Wuving What’s Coming in GW2

Lots and Lots and Lots of information spammed by Anet this week and heaps of it relates to pvp. Talking about the guesting which is imminent, new additions to WvW coming soon including the fancy progression system, and all the promised features for SPvP…woooo.
-Info Spam Ahoy>

The curious Case of PR Placement

A couple weeks ago now there was a rather important news piece on the unethical culture of gaming journalism circulating the internet and if you didn’t read it you really should. In it a prominent journalist has literally lost hope on the nature of the field he loves and the deep dark spiral it was heading into. It is a rather awkward circumstance as even though his piece was more of a warning to his journalistic field to maintain integrity and maybe reflect on the nature of the gaming PR practices it was taken as a threat by some, whom were named, that then vehemently defended their position. Matters got worse and as you can see from the article some of the parts were legally retracted and as such Mr Florence relinquished his position at Eurogamer. This as you can imagine caused a rather large ripple through gaming journalism and the playerbase at large and many write ups regarding the matter have been written with some notable ones being

There are of course many more pieces but these seem to be the most notable and have very well written pieces, also the comment sections have some good replies as well as more links and info regarding the matter.

I’m writing about this as well because I also tend to think that being ethical is rather important. That may be coming from the psych degree where there is a rather rigid system in place but in the end it is of benefit to everyone. It just seems as though there is a distinct problem with ethics not just in the gaming media but entertainment journalism as a whole which i think comes from its very nature wherein it is dependent on the product it is attempting to discuss or review. It is a dependence to popularist opinion in a sense in order to generate the most page views and revenue themselves.
It is a nasty little system but it is made worse by the PR departments of the big name game companies. We all have our inherent bias’s when it comes to games as our interests, dislikes and experiences shape us in such a way but the question is, can our opinions be swayed in such a way by the lavish gifts and opulent experiences that seems customary in the field? Going by the amount of money and effort spent i would have to say it does. I don’t doubt that some may be able to maintain a sense of impartiality through it all, unswayed by the environment but most.. I don’t think so.

Bloggers are kind of apart from all this as we are attached to none and apart from the gaming media culture to a certain extent. I guess for some the dream is to be the next sheep in the big city, to be some sort of blogging superstar, to be lavished attention upon but in reality our opinions are relatively minor in terms of game sales. This is a good thing in a sense as we are effectively beneath the evil gaze of Sauron thus we can write incoherent rants about the games we hate and passionate dribble on the ones we do with these views usually being untainted… but sometimes, maybe not. Some of the big name bloggers attend the big events where all the cool people hang out and they seem like quite the spectacle; big companies, big spending, and maybe even big influence.

I remember reading Ravious at KTR and the article regarding the wait for GW2  and thinking that it would have been oh so cool to meet and chat with the developers and just visit all those VIP functions, the perks of the position but now.. now I can’t help but think this would have influenced his view of GW2 more than he thought possible. He was already what could have been described as a rabid fan as he was an avid GW player and in the wait for the new addition for years. It was clear he was very positive regarding the product already but being in that experience, with people you idolise must have had some sort of influence on his views. He may have overlooked certain discrepancies on the demo’s or more wrote more positively on other mechanics but to imagine there was no impact is to turn a blind eye.

Tobold put a piece up recently about how even he receives gifts of games or a book from time to time and that he discloses any sort of thing and i don’t even know if they could be an issue, purchasing a title invokes a certain sense of investment and would bypassing this make one a little less critical since it isn’t their own money on the line. I have no answer here and how best to handle this influential marketing culture, I’m relatively new to writing in this sense so my view may be a little more meaningless to those above and I’m just as passionate about games as most with my own inherent bias’s. I very rarely look critically at a new title and it only tends to surface once I have experienced it further and that is my own flaw. I have planned to attend the big Penny Arcade expo next year that is coming to Oz but I wonder if I was a part of the spectacle that is these big events and privy to some of the perks would this change.. would I still be writing like me? In the end I think none of us are immune to the sways of marketing, even though some of the prominent don’t consider themselves “journalists” and thus set themselves apart from the ethical standards of other industries I think it is still important to recognise the influence that does and will occur and maybe act and reflect accordingly .

