Games Journalism 2017: Gaming news in a post-truth world

BadFly Interactive, makers of Dead Effect, told reviewers that if they give Dead Effect 2 a bad review, they can expect to not get any more review copies of their games.

Let me just mention one thing, though: this is an indie game which, unfortunately, is very often compared with big-budget games, and that’s quite a problem and very much damages its reputation in final ratings. Please take into consideration the fact that this game was created by a small team of developers (11) who just try to develop a good shooter game, and that’s about it. Unfortunately, a number of journalists have other, much bigger expectations from it, and that’s very damaging for us eventually.

Also, we’re working on several other games that are definitely interesting, and if your review or preview of Dead Effect 2 is very negative, you won’t receive any keys from us in the future.[/quote]

Your games are $4 each. If someone really wants to review them, I don’t think you blackballing them will matter.

For some reason that was on my wishlist. Now it’s not.

Everything I see seems to indicate that streaming is not a way to make a living for yourself. It’s only a very small minority of streamers who are able to get sufficient viewers to pay off for them, and everything I hear indicates they have to bust their asses constantly to hold onto them. I don’t know how they can maintain any kind of joy in what they do, which I would assume must reflect in their content. I like this one dude on Twitch named Cohh (think he streams as CohhCarnage) and he seems to set boundaries for himself - several hours early, one hour break, another few hours then off in the evening. And he seems pretty popular (i.e., lots of subs). So maybe he’s found some kind of “magic” balance?

It’s “Buzzfeed” syndrome. Buzzfeed hires and fires its whole staff almost every year or so - making ageism in Hollywood look almost quaint by comparison - because the “demo” for most YouTube content is like 13-17, and as soon as that crop of kids gets a year or two older their interests change and the content creators are suddenly too old for the new demographic. I mean this is not what Buzzfeed says publically of course. Actually staying in the top of the social media game is not so much hard work - how hard is editing videos, really - but constant work. Streaming is worse than video because you have to be “live” for hours a day, but steaming makes more. And it’s triply hard to do this past a couple of years when your “original” demographic has aged out and you’ve got to catch a new one, as suddenly a streamer that’s just that much older.

Oh man, that’s a shame, Dead Effect 2 is a lot of fun.

What do people think of GameSpot’s revised focus? Not sure how long it’s been since it made this design focus, but now the site is focusing on entertainment beyond gaming, including a lot on wrestling and movies (like Kotaku, I guess).

More annoying is the nature of the articles - which seem to be primarily slide show lists, i.e. clickfest traps that just give a small parcel of info along with a picture each page. Some more substantive articles, but mainly a lot of smaller articles with only a few pieces of information despite catchy titles.

Not sure it’s terrible, but it’s certainly very different than what GameSpot used to be. In the 90s and early 2000s it really seemed like the most professional online gaming site - now it seems desperate and largely forgotten.

So my friend got nominated for a Games Journalism Award a couple of days ago for his work on Electron Dance, and yesterday he released the first two chapters of his book ‘The Weapons of Progress’ (for free):

The Weapons of Progress explores the recent indie revolution and the plight of those trying to make a living from game development. It shows how this revolution was doomed to failure and subverted to become a method of cultural control.

Chapter II looks at the economics behind the collapse of videogame pricing, why it is hard to resist and what this has to do with the so-called indiepocalypse.

He’s the chap who I’ve been doing the Side by Side series with. I’ve always loved his writing so I’m really happy for him, not just for the nomination but for hitting the milestone of getting his first two chapters out.

I haven’t deliberately visited Gamespot since around about the time of the Gerstmann affair, so I can’t say I could tell the difference. But it’s hardly just Gamespot that are doing entertainment or cultural coverage on top of gaming coverage now. It’s nigh on impossible to run a large generalist site based just on the old pillars of game previews and reviews any more.

I don’t care for it but I can easily ignore it.

Update and a possible resolution.

BadFly’s Martin Pospisil admits “we screwed it”.

“The thing is we care about our game so much. We are creating our dream and we really want it to succeed,” he says, before insisting the company does not have a native English speaker.

“The point of our message was just to see us as what we are - a small indie studio,” he says.

