David Jaffe Calls on Game Critics to Get Tougher

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David Jaffe Calls on Game Critics to Get Tougher

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The gaming press should be pushing developers to try new things, the God of War creator says.

David Jaffe thinks that the gaming press needs to start getting tougher with developers and publishers. He feels that if journalists spend more time calling out the lack of innovation in modern games, it might go some way to improving the state of the industry.

Jaffe pointed at the tank scene from Battlefield 3 that EA showed off at E3. He applauded the skill and artistry of the scene, but said that he hadn't seen anyone calling DICE out for creating yet another turret section, something that developers have been doing since the 1980s arcade game Battlezone. He compared the situation to movie reviews - he singled out Transfomers: Dark of the Moon as an example - which would praise the visual effects, but criticize the movie for being boring or predictable.

"I'm not saying we should try to be like movies," he said. "But when they talk about stories, we could talk about gameplay - and I'm not saying they're the same thing, I'm just saying that's the meat that makes both mediums special. Theirs is character, emotion, storytelling; ours is interactivity."

"We as developers are not pushed enough by the journalists that cover us," he added. "I think that if critics demanded more on a continual basis ... it would start to get both readers and perhaps publishers thinking in that way. And as they did that, they'd start to reject things that might look great but really don't offer anything new." Jaffe added that he liked commercial games and shooters just fine, and that he didn't want innovation just for its own sake, rather he wanted the press to challenge developers to push themselves.

While plenty of people would agree that game critics could stand to be a little tough, Jaffe is perhaps being a little optimistic about how much sway the gaming press actually has. Going back to Jaffe's rather apt comparison to the Transformers movies; reviewers savaged the first two films, but they still made millions and millions of dollars at the box office. As much as we might wish it were different, a critical press can only do so much against a multi-million dollar marketing campaign.

Source: CVG

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Dafid Jaffe Calls of Games Critics to Get Tougher

Some typos in the title, there.

OT: I think that people who actually pay attention to game critics are more likely to notice lack of innovation on their own.

I think that while he is right,people shouldn't go out of their way to please them either.

He is absolutely correct and I'm only commenting here to polish the knob of a person who extolls the value of innovation.

Unfortunately as a developer and not a publisher his words hold as much sway as yours or mine. at the moment it's "You give our game a bad review you don't get a review copy of the next one and good luck getting something else to replace the hits that would have generated." Or my personal favourite "You gave our game a bad review score so we're pulling all our advertising if you don't pull it and change it right now."

Broken industry is broken

Yeah, he says that till they trash his game. Then he will whine like a little bitch.
Good game critics are rare, hell in my entire time I have only come across one that I actually respect and he is one of the most hated critics around.

People make what sells and people buy what they enjoy. I see no problem in that.

Absolutely, innovation is great, and we need more of it. This isn't exactly groundbreaking.

But innovation isn't enough - taking a new novel concept and making anything based on it is one thing, but that game still has to be good on it's own merits.
Given a choice between a game that is good and fun, but nothing new, against a game that is new and unique, but bad, I pick the former.

Also : Has the God of War series made huge strides through it's sequels? At all? Or has it just been pretty much the same, but scaled up a bit.

I used to review games for a french gaming website, and I never, absolutely never, gave a rating above 8 unless the game was exceptional - and I never reviewed that qualified for that. I feel that a game that does nothing special (like any CoD spin off) should get the average rating (5/10, 10/20), not a 8/10 by default. However a game like Minecraft would get above-average rating because it's starting from nothing and tries to do something different. Sure it looks like shit but at least they're trying. EA, Activision, THQ are not trying any more, they simply milk franchises or variations of gameplay and the rating should reflect that.

The Escapist is sometimes guilty of that too (I'm looking at you, DA2 review) sometimes, but hey, you gotta live and apparently there's no other way than getting exclusive information. TE is my favorite online magazine (heck I even subscribed) because the news are simply just great, and I don't really care if they release an information 1 day before GameSpot. But investors probably don't look at it this way.

Anyway, I lost my train of thought I think.

