Tag Archives: Johnny Chiodini

‘More’ is Awesome

It is an expression we have seen in several places, so when I initially heard that the new Assassins Creed Odyssey was ‘more of the same’, I was not that surprised considering the Ubisoft of the past few years, yet, as I loved the forward propulsion that AC Origin gave us, I was upset enough to keep my eyes out for a decent review and Eurogamer gave that to us (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23CLV1jl9oo). In the first those who do not realise it, Eurogamer is one of the best reviewing channels for games you can find at present. They have been honest and give a decent view from their point of view. It is also interesting to note that each of the reviewers namely Aoife Wilson, Johnny Chiodini (aka Mr Feedbackula), Ian Higton and Chris Bratt have their own likes and dislikes, just like me. I myself am nuts about RPG games, they too have their preferences in gaming. So in this case I got treated to the smooth Irish voice of Aoife Wilson. Let’s face it, when any review comes with an Irish accent, does it not generally sound better?

So the review gives a little bit of a spoiler, but considering that it is merely the start of the game and the fact that the game promises over 100 hours of game play, we can accept that part and the very first thing we see is that even as it is another Assassins Creed, it is no exactly ‘more of the same‘. It is more, a hell of a lot more and even as there are elements of all other games in here, the game is definitely a new behemoth. So even as we are treated to 431 BCE, which by the way this was also the beginning of the Peloponnesian War (I remember that time well), it was a year before Athens was almost completely ravaged by Typhus, and a year after that we got treated to the very first showing of Oedipus Rex, a tragedy like no other. In this the mother forgives him, the father is unlikely to ever do so.

But back to the game. Yes, there was some ‘more of the same’, but mainly only in the graphics, which were outstanding in Origin and outstanding is always good. The video give us a clear setting that the storyline has been given a massive haul over, making it a much larger RPG sandbox setting than ever before. That is my part where I answer Aiofe’s question ‘Does it justify 100 hours of game play?‘ To that I at this point state ‘Yes!‘ The story lines are an important part, and in addition to the other parts it seems like with Tomb Raider, the underwater parts seem to look a lot better. Parts of the review also imply that the game has taken a more tactical side to the game as well. Going after a fort by yourself versus weakening the enemy first makes a lot of sense, so in all this, there is a lot to see. As I see it, it is not ‘More of the same‘, it has become ‘A more evolved and adult approach to a game of such a tactical nature‘. So in all when you look that you are playing a game with 4K (for those with the coins to play in this mode), we see the setting that AC Odyssey is offering a game that remains under $1 an hour, which is by far one of the most rewarding value for money games I have seen for some time and that is worth a lot. It also gives the setting that with two distinct choices (playing as the he or the she), also makes the game an interesting choice to replay, which makes the game even more rewarding in more than one part. If I had to make a pre-release view then it is that Ubisoft is back in adding value to its brand and franchise, which gives us the ‘better late than never’ part and that counts as well.

Those who have read my views on Ubisoft know that I have not been kind to them, but I have always given credit where credit was due and in all this, and in this case Ubisoft should get loads of Credit. If there is one optional part missing (unverified) in all this it will be the setting of the Nekromanteion not being there, what would have been in the Northern boundary of the map. It was where the Temple of Hades was. It might matter as it in this time setting when the site building was erected and it would stay there until the Italians (Romans) decided to burn it down in 167 BC.

I have watched several reviews and I disagree with a few. Some state that this is not a proper AC game, and perhaps this is true as this is centuries before the Creed, is that a bad thing? I would offer that AC Black Flag is even less of an AC game. It is perhaps a new IP and in all this it is a push for an historical RPG game, this is with my love for RPG a great step, for others perhaps less of a nice step. No matter how you feel about the AC part, Odyssey is exactly what the titles promises to deliver. You will embark on an epic journey and when you think that Origin already gave that, think again. The map alone seems to be close to 300% of the previous game and that is impressive when you realise just how big Origin was. So on October 4th give your pet a really big treat, presents and felicitations as it is World Animal Day, because the day after that AC Odyssey is released and there is every chance that you will ignore everything around you for days to come, which would make perfect sense.

