Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 6, 2016

Blizzard closes Nostalrius server

Hey! Look at this!

It’s Vanilla WoW! Sounds like fun!

But oh! Blizzard tells us we don’t know what we want.

Fuck Blizzard. They just don’t want to admit that their new expansions suck, and that they don’t know how to properly evolve the game.

Nintendo had the same temper tantrum. Nintendo thought older games were ‘terrible’ and only liked by nostalgia. But they designed the Wii as a NES, Wii Sports with NES sports games in mind, even put out some new 2d Marios, and the result was astounding.

This does not mean Vanilla WoW is the pinnacle of gameplay, it means that there is SOMETHING in Vanilla WoW that is MISSING in modern WoW. What is it? What could it be? I don’t know. The reader doesn’t know. And Blizzard certainly doesn’t know.

But there is only one way to find out.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 5, 2016

Email: This ‘generation’ was terrible

Dear Master Malstrom,

With all this talk of the upcoming “next generation” of consoles coming out soon, I ask “when is this gen going to get STARTED?”

Xbox One has done nothing to separate itself from its identity crises with being “not the PS4 or PC” and still not deliver on any of its big games. How do you mess up porting old halo games on your system? What was the point of announcing games to later cancel them like Fable Legends and Phantom Dust? All the Xbox One has being used for is “I get to play games that run worst on my system rather than just paying for the PS4 or PC version.” or “Don’t worry, Microsoft is pretty much abandoning this system to chase after PC users…what’s that? I need Windows 10 to play those games? Never mind.” It feels like the system was a waste of time and money.

Then we get to Nintendo. Who first off gave the system to worst possible name ever, confusing customers thinking it was an extension to the Wii rather than a whole new system. With a giant ugly controller that practically only 3 games use well and with their brilliant negotiations skills killed off all interest from third party leaving the system with one of the biggest software droughts I have witnessed since the GameCube! Who was the Wii-U for? If you were a 3D Mario fan expecting another game of Galaxy’s quality? Too fucking bad have an up-scaled version of the 3DS game instead! 2D mario fan? *laughs* You already know the drill, you get the table scraps with the “New” series despite selling more! Where’s Zelda? Oh right! Its not here yet and most likely come out the same time as the NX launch date! The only saving grace this system actually got itself some good exclusives and free online gaming because everything else is shit. The controller, the online store, how backwards compatibility is handled. I bet Nintendo thanks God ever day Sony screwed up royally with the Vita despite Nintendo themselves messed up with the 3DS’s design in the first place! Again the 3DS getting the games that SHOULD be on the Wii-U but isn’t.

Lastly, Sony. Who thought they were smart to release a handheld that uses custom overpriced SD cards and costs just as much as a PS3 to build, it had disaster written all over it. Then we get to the PS4, where Sony keep reminding us of its awesome sales, but then uses none of that money to actually get itself any exclusives! If I can play those PS4 exclusives on PC, there not exclusive! Again, the main point of buying a system is for exclusive content! I don’t buy consoles just to play buggy AAA third party titles when I can get them for much cheaper on PC to be fixed by free mods! Sony seems more interested in pushing its VR headset, which is over priced and then running off to make a new system rather than give the current owners actual fucking content!

Third party’s are also to blame for why this generation is terrible. Over promising and under delivering is the norm for this industry now! Even the act of selling games uncompleted and demanding MORE MONEY with basically an I.O.U promise (they don’t legally have to finish the product after you bought it) is distressing! I *HATE* this industry standard! I have absolutely no faith any more with the majority of the current industry when it comes to delivering a finished, working product!

So I decided to just stick to PC gaming and re-buying older systems and games. Because I’m tired of this gen and it hasn’t even reached its 4th or 5th year…

 

Yeah, I get much more satisfaction from buying an older retro system these days than the garbage that is out now. It wasn’t like that in Generation 7.

Iwata would ask you, “Why do you now want to buy our game console?” and then listen to your reply. Today, Nintendo will say, “What is wrong with you?” and insult your tastes and preferences. “You must like Fire Emblem to enjoy our console,” and “Zelda is all about puzzles, what is wrong with you?” and “Stop trying to buy discs, buy digital downloads only!”

