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Worth Reading: 02/01/13

Things are just all over the place this week. Weird games, serious articles, YouTube confessionals, and plenty more.

This was a topic I planned to bring up on the next Bombcast, but I’ll toss it your way ahead of time.

I’m playing Fire Emblem: Awakening, right? It’s a good kind of stressful, and a satisfying step forward into my understanding of strategy games, based on my experience with XCOM. Everyone told me to play the game with permadeath switched on, despite the introduction of a casual mode, where soldiers just “faint” and come back after the battle is over. Fire Emblem had permadeath before permadeath was cool, or became a hardcore player’s badge of honor. Against my natural tendencies, I turned it on.

So far, I’ve only “lost” one of my soldiers. I should have lost a bunch more, but Fire Emblem doesn’t overwrite your save each turn, so you can turn off the machine, reload a save, and pretend nothing happened. I’ve done that a few times, and probably will do that a few more times before my time with the game is over. Thing is, am I playing it wrong? Is restarting a chapter undermining the whole point of embracing the concept of permadeath? To some extent, I’m forgiving myself for just coming to grips with the game’s mechanics, but at some point soon, I’m only doing it because I can’t grapple with failure.

It feels wrong, so it probably is. Soon, I’ll just have to give up on the concept of saving everyone, and if that means I’m left with a weak group of soldiers and can’t finish the game...so be it?

Hey, You Should Play This

Do you want to have a similar experience to last week's Unprofessional Friday, where Vinny and Ryan (tried to) pilot a real-life aircraft? How about with a fraction of the effort? Crashed Landing has you covered. Players are tasked with piloting a lander, and doing so with control over four different thrusters. It’s much, much harder than one would imagine, which is why there’s an “autopilot” switch (P) that engages all four at once, making navigation manageable. I’m wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as easy, since the later stages require some seriously squirrely manipulation to avoid destruction. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to try and pull it off with full control. Good luck?

Another one in the pile of...well, just play it. Did you like Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden? Okay, then.

And You Should Read This, Too

Video games are a convenient scapegoat for the violence in media debate because video games do a pretty terrific job at glorifying violence. Not all of us may come to these video games because of the violence, but it’s there, and what does our obsession with violence say about the medium, or at least its perception? Anyway, the always excellent Simon Parkin has filed this disturbingly enlightening report about the relationship between gun-focused video games, the money companies pay for the rights to include specific guns, and the reason gun manufacturers are more than happy to work with publishers to make this happen. That should disturb us. It disturbs me.

We have nearly closed the book on THQ as the company, but there are more stories to be told about what happened and why. MCV managed to get in touch with many of the companies who picked up the pieces from the now-defunct THQ, and why each piece appealed to them. There are a few choices quotes from former president Jason Rubin, who (rightly) attributes THQ’s demise to terrible decisions made prior to his arrival. There is only so much you can do to save a shambling corpse of a game publisher, and THQ was exactly that when Rubin showed up. (Audible sigh.)

If You Click It, It Will Play

Kickstarter Has Promise, And Hopefully Developers Don't Screw It Up

Yeah, Greenlight Still Has Issues, But Some Games Look Pretty Cool

This Kotaku Quote From Splinter Cell: Blacklight's Creative Director Bums Me Out

Our lead writer on Blacklist is Richard Dansky. When I called him, I said, 'Hey Richard, we're making Splinter Cell six, do you want to write it for us? And his first question was, 'Do I need to come up with a story that's gonna require Sam to take out 800 guys?' And I paused for a second and I said… 'This is sad, Richard, but I think so. We can talk about it, but I think at the end of the day… we want it to be more and more "ghost," [to have non-lethal options], but yeah, at the end of the day, it's just Sam Fisher and bad guys and maps, right?'

Patrick's Watching TED Talks As Part of a New Years Resolution, So Here You Go

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
208 Comments
Posted by csl316

Well, Asylum sure has potential.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Hailinel:

Have you seen how many different archetypes there are in the Fire Emblem community? Obsessive-compulsive is the norm. You don't want to know what saucy is.