So even when we see large changes in this franchise, it is my personal impression that they are all for the better, there is not one part that seems to be negative in this. More options for dialogue, more choices on paths as well as multiple endings. Making the replaying of this game more enjoyable and when you consider that this game was already down to $1 an hour (for some even a lot less) making that 100 hour journey the best epic journey in the history of this franchise. The most honest question you can ask yourself, are you willing to play an RPG? Are you willing to step out of your optional comfort zone? It is my belief that this trip will be one you are extremely unlikely to regret, but in the end only you can answer what you like. what is clear is that the AC franchise has taken a new course, and as it is a pronounced one, it will not be for everyone, I merely expect that it will be the right path for many more players than ever before and that is a good thing, a good game is always a good thing, even if it is not for everyone.

Only a delusional developer makes a game that is for everyone!

If there is one part that I will miss, it will be the one hit kill. Historically speaking, sneaking up to a person and shove a spear through the back of its skull tends to be fatal, there has never been an exception to that, not even when you sneak up to an ego driven empty headed politician. They all tend to keel over, curl their toes and start their: ‘I am dead now!‘ procedure. So that part I will miss, even if there is no more hidden blade.

So one optional non positive part against close to a dozen positive parts, how can any player pass it up? Well that will be fair, the non RPG lovers, but for that group there are plenty of other games to play. No matter how you view it all this will be an amazing trip, so choose, decide and optionally enjoy this game. I expect this game to get an 88%-97% rating, that whilst the RPG lover is likely to give it a 92%-99% rating (only Zeus, Poseidon and Hades get 100%), Leonidas and all everyone else will have to live with a 99% rating.

As far as I can ascertain at present, my official response will be: ‘Well Done Ubisoft!

 

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Games in Motion Review?

It seems that there is a lot of polarisation going on. If it isn’t the mudslinging on those opposing Brexit, showing what a bad losers they really are and if it isn’t those crying over commerce whilst the bulk of those so called managers won’t put in an honest day’s work. Then there is a collection of people playing a game, not comprehending what they are doing (go figure).

It is the last group that gets my attention today. The Guardian (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/05/no-mans-sky-perils-infinite-promise-sean-murray-hello-games) had an article called ‘No Man’s Sky and the perils of infinite promise‘, and because Sydney is now 3 weeks away from the EB Games EXPO it matters. You see, if you are a casual player fine! That’s OK and as such you might have missed a beat, which is not any criticism. It starts with the utter misconception we have nowadays on what we buy “Clutched in a crinkly bag we held the perfect product“, that is what a true fan will say regardless. This is how we felt when Assassins Creed 2 came our way. When we started a game called Ultima 4 (on CBM-64) and when we started Elite Dangerous. Those who knew had a reference of feelings, we played it, we ‘completed’ it and we desired to get it. This could never have applied to No Man’s Sky, or Subnautica, or Horizon Zero Dawn. Yet it might apply to Mass effect Andromeda! You see when we know it, it has reference, just like buying that album. We heard it, and we want it!

Then we get the quote “The reputation of Peter Molyneux, a veteran British video game designer, toppled after he habitually promised alluring features (knock an acorn off a tree and over the course of the game you’ll be able to watch it grow, he once claimed of Fable) that never surfaced in his games”. Again, Peter’s reputation is very much alive and on heights at my address. I met him a few times and he has delivered time after time again, and as for the ‘Acorn’, he did deliver that too! When you decide on a path in Fable 2, where your actions decides the fate and the look of Bowerstone Old Town.

Now we get to the goods. You see No Man’s Sky very much delivered on its promise. I even rewatched some of the aired clips and shows on YouTube. In this part the Stephen Colbert show had one of the best presentations (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqeN6hj4dZU), of course a few things changes a little (the way naming works), yet what we saw there, we are seeing in the game we play. The only thing not there is the galactic view, yet that is pretty much the only thing. What I don’t get are some of the weird gamers. You see, I get it, I understand that this game might not be for you. You gaming preference might be limited to FIFA, or NFL, or Call of Duty. That’s fine! So many games, so many choices! I love Minecraft, yet many of my friends do not. Again, we all have our preferences. So why are those people, who hate the game so much not sending it back to the shop? Instead of whinging and whining about a game they do not like they could perhaps exchange it for a game they do like.

