Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 5, 2016

Nintendo’s tone deafness is a bad sign

Above: The reason why I don’t do Youtube videos is because I would act and sound just like Hitler in the above video.

One of the big problems I see with Generation 9 ever being a ‘Revolution’ type success is how defiant and tone deaf Nintendo has recently been. Before Generation 7 began, Nintendo was quite contrite. The DS was Nintendo’s panic about a Sony domination of the handheld market. With the lack of 2d Mario for decades, I kept wondering how we could let Nintendo know that it is what we wanted. But this was never the issue. It was what the developers wanted, not what the fans or market wanted. There is a reason why every 2d Mario has been half assed.

“Does Nintendo know what Metroid is?” They do. They just don’t like it. There can be no other explanation.

We could blame Other M on crazy Sakamoto. But Federation Force shows that the Metroid problem is beyond the individual developer personality. There is something very wrong inside Nintendo, on the Board of Directors, that is allowing such garbage to get through.

You and I know what Metroid is. Metroid is about going into a very hostile and mysterious alien world, upgrading yourself, finding cool shit, and killing scary monsters. Metroid has a very rich atmosphere. There is nothing cutesy or cartoonish about Metroid which might explain why Nintendo hates it.

Above: Ahh, Metroid.

It is hard to see the future of a generation. But I see Generation 9 being very mixed and riddled with problems. Nintendo’s problems come about from declaring ‘truths’ to themselves at the Nintendo Board of Directors. It goes something like this:

Generation 8 Board of Directors-

“How are you, gentlemen! Now is the time for 3d!”

*Board of Directors stands, applauds, and repeats verbatim*

“Now. Is. The. Time. For. 3d.”

Then we got the 3DS which had a tepid market reaction.

“Hey, let us make a Gamecube HD with connectivity controller, graft on Wii branding, and sell it.”

“Sounds like an amazing idea. Let’s do it!”

“Yeah!”

And then we get the disaster of the Wii U.

Do you know what they are saying right now in the Board of Director meetings, reader? I am not present, but I can already tell.

“IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP!”

Like a little chihuahua.

“IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! ”

Where I am going with this is that IP is Nintendo’s religion for this generation. Nintendo no longer seems interested in real business plans. Nintendo seems operating underneath a fantastical ideology that is more likened as a religion. In this case, the Gospel is “IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! IP! ”

Nintendo will be in denial about Federation Force because the failure of Federation Force shows that the IP god is a false god. Under Nintendo’s IP religion, Nintendo believes it can separate the IP from the game, build a new game around that IP, and then sell the game just fine. It is a type of IP ‘seeding’. But it is not working with Federation Force.

It is because Metroid is not Samus Aran and not Metroids. Metroid is the game. You remove Metroid gameplay, you no longer have a Metroid game.

Look at 2d Pikmin side scroller. Who asked for this? This is another example of Nintendo’s IP religion in action. Nintendo separated the IP from Pikmin from its gameplay, and then placed it onto another genre altogether. Will it work? No. It will not work.

“But they took Mario and put him in go carts and sports!”

It is not Mario that we like but Mushroom Land itself. Whether we are playing sports, driving go carts, or platformering in Mushroom Land, it is all similar.

If I’m right about this, we are going to see many Nintendo IPs removed from their games and placed on top of very different games. Nintendo is going to behead their franchises and place their heads on different bodies.

“Innovation!”

And these entertainers think they are geniuses!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 5, 2016

The Blizzcon Diablo announcement will be World of Diablo

How do I know this? It is because I am the Malstrom. I think it is pretty clear that this is going to be it.

It is unlikely to be Diablo 3 expansion. There already is a Diablo 3 expansion, and there is no need to expand Diablo 3 anymore. The free content patches since then seem to be the aborted Diablo 3 second expansion anyway. Blizzard is not satisfied with Diablo 3 especially with its rocky history (“Fuck that loser” Jay Wilson). They do not want Diablo 3 to be the definition of Diablo.

It is unlikely to be a Diablo 2 HD remake, though that might be an additional goodie as a marketing device, because Blizzard hates the defunct Blizzard North. They want to make THEIR game, not remake Blizzard North’s game.

