Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 6, 2015

Email: Number 1 Manual

Hello Master Malstrom

Thank you for reading my previous post. I do agree that game manuals should return, if game companies are so scared of using paper or investing money on manuals, why not include a small separate file on the disc?

Not only could you have a manual once again without depleting the rain forest, but you could also have something to read while you await your 10 minute installation time/update, its a win-win situation for only a small amount of work. It’d also be a good way to “inject story” without harming your games pacing. And I’m confident that a manual would be much cheaper to type, re-translate, and throw on the disc than hiring 3-5 writers for hours of cut-scenes, but then again it’d be harder for game makers to show us their holy “genius”.

Which, on the note of holy “genius”, leads me to my next point:

You’ve spoken at one point on “Toxic” Heroes of the Storm players, in bot matches, I’ve found the worst players to be the ones that have been playing it for quite a bit, the ones with a high hero league even, the ones that main lazy-ass Heroes like Nova and Hammer “I’m pushing 90k siege and I get no peel, ffs guys”.

Yesterday I had the chance to deal with what may’ve been one of the more toxic players I’ve seen, a Tassadar with a $15 skin, Rank 1 in Hero. They ping for help defending their lane (several times), I joke ping something else, so they ping more and respond “Tunnel Vision much?”, the rest of the match was just them pinging and getting bitter only because I jokingly said “u mad bro?”, as I pushed objectives and helped out.

This super special Tass glued his lane all match, died several times, and nothing more. Mister holy tunnel vision seemed to think Blackhearts Bay had just one lane. After the game I told the guy to take a break (obviously he was mad about something from before).

I rarely ever deal with “troll players” or anything of the sort, my own trolling is only limited to pointing out players who contradict their own orders .and boy do they love being told that!

Its the high rankers, the “E-Sports”, the “hardcore” that’re the real toxic in Heroes. The more bars, the more money dumped into skins, the more sense of self-importance they get.

Compare this to a fairly new Slyvannas a friend of mine played with in bots, at the start they said “Just so you guys know I’m new to Slyv”, after that they played very well, and unlike most Slyvs made an effort to use their E correctly (rather than spamming it to lightly hurt minions).

I think if we’re going to improve gaming we need to make more gamers, not revert it back into a “defensive bubble-cult”, thats how you alienate people. They ask for Chocolate Ice Cream, you shout at them “But I put so much work into this new Mayonnaise flavor! Buy it or GTFO away from my truck!”.

We much eliminate the hardcore!

Thanks for reading


Just because they are Rank 1 doesn’t mean they are good. The real question is what is their MMR? Regardless, my experience has always been that the worst players were the ‘hardley-cores’. They weren’t the 1%. They were better than the average player. But they WANTED to be the 1% and thought they were at that level. Yet, they weren’t. They couldn’t handle their emotions and setbacks. Professional players play professionally. They do not rage.

I love Heroes, but I got tired of interacting with the other players. It stopped being fun. As in WoW, I did not like how other people determined my game experience.

What I need to do is create a group of Internet gaming friends as I used to do back in the 1990s. The reason why I cannot do that today is because of the vast age difference between myself and other players and because games are more sensitive to skill level. What the skill sensitivity means is that I would shoot up and outpace everyone. They would get angry at me or not.

You know what has fucked online gaming up? All these goddamn ladders and E-penises. We didn’t have that a long time ago. We played RTS games mostly for fun. People who did ladder were a niche and separated from everyone else.

The reason for the E-peen is because they are underemployed. There are no active business owners, top notch engineers, or other mover and shaker in the top 50 of the ladder. “But Malstrom, has there ever been such people getting high scores?” There has been. Steve Wozniak, of Apple fame, kept getting the top score in Tetris in Nintendo Power.

Seriously, look at Wozniak go:

I mean he has that ‘interesting man in the world’ moment when he starts bringing in world leaders. WTF!? hahahahaha.

I find that hardcore gamers are those who do not have much money or real world status. It is why they are trying to get status in a virtual environment. I respect the guy in the basement playing Pac-Man forever to get the super-duper high score, but let’s not kid ourselves. These are video games, not status vehicles. The hardcore gamer is the equivalent of the female attention whore on Social Media. It is the desire of status, of celebrity, of trying to find value in non-value.