However, there is a growing group of people who seem to get pleasure into releasing hate reviews of a game. I seem to prefer to take time into reviewing games I do like. Try to transfer my interest in a game, it seems more natural and functional than just vomiting hatred, which is just an idea from my side. The issue I have is that the anger is just so illogical. Yet the quote “In an expansive New Yorker profile, Raffi Khatchadourian wrote that Murray feared the game had become “a Rorschach test of popular expectation, with each player looking for something that might not be there”“, a not inaccurate but flawed. You see, there is a side that has not been exposed, not by any of the publications. Places like The Christian Times one of several who were trying to get some traffic to their site as were a lot more, yet those pages have now miraculously vanished. All making claims that could not have been supported or seconded and as such people suddenly got a dose of info that was not substantiated. Quotes like “The update will also add more diversity to the universe by adding new creatures and alternate galaxies“, so as we see some of the outrageous quotes, claims never made by Sean Murray or Hello Games (as far as I can tell). The quote “When former Sony employee Shahid Kahmal Ahmad criticised some players for requesting refunds, even after, in one case, playing the game for 72 hours, he became a target for online harassment“, which shows just how delusional some gamers tend to be. Yet the article has another side, it does not illuminate it, yet it does mention it with the quote: “Video game-makers struggle in unique ways when it comes to raising audiences’ expectations and then matching them in reality“, which is not the video maker, but its marketing department or the publishers marketing department. The issue was never a given in No Man’s Sky, it created the hype, by merely showing the game. Many games are not anywhere near the uniqueness that this game have and it is up to the marketing departments to create a wave of interest. Many might be able to recall Call of Duty : Ghosts, what was hyped the be the beginning of next generation gaming became the one game that showed that bad planning and good marketing that is, until people started to play the game. Another game that had to rely on hype was Watchdogs. Now, here there is another matter. For one, the development was hit with delay after delay. It was supposed to be the PS4 launch day game and became the game that screwed PS4 players over and gave birth to its own game 36 weeks later, which was just about the delay it had.

You see, I have bashed Ubisoft and Electronic Arts more than once in these matters. What is very much centre to this discussion is how marketing and press seem to smooth over the disappointments that the large players are bringing, whilst Hello games and CD Project Red as small development houses are bringing epic achievements in gaming. The fact that some (me included) regard Witcher 3 to be the perfect game, the perfect achievement in gaming of this kind is probably accepted by all (even those who have no love for that genre). The fact that the unfounded anger towards Hello Games is coming, whilst one of the most guilty parties is the press and the wannabe press reiterating news cycles with added insinuation to lure traffic to their sites as was happening on a near daily basis in the 3 months leading up to the release of the game is left unmentioned. I ended up giving ‘An Early Verdict‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/08/08/an-early-verdict/), because of some of the unacceptable rants I saw passing by and because a person named DJ Angel put up an actual decent review of the game and I stand by what I wrote three days before the release and now after well over 50 hours of gameplay: “No Mans Sky exceeded my personal expectations!

Now we need to get to the gritty, because this is going beyond just this game and mere reviews. There is an issue evolving, the issue with this issue is that there are no set standard, there is not limit or barrier that could be regarded as valid. It’s is the job of any marketing department to create a hype, to create interest and it is the job of the reviewer to cut through this all and give a correct reflection of what he/she has played. Yet there are recently two issues evolving. The first is that the game sites seem to encourage hype creation through advertising for example. Yet the reviews are not given until several days after the game is released, leaving the gamer in a vacuum.

I once stated in an article “reviewers should investigate is what I would call a ‘redundancy level’ of gaming. To ‘accommodate’ the marketing divisions to optimise their path, some companies have done away with massive levels of quality control. Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Far Cry 4, Assassins Creed Unity and the list seems to go on, all have the same problem, when you buy the game, you are again forced online to download a day one patch, many of them well over 1 Gb“, the issue that seems to originate through a massive failure of quality control. I would accept a day one patch from Hello Games and Project Red because they are in fact small development houses, they tend to survive on massively cramped budgets. Yet when we see this level of failure form EA and Ubisoft, where they are supposed to be ‘billion dollar companies’ one would imagine a much better prepared track. Often setting almost impossible goals for release and hen coming up short. The fact that the reviewers are giving those larger players all the leeway is perhaps a larger concern then just the games, because once the trust is gone, where will gamers find the information they can trust? The review of games is a field that has been in motion for a very long time, yet I feel that the overall trust of reviews and reviewers is perhaps on its lowest level ever. It seems that that beside printed reviews, the ones online should always be carefully regarded, regarded in a way, of being very precise in what is written (also known as the Murdoch insinuation approach to writing). Whilst some of those outrageous reviews we saw in the past months of No Man’s Sky seems to have vanished, magazines cannot vanish that easily. It seems that the words tend to be less innuendic (is that a real word?) in nature.

