Jimquisition: Damn Fine Coffee

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I like my coffee made into cubes and blended with milk, chocolate syrup, caramel, sugar, vanilla, and Blue Bunny's Coffee Break icecream. I use black coffee as an air freshener.

I'm personally using and loving my focus groups, but only because they're a horribly honest lot. They have nothing to prove or hide. They're little fountains of genuine opinions~ <3 Of course, I don't have a checklist for them, either. I gave them a few studies, got some good feedback, and took from that feedback the things they weren't already getting with their other games. They have Amnesia. They have Dandelion Wishes. I want to give them something totally different.

I wish more games would go out there and do something different. I'm itching to play a game in which I save people and/or negotiate with the enemy rather than slaughter everyone. GoW was the last game I liked of that mentality before it got freaking boring.

Reminds me of the quote by Henry Ford, "If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have said 'a faster horse'."

You can't be innovative by asking consumers what they want. They want what they know, only better. Which is not to say you shouldn't have user testing. But you should use it to highlight issues in usability, not design. Watch them play and see where they spend the most time, what they have issues with, etc. Don't just give them a questionnaire.

craigdolphin:

Not to be a complete douche but...<douche> BOLLOCKS!</douche>

Frankly, the corporates and moneymen would not listen to the type of mature, calmly asserted, reasoned critique that you advocate. We know this because amidst the fanboi wars and vitriol on the web, over the years there has been an abundance of the calm, respectful critique you mention on the internet. EA in particular have been given reams of respectful feedback for years on the Bioware forums on matters of DRM/Origin Requirements, changes to Dragon Age (DA2 WTF?), Mass Effect 3's evolution from RPG to 3rdPS, the 'ending' controversy, for example. And they've never so much as entered into an honest conversation with those fans. They don't even bother to pretend they're listening. They go so far as to say discussions of aspects of the product you buy from them are 'off topic'! And the bioware forums have subsequently degenerated into a cesspool of vitriol and hate between the fanbois and the few pissed-off former fans who still bother to show up.

So screw them. The simple fact is that corporates don't listen to logic, or common sense. They look only at the bottom line in the short term. They do whatever they feel they can get away with, regardless of morality or legality, or the long term effect on their company. I think they'd forcibly addict their mother to crack and sell her to a pimp if they thought it would improve their bottom line for the coming quarter.

Jim is one of the only gaming journos who doesn't appear to be suffering some form of stockholm syndrome with regards to the increasingly soulless and myopic AAA industry. (RPS is another outlet that still can see the forest for the trees.) Aside from them, games journalism is an oxymoron.

I hope Jim continues his rants because calling a pile of bovine excrement 'bullshit' without mincing words, without couching it in pseudo-intellectual claptrap, without kow-towing and genuflecting to the exalted status of the C-suites, is about the only thing that MIGHT get them to pause for a second and consider that maybe they ought to start paying attention to the lowly rabble gathering with pitchforks and torches outside the gates of their silence-shielded PR-cocoon and the lower level yes-men they surround themselves with. Jim is the anti-silence to the publishers 'silence' strategy. Long may he continue to throw the brickbats.

Thank God for Jim, indeed.

I'd have to disagree with you on that there's a lot of level-headed and calm criticism leveled at the corporate world from gamers. In my experience, I have found that most of it is adolescent, foul-mouthed knee-jerk reactive posts on forums. Especially when you use the EA and Bioware games.

I will agree with you that most corporations will not listen to anyone if the money's still coming in. The solution to this is simple: hold off on buying the games, buy second hand or don't buy the games at all. But the hard part comes after that - sticking to your guns.

Screaming obscenities at the genteel types with power doesn't work at all. It just makes gamers the world over look like sulky teenagers at best and toddlers at worst. But what does work is choking the corporations with apathy and stinging them with a lack of money.

As for the Bioware forums turning into the toxic sludge-fest that it is now - that is due to hubris. As the saying goes - pride comes before a fall. Nowadays public opinion of Bioware and EA is at a near all-time low. But I don't think this hubris stops at the gates of EA and Bioware - I'd say it's nearly a pandemic throughout gaming. The launch of the X-box One will be the prime example of the greed and hubris the corporate types have and the fall that follows it. (Interestingly, if Andy Chalk is to believed, it might just be starting to happen. Here's something for your perusal. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/124559-Analyst-Recommends-Sale-of-Microsofts-Xbox-Division )

I'll admit Jim isn't a corporate brown-noser, far from it - in fact. But I'd balk to call him a journalist, journalists ask questions - Jim launches diatribes. I not sure if he conducts interviews - even Jessica Chobot managed that. Even if she's toe curlingly awful at it - especially that "for the epic win" quote she did. (Trust me, it's almost painful to watch.:D ) Though I'll give Rock,Paper Shotgun a look-in, they sound interesting.

