Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 23, 2016

The Cost of Vanilla WoW

This is a very interesting interview from a Vanilla WoW developer. Let us take a look.

When we planned World of Warcraft, we only expected 1M sold and 500k active. And yet..and yet that was enough to bet the whole company on making WoW. It was the most expensive game Blizzard had ever made, and a huge risk. And yet, we would have been happy with 1M accounts back then. So I don’t understand this talk about 850k account not being worthwhile. That’s bunk. And you know what? With Blizzard officially behind legacy servers, you would see far more than 1M account re-activations. If a relatively unknown private server can reach 850k, then think what putting the Blizzard name behind it could do…far, far more.

As for 150k active, my understanding is that was measured over a 10 day window. The industry standard for measuring active is 30 days. I bet the 30 day number is higher, but even at 150k, during vanilla WoW we only expected around 450k active subscribers, and it would have been a huge success. Nostalrius is not that far off from what would have been a home run for us at the time. Of course, we ended up doing much, much more than that, but I’m talking about what we would have been thrilled with in the beginning and been very profitable.

This is true. World of Warcraft was a massive risk at the time. No one at Blizzard was sure it would work. Passionate intensity from some developers who loved Everquest was behind it. Even when WoW came out, it was a massive cost to GROW in order to match the pace of the sales of the game. I think at one time, Blizzard had to stop sending out copies of WoW as they were trying to keep up to pace with the massive growth. It was a mess. However, it was a mess of dramatic growth which is the type of mess a company would prefer to have.

Now, let us try to look at it from Blizzard’s perspective. Shouldn’t a progressive server such as a Vanilla server be a slam dunk? Not exactly. This ex-dev in the interview has his own agenda to peddle as well. He’s an ex-dev, of course he is going to highlight what he worked on is the best and should always be out there.

First of all, WoW has a massive support staff. World of Warcraft is currently unified around one version of the game. When you have multiple versions of that same game, you have issues. Also, there has been many changes in the OS and hardware since Vanilla. Vanilla software was not designed to run on today’s hardware. The type of people who would go to a private WoW server are the more savvy type of consumer. But when you are a company offering this type of product, you will get the unsavvy types. There will be people who do not understand why Vanilla WoW is not 64 bit. Because of this, you are going to have more headaches and increase the cost of support. The support cost of Vanilla is likely going to be more expensive in a commercial setting today.

Another big issue is splitting up the brand. Instead of World of Warcraft, you have multiple World of Warcrafts. You end up with marketing issues. You’re not just marketing World of Warcraft, you are marketing a certain type of World of Warcraft (consumers will get confused there are multiple WoWs running around).

Blizzard is many things, but they are not fools. The changes to WoW have been many, but have they been ‘stupid’ decisions in light to them continuing to make money?

Let me tell you about a kid I just talked to. He is 19. I finally convinced him to ditch his consoles and go buy a big boy PC. He told me he wants to play WoW again. He grew up, as a child, playing Everquest. He began WoW in Cataclysm. He loves WoW. I inquired how he plays the game. “I mostly play the game solo, and I prefer it that way.” He does the starter quest area until he can queue for PvP. Then he goes back and forth queuing for PvP battlegrounds and dungeons. Does he go out in the world? “No, I hate that. With all those mobs that chain at you.”

Is this kid representative of everyone? No. But he is a living, breathing member of what I suspect is what Blizzard’s market research is telling them. Market research for video games is looking at the young pipleline of teenagers, not old farts in their thirties and forties who no longer have the time to play. Don’t like it? Well, you liked it when you were the bratty teenager thinking the SNES or Genesis were ‘so cool’ because of their ‘edginess’. Older adults who liked the sports games of the NES or the puzzle games like Tetris were turned off by the ‘extreme’ attitude of the 16 bit era. And let’s not even get into the Wii versus Xbox 360/PS3.

Here’s another question: Is Blizzard trying to distance itself or deny its older games? I think Blizzard is the hardest company to make for that argument. Unlike every other company, Blizzard still supports and sells older games such as Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 1 (online servers still running!). I suspect we have to thank Mike Morhaime for him being such a fan of Starcraft 1 for the servers still going. You can still buy Diablo 2. I wish we could still buy Warcraft 1, 2, and Diablo 1, but you get what you can. Blizzard also offers some of its SNES games for free on its website like Rock and Roll Racing and Blackthorne and Lost Vikings. The argument that Blizzard is trying to remove its past doesn’t pass the smell test.