So for those who felt let down by No Man’s Sky I ask, did you see some of the video’s on YouTube? Specifically the DJ Angel one? Perhaps you saw the launch video from Eurogamer. The first one (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdJnpf7uXaw) showing 50 planets in 7 minutes. They started the game 50 times and showed just how different the planets were, which was indeed a promise that Sean Murray made and kept! The second one shows 3.5 hours of gameplay (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eASULWu2Ups on launch night), here we see how Aoife Wilson and Johnny Chiodini, comfy on the couch are getting through the initial hours of the game. There is close to no chance that 30 minutes into that gameplay won’t give you a decent idea of what you face even more so than a mere online or printed article.

There are cases when the people have a real reason to complain (remember Assassins Creed Unity), yet as I see it, there is no validity with No Man’s Sky. In addition, the patches we got (4 so far), they were all less than 100Mb if I remember correctly, so whatever patching was done, it was at less than 0.9% of the space that AC Unity needed whilst offering well over 18 quintillion times the gaming space (OK, low blow, I admit that).

So in conclusion I say:

 1. Research the game you are getting hyped about
2. Put question marks to games that have no quality reviews before release dates
3. Stop whining, the first two points should have prevented you from buying a dodgy game.
4. Realise that game videos could get you to guy a game you never expected (it is how I got recently Subnautica)

Make a game about what you want to play, not what other gamers proclaim to be ‘cool!’, you might actually become the cool gamer others proclaim to be!

 

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A lesson learned late

We all have this, we stump our heads into a wall, some in ignorance, some through stubbornness, ideologically and the last group through determination. I am one of these four. As I bring the bad news first, I need to talk about myself. I got an extension on a test which might not be a massive one in points, but I am in a state where every point counts! Hoping to save up to 15 points on a test 44 pages long. My little big horn is a ‘Memorandum of Detailed Opinion‘. I still have 30 hours of work actual to go and I had to restart as I was turning my ‘Other Applicable Revocation Issues’ into a mesh of Titanic distraught and the deep dark feeling when you are at the top of a truly high building (like the Hancock building) and you see the street 100 flights down, that one step through the glass looks suddenly so appealing, such dread! I feel a little better, especially as I started fresh again, things are slowly adding up, connections are now coming to life. the smallest issue I had initially was a part in section 40 of the Patents Act 1990disclose the best method known to the applicant of performing the invention‘, this and a personal believe that my professor was intertwining ‘best method’ with the mathematical approach to describing Cantonese had an impact too. Yet those feelings were all between my own ears. You see, this is the first subject ever in history, where I got confronted with the limitation of my thinking. This has never happened before! We all face the music that we do not get something, but in most cases someone explains, someone aides or you find a supporting document that helps you. We all have that. No, I mean that feeling you get when your life depends on the next conversation and the one part you were not told is that everyone speaks Aramaic, that level of non-comprehension!

Yet, I also feel stronger today, because the light suddenly came on and I am starting to put it together. I took longer than I expected and if I had not been confronted with bad news last week that stress would not have stopped me from completing my assignment. Getting told you need to find another apartment tends to do that to a person whilst his exam just started. So as I finished my notes for tonight, prepping to get loads done tomorrow, I had to write this. You see, this intersects with something I read yesterday on my mobile, I believe.