What if i dont drink coffe?

However im the kind of guy that would be good focus group. if i say i like something i like it and if i hate something i hate it and dont pretend to be otherwise (which got me in trouble multiple times). and i would criticize the shit out of their game for doing this crap. but i like calculated stuff, i like sleak look and forgive this heracy for i never heard about the game but from the videos the second one did look better. thats just looks of course.

Gunner 51:
I'll admit Jim isn't a corporate brown-noser, far from it - in fact. But I'd balk to call him a journalist, journalists ask questions - Jim launches diatribes. I not sure if he conducts interviews - even Jessica Chobot managed that. Even if she's toe curlingly awful at it - especially that "for the epic win" quote she did. (Trust me, it's almost painful to watch.:D ) Though I'll give Rock,Paper Shotgun a look-in, they sound interesting.

You dont visit Destructoid do you?

Funny, this video actually reminded me of an old story about Michelangelo and the Statue of David. Apparently, the guy who had commissioned the statue (or one of his flunkies) had shown up and complained that the statues nose was too big. So, Michelangelo grabbed a fistful of dust, got on the ladder, climbed up to the statues head, made some gestures with the hammer (never touching the statue) and then threw the dust in the observers face. After the observer had cleared his eyes, he said that the statue looked much better now.

Moral of the story: some people are just full of it, and will say anything that'll make them sound clever.

"I repeat Sturgeon's Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against attacks of people who used the worst examples of the field for ammunition, and whose conclusion was that ninety percent of SF is crud. Using the same standards that categorize 90% of science fiction as trash, crud, or crap, it can be argued that 90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. are crap."
Theodore Sturgeon

In other words, great games are the exception not the rule. The rule is to find something that has already proven successful and copy the shit out of it in hopes of the same. Innovation and creativity carry a much greater risk than imitation and, though we like to believe that games are first and foremost an art out of our own existential need for legitimacy and acceptance, they are in fact first and foremost a commodity.

Your putting the cart before the horse by assuming that if they would just stop doing this or that they would make better games. They ask the consumer what they want, the consumer lies to them, they make crap based on the lie. You're assuming that the consumer is lying because they were told what to think by the industry yet New Coke is a good example of the consumer telling the industry what to think after the focus group fed them a pack of lies. These cookie cutter games don't actually fail to sell but rather fail to make money. That's more of an issue with resource management in production that acceptance of the game. Battlefield is just a Call of Duty come lately but it still sold more than six times as many copies as Bioshock Infinite. If your going out to make a game which route do you take? Heartfelt inspiration and creativity (Bioshock Infinite, 2.22M units worldwide, all platforms) or copycat of a magnificently successful existing franchise (Battlefield 3, 15.63M units worldwide, all platforms)? As you can see it isn't just focus groups that make then churn out the same old thing over and over again. It's also market research which seems to reveal that the same old thing really does sell better than something new and creative.

(sales numbers from vgchartz.com/)

OH GOD! I miss the old overstrike crew. *Sobs* I loved Izzy Sinclair initially! The team was so epic, too! And playing the Fuse Demo, while they had some humor to them, they felt watered down.

And now I know why it's no longer the quirky, awesome, kicking a guy in the balls, then smashing their skull in with a giant briefcase (My favorite scene! It's how I'd do it! Feels natural!) screaming dude going ballistic game it was.
What boggles me is how the 12 year olds didn't like it. But Jim explains that one, I guess, as social desirability bias.

Jim's reaction is very much similar to mine on the matter.

Weren't games more profitable -before- the focus groups? What happened to that? Oh, right, the ever expanding desire for more profit. Greed.

If you're going to use focus groups use diverse focus groups, and not yes-men, and don't poison the results with selecting specefic people! And don't let them dictate everything!

The gaming industry is damaged, poisoned, and toxic to some ideas thanks to stuff like what Jim points out week after week. It's destroying the market!
What's worse is that people are excusing these actions, and defending them bitterly! They refuse to see the problem. They refuse to have empathy towards the people who were turned off by these actions.