There is also another, serious component to the Vanilla Server issue. Game developers are people with their own egos and morale. Seeing more excitement for Vanilla WoW than for Current WoW is a huge kick to the gut to these guys. They must feel awful. As such, constantly saying, “Vanilla WoW is teh best, modern WoW sucks!” is just going to make them defensive. It is better for everyone to place this in a more generational context.

There is a market of people who do want Vanilla WoW. These people will be older, more experienced gamers. The question is whether or not it is worthwhile to bother investing in these gamers anymore. Video game companies want to snag the YOUNG people, not the OLD. Young people have the energy and time to play the games, not old people. Young people are also easier to manipulate to buy the stupid DLC and mounts.

“But Malstrom,” says the hardcore Vanilla WoW player, “I don’t like getting old. I think game companies should make games for everyone, including older people.”

Then where were you when they were attacking the Wii? It’s all related. Nintendo tries to make games for all people which you hate they include older people. You hate Brain Age. You hate girl friendly games like Nintendogs and Animal Crossing.

Most of the Video Game Industry makes games for young male teenagers. When the young male teenager becomes an old male, suddenly the game industry becomes ‘frustrating’ because it no longer serves him. Yep, that’s right. They don’t give a shit about you, only the market you once were in.

“I think Blizzard should make games for all people including older fans.”

Currently, Blizzard mimics whatever the Xbox, and general console, direction is going. Is it a coincidence that WoW’s golden era (Vanilla 2004, Burning Crusade 2006, Wrath of Lich King 2008) was also the exact same time as the DS (2004) and Wii (2006)?

Above: They say we’re ‘too old’ to play video games, and that it is all for the younger people. “You cannot play the game any longer.”

Above: Our gameplay thinking is not obsolete!

Your post about the software pipeline got me thinking about a very curious phenomenon seen recently in the industry.

I’m talking about high quality 3D game engines being released for free. While there have always been software, APIs and libraries for making games available for free, I think this is the first time in history that amateurs and students have access to some of the most robust and sophisticated game engines on the market. First there was the Unity engine, then Epic made Unreal free, and just recently Crytek made their Cryengine free.

It’s pretty obvious why developers are releasing professional grade software completely for free—they all want the next ‘Minecraft’ to be built using their game engine. Minecraft was a game made by a single fat Swede, and pretty much broke all the ‘rules’ for a successful game. Minecraft’s engine is coded in Java and is pretty crappy overall—can you imagine if Minecraft were made on a good engine?

If Nintendo were smart, they wouldn’t just make their system easy to port to—they’d actively go out to Unity, Epic, Crytek, and others and try to get their console(s) supported by these engines

BTW, there’s a rumor that the NX will be using the Vulkan API. That’s big news, since Vulkan is basically the successor to OpenGL. AMD, Epic, and Valve have been investing quite a bit into Vulkan, likely since they want to reduce Microsoft’s power on PC gaming. If Nintendo were to use Vulkan though, wouldn’t that make them a direct threat to Microsoft, though?

 

Nintendo does not wish to take over Microsoft’s Windows so no.

Amateurs and all have always had access to game engines especially of the PC variety. DOTA and Tower Defense were Warcraft 3 maps. There were countless mods in Unreal Tournament and Quake games. These mods became full games.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 20, 2016

The Great Software Pipeline

Emily Rogers has this to say:

Instead of focusing our attention solely on hardware, we should really be having a discussion about NX’s software.

Of course, we should. You will not believe how many people have a big presence on message forums and game websites that are influenced somehow by a check from Sony or Microsoft. This is why discussion about Nintendo and the NX is not… calibrated… correctly.

“But Malstrom,” they say…

“NX hardware determines much.”

“NX controller will determine how things are played.”

“The accessories of NX are profitable which is why NX must be modular.”

The console is just a box we buy to get to Mario. I didn’t say that. The Great One, Yamauchi, said it. Miyamoto and Iwata mocked that saying when the Wii U was released and look what happened.

Yes, Nintendo is making new hardware, new controllers, new accessories, new online strategies, new IPS, and so on. None of this works without games.

Nintendo’s hardware development is governed by the software development. If the software guys do not want it, then the hardware guys are not going to put it in there. It’s that simple.