That part was about Xbox boss Phil Spencer. Microsoft has always been about ideology and ignorance, so to call this part ideological ignorance is not too big a leap. Spencer stated that he was not interested in beating Sony, he was interested in gaining customers, as many as possible. In my view, his predecessors ‘messed’ it all up. I reckon not intentionally. In my view Microsoft was convinced that the TPP would have been in effect now and the steps initially made towards the XB1 would have been massively exploitative, with the law allowing them to destroy certain markets (the preowned game market for one). This all took a step back towards a streaming enterprise that did not quite make it off the floor. The 2013 promise of a 300,000 servers for gamers in one cloud. The quote is in light of the backwards compatibility claim a little hilarious: “Microsoft’s Don Mattrick stated “If you’re backwards compatible, you’re really backwards”” (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/05/24/spin-dryers-by-microsoft/). Even then I claimed how stupid the 500 GB thought was. Sony made the same mistake, but with the Sony version a person can update when he/she is ready, the XB1 does not allow for that. In that same article I chewed on some of the presented facts: “Their on-line system is now getting grown from the initial 15,000 servers now that Xbox 360 uses, to 300,000 servers from the moment the next Xbox is launched. It is a 2,000% growth in data collection and over 200,000% storage capacity. If foundations of business are set to return-on-investment, then ask yourself why a gaming system requires that level of growth“, a question that was never answered, but with the TPP, the streaming and the data requirements, it was about the gamer, it was how he/she could best be exploited. That was the view that my mind saw and so far I have been proven correct in almost every way. The next quote supports all this “In all honesty Microsoft Marketing did state that there will be pre-owned possibilities, yet they have not officially stated how this EXACTLY will play out, so we await clarity by Microsoft“, consider that part, if the TPP would have been in effect that part would have costed gamers dearly, so in all this, we can speculate that Don Mattrick was no more than the bearer of bad news and his career took a massive tumble. Now we get Phil Spencer and how this is about gamers. A 2 year stretch that now demands a 145 degree course adjustment. The weird thing is that if the decision makers realised their audience in the era of Xbox and Xbox 360, they should have known what gamers wanted, and adjusting that with their own view of exploitation is a misplaced view to say the least.

So as I see myself ignorant and determined, I also see Microsoft as ideologically ignorant. Ideological in their pursuit of maximising profit any way they can and ignorant to consider that gamers would take this lying down. Microsoft now set at less than 40% of what Sony has, losing the market share the 360 had grown, how stupid is that? The big issue is still that Mettrick and Spencer leave the feeling of being no more than puppets on a string, jumping to the needs of the decision makers behind the screens of Microsoft. Their strings to be cut at a moment’s notice. It is the second failing compared to Sony. Yet, in all this I must admit that Sony is likely to work in similar ways, but in a much better setting as their focus has been the gamer for 4 iterations of their console. That does account for something.

I feel that I learned my lesson late, hopefully not too late and the next two weeks will be about work 24%, study 48% and the rest is about trying to get sleep, food and an apartment. I feel strengthened as my eyes open towards the issues I could not solve for almost 10 days. I also feel better as Microsoft seems oblivious towards the gain they lost whilst they should have known better, in that respect Gamespot (who was source to most of the Microsoft information) should also have known better and as they seem to hide behind the PS4 vs XB1 console war, they have done too little regarding the investigation on the business decisions that did hurt a contending console and forced it towards a gloomier place. We can all admit that backwards compatibility will gain them momentum, yet in the end it will be about good games and yes, Microsoft has done a decent job, but with the lost field, decent will not hack it.

So I end this article with a personal message to Phil Spencer. Phil, I am not blaming you (which would be unfair), I am not having a go at you (which would be too easy), yet I will do your job for you this one instance. There is a game coming, it is nowhere near ready at present, but it is getting there. It is for PC and it has the option of becoming every bit as addictive as Minecraft currently is. So another masterpiece by an indie developer! The game is called Heat Signature as it shows massive promise. This game could propel the XB1 even further. The quirkiness and the connected options for multiplayer could be next thing people desire. The single player part is showing real promise. So instead of waiting and having to shell out another 2 billion for a game Microsoft didn’t create, so how about getting in front of a repetitive timeline for a change?

Heat Signature (heatsig.com) is able to be uniquely placed next to Elite Dangerous, Eve Online, Star Citizen and No Mans Sky. It can exist next to all of them and will be as entertaining to all those who play the other mentioned titles. I suggest that you keep your eye on @HeatSig (Twitter address) and feel free not heeding my word (I have only been wrong 4 times in the last 30 years when it comes to gaming), so I am due another failure. Yet the stats go hugely my way and as such I predict that Heat Signature, a Tom Francis production which was, as I remember it a Johnny Chiodini discovery evolve into a true contender for being the next big thing (as an indie developer title).

