Escapist Podcast: 033: Tim Schafer & Doomsday Preperation

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So, I heard the excerpt of Nord Mead and now I have become a fan of Miracle of Sound (I ignored it completely before). So, not only do I get to hear interesting stories and some times gaming stuff, but you forced me to expand my horizons. Thanks!

I may just be completely naive when it comes to the world of the stock market and whatnot, but if you own shares of a company, is it not YOUR responsibility to know what the company does, how it works, etc.? You mentioned that publishers want to make a profit because they have to be do well for the people who've invested in their stock, but then excuse stockholders from having any personal responsibility or having to educate themselves or have any clue about what's being done with their money. The first part of that makes perfect sense, but if you're investing in something--and actually investing, not just looking to make a quick buck at the expense of quality--then it seems like you should be willing to accept (or at least understand/tolerate) a publisher saying "Look, we have this HUGE game and it's going to need another month, and if we give it that time, we're going to make a LOT more money and a lot more positive press." Of course, that's assuming that there ever is a game that just needs another month or two of work to avoid major problems/shortcomings and that critics/reviews/game flaws have any impact on sales at all.

Unrelated to anything else: is it just me, or does Justin always seem to be the voice of reason when the rest of the podcat crew is full of fury and hate?

bravetoaster:
I may just be completely naive when it comes to the world of the stock market and whatnot, but if you own shares of a company, is it not YOUR responsibility to know what the company does, how it works, etc.?

Nope. I know nothing about Aastrom Biosciences, Inc.* but they're publicly traded (ASTM on NASDAQ) so if I go to a broker and plop down US$183 (+ fees) I can get 100 of their stock ASAP. Or $1830 for 1000, etc. I have no interest in the company at that point except increasing their stock price and then selling it. While I could theoretically do this by promoting long term research down encouraging pathways, I'll be old before I have the money. I could also encourage them to claim they've found the next Viagra and then sell the stock for a king's ransom when everyone in the world wants in on it. What do I care if that bankrupts them? I'll be out before it happens. There's a name for that, BTW: It's called pump and dump. Or I could take the middle road and encourage them to do things that will ultimately ruin the company but don't do so right away. This is what many shareholders do. Day traders don't keep stock. Market volatility shows that stocks are getting shifted like mad all the time.

(* Can you tell I picked that off a list?)

As an investor, my interests are better served by short-term gains even if they destroy long-term viability. This is why CEOs that cannibalize companies and then use their golden parachutes the minute things go south are so common: They're doing what the shareholders WANT. I could point at various vehicle recalls and how their shareholders were so happy about the "cost cutting" (more like corner cutting) measures the car makers took the year before.

I work in the tech industry, and I'm seeing this a LOT. As the founders of companies are aging out and replaced by career CEOs who have no interest in the company's good name, products are getting downright shitty. Hell, I was working for HP when Carly Fiorina took over. You would not believe how many of the old repair techniques stopped being viable because metal was replaced with plastic that broke under the slightest strain. Or when she moved ink/toner cartridge design into its own department instead of as a subset of the department making the device in question. Saved money since you now only had one group of ink cart makers, but the very next run of printers changed from asymmetrical cartridges to symmetrical cartridges that could be installed wrong in several different ways. The engineers for the printer had tried to accommodate with a fancy plastic lid meant to keep you from swapping color and black carts, but it didn't work because the cartridges could easily be installed BACKWARDS, which caused the printer to stop working until you did some voodoo** on it. Which is the kind of call we were hit with on the first day of sale.

(** Yanking the power cord out - turning off the unit didn't work, you had to pull out the power - at a very specific time. Oh, the stories I could tell. Opening and closing the lid on a printer 12 times to test something because a button was too expensive, the list goes on. If I ran ol' Carly over in a bus I wouldn't shed a tear.)

bravetoaster:
but then excuse stockholders from having any personal responsibility or having to educate themselves or have any clue about what's being done with their money.

There's no legal requirement for a shareholder to care, beyond not violating certain federal regulations. So most don't.

Related interesting reading from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality - regulations exist to force externalities back on companies.

