Jimquisition: Perfect Pasta Sauce

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Thank you, Jim, now I can link this video to people who keep decrying that LGBTQ+ inclusion is doomed and useless because it's not the majority demographic, and apparently if something cannot make CoD money, it's not worth doing at all.

There's a demographic eager to be served LGBTQ+ inclusion, and that includes some straight/cis people too.

Female and racial inclusion benefit from this exact kind of argument too.

Imp Emissary:

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.

Demos. We need demos that are just concepts. Nothing crazy or expensive, just a small one or two levels and see what everyone flips out for. Developers could change the way games are made if this took off.

I had a dream about Jim last night.

I knelt down into a praying stance in front of him and said, "Thank god for Jim!"

I'm not sure who got the biggest burn, the British Royal Family or the AAA Game Industry.

Jim, this is your best show so far. Keep it up!

I think this is the best episode I've ever watched. I would say it is a perfect episode.

WaitWHAT:
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 use to not like Jim as well but it seems like lately he's really been kicking ass. He's got a good view on the game market and if only publishers and developers would heed him.

"And made. Wait for it.......money!" That had perfect comedic timing I must say and I agree wholeheartedly with what this episode has to say and I find it vaguely irritating games companies can't see this. Praise the sun for you Jim.

canadamus_prime:
I'm not sure who got the biggest burn, the British Royal Family or the AAA Game Industry.

I'd say the game industry. I think the royal family expects the inbreeding jokes at this point.

I think it would've also helped if "Prego" wasn't also a slur for a pregnant woman.

I answered a forum post about my favorite games from this generation and realized that most of them are shooters. Even the strategy games (Valkyria Chronicles) or the puzzle games (like Portal) have shooter elements. They're still amazing games but my favorite games from last generation include driving (like Burnout Revenge) sports games (like Ribbit King) and...whatever the hell Katamari is... also driving? The closest thing to a shooter I really liked from last gen was probably GTA SA.
Still, I would hate to discourage them from making the next Borderlands or Just Cause; even though they're shooters they exemplify variety. For the oversaturation of shooter's at least we did get some really good shooters.

I was with you and completely on your side until you took a swing at my beloved royals, prepare to have your crumpets buttered.

I'm sure this has been mentioned before, but the XCOM strategy title had already been in development for years when the XCOM shooter was announced. It wasn't produced as a response to the criticism as you make it sound, it would've come out regardless. It might have been revealed earlier due to it, though, but that's pure speculation on my part.

There is of course no doubt that the focus was completely shifted from the shooter to the strategy title once 2K realized they stumbled upon their "chunky pasta sauce", so there's that, but so far as to wholly release it in response to the outcry? Not really.

Not sure that's what you meant, Jim, but it's how it sounded.

Other than that, solid episode as always. The Jimquisition makes Mondays something to look forward to :)

It seems to be a typical thing for companies. When they're small and unknown, they are bolder and willing to take risks. But then when they make it and become successful, they refuse to take those same bold risks that put them where they are. So they fall or change hands and then some new upstart takes their place... and then stops taking risks as well once successful.

Which is why the laughably-named AAA market keeps making military shooter, like we need another one. That was successful so that is seen as a safe investment but the only really safe investment in entertainment media is to take risks otherwise the market, the audience, and the games stagnate. Look at the Madden series and wonder why it's not just a downloadable roster every year instead.

It doesn't seem to be a search for a perfect game but the poorly thought out attempt to do the same thing but better, which just shows how poorly these guys understand people. Jackie Chan understood people and how people held Bruce Lee is high esteem. No one could be better than Bruce Lee. Even someone better than Bruce Lee is not as good as Bruce Lee because Bruce Lee is the best. So Chan took to doing the opposite of Lee and made a lot of money from it. All those hundreds of other guys who were just doing the same thing as Lee, who are they?

People, as a market, tend to distill things into simple terms because individuals do this and as a group those terms become very simple indeed. So when looking for a military shooter, Call of Duty has filled that niche in the collective subconscious. So Battlefield will always be an also-ran. It's kind of like how many people don't know Chełmno, Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor or Treblinka, but they do know Auschwitz. Not fair, but that is how the collective mind works. Once something fills that niche, you can either hold the number two spot and how that in time a new generation will be born that takes yours as their number one choice or you could do something different

I have to tell you, I don't play many shooters. But even from my position I saw that it was mostly space marines and military shooters. Hence why the the original Bioshock was such a breath of fresh air just in the aesthetics. Even for someone who didn't play games that much at the time. Doing something different is not as risky a choice as following on the coattails of the successful game. You have to sink a lot of resources and capital into an also ran and may not make back your investment whereas something new and different is liable to take that top spot with a smaller investment since you're not trying to outdo anybody. So the search for a perfect game is pointless. Minecraft is already the perfect game, anyway...

