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.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 9, 2016

NX rumors… bzzzzz…. bzzzzzz…..

Some of this is coming from Emily Rogers, some of it is coming from different sources. It is all very generalized but sounds to be true.

x86 architecture.
Backup data to Nintendo server (most likely My Nintendo).
Support for additional screen.
Can handle ports of current-gen games.
Will be able to interact with smartdevice apps.
Using NX software will unlock My Nintendo reward points.

Female Link has already been done in Zelda BS (the satellite Zelda game done for the SNES), and there is also good fan reception to Linkle. Also, being a female link plays to the RPG roots. RPGs allow you to choose your character, do they not?

Zelda being launched on both Wii U and NX is very probable because Nintendo has done it before with the Gamecube/Wii.

I find the voice acting part to be the least believable.

About the NX, the idea of My Nintendo Points and backup data to server is plausible because of Nintendo’s purchase of dena, that online company. x86 would be most interesting, and it is probable too.

I even made a post about this long ago, but I knew that with PS4’s sales that it insured the demise of backward compatibility. Backward compatibility was, in Iwata’s words, to remove the risk from the ‘transition phase’ of between generations. PS4 sold great without backwards compatibility. Wii U, which has backwards compatibility, does not. Backwards compatibility is also expensive. Also, Nintendo and other companies realize that re-releasing games on the new system is more profitable than backwards compatibility. For Nintendo’s purpose of droughts between titles, there is even more reason to re-release games. I imagine many Wii U games will be re-released on the NX.

One genius move I expect Nintendo to make is to use smartphones and tablets as controllers to the NX.

“What!!!!” gasps the reader.

Oh yes. It just makes too much sense. First, the Gamepad of the Wii U was ridiculously expensive. Second, Nintendo is already making software for mobile devices. Third, the hardware of the mobile devices far exceeds anything Nintendo could put out at a cheap price. Nintendo likes having an interactive second screen. There is no reason why the smart device cannot do it. You could use your smart device to draw and interact in games such as building levels or messing with the gamer during gameplay. It’d be like using your smartphone for the job of the gamepad.

All these rumors sound probable. I do like how quiet Nintendo has been lately. Let it build up, Nintendo. Let it build up, rattle, and explode!

Above: Explode!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 9, 2016

Email: The arrogance of game developers today

A lot of your recent posts can be summarized as “it doesn’t matter
what you (the players) want or like, but how we (the devs) can make
ourselves feel great”.

Take the Metroid franchise. Other M has killed it, no question, but to
someone like Sakomoto they’d think and say it was “a great success”
despite the game being anything close to Metroid. He also had the
gall, purely because of his own ego, to declare the Prime series
non-canon because it’d take away from *his* vision. And Federation
Force is just a ploy to kill off the Prime series completely so we’ll
end up with another game like Other M some time in the future, likely
on the NX. Which will both sell badly and get poor reviews, but
instead of addressing what’s wrong with the game we’ll get a reply
something to the effect of “what’s wrong with you for not loving my
masterpiece”.

It’s no different than when writers and producers of TV shows
change… they want to “make their mark” on the series so to speak,
often making questionable decisions and going against everything that
made it great to begin with. Both because they want it to be all about
*them* and because they sincerely believe that their vision is better.
Steven Moffat has done this to Doctor Who since he took over the reins
and has driven the ratings into the toilet with his predictable
story-lines and Mary Sue characters.

It’s just sad that this has bled into video games as well, I just want
to have fun and not be bombarded with someone’s “legacy” left and
right.

 

You’re right this is a more general problem especially in the West. Radical individualism is making everyone be unable to act as a team. It’s gotten so bad, you could argue it has even affected the marriage rate. But I’m not going to go there in this post.

You have to be a TEAM, not a collection of individuals. Nintendo knows this. Miyamoto knows this. The purpose is not the developer to have fun, the purpose is for the GAMER to have fun. Developing games is actually very hard, technical work that isn’t fun. As Iwata said, it is the customer who sits on the throne. It is the customer who decides what is quality and what is not quality. The customer can be quite a tyrant too. But if they want the money of the customer, then the customer must sit on that throne.

Here’s something to think about: who can speak against the Game God? Take Sakamoto as he is the easiest and most illustrative example to use. Who could speak against Sakamoto? Certainly no one on his team, certainly no one at Nintendo. The journalists couldn’t speak against him because journalists need access. Most customers just see the game and are not aware of who is making the game. So the only people who can speak against him would be you and me.

So what good does that do? Why have a blog full of complaints?

I believe it allows people to speak up. They already know it is true in their heart, but they need an outside reason or validation to do it. For example, Retro recently complained to Nintendo about someone from NCL just not being able to work with him. These complaints have existed before to some sort of degree (perhaps much less). There needs to be some sort of antibody to the Game God disease before bad sales appear. Game Gods are too expensive and too risky to have these days. They get an ego and destroy entire franchises.

Someone might ask, “Why is this Malstrom guy keep bashing Aonuma?” It is because Aonuma is fitting the ‘Game God’ disease to a T. He is completely shoe-horning the Zelda series in ways it suits his personal fancy. A good example is a Zelda game about trains simply because his kid enjoys playing trains. I am happy his child loves trains, but that is not a reason to revamp an entire video game series. Whatever happened to the RPG roots of Zelda? Whatever happened to the open world? Maybe the new Zelda will be more in line with this. We will see.

Games are about gamers having fun, not the developers. Games are about gamers being smart and clever, not the developers. “My goodness, Malstrom,” you say, “you act like being a game developer is being a JOB!” *horror* Of course, it is. Nintendo is a very serious company, and I know they get this. I am hoping that whatever genius someone thought they had after the Wii/ DS era got zapped by reality with the 3DS / Wii U era.

Remember what Iwata said before the Wii launched. “We must not become arrogant.” Sony and Microsoft were arrogant which led to their problems. If a little humility from commentators and gamers is created for them, it could save them millions of dollars.

We all want the same thing: great games that sell a ton. Just as I think it is absurd for gamers to demand games that no one wants to buy, it is absurd for developers to make games no one wants to buy.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | April 9, 2016

Stellaris looks like a Game of the Forever

After all this time, a true successor to Master of Orion.

Now for the teasers…

Now for the gameplay and explanations.

I want to buy this game… AT LAUNCH. I rarely ever say or do anything like this. This game is screaming potential and could be the modern space strategy game classic we’re looking for.

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.

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