Less related but still interesting reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_responsibility - a good person does good things, good people can do horrible things.

11:40 A master game with every gaming element you say? There a review right here on the escapistmagazine.com

all joking aside, I didn't buy MW3 for the very reason of I was sick of the same thing. I had borrowed it from a friend and i beat the campaign in two relativity short sittings and was so disappointed I said i wasn't going to buy it new. but then again I'm buying it used from the same friend, so hey

Labyrinth is not bad!! It's super adorable. You can't go wrong with David Bowie and Jim Henson creatures. C'mon.

Great podcast. Just a commentary (as other people have said): even with the new equipment there seems to be some bizarre echo/feedback sound filtering into your recordings.

On the whole Double Fine issue I just feel it's a not a new creative model. It's simply the first time it's applied on a greater scale to games. It feels like some rich dude comissioning a musician to compose an aria for their beloved wife, or painting a mural, or whatever. There's no such an interest of the comissioner to get a profit, it is just an interest in creating a personal or niche work to the tastes of a certain person. The "person" here is all point n click adventure fans. I think it's fantastic that this phenomenon can take of to please niche audiences.

DustyDrB:
Past boycotts: Left 4 Dead 2, Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare 3, any Valve game that isn't Half Life 3, and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. There are probably more, but I forgot them or just happened to not know about them.

Past successful boycotts: ...

Anyway, the podcast got very echo-ey around the 40 minute mark. Greg and Justin sounded like Turians. It didn't hurt my enjoyment, though. This Kickstarter thing is fascinating. I hope it leads to some original kind of ideas and some change in how game development goes (from what I hear, the term "development hell" sounds like it could apply to much more than what we use it for).

Panorama:
snip

Oh my God, that avatar is amazing. Never change it.

Not Turian, this was totally a Hanar episode. This one enjoys the podcast and all of the ramblings, praise be the Endkindlers.

Blasphemy, Labyrinth is amazing.

bravetoaster:
I may just be completely naive when it comes to the world of the stock market and whatnot, but if you own shares of a company, is it not YOUR responsibility to know what the company does, how it works, etc.? You mentioned that publishers want to make a profit because they have to be do well for the people who've invested in their stock, but then excuse stockholders from having any personal responsibility or having to educate themselves or have any clue about what's being done with their money.

We were talking about the need for companies to make a profit, which is the responsibility of its executives, not its stockholders.

bdcjacko:
Blasphemy, Labyrinth is amazing.

It might be amazing, but it's not good.

Just now listening to it, and I am so glad my step son has not heard of Spyro Skylanders.

krellen:

Susan Arendt:
When did we even mention Willow?

During the sound check at the beginning, when talking about old fantasy movies. Steve (I think it was Steve) started rattling off titles in the background of bad movies, including Willow.

And I think a couple weeks back his disdain for it came up, too.

I think we've established that Steve hates all movies I like. His disdain for Willow makes sense only in that context, for everyone knows that Mad Mardigan is awesome.

Greg

I agree with Susan, you don't feed the cat to the dog.

Greg Tito:
I think we've established that Steve hates all movies I like. His disdain for Willow makes sense only in that context, for everyone knows that Mad Mardigan is awesome.

Greg

He really IS great.

Personally if it comes down to zombies, I have a little more faith in humanity's chances due to our fantastical modern communication technology. Unless it's like 'Xombie' where everyone on earth gets infected but they only turn when they die. My main fallback is the Grand Canyon or something like it.

"I love you Sorsha? I don't love her, I hate her, she kicked me in the face!"

Resident audiophile here, I have a request... or two.

In the majority of podcasts so far you've had issues with mic echo bleeding through multiple microphones(I assume that's what's causing it at least). This is really starting to bother me and it was particularly bad in this podcast. I just thought I'd mention it, and I'd hope you could find a way to eliminate that problem with some kind of sound isolation or more uni-directional microphones.

