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Worth Reading: 01/24/2014

Because who doesn't want to spend the weekend mulling the US prison system.

You defeated! It's a good feeling, but one I'm going to sit on for right now, since I'd rather write a much longer piece on my experience with Dark Souls for something I have in mind next week.

Needless to say, though, I'm sorry that I didn't have that experience sooner.

But it's back on the "oh, right, there are games coming out" train. Broken Age and The Banner Saga are calling, though I'm not sure how I feel about Broken Age. Who wants to play the first half of an adventure game that wasn't designed to be played episodically? Sadly, I cannot resist the temptation to play a new Tim Schafer adventure game, so I'll have to enjoy what's there and be patient for the second half of the game...

I actually played Broken Age in my living room using a wireless keyboard with a touch pad. It worked remarkably well for a game with such a simple interface, though I couldn't help but wish a Steam controller was around. I'm not sure how often I'll find myself in a situation where a Steam controller is optimal, but Broken Age was one instance, and I missed its existence in my life. And as I begin to pound nails into my wall to run wires, I can't help but hope in-home streaming works well, too.

Anything else that I've missed from the start of 2014? It doesn't feel like it, but let me know!

As soon as I'm able, I do promise that we'll return to Risk of Rain...I want to finish that with Alex!

(Oh, and Spookin' With Scoops should return next week.)

Hey, You Should Play This

And You Should Read These, Too

Part of what makes Prison Architect such a damn interesting game is how it breaks down a really horrible part of society, prisons, and turns it into a series of game systems. It's tough to play Prison Architect without simultaneously thinking about the strangeness of it all. There are moral and ethical implications throughout Prison Architect, both in its design and how the player interacts with the design, and game designer Paolo Pedercini has given great thought to what Prison Architect is both explicitly and implicitly saying about the subject of prison. Pedercini comes to the table with a lengthy, sobering set of facts about the nature of prisons in the US, and examines down how Prison Architect does or doesn't deal with it.

"Disorderly conduct is an obvious way to provide feedback to the player when prisoner's needs are neglected, but even after mastering all the procedures and spending all the money available (about $90K, which is a lot in the game) for a state-of-the-art facility with very low population, I had to repress daily skirmishes in blood.

Simulations need to exaggerate feedback to prompt adjustments, and I certainly don't expect my inmates to enjoy their residency. But the continuous, frustrating, over-the-top violence suggests that we are dealing with an irrational, murderous, and suicidal horde that deserves no sympathy. Making the extraordinary ordinary (riots don't really happen that frequently anymore) is not only mystifying but also makes for a less subtle gameplay. The signal becomes noise and it becomes difficult to address needs by 'thoughtful' planning.

Moreover, other types of feedback could be implemented: hunger strikes, self harm, human rights and federal inspectors examining the facility, can add variety and extra level of challenge."

***

Video games often involve saving people. It makes sense, since it's an easy source of conflict that can serve as motivation for the player. But Chris Dahlen points out how BioShock Infinite failed to make him feel connected to Elizabeth, a character who felt anything but helpless once she was removed from her cage. In EarthBound, Jeanne D'Arc, and Persona 4: The Golden, however, Dahlen felt a close and personal connection with the characters that often had precious little to do with character design or dialogue but how the gameplay systems connected.

"You start out as Ness, a normal little boy with a baseball cap who slowly gets stronger as he explores the suburbs. The first companion that he finds is Paula, but when he first meets her, she's not an asset. To track down Paula, Ness goes far away from the safe city, through caves and forests that are littered with enemies. When he rescues her from a jail, he's around level 20--but she's only level 1. She's forced to join your party, but all of the monsters nearby are way above her level, and those monsters surround you--and so you have to protect her, knowing that the wrong move or a stray attack could get her killed.

But Paula's not helpless. As I carefully led her through battles and helped her gain experience, she revealed her own abilities and spells, and started to wade into the fight. I paid close attention to her stats and skills in every battle, and by the time she had pulled up alongside Ness, I felt like I knew everything about her. This whole "training" period took about half an hour of playtime, but it felt like weeks. And when she was ready, she and Ness took on the local boss together and won, and the victory was sweet."

If You Click It, It Will Play

Like it or Not, Crowdfunding Isn't Going Away

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
59 Comments
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Posted by MrGtD

Broken Age was in fact perfectly retrofitted for the episodic format. The ending completely recontextualizes the entire game, makes you want to play it again, makes you want more, and gives you a whole lot to chew on. It's excellent. I hope you finish it and find yourself much more enamored with it, @patrickklepek .