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 5, 2016

Tracer pose lives on in Heroes of the Storm

Did you hear about the Tracer ‘butt’ ruckus with Blizzard? Now, you do. The fans are even having fun with it (that link is not safe for work!).

Check out Tracer’s poses with the Specter skin. The blue one is the one they took out of Overwatch, and the other one is quite interesting too. Blizzard is such a large company, but the grunt people there know what is going on.

Above: Look how Tracer flaunts her sexuality in that blue skin pose. Oh, the Humanity! Our daughters will be forever scarred!

BTW, the original complaint was a father trying to say that Tracer to be a ‘role model’ for his daughter, which makes me wonder WHEN DID VIDEO GAME CHARACTERS EVER BECOME ROLE MODELS? They aren’t even real. They do not exist.

“But Malstrom…!”

I know, I know.

Remember when people complained video games had too much ‘violence’ in them? Now, they complain that the women are too hot in them!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 2, 2016

Generation 9 will soon begin…

It’s coming guys. Generation 9.

Generation 8 started with the launch of 3DS in 2011 which is FIVE YEARS AGO. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, in a few months, will soon be three years old. Generation 9 is upon us.

Listen to the whisper of the markets:

“The market is predicted to grow with the launch of various next-generation consoles. Nintendo is set to launch their next-generation gaming consoles in 2016, which will drive the growth of the market in 2017. Post 2019, Xbox and PS4 are also predicted to launch their next-generation gaming consoles over the next four years,” – Soumya Mutsuddi, one of Technavio’s lead research analysts for gaming.

Note the word ‘next generation’.

Note the plural form of ‘consoles‘. Oooohhhhhh.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 1, 2016

Email: The Otaku-ization of Nintendo?

Greetings Malstrom

I’ve seen a few of your posts about Nintendo and Japanese culture, and how Nintendo embracing them could lead to their demise etc

I’ve noticed some strange things that could suggest this…

Yu Ayasaki in Mario Maker, if I played Super Mario Maker with a bunch of my friends, I would CRINGE if I ever played a level with this character. Did Nintendo put her in their flagship franchise for market growth? I can’t see anybody outside the gaming scene taking kindly to this.

Project X Zone 2 has Lucina and Chrom from Fire Emblem and Fiora from Xenoblade Chronicles (both games have anime artstyles), Project X Zone 2 has the whole spoken dialogue in JAPANESE for the Western release, no English voice actors, this game was clearly made for Otakus only. Nintendo may have put these characters in response to a request from Namco Bandai, or they really wanted their characters in a Japanese ridden game.

With these recent events and the Otaku-ization of Zelda and possibly Metroid, along with Nintendo’s focus on profits. Maybe your fears may become true. Splatoon for example, is very popular in Japan, the ‘Squid Sisters’ concerts and the big Japanese playerbase only (I’ve played games online where I’m the only player who does not have a Japanese name, you won’t see that in Call of Duty or Battlefield). With that new IP selling well, albeit not moving hardware units, Nintendo may be on this Otaku path.

Just some stuff I was concerned about these past few days and wanted to share with you, could all of this suggest that Nintendo may become fully Otaku-ed or am I just fretting too much?

 

With the NPD numbers out, it has Fire Emblem in the top ten (behind Minecraft of course). But, if you combine EVERY type of Fire Emblem sku of that title, you would get a larger number. If they can add a but, so can I. BUT you must differentiate CUSTOMERS and SALES. How many of those sales were unique customers? Many people were buying multiple ‘collector editions’ and other copies to sell. I know this because I know people who are doing this. I do not mind because I got some old Fire Emblem games from a garage sale (trash) which can now be sold at hundreds of dollars. I am looking at you, Path of Radiance from Gamecube. There is a difference between SALES and CUSTOMERS. You want to make CUSTOMERS. You do NOT want to increase sales with the same or dwindling number of customers. The sales collapse is inevitable and will come sharply.

While I do think Nintendo is being Otaku-ized, I think this merely a part of a growing problem for the video game industry.

The first game makers were NORMAL PEOPLE. Shigeru Miyamoto got a degree in INDUSTRIAL DESIGN. I can guarantee you that game developers today know shit about industrial design or industrial experience. They think it is ‘beneath them’. But if it was good enough for Miyamoto, why do they think they are ‘above it’? Miyamoto also interacted with people. Miyamoto would do his bluegrass type playing.