Additionally, you have some serious issues with balancing levels and compressing peaks. Whenever I'm not using in-ear monitors I have to crank up the volume on my speakers to hear the lower parts of speech(which even at loud volumes are difficult to understand) and the resulting volume change leaves my ears in pain when any of you get excited and begin speaking louder. This issue should be a much easier fix. Assuming you have some kind of D.A.W to mix the podcast on, and if you don't I would seriously suggest getting one as it might solve all of your audio issues at once. But this one in particular could be fixed by increasing the gain on the microphones and adding a limiter(normalizer) as a digital compression effect in any D.A.W.

Problems aside, I do enjoy the podcasts. Keep up the good work and I'll certainly be back next week.

I've been listening to your podcast for several months, but this is the first time I felt the urge to chip in.

Susan Arendt demonstrates once again that she's little more than a loud, abrasive person with little insight beyond an affected "let-me-break-it-down-for-ya" persona. She addresses the commenter who complained about Bioware and Mass Effect 3, saying something about a "golden fist up their own ass" - the verbatim quote escapes me. She tells him to either not buy the game or shut the fuck up.

A basic lesson in how the market works, Susie. When the consumers of your product complain about the direction your product is going in, it isn't a wise response to say, or think "well if they don't like it they shouldn't buy it. Either way, they need to shut the hell up." A more intelligent person than Susan Arendt correctly interprets this as a MARKET SIGNAL. It shows that consumers are, by increments, losing faith in the product. Maybe next time they won't automatically buy it when it hits the shelves. Maybe next time, when there's a strong competing sci-fi RPG game on the market, they'll hit up the alternative. Why the hell do you think Bioware sets up forums where people air their grievances? Because they're interested in what all the complainers have to say, because the complainers are the people whose money they want.

Yes, the commenter didn't make his point well, and didn't have anything constructive to contribute to the conversation, but it is never appropriate to tell a consumer who's legitimately losing faith in your product to shut up or get out. Luckily, Steve and Justin quickly corrected Susan, but the fact that she was so openly hostile and confrontational evinces a sad lack of integrity on her part.

As a related side-note: Yes, game developers, and their publishers, are profit-making businesses. Of course they're trying to make money. This does not invalidate concerns from consumers that their products are eschewing artistic vision in favour of lowest-common-denominator appeal. The games industry was built on niche audiences; developers would do well to respect them. Niche audiences are more reliable buyers, they frequently advertise your product for you, and they're the ones who end up buying every single DLC. They have every right to complain that game designers are sacrificing vision for the bottom-line. Vision is what this audience want to buy. And frankly, it's a smart long-term strategy to develop a reputation for niche games that excel in terms of their artistic achievement. That's how Bioware built its reputation, and it's asinine to say that Bioware has no stake in maintaining it because now it has the mass market and all the original niche audience are such fanboys that they'll buy whatever Bioware puts out, so who cares about their whingeing.

I repeat: the market works in incremental shifts and trends, not in boycotts.

Susan Arendt has always bothered me, as she never seemed to contribute anything to the discussion besides an overweeningly entitled token female voice, but I never avoided the podcast because of it. Now that she was outright rude to one of the commenters (who is ultimately paying her bills, mind you), I'm genuinely put off by the podcast.

Just to clarify for simpletons like Ms. Arendt: This doesn't mean I'm boycotting the podcast, or that I'll never visit the Escapist again. But will I avoid podcasts that have her in them? Maybe. Will I be more inclined to look around for other gaming podcasts? Definitely. If I find one that features only intelligent and professional people like Steve and Justin, will I choose to listen to them instead? Most probably.

Sorry for the tl;dr post, you guys run a generally great podcast with some great music.

To the above poster, you make it sound like Susan herself is an executive at EA and that she's telling people not to buy Mass Effect 3. It's not her product, so it's she doesn't have to not "tell a consumer who's legitimately losing faith in your product to shut up or get out," she has no stake in it.

I do totally agree with you that Susan can sometimes be a bit abrasive and over the top though.

Rassmusseum:
To the above poster, you make it sound like Susan herself is an executive at EA and that she's telling people not to buy Mass Effect 3. It's not her product, so it's she doesn't have to not "tell a consumer who's legitimately losing faith in your product to shut up or get out," she has no stake in it.