If you have value as a human being, you do not need a video game to validate yourself. Hardcore gamers need video games to validate themselves as worthy human beings because they feel they may not be worthy human beings. I am serious! It is a very serious form of depression. What the hardcore gamer needs to do is get a real job and find status and achievement in the real world. Then he will see video games as they properly are. I don’t say this in meanness about the hardcore gamer. I say this with concern for a human being. Video games offer escapism from the real world and can offer the illusion of achievement. This can be very good and fun. But it can also be very dangerous and toxic. Former World of Warcraft players know exactly what I am talking about.

If video game companies keep pushing, and pushing, the illusion of achievement with all these experience bars and crap, I predict you will begin to see punitive action taken by governments. First, studies will come out showing such use of gaming to be toxic to health and life progress. Then the laws will come. “But games are speech, blah blah blah.” The state can argue that it has a ‘compelling interest’ to do so. A much better solution would be for the video game industry to stop taking advantage of low status people.

As for game manuals, I love the idea of finding out the lore and story of the game OUTSIDE the game (where it belongs). Whether this be on game manuals or something else, I do not care.

I also think the biggest vehicle for story telling is the music. Hey, it works in the movies which they so badly want to emulate. This is why the early games were so effective because the music was so good.

Can you hear the story, reader?

How about this one?

Or this?

Oh how I could go on!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 5, 2015

Email: Star Citizen Drama

The Escapist has published an article pointing out some things about the ongoing development of Star Citizen and doubting whether Roberts can deliver what he promised. Nothing special in particular:


Then the follow-up came: a number of (ex-)developers contacted The Escapist anonymously and what they had to say was very discouraging:
This prompted CIG to release a response and accuse The Escapist of slander:
The Escapist defended their position on the matter:
The people are not named, so everything should be taken with a grain of salt, but actions speak louder than words. When Star Citizen was first announced I thought “cool, a new Wing Commander style game”, but since I don’t do crowdfunding I didn’t pay much attention. So you can imagine how surprised I was when I heard about CIG selling star ships and insurances for said ships. And we’re not talking about 20$ DLC or a 100$ supporter perk, we are talking about thousands of dollars for a video game space ship. I’m not even sure what kind of game Star Citizen is supposed to be at this point. Is it a 3D space shooter like Wing Commander? Is it an MMO? An RPG? Apparently you can also walk around, so will it also be an FPS with boarding combat?
I have not been following development, so maybe I’m just not informed enough, but what would have been wrong with “just” making a Wing Commander style game where you fly around and shoot, connected with story and briefings between missions? Add co-op and competitive multiplayer (like arenas) on top of it to round up the package, and maybe a mission editor. Start small and build off that success towards to more ambitious game. There are no space games out there these days, so it’s not like he would have had problems standing out in the market.
Is Star Citizen going to be the next Duke Nukem Forever that gets overhauled all the time just because no one has the balls to draw the line and say “this is what we’re going to do and nothing more”, and never leaves development hell?


This is reason why you don’t show off a game until it is about ready to go out the door. Star Citizen is not Duke Nukem Forever or even Battlestar 3000 AD because of one simply reason: envy. Roberts was able to have an extremely successful kickstarter. Many, many people are jealous of this. Do not doubt me. Many people in the game industry, working for bosses they hate, wish they could be in Roberts’ shoes. Just as there are many people who want Star Citizen to succeed, there are many people who want Star Citizen to fail. Where there is love and passion, there will likewise be hate and anti-passion.

Star Citizen could very well fail. I don’t think Roberts was right to bring his wife on board in an executive type position. She is not qualified. If Star Citizen implodes, I would suspect his wife to be at the center of it.

I say: “Let them make their game. The game will speak for itself.” It won’t be the Escapist or Roberts who gets to define the final word. It will be the game.

I think it is a mistake for game industry writers and fans to write their ‘brilliant commentary’ on a game that has not been released yet. Let us save the ‘brilliant commentary’ for games that are released now. There are too many games these days anyway!

To me, Star Citizen doesn’t exist yet. There is no game for me to play. It is because of that, I don’t see the point in wasting time on it. If the game comes out, cool. Stuff to talk about then. If the game never comes out, oh well.

The focus is always the games. Not the game media. Not the game god directors. Not the ‘brilliant commentators’. Only the games and the people playing the games are what matters.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 1, 2015

Email: The Piracy of Raid on Bungeling Bay

Hey Sean,

I’ve always been interested in your thoughts on piracy.

But why was the Commodore 64 such a piracy magnet?