Sid Meir, Will Wright, and all the rest, they have life experiences before they went into video games. These life experiences helped make the games better.

Today’s game developers do not have life experiences. Their life experiences are video games which is why every new game seems like an old game.

I have observed a strange phenomenon with computer geeks, or, rather, those who merge with their machines. They get absorbed into ‘geek culture’. They think ‘geek culture’ is ‘real culture’. They literally begin to think they are geniuses. I watch computer programmers watch something like ‘Cosmos’ and then believe they are at the level of astrophysicists. The narcissism is extreme. The narcissism also creates an effeminate rot. By effeminacy, I do not mean ‘girl like’ or feminine, I mean the antithesis of any gender. It is a weakness of spirit.

They did not go to the video game industry to make video games. They came to the video game industry for eternal adolescence. They may be adolescents, their co-workers may be adolescents, but the PAYING CUSTOMERS are not. The customers have to live in the real world. The real world is an industrial world. It is a world of trucks, of dirt, of violence, of grit, and of many things these adolescents have no experience. They have a loosey-goosiness that makes them insufferable to be around. In conversations, they are always geniuses. I also believe original developers can be infected by this too.

Look at the most illustrative example of Sakamoto and Other M. The entire story and vision of Other M requires an audacity that makes someone believe they are a genius. Do you know what the difference between an intellectual and a genius is? The genius holds a mirror up to nature allowing us to see how it works. The intellectual tries to shine and sparkle like a wonderful pretty stone. This is why I do not like Game Gods. Game Gods are presented as if all goodness flows through them. Instead, good games work because they successfully hold a mirror up to Human nature. The game is not good because the developer is ‘magical’. The game is good because it successfully massages the gamer.

I’m becoming very concerned because software dens are not just ‘geek worlds’, but that they see and respect no other world than ‘geek world’. They have no ballast. They have no connection to reality. Finance, which an expression of reality, is despised because it brings in business models, cashflow, profit, and all that. “We don’t want to make customers. We want to make the games we want to make.” In other words, we wish to stay in the sanctuary of geek land.

One thing about the Wii revolution was that it was anti-geek. I believe this is why it was so despised.

Do you know what hardcore gamers are? They are geeks. They are only given the label of hardcore by marketing departments who want these fools to keep buying their crappy games. Most ‘hardcore’ gamers hate their jobs, hate their existence, and wish to live in ‘Geek Land’ which is what the video games represent to them.

As video game developers become more child-like, their products are going to reflect being a man-child. I believe this, more than anything, creates the stigma against video games. There was no stigma against Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, Tetris, Wii Sports, or Wii Fit. The only stigma that came against something like Wii Sports was from geek culture, i.e. the ‘hardcore’ gamers.

The best thing a video game company can do is to destroy their geek culture and bring their developers screaming into the real world. Imagine what video games they would make then! Imagine the new markets they would reach! Imagine the new gamers it would create. But no, the only customers they want are other geeks. Video game industry has become a geek culture providing entertainment to a geek culture.

Hipster-ization of gaming. This is what is happening. This is why you will not admit you are a gamer in public.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 1, 2016

Email: Can Nintendo Regain Disruptive Momentum?

Sean,

Nintendo performed an excellent disruptive strategy when it released the Wii. But it didn’t follow through the entire Wii generation, and continued to fail in the Wii U generation.

If we are generous and assume Nintendo learned the right lesson, is it too late? If they make the console that is a worthy successor to the Wii (and NES) that we love, I’m sure their sales will go up.

But can their build on their disruptive success? To get mainstream, casual, and lapsed gamers and non-gamers to buy a console after the Wii U? I am biased to try it out. But would the 100 million who bought Wiis return?

If they make a good console, and if they have good games coming out, I would love to buy a console after skipping the Wii U. But how hard will Nitnendo have to work to convince people who bought the Wii to buy yet another gaming system if that’s not a big motivator in their lives?

 

Can Nintendo regain disruptive momentum?

That is the wrong question.

The question I am asking is whether Nintendo wants disruptive momentum.