It is unlikely to be Diablo 4, in the way we mean it as a traditional Diablo, because the traditional Diablo model is dead. Blizzard is not interested in making a cinematic game that can be played in single player. Ironically, Starcraft 2 will likely be the last ‘single player’ game possible.

It is going to be World of Diablo. I would be shocked if it was anything but that. Here are the reasons why.

One, Blizzard North originally wanted Diablo 3 to be a MMORPG. This is such a good idea, the new ARPG games are doing it anyway. Blizzard recognizes the genius of Blizzard North  and will do this.

Two, World of Warcraft is dying. If Blizzard doesn’t cannibalize the WoW market, someone else will.

Three, the brand of Diablo is in bad shape after Diablo 3. Diablo 3’s expansion and patches since have helped repair it, but the game was designed around a Jay “Fuck that loser” Wilson and a Real-Money Auction House. Blizzard loves milking its franchises, but do we want to stick with Diablo 3 for a decade or two? No.

Four, there is some stiff competition coming out. Blizzard better deal with it fast because the competitors can steal away the Diablo market. Lineage Eternal is one of the games, but I am eyeing Lost Ark.

Above: This game looks too good to be true!

A World of Diablo would be available on every platform in some manner. It could be F2P with some sort of monetization scheme.

Look at Blizzard’s franchises. They all are doing well in their market except for one: Diablo. Diablo faces stiff competition. I suspect, and Blizzard does as well, that more competition is on the way. Titan’s Quest anniversary edition seems like a marketing way to reintroduce Titan’s Quest franchise to prepare for its actual sequel. Blizzard doesn’t have to be DONE with Diablo MMO, it just has to announce it so Diablo fanbase will not run off to the competitors.

“But Malstrom! But Malstrom!” cries the reader. “Reaper of Souls came out in 2014. It is too soon for a Diablo MMO. It is too soon for any announcement!”

Well, Frozen Throne came out in 2003. World of Warcraft was announced in 2004.

Besides, what else are they going to announce at Blizzcon? Nothing much for Heroes (arena?). Starcraft 2 won’t have much. Hearthstone has maybe some more expansions? WoW already has its expansion just out. HD remasters are not going to excite people, neither will an expansion pack. It has to be Diablo 4. And Diablo 4 will be a MMORPG.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 4, 2016

Email: nes-mini a nx trojan horse

Hello Master Malstrom:

I have been following with amusement all of the back and forth on Neogaf. The hardcore are in meltdown mode about active cooling, and dev kits and flops, throwing out speculation and rumor as fact. I think they are missing a larger part of the NX picture, one that has nothing to with specs.

Its the NES-Mini.

It dawned on me that the NES mini serves a few purposes. Obviously it will make obscene profits, but I think that is only one reason for its existence. Another one of its functions is be to bring lapsed gamers back into the Nintendo ecosystem.

I think the real function of the Mini is to release as many classic NES controllers back into gamers hands as possible for use on the NX virtual console.

For years, the Wii and 3ds virtual consoles have aggravated my friends and I because of imprecise controls. No matter what we used, whether it was Wii remote or classic controller or gamepad, it just didn’t add up to satisfying control. My friends and I would say stuff like “if they just released all those old controllers for use on the VC, they could make a killing”

Now it is a reality. These controllers will be sold separately for ten dollars. After the gamers have played the 30 games on the mini, where will they go next?

NX Virtual console.

The virtual console slowed to a drip in the last few years because Nintendo could not figure out the best way to monetize it. Now they have figured it out. The Nes mini is using usb ports. The NX is using usb ports. It all fits.

The GCN adapter for Smash Bros on Wii U was just research for this next phase. Nintendo does not think in the short term. They are very smart. People think they just release products for no good reason. But even when they release a stinker like Wii U, they are constantly test marketing, trying to figure stuff out.

Anyway, after the reveal the stock will dip briefly, then I will buy some and hang on for the ride.

 

You raise a good point. What is the purpose of the NES Mini?

Above: Play it reader. Think. Think hard.

