taken too many trips to the NES well. The buckets of instant money will no longer be there. You can only go back to the well so many times.

As for the Origins conclusion, it has been done, but it wasn’t published because I was wondering whether or not to add more. After writing all of that about Open World and Ultima, I was surprised to find how… disgusted… I’ve been with modern day Richard Garriott. Everything Garriott has done since Ultima Online has been terrible. What to make of this? I don’t know. I think after Ultima IV, other people at Origin really drove the Ultima series forward with V, VI, VII, and VII Part 2. I think Garriott may have been great when he was hands on with the Apple 2, but now that he is hands off with these more complex systems, the games just don’t materialize well.

Game development is a hands on thing. Everyone at Nintendo must know the technical details of the hardware. “And who told you this, Malstrom? Miyamoto?” He did! Miyamoto revealed this once in an interview. You just can’t have philosophies and ‘visions’ when making a game. You need hands on.

The truth is that with every artistic endeavor from game development to art to writing and such, the process of the creating is where the magic happens. For example, a writer is not that smart. A big reason why a writer seems smart is because it takes a while to write the essay/book/whatever. During that process of writing, there are many revelations. A novelist’s initial outline is often ignored when writing a novel because new stuff appears and becomes apparent during the creation process. This is true with game development. You have to be hands on with game development. It is a craft. A trade.

You want the another string of ‘articles’ about that lesser known game company? OK. I’ll try to get it done.

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Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 21, 2018

Email: I’m glad I never bought a Switch

At first it seemed like Nintendo was getting things right, but now it
looks like they’re making the exact same mistakes they did with the
Wii U along with some even worse ones.

I don’t play many games anymore but I didn’t miss out on Breath of the
Wild because I got the Wii U version. Aside from a slight graphics
downgrade and lower framerate in some areas, it’s the exact same as
the Switch version but without paying $300+ extra for it. And pretty
much everything else on the Switch hasn’t interested me.

The biggest mistake I’ve seen is them re-releasing Wii U games. The
ones that didn’t sell well on the Wii U will not sell well on the
Switch either because they weren’t good games in the first place.

Also, when it comes to retro games, pretty soon the Wii Shop Channel
will be shut down and it’s only a matter of time before the Wii U
eShop does too, meaning that Nintendo’s new “always online” (like
Steam) Switch shop will be the only legitimate way to play them. My
Wii U is mostly a retro game box and I don’t have to check-in just to
play Super Mario Bros, but if it ever dies (taking all my games with
it, and even if they were transferable the eShop will be gone with no
way to re-download them) I’ll be screwed because there’s no way I’m
ever going to subscribe just to play old games.

Switch is worth it so far with Zelda BoW “Wow!”, kickass physical indie games like Dead Cells, Steamworld Dig 2, Sonic Mania, Minecraft, etc., and Octopath Traveler. I’m not as impressed with the other offerings.

 

 

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 21, 2018

Email: One possible reason for Nintendo trickling the Virtual Console

I have a theory as to why Nintendo keep trickling out Virtual Console releases
each generation anew. Take GOG for example, in the earliest days they only
supported Windows, later they added macOS and GNU/Linux as well. There is no
technical reason why all the DOSBox-wrapped games couldn’t be released for
those operating systems as well, you could even automate the process. However,
selling a game for a new OS requires a new contract, so we get these game only
bit by bit. There could be a similar issue where Nintendo has to negotiate the
release of Virtual Console games anew for each generation.

Right. Each hardware system requires a new contract.

Of course, Nintendo doesn’t need new contracts for its own vast, large stable of games.

Dear Master Malstrom,

after the last Firmware update on the Switch to version 6.0.0 Nintendo changed some things.

One of them is removing your current switch system as a primary console when you no longer have access to it.

Now you know that there was a possibility since last year to move your data from one system to another.

But now you can actually move your account if your switch dies or is stolen.
If you answer “is the primary console available with “no” it will give you the instructions: https://en-americas-support.nintendo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/22434/~/how-to-deactivate-a-nintendo-switch-console

The only caveat you can do this apparently only once a year. So you might need to contact the support if you have to do it a second time shortly after.
But now your games are actually on your account instead of the console itself.

