Jimquisition: Perfect Pasta Sauce

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Perfect Pasta Sauce

This week, Jimquisition gives you a brief lesson in pasta sauce, and ties it into the misguided quest for perfection currently plaguing the so-called "AAA" title scene.

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Jim, I don't know if the hat is a good look for you...

I know I would like more plat formers that are not Mario

I mean just look at how the killed Banjo Kazooie by turning into a racer and stating as much in game. They literally said they were broadening the demographic and assumed gamers nowadays just want to shoot things with some serious 4th wall breaking. DAMN YOU MICROSOFT I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID TO RARE!

Empty is the head that wears the crown, that's why Jim wears a bowler :P

Can somebody list the zillions of columns/blog posts Shamus made in which he stated this exact point? Would be useful as a reference.
I completely agree with everything Jim said by the way. Just because the largest market won't buy something doesn't mean nobody will buy it.

I think a good Single player low magic Conan Game would sell like hot cakes since Age of Conan did well initially then it dropped off. Also look at Obsidian, those guys take existing engines and make amazing games with them in a little over a year when typical development time is a little over two to three years, and they make money. Look at Nintendo, sure they carved their niche as the Disney of video games but they have in their history only lost money one quarter.

Did a brit just totally rip on the royal family? Anyways, while I can certainly get behind his message, I do not see an easy solution to the current problem. Perhaps continued, painful economic losses are the only way to derail the pursuit of the "perfect" game. The only issue is that it leads to a bunch of talented people getting laid off for doing what their idiotic bosses told them to do.

Jim I completely agree with the episode except you contradicted yourself trying to defend the previous episode. Prego succeeded by focus testing. You would have been better served by making the connection to prego clearly just saying that they merely learned that Variety was the spice of life, not that you MUST innovate. The innovation you're unhappy with shouldn't be called innovation. Call it "feature spamming.". That's a bit more on the nose.

I weep for Movie Defence Force.

I.Muir:
I know I would like more plat formers that are not Mario

Well there's Braid and Limbo to name off the top of my head.

OT: First off this is a wonderful idea, we must throw pasta sauce on the heads of the AAA industry until they can absorb the information that they're being absolutely idiotic and ridiculous (and delicious). They need to learn that not every "new" direction or different genre than the high budget CoD games that make yachts filled with money a risk that is not worth taking; mainly because most of the time there is no risk or it's so small that there isn't much point trying to quantify the potential losses.

Sam Rothrock:
Did a brit just totally rip on the royal family? Anyways, while I can certainly get behind his message, I do not see an easy solution to the current problem. Perhaps continued, painful economic losses are the only way to derail the pursuit of the "perfect" game. The only issue is that it leads to a bunch of talented people getting laid off for doing what their idiotic bosses told them to do.

Yes and he's right, both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are direct descendants of Queen Victoria... Although they are bringing in some new blood finally these past couple of generations.

Any time focus testing is mentioned I get really worried. It was shocking when Naughty Dog mentioned that no women were brought in for focus testing, and half of that was just because they were bothering to focus test The Last of Us at all. Focus testing is where ideas go to die in the name of homogenization. It's also why I'm worried about Broken Age, as Tim is allowing the community to influence some ideas, and that's downright frightening.

Sure, with some testing Bioshock Infinite may have made more sense to those that didn't understand it's ending, but it would have been worse off for it. It's why I respect Ken Levine so much. He doesn't care what others think, he does what he want with his creative freedom and goes nuts.

Sam Rothrock:
Did a brit just totally rip on the royal family? Anyways, while I can certainly get behind his message, I do not see an easy solution to the current problem. Perhaps continued, painful economic losses are the only way to derail the pursuit of the "perfect" game. The only issue is that it leads to a bunch of talented people getting laid off for doing what their idiotic bosses told them to do.

Yes, and it's quite common over here. Unelected spongers with no qualifications between them...