I remember Will Wright saying Raid on Bungling Bay performed much much better on NES (in his opinion) because the NES reduced casual piracy.

What would you attribute the higher piracy and lower sales to on C64?


Amazing Reader


Ahh, Raid on Bungeling Bay. Here is the C64 version complete with landing at enemy airports to refuel!

I cannot access sales data of Commodore 64 games. Even the sales data of the Commodore 64 itself is in dispute. Let us go with this:

You see that spike around 1984? Not only was there a Console Crash, there was this incredible commercial. Reader, you must see it to believe it!

Yes, the Commodore 64 salute! And I always take my Commodore 64 on the waterslides. *salute!*

(For the younger generations, that is not a gigantic keyboard. That IS the entire computer!)

In the ‘portable’ version, the Commodore 64 still makes trips to water areas. Did you know if you use a Commodore 64, girls in bikinis will appear. It’s true! It happens in this commercial:

Oh, now that I am done reliving my Commodore days, I will consider the email’s question.

OK, the chart above has about 12.5 million Commodore 64 systems being sold. Super Mario Brothers sold 40 million copies. I am sure there are some NES systems sold that did not have any Super Mario Brothers attachment but consider the numbers. NES simply had a much, MUCH larger install base.

NES sold so many more games than PCs for the same reason why game consoles today sell more games than PCs. The NES was more accessible. Who was it more accessible to? To grandma? Sure. To Dad? Of course. But the most important NES consumer were kids. Some kids had a Commodore 64 but they tended to be older. Commodore 64 games also had a MUCH LONGER LOAD TIME. I am talking even half an hour at times to load up a game. No joke! The NES had no load times.

The games on the NES were just so much better. The top games on the Commodore 64, not including the arcade ports (which were better on the NES anyway), were games like Cybernoid, Spy Vs. Spy, M.U.L.E., and Archon. On the NES, these games got trounced by the omgawesomesauce that was coming from Japan. Japanese gaming really shook everything up.

Piracy on the Commodore 64 was rampant, no doubt. However, it is wrong to assume a pirated game is a lost sale. Most of the time, the pirate doesn’t even play the game at all! The truth is that the NES had a much larger install base, the entire install base wanting to play games (some people used the Commodore 64 for non-gaming purposes, those poor souls), and you could RENT NES games. I rented Raid of Bungeling Bay as I rented every NES game ever made. More people were able to discover Raid of Bungeling Bay because of this.

To answer the emailer’s other question, my view on piracy is simple. If there is no legal recourse to obtain a game, you pirate it. If you cannot obtain the game due to no one publishing it in your area, you either go without the game or you become a criminal. I choose to become a criminal. (This should not shock people. If I had the choice between a woman or a cool video game, the cool video game wins every single time. I’m a gamer first.)

If the new Nintendo president declared, “We must eliminate all the old Nintendo games from the face of the Earth! This way, people can only buy our new games.” I will resist! They can take my cartridges from my dead cold hands! I will not comply in the destruction of our cartridge history. If I had the choice of being a criminal gamer or not being a gamer at all, I choose criminal gamer.

The best way to reduce piracy is to publish the game everywhere. If people cannot buy it, they will pirate it. The gamer instinct is strong, my friends, and it will find a way!

Above: I cannot resist the temptation for another C64 video. Viva la MULE!!!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 1, 2015

Parents insist their kids play on game consoles

Lately, I’ve been finding the business side of the retro game industry to be very interesting. More on that later.

I was at my usual dealer (who gets me good deals because he knows that I am the master), when a couple came in. They asked about buying a brand new NES or Super Nintendo. Brand new meaning no one has ever touched it. The dealer explained to them that they could, indeed, buy brand new NES and SNES consoles in the shrink wrap but they would cost THOUSANDS of dollars. They were legitimately shocked by this. It was then that this couple began to realize the reality of retro gaming.

The reality is this: the supply is fixed. There will never be any new legitimate copies. Prices keep rising and rising and rising. The couple then bought Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2 and left.

What is going on is an interesting phenomenon. The children of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras have grown up and have children of their own. They then have a desire for their children to grow up with the experiences they did. So then they go buy a NES or SNES and get the meat and potatoes games for it. The meat and potatoes games for these consoles would be the Mario and Donkey Kong games. Incredibly, games like Super Mario Brothers 3 is extremely common with a huge supply yet their price keeps rising and rising due the never ending demand. Looking at price charting alone, we find Super Mario Brothers 3, within seven years, has gone from $5 to $15+. This is a 200% increase.