The reason why you are not seeing discussion of Nintendo’s software strategy, which dooms any true inquiry into Nintendo’s business strategy, is because it is not part of their profitable universe. What type of hardware, controller, and such is all interesting for third party and wannabe third party companies. The consumer, which is the axis of which all gaming revolves around, is not that concerned about it. To the consumer, hardware is nothing but junk unless games are presented. I expect NX hardware to be announced with NX games.

Nintendo also makes quality games. Having discussion about games instead of ‘hardware’ is more favorable to Nintendo in a marketing persuasion. Many industry interests do not want this.

The big, big secret to console success is due to the software output. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Second Generation

Atari-2600-Wood-4Sw-Set.jpg

In the Second Generation, when games were separate from the hardware (the invention of the cartridge), it is clear that the consoles with the most games did the best. Atari 2600 was going to be pulled off shelves like the Channel F console until the release of an arcade port called Space Invaders. Space Invaders rocketed the Atari 2600 up, spurred more game releases, which snowballed.

Now, the Second Generation imploded most spectacularly. So many games were being released in 1983 that no one could buy them all. So many of the games were of terrible quality. The Game Industry declared the game console a dead relic with the future only being in arcades and computer PCs (see Trip Hawkins, founder and president of Electronic Arts).

Third Generation

Nintendo Entertainment System with controller

Nintendo takes a big investment gamble and releases the NES in the United States. What is significant here is that this was seen as madness after the Atari Crash. This is why “ROB the Robot was made so the NES could be sold to distributors as ‘toys’ instead of video games. The founder of NOA had market research saying this was a stupid move. But he ignored the market research. Why? People were still playing video games in the arcades. The Famicom was successful in Japan. Why would Americans be so different?

The software strategy of the NES is extremely important to understand the NES. The NES had a lockout chip (which Atari would try to bypass and then hold Nintendo up in courts). Nintendo also limited third party companies to five games a year (!) on the system. Some companies would make shell companies to release more games. This was to force quality into the game making. You had the Nintendo Seal of Approval. You also had Nintendo Power and all that really pushed and highlighted the more quality games (and no, not all were Nintendo made. You should see Howard Phillips spazzing with glee over a preview of Mega Man 2 in the first issue of Nintendo Power). Nintendo even gave away Dragon Quest 1 while devoting a huge guide to Final Fantasy 1.

Fourth Generation

The North American SNES (circa 1991)

Third parties do not like Nintendo’s controlled market of the console. EA’s Trip Hawkins goes so far to backwards engineer the Sega Genesis and dictates terms to Sega saying they are going to make whatever games they want. Sega has no choice but to agree (but Sega imposes the similar restrictions as Nintendo). Nintendo lost the sports games to Sega which hurt Nintendo badly.

Fifth Generation

PSX-Console-wController.jpg

Sony, who had no experience with the Atari Crash like Nintendo or Sega had and who had consumer electronics in other markets, had another approach to the game console: flood it with software. Much to do has been made about Nintendo 64’s cartridges versus PlayStation’s CDs. Cheaper costs wasn’t so much about ‘stealing’ third parties as it was about flooding the console market with them. Anything and everything was pushed out on the PlayStation. PC game makers also pushed out ports. As more PC game makers switched to the PlayStation console, this would trigger a defensive strategy from Microsoft to keep PC game makers on Microsoft’s architecture.

Sixth Generation

PS2-Versions.png

The PlayStation 2’s success is said to be a number of things from the DVD capability to being released a year early. The reality is that it was the games. The PlayStation 2 did not have the best launch lineup. However, it did have the best software pipeline ever. There was this one game on the PC called Grand Theft Auto. It was OK. The sequel was OK. But when Grand Theft Auto 3 was put out for the PlayStation 2, it rocketed and rocketed the console as well. You never know where the next hit game is coming from, and so it is best to have a broad software strategy. This is the lesson Nintendo learned for the Seventh Generation.

Seventh Generation

Wii with Wii Remote

The reasons why the Wii succeeded are said to be many from being ‘omg casual’ to ‘gimmick controls’ to ‘cheap’ and such. But what is never discussed is that the Wii put out more software than the PS3. Nintendo also did the same with the DS versus the PSP (despite DS having cartridges and PSP having discs reversing the N64 ‘cartridge’ myth). However, Nintendo’s strategy was right with the software pipeline but the hardware still couldn’t take the PC ports. The PC ports favored Xbox 360 mostly. When Call of Duty 2, a sequel to a PC game, came out on the Xbox 360, it began to rocket the console up. The sequels of Call of Duty further rocketed the Xbox 360 console. The port to the PC game called Minecraft also rocketed the Xbox 360 up. While ports of these games found their way to other systems, Xbox 360 greatly benefited from these PC ports.