You can also now access your games from other switch consoles if you log on and redownload them without switching the primary system.
Though it requires an internet connection to play. You can also use it to share games

https://gadgets.ndtv.com/games/news/nintendo-switch-update-60-download-digital-game-sharing-non-primary-console-1918864

Just wanted to let you know, since those features seem to have been downplayed in favor of Switch Online.

Best regards,

The Reader

Why thank you, Reader.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 20, 2018

Email: Switch development as a “unified pipeline”

Hello Master Malstom!

Long ago (perhaps even prior to the Switch), I remember you highlighting how Nintendo said the Switch would allow for a unified development pipeline of the “handheld” (Game Boy, DS, 3DS) teams and the “console” (SNES, N64, Wii, etc) teams. This would increase the total number of software, ideally. Nintendo themselves brought this up several times leading up to the Switch launch and during the early months of the Switch’s lifespan. Seemed like a great idea.

However, you also brought up in one of your recent posts (“I do not like the direction Nintendo is going”; Sept.15th) that Nintendo’s output on the Switch only appears to be robust, but it is an illusion:

By having one console, the Switch looks like it is more robust since it is combining both handheld + home console first/third party support. This is very illusionary

What if the promise of a “unified pipeline” was a trick all along? Consider how Nintendo once whined about how “hard it was to do HD”. Even they admitted that they were unprepared for HD software development. Making games was hard work again! And profit margins weren’t as wide because you had to actually invest in the art assets and sound design of your games. Poor Nintendo…

Ah! But Nintendo is smarter than all of us stupid gamers. They are geniuses, remember? So, they unify their pipeline onto one system so that they can make fewer games! Ha! They can diddle around with side-projects (like porting all the Mario & Luigi games to 3DS for some reason, or porting Kirby Epic Yarn to 3DS for some reason) and take as long as they want on bigger games while the 3rd party developers bring the cream-of-the-crop of the last 10 years of gaming to this system.

I read that Switch surpassed 1,000 titles (including eShop) this year which is pretty close to 3DS’s ~1,200 games (including eShop). The difference is that 3DS has been out for 7 years. Switch has been out less than 2. Over 1,000 games in less than 2 years. Nintendo doesn’t care at all about putting out a reliable pipeline of their own games. They’re printing money right now, laughing at their good fortune.

Unifying into one pipeline also traps us: what if Metroid 4 is Sakamoto’d? When Other M came out, at least there was still Hunters on DS and the Prime Trilogy on Wii. Now it’s all “one system” so there will only be one Metroid. Excited about the new Yoshi Crafted Whatever? Well, you’d better like it because there won’t be an “alternative” Yoshi option on the “handheld” line of systems to flee to if you don’t enjoy the “console” Yoshi game. You don’t like the next Fire Emblem? Well, that’s what you get! Nintendo wants to spend all its time on Pikmin 4 (which we know is a thing) and Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Animal Crossing instead of putting out hard-hitting franchises. They’re already back to Gamecube nonsense! Too bad if you don’t like it, though. Unified pipeline, bitches!

This is likely my last console generation as well. I have big libraries for Saturn, NES, Genesis, PS2, etc. etc. etc. that will last me forever. The Switch will be a good sendoff console, the last, most-profitable, most tone-deaf system ever made by Nintendo before their hubris puts them out of business. Indie Third parties will finally flock to it with all their best titles and the cream-of-the-crop Western 3rd party games will find some way to be ported (Doom, Skyrim, Fortnite, Civ 6) because they don’t want to leave easy money on the table. But Nintendo will be too stupid to understand why it’s all happening.

You should write more about older systems. I really enjoyed reading through your review of TG-16 games. I think a lot of people other than yourself are trying to build a small-but-respectable catalogue of old games because they’re seeing the writing on the wall, too. It’s not about collecting for value. It’s about owning a little library of games while the industry gets more mediocre and crumples in on itself in 10 years.

Writing about older games is a priority for me. TG-16 game reviews will resume. I do have some Switch games to review (but I do need a break from some of these games… ugh).