TheGuy(wantstobe):
Unfortunately as a developer and not a publisher his words hold as much sway as yours or mine. at the moment it's "You give our game a bad review you don't get a review copy of the next one and good luck getting something else to replace the hits that would have generated." Or my personal favourite "You gave our game a bad review score so we're pulling all our advertising if you don't pull it and change it right now."

Broken industry is broken

For the first excuse, buy the damn game yourself and trash it if it's bad, or don't if it's good. But make sure you mention at some point that the publisher tried to arm wrestle you. For the second though, it's true they're kind of screwed. There's only so much hardware ads you can have.

9thRequiem:

Also : Has the God of War series made huge strides through it's sequels? At all? Or has it just been pretty much the same, but scaled up a bit.

I thought that too, but Jaffe actually left after the first game, which, in a way, was innovative at the time.

However, isn't he currently working on the new Twisted Metal game? That's not exactly the most innovative series in the world. But He has a point, journalists do have the power to affect the industry.

Let's just hope they use it FOR GOOD! =D

9thRequiem:

Also : Has the God of War series made huge strides through it's sequels? At all? Or has it just been pretty much the same, but scaled up a bit.

Jaffe was just on the first one.

LavaLampBamboo:

9thRequiem:

Also : Has the God of War series made huge strides through it's sequels? At all? Or has it just been pretty much the same, but scaled up a bit.

I thought that too, but Jaffe actually left after the first game, which, in a way, was innovative at the time.

However, isn't he currently working on the new Twisted Metal game? That's not exactly the most innovative series in the world. But He has a point, journalists do have the power to affect the industry.

Let's just hope they use it FOR GOOD! =D

That does explain away the hypocrisy. Comment rescinded!

In that light, could this be seen as something as a stab at the repeated GoW sequels? That he's not exactly pleased at seeing his creation get repeatedly cloned?
Perhaps additionally at all the "LIKE GOD OF WAR BUT" games ...

Phorkias:

9thRequiem:

Also : Has the God of War series made huge strides through it's sequels? At all? Or has it just been pretty much the same, but scaled up a bit.

Jaffe was just on the first one.

and it was AMAZING. The other artistic directors are just.... kinda..... stupid.
OT: No one takes ZP seriously?

I wish this guy would shut up. I mean does anyone actually take him seriously anymore?

9thRequiem:

LavaLampBamboo:

9thRequiem:

Also : Has the God of War series made huge strides through it's sequels? At all? Or has it just been pretty much the same, but scaled up a bit.

I thought that too, but Jaffe actually left after the first game, which, in a way, was innovative at the time.

However, isn't he currently working on the new Twisted Metal game? That's not exactly the most innovative series in the world. But He has a point, journalists do have the power to affect the industry.

Let's just hope they use it FOR GOOD! =D

That does explain away the hypocrisy. Comment rescinded!

In that light, could this be seen as something as a stab at the repeated GoW sequels? That he's not exactly pleased at seeing his creation get repeatedly cloned?
Perhaps additionally at all the "LIKE GOD OF WAR BUT" games ...

Perhaps he just wants reviewers referring to QTE as "God of War style Quick Time Events" =D

Madara:
Yeah, he says that till they trash his game. Then he will whine like a little bitch.
Good game critics are rare, hell in my entire time I have only come across one that I actually respect and he is one of the most hated critics around.

Who is it?

OT: I agree with Logan that he's overestimating the amount of sway the gaming press have.

this coming from a guy who's making a sequel to a game he did ten years ago. Whatever Jaffe

9thRequiem:
Absolutely, innovation is great, and we need more of it. This isn't exactly groundbreaking.

But innovation isn't enough - taking a new novel concept and making anything based on it is one thing, but that game still has to be good on it's own merits.
Given a choice between a game that is good and fun, but nothing new, against a game that is new and unique, but bad, I pick the former.

Also : Has the God of War series made huge strides through it's sequels? At all? Or has it just been pretty much the same, but scaled up a bit.

The first GoW, the one Jaffe worked on, was pretty innovative. The subsequent games had better polish, and even some improved game design (stupidly annoying original game's platforming moments, here's looking at you), but they never could bring back the quality in the storyline. Jaffe supposedly did some work on GoW2, but went on record saying he had some reservations as to the way the trilogy went, and even offeres some new endings, which sounded way cooler, to be honest.

