Editorial: Arrogance in Gaming

FAILDUSTRY!

Arrogance in gaming. It is as pervasive as a FART from NATE’s BUTT, and just as fecund. Sometimes it manifests as a trifling little niggle that sticks in your craw, while other times it is as a slap in the face. Often it occurs with such frequency that we can no longer see it, yet it is there, wallowing in developer self-satisfaction, and growing smug and fat on the sustenance of publisher hubris.

Absence of brightness sliders

Nothing says FUCK YOU like a game whose option menu offers up a sub-menu for the adjustment of brightness; only to dump gamers in the obnoxiously familiar screen containing gradient increments running from black to white, inviting us to adjust our television sets in order to match their shitty little game. What kind of smug fuck thinks that their game is so beautiful and unique that players will actually deign adjust their viewing optimisations in order to accommodate its full majesty?! Protip: any game that is so poorly designed as to lack a brightness slider will invariably not be worth the adjustment. This sort of dross still reaches the market circa 2011, enough, this is too much! Developers should at least make the minimum amount of effort, the medium has only had a mere several decades in which to mature. Any game which invites me to adjust my television set gets automatic fail marks from me.

Frivolous and greedy DLC

The most iconic example of frivolous, do nothing DLC would have to Oblivion’s infamous horse armour, yet there are many other fine examples. There was of course Tale of Vesperia’s shameful and tacky option to purchase ten or so character levels (if memory serves me correctly), which mysteriously coincided with an alleged sharp difficulty spike once players reach the endgame. Then there was Resident Evil 5’s insistence that gamers fork over money in order to unlock that awful game’s stillborn deathmatch mode. Seriously, who would even want to play a Resident Evil deathmatch? No one apparently.

Intransigent release schedules

I cannot for the life of me fathom why so many games set themselves firm release dates so far out, and then fail to alter them when conditions change. This is why you have decent games like Enslaved launching in the same window as the CoD juggernaut, and being subsequently slaughtered at retail. It is only natural for developers to want to think the best of their babby, but can we try and keep expectations realistic? To my mind developers would benefit greatly from eschewing firm release dates until a month or two before their title goes gold, and instead just offering a vague release window, and then scheduling their release so that it is the only big release inside a fortnight. Gamers only have a finite amount of disposable income, and it is unrealistic to expect everyone to rush out and buy your game during a cluttered release window. That kind of arrogance seldom goes unpunished.

Dumbed down/sub-par content for sequels

Once a game enjoys a certain measure of success, the developer thinks they have it made. They begin to take their fans for granted, and assume that they will get their pre-existing audience for free every time, irrespective of the direction they decide to take their franchise. Thus it is the perfect time to make some money! This is done in one of two ways; dumbing down the game’s content in order to appeal to a wider audience, or decreasing the quality or quantity of game assets in order to expend less capital in order to generate the same profit. Sometimes you even have a game which attempts to do both such as Dragon Age II. For me this philosophy manifested itself most spectacularly in the release of Resident Evil 5, as the producers were possessed of the opinion that they would be able to keep the fans from the phenomenally successful Resident Evil 4, whilst also turning the follow-up into a co-op game with broken partner AI. This really is the most injurious form of developer arrogance.

Early reviews

We have all seen this. The first reviews begin to trickle in for a hot new title, and for the week leading up to the game’s release its metarating averages a 90+ aggregate, and then its day of release arrives and suddenly the floor drops out from under its metascore. These are the lengths publishers go to in order to twist perceptions, and accrue early game sales on false merit.

Victims of the tsunami: This dear, sweet man now has 100% more time for producing pornography ... with ducks in

Reviewing their own game

Apparently Dragon Age II was such a shitty little game that Bioware man Chris Hoban had to pen his own 10/10 metacritic review. This is of course following in the fine tradition of Two Worlds 2, where staff were obliged to pen their own fraudulent reviews, and then provide proof of having done so. It never looks good when you are the only people giving your game a perfect score, and even less so when you contend that the legitimate grievances of your customers have no reasonable basis (nice one Hoban).

0 comments

  1. “Leon, help! Leon, help! Leon, help!”

    I think is some ways RE5 was an improvement over RE4. At least on the PC version the partner AI was serviceable. Still a bit stupid at times, but usually not pants on head retarded. The environments were also a little more varied I think.

    Anway, is Bioware going down the toilet? Or at least going down to wherever the hell Square-Enix went? It seems like they’re taking their success and deciding they can just do whatever with it, and expect everyone to continue buying their games indefinitely.

    Unrelated, but FFXIV is back on the 25th! Time for Lusipurr to get his guildleves on! :D

  2. @ep: Probably not! I’ve sworn an oath in blood to play WoW with Lane, and I have to admit that when XIV starts charging, I’ll probably stop playing even if I do like it, because…

    1) I like WoW too, and
    2) Only one friend plays XIV, and all of my other friends play WoW.

    Thus it makes more sense to put time into WoW than into XIV.

  3. I have great thaumaturgical skill as well. Be warned.

    Also, EP, I think that’s a little “sky-is-falling-y” for BioWare. DA2 is definitely below the bar set by ME2, somewhere around DA:O, and slightly in front of ME1 in terms of its quality. Compared to, say, KOTOR, I am not so sure. I have soft spots for KOTOR, but it is showing its technical limitations next to something like DA2.

    Certainly, people are right to feel jilted because BioWare didn’t deliver what they were capable of, but Square-Enix has had many, many years, and more than one generation of gaming hardware with which to catalogue their fall. In five years if BioWare puts out “Dragon Age: Rise of the fal’Cie” where Grey Wardens have to fight off giant sci-fi robo-beasts lest they become crystals, then proclamations of doom ‘n gloom shall be warranted.

    As of now, though, they deserve a thump on the nose and a “next time, do better.”

    Also, I disagree with the psychologizing of game developers. I don’t think they take fans for granted, and all of a sudden actively switch to doing anti-gamer/anti-consumer Evil Things™ because they were secretly evil all along and just luring us in with one or two good games. That doesn’t make business sense.

    Rather, they develop a business plan that goes along with the game design plan, and sometimes the balance of these interests falls the right way (Mass Effect 2) and sometimes the wrong way (Dragon Age 2). EA wants to make money, pure and simple. If they thought they could make lots and lots of money by doing something, they would do it. BioWare, in contrast, wants EA to continue giving them lots of money to develop games that EA will publish, but at the same time wants to create a work of art that people value in and of itself. I think here we have a case of EA rushing to get the game out to capitalize on the momentum built by ME2 and DA:O and BioWare making a strategic decision to re-use assets and focus development on other areas, like art style, voiceover work, and thematic development, all of which I say belong in a AAA game. What suffered, unfortunately, was environment/level design and character customization, which makes the game feel worse than it really is.

    Then, in an effort to justify their decisions, some BioWare employees took it a bit heavy-handed on the self-promotion and quashing of dissent, which won them no brownie points with anyone, turning what should’ve been a relatively minor blip into an Online Saga worthy of my ancestors.

    BAM! Perspective.

  4. Bioware would have to fall pretty damn far, pretty damn fast to resemble SE.

    But they absolutely deserve to be lambasted and dragged through the mud for poor game design. Excessively reused assts sound like the least of the game’s problems; add to that lackluster writing (allegedly), mediocre OST, and waves of enemies which spawn from the ether right before your eyes.

    This isn’t something I would pay $60 for.

    This sounds more like an expansion with broken enemy spawns. I expected more than this slap-dash affair, try harder next time, Bioware.

    BOOM! Different perspective.