The console games I absolutely intend to review is the NES. NES games are the most mythologized ones in existence. How often do you come back to them? The answer has surprises for me, and it will have surprises for you, the jumping, jolly, and jubilant reader.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 20, 2018

Email: Nintendo Switch Online is Anti consumerist

Hi Sean,
When the Nintendo Switch first launched and I heard about paid online service. I was very much against it. There is no reason consoles should ask consumers to pay for online services. Any costs of servers or other such associated costs for online play should be included in the cost of the game. PC being a great example, as there is no additional cost for pc gamers to play online. Even so I came around and I was willing to pay for Nintendo Switch Online service, as I really enjoyed gaming on the Switch. But after recently learning more details of the online service, I find that the online service is highly oppressive against consumer freedom. The things Nintendo is doing today with their online service is the same thing Microsoft said when they were launching the Xbox One, except Microsoft changed their tune after the huge backlash. One of my main concerns with the online service is the game save data. Why has Nintendo decided to hijack our save data, why can I not backup my saves to an sd card. Other consoles have allowed this, even previous Nintendo consoles have let put you save files on an sd card. Secondly even the online service we will receive seems to be the same one that we have received for the last year and half for free. Where is the value add? Is it the NES games, well I don’t really need Nintendo to play NES games online, you can do that with plenty of emulators, plus who really wants to play old NES games online? The Switch has a lot of momentum, but I think the Online Service as it is could severely cripple the Switch. The service is not just badly designed, I think Nintendo has purposely designed it as such. As a consumer why should I pay for something that actively works to take away my freedom of choice. I enjoy gaming on the Switch and I was looking forward to purchasing upcoming games, but now I question if I should continue purchasing Switch games. I am tired of seeing Nintendo’s two faces . You never know which one you will see, is it the old Nintendo which brought us countless great games or is it the new arrogant Nintendo.
The other thing I learned from the recent direct is that Nintendo’s first party lineup for this year and next is downright atrocious. What happened to the whole getting more games because of console and handheld software departments merging. Not only are we not getting more first party games, but this particular lineup is really bad. Aside from Smash and Metroid Prime 4 (which we know nothing about) the lineup is very bad, is this the developers making the games they want. There are many questionable games in the lineup. I don’t think we have seen two years of back to back horrible first party lineup ever before on previous Nintendo consoles. I am highly disappointment that Nintendo is porting NSMB Wii U to Switch, which likely means we wont see a new 2d mario game on Switch any time soon or maybe ever.

2006-2008 was great Wii software that did magical sales results: Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Wii Play, etc. But all that software was started during the Gamecube dregs. When software started after Wii was successful, we got Wii Music, Metroid Other M, etc.

The entire 3DS line-up and design was due to the arrogance of the DS success. Who designed the shitty 3DS: Shigeru Miyamoto.

After the NES success, the SNES launched to great disappointment. Super Mario World was good but not Earth shattering like SMB 1, 2 or 3. Most of the SNES games were sequels to NES games. Yawn. SNES couldn’t outsell Genesis in America until the release of Donkey Kong Country.

The Gameboy Advance was also fairly shitty. It was missing two buttons, and the original hardware was very hard to see the screen. It wasn’t until the PSP showed up that Nintendo sharpened their game.

Is Nintendo arrogance rising again that will destroy the Switch not unlike Wii during its third year? It is still too early to say. This Nintendo Online crap certainly isn’t helping. I don’t see or hear anyone saying, “Man, I got to order Nintendo Online to play NES game over multiplayer online!” I think Nintendo saw the NES Classic Mini sales success and thought NES games would keep providing value.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 20, 2018

Email: People are realizing what digital ownership actually means

Last week a post on Twitter went viral over an issue someone had with their bought movies on the Apple iTunes Store.

https://iphone.appleinsider.com/articles/18/09/16/apple-responds-to-viral-tweet-over-dissapearing-itunes-movies

Since then, there was quite a bit of realization from folks that what they’re buying digitally isn’t the product but merely the license to use the product. There’s nothing really stopping Apple or other companies from pulling those licenses for any number of reasons.

I always tell folks to stick with buying Blu-rays.

Or at least buy digitially where you can control it such as GOG. I just stream my movies and TV shows from the harddrive to my Apple TVs.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 20, 2018

Email: A theory about NSMBU DX

Mind you this is just a theory but here’s my reason for the remaster of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.