A. To make easy profit for Nintendo.

B. Just as mobile games are to channel smartphone players to NX, NES-Mini is to channel lapsed gamers to NX.

C. To create a new market space in the China-retro-console area.

D. To popularize classic gaming as Nintendo consoles fuel from classic gaming renaissances more than anyone else.

What shall it be reader?

“Gee, I don’t know.”

You have three lifelines available. You can see market research on the gaming market, phone a friend, or call on the wisdom of past Nintendo presidents.

“I want to see market research on the gaming market!”

 Mintel has a report on how the gaming market longs for a time when gaming was not just about graphics, that there is much nostalgia about cartridge based systems.

“Hmm….”

Are you ready for an answer?

“I’m still unsure. I want to see the wisdom of past Nintendo Presidents.”

Very well…

For young players, classic games are brand new. For older players, they bring back memories and make you feel good. - Satoru Iwata

“I still don’t know…”

You have one lifeline available.

“I know! I’ll call my friend, Mr. Hardcore Gamer!”

*ring ring*

“Yo! Wut’s that!? Interrupting my game!!!!! Foo!”

“Mr. Hardcore Gamer…?”

“Yo! Yo!”

“I have a question. Do you know what the purpose of the NES Mini is?”

“Wha’s that????”

“Remake of an old console.”

“Oh! You mean like dah Xbox! Dang man! THAT SHIT SO OLD!”

“Uh… older…”

“No way, man! Probably stupid fly! Just easy profit for dah company! If Nintendo knew what it was doing, it would make an Xbox, yo! Now get on dah Xbox Live, we got some Call O Dooty to play!”

*hangs up*

“Thank Mr. Hardcore Gamer. I am so glad I called him. He seems to know all the answers to gaming.”

Have you decided your final answer?

“I have. It is A: Make easy profit for Nintendo.”

Is that your final answer?

“Uh huh.”

You’re kidding.

“Nope.”

Well, you blew it, reader. Believer it or not, the answer was B: to market such gamers to the NX.

“Noooo! It can’t be! Your people must be wrong. It has to be…”

Sorry, reader, but you blew it. Stay tuned again next week for another episode of ‘What is Nintendo’s Strategy?’ See you then!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 3, 2016

No Mario’s Sky

A brilliant parody and shows that 2d Mario makes everything better.What is Nintendo’s reaction to this? They are probably astonished because Nintendo views Mario games as ‘handcrafted level designs’ and this is procedural generated levels. I bet Nintendo is very, very curious how gamers react to this, and they will keep the lawyers off this thing until they have to take it down to protect their IP.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | September 3, 2016

The lack of mythos in gaming

Without knowing Alice in Wonderland, there would be no Super Mario Brothers. Without knowing Alien, there would be no Metroid. Without knowing medieval history, there would be no RPGs. Without knowing military history, there would be no strategy games.

One of my first articles I ever wrote offered a paradigm shift that instead of viewing video games as a fountain of culture, that video games are better seen as users of culture. It is extremely difficult to make a video game. It is a majestic technical feat. Anyone who says otherwise has never tried to make a video game. Those who are able to do the undertaking of making a video game are not generators of the mythos inside these games. Video game developers being very intelligent and curious have been connoisseurs of culture from books, movies, TV shows, and music. Much of what they ‘find cool’ goes into the game. The beautiful gamer is often very young and is exposed to this ‘culture’ for the first time. While innovative and addicting gameplay using current technology is necessary, the magic of gaming requires that cultural transmission.

There are certain trends in gaming I do not like. One of them is that with larger and larger crews, there is less possibility for the eccentricity of the individualistic cultural tastes. The game’s mythos seems like a chewing on a bland sock (which is what it feels like when you try many types of pieces of gum at once). The other, more scary trend is that game developers today lack culture. The culture they know is from older video games.

I can complain about this all day long, but I wish to offer an example of how different things can be.

Take a look at this book. The High Crusade is already over fifty years old. The book is about medieval knights going against aliens. What a clash of cultures there! It is a premise that is far more interesting and entertaining than the super serious and overdone ones we see today.