In all this, am I too ideological when it comes to gaming? That is a fair question and I must ask this from myself if I want to remain connected to a field I have been involved in since 1983. I believe so and games like Fallout 4 show my view to be a good one. In equal part Elite Dangerous shows that true passion for a game can last decades (something Blizzard also proved with the Diablo series) and in all this Ubisoft squandered it and Microsoft rejected their view only to get bitten on their sitting area really hard. The future belongs to the believers, because faith has always been the most pure and natural driving force. It got me my law degree it got me to the final stage of my MIP and it can get anyone to their place of achievement. Greed is never an achievement! Will Microsoft learn from their mistakes? That remains dubious because the puppeteers behind the screens remain an unknown. I do believe that illuminating them could shed light on the problem and truly propel the world of gamers forward as the onslaught of counterproductive acts end up getting terminated with extreme prejudice. EA has 7 months left to learn their lesson and not fall into the traps with Mass Effect Andromeda, traps that Ubisoft seems to be unable to avoid. Still, if they are unable to do that, John Oliver will be able to have a little fun here too.

 

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About Gamespot!

It happens; we all make mistakes, even I (although I do not think I made one). I have been a member of Gamespot, officially since 2005, unofficially several years longer. I reviewed, I wrote and sometimes I complained. So, last week during the E3, where I followed it all for the second year in a row, I was again confronted with the technical flaws from Gamespot during the E3. Now, is it the fault of Gamespot? That is hard to answer, considering that they get a few million plus watchers to see the E3 shows live as many cannot attend the events in person. (it costs a boatload to get to E3 and stay there for 3-4 days). So we see the shows, the live events and the walk through the event.

These items are nearly always flawed because we get a lag, the buffers time out and then the show stops until we restart it and we miss some of it. Such things happen when too many attend (or even too many watching from the distance and your ISP times out). Several steps going wrong and it is unclear to see if there is even any blame. Oh and every time there was a timeout and you reloaded the screen we got the mandatory UBI-Soft advertisement again and again. I reckon I saw the Black Flag advertisement trailer at least 50 times during E3 2013.

That is one side. The other side is different. At times we the viewer would get the chance to ask questions live on the show. These are golden moments and we all hope that our question gets asked. Can you imagine getting personally answered by Hideo Kojima, Nobuo Uematsu or Yoshitaka Amano? In the past I met and spoke with Sid Meijer, Richard Garriott and Peter Molyneux and a host of other game makers. I can tell you that getting a personal response from a man like Hideo Kojima would be similar to Lara Croft walking up to you and asking you to sit down and share a beer with her. These are epic moments we might get once in a life time (if ever). So when I wanted to ask a question last year in regard to Arkham City the following happened.

The Gamespot comment screen shows a ‘log in’. (I was already logged in), but I go to the login screen, I re-entered my name and password and it takes me to the comment screen and I cannot comment, because I am not logged in. I try it half a dozen times and the moment to ask the question is gone. Man was I angry! However, I get that the servers are busy! I complained and let it go. Sometimes technology is not on our sides and we just have to swallow the bitter pill of defeat. This year the same thing happened when I was trying to comment on events and this time I really lost it (which happens to all of us)!

Even when angry I do try to keep my sense of humour about myself. So when I saw the article “E3 2014: Kojima Responds to Metal Gear Solid 5 Torture Controversy“, my pesky and creative inner demon woke up. It was quite an interesting article (at http://www.gamespot.com/articles/e3-2014-kojima-responds-to-metal-gear-solid-5-torture-controversy/1100-6420442/), and I responded on my Gamespot blog roughly (the response was deleted by Gamespot) as stated below:

Perhaps it is an idea to add an Easter egg and let the gamer torture information from the Gamespot web team“. There was a little more, but that was what it amounted too.

So read this carefully! I added ‘Easter egg‘, so something to unlock in a game, more importantly, the game Metal Gear Solid 5. The Metal Gear Solid being one of the most revered gaming franchises in gaming history. I would reckon that the web team would like to be immortalised in such a revered gaming franchise. As you see, I did keep some sense of humour about it, even though as I saw it, the Gamespot system failed twice (perhaps even more often). What was their response? I have now been banned (perhaps for life from Gamespot). It is interesting how some people react to issues.