But, all in all, yes, if Duke Nukem still gets a five on IGN, something must be very very wrong.

Yeah most reviewers are too eager to slap a 9 on something that it is last year's game but a bit shinier.

grimner:

9thRequiem:
Absolutely, innovation is great, and we need more of it. This isn't exactly groundbreaking.

But innovation isn't enough - taking a new novel concept and making anything based on it is one thing, but that game still has to be good on it's own merits.
Given a choice between a game that is good and fun, but nothing new, against a game that is new and unique, but bad, I pick the former.

Also : Has the God of War series made huge strides through it's sequels? At all? Or has it just been pretty much the same, but scaled up a bit.

The first GoW, the one Jaffe worked on, was pretty innovative. The subsequent games had better polish, and even some improved game design (stupidly annoying original game's platforming moments, here's looking at you), but they never could bring back the quality in the storyline. Jaffe supposedly did some work on GoW2, but went on record saying he had some reservations as to the way the trilogy went, and even offeres some new endings, which sounded way cooler, to be honest.

But, all in all, yes, if Duke Nukem still gets a five on IGN, something must be very very wrong.

Is there anywhere I can find some info on these endings?

While it is a multi-million dollar plan I believe that gamers would even appreciate an unpolished or unperfected attempt at something new, to encourage people in the industry to make similar things.

creationis apostate:

Phorkias:

9thRequiem:

Also : Has the God of War series made huge strides through it's sequels? At all? Or has it just been pretty much the same, but scaled up a bit.

Jaffe was just on the first one.

and it was AMAZING. The other artistic directors are just.... kinda..... stupid.
OT: No one takes ZP seriously?

I think it's mostly the publishers that fear him. Yahtzee has stated on record that most of the members he spoke to, of dev teams of the games he reviewed, agreed with him, but that the pulishers never gave them time to fix all the issues. I can't quite remember where I saw it, but it must've been in one of the Extra Punctuation and Extra Consideration articles.

Professor James:
Who is it?

Mr Jim Sterling.
Sure the dude may have zero camera presence but his written work is fantastic. He is always fair about his judgements of games and actually uses a proper 10 point scale.
Where other reviewers just see "blizzard" or "bioware" and give it a instant 8 + bonus points for the quality of the actual game, he just reviews the game and fuck the series or who worked on it. He has also never been known to gloss over huge problems like for example, Heavy Rains plot holes which most reviewers ignored or mentioned in passing like it was no big deal.
Sure, he liked Blops but fuck, no one is perfect. But I will happily take a critic who is tough but fair over the ones who put their paychecks first.

Ya see, the problem with the "gaming press" is that the vast majority are all but owned by these massive gaming companies. Objective gaming journalism can no longer be found anywhere in the mainstream "gaming press". The reason being because each and every one of these magazines and websites know that if they don't trip over themselves trying to see who can heap the biggest pile of praise on the latest AAA game then there will be repercussions. Anymore you have to look in some seriously obscure corners of the internet to find truly objective and unbiased reviews for any of the big releases.

The "gaming press" relies on these huge game companies for everything from advertising dollars to the very content they provide. They can cut off advertising to any given site or not send them early copies for review and make them all but irrelevant at the drop of a hat. You'd have to be soft in the head to believe that they don't exploit this at every given opportunity. I'm sure it's not directly in the "give us good reviews or else" sort of way but I'd wager they find a way to remind them who is in charge none the less.

Anymore the "gaming press" are nothing more than the whores of the gaming industry. They have long since been bought and paid for and know better than to step out of line lest they get less and less content/access. As long as the gaming press remain attached to the tit of these big gaming companies for their very survival then objective reporting and reviews will remain a myth right up there with bigfoot.

Yes... because this is one of the main flaws of the gaming press. Not the fact that most of the big name reviews are paid for or nothing, nope the fact that critics should be tougher.

Has this guy heard of Zero Punctuation?

Jaffe seems like an interesting fellow, but he is sometimes a tad hypocritical and smart-mouthed. I think the guy needs to sit and think about what he believes in.