Eighth Generation

PS4-Console-wDS4.png

There’s not to mention here except how poorly Nintendo put out software for the 3DS and Wii U. Microsoft no longer sees Sony as a threat so it appears Microsoft is beginning to cease using its console as a defensive strategy and more as another part of the Windows universe.

Ninth Generation

This remains to be seen. If Nintendo is serious, it will have a MASSIVE SOFTWARE PIPELINE. This can be done by combining the handheld and home console teams. It can also be done with hardware easier to put on PC ports.

The Great Software Pipeline isn’t about Nintendo games… though those matter. It is about all games on the system. If you ask Reggie Fils-Aime, “Reggie, what games should I buy with my new NX?” Reggies reply is going to be: “All of them!”

The truth is that Sony’s console success has never been to uber hardware (Sony’s hardware has generally sucked) or DVD/Blu-Ray or marketing. Sony’s console success lies almost entirely on the Great Software Pipeline. Nintendo was able to outpace this pipeline in the Seventh Generation because Sony and Microsoft handicapped themselves with the early push to High Definition.

Can Nintendo outpace Sony in the Great Software Pipeline without such a handicap? The answer would be no because Nintendo is split between handheld and home console. Sony, also has handheld, but not in the way Nintendo does. Sony’s PSP push might have hurt its PS3 push, and it might explain Sony’s tepid Vita push as Sony focuses on PS4. With combining the handheld and home console, Nintendo is removing a handicap it has had around itself. Microsoft, of course, has no handheld to make software for.

I see Sony hurting itself by going into the VR and 4K area (hurting itself meaning hurting the Great Software Pipeline). This gives an opening to Nintendo. Microsoft doesn’t seem to care about consoles lately, but we’ll see what they say at E3.

Above: Selling game consoles is about creating a Great Software Pipeline of both First and Third Party games. It is not about the hardware. It also isn’t about the Killer App. It is about the probability of creating killer-apps. The best way to increase that probability is release as many games as possible.

Super Mario Bros. is what sold NES systems, Myst is what sold CD drives, etc.

There needs to be “must-have” software in order to sell it VR – a tech demo wouldn’t sell a game console or CD drives, so why should it sell VR headsets?

And people need to actually prefer using VR for said “must-have” software rather than not using VR, otherwise you get a 3D TV situation where 99.99% of 3D TV owners use it only for 2D content.

 

VR will fail in 2016 for the same reason it failed in 2006, 1996, and 1986. People will say, “The technology isn’t there yet,” but it has been there. People will say, “The right software hasn’t been made,” yet it will keep failing.

Look at the Wii’s success (which did actually use a VR type motion controller). One of the integral key elements to Wii’s success was that the console sought to NOT remove the player from the real world. Wii Sports was not a fantasy environment. You even had Miis that looked like you in the game. You played with people in the living room, not in a dimly lit room with soda alone.

Miyamoto says that the problem with VR is how stupid people look with those glasses and how those glasses shut people out of the real world. There is a reason why Nintendo invested and gambled so much on glasses-less 3d with the 3DS (though there is no demand for 3d output).

The Wii was based on the idea that the typical video game player was a loser who doesn’t shower, stays alone playing video games, and is a basement neckbeard. This is also why the hardcore despised the Wii so much. The Wii was the most SOCIAL console ever made. Xbox 360 and PS3 and their successors try to define ‘social’ as in their friends lists, but the local multiplayer of the Wii blows it away.

VR’s problem is not the software or that the ‘technology isn’t right’. VR’s problem is that it is contrary to Human nature. Human beings are social creatures. VR removing Humans from the world is a terminal flaw. I am not saying Virtual Reality has flaws that will be remedied over time, I am saying the entire thing is doomed and will always be doomed.

“Nintendo is doomed!” we keep hearing. But it is VR that is always doomed.