Seven years ago, Earthbound was $60. Today, it is $200.

Seven years ago, Contra was about $20. Now it is $40 and rapidly rising.

I don’t want to get bogged down in the prices, but the point is that 80s/90s kids want to buy the system so their kids can play it. This is why retro stores sell bundles of the system with the common Mario/Sonic type games. It’s hilarious to see this because the 80s/90s kids had to beg their parents to get a game console. Now, the parents throw the game console at them!!!

Here is an email I got that crystallizes the phenomenon:

Hi Master Malstron,

I’m a father of 2 small kids, and I use to watch their interaction with other kids in the family. And talk to the other kids too.
And I always ask what they’re playing, and which platform.
Basically: all mobile now. And Minecraft is the most played game.
Consoles? Well, few kids have them now. And only because the parents bought to them. When I was kid, I want to play in a console, DESPITE my parents. Now, parents buy consoles to kids, but kids want to play in mobile BESIDES the parents.

From what I hear, the kids are playing on the old consoles except for the Xbox (which they use solely for Minecraft). However, I am in America while the emailer is in Brazil so there might be some difference.

I don’t think kids want to play in mobile. If they have a choice between console or mobile, they’ll choose console (this includes handheld consoles).

The point is that how we perceive parents has and will change. The Wii was designed to get around the ‘mom’ obstacle. Parents have been seen as obstacles by game companies. Today, parents are now the ENABLERS and the game consoles’ best friends. It is the PARENTS who are pushing the game consoles now. This is a very, very interesting twist and a first one after half a dozen console cycles.

This largely creates the possibility of Everyone-Under-Roof-A-Gamer if Mom and Dad are already there. Imagine when the NES generation turn into grandparents! They’ll still be beating kids at Super Mario Brothers and showing them how to be good at ‘Nintendo Hard’. Don’t doubt me.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 28, 2015

Email: Notice how the competitors like the Wii U?

I’m not sure if Yoshida is being sincere or just trying to encourage Nintendo to do the wrong thing.  But I’ve noticed that like you said, the industry seems to love encouraging Nintendo to release piss-poor selling games and consoles.

Notice how we have heard jack shit from Pachter this generation, yet he couldn’t shut up about Nintendo during the Wii era?  Or how the industry couldn’t stop telling Nintendo they need to release a Wii HD last generation, yet this generation they simply boycotted Nintendo and hardly said anything about it?

These are just some observations.


Yup. They LOVED the Gamecube as well. “Nintendo should make more consoles like the Gamecube.” LOL!

They will also love Nintendo making the worst selling first party games. “That Mario Sunshine is amazing.” “Metroid Other M is incredible. All Nintendo games need this type of narrative direction.” (IGN, I believe, actually said this!)

Gamers think everyone in the industry talks like gamers. No. Businessmen talk like businessmen. When a businessman says he likes the competitor’s product, it is most likely the competitor’s least selling product. If the product sells very well, then the businessman will say how ‘awful’ it is.

Did you hear Apple’s competitors heap praise on the iphone or ipod? Of course not.

Did you hear the industry praise the Wii or DS? No. Hatred of a thousand hells were launched. But when Nintendo makes a Gamecube or Wii U? “Yeah, Nintendo is cool again!” hahahaha

What is so sad is that all this flies over the head of the Nintendo fans. They literally do think they ‘love’ Nintendo’s products and ‘understand’ them. I saw one of them make a gaming message forum thread of “If they love Nintendo consoles so much, why don’t they make games for them?” hahahahahaha. Maybe it is because they do not love them at all!

Have you noticed the industry never mentions the 8-bit or 16-bit generations? They only mention the NES if they are talking about a third party NES game. In fact, they even declare that we only liked the NES because of the third party games. Yeah, because no one ever liked games like Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, Metroid, Tetris, and all the rest.

These guys do veiled insults all the time. Let me use a currently easy-to-witness businessman for an example. When Trump is asked about a rival, he will say, “He is a very nice man,” or “She is a very nice woman.” In business speak, nice is actually an insult. He is insulting them in a dismissal way.

Nice is also an insult in romance speak as well. Nice guys finish last in both romance and business.

Nintendo is a very ‘nice’ company at the moment. Nintendo is not threatening its competitors. Of course, they love the Wii U! They hope Nintendo makes nothing but Wii Us for now on.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 28, 2015

Email: VR, flop or success?