Market, and focus testing is litterally killing desire to play these games! My significant other is hard pressed to find games that truely interest her thanks to this stuff. I'm desperately clinging on to the notion that the market will more often produce games that break free from the idiotic mess that it's in now, and will, again, shine!

I really wish the game industry listened to Jim! But if they did, what would he talk about? Oh, who am I kidding. Even if they did listen to Jim, they'd find some other way to screw things up.

Ha! And just after this episode of Jimquisition, a coke commercial. Strikes me as funny!

Ah, thank GOD for Jim!

P.S. I like Remember Me a lot! Even without the pre-order DLC amazon didn't give!
P.S.S. Amazon's pre-order bonus is just delayed apparently.

Nice Job Jim!!

So guys the UK sales charts are out and FUSE, the blatantly genericized shooter, debuted at 37th.

37th.

Looks like those focus testers did woooooooonders.

And so Jim is right again.

Oh god, that's what happened to this game? I was in a focus group for this exact game when it still looked like the first clip, before they had anything playable (I think this was in 2010 or 2011). Believe me, I would NOT have told them to make something like Fuse. I just didn't care much about the game at the time because I was already very tired of shooters by then, especially console shooters, but I don't remember anybody asking for Fuse. What I do remember is saying that one of the female characters looked much worse in 3D than the 2D concept art they showed us (before the E3 2011 trailer, Isabelle looked very different. She looks much better in that trailer than she did at my focus test), and that the characterization was fun, but the story didn't have any interesting substance yet. They were taking a gameplay first approach in a genre I didn't care much about, so there wasn't much else for me to say. If you guys want to get involved in focus testing, VGMarket.com is how I got into doing focus tests. If you don't agree with what the people in these focus tests think, then get into the groups yourself, and BE HONEST. It's pretty fun, and they pay you! And if you're worried about looking like a loser, then screw those judgmental assholes, you're never going to see them again anyway.

Hellfireboy:
Battlefield is just a Call of Duty come lately but it still sold more than six times as many copies as Bioshock Infinite. If your going out to make a game which route do you take? Heartfelt inspiration and creativity (Bioshock Infinite, 2.22M units worldwide, all platforms) or copycat of a magnificently successful existing franchise (Battlefield 3, 15.63M units worldwide, all platforms)? As you can see it isn't just focus groups that make then churn out the same old thing over and over again. It's also market research which seems to reveal that the same old thing really does sell better than something new and creative.

(sales numbers from vgchartz.com/)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlefield_1942 Release date(s) Windows NA September 10, 2002
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_of_Duty_(video_game) Release date(s) Windows NA October 29, 2003

Also, Battlefield has multiplayer, Bioshock does not. You really think it's an apple to apple comparison?

Glad to know I'm not the only one who remembers Overstrike and has lost interest due to it becoming basically another cover-based shooter. I don't mind cover-based shooters but I already have my Gears of War games. Give me something with slightly more originality and I would have maybe even bought it first day. Now I'm just waiting for a price drop, something I never used to do but I find myself in this position more and more of late.

nodlimax:
I always love to name Dark Souls in this perspective (even though I haven't played it....yet). The Lead Designer made decisions based on what he would love to see in the game and look what it got them.....SUCCESS! Who would've imagined?

It also got him taken away from making Dark Souls 2 because he wouldn't change his way of making Soul's games they stuck two TES and pony loving ceo ass licking twats in his place.

Maybe its me, but I don't think its fair to call the average male gamer a sexist because he won't* play a game with a female hero. As far as I can tell, focus grouping 12 year old boys, as in preteens, doesn't count as focus grouping men. The same would apply to focus grouping preteen girls and making ONLY games involving Justin Bieber and One Direction and then saying all female games love boy bands. I played Mass Effect 1-3 as a FemShep and I never felt 'gay' for romancing Kaiden. I think only preteen boys who haven't figured out what sexuality IS think playing as a woman is gay.
Can we please stop assuming that focus groups are representational of the actual gaming community?
This is the one thing Jim keeps messing up on. He rightly points out that focus grouping little boys is absurd, but then extrapolates that 20-something male gamers have the same maturity as those selfsame boys. I never played the DOA beach volleyballs games. And I never will. But I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm some sort of moral champion and claim umbrage at how women are depicted. Its a bad game so I won't be playing it. I think Jim needs to look at the target audience publishers THINK they have, and then the actual gamers. They think they're making games for preteens because that's who the test them on. But the people with the disposable income needed for a $60 game are young adults with more mature tastes in games.

