Qt3 Games Podcast: the sixty percent solution

Ed Del Castillo from Liquid Entertainment joins us to talk about whether Metacritic is horrible. Should three stars for Liquid’s newest game, the charming Paper Galaxy, translate to a 60% on Metacritic? What does that do to Liquid’s future business? And should videogame ratings be more in line with movie ratings? Is the system broken, and if so, which parts are broken? Also this week: the future of violent games in public places, the future of unconsoles, and the future of Skylanders, plus a little Campus Life, a little Devil May Cry, and a little iOS discovery called Dungeon Defiler.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2013/01/15/qt3-games-podcast-the-sixty-percent-solution

Another enjoyable podcast.

I love a good brawler. Once, Tom I think, referred to an RTS's selection of units as a bunch of toys to for you to play around with. I feel the same about a brawler's combat system. I think Batman is a terrific example, but I also enjoy how games like Bayonetta or Ninja gaiden let you pick a weapon and discover it's particular fighting style, and after training in that style, eventually (hopefully) you feel like you're the master of it. It reminds me of kung fu movies, or like that scene in Crouching tiger hidden dragon, when Michelle Yeoh and Zizi Yang fight in the training room using various styles, each one seems cool and distinct and when you see her select a new weapon there's a buzz of excitement as you watch in anticpation to see how she uses it.

A few articles have influenced the way I think about the beat-up genre, the first was this one about enemy placement and tactics (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/..., the second from the God of war designer blog on What makes combat fun (http://www.flark.net/blog/post....

I think the problem with Metacritic interpreting Tom's review is that it unbalances the playing field. If Tom reviewed all games on Metacritic, then it would even out and it would be a level playing field for all. The problem is that he doesn't (and can't), so by reviewing this game which he liked, he actually hurt it by bringing down the average. Perhaps Metacritic should apply some more complex formula to Tom's score to turn it into a % scale score.

On the other hand, I don't really mind most reviewers only using the 7-9 scale. For me, it makes sense, because most high-profile games are at least competent. But there are games which are so broken, amateurish and poorly implemented that they deserve much less. If you try to fit competent games within a full 0-10 scale then you have nowhere to put the incompetent ones.

Loving the podcast.
Also, geeky clarification incoming: The (criminally under-appreciated) Darkness 2 doesn't resemble your typical Unreal Engine 3-developed game because it simply isn't an Unreal Engine 3 game. It uses Digital Extreme's own proprietary tech called Evolution Engine. It was also being used in the development of Dark Sector.

With regard to metacritic scores of movies and games.

I think the difference is unfortunately related to the art question. Movies can be fun but not have anything particularly profound to say. These movies don't typically get high scores. The high scoring movies tend to be relatively deep, emotionally impactful and insightful.

You don't need any of that in games or movies to be commercially successful. To be commercially successful, you need only to be "fun".

Games don't generally have that artistic quality or at least the number of games that even attempt it are very very few. Commercially successful games match games which score well critically because they both depend on the same basic metric: fun.

Until mainstream games are aiming for more than entertainment, then that's not going to change.

Wonderful episode and brilliant guest!

Desperate Housewives!!! LOL I'd fail in that quiz!

Man, the "frog" analogy, going back to see the whole picture, is perfect, very, very wise, indeed.

Keep up the good job, guys! Cheers from Brazil!


"Tintarella di luna" in a version by Brazilian singer Celly Campello very famous in the 60s.

A few things weren't brought up, that are worth adding to the discussion:

-Are critics supposed to educate an audience about the nuance and detail of the work, or are they supposed to reflect the broadest appeal of the audience. They're both valid, but I think the podcast was trying to have it both ways - you can either try and educate an audience on what might be valid as art (in which case the panning of Transformers is valid,) or you can anticipate the appeal of a product (in which case panning Avengers is not valid.) Are critics a tool for people trying to educate themselves, or are they a tool for consumers to decide how to spend their money? It's really, really hard to do both at the same time.


-The talk of the "Academic" scoring system as somehow juvenile is really missing a ton of marks. Point 1) almost everyone is raised for years and years with the scoring system. So no matter how distasteful you, personally, might find a scoring system that doesn't even start until the 50% mark - it's ingrained in people's perceptions. It's not something that will ever be grown out of - just like you won't ever grow out of how you learned to read, or add, or count. You can't un-learn some things that are taught so early and so often. Point 2) It is important to assign numerical value to things - it's what lets us see trends or analyze results. Right along side this is the importance of having a standardized numerical system. Game critics are collectively devaluing their own field by being so cantankerous about how their numbers are interpreted. Re-creating a scoring system for every single website and magazine might feel like you're talking a stand for... I dunno... metrics? The point is - it's silly, and only leads to more confusion. Metacritic won this round - you can use their measuring stick, or you can be misunderstood a lot.

Talking about public arcade games, something pretty rare now days, I want to point out that not all games with guns or gun peripherals are rated teen. There are games with guns and gun peripherals that are rated E for everyone, as the mere presence of a gun does not warrant any ESRB descriptor.
I do agree that was the wrong venue for those games though.

If you use a gun to shoot at a person, I'm pretty sure you get a T rating. However, maybe you're talking about games like Duck Hunter. You can shoot at animals with guns and be E-rated? Is that right? That kind of makes sense.

Gah, no way! That wasn't the Unreal engine? Man, I thought that game was as Unreal as it gets. Thanks for the correction.

Awesome song! Thanks Guillermo.

Love the Crouching Tiger example, Mr Herb. And thanks for those links. Those are both enlightening reads.

This was a really good one! Great guest and fascinating topic.

Awesome stream of conciousness replacing "Paper Galaxy" with "Paper Moon", actually! LOL

It should not be a criticism of Metacritic but more of how games are chosen by publishing companies. The fault lies with these companies who are using the Metacritic score as the sole criteria. If Hollywood were to use this logic, Michael Bay would be long out of work (his 2 highest rated movies on RottenTomatoes are The Rock with 67% and Transformers with 57%) but we all know his movies sell.

Metacritic, I believe, was designed as a hub for consumers to find reviews and information about games (and other media). Those who only look at the number and do not read the review are not making an informed decision. By attacking Metacritic, you are really just shooting messenger.

Good discussion regarding metacritic and the problems that arise from game review scores. One point I would like to comment on specifically is the story about the Chevy Nova selling poorly in Spanish countries. That story is in fact false, which can be verified several places: http://www.snopes.com/business...

Great episode - really interesting discussion on Metacritic.

Ed - you made Rise of the Argonauts! I *love* Rise of the Argonauts! The advancement mechanic is the best I have ever come across - the fact it is *also* the conversation system and the morality system is genius, and it blends mechanics and fictional setting brilliantly.

I also love how the story is driven by people and politics, rather than being a traditional RPG breadcrumb trail. And how, in this setting, the political *is* the personal. And also the mythological. Really clever.

I haven't finished it yet - the PC port is a bit wobbly, so I want to track down the Xbox version. But I wanted to deliver a quick gush-o-gram while you're here.

I was getting a real Brad Wardell vibe off of Ed (sorry, Ed?). Are you planning to have Brad on any time soon, or has he gone into hiding?

Have you ever played The Red Star, brawler/shooter (Cave style) on the PS2? It's not particularly brilliant at either of those things, but is interesting in having combined them in one game.

The role of critics is not to mirror the tastes of general population; it is to elevate them. Any old reviewer can tell me if the game works or not. A critic will teach me something about how to think about games. And Tom, you are a critic.