“But Malstrom,” you say, “This is stupid. Knights cannot against aliens with their super technology.” The point is to not underestimate such primitive people such as these knights. Is this premise any different than your typical RPG game or Zelda game? Is not every RPG just a ‘small town boy’ who learns ‘the ways of a knight’ to against Ancient EEEEEVIL with Super-Duper Technology?

Above: Knight against Futuristic Technology

As readers know, I frame Science Fiction Versus Mythology as thus:

Science Fiction is that further in the future, the more technology civilization becomes.

Mythology is that further back in time, the more technology civilization used to be.

One of the great things about the movie Idiocracy is that it reveals how our default mindset is science fiction. In an Idiocracy world, ancient civilization would seen as ‘higher tech’ or, at least, the people would be seen as having higher IQs.

I like the idea of a video game that instead of knights against a mythological power, it is knights against a science fiction power. It would work very well as a video game premise. It has freshness.

Nintendo seems obsessed with IP and IP marketing lately. Let me throw it inside out. When Zelda 2 came out, the reviewers and mainstream public had an ‘IP recognition’ of it as ‘Nintendo’s take on Sleeping Beauty’. With Mario, it was Nintendo’s take on Alice in Wonderland. Metroid was Nintendo’s take on Alien. The way how Nintendo and the video game industry thinks about IP (oh that legal word!) is infantile and doesn’t even begin to get to the magic of things.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 31, 2016

Shell Shock Live

Hey! It’s Scorched Earth! (The Mother of All Games!)

Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 30, 2016

Does Warcraft 3 still hold up?

You can buy the game and expansion at Battle Net shop for $20. Is it worth it?

The single player for Warcraft 3 Main Game is very fun and holds up very well. The story is nicely done. The game is consistently entertaining.

The Frozen Throne is a different story. While the single player missions are more complicated, they drag a ton. The story is nowhere near as interesting. Back when Frozen Throne came out, everyone said ‘they are just setting it up for World of Warcraft’ which ended up being true. Frozen Throne isn’t as much fun as Reign of Chaos for the same reasons why Starcraft 2 isn’t as fun as Starcraft 1. RTS is about factions battling factions. Frozen Throne switches it to Character versus Character. Reign of Chaos is about Human vs. Undead vs. Orc vs. Night Elf. From Throne is Maiev vs. Illidan vs. Kael’thas vs. Garithos vs. Dreadlords vs. Slyvanas vs. Arthas.

I played through it all without cheats. Frozen Throne is decisively less fun and more of a slug. The final mission of Frozen Throne is extremely annoying.

Is it still worth it? Yeah. $20 for 40 hours of single player missions is worth it plus the custom maps.

It is curious trying to sell Warcraft 3 to a young person today. “You like mobas, right?” “Yeah.” “Warcraft 3 is like a moba where you make your own army!” “Whoa.”

Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 30, 2016

Is Civilization 6 worth it?

 

I’m not feeling it.

I LOVED Civ 1. I LOVED Civ 2. I kinda LOVED Civ 3. From then on, I couldn’t really get into Civ 4. Civ 5 just lost me. And Civ 6 seems like a different game.

I have many different opposing design choices than the Civ guy shave done. Hexagons? No. “Only one unit in hexagon to avoid kill stacks.” What’s wrong with kill stacks?

I like BIG EMPIRE with epic wars. I like the ‘rampant growth’ stage at the beginning of the game. I like dodging wars in order to build up my cities, make sure roads and railroads interconnect them, so when war does inevitably come that I hit back as a HAMMER.

Why does Civ 6 remind me of Clash of Clans? Is Civilization series facing Idiocracy? Civ 5 seemed so easy. Perhaps I need to try again to get into Civ 4. Most of the time, I prefer Alpha Centauri.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 29, 2016

Galaxy 3DS XL has to have been for a Federation Force promo

 

The galaxy style is very similar with the blues. Clearly, Nintendo marketing originally was going to push the 3DS Galaxy as a Federation Force bundled deal or event. They probably removed the Federation Force logos when it became clear that no one wants Federation Force.

It just shows how arrogant Nintendo can be if they ignored all the backlash to Federation Force to go ahead and make a 3DS for the game. A wise head in the marketing was able to turn this 3DS into ‘Galaxy class’ instead of Federation Force.