Rebel_Raven:
OH GOD! I miss the old overstrike crew. *Sobs* I loved Izzy Sinclair initially! The team was so epic, too! And playing the Fuse Demo, while they had some humor to them, they felt watered down.

And now I know why it's no longer the quirky, awesome, kicking a guy in the balls, then smashing their skull in with a giant briefcase (My favorite scene! It's how I'd do it! Feels natural!) screaming dude going ballistic game it was.
What boggles me is how the 12 year olds didn't like it. But Jim explains that one, I guess, as social desirability bias.

Jim's reaction is very much similar to mine on the matter.

Weren't games more profitable -before- the focus groups? What happened to that? Oh, right, the ever expanding desire for more profit. Greed.

If you're going to use focus groups use diverse focus groups, and not yes-men, and don't poison the results with selecting specefic people! And don't let them dictate everything!

The gaming industry is damaged, poisoned, and toxic to some ideas thanks to stuff like what Jim points out week after week. It's destroying the market!
What's worse is that people are excusing these actions, and defending them bitterly! They refuse to see the problem. They refuse to have empathy towards the people who were turned off by these actions.

Market, and focus testing is litterally killing desire to play these games! My significant other is hard pressed to find games that truely interest her thanks to this stuff. I'm desperately clinging on to the notion that the market will more often produce games that break free from the idiotic mess that it's in now, and will, again, shine!

I really wish the game industry listened to Jim! But if they did, what would he talk about? Oh, who am I kidding. Even if they did listen to Jim, they'd find some other way to screw things up.

Ha! And just after this episode of Jimquisition, a coke commercial. Strikes me as funny!

Ah, thank GOD for Jim!

P.S. I like Remember Me a lot! Even without the pre-order DLC amazon didn't give!
P.S.S. Amazon's pre-order bonus is just delayed apparently.

I think I saw one at another forum I go to that thinks your train of thinking is flawed. I support your thoughts but clearly these people don't

One user in denial:

No they wouldn't, and you know they wouldn't. They won't buy it because it came out on the 360 as well instead of being a PS3 exclusive, they won't buy it because it wasn't released on the PC, they won't buy it because it was published by EA, or they won't buy it because fighting twelve foot tall killbot acrobats and huge teleporting dudes wielding chainguns is too "generic," or they'll make some other excuse up because they're deluded enough to believe that a cinematic trailer made two years ago will look exactly like the finished product.

Its a combination of no balls, no vision and a corporate imperative to make a profit. When faced with the prosepct of making something new and daring or churning out a clone of something that made money, the suits will opt for what they believe is the safe bet everytime.

Im actually worried that 100 hour epics like Oblivion/Skyrim, Red Dead and the like are perhaps already a thing of the past as the industry swoons over the potential of "10 hours" of gameplay in titles like Two Souls and consumers seem to not only lap it up but defend the fact that games are soon going to be as short and as crappy as most hollywood movies, but cost 5 times as much for a ticket. (sorry longest sentence ever)

Thank you for the Twin Peaks reference. It is much appreciated.

DR3 Trailer *Sigh*

I liked what you said about Activision. I remember when I played Black Ops Single Player I thought "Yeah, the guy who designed this, as bad as it was, really wanted to make this" it felt less like it was a crummy game made through focus testing and instead a crummy game made through poor design decisions. Ironically, the only CoD single players I felt that were not like that was CoD 1 and World at War (MW3 as well, but I digress) which people often say as the only ones they enjoyed. It's why I have always hated every Final Fantasy except III and X. III because while it felt like a "Made by focus testing" game, it was just a fun JRPG, and X, because it felt like they really tried with that one. VII felt like they were half way through making an amazing JRPG which would have blown the socks off even pre-Persona 4 me when I couldn't stand JRPGs, then they just changed shit to appeal to what they thought their fans wanted...which apparently they did want that with how big that game was, but once again, I digress.

(I still have no idea what saying I digress means, but seems like when I say it I'm saying it correctly, kinda like i have no idea when to say 'per se' but I'm correct when I say it, at least according to great grammar nazi the Oatmeal)

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