Greetings Master Malstrom,

I’m wondering, what is your view on the current VR craze hitting the Hardcore.

Personally I think the whole thing is another flop, similar to what happened a few years back with 3D.

When I look at it, I think it’s too expensive, asking people to shell out 3 or 4 hundred on top of a console or high end PC is not something that will have wide market appeal.  Add in the fact that only one person can use it at a time, and I don’t see many families willing to shell out the big bucks.

The cheaper versions, such as the Samsung VR reduce the cost, but 100 dollars is still a lot, and they still require an expensive phone (one which isn’t selling well anyways, Samsung Galaxy sales have fallen off), and offer much less functionality, so I don’t see it taking off either.

But that’s just my view, I wanted to see what’s your view on the potential for VR, is it the new age of gaming the Hardcover think, or is it just another pipe dream like 3D tv was?


You have your answer. VR has been done before. Just because we have NEW TECHNOLOGY doesn’t mean VR is now going to take off. We have NEW TECHNOLOGY for 3d output (e.g. 3DS) and 3d output did not take off.

NEW TECHNOLOGY does not equal new sales. We do have history of seven generations (several decades) of video games to study. What we need is ‘new entertainment’, not NEW TECHNOLOGY.

I heard a hardly-core orgasm: “After work, I put on my VR and played Grand Theft Auto 5. I just drove around while listening to the car’s radio. It was amazing.” I can do the same thing with a real car and a real radio inside it. The immersion will never be beat by VR or any other technology. The problem is with the games as it always has been.

The critical failure of VR is that not everyone wants to separate from the real world. One of the key reasons why the Wii succeeded, and why the hardcore hated it, was that the ‘New Audience’ were of those who did not want to enter a fantasy wonderland. They did not seek immersion. Not every gamer wants to play adventures or to immerse themselves in a fantasy world. Hardcore gamers are making the mistake that everyone does. VR goggles mean that the vast audience of those who do not want to separate from the real world cannot be reached thus making VR another generational gimmick. Watch and see.

Look at the top ten list of Atari 2600’s best selling games. There are some GREAT games here. Pitfall. River Raid. Space Invaders. Missile Command. Great stuff.

But then there is E.T. which was terrible. And then there was Pac-Man which was the most terrible port. It is amazing how many people bought that terrible port.

Consoles, at the time, were bought to play arcade games at home (such as PONG or Space Invaders). Pac-Man broke the trust of the consumer.

Consoles also brought PC games to larger audiences. The Ultima ports on the NES I remember were popular with the older gamers who didn’t have PCs. But have you ever seen the Ultima 7 SNES port? HOLY MOLY! It is so terrible!

And if you are the PC gamer, you know all about the terrible console ports.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 25, 2015

Email: Video Game Music

Hello Mr. Malstrom –

OK, the first thing to know is that I am not ‘Mister’. Just as MRS applies to married women, MS applies to single women. In the same way, MR applies to married men but something else applies to single men. For unmarried men, the term ‘Master’ is to be used. I believe its use disappeared because it was politically incorrect since ‘master’ for a single man sounded the same as, say, a slave master. Also, giving the title ‘master’ to single men is too revealing, and women will never ever allow its use into the mainstream again. When a man is married, he is no longer the master! Some artifacts of it can be found in pop culture such as the deceased gentlemen society. It is why in Batman shows, it is never Mr. Bruce Wayne but Master Bruce Wayne. If he is a kid, he is the ‘young master’.

In the real world, I insist women I date refer to me as ‘master’ with hilarious results. Women who lack humor will become outraged. Others will go along laughing. When overheard at the bar that I am being referred to as ‘master’, the other women ask her, “Why are you calling him master?” “It is because he is the master,” she giggles.

Since I receive no payment for this website, it is also a joke between the readers and myself. When emails start with ‘Master Malstrom,’ we can imagine a hardcore gamer, industry official, or someone else lacking in humor becoming outraged. How DARE he be called ‘master’! How dare he!

Other times, I enrage people by posting pictures of flamingos on the website. Now, I do not know why pictures of flamingos cause people to lose it, but I do it because life is about having fun. Here is a video of flamingos dancing. I am sure someone will be very upset by seeing flamingos dance!

PS- For those who don’t believe me about the term master, even the ‘Yahoo Asks’ people get it.



LOOOOOONG time reader, first time writer (but in all fairness, it wasn’t all that easy to track down your freakin’ email address – would have been too much for you to have a simple ’email me’ button somewhere? �� ).