Nintendo was only interested in disruptive growth IF it created growth in the games Nintendo developers wish to make. These games would be Gamecube-esque, OMG 3d games, and even Virtual Reality. This is where Nintendo wants to go.

But where did disruption lead the Nintendo market? It did not lead to greater growth of 3d Mario or Sakamoto Metroid. One can argue if it grew Aonuma Zelda, I say it didn’t seeing the sales of Zelda DS and the awful art style. The growth was in sports games from Wii Sports to various EA sports. The growth was in fitness games like Wii Fit. The growth was in racing games like Mario Kart. The growth was in platform games like 2d Mario. This is NOT what Nintendo wanted. Nintendo was stunned that 2d Mario would sell so much, and they tried very hard to convert 2d Mario gamers to 3d Mario gamers (even giving out instructional DVDs in Japan and Europe on how to play 3d Mario. No joke!).

My hypothesis: Nintendo drops all disruption because disruption doesn’t lead to Nintendo making the games it wants to make. Iwata had to fight this. Nintendo developers didn’t want to make Brain Age and games like Nintendogs.

Is it any wonder that the handheld and console following the DS and Wii high was 3DS (OMG 3d!) and Wii U (OMG Gamecube games in HD!)? It cannot be any accident. I think Nintendo thought many of the Wii market would move to Wii U which Nintendo could transmute to sales of the games they want to make.

Does anyone want Pikmin 4? Anyone? Pikmin 3 came because Miyamoto declared it after a poor E3 2008 conference (where development hadn’t even started). I know this because there was no Iwata Asks for Pikmin 3 because it would have all come out.

No one wanted Metroid Other M except Sakamoto.

No one wanted Zelda: Skyward Sword of Aonuma-ized ‘world is a puzzle’ garbage.

Did anyone really want another Mario Galaxy? Come on.

I believe Nintendo will exist in two ways. One side will be the sell out part which makes mobile games, merchandising, or whatever it is to make money. The other side will keep continuing their 3d/virtual reality mission and making Gamecube/Wii U games. NX will have sequels to Wii U games, not sequel to Wii games. I guarantee it.

Has Nintendo made any declaration of market growth? No. Just ‘profits’. There is zero emphasis on growing the market because those are the WRONG TYPE OF GAMERS. Those gamers do not buy 3d Mario and Sakamoto Metroid.

Nintendo consoles are at the risk of joining pinball machines. Sure, there are new ones made and there are fans, but they no longer have a connection to mainstream society.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 29, 2016

The Disruption of Newspapers

Here it is. Note how cannibalism is slowing down their demise.

Remember Miyamoto’s quote?

We started work on the Wii around the time the GameCube went on sale in 2001. [Internally, the Wii had the codename “Revolution.”] We started with the idea that we wanted to come up with a unique game interface. The consensus was that power isn’t everything for a console. Too many powerful consoles can’t coexist. It’s like having only ferocious dinosaurs. They might fight and hasten their own extinction.

Now look at this:

Originally, I wanted a machine that would cost $100. My idea was to spend nothing on the console technology so all the money could be spent on improving the interface and software. If we hadn’t used NAND flash memory [to store data such as games and photos] and other pricey parts, we might have succeeded.

To answer your questions, yes, we set out to design a console that would sell for less than 25,000 yen ($211). It was a tall hurdle. But unless you start off with a target, you can’t control costs and you’ll inevitably lose money. Also, we thought a low-cost console would make moms happy.

The Wii flew off shelves because it was $250 and included Wii Sports. Nintendo made a ton of money off the Wii. I hope Nintendo does a similar approach. I can build a kickass PC that has power, but I want a console to not be that expensive. Cheap hardware, with quality interface, will work well.

Now listen to this:

We had to compromise on graphics and give up on a powerful chip. Many of our employees initially wanted high-definition graphics. But they agreed with us that graphics wouldn’t matter if the games weren’t fun to play. That said, the Wii is much faster than the GameCube.

As new chip technology becomes available, we’ll consider less power-hungry varieties that don’t cost too much. And once high-definition TVs take off, we’ll consider the merits of better graphics and more power.

