Jimquisition: Guns Blazing

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Jimothy Sterling:

shephardjhon:
Extremely good episode but for any of this to matter, NamcoBandai needs to see this. EA and Activision are almost beyond saving, their greed has gotten the best of them.
Ubisoft, NamcoBandai and other smaller publishers need to be shown this.

I can't speak for every publisher, but I know some of them do. Konami watched the episode on Konami, which is why I'm blacklisted by Konami.

So I guess the lesson there is, even if they DO see it, they likely won't listen to it.

So, they don't even listen to positive constrictive criticism that will save them money and make them more money?
At lest several aspiring game developers and publishers(including me) listen to you here.

I'll be honest I really loved Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, these games felt sort of magical. You know one of things that will instantly make me forget about Dark Souls 2? Any kind of DLC. At all.
See, Dark Souls got DLC, but that's a fairly unique situation where a new SKU came out and it had added content which would have made previous versions inferior unless DLC is released. Still I never bought Dark Souls DLC, it feel like magic will be ruined if I do. Maybe I'll eventually get Prepare to Die edition, I'm still not sure.

The problem with videogame industry is that people managing it treat videogames like socks or dishwashers. Or cars. Which is moronic.
Dead Space 3... Yeah. I bought Dead Space 1 and 2 on launch at full price. Dead Space 3 I ignored and will never buy. It never happened in my universe.
Dark souls 2.. I'm not sure what Namco will do. Of course, if I hear of any DLC or other such stuff I won't buy it and advise several friends who I got into these games to ignore it too, but if it stays a complete and magical game like before... Well, I don't give a damn about marketing. To be honest, I never watch any trailers ads or such anyway. It's all hogwash. In cases when that's a new game and I don't know what to expect I search for most unprofessional reviews on youtube, the kind that would never be sponsored by anyone, and check if their criticism sounds reasonable or not.

You know, it's curious how this Jimquisition made me suddenly realize... The games that I adore the most and consider masterpieces... They never got any DLC, or got some DLC very, very late. It's like, game can't feel magical if you can buy stuff for it. IDK how to describe it...

canadamus_prime:
Jim, you must be getting sick and tired of having to flog that dead horse eh?

The sad part is that "need" is too true in this situation. The lesson is there, it's been there for years, but publishers seem to have a hivemind that suffers from brain rot.

Fappy:
I don't think what you quoted in the video was quite damning enough. You are making some safe assumptions, but they are still just that: assumptions. Skyrim is referenced many times in this video and, interestingly enough, it's one of the best counterpoints to your video I can think of. TES started off as a super niche franchise. Hell, I didn't even know about it until TES III: Morrowind debuted on the original Xbox. In every TES since Daggerfall they have worked to widen that "net" and bring in as many new fans as possible.

While I believe Morrowind to be the best in the series, I recognize Oblivion and Skyrim are still great games that have not yet abandoned the things that make TES games great. There's a right way and a wrong way to widen the net. Yes, Bethesda's made some mistakes in this regard (over reliance on voice acting, hand-holding mechanics, etc.) but overall I would say that they're doing good work. If a niche game can garner new fans without losing its soul... more power to it.

I think it's too early to say that Dark Souls 2 will drop the ball, but I can certainly see where you are coming from. As you've sited, there are plenty of franchises who've recently done the same thing and failed miserably.

As always,

Thank God for Jim.

Pretty much this. If Dark Souls 2 wants to widen it's audience by getting rid of some of the more frustrating mechanics that turned people that would be interested in playing it off in the first place. X-COM Enemy Unknown is a very streamlined version of the original game, but people still love it because while it is less complex, the developers kept what made X-COM, X-COM in there, but made it more accessible to newcomers to the franchise. And it sucked me in and got me hooked successfully. If Dark Souls 2 can become more mainstream and more accessible, but do it while keeping it's soul (heh) then there's nothing wrong with that. Actually explain how the fucking covenants work, explain how magic works, maybe make it so that you don't have to kill every last person in the game to get their equipment and examine it so you can actually learn the history of the world. These are the kinds of changes that would make the game more mainstream without dumbing it down.

I just pray that's the direction they're going.

canadamus_prime:
But surely the market has already started to show that this practice isn't sustainable. I mean isn't Battlefield and Medel of Honour's constant attempts to copy Call of Duty's success evidence enough of that? Besides, I don't know how well Dead Space 3 did, but I'm sure it failed to capture the Call of Duty audience.