Placed in more mythological phraseology, VR is Man’s quest to build an alternate world, a sort of Tower of Babylon. Only through death can we truly leave this world. Arrogance says man can recreate the Earth in our own image. VR is a current tool to do that.

Despite all our ‘technology’, we’re not doing anything truly different than was done thousands of years ago. Instead of movies, they had plays. They still have music like we do. They had horses, we have cars. They had boats, we have airplanes. “This is new! It has never been done before!” But it is all chasing the wind.

The quest for VR is not a quest to fill market demand. It is a quest of vanity.

Wii showed that people do not want a virtual reality to disappear inside. They want fun brought out into THEIR reality.

VR is virtual + reality, a type of ‘constructed world’. Who gets to make this world? Not you, the beautiful reader. It would be the developer. In VR, the developer becomes God. The quest for VR is the quest to become a god.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 17, 2016

Vanilla World of Warcraft was Diablo in 3D

No, I am not mistaken, my experience with Vanilla World of Warcraft ranks up there with the best experience I’ve had in gaming for over a lifetime. Yet, current commentators and Blizzard developers tell me that I am mistaken, that I, the most interesting one, the Malstrom, am in error. Despite private Vanilla servers of WoW going up, and being knocked down by cease-and-desist orders, we are still told there is ‘no market for Vanilla World of Warcraft’.

“But Malstrom,” you say, “the game is so much better.”

This is current WoW from Cataclysm:

This is Vanilla WoW:

1.1 – Initial Warcraft Launch, Nov 7th, 2004

1.2 – Mysteries of Maraudon – 3 wing 5 player instance introduced, Gurubashi Arena introduced, first seasonal event(Winter Veil) introduced. Dec 18, 2004(1 month later)

1.3 – Ruins of the Dire Maul – 3 wing 5 player instance introduced, Meeting Stones created, first wold bosses created. March 7, 2005(3 months later)

1.4 – The Call to War – Epic Priest/Hunter quests added, PvP Honor System introduced. April 8, 2005(1 month later)

1.5 – Battlegrounds – Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch introduced. June 7, 2005(3 months later)

1.6 – Assault on Blackwing Lair – Blackwing Lair introduced, Darkmoon Faire introduced, Battlemasters introduced, Warrior/Warlock tree revamp. July 12, 2005(1 month later)

1.7 – Rise of the Blood God – Zul’Gurub introduced(first 20 man instance), Arathi Basin introduced, Stranglethorn Fishing event introduced, Hunter tree revamp. September 13, 2005(2 months later)

1.8 – Dragons of Nightmare – 4 new World Bosses added, Silithus zone revamped. October 10, 2005(1 month later)

1.9 – The Gates of Ahn’Qiraj – Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj introduced(20 man instance), Temple of Ahn’Qiraj introduced(40 man instance), Paladin talent revamp. January 3rd, 2006(3 months later)

1.10 – Storms of Azeroth – Weather introduced, tier 0.5 sets introduced, Priest talent revamp. March 28, 2006(3 months later)

1.11 – Shadow of the Necropolis – Naxxramus introduced(40 man instance), Mage talent revamp, Shaman talent revamp. June 20, 2006(3 months later)

1.12 – Drums of War – Cross-realm Battlegrounds introduced, Rogue talent revamp. August 22, 2006(2 months later)

Clearly, much more was going on with Vanilla.

So much has been written and spoken on this subject, I will not repeat what others have said. There is another approach to look at this.

World of Warcraft took heavily from the Warcraft series. No one will deny that. But there was another Blizzard series that World of Warcraft utilized: Diablo. Diablo 2 came out in 2000. Diablo 2’s expansion came out in 2001. World of Warcraft, which was in development for four years, came out in 2004. Are you telling me that Diablo had no influence on World of Warcraft? Hah.

When World of Warcraft was in alpha, a Blizzard employee told me that playing it “was more fun than Diablo”. I always remembered that linkage. He did not say “WoW was more fun than Everquest” or “WoW was more fun than Warcraft 3”. It was Diablo.

Vanilla WoW has many similarities to Diablo gameplay. Most of the monsters you face are demonic and evil. They all drop some sort of loot. The loot game of Vanilla WoW, with its heavy emphasis on RNG, is identical to Diablo in so many ways. Can you say ‘Thunderfury’?

In Diablo, you pick a character, play to get new armor and weapons, pick talent choices, get gold, and team up to do boss runs. Yeah, that sounds like Vanilla WoW right there.