(Sidenote: while I don't support the Royal Family I am very impressed that William and Harry both served in the Army, and went to Iraq/Afghanistan. )

image

That was beautiful, Jim. Just beautiful. I've always thought of Jim as more capable as a consumer advocate than as a gaming intellectual, but I'm about ready to re-think that now. This episode is both ingenious and brilliantly executed. I can't believe game markets still can't notice that *gasp* different people might like different things. Or, to put it another way: if you release a new IP that takes a few risks, it might work, it might bomb. If you just keep churning the same crap that other people have done before and better, then there is a 100% probability that you will fail eventually.

I.Muir:
I know I would like more plat formers that are not Mario

I mean just look at how the killed Banjo Kazooie by turning into a racer and stating as much in game. They literally said they were broadening the demographic and assumed gamers nowadays just want to shoot things with some serious 4th wall breaking. DAMN YOU MICROSOFT I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID TO RARE!

Well here's the issue, there are great titles in some genres being made that are getting no love. No marketing or buzz is put around them. Let's look at platformers, Shantae: Risky's Revenge is a GREAT 2D platformer by Wayforward, and most people have never played it. Same with Harry Hatsworth. Psychonauts is a 3D platformer with a cult following but abyssmal sales. The same 3-4 platformer genre games are being turned out because they are the only ones that sell: Mario, Kirby, Ratchet and Clank, and Donkey Kong.

Sam Rothrock:
Did a brit just totally rip on the royal family? Anyways, while I can certainly get behind his message, I do not see an easy solution to the current problem. Perhaps continued, painful economic losses are the only way to derail the pursuit of the "perfect" game. The only issue is that it leads to a bunch of talented people getting laid off for doing what their idiotic bosses told them to do.

You are entirely correct and its been proven to work just look at square, as a last ditch effort they made something new
something fresh and it blew up, it was an absolute super nova. Last and Final fanstasy saved their skin.

I have three shooters on my Steam at the moment, Bioshock Infinite, Sanctum and Killing Floor each scratching a separate itch. It's an example of how I pick games to scratch itches. Infinite I'm playing for what is so far one of the richest worlds I have seen so far in a linear plot game, Sanctum is my love of tower defence and strategy and Killing floor... well the fun of watching zombie like creatures' heads explode when I pull off head shot after head shot with nothing more than the starting pistol.

All the other games are different, Highborn (Turn Based Strategy), FTL (Roguelike) Sins of a Solar Empire (Space RTS) Towns (Simulator), each as different as each other and fun for different reasons. The thing I agree with the Dishonoured analogy; if they even diverted 1000 into designing something new it would probably make higher returns percentage wise than CoD could.

Nice one Jim!!!

piscian:
Jim I completely agree with the episode except you contradicted yourself trying to defend the previous episode. Prego succeeded by focus testing. You would have been better served by making the connection to prego clearly just saying that they merely learned that Variety was the spice of life, not that you MUST innovate. The innovation you're unhappy with shouldn't be called innovation. Call it "feature spamming.". That's a bit more on the nose.

It's not that focus testing should never be used, it's that it can't be the be-all, end-all. Malcolm Gladwell is where I learned a lot about both the pasta thing *and* the perils of focus testing. Basically, you can learn a lot from directly asking your audience things, but you can't hang on their every word because, ultimately, a lot of what they say won't translate into what they do.

Also, the difference between Prego and the coffee thing is the difference between gauging an actual preference versus obtaining someone's perception of their own preferences. You can have someone taste different things and they can tell you what they like. You can simply ask someone what they like and they'll tell you what sounds good. Hence, people say they want "rich, dark roasted" coffee when, in reality, they prefer the taste of something weaker and milkier.

Had Prego just asked people what they wanted, it's likely they'd not have discovered extra chunky, because nobody would have said it.

I've been playing the Mass Effect trilogy for the past 2 months or so. The first game was really sweet. I knew the other two parts are shootier and shittier but I really didn't expect them to go this deep into the bland 3rd person cover-based shooter mud hell.

Seriously guys, what gives?

In the meantime, I stopped by to grab Portal 2 this weekend and finished it in 2 sittings. Now, there's something new. How about some more non-3rd person cover-based shooters, please? No? Well, okay, no money spent then.

