mrsmiley's forum posts

#1 Posted by mrsmiley (1061 posts) -

As a former journalist for one of the first iOS gaming websites (TouchGen, now offline), this conversation is one that I've had with countless other developers and journalists, but is not one I ever saw gamers intelligently discussing. This interview was fantastic, and it's great to get this perspective out to a broader audience.

One of my biggest issues with gamers these days is a twisted sense of entitlement. They'll pay $20 for a game that lasts 6 hours, complain that it was "too short for the asking price," then go pay $30 for two 2-hour 3D movies. Huh? Why the hell are video games consistently held to a completely different standard than any other forms of entertainment media? People will buy a completely un-interactive movie on Blu-Ray for $20 that they will maybe watch once or twice, but won't spend $2 on a mobile game that will offer them far more hours of entertainment? It blows my mind.

#2 Posted by mrsmiley (1061 posts) -

It seems he's just trying everything he can with little regard to whether those decisions make sense.

I don't see this going well.

My exact thoughts. If anything, I came away from this article more worried for them than anything. Oh well, great read, Patrick!

#3 Posted by mrsmiley (1061 posts) -

A fine introspective article, Patrick. I am also one of those "Han Solo with a heart of gold" players (great title, by the way). Actually, I'm one of those people who plays role-playing games as if I was the character. So, for instance, in the Mass Effect trilogy, I played as paragon for the most part, but that didn't stop me from being pissed in certain situations and reacting as such. I think Mass Effect is the only game that truly let me embody the character I was playing. The choices you had available in most situations made sense, whether they were paragon, renegade, or neutral. Some games advertise that they give you a choice, but when you are presented with choices, they either don't make sense, or aren't actual choices at all. Watch Dogs definitely seems like the latter game. GTA V is also similar, where "technically" you have some choice, but for the most part the game is pretty linear. I really hope for more games like the ME3 trilogy in the future. Sure, the ending didn't live up to expectations, but the rest of the game drastically changed based on your choices, and it was highly satisfying.

#4 Posted by mrsmiley (1061 posts) -

  • Pyrella's spin on a Metroid-inspired action game is making darkness a key component.

Go fund this! I know one of the guys working on it, and he is no newcomer to game development. The footage they show already looks great, if not a little lackluster, mainly because it's pre-alpha. In the end, I'm always down for a new metroidvania game with cool mechanics. :)

#5 Posted by mrsmiley (1061 posts) -

@mrsmiley: I actually very much appreciate the advice of the community and have followed it. I have removed the quotes that related to the Bot Colony concept. The only Review currently displayed on the Steam page of Bot Colony is from here

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/07/07/bot-colony-alpha-review/

and it says:

Despite...my occasional exasperation with Jimmy, it turns out I enjoy the hell out of telling robots to do things and then watching them do things. When it works, it’s oddly satisfying. When it doesn’t work, it’s generally amusing.

I think this is fair.

I think it is fair as well! Thanks for keeping an open mind, and as I've said before, best of luck with the game! If Patrick does end up writing an article on this ordeal, it's great to know it can have a happy ending. Most gamers like supporting honest and up-front developers when they can, and I think this, while it may have started off sour, is a good example of a developer being upfront, but also being willing to take consideration of opinions they don't necessarily agree with at first. I'm sure this will only do you and your team well in the future. Cheers!