Vanilla WoW had many great things going for it that has been covered. It came out when broadband was entering mainstream, it had a fantastic world to explore, fantastic music, and $15 a month sounded like a steal compared to paying $50+ for games that do not last nearly as long. But there has been something disappearing from the gameplay making WoW a hollow shell. What is it? What could it be?

I did some checking on the Diablo franchise. After all, if this theory is true that Vanilla WoW touched the same Diablo fun gameplay (of getting better gear through RNG, etc.), then we should see something interesting in the Diablo line. Check this out.

“Very early on in the process we had some people who argued that we should not make the game isometric, that it would be better technology, more modern, if we made a third or first-person game,” Wilson told games.on.net. “I really would have nothing of it. For me a camera is not a technology choice, there’s more than enough first and third-person games out there.”

Above: Jay “Fuck that loser” Wilson

Yes, it came from THAT Jay Wilson.

Right before Diablo 3 came out, I heard from weary World of Warcraft vets that they cannot wait for Diablo 3 and just have that to replace their World of Warcraft experience. With guilds and raids, they had to deal with the politics and logistics of it. Wouldn’t it be more fun just to go back to Diablo? Again, the linkage of WoW and Diablo comes up. If it wasn’t present, then why would WoW veterans see Diablo as the WoW substitute?

“Oh Malstrom,” you say, “You are just putting up junk to say stuff. Only you and your crazy anecdotes believe there is a link between Vanilla WoW gameplay and Diablo. Silly Malstrom!”

But Diablo 3 was originally designed to be a MMO. Of course, such a MMO would disrupt Blizzard’s WoW. But as you know the saying, if you do not disrupt your own product, someone else is going to do it. This is why Apple disrupted its iPods with the iPhone. Why have an iPod if you have an iPhone? And the iPad is disrupting the Macbooks.

What games are eating into WoW? Skyrim for sure. I’d say even Minecraft. Instead of more MMOs being made, every game got MMO like features like server saves and Internet multiplayer and communication. You could have MMO experiences without the MMO. Blizzard also ran out of WoW story.

Honestly, WoW should have been put out in the back and shot with a WoW 2 being made. Perhaps after Wrath of the Lich King or Cataclysm. Part of the huge appeal of Vanilla WoW was that it was NEW and that it was people’s first MMORPG. Everyone was inexperienced with it. Now, there is too much of a gap between experienced players and noobs which means the game cannot cater to both groups.

I actually quit Vanilla WoW when it became nothing but RNG loot quests. That is not how I wish to use my time. Many people disagreed. But this is also the same reason why I do not get into Diablo. There is definitely a link.

And I would totally play Vanilla WoW. Not for the nostalgia, but for the craftsmanship of that world. Some mechanics are outdated, but many have yet to be duplicated by anyone or anything in gaming. We hunger for Vanilla because it has something that current games do not. Let us eat it.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 16, 2016

Virtual Reality is wonderful!

If you watch anything, watch at the 10:00 mark. You’ll see why.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 16, 2016

Email: Re: My Little Ponies

Master Malstrom,

I wonder how many emails you’re going to get from fans refuting that email? Probably not too many, your blog isn’t really the type of thing the demographic would read. Or maybe I’m wrong and this email is just part of the flood.
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Anyway, as another person who watches the show, I feel like clarifying that guy’s rant.
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There was definitely an influx of “cult-like” lovers of the show and “community” during Seasons 1 & 2, who all to a large extent either left of calmed down (not sure which) by Season 3. These were the people who took “Love & Tolerate” (which was intended to be ironic) and tried very hard to turn it into a real thing, and also the originators of most of the brony stereotypes.
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“The fandom itself has basically died off as well, with only the true hardcore still sticking around, and despite the creed of “love and tolerate” they’re some of the most vile and horrible people on the internet.”
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I don’t think this guy has spent much time on the internet. What this guy is describing right here is called an “internet fandom”. They’re all equally awful. This makes me suspect the guy was one of the people who got caught up in the meta-community(?), or whatever you’d call it, during S1 & S2 and then got disillusioned to just find a normal place left behind when the “cult” people lost their energy to continue.
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As for my opinion of the show itself? The guy’s totally right, it’s objectively not very good. Actually, let me rephrase that: it’s objectively very good for its target audience of children, but obviously lacking compared to even OTHER CARTOONS aimed at a slightly older audience. What it does have going for it (the reason it became so popular, and why I personally watch it) is that it has some nebulous quality to it that makes it very pleasant to watch, kind of like a weekly lower-quality Disney or Pixar movie.
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The easiest way to understand it is to forget that the show is called “My Little Pony” for a moment, just ignore that it’s part of that atrocious franchise. If you think about what it actually is, then it’s a kids cartoon about talking animals getting involved in various hijinks, which is exactly the same description you could give to something like Looney Tunes. It’s easy to imagine an online fanbase of older teens and adults who love Looney Tunes, and the broad demographics of MLP fans is pretty much a mixture of that and anime fans. I find it’s easier to wrap your head around the existence of the fanbase when you think of it in those terms, rather than futility trying to understand how fucking My Little Pony has an adult fanbase.
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…For the record, Looney Tunes is much better.

