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You take games too seriously.

The Cliffster’s Badass Plan to Fix New Games Journo

Here to Kick Ass and Save Games Journalism

Cliffy B: Here to Kick Ass and Save Games Journalism

How did I, Cliff Blezinski, become CliffyB? Kitchen-squats. And when Cliffy B didn’t bed a dozen women a night, what’d he do? Juiced pheromones out of dominant apes and slurped them like a friggin Diet Soda.

Cliffy B takes action. So when folks get upset about New Games Journalism, the Cliffster fixes it. He fixes it because he cares. He fixes it and runs twenty miles to tame his gluts and then he fixes it again.

Here’s the Cliffster’s badass plan.

The Cliffster’s Badass Plan to Fix New Games Journo in Ten Really Friggin Easy Steps:

10.) The Friggin Secret: No secret that if you want something like say a thoughtful feature or sweet exclusive you just have to envision it as a reality. When I decided to become a super-duper-megastar I painted a mural on my living room wall of myself standing atop a mountain top made of platinum ice. I had a goblet in one hand, a babe in the other, and, across my chest, a necklace of elf ears. Since then, I’ve secured two out of those three items. I’m sure you minions can guess which two.*

9.) Perk Up or Shut Up: Demand your boss pay you appropriately. Studies run by the Cliff Institute of Kickassology show that journos work harder when they get a fair deal. Don’t have a boss? Fine, The Cliff’s your Boss now. For every blog post you’ll get a gold lancer. For every blog post about Dude Huge you’ll get a Lambo.

8.) Read Thy Neighbor: Plenty of great games writers both big and small. Read them. Support them. The favor shall be returned. So Cliffy has said. So it shall be.

7.) Save the Trash Talk for Horde Mode: No need to pick on your fellow bros, Broseph. Let the journos be journos, and journo all day about journo stuff. If you think they care too much about Mega Man 9’s retro revival, or that shooting zombies in RE5 can be seriously whack, that’s fine. Dag yo, they might completely misunderstand GoW 2’s Garden State-esque narrative. But that’s their own shit-factory to work through.

Still want to fight ‘em? Cool, but let me recommend you two punk it out in some “horde to the gorde” multiplayer (preferably in a game that has guns equipped with chainsaws! Vrrrm-mm-m, amirite?!).

6.) Don’t Prognosticate Too Fast and Make a Gooey Mess: We all know a game generally gets like four months of hype and then the bash fest starts, but don’t hate because you want to be the first to backlash, srsly. It may be hard for you little minions to believe, but The Cliffster has plenty of experience with this problem. Sometimes people—angry people that deserve a Cliffy chop—tell me, “Cliffy, everybody else may think your games are cool, but I don’t like your games because they’re stupid.”

That’s dumb. My games are sweet. Everyone likes them. And even if my games weren’t perfect (they are), only lameos hate something just because other peeps like it. If you got to hate the Cliffy, then give thoughtful and insightful reasons why you personally hate the Cliffy. Capiche?

Cliffy dishes out the the top 5 friggin killer tips to save New Games Journalism after the jump…

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Filed under: Commentary, Industry, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An Interview with Leigh Alexander: Part 2 of 3

interview!

You may remember a couple weeks ago I sat down with game journalist extraordinaire, Leigh Alexander, to get her take on the industry, the media, and the games she loves. Now, we’ve got the second part of her interview ready to go (part one’s right here). This time, she speaks about the industry—from the Fat Cats to the have and have-nots of DLC to open-source development. And if this interview’s not enough Leigh for you, check out her wonderful Kotaku article investigating the cathartic appeal of GTA IV’s Liberty City for the residents of New York’s rougher neighborhoods.

So, without further ado, part two of our interview.

Hardcasual:
Over the past two gaming generations, big-business game studio’s like EA have developed a negative image over tentative buy-outs, employer relations, and license exclusivity (in EA’s case, their ownership of the NFL license). What are your feelings on the mega-studios’ role in the industry?

Leigh Alexander:
One of the things I’ve never bought, whether in the videogame industry or anywhere else, is this idea that big business, “big corporate” always has to be evil. People always dump on EA, but if you were to walk in there, you’re not going to see Darth Vader sitting in the Death Star. I think you’d see a building full of game developers who care about the work they’re doing, individual people who want to do a good job, and who want to make enough money so that they don’t lose their jobs. They’re working 80-hour weeks—yeah, of course they want to make money. They’re people like we are. People write to me who work on these games, and they’re good people like us who like their games and like their work. It’s true there are decisions being made with investors in mind before the audience is in mind, but that’s how the world works. It sucks, but they’re not your friends – they’re there to do a job.

