Games Journalism 2013: The Wherever-the-hell-this-is-going-...ing

New year, new thread! Slightly more neutral this time, so people might feel free to also post positively outstanding tidbits if they don’t feel they deserve their own thread.

Yeah, HMV is a big deal in the UK, I get it. Still…

Angry grandfather walks out of HMV with 3 games after staff refuse to accept gift voucher

Angry granddad takes games from HMV store after his vouchers were refused

While I can see EG trying to use it as a hook to point out the voucher problem, this still seems like such a non-story. Really.

Blogger sees if he can spread false rumors to game journalists. Succeeds wildly.

Oh man, that is amazing. I love the passive-aggressive “not our fault” update from the first site:

Sadly then, X-Surface has fooled us, and in doing so has perhaps swayed us against bringing you genuine tips in future, such as the Opera Ice browser exclusive we ran at the end of last week, which also started out as an anonymous tip, but grew into so much more. That’s perhaps the saddest part of all.

While I can see EG trying to use it as a hook to point out the voucher problem, this still seems like such a non-story. Really.

Not sure why. The HMV gift voucher story has been pretty big in the UK (and Ireland, where the EG story is from). A quick search of the BBC News website shows five separate stories on gift vouchers in the last week.

Again, I’m aware of how big HMV is/was and that the insolvency will have a corresponding impact. It’s just that the focal point of the stories linked above is: “Some angry dude takes the games he wants somewhere.”

I love what you did with the Title JD, and for sure i’ll post any stuff i come across here, thanks for the new thread. I’ll start with this (as religion is a fave subject of mine):

‘The Best (and Worst) use of Religion in Video Games’:

http://www.pushselectmagazine.com/2013/01/14/religion-and-video-games/

I hate ‘achievements’, to the point of not playing any games that make them a central feature, so this article on gamasutra was a therapeutic read:

Your feelings about achievements notwithstanding, the article you linked really only explains how some games really don’t have a grasp on doing them well. There are games and developers that handle them extremely well - Valve, for instance, in the Portal and Half-Life games, use achievements to direct players toward actions or paths that may not otherwise occur to them.

. There are games and developers that handle them extremely well - Valve, for instance, in the Portal and Half-Life games, use achievements to direct players toward actions or paths that may not otherwise occur to them.

Or to make jokes.

GLaDos: Well this is the part where he kills you

Wheatley: Hello, this is the part where I kill you

Chapter 9 The Part Where He Kills You

Achievment: The Part Where He Kill You (This Is That Part)

As far as I’m concerned, the best achievements are the ones that essentially provide bonus activities that you may not have thought of. My favorite example of this is the achievement in GTA IV that asks you to fly under every bridge in Liberty City (mostly because of the one bridge that is about fifteen feet above the water). Brutal Legend also had some great ones, like the one where you have to jump on one of the motorcycle pigs, ride it across the entire game world, and ditch in the sea of sorrow.

That’s exactly what I’m talking about, Funkula. The stuff in Half-Life 2 that I was thinking of were the achievements for getting through Ravenholme using only the gravity gun, or crossing the sandy antlion path without touching the sand. I would not have tried them otherwise - they were almost like mini games to me.

That’s exactly what Burgun says on the last page of his article. He’s just calling them variants and saying that we don’t need a little notification ding to convince players to try out deviations from the base rules.

Yeah, except he wants them to be unlockable dedicated game modes rather than being something you can do in normal play.

I don’t think he’s necessarily arguing that they have to be unlockable, but, yes, he’s talking about separate game modes.

I think the different check boxes in starting a custom Civ 4 game are a great example of what he means: Things like one-city challenge, no tech trading, etc. Those are variants, and they make you play Civ in a way you might not otherwise.

But if his argument is that achievements impinge on players feeling of creativity by making it just a checkbox, that “variant” system is even worse. It’s removing any possibility of stumbling on a challenge by making the challenge explicit. On the balance, I’d say you’re robbing more people of experience of discovery than if you’d had secret achievements.

Also, I think this might be a him-problem not a game problem. I’ve never heard anybody say “I did this awesome thing, but since I got an achivement I was like, whatever”. I do hear people say “I did this awesome thing, man there totally should’ve been an achievement for that”.

Some achievements are better designed than others. Some games are better suited to them than others. And there’s a lot of wishy-washy stuff that’s hard to quantify, and thus hard to design achievements for. But his solution doesn’t really address those problems.

He does have a good point, I think, pointing to the issue that achievements are a one time thing, and you get them once and it’s over. Especially in open world or MP games. But there are solutions to that to, things like the randomly shuffled short term goals in games like Jetpack Joyride, or the super long term achievements in TF2, not to mention the ability to add more achievements over time that you have in Steam.

Well, some games go too far with the “secret achievement” thing; DJ Max Technika TUNE has everything except its platinum trophy hidden, and Spelunker HD has everything including its platinum trophy hidden. Hiding them like that serves no purpose other than encouraging players to look up achievement lists.

Another thing: while ultra-easy achievements, like those for completing tutorials, are silly, this post makes a good point for their inclusion.

I used to despise all achievements, but they definitely can have their place in a game, if used properly. They’re kind of like unofficial or optional objectives, extending the gaming experience without affecting the primary goals.

A good example - there’s an achievement in Miasmata to find the highest point (elevation wise) in the game world. Kind of fun, right? But there’s really no way to build this into the core game, as it doesn’t really pertain to the plot. The achievement take care of that. And when you (the devs, I mean) put a lot of effort into creating a game world, it almost seems wasteful to not use it in multiple ways, but you also don’t want to clog up the main story in doing that.

Errr, btw, what’s the main point of this thread? Just to post interesting gaming articles and blogs from around the web?

Hooray, Post #1

Yeah. Games Journalism that’s especially good or especially bad or otherwise interesting. Last year there was a “Sinkening” thread that was to post terrible things, and another thread to post good things, so they were combined because, you know, why not.

Also, Welcome!

I think some companies use achievements as a cheap form of recording metrics.

If 80% of the people playing your game haven’t gotten the achievement for passing Level 3, then maybe level 3 is too hard?

@JoshV - no doubt about it, if you check out the stats area for any game on Steam, you can see some pretty interesting things. The one example I remember hearing about is that less than 50% of the people who own Deus Ex Human Revolution ever got by the 2nd boss. A lot of people complained about the DXHR bosses in general, so you can bet that will have an impact on designing a sequel if it ever happens.

That’s pretty bad though, < 50% making it not even halfway through the game. I think only about 10% finished on the hardest setting too.