Allow me to submit a number of suggestions on Games I would Like...

1- An RPG with a larger focus on Mobility.
So far, the only ones who seem to be doing this on a regular basis are the Japanese. And even then, it's only once or twice every half dozen years. Considering the last ones I vividly remember were all Kingdom Hearts games.
Meanwhile, the West has watered down the meaning or RPG till you get to the point it's not even an RPG in any mechanical sense, and only counts in a narrative sense. (Mass Effect for Example, though I don't exactly have a problem with it.)
And of course, nobody seems to be willing to cater for those of us that want our characters to be jumping around while they fight, and still get stronger Via Level ups.
In fact, maybe just a game that focuses more on mobility even without going full RPG would be fine. I Loved Devil May Cry 4, and the only reason I didn't buy the New DMC is because the freaking New Dante is an Idiot with no Passion or Personality. I'd Rather the old Dante with his Over the top Dramatics, I mean, he freaking acted like a Shakespeare Wannabe in Devil May Cry 4, and it was Glorious!
Oh crap, this is Getting Long, Time to Segue.

2- Ridiculous and over the top Characters and Story (But lose the Prepubescent Pandering based off of Sex appeal.)
You know what would be Fun? Seeing a game where a that has a Were-wolf in a Top Hat fighting Burning Scarecrows that set his home on Fire, that teams up with a Pink Pegasus to bring back seven sacred stones that will give seven warriors their own Mechs to fight off a Sun God who got drunk and decided to invade the world. Along the Way they Team up with A Trigger-happy Kitsune, a Witch that keeps referring to her art as a "Science", A Knight that will only fall in love with whatever girls beat the everloving s*** out of him, A Cyborg that hatched that way from a metal egg for some reason, and A Dragon Girl who has romantic interest in the Witch.
Now that... Would be a fun story.

3- A game where the characters go off the rails just because they heard this story a hundred times and want a new one.
(Self Explanatory.)

4- A game that Blends Science and Fantasy in extreme ways.
Seriously, who doesn't want to see a Mage Fighting off Robots with a Magic Gun that She uses like a wand? or a Knight That uses a Lazer Sword to Decapitate an Ogre? You Following? Now... Imagine doing all this while traveling across space with an Elf, a Cyborg, a Dragon and a Cat girl, all taking up roles as Scientists and Wizards to Study life on other worlds, and they come across an Alien Race of Trolls that are essentially the Larval Form of some offshoot of Fairies, and have built a giant cocoon world in the sky out of gleaming metal and are just beginning they're quest into space.
... This Overlaps with 2.

5- A Game that Makes use of Time Travel as a Game Mechanic.
I've played Two games with this, one was a game about Time Police Cats fighting against Pigs of Space... It was mediocre, but I got many hours of fun out of it. The other was a Real Time Strategy game, and I essentially abused the heck out of its mechanics to do something that brought a magnificent smile to my face... I Couldn't get the looping Back in Time to Work Quick Enough For My Liking in a Pure Time loop, so I just sent them back in Time to the point the events on the timeline are locked in, and then Canceled the command to go back and BAM! Twice the Units... I did that so many times I had an Army of one... I also managed to find a way to make an absolute mess of the Timeline during one mission that gave me trouble, and by the end I was still asking myself what had just happened...
Fun times.

Basically... I while I play I want to be having Fun in such a way so as to maximize my cackling Laughter.
...And yes, both Fun Mechanics and fun/ridiculous stuff contributes to that.

Who wants to be serious anyways?

...Unless of course you're being serious while wearing a Silly hat! And being incredibly serious about your silly hat!

(So to speak.)

How dare you not cater to Willem Dafoe Game Industry. How Fucking Dare You.

This episode... I like it... ANOTHER!

Now, if only the industry would see this episode...