Also, I thought RNG stood for "Random Number Goddess". She is a cruel but just goddess, so long as you stay in Fire Emblem. (Seems she soured on me in Tear Ring Saga.)

Posted by Hailinel

@Video_Game_King said:

@Hailinel:

Have you seen how many different archetypes there are in the Fire Emblem community? Obsessive-compulsive is the norm. You don't want to know what saucy is.

Also, I thought RNG stood for "Random Number Goddess". She is a cruel but just goddess, so long as you stay in Fire Emblem. (Seems she soured on me in Tear Ring Saga.)

Oh, I think I know what saucy is in that context, all right.

Posted by Dezztroy

@Hailinel said:

@Brodehouse said:

@Hailinel said:

@Dezztroy said:

What's so different about real guns appearing in games compared to, say, real cars?

By paying for the license to use real gun models in their games, developers are effectively funding weapons manufacturers.

By paying for the license to use real car models in their games, developers are effectively funding vehicle manufacturers.

@Antithesis said:

@Hailinel said:

@Dezztroy said:

What's so different about real guns appearing in games compared to, say, real cars?

By paying for the license to use real gun models in their games, developers are effectively funding weapons manufacturers.

By Paying for the license to use real car models in their games, developers are effectively funding car manufacturers.

Guns are items designed to hurt and kill people. Cars are not explicitly designed for that purpose. I figured that point was implicit in my comment, but since both of you apparently needed the clarification, there you are.

There are plenty of guns that are designed with a sporting/hunting purpose in mind and are not at all meant to be used against people.

There are plenty of car manufacturers that also produce and sell vehicles meant for combat. Does that make it immoral to advertise cars in games?

Edited by FrostedMiniWheats

Patrick:

The great thing about Fire Emblem as a single player experience is that there is nobody to answer to but yourself. How is playing it most fun for you? You say that restarting missions where you've lost characters feels wrong. Then don't do it! Or only restart to save key characters you worry you absolutely won't be able to progress without. Or only allow yourself one or two restarts per map. Figure out what's most fun for you and just do that.

Since you're fishing for other people's preferences though, I'm a restarter. There are two big reasons why. First of all, Fire Emblem is actually really good at telling you everything you need to know. There are no hidden stats or bizarre magic effects. Because of this, I have a lot of fun repeating combat scenarios just to try and maximize my margin of victory. Sure, I can win... but can I win without taking losses? Can I win without using those last few precious attacks on my magic weapon? Can I win while keeping my power couples together? Can I get experience to my least powerful members and also visit all the special map tiles for bonuses? Because of the transparency of information, whether I can achieve these goals or not is 100% in my hands. I've been known to repeat combat scenarios that I cleared without losses even. It's a different (and super nerdy) way to approach the game but it's fun for me.

Second: There's a good reason to keep your characters alive at the end of the game. I don't wanna spoil anything, but there is a reward there for people who get most of their units through to the credits.

Posted by BlazeHedgehog

Your last link about XNA just directs to the Zynga story.

Posted by Fleshfeast

I'll watch this TED talk later out of curiosity, but I'm instantly skeptical when someone tells me something isn't important, but has it or plenty of it. Don't trust a pretty person to tell you looks don't matter, don't trust a rich person to tell you money doesn't matter. I find it hard to believe that you know it doesn't matter, when you've never had to deal with not having it.

Posted by CornBREDX

The XNA link is the same as the Brian Reynolds goodbye letter. Just thought you should know Patrick. 

Posted by Judakel

I am going to start a Giant Bomb quotes file and add shit like "The implicit design of something has little to do with how it is actually used" to it. Idiots.

Posted by outerabiz

@Brodehouse said:

@posh said:

yeah i posted a thread about that eurogamer article and the giant bomb nazi squad did not like it one bit

46 posts to Godwin. Uh-mazing.

we have a nazi squad!?

Posted by therealnelsk

Haven't read the rest of the comments so someone might have mentioned this, but you got a small typo there Patrick. "I’m wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as easy". Just FYI, otherwise, love your stuff!

