Link Dead Radio: Identifying with the Industry

oh what dastardly plots I’ve run a foul of, bringing my post to the pit of despair. Planning to undo me in the most wicked of ways, curled around me and suffocating the will of the scheduled post. In other words the unemployment/ vacation vibes made me forget what day it was.. so i missed a day.

But alas, you are still trapped within the telling of these terrible tales of trite tidbits.

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The Media Machine

It’s the start of the convention season for 2015. We’ve had the GDC as well as Pax East  a week ago and so far I’ve been rather surprised with them and the utter lack of interesting news coming out. Usually these events become a smorgasbord of reveals and games showing off their latest and greatest. There were a few new indie games showing off, and the Morpheus Virtual Reality system looked like it was coming ahead but other that it seemed to just be games showing their newest update during development.

It makes me wonder just how much the industry has changed in regards to the place of the media and how it’s being used now. It seems with the greater connectivity we have, the less meaningful these media sites have become. They are still obviously being used and those who have grown their audience for their particular niche will do well but they have all no longer become the only, or even main source of gaming news.

Companies are increasingly using a lot more tools for spreading information on their games. I see a lot more blogs happening now for many companies, and not just indie groups anymore. Many of these companies are using YouTube more effectively to spread the latest and greatest news, trailers and gameplay. Twitch for showcasing games in a more personal light as well as giving them the time to do a more in-depth discussion on it. And then there is just the explosion amongst social media and forums like reddit which are increasing the ways they connect to gamers, and the ways information is spread.

Developers, publishers and game makers no longer need the media to spread this information, especially the larger ones as it seems we are already getting our news from the source, or at least far less separated from that source. Even when it’s not direct it still far more connected to the base message as most sites give links. They can tailor the specific message as well without the media sites rewording it, removing parts or voicing opinions throughout. They now have an incredible amount of control, and it’s scary. It makes me wonder just how badly the balance have power has swung and the impact it will have from here on.

I’ve always though the balance of power within the industry rested well on the developers and publishers. They are the ones setting the rules, relaying the information and giving out review games when, at the drop of a pin they could easily change that situation. It is a tenuous balance a lot of these media sites have had to tread for a long while now yet, with how things are progressing this balance seems to be getting further upset.

They most definitely still have a place. Indie games always need greater attention, I have always loved reading critical opinions on games as well and they’ve always served as a decent aggregate but they just don’t have the impact anymore that they once did. Expose’s like that done by Rock paper shotgun and Peter Molyneux are a rarity, if not almost extinct and I see that as a shame. Sometimes you want these groups to have to answer to someone, anyone about their actions but the consequences from doing this are often quite harsh.

It has gone so far now that some developers believe that these sites are nothing more than their personal messenger. A place where they should be allowed, entitled to post whatever the want. To post their opinions. To post their exact press statement. Then attacking them for imagined slights and with the current fear campaign and witch hunt against certain groups and media sites they can easily drum up an eager lynch mob.

twitter

tweets from a week or so

 

(using this tweet because I found it funny that someone fighting for freedom of conversation has me blocked from their twitter. oh, and that letmarkspeak hashtag was rather hilarious).

The press as it is now is in a very hard place. The overlords have increased control over their little minions below and are getting restless with their puppets lack of obedience. Pinocchio wants to grow up but then where does that leave it when it’s only use for the general population seems to be how well they regurgitate whatever its told.

I personally don’t believe the gaming media valued its place as much as they should. Many other journalistic fields are earning far more, have better job security and are treated with far more respect. Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry and yet the media around it is so woefully underpaid and valued. It doesn’t make sense to me. It is definitely a hard industry to work within as you rely on many of these game companies and tech groups for advertisement to survive but I think it was this deep sense of devaluing their own work that put them in the position they are now. They value it so little that they’ve never bothered to fight for better industry standards, to push these companies that are already paying hundreds of millions in advertising to maybe pay some better rates. To be more accountable.

It is interesting then, when taking that into account just how many news sites and groups of writers have been able to break out on their own and be funded quite easily by their readers and supporters. It is amazing how much people do actually value there work when they don’t. Honestly, I think this is where the eventual balance will be coming from in the industry. Slowly more and more groups and sites are becoming their own master, funded by their readers and thus are no longer accountable to the game makers which no doubt allows greater freedom in their opinions and critiques.