The response was unbalanced and extremely unfair. I decided to take an additional look at Gamespot. There was a lot on IGN and most of it related to either biased or incompetent moderation. The quote “I have been temporarily banned for voicing my opinion on another member’s poor review of a game, after he continually sent me hostile PM’s” is only one of several voicing the quality of moderation. I did however find something else that made me wonder about the state of affairs at Gamespot. I found this at http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=116270

By now, most have heard that Jeff Gerstmann, Editorial Director at GameSpot, is now the former Editorial Director at GameSpot. The short of it, confirmed through our own sources: Gerstmann was fired for his negative review of Eidos Interactive’s Kane & Lynch. But there’s more to the story in which Gerstmann — one of the site’s leading editors for over a decade — was terminated this week.

The GameSpot staff is currently keeping publicly quiet, but CNET, the parent organization of GameSpot, issued a response today. “For over a decade, Gamespot and the many members of its editorial team have produced thousands of unbiased reviews that have been a valuable resource for the gaming community. At CNET Networks, we stand behind the editorial content that our teams produce on a daily basis,” reads CNET’s statement.

We’re told Eidos had invested a sizable chunk of advertising dollars for Kane & Lynch — check the before and after shots above of GameSpot’s front page for proof — and then allegedly threatened to pull the ads if the “tone” of Gerstmann’s “6.0” review (just under the current Game Rankings average score of 70%) wasn’t changed. Gerstmann did alter the tone of his critique ahead of publication, but it looks as if that wasn’t enough for management. When asked about the situation, Eidos declined comment to 1UP. “Eidos is not able to comment on another company’s policies and procedures,” said a company representative.

But pressure from other advertisers may have contributed to the clash with editorial. Just a few weeks prior, GameSpot came under fire from Sony Computer Entertainment America for scoring Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction a 7.5. In his former position, Gerstmann was responsible for overseeing (and defending) all reviews.

1UP did contact Gerstmann, but he declined comment, likely due to signing a non-disclosure agreement upon his termination, common in situations such as these.

What’s interesting is the timing of his termination, though. GameSpot has never been a stranger to review controversy or publisher backlash. Gerstmann himself had a long history of bucking the popular trend with certain review scores over the many years he critiqued games for the site, most recently scoring The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess an 8.8 on Wii. With no transparency into the situation, no one knows if this is something that had possibly been brewing for a while now, but sources point to a recent change in GameSpot management as the real catalyst. Stephen Colvin, former President and CEO of Dennis Publishing — the group responsible for publications like Maxim, Blender and Stuff — became CNET’s Executive Vice President at the end of October. One of Colvin’s jobs would be to oversee the growth of CNET websites, including GameSpot. The editorial in Maxim and Stuff, publications who routinely review games months ahead of their completion and where the line between marketing and editorial is a little less clear, is much different than GameSpot’s. That was apparently reflected quickly when Colvin joined CNET. “New management has no idea how to deal with games editorial,” said one source not long after Colvin came on board. Indeed.

The question becomes what is happening at Gamespot. This is not about the web team, or just the quality of moderation, this goes much deeper. Consider the almost massive amount of advertising that is as I see it UBI-Soft only advertising. I am adding two questions here.

  1. Is UBI-Soft the only one advertising? Which would be rather odd as the gaming industry is a lot larger than just UBI-Soft!
  2. Why was Assassins Creed Black flag reviewed so immensely high? It could be a genuine rating!

I personally saw Assassins Creed a firm notch lower, especially as it contained a repeated 4th generation of glitches. The blog post lights on several issues I had noticed on Gamespot, the first being that early reviews and ratings were less and less common. Consider this quote from Gamespot “We have no player reviews for EA Sports UFC yet“, which is fair enough as the game is not out until…… Yesterday! So that is possible, there is however also no review from Gamespot, which is in my book slightly unacceptable. Are they or are they not a gaming site? I know the E3 just ended, but not all writers went to the E3, did they? The same could be said for Sniper Elite 3, out next week. Not all game developers want their games reviewed early, but at this stage when loads of games are only reviewed after they get into the stores make me wonder why Gamespot is not taking a harder look on this. Over time I have seen several reviews that would not appear until after the games were in the store.