Edited by kitchendon

I'm wouldn't go so far as to describe it as easy, either. (^_^)

Thanks for linking to Crashed Lander, Patrick. I'm psyched to see that my game is getting played by so many people today.

For any of you that are playing (without the AutoPilot), here's my best score from earlier today on the InstaWorld level. 71.89 seconds. Free Internet Cookie if you can finish faster.

Posted by linus_south
Edited by granderojo

I was really disappointed to have not seen that Gabe lecture from Austin in this weeks Worth Reading.

You guys should watch this.

Posted by nohthink

So... finding a glitch doesn't count as cheating? [Referring to Zelda speed run video]

Posted by Peanut

Something else to check out for the weekend, gang. A game on XBLIG called Arcadecraft that just hit today. I started a thread in the XBLIG forum, because the game doesn't exist in the database, but haven't got a ton of response from it. I've been trying to shill it because I absolutely fell in love with the game in the 4 or so hours I sunk into it this afternoon and I think it's easily one of the best XBLIG's I've ever played. Did some searching and found out it's also on Steam Greenlight, which could be incredible if it had Steamworks support.

The devs promise free updates if the game is popular enough, so I'm trying to get some word of mouth going and hopefully give it a little boost. I've been dying for a game like this for years, so I'm incredibly enthusiastic about it.

Posted by Bishna

@Video_Game_King said:

And I guess I'll have to read the intro four to five months from now.

@Flappy said:

I believe it's safe to say that this is the mindset of the average Fire Emblem player. If a character is lost, curse the RNG, reset the level and learn from your mistakes. I consider it a form of learning.

Except for this. This is the correct way to play Fire Emblem. If you're feeling particularly saucy, you can abuse the RNG to get the bests stats per level up.

Oh shit thats right!. I had this weird memory of resetting and reloading my game every time someone leveled up in Path of Radiance. I couldn't remember why I did that, it was driving me crazy.

Posted by cadwr

The best thing about that Zelda speedrun is that the marathon it was a part of raised $448,423.27 for charity. It was an amazing week.

(I'm not saying that to diminish the run. It was a great speedrun. Cosmo always does a great job of explaining tricks while he is speedrunning.)

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Bishna said:

I couldn't remember why I did that, it was driving me crazy.

You probably blocked out the memory.

Posted by npa189

XCOM isn't this deep turn based strategy game you think it is, it is a fairly easy game if you have half a brain. Also, all heavies no medkits is the bast strategy always.

Posted by wizall

Jesus, that Chris Taylor interview/monologue/tirade was rough.

Posted by crusader8463

As to your reloading bit at the start, I think it's ok in some situations but it leads down a slippery slope if you are not careful or lack self control like I do. I think it's fine to do it when guys die in that kind of game due to the game screwing up or because you didn't understand some aspect of the game works the way it did, but once they die because you fucked up and you should have known better then the guy should stay dead. That's where the self control comes in however. Once I realized in X-Com that if you alt f4ed before the end of the enemies turn it would reload you back to the start of your turn so you could re move all your guys and basically undo one turn I couldn't stop abusing it. Even though I didn't want to I found myself abusing that feature because of how the game was made. Every time a situation would come up where one of my guys died it always felt like the game cheated more then it was any kind of not understand the game or bad tactics on my end, but because I had used it so much I just instinctively would reach for the alt f4 keys without even thinking about it and reset the turn.

If it happens early enough to a character you really feel strongly about wanting to keep around, then I would restart. If it's just some throw away cannon fodder guy then suck it up and use the guys replacement as a memento to never let that happen again. If you are just going to reset every time a guy you like dies then save yourself the hassle and turn on the easy mode. At that point you are just playing the game that way anyway and you are only fooling yourself.

Posted by Zekhariah

@nohthink said:

So... finding a glitch doesn't count as cheating? [Referring to Zelda speed run video]

Meh, speed runs are not competitive multiplayer. The point of it is to exploit the fastest path; a lot of the older ones associated with quake bear almost no resemblance to a normal playthrough. Do that is what differentiates someone who is good at the game vs. obsessive and way to knowledgeable.