.

OK.

 

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 15, 2016

Email: Even more NX rumors

It’s going around now that a lot of the Wii U’s biggest games are
going to be re-launched on the NX, like Smash Bros., Super Mario Maker
and Splatoon.

I think this is going to happen, along with the next Zelda game having
a simultaneous launch on both the Wii U and NX, for the simple fact
that you make more money selling the same games over and over again
than you do once. And Nintendo is a master of this by now.

What I don’t believe is that the Wii U and NX versions of these games
will be cross-compatible with each other, despite what some people are
claiming. Nintendo will want you to buy the NX and those versions of
the games, not have some people still playing the old ones. They will
simply do what Rockstar did when new versions of GTA V came out for
newer systems… abandon the old ones entirely. And in time, the
servers will be shut down, so for games like Super Mario Maker that
are almost entirely online-only… you’re SOL unless you get the newer
version of the game and system.

NX will probably have no backwards compatibility, and no Virtual
Console. The latter is being phased-out on the Wii U as it is now,
with nowhere near a lineup that the Wii had at the same point in its
lifespan.

 

No backwards compatibility seems likely. Ports of Wii U games seems likely. Zelda U on NX seems likely.

“But Malstrom? What does this have to do with OMG 3D and Virtual Reality?”

Reader, I’m glad you asked. Nintendo is all about OMG 3D and Virtual Reality. There are many sensible ways Nintendo can go. Based on last generation, we must assume that Nintendo will do the opposite and go full tilt toward their pet project. Since they did OMG 3D last generation, perhaps they will go Virtual Reality.

“This does not make any sense, Malstrom.”

We’re not talking about reality here, we are talking about Nintendo. The new Zelda game will be about anime and cutting grass in people’s lawns (because that is what Aonuma liked doing in Link to the Past). Also expect trains. Sakamoto will give us Other M 2 where he really explains to us Samus’s maternal instincts. Miyamoto has a sequel to Wii Music on the way as well as Pikmin 4. All these things will happen.

Hide your daughters! Hide your sons! It is coming!

“It’s not coming, Malstrom. This would be the stupidest thing for Nintendo to do.”

Based on Nintendo’s recent moves for the past decade, this is, alas, the most probable thing for it to do.

Above: Miyamoto is making this again to make sure we properly ‘get it’. We didn’t get it last time. We did not understand. Miyamoto will make us understand.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 15, 2016

Email: Truly, the Stellaris Hype is Real

In addition to the videos you’ve posted already, have you been watching the company’s Blorg play-through?

All Hail the Blorg! You will be befriended. Resistance is rude.

It’s particularly exciting that this seems like it may well be everything I hoped for from Maxis’ Spore only to be severely disappointed – really, I liked Spore up until the Space phase, at which point it all fell apart. Which was immensely disappointing since that was supposed to be the highlight and best part of the game, only to crash and burn in the worst possible way.

I’m especially looking forward to the potential of playing the one race that Spore really, truly killed for me – a race of all-devouring space locus, ready to devour all who stand in my path.

It’s exciting enough that I may well be willing to put up with Steam to play this game if need be. I’ve had an overwhelming resistance to Steam thus far, and would love if there were a way to play without Steam (which based on what I’ve heard is looking unlikely, unless you’ve heard otherwise), but for this? I just might be willing to put up with it, even if I wind up getting a relatively inexpensive secondary computer for it so I don’t have to infest my primary computer with Steam (boo, hiss!).