Regarding something being obvious in the market, it rarely if ever is. It can be obvious after the fact, but if it was obvious prior, the failures wouldn't have happened. EA doesn't like throwing money away, whatever their executives may pull down in salary, and watching a product fail isn't something any business wants to endure. Call of Duty was the late kid to the match, coming along after both Medal of Honour and Battlefield had established themselves in the gaming market. If Call of Duty was the better game and it was obvious, EA would've packed up and conceded rather than fight a long and expensive battle with Activision.

As well, EA did not fail, as a company, based on Battlefield and Medal of Honour. It discontinued the latter and may not be pushing the sales of the former, but EA is still very much alive as a business and continues to make money or at least not lose enough to break itself. Had EA fallen apart because of those two games, the market would have noticed and other businesses would have known enough not to try to follow the path of something that failed. Instead, we have publishers who fail because of loan defaults with the games released by the publisher being treated as delicious treats to be sought after in auction instead of horrors that broke the company. Crytek didn't pay half a million bucks for Homefront so it could lose money; it secured what it hopes will be a profitable venture.

That's why I think Dark Souls 2 will be the poster child for the failure of AAA gaming. It will show a publisher making the conscious decision to chase the sparkly that is the AAA market using its well-known and popular IP. What will follow will be slow-but-inevitable ruin. Namco-Bandai is not a newcomer to the gaming market and they will probably do everything that is expected of a AAA title, from advertising to resource allocation. When that doesn't work and they tell everyone "We're sorry. We did everything we were supposed to and it just didn't pan out," that is when it will become obvious to the market that AAA is dead.

I hope to gawd that fist hasn;t been "used", huh >:P

Myself and a friend absolutely adore Dark Souls, and this was our fear as soon as we watched the new trailer and read some of the initial comments. We bought the game because it promised to never hold your hand, and we loved every second of being brutally murdered, lost, confused, scared etc.; then the developers go and say that they want to make the sequel easier to get into, to appeal to more people. If we wanted a game that was easy to get into we could buy almost any other game on the market. The prospect of losing a game like Dark Souls is frightening because it seemed to have an ethos that was virtually unique, and once that's gone then what's left?

You know...for some reason "going all in and hoping it works" sounds like the mentality of many a braindead before they setup a camera to catch themselves doing some Johnny Knoxville style stunt only to rip open their scrotums at the ends of said stunts.

I wonder if we should just let it happen for our amusement?

Legion:

Sure, they make more money in the short term, but in the long run they just end up alienating the fans. Hell, look at Bioware fans before ME3 and DA2, and now look at them. Yes, there are still plenty of them, but I imagine Bioware have also lost a hell of a lot of them too. Or else they have made people unwilling to trust them enough to get a day one purchase, and so people are more wary.

I don't bring up Bioware and EA to beat a dead horse, but they are the people with this attitude with whom I have the most experience, so I apologise if people have a "Oh here we go again" reaction.

Cover based shooting alienates fans? Are you kidding?
ME3 was an EXCELLENT game until the last ten minutes!
Both ME3 and ME2 were far more fun to play then ME1.
Dragging the ME3 ending into this as an example is nonsense.

Well said Jim. It is important not to have incredibly high expectations in this kind of situation.

Still, I do hope Dark Souls 2 does do well in terms of the game itself and financially. I really enjoyed the first game despite how much it kicked my ass.

...why did Jim use Battlefield 3 as an example of overambition killing sales? The game has sold over 15 million copies to date and continues to have around 150,000 players playing it DAILY across all platforms. No it still hasn't beaten Call Of Duty numbers, but that's not the point, the point is that the game was a massive success and the DLC strategy (aka Premium) also turned out to be a massive success.

huh, surprised no one has posted this yet.

Anyways, agree with your video Jim, I wish publishers and developers would realize that niche games and audiences are niche for a reason. those who like the niche game want more of that only improved. those who the niche game didn't appeal to don't want said game wrapped in a shitty mainstream game disguise, there's a reason why it did or didn't appeal in the first place.

also "hoping to god it works" must be the dumbest thing anyone has ever said while making a big budget AAA title, it kills my hope for Dark souls 2 every time I hear it.

So... The Preffered Process here should be something like this:

Step One: Do whatever takes your fancy, but do it cheap.

Step Two: Once released, sequels should have a budget approximating the money racked in from the previous game. Because at least you have data on that.