Posted by Bishna

@Video_Game_King said:

@Bishna said:

I couldn't remember why I did that, it was driving me crazy.

You probably blocked out the memory.

Ya probably, it was certainly a dark time in my life. I am going to try and re-forget it so I don't end up doing it in Awakening.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Bishna:

You could always do worse. I played Tear Ring Saga before the fan patch came out, but still read off their scripts. Their programming scripts.

Posted by SithToast

Apparently, MS is NOT discontinuing DirectX, only XNA.

http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-false-alarm-we-arent-backing-away-from-directx-7000010647/

Posted by cannonballBAM

Cryamore looks rad.

Thanks Patrick.

Posted by Ghost_Cat

The Atlantic article on Hundreds is fucking disgusting. Way to review a game by making it sound pretentious as hell, while being pretentious as hell.

Edited by Dirune

@Antithesis said:

@Hailinel: The implicit design of something has little to do with how it is actually used. I get enjoyment from running a slick ar15 in 3 gun competition the same as a porche gt3 owner gets enjoyment from taking his car out on track days. An irresponsible or unstable person could use my 3 gun rig to hurt or kill people, and irresponsible person in a porche gt3 speeding on a highway could cause an accident and hurt or kill people.

Excellent point. Everybody on the road has a driving license (hopefully), but we still have accidents and drunk driving deaths all the time.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Yeah, no. You're not playing it wrong if you restart. Fire Emblem may have perma-death, but it's also far too cruel for any sort of real Ironman attempt. In XCOM, all of your soldiers are, for better or worse, infinitely replaceable. In Fire Emblem, losing your best characters is a death sentence.

Edited by YummyTreeSap

Dog of Dracula: GOTY, whatever year it was made.

Posted by Alex_Carrillo

@Antithesis said:

@Hailinel said:

@Antithesis said:

@Hailinel: The implicit design of something has little to do with how it is actually used. I get enjoyment from running a slick ar15 in 3 gun competition the same as a porche gt3 owner gets enjoyment from taking his car out on track days. An irresponsible or unstable person could use my 3 gun rig to hurt or kill people, and irresponsible person in a porche gt3 speeding on a highway could cause an accident and hurt or kill people.

A responsible driver won't kill anyone by driving their car unless there is an accident. A responsible gun owner could still injure or kill, based on the nature of their occupation.

While it might seem farfetched, it's not impossible for someone to be against the idea of funding a gun manufacturer with their own money (where profits go to the publisher/developer that licensed the rights to the models) while also buying and playing video games that prominently feature gun use.

I can understand not wanting your money to go to a weapons manufacturer if you aren't into the whole gun thing. People just need to realize that licenses for firearms are the same as licenses for anything else, some money has changed hands to have that thing appear in a game.

People do realize that and they're disgusted by it. That's kind of what this whole thing is about. A bit of reading comprehension would do you well.

Posted by Troffen

XCOM and Fire Emblem have very different takes on the concept of permadeath. From the start, XCOM tries to teach the player that death will happen and it's something you need to learn to deal with. FE sort of goes in the opposite direction - it tries to teach you that every unit is unique and irreplaceable, and goes out of its way to make you feel like shit when someone dies. The ability to reset in Fire Emblem isn't the same as alt+F4'ing in XCOM - it's a conscious design choice. It's up to the player to decide how to play. Ironmanning it or trying to save everyone are both valid and rewarding ways to play the game.

Posted by ShowNun

The Zynga link and the XNA link are the same

Posted by Snail

The last link is a duplicate of the penultimate one, and it just so happens it's among the ones I'm most interested in checking out. Hmpf.

Edited by Dirune

I remember being really interested in obtaining an HK Mk23 after playing through through Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation back in the day. When I finally got my hands on one I realized how heavy and impractical it was for me to wield effectively, especially when equipped with a suppressor and rail mounted flashlight as it was frequently shown in the game.

I have no issue with gun manufacturers licensing out their designs. It's simply a level of authenticity that some shooter developers engage in to provide realistic features to a game with infinite respawns and checkpoints.