#6 Edited by mrsmiley (1061 posts) -

@botcolony said:

@mb: We did not make any deliberate attempt to mislead anyone. Our company started as a R&D company in AI and Natural Language Understanding in 2001, and until 2007 we had no idea we would one day put out a game. We learned about making games by attending local chapter meetings of IGDA. We don't have any senior person on board experienced in the game industry (although we employed at one point more than a dozen Ph.D.'s). Most of our developers never worked on a game, unfortunately. The Steam store page has a field Reviews, and the same store page format is used for Indie games (that don't have reviews) as for other, AAA games (which do have reviews). Since we didn't have a game before Early Access, how could we have game reviews? The next best thing we had was articles about the concept, the technology, the story, etc. - and we quoted them in the Reviews field, since it seemed to be the only place we could mention them. There's a lot of novelty about Bot Colony - you can shoot, wreck cars, fight in a million other games, but we elected to do something different. So, I think that posting articles about something that's truly genre-defining, to explain what the novelty was, was OK. If you define review as a hands-on gameplay session by a game journalist, what we have there is not reviews, but people do write reviews of films, books, shows, etc. which are conceptual, so it's a fair use of the word. In the meantime, there are gameplay reviews on Steam of people who actually have played the game, and prospective buyers can rely on those.

You just admitted to the core issue of this game: it feels like it was made by people who don't know how to make games. I have tried to offer my own experienced feedback from a gamer/critic's standpoint. You have heard countless bits of feedback from actual gamers both in this thread and the comments on Vinny's video. In addition, you have seen that, whether or not you deliberately attempted to mislead anyone, you are misleading people. I feel like your next steps seem pretty clear here, but in case they aren't, let me lay them out for you:

- Remove the out-of-context quotes from the Reviews section on Steam. It doesn't matter what other people do. Finger pointing in this business makes you look worse.

- Start listening to feedback from actual gamers about your games. If almost no one on your staff has any experience making games, doesn't it make sense to listen to those who have played/made/reviewed games?

- Instead of stating that players don't know how to play your game, take a step back focus on how you can better teach players how to play your game through the design itself. Vinny has been playing video games his whole life. If he can't figure things out after playing for 90 minutes, that seems to say something about the game's design, no?

What you do from here is up to you, but you can't say we didn't try to help.

#7 Posted by mrsmiley (1061 posts) -

People are acting like it's Vinny's fault, like the main problem was it mistaking what he was saying. Why that game sucks is that even when he typed the correct thing, in multiple grammatical ways "place the shaker down" "put the salt shaker down" "move the salt shaker to the left" the robot never did anything remotely right. Even when Vinny clicked on one side of the huge counter, the robot went all the way to the other.

The only one mentioning it was remotely Vinny's fault is one of the developers. Plenty of people (including me in my above comments) have pointed out that the game didn't even seen to work when Vinny typed commands.

#8 Edited by mrsmiley (1061 posts) -

@botcolony said:

@mrsmiley: It doesn't require more training, it requires a speech model for bigrams and trigrams, that Microsoft speech can take as input. We don't have the speech model in the version that Vinny used. But the best solution would be to reach a deal with Nuance (it is a commercial issue, not a technical one).

Your points about commands that should have been understood but weren't is well taken. Here's what I posted on that in the main GB thread:

Yeah someone else posted about the fact that the game isn't using it's own speech engine (hence having to use your version of Microsoft's speech calibration tool). That certainly explains a lot, but as I mentioned in my reply, the issues with the game transitioned from speech to actual gameplay in the last half of the video or so. I agree with what you said in response to someone else about not allowing voice recognition unless a specific score is reached. In it's current format, there is literally no feedback as to how well you are doing in training. This could just be a limitation of the MS speech software, but that doesn't make things any better. Direct feedback on how many words were recognized for each sentence read, are at the very least a final score at the end of the training, would be great if it's possible.

But again, the main issue itself doesn't seem to relate to voice recognition as much as does the commands themselves, or the robot's actions in response to valid commands. You guys are really fighting an uphill battle with this game, and I feel for you. Not only are you dealing with Microsoft's inferior voice recognition software, but you are creating a game that runs off specific, user-created commands. Any game that allows the user to type in or say commands to make things happen is always going to frustrate the user in some way. I remember old games like the Quest for Glory series that allowed direct command input from typing. Those games were frustrating because there was always a disconnect between what the game wanted you to say, and what you wanted to say. Essentially, it's always the developers vs. the gamers in this genre of game, and there's no easy way to get around that.