Recently we found out that Sonic Mania Plus had 52% of sales on Switch. It’s almost like people like classic 2D platformers that play like their originals.

My guess is Nintendo saw Sonic Mania Plus’s Switch sales and didn’t want to be shown up by Sega. There wasn’t enough time to make a new 2D Mario quickly and Miyamoto doesn’t want to make a truly good 2D Mario so it was quick and easy to repackage NSMBU.

I’d like to hope this means that a new 2D Mario might show up soon but I won’t hold my breath.

It is the second best selling game on Wii U. Nintendo needs a game for January so NSMB U is sent to die.

Dear Master Malstrom,

I can’t help but take great pleasure in seeing Labo go bust. I’m just not in the mood to root for Nintendo right now.

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2018/09/nintendo_labo_vehicle_kit_has_disappointing_launch_in_japan_switch_still_best-selling_console

What really galls me about the online service is that Nintendo made us wait a year and a half to get these NES games, and yet they’re going to trickle most of them out at 3 games a month! What is the point of doing this? You don’t see Amazon trickling out old books. You don’t see Apple doing this with old music on i-Tunes. And where are the SNES games? Where are the Gameboy games? Where are the N64 games? (Okay, N64 games I could do without) But as much as I’d love to own these games, if Nintendo were to offer several hundred of its classic games to play for just $20 a year, that would still be a pretty good deal.

In the meantime, I recently bought the NES and SNES classic minis. Although I already bought many of these games on the Wii U virtual console, I figured that this is the only way I can “back up” these games since there is no account system, and it’s hard to know how durable the Wii U will be over the years to come. But I love having these separate pieces of hardware. I love the having the retro controllers. If Nintendo releases a Game Boy mini, I’d be the first to buy it.

Labo needs to die.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 20, 2018

Crystal Ball: American Midterm Election Predictions

As longtime readers know, I like to put out a prediction for the latest election. Sometimes it is right, sometimes it is wrong. Either way, it is fun, and it works those analyzing muscles.

My crystal ball is telling me that the Republican Party will retain control of both houses of Congress. While the attention now is on the House, after the election the story will be on the Senate. Republicans will win at least 5 additional Senate seats and will come very close to the 60 vote super-majority. As for the House, there may be some overall losses or additions to the Republican majority, but there will be little change. Now I will explain why I see it this way and why everyone else is not.

The concept so much is going on is ‘party that isn’t the President’s does poorly in the midterms’. After all, in 2010 the Democrat Party lost around 70 (!) seats in the House of Representatives after Obama’s election. In 1982, Democrats gained around 30 House seats after Reagan’s election. In 1994, Republicans captured House and Senate after 40 years of Democrat control after Bill Clinton’s election.

But this is a shallow view of that history. In 2002, the midterms after George W. Bush became president, the Republicans GAINED seats in the House. This is written off as 9/11 response. Fair enough. But consider that only an outsider like Trump could be put in office due to despair over the ‘Great Recession’ (i.e. issues like illegal immigration are not seen as ‘race issues’ to Trump voters but as ‘economic issues’, e.g. “Less illegal immigrants = more jobs for Americans”). The ‘Great Recession’ is bigger than 9/11, and voters will respond to it.

When you look at midterms after a Democrat president and midterms after a Republican president, a different history emerges. Democrat presidents tend to have terrible midterm performance. Republican presidents do not. Even the 30 seat Republican loss in 1982 can be attributed to lack of Reagan’s coattails as 1980 was a massive win for Reagan. 2016 was not a massive win for Trump. At best performance, Democrats may win around 11 seats in 2018, but even that will not be enough.

I think a huge reason why there is so much insanity is that the present electoral path is contradicting the analysis made in the 2006 and 2008 elections. The dominant analysis of the 2006 (when Democrats took the House and Senate) and 2008 (when Obama became president) was that of a re-alignment. A coalition of non-white voters would now be the majority. If the Republicans are demographically doomed, then why do they keep winning elections today?

The problem when you demographically define races is based on classification. Who is white? The definition of ‘white’ keeps changing. Certain races would not be considered white or ‘native’ a century ago are considered ‘white’ today such as Irish. What is even more curious is that Hispanics have been considered ‘white’ until the 1970s so they could apply for affirmative action. Some of the creators of this idea of ‘demographic destiny’ have reversed themselves. Many people forget that in 2000, the Bush analysts thought there was a re-alignment because of demographics: since Democrats embrace abortion and Republicans do not, Republicans would out-multiply Democrats. That was wrong, and so is the current ‘demographic destiny’.