The current media atmosphere surrounding firearms is most likely the reason why the game developers are silent. Gun makers are more forward with their involvement because they want to show they are accurately defining their product to interested parties.

Posted by Chris2KLee

I constantly reloaded X-COM, and got all my soldiers home. It's how I played the old game, and it's my general philosophy in most games: if someone can get out alive, I will get them out alive. Maybe I'll never get the coveted "Hardcore Gamer Badge" to wear on my... nonexistent gamer uniform or whatever, but it helps me enjoy games, and that's kinda the reason I play them.

Posted by Rxanadu

The "XNA is no longer supported" link directs me to the same article about Brian Reynolds' farewell letter from Zynga.

Does anyone have the link talking about the lack of support for XNA by Microsoft?

Posted by GrantHeaslip
Fire Emblem had permadeath before permadeath was cool, or became a hardcore player’s badge of honor.

Forgive me if I’m interpreting this wrong, but permadeath was cool before X-COM. Hell, for some people, it was cool before Fire Emblem came out on the Famicom.

Anyway, the always excellent Simon Parkin has filed this disturbingly enlightening report about the relationship between gun-focused video games, the money companies pay for the rights to include specific guns, and the reason gun manufacturers are more than happy to work with publishers to make this happen. That should disturb us. It disturbs me.

I read that aritcle yesterday, and it was great. I’m somewhat on the fence, because while it does rub the wrong way, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to scapegoat the gaming or arms industries for selling legal goods when the onus should be on the U.S. Senate, Congress and President to change the laws.

Also, here’s some free copy editing :

“MCV managed to get in touch with many of the companies who picked up the pieces from the now-defunct THQ, and [asked?] why each piece appealed to them.”

“Surgeon Greenlight[Simulator] 2013 is maybe the funniest game to come out of a game jam this year.”

“Giant Bomb [User] 7Force translates an interesting interview with the developers of Dark Souls.”

Posted by floodiastus

@Brodehouse said: You are trying way too hard to misunderstand what the discussion is about, it is not about what is legal or not at all. I am pretty sure everyone agrees that game studios paying weapons manufacturers is legal, the discussion is about if it is a good thing :)

@Hailinel said:

@Brodehouse said:

@Hailinel said:

@Dezztroy said:

What's so different about real guns appearing in games compared to, say, real cars?

By paying for the license to use real gun models in their games, developers are effectively funding weapons manufacturers.

By paying for the license to use real car models in their games, developers are effectively funding vehicle manufacturers.

@Antithesis said:

@Hailinel said:

@Dezztroy said:

What's so different about real guns appearing in games compared to, say, real cars?

By paying for the license to use real gun models in their games, developers are effectively funding weapons manufacturers.

By Paying for the license to use real car models in their games, developers are effectively funding car manufacturers.

Guns are items designed to hurt and kill people. Cars are not explicitly designed for that purpose. I figured that point was implicit in my comment, but since both of you apparently needed the clarification, there you are.

That doesn't change anything. Guns are items that are legally salable to adults in America and other Western countries. They're legal to buy, possess, sell and manufacture. There is no moral quotient to the sale or manufacture of legal consumer goods to adults. Trying to say there is one, and that 'it disturbs me' is nothing less than the obsequious moralizing and soft-handed censorship that already has a half-dozen legal industries ghettoized.

Posted by Antithesis

@Alex_Carrillo said:

@Antithesis said:

@Hailinel said:

@Antithesis said:

@Hailinel: The implicit design of something has little to do with how it is actually used. I get enjoyment from running a slick ar15 in 3 gun competition the same as a porche gt3 owner gets enjoyment from taking his car out on track days. An irresponsible or unstable person could use my 3 gun rig to hurt or kill people, and irresponsible person in a porche gt3 speeding on a highway could cause an accident and hurt or kill people.

A responsible driver won't kill anyone by driving their car unless there is an accident. A responsible gun owner could still injure or kill, based on the nature of their occupation.

While it might seem farfetched, it's not impossible for someone to be against the idea of funding a gun manufacturer with their own money (where profits go to the publisher/developer that licensed the rights to the models) while also buying and playing video games that prominently feature gun use.