Could'nt agree more (though maybe not with the republicanism).

God save our gracious Jim.

Theminimanx:
Can somebody list the zillions of columns/blog posts Shamus made in which he stated this exact point? Would be useful as a reference.

I know he's mentioned it in at least half the episodes of the Diecast. IIRC it's also come up in his recent Experienced Points columns on EA's troubles.

Sam Rothrock:
Did a brit just totally rip on the royal family?

It happens more often than you'd think!

Brilliant video Jim! We need more chunky pasta sauce games out there.

O Jim Sterling you magnificent bastard you do not need to tell us that your collaborative work with Yahtzee is very good. We have all learned by now that anything you are in is superior in quality by definition of having Jim Sterling in it. This of course is how it should be in any sane and civilized world.

Sincerely some guy who hatted you for the first 6 months on Escapist
Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for you Jim

P.S. Variety is something the old school and hard core gamers have been complaining about for a while now. Good to see you finally grace us with your thoughts on the matter.

Truly great episode! Though I'd expect a few british people to be pissed off about that last part :D

And right you are! Good episode!

I like my pasta with extra "stuff" I added after I pour the can in to the pot, like extra onion, mushrooms, garlic, meat chunks(sausages)...Etc; I missed the old days where I can buy a game and make maps/mod on my own, like the unreal tournament, War craft III, that comes with an editor, even IF I was lazy to design one, I can always get users' content by DLing them off net.

Jimothy Sterling:

piscian:
Jim I completely agree with the episode except you contradicted yourself trying to defend the previous episode. Prego succeeded by focus testing. You would have been better served by making the connection to prego clearly just saying that they merely learned that Variety was the spice of life, not that you MUST innovate. The innovation you're unhappy with shouldn't be called innovation. Call it "feature spamming.". That's a bit more on the nose.

It's not that focus testing should never be used, it's that it can't be the be-all, end-all. Malcolm Gladwell is where I learned a lot about both the pasta thing *and* the perils of focus testing. Basically, you can learn a lot from directly asking your audience things, but you can't hang on their every word because, ultimately, a lot of what they say won't translate into what they do.

Also, the difference between Prego and the coffee thing is the difference between gauging an actual preference versus a someone's perception of their own preferences. You can have someone taste different things and they can tell you what they like. You can simply ask someone what they like and they'll tell you what sounds good. Hence, people say they want "rich, dark roasted" coffee when, in reality, they prefer the taste of someone else.

Had Prego just asked people what they wanted, it's likely they'd not have discovered extra chunky, because nobody would have said it.

So, we shouldn't just ask what people want, but also try and see what they are enjoying?
Hmmmm....Do you think the Games industry could ask that guy for some help like Prego did?

Also well done on the new show. We could use some more poetry around here.

Your best episode yet.

Sigh...

This just reminds me of how much I want a good new RTS that isn't totally indie or some f2p nonsense, I just want a fair priced RTS with a decent single player story and some skirmish modes for me to mess around in.

Sigh....wonder how much Red Alert 3 is on steam.

I can think of a few game genre's that rarely get scratched by a good game.

-Horror
-Zombie survival (lots of crappy attempts but nothing has gotten it right yet)
-adventure games
-point and click
-fun puzzle games.
-Platformers (while thankfully growing in the indie scene can still do better)
-A new form of card games (something like Yugioh: war of the roses for the ps2/GC)
-Metroidvania style games (some have come out but have been kinda ham fisted)
-2D side scrollers (akin but not necessarily like megaman)
-fun exploration games (akin to terraria and starbound)

Now some of these categories are finally starting to bulk up the past 2 years but they arn't getting nearly as much love as trying to make the next big WoW or CoD killer.

Still waiting to throw my money at a game that gives you a fully customizable (like Saints Row 2) loot-based (like Borderlands) urban open-world (like Crackdown) Action-RPG (again, like Borderlands) hybrid that I would buy twice over.