My closing thoughts for you and the team, since this is still just an alpha build of the game, is this:

PLEASE test this game by having "normal people" play it. Not developers. Not family members. Not game critics. Not anyone else who is aware of this project. When you do this, takes notes, and keep an open mind. One of the biggest issues I've seen during my time as a game critic (and also a QA tester for some games) was the "developer bubble", especially with independent studios. In the developer bubble, everyone is super passionate about their project, but that passion causes them to make a game that they want to play, rather than something that a larger audience can play and enjoy. Sometimes getting honest feedback hurts, but there is no downside to discussing and considering it, as you seem to be doing here. I really hope you guys continue to consider feedback for Bot Colony, as it really is an interesting game, and the premise isn't like anything I've seen before.

Cheers!

#9 Posted by mrsmiley (1061 posts) -

My post in the main thread on giantbomb.com enumerates the real technical problems highlighted in Vinny's session. They're manageable. I feel that Vinny did make the game look terrible, to put on a good show. Using keyboard correction, for example, would have solved 90% of the heartburn, but then he wouldn't have such a juicy show, right? He only used it once or twice at the end. Also, he asked for the robot's commands, but never used the information. Why? To issue unsupported commands?

_________________________

First off, my apologies for any GB users that act like dicks towards you. This is an online community, so there will always be those people. I know that the GB crew doesn't appreciate those kinds of people, but they are still here.

Ok, so I replied to your post in the comments section after you posted, but I will re-post it here (slightly modified):

Out of curiosity, how much training is needed to have the experience in the videos you linked? I mean, Vinny went through a good 15-20 minutes of it. Do you have to repeat the training 2-3 times for it to work properly? As others have said, Vinny was very generous in trying to speak as clearly as possible, often directly facing the microphone (and yes, a boom mic should work fine for something like this as long as there isn't background noise, which there wasn't).

I respect what you guys are doing, but when there is voice recognition software out there (Siri, Google Voice, etc) that accurately recognizes voice and context with zero training, I can completely see why someone would become frustrated with this game, as they would expect the voice recognition to be as a good as tech that has been existing for years. If "old" technology does all that with zero training, it is expected that new technology, with training, should be at least up to par with what currently exists. Yes, I realize that an independent developer isn't Google or Apple, but most people don't consider that when it comes to expectations. That is something you should consider.

I should also mention that, even when Vinny's commands were recognized, or when he typed commands, the robot often still didn't understand, or performed an action totally different than what was commanded. I mean, just watch the last 15 minutes of the video. The voice recognition wasn't the main issue at all. There were several points where Vinny manually corrected the recognized text by typing (as you suggested), and the robot still didn't follow the commands properly. The whole pepper grinder situation was laughable, not because of a lack of voice recognition, but because of the robot did not do what was commanded. When you tell the robot to put something down, then click directly on where he should put it down, he shouldn't then turn around and put the object down on a completely different surface. That's not Vinny's issue, that's a game issue.

I wish you the best of luck with this game, and I honestly hope that you respond to Patrick when he gets in touch with you. I would love to see how the game performs with a fully "trained voice profile", but I have a feeling much of the frustrations will still be there since Vinny's attempts at manually entering commands still proved fruitless. As someone who used to review games (TouchGen.com) for several years before the site closed, I know first-hand that how developers think players will play their games, and how players actually play their games are two completely different things.

#10 Edited by mrsmiley (1061 posts) -

@patrickklepek if you pre-order from amazon, you don't pay a dime until it is shipped. most games have reviews out a few days before launch, which allows you to see if it's something you really want to spend money on. if it looks like crap, just cancel the preorder. i actually pre-ordered destiny WAAAY back in the day just so i could get into the beta to test it out. if i don't like it after playing the beta, i can cancel the pre-order. no harm, no foul. :)