Posted by Fobwashed

One of my all time favorite podcast series 99% invisible had an episode about architects and building prisons. LINK A lot of really interesting talk about how architects should design in a way that uphold human rights and how much the architecture of a prison can effect the mental state of those being held within them.

Posted by HammondofTexas

Andrew W.K., the original duder.

Posted by alwaysbebombing

Every time I build a prison, it turns into a murder spree. It's a bummer.

Edited by GERALTITUDE

oh man those PES bugs...

And I too need to get around to playing La Mulana, especially since it's already on my Steam. Oh noes.. sounds like maybe Steam sales are evil! Except I am going to play La Mulana, so maybe not. Whatever.

Hate to pester you @patrickklepek but you gotta check out Hoplite. I promise once you do I'll never bring up an iOS game or Michigan: Report From Hell ever again, scout's honor.

Posted by Phatmac

Surprised by your reaction to Broken Age on the Bombin' episode today. I really enjoyed it although I am fairly biased as a backer.

Posted by Deathpooky

La Mulana 2! So excited and backing it like crazy. Only sad that the soundtrack for La Mulana 1 is locked behind one of the higher donation totals.

You definitely should play the first Patrick, it's a nice complement to Spelunky and Dark Souls, almost merging them with the original Metroid. Also a great soundtrack, though I kind of like the 8-bit freeware soundtrack more than its 16-bit new release counterpart.

Though unlike Dark Souls, I'd say a guide is pretty much required at times. Dark Souls you can muddle your way through and miss some of the more obtuse things without consequence, but for La Mulana parts of the critical game path are incredibly obtuse and it doesn't do a great job highlighting what happens after solving some puzzles or defeating some bosses. I'm really hoping they tweak the tablets, puzzles, and signaling in the sequel.

Edited by EuanDewar

The story about the Kingdom Hearts 2 fan is wonderful. Can be a lesson to everyone that if you're gonna give a game shit you should also be able to acknowledge that it probably holds some special significance to all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons.

Kind of goes hand in hand with that Kaiju Tanuki tweet actually.

Posted by gaminghooligan

Kingdome Come: Deliverance sounds awesome, but if they're promising a realistic experience they had better deliver.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@euandewar:

What if it's special to you because it's shit?

Edited by joshwent

I liked the booth babe article. I've hoped for a long time that some frequent business attendee would be able to empirically prove what we've all assumed for a long time, that shit is just plain awkward.

Now, if only there was some major video game convention that we could praise for having banned booth babes years ago...

Posted by EuanDewar

@video_game_king: That works as well. Im talking less of an acknowledgement of a game's quality and more an acknowledgement of it's worth to people.

Posted by Sergio

I don't think Spencer Chen really debunked booth babes. What he has proven is that hired models don't work for his products and services at the type of industry events he attends for the convention goers he wants to attract. I'm pretty sure other companies in various fields have researched the effectiveness of hired models to see if they work or not, much like how many of them look into what type of booth layouts and presentations work for them.

This is not to say even if it is actually beneficial to other companies whether or not they should employ hired models, just that Spencer Chen has only proven what works for his own convention presentations.

Posted by Fuwano

@euandewar: I think it is fine to shit on a game as long as you can accept that others can get something different out of their experience.

Edited by GasparNolasco

The booth babe article is kinda faulty. I mean, if the experiment was putting two attractive models in one booth and two unattractive women with understanding of the subject in the other, doesn't that kinda shows that you could very well use the budget to hire one expert and one model to each booth? Why not go with that, then? Being your public mostly male, as it often happens in tech conventions, a model will always end up attracting people.

Thought I'd agree that adding in some male "booth babes" would also work, since the women (and men that don't like speaking with models) would feel more at ease, I'm against banning them altogether like the folks at PAX did.

Posted by aceofspudz

Prison Architect is in alpha. If you play a game that is clearly marked 'alpha', you are entitled to underdeveloped game mechanics at best. I'm looking forward to Paolo's hand-wringing upon the release of the finished game. No, wait. I'm not. But that's a separate issue.

Don't buy games in an alpha state. Don't talk about games in an alpha state (you should be under an NDA if you're playing an alpha). Don't play games in an alpha state unless you're being paid. "Alpha" in my world basically means, "Fuck you".

Releasing an unfinished game to the public is an attempt to have it both ways: they want the money and attention that comes with a finished game, but the immunity to criticism that comes with an unfinished one. Maybe Paolo has a point, or maybe he's simply jumping the gun on a feature that they couldn't possibly implement given that the developers have admitted the basic functionality of Prison Architect is still buggy and undeveloped. There's no way of knowing. Maybe the things he's asking for don't fit the tone of the game. Again, who knows? It's not fucking done.