I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. Id say this more directly ties into last weeks episode about reasonable budgets for games. Good games with strong accessible mechanics are what sells not specific genres. Some genres of games will have bigger audiences than others but all have their audiences. The best proof of this is Catherine. It is a game that was an unabashed puzzle game produced as a major release instead of a mobile app or xbla/psn game and sold very well for atlus (500k copies in 2011). What other puzzle games have we seen as major console releases this generation before august 2011 and how many have we seen after? Few if any but it shows that if you make a strong game regardless of genre it will sell then all you need to do is make sure you gauge the size of the market accordingly. There really are no dead genres just genres publishers think are dead

After all that talk of pasta sauce and such I was getting hungry.

Luckily you talked about the Royals all fucking each other which me feel rather sickly rather quick, so I suppose it all balances out =P

OT: Another episode with some fine points, Jim.

You nailed it, Jim. Great episode!

kajinking:
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.

Red Alert 3? Single player? Hah, good luck. Enjoy being saddled with a brain-dead AI partner.

*tippy typey*

*tippy typey*

*tippy typey*

I...agree. Yeah. Also, I feel like your little qualification about how this episode doesn't contradict your episode on innovation wasn't necessary. Well, maybe it was necessary for the stupid people who think you're talking about "innovation" here. Games like Dishonored and Amnesia and Slender aren't that "innovative," to be perfectly honest. We've had single player stealth games before, and we've had low-budget low-key horror games before. I never at all got the impression you were talking about devs and publishers innovating, I felt this was about not producing one type of game. If I run a bar and the only drink I sell is Budweiser, and then after about a year of financial hardship I finally start selling a wider range of drinks, that isn't innovation. That's just common sense, and I should feel ashamed for not doing it that way in the first place.

If we really have gotten to the point where asking a game developer to make a game that isn't an FPS is the same as asking them to do something innovative, then God help us all.

Stormtyrant:

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

It happens more often than you'd think!

And sometimes quite literally.

Also, on the topic of in-bred royal families, I think the best example would be Charles II of Spain. I mean, just look at his family tree for Christ's sake, it's basically just loops upon loops of uncle-fucking:

image

Despite me loving it when you get all "Rargh EA Activision Uisoft rargh" the coherency and reduced swearing of this episode has actually made it possibly my favourite yet. Not that said publishers are necessarily deserving of getting a break (and I know you weren't ragging on anyone in particular) but it's good to see you give them a chance, so to speak, on something that may have gone over their heads had you done the episode "normally".

Long story short, nice one ;)

slash2x:

Imp Emissary:

Jimothy Sterling:

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.

Demos. We need demos that are just concepts. Nothing crazy or expensive, just a small one or two levels and see what everyone flips out for. Developers could change the way games are made if this took off.

Not sure what method of testing is best but I do know that Psychologists often set up experiments where the subjects are lied too about what they are being tested on. This way the researchers can control the variables and view genuine reactions to stimuli.

I am thinking that you bring in gamers and tell them they are play testing an alpha build for some secret project. Keep them waiting in a room for 30 min with different items that they are actually testing for levels of interest. Like poster of different play elements such as guns and cars and a wide range of people. You would then observe (one of the group members is actually a researcher in disguise) what items people gravitate towards, how long it takes them to notice it, and how long it holds their interest. You would then do the same thing with a group that is informed about the nature of the experiment and see how they react to the same elements as the uninformed group.

Compare what was similar and what was different about preferences. Including age groups, gender differences, and other factors.

Word, Jim. I've never understood why it seems to be so hard for publishers to understand that when you make a game in a highly popular genre, you may have a big potential market, but so many competing games you'll only get a small slice of it. Making a new type of game, or an old genre that barely sees one release per year these days, can probably be equally profitable, especially if you keep the costs down.

Great episode.

My question is, why hasn't anyone made a AAA Minecraft clone?

Holy shit, I think this is my favorite episode of the Jimquisition.

I've got nothing else to say. I'm just awestruck. You made some seriously good points, and backed them up with evidence.

Nothing else can be said, on my part, except, "Well done, Mr. Sterling. Thank God for you."

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

It's okay when THEY do it.

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.

The flaw here is that it the damage doesn't do anything if they don't learn from it. We have Peter Moore saying "we can do better," but that begs the question of why they haven't before now. We have multiple companies posting losses and blaming everything except their own decisions. Even JR stepping down is unlikely to change their decision making.

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.

The tricky element here is that Jim would have to dishonestly leave out elements of the story, shaping the narrative into a lie to make his point. At that point, it's no longer a good point.