Oh, the bold! Nintendo developers are no different than any other developer. “We want teh HD graphics, derp derp derp.” This is why they do not run the company.

I think the 3DS and Wii U was what the Nintendo developers wanted. They spent EXPENSIVE money on OMG 3d technology. They spent EXPENSIVE money on the Gamepad. Why? Wii and DS were not expensive hardware. DS hardware really came down in prices as screen prices got better as did its technology.

Give me cheap any day. We buy consoles to get to the games, not to get to the hardware.

The NX might allow cheap hardware to be made again. We will see.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 28, 2016

Email: Console “Exclusives” Have been a Joke Since 2005

Ironically what accelerated the death of Japanese software craftsmanship was the demise of Sega’s presence in the console market. Like Nintendo being the only dedicated gaming console company left in the industry, Sega was the last bastion of hope for arcade hardware innovation at the turn of the century since SNK’s Neo-geo hardware was already getting long in the tooth by that point and it didn’t look like they were going to make any new arcade hardware (heck, they were squeezing their Neo-geo hardware’s limits all the way to around 2003, I believe), Capcom stopped their own custom arcade boards because they were relying on Sega’s hardware by then (which is why most of Capcom’s best arcade games ended up on the Dreamcast or its arcade counterpart), and before Namco merged with Bandai they were mostly a Sony-exclusive developer so most of their arcade games used PlayStation-based hardware to power their titles to make it easier to port to.

With Sega becoming only a software developer and publishing company from then on, the arcade hardware that popped up during Console Generation 7 and beyond are nothing more than off-the-shelf PC parts cobbled together running some special version of Windows XP Embedded. The irony of this is the fact that these arcade machines running Windows XP Embedded would also have games made for it that would end up becoming exclusives to Sony’s gaming systems. A recent example of this kind of absurdity would be Street Fighter V: the arcade hardware runs on Windows APIs, but Sony paid money for it to be a timed console exclusive on the PS4, but you can buy the game on a PC running… Windows? Not only that, but you can also run said Windows copy of Street Fighter 5, go online, and then square off against someone running the game on their PS4. But you can’t buy a copy of Street Fighter V on the Xbone because of a legal reason, not a technical one.

On a side note, just showing you that example above, I also find it really strange that there haven’t been much news in regards to emulation for arcade hardware released in the past 7 years, especially since all of the arcade games released at that time aren’t running on hardware and software that isn’t that much different from what you’re using to run Windows on. Or a Mac. Also, you are correct that the prices of the HD consoles are actually a lot lower because Microsoft and Sony deliberately take a hit on the hardware price in order to make up for it with software purchases and micro transactions. If they followed Apple’s/Nintendo’s business model where they have to make a positive ROI on their console hardware sales, we’d be seeing Xbone and PS4 prices getting close to iPad Pro and 12 inch Macbook ranges.

 

Old way: Buy this game because it is addictive fun. You buy more games to have more addictive fun.

New way: Addictive fun makes you buy more shit. Games aren’t designed around having addictive fun, games are designed around shops.

Old way: Buy ticket to go on rollercoaster.

 

New way: Ride rollercoaster that takes you to gift shop where elevated highs maked you buy shit.

Is this where we want gaming to go? Everything feels wrong.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 28, 2016

Email: “Poor man’s PCs”

Consoles were “poor man’s arcades” to a large degree and that didn’t
seem to hinder consoles at all. What is inherently bad about a “poor
man’s PC” in the current market? Is it the philosophy that you
personally dislike, or do you think that it’s a business misstep?

I’ll refer to PS4 because that’s what I own. I don’t know if XBox can do
this stuff too. I can access a good assortment of “indie” games as well
as yearly blockbusters. Streaming and video recording are built-in and
easy to access, unlike PC. If I want to play a local co-op game (even if
it has no online functionality) I can share play with a buddy and play
online anyway.

Granted, I’m not saying that a PC gamer should jump over to such a
console. I’m not trying to say that such a console blows PC out of the
water. But it’s a convenient piece of kit. I’ve been a gamer since DOS
but have mostly moved away from PC due to the convenience of console.

And then we have VR. Let’s set aside whether or not “now is the time for
VR”. On PC, VR is $600 plus another $700+ for the PC itself (in order to
meet the minimum requirements). PS4 + VR comes in at about $800 total.
If someone really wanted VR, they have the option of a much cheaper
“poor man’s VR” too.