I really have no idea where this will all go in the future though or where this little ramble is going. The industry is, and has been in flux for a long time now and where the balance will end is any bodies guess.

Progress report: Adventures of the Unemployed

Hellooooooooo everyone and welcome back to the now so weekly Progress report. I can’t of dumped doing this a bit back as I really didn’t have the time, or it was cutting too much into gaming time and I didn’t have that much I wanted to say. There were a few games I might have skipped over because of that as well as the stuff I’ve been watching and doing but.. oh well.

And now it’s back, hopefully as with all the down time lately with being unemployed I seem to have a lot more time for gaming. It’s funny though because it’s more now that I have the time for all my random web searching, funny things, reading blogs, watching tv and anime and just general house stuff and so I have that time solely for gaming in the afternoon most of the time. It’s nice… someone please find me a wealthy donor so I don’t have to work though haha.

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Link Dead Radio: the Kindness of Strangers

Following links is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get

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Link Dead Radio – The “how do I get this many videos a week” edition

LET THE WILD BLOGGUS BEGIN

This week week we have some excellent article looking at the undercurrents of sexism within gaming and society as a whole, an impassioned plea really. And then there is the usual collection of critiques and boundless optimism about mmo’s

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Link Dead Radio: New Blog Banter

Is it a rant, is it a Ramble.. NO. It’s the champion of all the defender of rambles. The champion of Rants. The Prophet of all that is bloggy and awesome.. LINK… DEAD… RADIOOOOOOOOOO.. *applause*

This week I’ve been scouring the deep dark alleys and canals of the bloggy backwaters for new, amazing blogger to add to my ever growing collection. I’m like the Collector from guardians of the galaxy… except for gamey blogs. CHECK EM out. Oh.. and there’s other stuff from some other boring old bloggers… =p

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Signal Static Express

Welcome to another episode of Signal Static express, the place where you get news and opinions later than everyone else cause I can’t be arsed making individual posts.

Godus

The latest overhyped idea from the idiosyncratic mind of Peter Molyneux has of course failed, rather spectacularly to meet most of it’s kickstarter goals and pledge levels. So far it looks like all that will get developed from Godus is the ftp mobile style app, and a rather incomplete vision. A lot that was claimed within the kickstarter, even the higher up tiers will never be completed and well.. the project has pretty much been abandoned now. There was a community update that set the internet on fire for a while, and there are a lot of interviews circulating now about it all of which my favourite was probably from the winner of curiosity and the supposed position of god over Godus.

I’m just saddened by this because it pretty much represents the absolute worse of kickstarter, a model of supporting game ideas that I actually enjoy. What’s more worrying is that it seems to be the more well name names, those with reputation that are using it to get funds they don’t really need to then end up failing on this promise. Due to how high profile these people are, and how widely it gets circulated it is really quite damaging.

Daybreak layoffs

Another week, another controversy within the MMO industry. This time it is the newly acquired and renamed Daybreak Game Company that is back in the news but for rather terrible news. A large number of layoffs occurred of which there aren’t any true numbers yet. I’m guessing a lot of contract based staff but also many quite high profile names like Dave Georgeson, leader of the Everquest Franchise. I believe In An Age covered one of the fuller name lists and it is an extremely extensive list.

There was a lot more talk on twitter from many of the people let go, as well as comments on reddit and a few other places of which Inventory Full did a good job covering. For me, I don’t know what else to say really. I’m rather sad for the loss of jobs but I didn’t have any personal connection to any of the franchises. From my position it always seemed like they were taking on too much, maintaining and developing too many projects at once for it to really be that profitable. You have development teams, customer service people and a lot of overhead for that many projects.

While I understand the worry about some of the projects, especially Everquest next but from what I see this whole layoff thing seems to be more about consolidating resources into the projects that have potential. Planetside 2 was said to only have just become profitable lately which explains a lot of its layoffs, and the Everquest franchise can’t really be pulling in that much money. The there’s landmark as well which seems incredibly weird to me in how they’ve basically only had a one-off fund boost and then been running everything for free for the last 18 months. Just seems like bad business to me regardless of their world building aims.