Step Three: Reuse some assets where appropriate. If it's the same character, there's no excuse not to reuse part of the model and render and just put the same amount of budget as used for the original model on improving it. Or better yet, if it already looks good enough for the style you're going for, put the money somewhere else. In fact, use a fair few of the previous locations and add a few more using what fans liked about other locations. And for places like Cities, definitely expand into the surrounding countryside, but only as far as the budget for the original city was.

Step Four: Repeat Steps Two and Three; adjusting Budjet to match the sales of the previous game, while making improvements to old assets that are proportional in the cost of improvement to that of the original cost of the first assets.

Warning: Never go over budget of what you made with the previous game. You are more likely to fail miserably than succeed in what you're trying to do.

Am I missing anything?

Urgh, as an Elder Scrolls fan, this frustrates me. I go to games like Skyrim for the things that got me into the series to begin with: exploration, depth, and mod support (to increase depth). If I wanted to get into Dark Souls/Demon Souls, I would go there because I want a challenge. Taking the challenge out to appeal to me doesn't appeal to me, because I don't usually consider how easy/hard TES is (there's a difficulty slider, and I'll use it when I need it), or how good the combat is (one does not play Morrowind for the fluidity of its combat...), because that's not what I want from it. Remaking your franchise to appeal to me would be making a completely different game from the one I've heard about, and would probably just be a bad hybrid between the two (too easy, not enough exploration and depth).

So, publishers, seriously now: If you want to compete with Skyrim, find out what makes people like Skyrim and make a new game like that. If you want to make a super challenging RPG that appeals to people who like both of those things, keep making Dark Souls as is. If you want to try to force people who like Dark Souls to like Skyrim, buy them copies of Skyrim and pay them to play it, because people who just like Skyrim now have no reason to change (I guess you could buy them Dark Souls and pay them to play it as well). No one really wants to buy a game that's vaguely like another game, just because that other game did really well. If you're going to make a clone, freaking actually learn what makes it fun.

Jimothy Sterling:

Mayamellissa:
I'm thinking the Belladonna Bitch Fist was intially a sex toy sent to Jim as an insult. It has in fact become a very cool prop doing exactly the opposite of what it's message might have been.

Nah, I know the guy who sent it. He's a fan of my Podtoid podcast. Given the subject matter we often broach on the show, it's a fitting gift.

A disturbing gift, but a fitting one.

Not fitting in *that* way. Yet.

I was expecting you to pull out a cum tribute.

Oh god what has Podtoid done to my life...

Pffftttt that's nothing, a have it on good authority you can get a rubber desert Eagle because, and i quote, "some guys like to play dirty harry". Oh well, could be worse. Could be a rubber foot on a chain...

"Belladonna Bitch Fist" would be the great name for a power metal band

Is Jim Kurtz?

That was an astonishingly angry rant, even for Jimquisition. I'm inclined to think that this one comment by Namco Bandai is being taken massively out of proportion, just as the claims about 'accessibility' and such were proven to be most likely wrong by the first gameplay video.

I do agree that publishers have unrealistic expectations, though. You can't expect a niche title to suddenly appeal to a huge audience.

Time to start bombarding publisher emails with this episode

I don't see the problem... You already have Dark Souls. What more do you want? New levels? New monsters? What is this, FIFA? Skyrim was a success because it wasn't just a remake of Oblivion, which wasn't just a graphics upgrade over Morrowind. They made it bigger and bigger, brought it to a bigger audience, then let the modders make the game as realistic and hard as possible. Anyone interested in a challenge just has to look for a couple of mods. Heck, I still play all 3 of them. The same will be with Dark Souls 2. If it fails, let it fail... somebody else will pick up the crown later, plus you still have the original. It's not even a niche game. You want to talk about niche games?

Falcon 4 was and still is THE flight sim to play, 15 years after being made. Falcon 4 FAILED at the time, and Microprose died because of it. In a world of Hawks, nobody expected better, ever. Then DCS A-10C came out and changed the sim world. In reply, some crazy geniuses remade Falcon 4 to be almost on par. That's NICHE. But a NICHE completely filled, more than you could ever need, just waiting for Oculus Rift. Flight Simulator was killed off, yet 7 years on people still play it like crazy. Want more? Anybody here played Orbiter? It's a phenomenal free game, but so complex that very few played it. Guess what, Kerbal Space Program took off based on it, but simpler, although again mods made it so complex that even the developers now have to adjust. In the meantime, many people switched to Orbiter for the extra challenge. Funny how things work, ha? Still in space, I still play I-War2, which is basically ancient. Who cares? It's still the best inertial space sim where you can go faster than light and zoom around stars guns blazing and all. Those devs also went extinct, but at least we still have their masterpiece to inspire the future devs.