I’m particularly looking forward to your thoughts on the actual game itself once you’ve had a chance to actually play it, especially since you’ve stated you may get it at launch. If nothing else, I imagine that your far more enlightened thoughts on it and if it lives up to its potential to be far more accurate and trustworthy than what I’ll find anywhere else.

 

Thanks for the kind words, but I’ll probably wait on getting it at launch. Money is tight for me at the moment. We will see.

I am not happy with the Steam requirement too. Did you know that Take Two games are finally coming to GoG such as Railroad Tycoon? This means Civilization will be coming soon to GoG. I’ve been trying to eliminate all need of Steam from my system.

I am also preparing for the NX launch. I held off on Generation 8, but I may want to jump in with Generation 9. NX launch system with Zelda U, Smash U, and some other cool games? That is enticing. I’m really curious how their account system will be. How many times will I have to buy Super Mario Brothers?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 15, 2016

Email: Three years later: My Little Ponies

It’s been that long since you posted a few times about it, and I’ve
watched the entire series up to now and still watch it.

It is not the best series ever, by far, and aside from an episode or
two here and there, it’s fairly average or even mediocre. The fandom
itself has basically died off as well, with only the true hardcore
still sticking around, and despite the creed of “love and tolerate”
they’re some of the most vile and horrible people on the internet.

Which stands to reason, because the whole “brony” culture/meme only
started because of 4chan, which is one of the worst places on the
internet.

The “golden age” was probably the first two seasons. After that,
Hasbro decided to distance themselves from the bronies and went after
fan projects and episode uploads, which they turned a blind eye to
before because they were flabbergasted at the brony “response” (ie.
more money), and the fandom has steadily declined with every new
season. All that’s left now is basically the worst of it.

I know someone that used to spend some time writing fan fiction,
mostly for The Simpsons but also for some other things (mostly
cartoons). They were well-written, funny at times… but not enough
people read them. He fell into the trap of being more concerned about
being acknowledged and known than actually writing anything good, and
went to the Dark Side of fan fiction.

Porn. Specifically, pony porn at that. Since then I’ve lost any and
all respect for him. Sure, he has his “fame” now and is a moderator or
administrator at several high-profile pony sites, but he sold his damn
soul in more ways than one to get there. Because a staggeringly high
percentage of the pony fandom is obsessed with porn, so he took the
easy way out and almost exclusively catered to them. He has written a
few “normal” stories after that, but the damage is already done. I
hardly talk to him anymore and I don’t look at him the same way.

What I see as having happened is that, at first, there was a grace
period for this show in which it seemed to be the best thing in
existence. It was a way to escape reality and, more importantly, a way
to be accepted into a community where they felt like they belonged for
once.

But over time, the faults and cracks started showing, and the more
sensible people left and went on with their lives. Some still watched
the show but distanced themselves from the fandom, appalled by it, and
realized that it’s just a cartoon. A children’s cartoon at that, not
something that will “change your life” (which sounds like the opening
line to every cult ever).

What always annoyed me is that bronies are quick to jump and deride
something as being crap and/or girly, despite the fact they’re
watching a show well outside of their “age-bracket”. And on places
with mob mentality like Equestria Daily, you’re expected to go along
with the majority opinion at all times or they’ll crucify you. It’s
okay to have an opinion, so long as it’s the right one. Yes, “love and
tolerate” indeed.

Take something like Sailor Moon. It’s “girly”, yes, but with topics
and themes that veer into very serious territory, including death. It
is a far superior series to FiM in almost every way, and handles
things such as redemption much better. Nothing like that has happened,
or will ever happen, in Friendship is Magic. All it really takes for
someone to be forgiven there is to sing a song about it. Yet a lot of
bronies would probably dismiss it offhand.

Equestria Daily has a post up about “where the fandom will be in five
years”. The show will be over by then, a footnote, and aside from the
super hardcore everyone will have moved on. Ratings are lower and the
show is running on fumes as it is when it comes to story-lines.
Personally, I hope the show ends soon. It had a good run, mostly in
the early seasons.

Don’t know if you’ll post this on your site, but these are some of my
thoughts and experiences over the whole issue.

 

So the bronies were just hipsters that were interested in something while it was shiny? You mean friendship ISN’T magic?

But where will the bronies go? The destruction of My Little Ponies is like the destruction of Zha’dum, the dark servants will make a home somewhere else.

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