It doesn’t make sense to get rid of, or stop development of Everquest next either because it would probably have been evaluated as their asset with the greatest value. You don’t just throw away the code for such an asset, unless of course your Blizzard.

Ncsoft Report

The Ncsoft earnings report for the fourth quarter is out now and all I have to say is OUCH for Wildstar. % million this quarter, so soon after its initial release doesn’t bode well. It seems to have only made a 45 million total too which would have to be close to its development and marketing costs.. wasn’t that what rift cost after all, Wildstar couldn’t be that far off from there. It is NCsoft too so I would say now is the time to not get attached to the game.

Generally I did like the idea of Wildstar and the environment design was rather interesting when you got used to it. The Housing was very well designed and allowed a lot of customisation and their costume design for characters was some of, if not the best I’ve seen: realistic design ideals, detailed and just rather amazing looking. It just failed in the usual important aspects of end game ideas and personal goals… and that open world aspect to an extent.

Guild Wars 2 continues its downward trend of profits, still doing reasonably well i would think but for the population of players, and its general popularity I would expect a lot more than that. Definitely the reason behind the upcoming expansion but also a telling case of what happens with btp earnings. They just fail over the longer term unless you can actually support it with a decent cash shop.

Repopulation

Is having a cheap deal for beta access at the moment for 20$. I really enjoyed what I played, warts and all as the game has potential to be the next big sandbox to consume my play time. You can go to the website or even steam to pick it up.

Life is Strange: episode 1

I really don’t know what to say about Life is strange except that it represents what it aims to well enough for me to start imagining my own odd duck High school story. One involving a lot of finding oneself, struggling with self-image and dealing with the usual pressures and problems.

There are inconsistencies with this story if you look closely, the kind of inconsistencies that would never be part of the usual life. It is one overruled with a constant state of drama that, while is always a part of high school life has been sped up for the state of the story. It’s also the kind of characters and story where, I think they’ve more got their influence from the many tv series rather than having that lived experience to draw from. Now the team there at Dontnod Entertainment is mostly male, so that’s kind of expected but I still want to give them kudos there for even trying and still creating some interesting and endearing characters.

LifeIsStrange

The lived experience of the environment is a true strength of Life is strange as they really take the time to create a believable space for the game to take place in. The layout and design, the little details of posters and graffiti on wall. I just love many of the dormitory rooms, and living spaces as  they just exude so much character. Just seeing these spaces gives you a far better insight into the personality of the characters you engage with and represent. It is a far more natural way of portraying this information too rather than giving some heavy exposition, that never seems enough anyway.

LifeIsStrange

So far the mechanics are extremely well done and polished as well. The time travel mechanic for completing events and playing with the options of an event are rather simplistic but the way you actually explore the world for information and clues is both intuitive yet not intrusive enough to remove that sense of immersion. They are easy to see, to interact with and give information enough for you to know where and what to do to an extent. They way you move around and use these is so much more natural as well, the animations work and are fluid and far less restrictive than the Telltale games. You can just tell they understand adventure game design, the flaws and features and have worked around this to create a game that is a pleasure to actually play for once.

LifeIsStrange

I kind of like the visuals as well. They are incredibly stylised with relatively low poly models and washed out textures but with the colourful design and the way they often use this to direct the player and to focus on aspects of the environment work really well. There are moments as well where the design, the colours and the atmosphere of the space truly create some memorable moments.

LifeIsStrange

I have to say that I really enjoy this first episode. Now it doesn’t have the in-depth character analysis style play, and maybe not as strong with the wealth and interconnected nature of the smaller stories that you might expect from these indie game, coming of age stories but then this feels far more like a game. A game with a strong narrative, interesting mechanics and a very well designed world.

Link Dead Radio: Demographics and Design

OH.. MY GOOOOOOOD….. it’s another week of Link dead radio. The show with the stuff you like… you know, that stuff.

This week a lot more videos of stuff I am kind of interested in as well as blogging conversations about player demographics, Preorder nonsense and a couple pieces class design.

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Darkwood Preview

Another Preview vid and written report that varies a lot haha. I just find it easier when talking about these games, and giving a report to mostly just make it up as I go. To discuss the interesting points that I’m thinking about rather than reading an already written report. Feels more natural too.

Ok continue ON

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