As has already been mentioned, though, the real problem is how publishers treat the game critics and writers (and where is the line drawn between a journalist's review and a critic's review?). It's well known about Gerstmann and GameSpot, but that knowledge hasn't really helped much. Part of it is the readers themselves, complaining if a review isn't up day one. In that case, however, I'd make an announcement well ahead of time for people to know. Ars Technica didn't have a day-one review of Brink up, and Ben Kuchera made his reasonings very clear. It worked well enough for them since their audience is willing to forgive and understand their reasoning.

I think a lot of game publications are worried about ad money, though, which is just a lack of imagination. I don't think a game publication should be searching out JUST games to advertise. There are plenty of ads to be found from educational institutions looking to boost their game design programs, computer hardware or game accessory companies looking to push their product, and it can be assumed that gamers also watch television and film and eat food like pizza. In the end, losing ad money to one publisher is going to suck, but it should just mean you allow the next highest bidder to drop cash on your site or magazine.

What I'm more worried about is the future of game criticism itself. I've been a part of "game journalist" communities (which tend to be populated with amateurs looking for work, go figure), and they're basically just a bunch of regular old gamers tha happen to have proper spelling and punctuation. None of them have any sort of insight into game (or even software) design and development, or the intricacies of story-telling. I know there's the old saying "those who can, do, and those who can't, critique", but at least those who can't have an understanding of the process from the inside.

Most sites I read don't seem to actually critique a game as someone who understands good design and narrative, but as a player with a serious sense of entitlement.

Of course, I'm also bitter because I'd love to be a professional games critic, but I've got to compete with a lot of other amateurs that happen to love finding and reposting game news from major publications.

Everything about the games industry seems determined to weed out all new talent, rather than trying to pluck and find the gems amongst the chaff.

...sorry, this became a bit off-topic, but I do feel like there are too many people that are just "gamers" writing (how else would you explain the common myth that the only games on the Wii are first party titles? Considering how little press Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Dead Space Extraction got compared to similar games on 360 and PS3, it's no wonder no one knows about those games).

ultrachicken:

Dafid Jaffe Calls of Games Critics to Get Tougher

Some typos in the title, there.

OT: I think that people who actually pay attention to game critics are more likely to notice lack of innovation on their own.

Game critics and games critics are both grammatically valid.

I feel that he's right that critics should probably be tougher, but that ultimately it barely matters.

People do not know how to review games in this industry. I'm sorry, but you don't.

Here's a scale:

1. Garbage, Unplayable.

2. Very bad.

3. Bad.

4. Below average. Some enjoyment, but not very little.

5. Average. Insert games like Singularity here. Games that can be fun but have equal problems as much as good bits.

6. Above average. Most games in this industry. Very fun, has less problems than the average game, but still has plenty.

7. Good. Most great games fall here, such as Mount & Blade or even AAA games that don't innovate, like Call of Duty. Might not resonate with everyone and have problems, but good vastly outweighs the bad.

8. Must-buy. An 8 title is a truely amazing game. Possibly GOTY material, with few problems. Might suffer from lack of innovation or a few design issues and such.

9. Outstanding, possible masterpiece. These are the games that not only deserve to win GOTY, but are incredibly difficult to overtake in terms of quality, such as Grand Theft Auto III, Portal 2, etc.

10. Genre-defining. A genre defining game has almost no issues. It has to be innovative. The point of a perfect score is that the game brings something new and pulls it off masterfully. It is supposed to blow you away. No, this is not FUCKING DRAGON AGE II. IT IS NOT INFAMOUS. IT IS NOT ANYTHING RELEASED THIS YEAR SO FAR. This is Amnesia: The Dark Descent (personal choice), Half Life 1 & 2, the original Portal, Starcraft, etc. A 10/10 could come ONCE A DECADE, not for EVERY SINGLE GAME YOU GODDAMN CLUELESS REVIEWERS.

Personal preferrence comes into all of these of course.