I do totally agree with you that Susan can sometimes be a bit abrasive and over the top though.

I get what you're saying, Rassmusseum, but I wasn't really trying to make the point that she was professionally responsible for Mass Effect 3 in any way... what I was more trying to convey was that the reaction she had in the podcast is really bad for video games and the gaming community. It promotes hostility and confrontationalism, alienates listeners from her podcast and gamers from their game developers, and it was clearly trying to pander to the game developer side of the market.

As someone whose simple mind is trying to ape the trappings of journalism, Susan should try to realise that her loyalties should always lie with the consumer, not the producer, no matter how desperately she wants "insider" access. So she should make a bit more effort trying to empathise with the concerns of gamers rather than telling them to "shut up or get out". I don't think I've ever heard Susan Arendt side with consumer concerns on any issue that wasn't outrageously black and white already.

It's a worrying trend in the gaming community that those in ostensible positions of authority, be it journalists or members of the industry, regularly show sneering condescension and even open contempt for their audience, bandying around terms like "trolls", "fanboys", etc. They seem to be forgetting that gamers, even the loud, obnoxious ones, are what pay all their bills and ultimately feed their ravenous egos. For god's sake, you wouldn't see professionals in any other industry talk to their constituency in the same way that games journalists and game developers do. It's like they're all ashamed of being in the games industry and are desperately afraid that someone will associate them with those mom-hating basement-dwellers.

It's good to know that someone else shares my opinion of Susan, even in part. I am genuinely baffled as to why she has been made senior editor. She's a mediocre writer with no good ideas (really, you're going to write an article about how Skyrim was good, Dragon Age was good, wouldn't it be great IFYOUPUTTHEMTOGETHER??! Please.) and her spoken manner would aggravate the Buddha. Maybe she's a hard worker and she puts time in behind the scenes, and that's fine, but for heaven's sake keep her out of the public eye.

Wulfsten:

Rassmusseum:
To the above poster, you make it sound like Susan herself is an executive at EA and that she's telling people not to buy Mass Effect 3. It's not her product, so it's she doesn't have to not "tell a consumer who's legitimately losing faith in your product to shut up or get out," she has no stake in it.

I do totally agree with you that Susan can sometimes be a bit abrasive and over the top though.

I get what you're saying, Rassmusseum, but I wasn't really trying to make the point that she was professionally responsible for Mass Effect 3 in any way... what I was more trying to convey was that the reaction she had in the podcast is really bad for video games and the gaming community. It promotes hostility and confrontationalism, alienates listeners from her podcast and gamers from their game developers, and it was clearly trying to pander to the game developer side of the market.

As someone whose simple mind is trying to ape the trappings of journalism, Susan should try to realise that her loyalties should always lie with the consumer, not the producer, no matter how desperately she wants "insider" access. So she should make a bit more effort trying to empathise with the concerns of gamers rather than telling them to "shut up or get out". I don't think I've ever heard Susan Arendt side with consumer concerns on any issue that wasn't outrageously black and white already.

It's a worrying trend in the gaming community that those in ostensible positions of authority, be it journalists or members of the industry, regularly show sneering condescension and even open contempt for their audience, bandying around terms like "trolls", "fanboys", etc. They seem to be forgetting that gamers, even the loud, obnoxious ones, are what pay all their bills and ultimately feed their ravenous egos. For god's sake, you wouldn't see professionals in any other industry talk to their constituency in the same way that games journalists and game developers do. It's like they're all ashamed of being in the games industry and are desperately afraid that someone will associate them with those mom-hating basement-dwellers.

It's good to know that someone else shares my opinion of Susan, even in part. I am genuinely baffled as to why she has been made senior editor. She's a mediocre writer with no good ideas (really, you're going to write an article about how Skyrim was good, Dragon Age was good, wouldn't it be great IFYOUPUTTHEMTOGETHER??! Please.) and her spoken manner would aggravate the Buddha. Maybe she's a hard worker and she puts time in behind the scenes, and that's fine, but for heaven's sake keep her out of the public eye.

I'm Managing Editor, actually. Might want to update your hatred accordingly.

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