This is intentional. I don’t have much time to update or reply to emails. I do read them all. And, besides, consider it a ‘game’ trying to get the email. There are times I am amazed how someone got the email especially if they are in the industry or analyst or someone.


I have always loved reading your take on the video game industry as I find your articles not only informative, but expressed in a very entertaining way – I find it ‘easy reading’ and can easily get lost in your blog for hours at a time. In particular, I have found your change in view of Nintendo (from ‘madly in love’ when the Wii came out, to downright hostile ever since the Wii U was released) to be almost directly in line with mine – and believe me, that says a lot as I have been an incredibly loyal Nintendo customer since the NES days. So having my view of them turn so negative these days is extremely out of character and is very telling about their direction…


I consider myself to be a consistent Nintendo fan. It is Nintendo, however, who refuses to be consistent. What I want is that awesome quality they had back in the 8-bit, 16-bit, and the 7th Generation. However, it is a very high standard. It is ‘God Mode’ standard in the game industry.

“But Malstrom, Nintendo cannot make Wiis every generation.”

Well, why the hell not? I am a selfish customer! I want Nintendo’s best. I used to believe that I was ‘stuck’ culturally in gaming, that gaming was for younger people. After the DS and Wii, I realized my standards were not out of line.


…but, that’s not why I write you today and certainly a conversation for another time. I’m writing because I wanted to share a link I discovered to a video game soundtrack that I have always found to be so incredibly endearing – I still listen to it today (nearly 20yrs after I last played the game!!): Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon

Now, I have certainly played my fair share of games (my first consoles were the Atari 2600 and my most favorite console, the ColecoVision) and there have been plenty of games that have had entertaining music – but I have yet to find one that surpasses the amount of quality music, as can be found in this particular title!! Right from the very beginning when you first head out on the highway, to my most favorite area in the Festival Village – each song appeared to be put together with a greatest attention to detail and contained some of the catchiest melodies I had ever heard! There were even times when I was playing the game, that I would leave Goemon idle in a particular area, just so I could continue to listen to the song – is that normal???

So, beyond my statement of ‘This is the best soundtrack in my opinion’ – was curious what your favorite video game soundtrack might be (you have a ‘music’ category on the website, so I can only assume you appreciate excellent music as much as I do)? Music is my favorite part of any game, and so I’m always on the lookout for something that will give me my next audio fix!

If I had to choose one single game for its music, it would probably be World of Warcraft. It has the largest quantity of music of high quality (especially since the game has gone on for over a decade) of any single game. People may mock WoW now, but listen to the music. Since I know no one is going to listen to 2 hours of music, here are some examples. NightsongInvincibleLament of the Highborne.  Grizzly Hills. Storm Peaks. And I can go on.

Ever since CD technology, there is no technical limit. It is all talent now. This isn’t the day of NES vs. Gensesis vs. SNES vs. PC Sound Blaster music. But if we want to go before the CD technology days, I’d have to go with Star Control 2. Stand out songs are Yehat Theme, Hyperspace, Thraddash Theme, Outfit Starship, Supox Theme, and I can go on.

What I like about Star Control 2’s music is that it was made by many different composers, all amateur (meaning they weren’t famous people), who sent them in as part of a ‘contest’. Very interesting how it was done. Star Control 2 is also a brilliant game and should be played by everyone. You can download it for free by googling ‘The Urquan Masters’ as it is open source now. Star Control 2 is like a combination of Asteroids (the combat), Old School Final Fantasy (the heroic epic story and great production effects), and Space Flight (the exploration). I’ve never seen any game like it and never will again.



I’d also be interested on your take regarding music production in modern games, because while my ‘gaming time’ has been greatly reduced over the years due to managing my kids who have taken over nearly all my TVs and gaming consoles, judging by some of the sounds I hear coming out of my son’s bedroom while he’s gaming I’m not entirely sure music is always getting the level of attention is should be. True? False? We have every console in this house (WiiU, XBOne, PS4, PS3, 360, Wii, etc.), handheld, and both Mac & PC – so hardware is not the limiter to the second part of this question: Do you have a ‘modern’ game with outstanding music that you would recommend?

Thanks for listening (reading) – I look forward to hearing back from ya…


Much of modern game music is slapping pop culture music into the game. I prefer the game to generate its own music, for that music to be distinct to that game like Super Metroid’s Brinstar or Donkey Kong Country 2’s Sticker Brush Symphony.