The thing that gets me is whenever there’s not a scandal going on, the topic of discussion on the Internet is “how can we make games deeper?” We say, “It needs to be richer, it needs to be better, we want it more immersive, it needs to be more realistic, we want more explosions, we want more, more, more, more.” More multiplayer, there are not enough maps, et et cetera.

Guess what? It costs money to do that. It costs the developers a lot of money. In fact, it costs them more than we realize. I know nothing about the actual pound for pound cost of making games, but, at the least, I know it costs millions of dollars. Well, these companies can’t lose money on the games they make, because their stock will devalue, they don’t turn profits, their investors sell and then they have no development budget. Any given game company, even if it looks like a fat cat billionaire, could just as easily be a hair away from in the hole. It’s enormously volatile even over short periods of times. Look at Atari. [Mimes a downward spiral]. Look at Activision [Reverses it]. Some people think [Activision’s] bigger than EA now. This can turn on a dime.

[These companies] start at the books before they even go into development. They say, “this is how much we need to make to be risk averse.” If the game does not do as well as they planned, developers lose jobs, budgets for the next game get cut, things get delayed. Things we don’t like happen when games don’t make the money the companies set out to make. It’s not like John Riccitello [EA’s CEO] is going to roll your money into a cigar and smoke it. Lots of times vilify companies like EA, but they’re very carefully planning “is this a good investment or not.” The thing about the industry being that volatile is they have to naturally be risk-averse. They have to make games they know will sell. Things that are very different don’t often make it through in this market. It’s not worth the risk to the game company. It’s not just enough to make a good game; they have to make good decisions too. That’s their responsibility to their employees and their investors, and just because that comes before the audience sometimes doesn’t mean the people behind these companies are evil warlords.

Downloadable content, open-source development, and the need to make a buck after the jump…

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Filed under: Commentary, Industry, interview, , , , , , ,

Has the Wii-mote lost control?

I believe my Nintendo Wii came with an invisible contract. Up front, I agreed to spend an exorbitant amount of money on two controllers (three, if you include the classic), and, in return, Nintendo would never require I buy another peripheral. The Wii-mote provides plenty of innovation, making silly things like light-guns, racing wheels, and the Sega Activator obsolete. Sadly, two major upcoming Wii releases, WiiFit and Mario Kart Wii, took this contract, rubbed it in dirt, and thrre it to the dogs

This spring, Nintendo will package two new controller SKUs with popular games. Mario Kart Wii will arrive with an aesthetically pleasing, but ultimately useless plastic driver’s wheel. If you’re into $150 balance boards, WiiFit’s your perfect game, but you better run to your Gamestop and pre-order—don’t underestimate Nintendo’s inability to keep products on the shelf.

Last year, Nintendo tested the stagnant peripheral waters with the Wii Zapper, a plastic attachment that latches onto a Wii-mote and transforms it into a gun, and you into a moron. Nintendo sells it as a novelty item. Fine by me, as long as the Zapper isn’t necessary to enjoy any games. Mario Kart Wii‘s Wii Wheel peripheral a different beast. Recently, Kotaku confirmed the classic and GameCube control schemes for Mario Kart Wii are crippled, a move that handicaps traditional and hardcore players, while subtly benefiting those with the Wii Wheel accessory. While one Wii Wheel comes with the game, more are $20 a pop. Across the Pacific, the WiiFit has taken mandatory peripherals a step further, winning over a handful of Japanese publisher–one of their releases, WiiSki, is the first game to require the WiiFit balance board.

Unlike Sony and Microsoft who have other motivations (i.e. digital media delivery), Nintendo has pursued a profit from the get-go, and these peripherals show no signs of Nintendo letting up. But, with that in mind, is it possible for the Wii peripheral market to super-saturate? Just as the Sega Genesis’ 32X and Sega CD created a detrimental hierarchy of players, could the same happen with pricey peripherals like the WiiFit?

It’s silly to rant about Nintendo’s innovation, and no one’s forcing my hand to pick up every piece of Nintendo gear, but it disappoints me that the device than can do it all, the Wii-mote, needs a lot of help from friends.

-ctp

Filed under: Industry, Reviews, , , , , ,

What I Learned from SEGA – SCUD: Disposable Assassin

SCUD

The life of a former SEGA fanboy is hard. My childhood memories are sown with the brand’s hills and valleys: a very merry Genesis Christmas, a birthday slump with 32X. Often, I will irrationally return to the old systems with fond thoughts, like remembering a childhood crush, but when I boot Sewer Shark I forget the good times and only remember the heartbreaks. The nightmares.

I refuse to remember my childhood as a time of delusion, so to save myself, I have chosen to make gold from lead. Welcome to another experiment blog series: What I’ve learned from SEGA.

I present the Sega Saturn’s SCUD: The Disposable Assassin.