Reviewers nowadays do not deserve to be reviewers. You can tell by looking at their style of review. They rarely analyse the mechanics and always take price and quantity into account, while gushing over what it might do right. Reviewers expect their hand held all the time and so rarely look at innovation that it is ridiculous. No, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 does not deserve its metascore. It doesn't do anything new and it has the same giant flaws of its predecessors, not to mention ugly graphics. Also, if a game's campaign is shit, no amount of multiplayer makes it 9/10 material. You cannot ignore the broken campaign because it has replay value. You cannot ignore the story and its plot points and you cannot selectively choose to judge indie and AAA titles on a different scale, where you harshly destroy an indie game while praising "AAA" shooter 157 or even excuse an indie game while criticising AAA titles. Everything has to have the same review scale.

So ask yourself: Does this game work? If it does, how well does it work. Are there parts where it works and where it doesn't? Are there parts where your personal preferrence affects the score slightly that you should point out?

The only reviewer I really trust is Yahtzee, because his cynical style of review contains a lot of grains of truth behind the various metaphors, and his show is a COMEDY.

When an online review that makes comedy reviews outclasses almost every single reviewer in gaming today, you need to SERIOUSLY rethink your profession. Not everyone can objectively review a game. Maybe you should stick to just giving a quick synopsis without a score if you can't review games.

Also, Total Biscuit gave a fantastic analysis of Duke Nukem Forever, for instance. He pointed out that the two weapon restriction and regenerating health don't complement the fast paced action and care-free style of the game. This is the sort of objective analysis that needs to be done more.

I've given up on reviewers really. If the situation improves, then great. If it doesn't, I'm still not going to read your reviews.

(No offense to any reviewer, I'm sure you're all very nice people, but a great proportion of you do not know how to review games and do not know how to attach a score to them)

Dr. McD:
Is there anywhere I can find some info on these endings?

http://www.gametrailers.com/video/sdcc-10-gttv-extended/702453

here. He basically talks a lot more about twisted metal, but goes into record about GoW as well, after the 10 minute mark. Basically, Zeus would get axed right at the start of the game and that would get out of the way and it would create a mythological power vaccuum which deities from all mythologies would come and try to fill, warring with themselves until people forgot about the gods and stopped believing them (effectively killing them). Much, MUCH better tale, IMO.

Also, the original GoW, even that was all mechanics we've seen before, what made it outstanding was the presentation and the new ways that Golden Axe basic frame was put together. Back in 2005, QTE kills were a fairly novel and exciting concept.

Thats why we have zero puntuation.

Although critics should probably be more harsh on unoriginal games that won't fix the problem of the lack of innovation in the industry. What really matters is the consumer. And the consumer wants generic crap that's the same as everything else before. That's what sells and sales dictate whether a new idea catches on, but that's not what's happening right now. Perhaps publishers are the only ones powerful enough to force developers to innovate, but they won't. They want low risk generic crap too.

Like it would have any impact at all if the gaming critics got together and decided to set their new benchmark for games at 5/10, as opposed to where it currently is at 7/10. The publishers would simply go: "Oh no, it's tougher to get a good score? Well in that case, we'd better not take any kind of risk; in fact, let's only make clones of the previous GOTY. And while we're at it, let's spend more money that could go into development to instead fund a stupidly extravagant marketing campaign so that everyone will buy it regardless of what score it gets."

Not to mention that with the open nature of the internet, any review that is less than a 9/10 is an invitation for fans of the game to trash the critic. "How dare you have an opinion that differs from my own! This reviewer clearly should not be reviewing this game if he is incapable of seeing it for the shining beacon of innovation that it is, and their review will single handedly drag this game's average down on Metacritic and force the developer into receivership! I am never coming back to this site ever!"

Sure it would be nice if they exercised higher critical standards, but when you get railed upon like this and nothing you say ever has any impact on the industry because of a bunch of suits who think they know everything about how to make games, it really does seem like just beating at a brick wall.

Shamanic Rhythm:

Not to mention that with the open nature of the internet, any review that is less than a 9/10 is an invitation for fans of the game to trash the critic. "How dare you have an opinion that differs from my own! This reviewer clearly should not be reviewing this game if he is incapable of seeing it for the shining beacon of innovation that it is, and their review will single handedly drag this game's average down on Metacritic and force the developer into receivership! I am never coming back to this site ever!"

Reviews should grow some balls. Reviewers that are adamant in their criticism are much more entertaining anyway. Why do you think Yahtzee is so successful? He outright insults his fans more than anything.

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