Games Journalism 2020 - Who gets the axe this time?

In celebration of Ion Storm’s infamous flop Daikatana celebrating its 20th birthday, I thought I would post a couple of articles (and a terrific video retrospective by Civvie) examining its troubled development and subpar gameplay experience.

Since not everyone is privy to the Kerbal Space Program thread - a sound note that Jason Schreier put up his first piece over at Bloomberg.

One Friday evening last December, employees of game designer Star Theory Games each received the same unusual recruitment message over LinkedIn. It struck them as bizarre for two reasons. One, it came from an executive producer at the publishing company funding their next video game. Two, it said the game—in the works for the previous two years—was being pulled from their studio.

Tom’s most hated game (just kidding) has turned twenty, and in celebration RPS released a comprehensive oral history about Deus Ex’s development:

I didn’t realize that Deus Ex and Daikatana were released so close together. Was that just a coincidence?

Daikatana was announced as a winter 1997 game but was delayed a bunch and went through an engine change, so I think that was the case of getting it out the door the second it was done, even if that meant releasing it close to a bunch of other Eidos games, including DX and Thief 2. Human Head Studio’s first project was Daikatana 2 on Unreal engine, which was originally aiming for a 2000 release, but Eidos pulled the plug in 1998 after they became dissatisfied with Ion Storm’s output.

That was a really great article, thanks for linking!

Oddly enough, I discovered Tom’s writing through an older Deus Ex retrospective on RPS that featured him as ‘the man who hated Deus Ex’ or something along those lines. At the time, I considered Deus Ex the pinnacle of non-strategy video gaming, so his rather unorthodox opinion had me intrigued. I decided he was pretty good at that games criticism thing despite his 20/100 (or whatever) score for Deus Ex.

As someone who used to read your stuff back at G.I., I’m really glad you liked it. These long-form deep dives are my favorite kind of features, especially when their about games which were formative for me.

@Dissensus I think that RPS article is what got me to check out his work. I discovered he was an excellent writer who wasn’t afraid to go against consensus without that being some kind of contrarian schtick. I think his Far Cry 2 and Bioshock 2 reviews were the ones that made me follow the site.

Hah, I’m glad someone appreciates my former life anyway! ;)

Oral histories like that are way, way more work than they might appear to be. Aside from getting the responses in the first place (and the transcription! Mon Dieu!), there’s a real art to piecing together a narrative and giving enough detail for context without bogging things down.

I thought the bit where Romero throws some shade at other co-founder guy was a particularly nice piece of craft. The author let the subjects speak for themselves, provided plenty of context to set it up, and made it clear that they gave both sides an equal platform to speak. And it was a juicy piece of shade. Just really well done.

Thanks for the link, MrTibbs. That was an enjoyable read. Well, time to reinstall!

Andy McNamara leaving Game Informer.

29 years? He was games journalist since I was 4? Sheesh.

End of an era.

Crazy long run though.

Andy’s a complex dude*, but GI is never anything but Skymall for Games without him. He absolutely built that shit from nothing. Too bad GameStop is led by a revolving door of retail-oriented MBA assholes who never saw it as anything more than a cost center.

(* I worked for him for a decade. We don't have time to unpack all of *that*, as the man said.)

He couldn’t wait one more year to make it a round number?

The shame of the Gamestop era is that they ruined the better stores of their competitor when the merger occurred between Babbages, Etc. and Electronics Boutique (EB Games). The EB people were a lot more gamer focused and definitely had better policies and treated employees with a lot more respect. Their braintrust never ended up having much influence with the Barnes & Noble people after the merger, who tbh, have been crappy since the Software, Etc/Babbages days.

I remember when the Electronics Boutique guys all wore suits. Cheap suits, of course, but at least they had standards!

I miss Babbages + Software, Etc a lot, and EB to a lesser extent. Being able to run between floors of the East Town Mall in Knoxville to comparison shop between Gamestop and EB was great. Eventually, after the merger, they closed the old EB, but they were both still open under the same banner for a year or so (guessing a lease contract thing), with basically identical inventory/pricing. It was deeply silly.

Yep! I wore one! The District Manager who interviewed me said “We’re the car salesmen of the mall.” because you were expected to approach every customer personally and ask what they were looking for and if you could help them out. We sold lots of software then including productivity stuff so it was important as an employee to have not only good gaming background but good software background too. It was a very good place to work back then. The other place… from what I was always told by people there… not so much. That made it a really crappy merger.