DEVELOPERS, THIS AUDIENCE OF ME IS WAITING IN THE WINGS!

GAunderrated:
I can think of a few game genre's that rarely get scratched by a good game.

-Zombie survival (lots of crappy attempts but nothing has gotten it right yet)
-fun exploration games (akin to terraria and starbound)

I agree with you on these two. Minecraft and its MANY clones come as close as you get to combining those two into one brilliant game, but we have yet to see one that fully explores the potential of Zombie Survival (like a Bethesda RPG with zombies would be AWESOME, especially after fans mod a hardcore survival mode into it)

My knowledge of pasta has increased substantially after watching this video...

OT: I agree that some budgets need to be trimmed down, It is sad to see games that sell well be called failures because the budget was too high and was unable to recoup losses.

As for my pasta sauce, I prefer spicy to be honest, I do like my spicy food.

Yes thank God for Jim, ...and sod the flipping royals. While some people, including yourself, are worried that this weeks edition might contradict last weeks, I don't agree. I think both compliment each other quite well. My reasoning for thinking this is because aside from big companies being very narrow minded in what kind of games they make, as last weeks video showed, they are also pumping a ridiculous shitload of resources into very few titles. If these, frankly batshit, developers would work towards more realistic sales estimates and budgets, there would be arse loads of money left over to try some experimenting. Just like you've said in both videos these companies need to pull their heads out of their recharge sockets and stop trying to find the "one game to rule them all". And instead use that money to exponentially expand their customer base by creating a wider spectrum of game types that appeal to more than just the already hooked, and somewhat jaded disciples they have now.

Do I think that many major developers are going to do that? Sadly I give a big "fuck no". These are the same dingbats that are continuing in their mad vision to segregate their customer base across several game platforms which has the net effect of actually lowering their sales count as most people, at least the ones that I know, only buy one version of a game, in a time when they are throwing so much money into their games already that it is nearly impossible to make a realistic return.

This describes my feelings pretty much exactly. I'm a hardcore RTS, 4X and Grand Strategy gamer. At the moment my preferred genres seem to be doing fairly well. Though the games within those genres seem to be constantly converging into a very small handful of publishers. I quietly celebrated that SEGA picked up Relic, since they have proven that they are both willing and able to handle RTSes, such as the Total War series, with a degree of respect.

Addressing the pasta sauce example, there is no single 'perfect' genre for me. Heck, I even sub-divide within genres. For example, I do play competitive mulit-player shooters from time to time. I have what I call the 'holy trinity' of Battlefield 3, Team Fortress 2 and Red Orchestra 2 for all my competitive multi-player shooting needs.

I will play them based on whatever mood I'm in. If I want some silly, colourful fun, then I will head on over to TF2. If I want to play something a bit more serious, then I will play BF3. Finally, if I want to play something far slower, harder, grittier and more deliberate, then I will head into RO2. Put another way, in TF2 I get the excitement from clearing out the enemy base in 2Fort and walking out with the intelligence as a Heavy in an overall atmosphere of silliness. In BF3, I get the excitement from getting lots of kills and capping objectives in what feels like a semi-grounded action movie. In RO2, I get the excitement from the anticipation of a firefight, or running from one side of the street to the other without getting killed.

I can't say that one of those shooters is better than the other. I just 'feel' like different game-play styles on different days. For example, some days I would not have the patience for RO2's slow and methodical game-play, while other days I just want to take things a bit more seriously than TF2.

I totally agree with you Jim. I think AAA publishers are afraid of trying something new and are sticking to their guns and milking their franchises to oblivion.

This is why indie games and the whole kickstarter has become a thing, because the publishers won't throw money at such games if it doesn't bring them millions of copies sold. There is a market for everything out there, but someone needs to take the first step so that others may follow.

I'm interested in the new Thief reboot for example, but will be disappointed by the fact that they will try to casualise/mainstream it. I want to play old school RPG's with prettier graphics because I couldn't back in the day for the reason of not being born. This is why I've funded all of those awesome projects that will get me what I want.

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