Above: This is MY idea of ‘Galaxy class’!

Above: Look! Star Trek even did a ‘Federation Force’ type video game! By then, we knew Star Trek was dead. Same with Metroid. Nothing is new under the sun.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | August 27, 2016

Email: IP focus is good when games are good

Hello Master Malstrom,

I think the focus on IP is actually good for Nintendo as long as they keep making good games. Walt Disney came out with comic books for his cartoon characters to tide people over until the next movie and cartoon short could be made. When Lucas came out with Star Wars toys in the 70’s, it made people love Star Wars even more!

An IP focus is good as long as the games are good, because it brings people back to that world. Pokémon and Zelda: BoW are good games, so Nintendo rides and merchandise about these games will make people happier. On the other hand Fire Emblem merchandizing will probably come off as obnoxious. But it is like those cloth maps that used to be enclosed with PC games. It is extra stuff that will bring you back into that world. That’s good as long as the game is good.

 

Are the Star Wars novels canon?

Are the Star Wars cartoons canon?

Only the Star Wars movies are canon.

Star Wars is the movies. The cartoons and novels are about what the movies started.

I dislike mumbo jumbo-ism especially in business and creativity. I want hardness. I want definition.

Behold the School of Athens from Raphael. If the reader happens to be a Hardcore Gamer, this will be the first time the reader has ever seen this art.

Image result for school of athens

Zoom in at the center.

Image result for school of athens

Who is this!? Why it is our dear friends Plato and Aristotle. Plato is pointing up while Aristotle is pointing down. What this is symbolizing is that Plato would believe that everything exists in a grander way like the chair has a perfect chair that exists in a void. Aristotle says this is nonsense and points to the tangible.

I am playing the role of Aristotle here. I am saying the idea that a video game or any product has a beautiful perfect image in heaven we call intellectual property is ridiculous. First off, intellectual property is a legal word, not a holy word. Your house is property, but we do not call it your property. You call it ‘your house’ or ‘home’. We know Nintendo is not referring to IP in its legal sense. What sense is IP being referenced here?

A philosophy. What is intellectual property but philosophy? Do video games have ‘philosophy’? Does a rocking chair have a ‘philosophy’? I say a chair is just a chair.

As with Mario, you cannot separate the ‘IP’ from the game. The rise and fall of Mario was entirely dependent on the mainline Super Mario Brothers games and in how well they carved out the Mushroom Kingdom. This is why each new Mario game was A Major Event. Each new Mario game meant more than a game, it was changing TV, books, cereal, etc.

How’s another way to explain this? I am not an artist. I can do some things, such as write, program some, but I do know that it all comes through the hands, not through the mind. If an author gives an outline to the publisher and says, “Behold my glorious genius for I shall write to you this book that shall follow this outline!” Inevitably, the author will change where the story goes through the process of writing the book. Is this because the author cannot follow the outline? No. It is because our hands and by doing creates the concept, not the concept that creates the doing and guides our hands. Do not underestimate the sculptor’s hands.

Part of the magic of the video game experience is that it is the player’s hands that generate the experience.

Here is what I know. The primary marketing success for the NES was not about ‘communicating ideas’ or any of that rotgut. It was about putting the controller in people’s hands and letting them play. The primary marketing success for the Wii was about ‘communicating IPs’ or such. It was putting the Wii-mote in people’s hands. Reggie Fils-Aime said he knew Wii would be big when he was on the E3 2006 stage playing Wii Sports and seeing people’s eyes get big.

There was none of this ‘IP’ super-philosophy crap. Playing is believing and touching is good.

Image result for ds touching is good ad

Above: Malstrom’s girl

Nintendo gets stuck in a box because it focuses on its IPs more than anything else. People then will think the Nintendo console is just a ‘Zelda Box’ or ‘Mario Box’.

Turning IP into a ‘super-philosophy’ is like trying to make video games based on concept art instead of gameplay.

What I believe: It is the games that made the IPs great. Nintendo’s mistake: believing IPs are what made the games great. If this was true, then Star Fox Adventures would have been a ‘good game’ because it has Star Fox in it!

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