A world where critics are forced to generate half-assed critiques (like you all are being forced to do with Unfinished) of half-assed games is a world where something has gone wrong.

Posted by mrfluke

as much as the staff on this site has no interest in kingdom hearts (which is ok)

that series does very much hold emotional value for people.

Posted by TurboMan

Dojo of Death is legit.

Posted by BigD145

Apple hasn't innovated in a decade or more, so no I can't tell the difference between those games.

Posted by Brodehouse

Prison Architect is in alpha. If you play a game that is clearly marked 'alpha', you are entitled to underdeveloped game mechanics at best. I'm looking forward to Paolo's hand-wringing upon the release of the finished game. No, wait. I'm not. But that's a separate issue.

Don't buy games in an alpha state. Don't talk about games in an alpha state (you should be under an NDA if you're playing an alpha). Don't play games in an alpha state unless you're being paid. "Alpha" in my world basically means, "Fuck you".

Would maybe not phrase it as confrontational, but I have to agree with you. Seems patently weird to buy a game that is specifically not finished and then ruminate about the things that it should have in it.

Spencer Chen's booth babe article is really no surprise. Booth babes might have worked when the press side of this industry (arguably all sides of this industry) were largely amateurs with no credentials beyond an audience (sometimes not even then)... but it's not going to fly when this is a multi-billion dollar industry where the people writing about it need a college degree for an entry level position, not when professionalism is demanded.

I wouldn't ban them a la PAX just because I'm not the kind of guy who is going to tell you you can't be sexy... but I wouldn't use them, because anyone who matters is either not going to be positively affected or will be actively negatively turned off by their presence.

@joshwent said:

Now, if only there was some major video game convention that we could praise for having banned booth babes years ago...

I hear that's the one where minorities and women are whipped with car antennaes! I heard it on the internet!

Edited by Shivoa

Can't say I agree with the article about difficulty being the point of games.

Had too much to say for a comment so I blogged a response.

Posted by AMyggen

@mrfluke: There's some Things I can't understand, and the KH series being emotional for anyone is one of them.

Posted by Sweetz

Alex and Patrick's opinion on Broken Age aligns with mine. Shay is boring in comparison to Vella and with 2 or 3 exceptions the puzzle solutions are obvious to the point of being trivial. The game is still good and the overarching story is much more interesting than the character's themselves, but overall it falls far short of Schafer's previous work.

Posted by golguin

@mrfluke said:

as much as the staff on this site has no interest in kingdom hearts (which is ok)

that series does very much hold emotional value for people.

The thing that happened to Xion in KH: 358/2 Days is basically what happened to another character in To the Moon and a whole bunch of people praise that game for it's emotional impact. I own both games and I'd dare someone to deny the comparison. The same thing LITERALLY happens.

Posted by Scotto

Prison Architect is in alpha. If you play a game that is clearly marked 'alpha', you are entitled to underdeveloped game mechanics at best. I'm looking forward to Paolo's hand-wringing upon the release of the finished game. No, wait. I'm not. But that's a separate issue.

Don't buy games in an alpha state. Don't talk about games in an alpha state (you should be under an NDA if you're playing an alpha). Don't play games in an alpha state unless you're being paid. "Alpha" in my world basically means, "Fuck you".

Releasing an unfinished game to the public is an attempt to have it both ways: they want the money and attention that comes with a finished game, but the immunity to criticism that comes with an unfinished one. Maybe Paolo has a point, or maybe he's simply jumping the gun on a feature that they couldn't possibly implement given that the developers have admitted the basic functionality of Prison Architect is still buggy and undeveloped. There's no way of knowing. Maybe the things he's asking for don't fit the tone of the game. Again, who knows? It's not fucking done.

A world where critics are forced to generate half-assed critiques (like you all are being forced to do with Unfinished) of half-assed games is a world where something has gone wrong.

I think selling games in an alpha state is fine, as long as they are clearly marked as such. It can even be useful for getting ongoing constructive criticism for where the game's development should go, from buyers.

I think writing serious articles about sociological shortcomings in the mechanics of a game in an alpha state, is fucking dumb, and another example of Kotaku being... Kotaku.

Posted by RecSpec

That tweet about Advance Wars. Damn.

Edited by RecSpec

@golguin said:

@mrfluke said:

as much as the staff on this site has no interest in kingdom hearts (which is ok)

that series does very much hold emotional value for people.

The thing that happened to Xion in KH: 358/2 Days is basically what happened to another character in To the Moon and a whole bunch of people praise that game for it's emotional impact. I own both games and I'd dare someone to deny the comparison. The same thing LITERALLY happens.