Bioware, This is Metacritic! *Updated*

*Take note that they have now taken down the Job Role Description, first they just removed the Metacritic part but i guess it has gone into damage control time. What’s the bet though that they still use that one point when it comes time for the in house reviews of the Applicants… Filthy Mugbloods*

An interesting bit of industry news popped up on destructoid that seems completely nonsensical.

In the studio’s lengthy list of requirements for a design manager position, it asks for, “Credit on at least one game with an 85+ Average Metacritic Review Score.”

The thinking is obvious — Irrational wants high quality developers with a traceable history of success. Still, arguments brought up against it are fairly sound — it excludes the fact that game making is a team effort, critical opinion isn’t always indicative of a good or successful game, and that even the best developers can be hamstrung by poor decision making by those wearing the expensive suits. Likewise, a game can be great in spite of a bad creator at the steering wheel, all thanks to a talented team.

It’s certainly an odd thing to have as a basic requirement, given the amount of variables that go into the generation of a Metacritic average. It’s certainly not a criteria I’d have, but then, Irrational did make BioShock, so I guess it knows what it’s doing.

I really hope it isn’t just me thinking this is a completely stupid thing to promote in an actual job listing. It is just as nonsensical as someone wanting to work on a game company because they made one awesome game. One success does not guarantee success again, hell the success might not even be attributed to their own contributions I just don’t know enough about the games industry to comment on that part….
I am also a little perplexed by this since many of these big companies have consumerist demands towards their products and quite a few of the top metacritic games really didn’t sell as well as any of the same ole blockbusters. Acclaimed does not always  mean mainstream appeal.

I really don’t know what a design manager even does, what i do know though is that large game development encompasses many different areas and a literal army of coders, writers, artists, and testers. How much credit can a design manager take when most of the core work is done by other people and how much influence can one have when a games’ design, direction and core elements are usually decided by the corporate suits and their intent on maximising returns.

I actually like many of the games in the top 15% of metacritic, there is Little Big Planet so wooo but there are many though that are really rather insipid such as Modern warfare (1 and 2) and GTA IV (uggh) so even at that range of the spectrum a quality product is not even guaranteed. There are heaps of very decent titles that are below the cutoff too, many of which have their own strengths and weakness that may or not be important to their new game project. They would also be missing out on some deservable talent, not to mention that it also greatly constricts the pool of available and talented people to draw from.. It all just seems kinda retarded.

It is also quite funny this popped up as RPS only just had a little article as part of their Sunday Papers purporting we ban the number 7 so as to fix games journalism (and numbers in general), it also had quite the treatise against the metacritic model. Why OH Why must the men in suits and much of the general media be so enthralled by an aggregated score. There is soo much diversity in the gaming sphere and much of it comes up to personal taste and as such being guided by aggregated numbers make no sense.

Maybe they should just be worrying about their intended audience and here’s a suggestion, how about hiring people who fit with the project, who have experience and the drive to complete whatever fancy pants project you are going to do WELL. Problem solved.. send money to thank me later.

State of the game TSW

What!! no secret in the title, thy wit has come undone. I think from now on i’ll leave the zany prose for my gameplay experiences rather than any news related happenings.

And here is TSWsotg – you’ll understand the name after the link

Anyway it is all looking very sunshine and roses for the future of TSW. One of my biggest worries for Star Wars was if they could bring out content fast enough to satiate the insatiable, which turned out to be quite relevant so naturally I had this concern with TSW too.
Bringing out this Herculean effort will be astounding, although I will still remain skeptical of their more content each month claim solely because the quality of their work had been amazing, greater than anything I have played in the mmo sphere so far. The great pace of content and fixes is one of the reasons why I hold Trion in high regard and if they can keep up the pace I am sure they will earn a very loyal and avid playerbase

Another thing that makes me very happy and relieved is how much communication is being observed from the devs and Ragnor on their own site and even on others….keep it up

Also pvp dungeon YeeeeeeHaaah