I don’t play many modern games at the moment so I can’t really point out any. Some of the Blizzard games have a nice rich score. I honestly can’t think of much at the moment. I certainly cannot recommend any music from Nintendo lately. Although, the soundtrack to Wii Sports kicked ass (though NO ONE will ever admit it!).

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 23, 2015

Enhanced System Shock released

Did I mention how I love GoG? They have released an Enhanced System Shock to the world. System Shock is like Ultima Underworld Squared (and in space).

Above: While this quote is overplayed, it gives a taste of SHODAN. How can you challenge a perfect immortal machine? The atmosphere in this game is sooo good.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 21, 2015

Email: Story-life

Greetings, Mal of the Storm

Point 1: Your recent posts on “injecting” stories into games reminds me of something, back when Half-Life 2 came out it was a pretty unremarkable game, and quite glitchy, but yet the pressed loved it to no end, why?

Because audiences accepted the “not cutscenes”, where you stand and listen to characters. The press and game makers went bonkers, celebrating a new method of shoving story into games, finally they’ll accept our genius writing!

Nearly every games copy this now, if not, its the audio logs from Bioshock,heck even racing games are getting stories! A genre that almost never had any to begin with!

I’d love to see an arcade game play like this, you stick in .75 cents only to witness 5 minutes of cutscenes and loading, what if phone games were like this too? Would Angry Birds have sold better if the characters all had deep dramatic backstories? Perhaps Heroes should have cutcsenes before every minion waves, so we can learn about Knights desires, and Wizards dramatic wisdom.

At this rate I expect to be reading college engineering books with random, deep monologues from fictional characters.

With creativity, the only case I’ve ever seen “creativity” work on a product is the Nissan Juke (and even everyone buys them in gray, a truly unique color), otherwise it just creates impractical products that age like milk. Saab was very “creative”, but they could never actually sell their cars.

People dont buy “creative” TVs or smartphones, they buy them for their task, shouldn’t videogames be the same? Made for the task of entertainment? Escaping?

Maybe they need to sell fictional books along with TVs, to explain why the creative menus are so confusing. And be sure to limit the TV for just 5 channels, only getting 2 more each day for 9 days, you dont want to overwhelm those “peons” that dont appreciate your genius.

Someone should make a story on this whole thing, the game maker who wanted deep stories and creativity into his products, who ended up closing shop from tiny sales.
Thank you for reading


I’m stuck between two points of view on this.

The first is that the person who gets to have fun is the gamer, not the developer. After all, being a game maker is a JOB. It isn’t supposed to be ‘fun’. The person who gets to have fun is the gamer.

The second is that so many great games came from the game developers ‘having fun’ doing it. How to interpret this? I think of it like a musician. Game development is very much like a musician. A musician’s training is very technical. The musician must constantly train, keep up with the scales, warm up, etc. But when it comes to performance, the musician cannot be a computer. It is no fun to listen to a computer. The fun that a musician puts into the horn, fun comes out of the horn. This happens with games as well (such as Mega Man 2’s development).

The issue is that fun takes a backseat to the technical discipline. Game development is steeped with technical discipline. Story creation, as well as movie making, is also a steep discipline. Ask any best selling author or movie director. However, game developers have not made best selling books or movies. They don’t understand that discipline. It is why their stories and movies come across as so amateur. It is because they are amateur.

Earlier game developers also did not grow up on games (because they did not exist). They had table top games, sure, but they read many books. I doubt Aonuma has ever read a Western fantasy book. Imagine how much cooler Zelda would be if he had?

The difference between the excitement of the press and the regular gamer is always interesting. What I think is going on is that the press are aligning themselves with the developers and/or industry. If the industry gets excited, the press gets excited. The press wants to be buddy buddy with the game makers because they want to be game makers.

If these people were story or movie masterminds, why don’t they just write stories and direct movies?

I’ve done some dabbling in game making, and one thing is clear: you believe your crappy game is beautiful and wonderful. It takes much discipline of constructive criticism to edit your game. Many game companies have come up with ‘sciences’ of gameplay deconstruction. However, there is nothing for story or movie deconstruction. A game maker’s ego is not tied up in the gameplay as it is in the story or movie.

I think you’re right that they are all looking for new ways to inject story into their game. Might I make a suggestion? Try the manual. (click the link! No, not THAT Link!).

The Legend of Zelda manual


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