I can understand not wanting your money to go to a weapons manufacturer if you aren't into the whole gun thing. People just need to realize that licenses for firearms are the same as licenses for anything else, some money has changed hands to have that thing appear in a game.

People do realize that and they're disgusted by it. That's kind of what this whole thing is about. A bit of reading comprehension would do you well.

If people realized that licensing for firearms is the same as anything else, why is this a story? licensed guns have been in games for a while, it's pretty obvious the gun manufacturers are paid for this, why the sudden outrage?

Posted by IcyEyes
Posted by FMinus

Wow, Taylor really is in a battle with his better judgement there, a fine guy with the heart in the right place in the clutches of the capitalist machinery.

Posted by mutha3
@Dirune said:

@Antithesis said:

@Hailinel: The implicit design of something has little to do with how it is actually used. I get enjoyment from running a slick ar15 in 3 gun competition the same as a porche gt3 owner gets enjoyment from taking his car out on track days. An irresponsible or unstable person could use my 3 gun rig to hurt or kill people, and irresponsible person in a porche gt3 speeding on a highway could cause an accident and hurt or kill people.

Excellent point. Everybody on the road has a driving license (hopefully), but we still have accidents and drunk driving deaths all the time.

You'd have a lot more without driver's licenses.
Posted by Vigil80

@Antithesis said:

@Alex_Carrillo said:

@Antithesis said:

@Hailinel said:

@Antithesis said:

@Hailinel: The implicit design of something has little to do with how it is actually used. I get enjoyment from running a slick ar15 in 3 gun competition the same as a porche gt3 owner gets enjoyment from taking his car out on track days. An irresponsible or unstable person could use my 3 gun rig to hurt or kill people, and irresponsible person in a porche gt3 speeding on a highway could cause an accident and hurt or kill people.

A responsible driver won't kill anyone by driving their car unless there is an accident. A responsible gun owner could still injure or kill, based on the nature of their occupation.

While it might seem farfetched, it's not impossible for someone to be against the idea of funding a gun manufacturer with their own money (where profits go to the publisher/developer that licensed the rights to the models) while also buying and playing video games that prominently feature gun use.

I can understand not wanting your money to go to a weapons manufacturer if you aren't into the whole gun thing. People just need to realize that licenses for firearms are the same as licenses for anything else, some money has changed hands to have that thing appear in a game.

People do realize that and they're disgusted by it. That's kind of what this whole thing is about. A bit of reading comprehension would do you well.

If people realized that licensing for firearms is the same as anything else, why is this a story? licensed guns have been in games for a while, it's pretty obvious the gun manufacturers are paid for this, why the sudden outrage?

The reasons why are obvious. People trying to distance themselves from atrocity, desperate to appear on the moral high ground, navel-gazing about human nature, and "Egads, is this part of the problem?" (Even though they already had nothing to do with it.) It's the same reasoning that has video games under fire in the first place, so it feels at least a little ironic when I see games industry pundits pontificating about it.

I think it's a bit intellectually dishonest, as well. Unless those same people are willing to boycott games other than Flower and Journey, and be similarly disturbed when Mountain Dew shows up next to a video game.

If no game ever licensed from a firearms manufacturer again, firearms would still get made. And not a single one of them would hurt anyone by itself.

Posted by PinstripeHourglass

Great article Patrick, but the XNA link links to the Zynga article.

Posted by KaneRobot

@Rxanadu said:

The "XNA is no longer supported" link directs me to the same article about Brian Reynolds' farewell letter from Zynga.

Does anyone have the link talking about the lack of support for XNA by Microsoft?

Also interested in this. Didn't know MS actually dropped support for it, although the amount of attention they paid to it before was pretty insulting so I guess officially dumping it may be...well, not better. But more honest? What a waste of potential.

Posted by sissylion

@Mr_Misery said:

What does that Cameron Russell video have to do with video games?

It doesn't. Patrick is just posting the TED talk he's going to watch/has watched for the week because he finds it interesting and wants to share.

Posted by Stevemax

That Zelda:OoT speed run.

MY GOD! Impressive.