These titles went all in. They failed, but we still play them many years after their demise. Now compare that with the Silent Hunter series which did the opposite. They started as a niche in the age of simulators, struck gold with Silent Hunter 3 (which many still play), then failed again and again to close that niche with more realism. They played it safe, failed, and we're left with prayers for a proper naval sim and imagination. The salvation might just come from the most unlikely place, Assassin's Creed (still Ubisoft). Once the masses get the taste, a niche game becomes a possibility.

So I say go all in... whatever comes next, at least you'll have a legacy. Dark Souls is not a masterpiece. Dark Souls 2 might just be. So good luck to them. Should Dark Souls 3 suck, failing to live up to the previous games, well screw it...

I fully agree with you on this one Jim.

I am sick and tired of these publishers that have the mentality of turning the game to appeal to a more mainstream audience by marketing the hell out of it.

The Souls franchise already has a fanbase for it and they (Namco) shouldn't try to spread the audience, because this can only lead to dumbing the game down for the mainstream. Mass Effect 3 being one of the prime examples of that and I don't know if they sold as much as they expected.

Also, the tacked on multiplayer is a feature that should stop being implemented in every single game just to try and lenghten it's value. If the game is good, it should stand on it's own singleplayer campaign/story.

All I can say is that there is one thing that needs to go through sales and marketing teams' heads repeatedly:

Call of Duty was a fluke.

Skyrim was a fluke.

World of Warcraft was a fluke.

There are more big-hit games that also fall into these categories. But, as I can assure you that more money + bigger scope + higher expectations extremely rarely create a fluke - Those listed are, for the most part, extremely lucky that they did indeed succeed after using such an equation.

On AAA-izing a title in a series, you also carry the very big risk of creating a discord and eventually conflict within your own established community. Creating a game that is essentially a cult hit creates a small, niche community that's quite tied together - However, if a company creates a sequel that opens up the series to a more accessible audience, the existing group will likely prefer the "old way", desiring the qualities of the original, and the the new group prefers the adjustments made to lure them into the series. What's worse is when the older group falls apart because they can't handle themselves with the new group - This creates tension and cynicism within the whole of the community, and without a doubt there's evidence of this everywhere. This is nothing but short-sighted - Now developers have to create a game that has to appeal to both groups, and the third game might actually create a third group that can't wholly agree with the other two! And what about the subsequent games afterward? It becomes more unintentionally difficult all because somebody blatantly wanted more people to play their game.

Take the TES seies that Jim references to - There are still TES fans that are waiting for another Morrowind. Sure, the gameplay mechanics could be easily broken, but what they're still waiting for is a very unique environment with an extensive and vivid history and characters deep and interesting enough to care about, along with actions that can carry deep consequences - For example you can't be leader of all the guilds, and even then it takes a lot of time and politics to get to such a position. In this case, the series would find it impossible to achieve what is "needed" amongst the different fans in VI. Although, they could poke around by creating series of TES games that give you a small area to explore and focuses on some core styles of gameplay, to see what kind of expectations specific groups of fans are looking for.

captcha: one hit wonder

Heh, that's another good idea - Perhaps a popular game is better off staying as one and only one game in the series?

So what I get out of watching Jim's last two videos is that it's bad to focus on a demographic if it's male. And it's also bad to try to appeal to everyone. Anyone else?

Living Contradiction:

canadamus_prime:
But surely the market has already started to show that this practice isn't sustainable. I mean isn't Battlefield and Medel of Honour's constant attempts to copy Call of Duty's success evidence enough of that? Besides, I don't know how well Dead Space 3 did, but I'm sure it failed to capture the Call of Duty audience.

Regarding something being obvious in the market, it rarely if ever is. It can be obvious after the fact, but if it was obvious prior, the failures wouldn't have happened. EA doesn't like throwing money away, whatever their executives may pull down in salary, and watching a product fail isn't something any business wants to endure. Call of Duty was the late kid to the match, coming along after both Medal of Honour and Battlefield had established themselves in the gaming market. If Call of Duty was the better game and it was obvious, EA would've packed up and conceded rather than fight a long and expensive battle with Activision.