Why shouldn’t there be a market for inexpensive “PC Lite” consoles that
perform many of the functions of a gaming PC?

 

The PC Lite market doesn’t exist. It is entirely subsidized by PC companies such as Microsoft and Sony. The true price of the PC Lite machine exceeds your typical PC.

Nintendo consoles have never been ‘underpowered’. They simply are not subsidized. They reflect the actual console market. The reason why Nintendo is doing their funky control and output stuff is because they are competing against giant Goliath companies who are basically price manipulating the console market with their machines.

This subsidization of consoles has made consoles not cool and dorky. Console gaming lost their mojo when the subsidization hit. PC gaming also lost its mojo with the console subsidization as PC games are no longer designed for the PC. Gaming, as a whole, is suffering for it.

The Xbox was not designed to make gaming great. It was designed to keep game developers on Microsoft’s software architecture. The PlayStation was not designed to make gaming great. Kuturagi specifically aimed it to attack and destroy Microsoft (which is why Microsoft entered the marketed in the first place).

What purpose do the consoles serve now that Microsoft and Sony do not seem to be at war any longer? Nothing. This is why Xbox gaming will become Windows 10 gaming. PlayStation gaming will become something else not tied to a console.

The telling moment is that no one is interested in expanding the gaming population, corrected for population growth and independent household formation, than Nintendo. Sony and Microsoft should have been making their own Wiis in 2006, but they were not interested in expanding gaming. They were interested in expanding their corporate sphere of influence.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | March 28, 2016

Nintendo is making the wrong remakes

Wind Waker? Twilight Princess? No.

Remember this game?

This was a remake, in a way, of the first three Mario games plus including Lost Worlds. They were in 16 bit graphics. Ooohhhhh. Even the reader is impressed.

How about a Zelda All-Stars?

    

Zelda BS showed us Zelda 1 with 16 bit graphics. How cool would it be in HD PLUS a map editor. Ooooohhhhhh.

   

Imagine Zelda 2 in HD. Since the game is so basic, a Second Quest could be included with, perhaps, a new weapon or spell.

  

Link to the Past is awesome. A HD remake could be cool. I can’t think of anything to change except maybe a greater difficulty option. Unlike the first two Zeldas, the LTTP is more complicated and adding new levels wouldn’t be as easy.

Link’s Awakening could use a redo.

Seriously, four of the first Zeldas on one game copy, complete with possible additional second quests, could be very phenomenal. So why hasn’t it been done? The Mario All-Stars one has been re-released and still sells. Why not a Zelda All-Stars?

“Hello. My name is Aonuma. I hate Legend of Zelda. I hate Zelda 2. I only like Link to the Past because you can cut grass. Link’s Awakening I like because I could do crazy stuff that made no sense. Ha. Ha. Ha. I am a genius. Fuck you guys. The only Zelda we will ever promote or remake is MY version of Zelda… the Zelda of puzzles and character stories. This arcade action and RPG stuff has no place in Zelda!”

Oh. Well then.

How about a Metroid All-Stars? Metroid could use some love. Imagine!

  

Update it to HD. Give us a save game. Give us ways to recharge our health faster than shooting bugs out of pipes. Keep the gameplay. Let people see how awesome this game is.

Oh, the music!

 

Metroid II could use a remake. Just make it HD, keep everything else the same, and perhaps modify the level design so it is not so linear. Just make sure the remake has no dialogue.

 

Imagine a Super Metroid HD. Perhaps a new area could be added or some other feature. The game has aged like wine.

Oh, the music!

Perhaps a Metroid All-Stars might even include Fusion and Zero Mission. Five games on one copy!

So why haven’t we had a Metroid All-Stars? Why not have younger generation discover Metroid?

“Hello! I am Sakamoto! Metroid games are about Samus Aran’s feelings now. The old games do not exist and should never be represented ever again.”

Dear Nintendo: please let Retro take care of Metroid All-Stars. I do not trust that Sakamoto!

I would take Metroid All-Stars any day over Federation Force or Other M. Let’s make it happen, gamers!

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