Incidentally, I'm really missing how "doing what the game industry did ten years ago" is called "innovation" in the first place. Except that Nintendo has lowered the bar so much that I guess anything can fit. We used to have medium budget titles in gaming. Hell, we used to have budget titles, a market now covered mostly by indie games. And what you used to get out of a budget title was a lot more (usually), because we have grown to accept the scope of the indie game generally being a small one.

"Feature spam" may be the most apt name for what usually passes as "innovation" these days.

Anyway, Jim cautioned against innovation for the sake of innovation. This wouldn't even be that. It's more "innovation because we realistically can't capture the shooter spot with a number one hit, so let's try something else." And I realise I'm rambling, but screw it. I think this is sort of intertwined with your point, even if not directly the same thing.

Sgt. Sykes:
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.

And that's what killed the series for me. I like cover-based TPS. I play several of them. And that's kind of the thing. ME1 was something fun and different. ME4 will probably literally be a reskinned GoW or CoD (I personally think they're trying to make the transition to FPS, slowly).

Similarly, I enjoy Call of Duty. Mostly because I like playing games with friends. However, my Multiplayer Dudebro Shooter quota is full because I already have Black Ops 2. I don't need Battlefield (by the way, looks pretty good, however none of my friends own it) or randomgenericshooternumber6840274563.

And this is the problem. People want to make Call of Duty and get Call of Duty's numbers. In the case of Mass Effect, it's probably more "Gears of War," but whatever. I'm sure EA could have got those numbers of a shooter without a big "screw you" to the Mass Effect style. And then there's the "WoW killer." And while EA succeeded with Mass Effect cloning other titles, it sure screwed the pooch there....

I agree completely with him... or I would if that bloody red background wasn't blinding me...

I feel bad I didn't connect it when I saw it, but I realize the whole "innovation for innovation's sake" applies wholly to movies as well, specifically in MovieBob's review of Oblivion which, without giving anything away, makes plot twists for the sole purpose of surprise but has nothing to really add to the story and is ultimately pointless. But that's probably what the producers thought was "smart" and "complex" film-making when they heard of audience desire for more interesting material than just action and explosions. The concept can also be tied to consumer culture - fun, high-tech gadgets that can do interesting things but really don't help or improve your life in any substantial way. In the case of Cracked.com's examination of the GoogleGlasses ad, innovation can not only be useless, it can also be annoying and even dangerous.

I think Bethesda is a great example of how a game company can be an outrageous critical & financial success if they make the games they want to make (and are good at making).

EA is just too cumbersome at the moment to be anything but what it is - They seem to need to make Call-of-Duty-Money, because their overhead is so high. I am not a business man, and so I have no idea if they could pull it off, realistically, but it seems like it would make a lot of sense for them to reduce that overhead. That would allow them to make more of these niche games that all of us are wanting for. I loath the use of niche though, because it makes it sound like it's a marginalized portion of us gamers, rather than just being a proportion of gamers. The same thing could probably be said of a lot of game companies right now.

Interesting piece though, and I liked the Malcolm Gladwell reference, his TED talks are pretty great.

kajinking:
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.

EA game, probably origin-only these days.
If you do get it, consider playing the campaign co-op, AI is...well its AI.

PBMcNair:

kajinking:
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.

EA game, probably origin-only these days.
If you do get it, consider playing the campaign co-op, AI is...well its AI.

Nope, still there. This was before EA went totally insane and said they were going to build their own clubhouse and valve wasn't invited.

Also I can deal with AI partners, they can make decent cannon fodder.

the antithesis:
It seems to be a typical thing for companies. When they're small and unknown, they are bolder and willing to take risks. But then when they make it and become successful, they refuse to take those same bold risks that put them where they are. So they fall or change hands and then some new upstart takes their place... and then stops taking risks as well once successful.

I think the big problem here is that the big companies have more or less made it difficult to even BE a small company. there's this huge disparity between the indies (and I'm not knocking the indies) and major gaming.

Which is why the laughably-named AAA market keeps making military shooter, like we need another one. That was successful so that is seen as a safe investment but the only really safe investment in entertainment media is to take risks otherwise the market, the audience, and the games stagnate. Look at the Madden series and wonder why it's not just a downloadable roster every year instead.

While it's not Madden or Football, I like Penny Arcade's take on annual golf titles.

Hang on, Jim said "Don't innovate because of something you found in a focus group." But Prego made their extra chunky because of a focus group..... So, color me confuzzed.

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