I have been a reviewer myself for 13 years, published in several magazines. In one high point of my ‘career’ I wrote 18 pages in one issue (which was a unique event), which might have been overdoing it a little. For the most, I always wrote positive reviews. As I had at the most space to write about 2-3 games, I had to choose the good ones. I had no intention wasting space on a 30% game if I only had 3-4 pages to write about.

I have seen other opinions from people writing that the 100% game does not exist. Yes, they do, but they are rare moments!

I have given (as far as I remember it) two 100% scored games. The first one was Ultima 7: the Black Gate. When it was released in 1992 in the age of floppies, 640 Kb computers and extended memory, this game was so high above what was released in those days, it was intense. The water views, the houses, the characters. This game was ahead of the games pack by a lot. The second one was Neverwinter Nights. It was released in 2002. This game took RPG in a visible, creative and story based level unlike before. The creation set was just the icing of a very impressive cake. I still regard these two games as bright lights showing the way to game developer as possibilities on how high the quality of a game could go. There were others, but they got a 90%+ rating. Games like System Shock that even, if re-released today, would likely become greater hits then what they were when they were initially launched.

Let’s get back to the issue. I cannot tell how true the blog was. I do however question the influence that is implied in the article on reviewers. I think that GTA-5 is a good game (not my choice of game) and 90% is a view of the reviewer, as was the 75% for Ratchet and Clank. Is the review far below our expectation less value than the one reviewed higher? I have always loved the Insomniac games (I have the bulk of them), which makes me wonder what to make of the ‘star destroyer’ piece and more important are the high reviews too high, the low too low and where do we base the comparison on?

The quote “New management has no idea how to deal with games editorial,” is another matter. A game is software, which means we look at the quality, the play value and the content. Is there a reason to debate Infamous Second Son at 80% when we get 15 hours of play time? Yet, Thief was only granted 60% (which was too low in my mind). A reviewer writes in his (or her) own street of passion, and in my street the games like Ultima, Mass Effect would end up with a high score compared to GTA-5 (which was not my cup of tea). However, no matter what my view is, over the timeline of games reviewed there would be a consistent view, and as such, some will value my views, some will value the view of Carolyn Petit. In the end, reviewers, not unlike columnists will have their own distinct styles and choices which they voice. I believe true reviewers will keep a fair view towards games, even towards games they do not like.

If Gamespot as implied by some has become a mere vessel for advertisement and basic information, then what value is there? The quote “I agree with Gamespot, they use to be good but have gotten far worse” is one that I have seen growing for some time now. I wonder why CBS Interactive is letting, what could be a powerful trademark, slip into something that just seems to become below average. I do not think it is just the people. I immensely enjoyed Johnny Chiodini when he was making Feedbackula (still a shame it got scrapped), Jess McDonell, gaming goddess, wearer of the coolest gaming T-shirts and bringer of excellent news in an upbeat way and there is Cameron Robinson with his Reality Check. They all bring video news in interesting ways. Gamespot also has its share of writers, which makes me wonder why CBS is not taking much harder stance on protecting and ensuring the value of the Gamespot Trademark and the issues that are at hand as I see them. Getting back to Cameron Robinson, you should watch his video “Surprising Facts About Video Games You Probably Didn’t Know” and it only gives a lot more question marks in regards to the implied ‘buckling’ of reviewers to the pressure by the software houses. Is it true? I cannot tell as the only name that keeps coming up is Jeff Gerstmann but the numbers that Cameron Robinson brought states that gaming sales is outperforming the US box office numbers, giving additional power to the question why CBS is not stepping up to the plate fast and immediate.

In the end games are product, they have a represented value and they rely on ‘good’ views. The consumer relies on a trusted portal where they can get reliable information from those with a view on that industry, simply because most people only get to spend money on a game once and they want the best game for them. If Gamespot loses the credibility, then others will step up to the plate, because one does not ignore a market that surpasses the 100 billion dollar mark this year, others will come and take the Gamespot share, whether they will or not will mostly rely on the actions of CBS Interactive.

 

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