There is a much better analysis of 2006 and 2008. In 2006, the districts that switched were not ‘purple’ districts but distinctly conservative ones. The Democrat Party wisely ran military veteran candidates and ran against ‘corruption’. In 2008, Obama vowed to lower taxes, better the ailing economy, and put out a message of optimism and hope. This was conservatives rejecting Republicans, not conservatives becoming Democrats. After all, the last Democrat president was Bill Clinton, and the economy was pretty good then.

In 2010, the Democrats got wiped out in the House. The belief in America has always been to vote for the other guy if things aren’t going the way you want. Conservatives focused on the primaries instead to take out all establishment Republicans and put in ‘Tea Party’ conservatives. This video really shows the intensity and feeling of being duped conservatives had back in 2010.

In 2014, Republicans took back the Senate. Since a third of the Senate is up to vote each election cycle, the Senate takes longer to shift around.

2012, though, is quite interesting. While Republicans held the House, Obama was re-elected. But Obama’s re-election vote margin, of the critical states, resembles 2016! It is also extremely unusual for a president to be re-elected with fewer votes than the first time around. I don’t think it had been done for the entire 20th century. This signals a fluke which is probably 2008. McCain and Romney are also candidates that did not unify the Republican base.

Since 2010, there was been a major change in Republican attitudes and behavior concerning government. The tipping point was the Affordable Care Act, i.e. Obamacare. When Democrats lost their 60 vote supermajority in the Senate (of a Republican winning a seat in Massachusetts of all places), the law was passed via reconcialition. Reconciliation is used only for budgets so the House and Senate budgets can be fixed. This requires a simple majority. This tipping point in attitude was that conservatives thought they were literally losing their country. The response was the Tea Party which targeted Republicans.

The main cheerleader of this Tea Party was McCain’s VP candidate, Sarah Palin. A certain person would go to see Palin: Trump.

Use your hands! New Yorkers respond to Sarah Palin, Donald Trump pizza-eating faux pas

Above: This is 2011. Why is Trump meeting with Palin? Today, the answer is obvious. Then, it was mysterious.

Today, Democrats are focused on Trump and ‘Trumpism’. Trump is actually nothing more than a crest of that Tea Party movement started in 2010. What was the Tea Party? Citizens getting involved in government because Republicans and Democrats are both two wings on the same bird of prey. What is Donald Trump? A citizen. He held no political office. Trump is to the Presidency as Bruce Wayne is to Batman. This is how his supporters see him: as someone giving up the billionaire lifestyle to clean up corruption and save the ‘city/country’. The Batman. The Trump. The surprise to conservatives is more that Trump wasn’t Hillary Clinton, it is that he publicly been playing a playboy billionaire when he was secretly a Goldwater Republican, like his dad, all along. Trump was secretly a Reagannite all along!

Even though Trump today IS Washington, the constant negativity on him has made him seem that he is not part of Washington. This causes conservatives to further rally to him.

Or let us put the analysis is a very simple way. In many elections, there is one person exuding optimism about the future, the other negativity about the opponent. I think what is going to doom many Democrat’s elections is the tone. People want a good economy. Saying Trump is ‘bad’ or ‘immoral’ isn’t going to help. Republicans learned this lesson back when Clinton was impeached yet his poll ratings went up.

I also think younger Democrats do not understand the lessons of McGovern and Mondale. Both candidates won a single state but lost 49 states to Nixon and Reagan. How does that happen!? Mondale promised to RAISE taxes. McGovern was… well… out there. Candidates who are seen as ruining the economy do not perform well in elections. Bill Clinton realized he had to ‘triangulate’. Even Obama spoke of ‘lowering taxes’. I think we are in a cycle where McGovern and Mondale will be replicated until the current young Democrat generation realizes that it does not win elections. Then, I expect a rhetorically moderate Bill Clinton copy in 2030s.

To recap for 2018: Not much change in the House, big number of additional Republican Senators.

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