The actual "thing" may be the same, but the relationship between the characters is on a totally different level. Which is why the "thing" hits harder. Also, To the Moon got to the point and didn't have you being errand boy instead of advancing the plot.

Edit: I should say, despite the series best efforts to lose me (haven't played a KH game start to finish since 2), the premise of Kingdom Hearts 3 is amazing and I can't wait to play it.

Edited by golguin

@recspec said:

@golguin said:

@mrfluke said:

as much as the staff on this site has no interest in kingdom hearts (which is ok)

that series does very much hold emotional value for people.

The thing that happened to Xion in KH: 358/2 Days is basically what happened to another character in To the Moon and a whole bunch of people praise that game for it's emotional impact. I own both games and I'd dare someone to deny the comparison. The same thing LITERALLY happens.

The actual "thing" may be the same, but the relationship between the characters is on a totally different level. Which is why the "thing" hits harder. Also, To the Moon got to the point and didn't have you being errand boy instead of advancing the plot.

Edit: I should say, despite the series best efforts to lose me (haven't played a KH game start to finish since 2), the premise of Kingdom Hearts 3 is amazing and I can't wait to play it.

For anyone wondering this is the scene in question.

The KH spoiler video is above for that scene.

I'm not going to argue that the "thing" in To the Moon doesn't hit harder, but it's definitely the saddest and most tragic moment in the KH series. The characters even face a similar "syndrome" that causes them to be emotionally distant and incapable of expressing their emotions. The controversial line of dialogue is what it is because they don't know how else to express themselves.

The story of 358/2 Days does get watered down by the combat/gameplay, but the movie from KH 1.5 Remix cuts it all down to 3 hours so it's a tighter package. If you don't care about the characters in 358/2 Days then the moment wont work. The same goes for To the Moon. If you read the youtube comments posted for each game's scene you'll see people talking about how they cried.

Posted by ILikePopCans

Dude, that's some hot Jeanne D'Arc drop.That was a pretty good game.

Posted by mrfluke

@golguin said:

@recspec said:

@golguin said:

@mrfluke said:

as much as the staff on this site has no interest in kingdom hearts (which is ok)

that series does very much hold emotional value for people.

The thing that happened to Xion in KH: 358/2 Days is basically what happened to another character in To the Moon and a whole bunch of people praise that game for it's emotional impact. I own both games and I'd dare someone to deny the comparison. The same thing LITERALLY happens.

The actual "thing" may be the same, but the relationship between the characters is on a totally different level. Which is why the "thing" hits harder. Also, To the Moon got to the point and didn't have you being errand boy instead of advancing the plot.

Edit: I should say, despite the series best efforts to lose me (haven't played a KH game start to finish since 2), the premise of Kingdom Hearts 3 is amazing and I can't wait to play it.

For anyone wondering this is the scene in question.

The KH spoiler video is above for that scene.

I'm not going to argue that the "thing" in To the Moon doesn't hit harder, but it's definitely the saddest and most tragic moment in the KH series. The characters even face a similar "syndrome" that causes them to be emotionally distant and incapable of expressing their emotions. The controversial line of dialogue is what it is because they don't know how else to express themselves.

The story of 358/2 Days does get watered down by the combat/gameplay, but the movie from KH 1.5 Remix cuts it all down to 3 hours so it's a tighter package. If you don't care about the characters in 358/2 Days then the moment wont work. The same goes for To the Moon. If you read the youtube comments posted for each game's scene you'll see people talking about how they cried.

So @amyggen its pretty much this, and also the fact that i know quite a lot of people that started the 1st kingdom hearts when they were 12. so they have a lot of nostalgia with the series,

and similar with the youtube comments, theres are youtube videos and facebook posts where people talk about the sentimental value they have for the series.

Edited by LackingSaint

Love the video on level design in Half-Life 2: Episode 2, made me remember why I have so much fondness for that series. Man, I should replay that series...

Posted by OneFreeman

@bigd145 said:

Apple hasn't innovated in a decade or more, so no I can't tell the difference between those games.

What the hell are you talking about?!

Edited by Brendan

That Eurogamer article was a rag.

Posted by BigD145

@bigd145 said:

Apple hasn't innovated in a decade or more, so no I can't tell the difference between those games.

What the hell are you talking about?!

Just poking fun at Apple which slashed R&D employees and has been running off the same designs for quite some time.

Posted by BigD145

The makers of Prison Architect have made a video response to the kotaku article. Must watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=netYNUAq_ZQ

Also, Prison Architect is not set in bloody fucking America!