SCUD is based on a 1990’s comic book of the same name. We play as Scud, a disposable assassin (natch) sold in vending machines, and forced into a rather precarious life. Once purchased, SCUD must accomplish a given assignment—in this case, assassinate a monster named Jeff. But upon completion SCUD will receive no reward, rather, our robot hero’s programmed to self-destruct. So SCUD, strangely smart and self-interested for a robot, finds Jeff, beats him around, and ships him to the nearest hospital. All’s well, until Jeff’s medical bill arrives. It’s then our story truly begins, when our penny-less bot must become a freelance assassin to pay medical bills that keep Jeff, and concurrently, himself, alive.

Like all comics, there’s plenty of lesser characters: a sidekick named Drywall, who’s zipper laced body offers infinite storage; a rival and (possible love-interest?) Sussuido, who craves blood shed; and many other bizarre, early 90’s characters. Think Tank Girl meets Short Circuit.

You still need more SCUD? Catch yourself up with this steaming marketing mess.

What I’ve Learned from SCUD

Gimmicks Sell: It’s a simple side-scroller with a twist—the ability to play with a light-gun, both alone and co-op. As a kid, this play mechanic absolutely convinced me to save a couple months’ allowance, add some summer chores, and make a purchase. Was it worth it? No.

Good Ideas Rise to the Top: In co-op, the light-gun froze enemies to help SCUD. This mechanic received enormous praise, not for SCUD, but ten years later in Super Mario Galaxy.

More SCUD-ness and lessons learned after the jump…

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Filed under: Commentary, Industry, , , , , ,

Turkey Sandwiches from March 22-28, 2008

gobble gobble

Welcome to our weekly thanksgiving for all our supporters, temporarily dubbed ‘Turkey Sandwiches.’

Sexy Video Game Land: Leigh Alexander is not third, nor second, but first on our list. She’s a columnist for many established game websites (GameSetWatch and Variety, to name a couple), but calls SVGL home. If you haven’t already, check out her write-up on Super Smash Bros. Brawl that made a few fanboys second-guess their fresh Olimar tattoos. And when you’ve purged your bedroom of Captain N paraphernalia, check out her rebuttal. To herself.

LevelUp: N’Gai Croal is like our Soccer Mom: loyal, kind, and damn proud he helped make us who we are today. The man has linked us twice, which makes him our biggest fan. As he should be, since we ripped our blog’s title straight from his headlines. This week, he began a no-holds-barred match with another HardCasual favorite, Stephen Totilo. This bloodfest focuses on the PSP’s new game du jour, Patapon. HardCasual enjoys the game vicariously, since they have no money for such a lovely portable device (unless someone at Sony’s reading, then we would love some sweet swag—nudge, nudge).

But enough about us and our BFF’s. It’s time to pay It forward with links to our favorite articles this week.

A New Taxonomy of Gamers at Insult Swordfighting: I can’t believe I missed this article a couple months ago, but, lucky for me, I found this nugget buried in the comments at SVGL. Besides writing reviews for Paste magazine, Mitch Krapta finds time for a dissection of gamer types, including our namesake. He also likes sports.

On Being Gross at Save the Robot: Every week Kotaku posts a new ZeroPunctuation review, and every week their comments section fires up. Many readers hope to be the first to mark the day Ben Croshaw jumps the shark. Chris Dahlen doesn’t seem worried about Croshaw jumping the shark, but videogame reviews as a whole. Influenced by Croshaw’s gross-out gags, what will come of our future reviewers?

Call of Jihadi Interview at Eurogamer.net: What happens when someone re-skins a Pro-Iraq War game titled Quest for Saddam, and molds it into a virtual attack on George Bush? Night of Bush Capturing, that’s what. Chicago based artist, Wafaa Bilaal, famous for his website performance piece, ‘Shoot an Iraqi,’ recently digitized himself into NoBC, dubbing the mod of a mod Virtual Jihadi. He discusses his commentary and intentions with Eurogamer.

Have an awesome article we should read? Hit us up! Want to be our BFF? Link us!

-ctp

Filed under: Industry, Links, News, Turkey Sandwiches, , , , , ,

iPhone’s TKO

Punch-Out

Wedbush Morgan’s game analyst, Michael Pachter, expressed my feelings on the ‘iPhone as gaming messiah’ in a simple point.

I don’t see it as a viable gaming platform, due to the cost of owning one. The iPhone costs $400 plus an AT&T wireless subscription for voice and data, I’m guessing this is $80 a month, so the addressable market doesn’t really fit the core gamer demographic.”

My issues with the touch screen, Apple’s inexperience, and bland game releases, all mean nothing compared to the all-mighty dollar.

Will you pay a $400 buy in and $80 a month for portable Spore? Or will you avoid it like the Noid?

Next-Gen.Biz: Pachter: iPhone Gaming Not Commercially Sound
Image: Link

-Chris

Filed under: Industry, Portable Media, , ,

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