“Shitstorm started, lesson learned.”[/quote]

“We create B-class horror first-person shooters on purpose,” he said. "We love it! However, we have experienced reviews that compared us with big AAA titles like Left4Dead or Mass Effect and gave us extremely low ratings.

"Sadly, there are reviewers - trolls, who are writing biased reviews. The last sentence of our email was addressed to these unfair reviewers. Try to imagine our situation: you wouldn’t give another free key to a man who without any proper reasoning destroyed your game in their review, either. Any negative review can have a big impact on the studio, especially if the review is published before the official release.

"We will not withhold keys because of negative previews if these previews are realistic and honest. The point of our message was just to see us as what we are - a small indie studio.

"We would like to point out that we have changed the text sent with keys to reviewers even before this ‘cause’ popped up, so there is no sentence about not giving keys in the future anymore. Yes, we found out on our own that this wording is awkward and we stopped using it.

"Lesson learned.

“Also, the guy who wrote that message is being tortured in the basement now.”[/quote]

Hah, the game is on sale for $3.50 on Steam right now, because of this article they’ve made a sales to me. I bought the first one and it was a fun little game for what I paid for it, this looks to be MOTS. Irony!

Great moments in gaming journalism 2017:

PC Gamer goes all-in on one of the most important questions in gaming.

“Certainly 60 Hz is better than 30 Hz, demonstrably better,” Busey says. So that’s one internet claim quashed. And since we can perceive motion at a higher rate than we can a 60 Hz flickering light source, the level should be higher than that, but he won’t stand by a number. “Whether that plateaus at 120 Hz or whether you get an additional boost up to 180 Hz, I just don’t know.”

“I think typically, once you get up above 200 fps it just looks like regular, real-life motion,” DeLong says. But in more regular terms he feels that the drop-off in people being able to detect changes in smoothness in a screen lies at around 90Hz. “Sure, aficionados might be able to tell teeny tiny differences, but for the rest of us it’s like red wine is red wine.”

Chopin looks at the subject very differently. “It’s clear from the literature that you cannot see anything more than 20 Hz,” he tells me. And while I admit I initially snorted into my coffee, his argument soon began to make a lot more sense.

He explains to me that when we’re searching for and categorising elements as targets in a first person shooter, we’re tracking multiple targets, and detecting motion of small objects. “For example, if you take the motion detection of small object, what is the optimal temporal frequency of an object that you can detect?”

And studies have found that the answer is between 7 and 13 Hz. After that, our sensitivity to movement drops significantly. “When you want to do visual search, or multiple visual tracking or just interpret motion direction, your brain will take only 13 images out of a second of continuous flow, so you will average the other images that are in between into one image.”

Discovered by researcher Rufin vanRullen in 2010, this literally happens in our brains: you can see a steady 13 Hz pulse of activity in an EEG, and it’s further supported by the observation that we can also experience the ‘wagon wheel effect’ you get when you photograph footage of a spinning spoked object. Played back, footage can appear to show the object rotating in the opposite direction. “The brain does the same thing,” says Chopin. “You can see this without a camera. Given all the studies, we’re seeing no difference between 20hz and above. Let’s go to 24hz, which is movie industry standard. But I don’t see any point going above that.”[/quote]

I straight up laugh in the face of people who say you can’t see the difference between 30 and 60.

24? The punishment for that should be going on some VR rollercoasters at a framerate at 24 Hz.


30 vs 60 not being detectable is insanity. There’s a clear difference between the two. All you have to do is watch some 30fps footage of a shooter or racing game, then compare it to the same game at 60fps. It’s like the difference between a Reuben and a bologna sandwich.

I’ve never found 30fps “unplayable” like some people say, but it’s obvious even to me that 60fps is better in every way.

The other important factor for me is variance. I’ll take a steady 30fps over a game that judders from 40fps to 60fps.

100% This. Steady framerate is the important thing.

This is a narrative that people who only play consoles like to push. Or the developers who do not want to make the game run well.

but for the rest of us it’s like red wine is red wine

I am pretty sure most people can tell the difference in how various red wines taste.