Posted by Brodehouse

@bigd145: What I especially like about this is the relaxed tone and fair-minded, reasonable nature of both these blokes. I feel that most of the game developers Kotaku claims are directly responsible for every social ill in the world are probably like these guys. It takes a degree of character to respond in a relaxed manner when someone picks you for public scorn and claims you are contributing to the suffering of others.

Edited by fisk0

That Half-life 2 video was really interesting, also reminds me of a piece about Doom that John Romero shared a couple of weeks ago, about the level design in Doom (and why Brutal Doom is made on an misunderstanding of what Doom is all about). It goes less into the level designs of specific levels the way that HL2 video did, but does instead talk about the monster behaviors and how different kinds of monsters are used in Doom levels: http://blog.danbo.vg/post/50094276897/the-most-misunderstood-game-of-all-time

Posted by MonkeyKing1969

"Spencer Chen uses his own marketing experience to debunk booth babes."

Everything he says seems logical and he has enough circumstantial evidence of 'conversions' to back up his claims. But my questions would be "What happens at e3?" As near as I can tell the buyers for Wal-mart, Target, Sears, Best Buy, or anyone else are not on the show floors of ANY games shows. The business of selling games into stores is not being done on the show floor anymore, and hasn't been done there for more than a decade. The business deals are not even being done in the back rooms of the big booth by appointment either. As near as I can tell EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Take 2, Capcom, Namco-Bandi, Square-Enix-Eidos and everyone else IS NOT DOING BUSINESS at their booth anymore. Its is all media coverage, gland-handing, and "being there", right?

Someone tell me I'm wrong? Isn't that also why there was a crisis of "What they hell is e3 for?" a few years ago? e3 is no longer a trade show, or a demonstration to buyers show - it is a media event. Thus the argument for why booth babes should be removed from gaming shows cannot use the same argument. In fact as a media show, you woudl have to do a totally different study about what effect having pretty women greeting at the booth has on media coverage.

Because that is the question for gaming conventions? What is happening at these conventions? And, what effect to certain spokesmodels (promotional model) have on media coverage if in fact that is what is happening?

Posted by Smorlock

That Zelda glitch seems so easy to accidentally pull off in normal gameplay I'm amazed nobody stumbled across it before.

Posted by Decaped

@smorlock: Not quite. It requires you to not save at all, or hit multiple different owl statues, before you get the song of soaring.

Posted by Dixavd

I'm incredibly glad for the link to that Kingdom Hearts II depression message. It wasn't an article or a long-winded life story. Just a personal message.

I don't think it was meant to make me feel this, but damn does it make me feel like I'm on the edge of crying. For me Kingdom Hearts II holds two important memories for me: Playing it at the start of Summer and hearing Roxas's line on his Summer ending really hit me - there's nothing like seeing a fictional character literally cease to exist at the end of their Summer that makes you determined to cherish your own. And Second, I happened to also end up in Hospital during the Summer and my Dad gave me his portable PS2 (his job required him to go from city-to-city for different Businesses, so he bought a portable PS2 with a screen for hotels) for a good 2 weeks so I could continue to play it while I was in Hospital.

Posted by Hassun
Edited by VincentOmodei

Ukraine protest footage and photos look more like Metro concept art... hope all is well with you and yours 4A.

Posted by Griffinmills

"Spencer Chen uses his own marketing experience to debunk booth babes."

Everything he says seems logical and he has enough circumstantial evidence of 'conversions' to back up his claims. But my questions would be "What happens at e3?" As near as I can tell the buyers for Wal-mart, Target, Sears, Best Buy, or anyone else are not on the show floors of ANY games shows. The

business

of selling games into stores is not being done on the show floor anymore, and hasn't been done there for more than a decade. The business deals are not even being done in the back rooms of the big booth by appointment either. As near as I can tell EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Take 2, Capcom, Namco-Bandi, Square-Enix-Eidos and everyone else IS NOT DOING BUSINESS at their booth anymore. Its is all media coverage, gland-handing, and "being there", right?

Someone tell me I'm wrong? Isn't that also why there was a crisis of "What they hell is e3 for?" a few years ago? e3 is no longer a trade show, or a demonstration to buyers show - it is a media event. Thus the argument for why booth babes should be removed from gaming shows cannot use the same argument. In fact as a media show, you woudl have to do a totally different study about what effect having pretty women greeting at the booth has on media coverage.

Because that is the question for gaming conventions? What is happening at these conventions? And, what effect to certain spokesmodels (promotional model) have on media coverage if in fact that is what is happening?

Totally agree, Duder. The situations present are all so different in a many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Even if you just limit it to the test in the article there are a lot of variables ignored. He does make a good case for further study at least.

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