As well, EA did not fail, as a company, based on Battlefield and Medal of Honour. It discontinued the latter and may not be pushing the sales of the former, but EA is still very much alive as a business and continues to make money or at least not lose enough to break itself. Had EA fallen apart because of those two games, the market would have noticed and other businesses would have known enough not to try to follow the path of something that failed. Instead, we have publishers who fail because of loan defaults with the games released by the publisher being treated as delicious treats to be sought after in auction instead of horrors that broke the company. Crytek didn't pay half a million bucks for Homefront so it could lose money; it secured what it hopes will be a profitable venture.

That's why I think Dark Souls 2 will be the poster child for the failure of AAA gaming. It will show a publisher making the conscious decision to chase the sparkly that is the AAA market using its well-known and popular IP. What will follow will be slow-but-inevitable ruin. Namco-Bandai is not a newcomer to the gaming market and they will probably do everything that is expected of a AAA title, from advertising to resource allocation. When that doesn't work and they tell everyone "We're sorry. We did everything we were supposed to and it just didn't pan out," that is when it will become obvious to the market that AAA is dead.

And by then it may be too little too late.

Xanex:
So what I get out of watching Jim's last two videos is that it's bad to focus on a demographic if it's male. And it's also bad to try to appeal to everyone. Anyone else?

The last one was that:

Male characters are created with male players in mind. They are not sexual objects, they are idealised.

No comment was made that it was wrong to do so, just that people should stop acting like male characters are treated the same as female ones.

This one is:

If you have a game and it works, stop trying to change it to appeal to other people purely for the sake of making more money.

The issue with trying to appeal to everybody is that it is not possible. People who haven't played Dark Souls yet probably haven't done so because the game doesn't interest them. Changing things that the fans love, just to try and get those non-interested people interested is an idiotic way of doing things.

Imagine your favourite band completely changing their style, purely for the sake of trying to appeal to people who don't already like them. That's what game publishers are trying to do with games.

I think it completely depends on what changes they actually make. It's ok to be cautious but we've got to trust them until they screw up (and Jim's right, they probably will).

I think Jim thought his lessons were getting through,
I got bad news jim....

If i may jim,

as a gambler when you hit gamblers have the conception to increase the bet.
Sometimes it works. It's as good a time as any to "go for it."

so i can understand why a company would do this. it's a gamble.

you seem like a reasonable guy jim... and yes... this should bug you.

I have never understood that mentality. My CEO always says, "If you're not growing, you're dying." What? In what world do these people live in? It's just like that idea that everyone can be rich. No, that's not possible. We live in a world of finite resources. There is only so much money, only so many customers, and only so much marketshare. Is Wal-Mart dying if they don't increase their customer base this year? I doubt it.

CyborgGinger:
Actual subject matter of that video aside:

If there was House 'Quisition in Game of Thrones, its sigil would be a black Belladona Bitchfist rampant upon a red field. That's a banner I'd flock to.

CAPTCHA: general tso... more like General Jim - the gaming industry needs a revolution.

The house words...should be damned obvious to anyone watching......

...It's "Vae Victus" right?

Ah, to be beholden to shareholders - You simply can't break even you need to make money grow from trees, because how else would you see your share price increase?

But, afterall how else is the publisher stumble bad enough to get bought out by EA? har har har

Or... we could just make a wax/fake head... with out "killing a hobo".... yeah... passion/anger aside... this is a topic EVERY ONE WOULD (me too) agreed with you for Jimmy... don't make it sound weird at the last minute.

BTW, great Episode and nice pose at the end... LOL!~

Jim.

Don't pander to your popular audience.

Niche is not pronounced nitch, it's pronounced neesh.

You know this to be true.

Is it just me or is Escapist (magazine: is it a magazine?) experiencing technical difficulties today?

Excuse me, but I feel it incumbent upon me to use this opportunity to assure the passive video gaming populace (no offense; just saying) that this problem is being worked on. I know it sucks to always be on the receiving end of a relationship, but know that we got this genre covered (http://www.swordofmoonlight.net/)

PS: Also Dark Souls is a pretty unmanageable slash unenjoyable game by all but contemporary (lets be honest, could the bar go any lower?) standards. Its spiritual predecessor of its spiritual predecessor (King's Field) got the controls right. It's the standard by which all 3D first person games will be played as soon as we kick our collective "AAA" dependency...

Believe it or not it's actually possible to do everything any game does with 3 buttons and two thumb sticks (the unbuttoned variety) which when you think about it, is plus or minus a finger all you have to work with. Provided both hands and all fingers are in working order. Accessibility v. the video game industry Jim?

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