Gamer Hate

Belligerently lacking in remorse.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Tencent’s Acquisition of Supercell

First you must read about the potential hostile takeover of Supercell by Tencent.

Tencent is basically initiating a hostile takeover of Supercell. The developer who brought us 2 of the most successful global mobile games in recent history. Clash of Clans, and Clash Royale (setting aside Hayday and Boom Beach for now, which are also successes). What this primarily means is that within China, Supercell will now become a major influence in their mobile game market. How Tencent will change the game and Supercell’s structure itself remains to be seen.

Will they make dramatic changes? Probably not to Supercell itself or to their games on the global market. Instead, they will likely add things to their games specifically for China’s internal software market (they have separate app stores from the rest of the world). They may add QQ and other layers in to entice and keep Chinese players playing the app.

If Riot Game’s acquisition is any indicator, this will be a net positive for Supercell, as they will likely be able to initiate new projects with Tencent’s money, or at the very least generate revenue from China far beyond what they were able to get on their own (for reference, only Clash Royale is just barely in the top 25 grossing apps in China). Given the 6.6 billion that Tencent has paid, you can rest assured that they are certain they will make this money back and then some over the course of 5 years. The real question is, what will Tencent do with all these acquisitions when their income finally slows and if they have no other products prepared.

posted by CommanderHate at 11:18 pm  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The End of Organized Game Media?

I’ve been reading recently about the struggles of organized game media news companies, such as The Escapist (one of my favorites when they started). With the shut down of Game Trailers, it’s apparent that game news media sites are deep in the shit. Their struggles revolve around the fact that the majority of us really don’t care what they have to say anymore. I mean, yes, it’s good to get an informed opinion on a topic, but as we all know, when it comes to the “professional news media,” they often don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.

This has been more true of standard News Media, such as Fox News, CNN, etc. If you’ve ever been involved in a news story or personally knew the facts about something they were reporting on, you know that they get shit wrong all the time. This isn’t too far off from what I’ve seen from Game News Media organizations that, for whatever reason, couldn’t be arsed to do the job they’re purportedly created to do. Which is give honest and accurate information about games.

So what are the major issues that these dying game media sources need to deal with in order to survive?

1. Stop fucking taking money from game companies and publishers. Just stop fucking doing it. “Oh we need advertising dollars to blah blah” shut the fuck up! If you were legit and honest, people might pay for your service. Right now, we know you’re full of shit half the time, so why would we give you money for inaccurate reporting?

2. Admit your damn biases. Everyone is biased in some way. Every person you have working on game reviews or content for your media sites has their own personal preferences and biases. Admit to them, EMBRACE THEM! Let us know that you fucking love RPGs and that you’ve never met an RPG you wouldn’t have babies with, so that we go to you for detailed information about RPGs… That’s why you’re really losing your audience… Which brings us to…

3. Youtubers, Let’s Play, and independent individuals are KICKING YOUR FUCKING ASSES. Why? Because they are open and honest. They present themselves as human beings, as biased sources, as people with preferences, and they (mostly) don’t take money from corporations to give their views. Everything worth having now is crowd sourced. Let me repeat that… Everything new and innovate that we want, comes from us giving money to support those things. If you don’t have credibility, you have nothing, and right now, I would trust Pewdiepie over GamePro or PCGamer or even The Escapist. Though that wasn’t always the case.

4. Game News Media is suffering from a severe case of corporate necrosis. I look back at things that The Escapist produced when they first started, and I’ve read a few recent articles. The difference is night and day and it happens to every company at some point: they get big, they get set in their ways, and they stop doing things out of love, and they start doing them because it makes money. Most people who work in the game industry do so out of a love for games, and what happens at larger corporations is that the process of making games gets removed from you. You have to follow all the rules and regulations set forth by management types who haven’t created anything in perhaps a decade or more. Worse, they may simply tell you exactly what to do (like put a turret here because marketing believes people like turrets and mowing down enemies every X minutes of gameplay). The end result is passionless decrepit products that eventually no one wants. Just take a look at any franchise that EA gets a hold of and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. This is what Game News Media is going through right now, and the first to fall are the ones who don’t have their own personalities creating content. Which brings us to…

5. You’re two steps removed from your audience. You have the outward layer of the corporate brand, then you have the inner layer of your writers and content creators. Your outer layer prevents the inner layer from connecting with people, for better and for worse. Maybe you have great writers and content creators, but because you’re representing yourselves as brands, the people beneath that layer of the brand are obscured and often interchangeable (though not always, as is the case with Zero Punctuation at The Escapist). The end result is that the people who come to your site fail to make a human connection with your content creators. They must ask, can I trust your brand as a whole? Because maybe Gershwin will write that article on that game I’m interested in… or maybe it will be Mr.Fuckrpgs who fucking hates RPGs. Do I know that Mr.Fuckrpgs hates RPGs when I read his article? Maybe I figure it out, maybe I don’t, but if Mr.Fuckrpgs shits on a game that I later try and like, guess what happens to your brand? I don’t trust it anymore.

Corporate styled branded game media outlets are on their way out in a similar way that magazines and print media are on their way out. They’ve been superseded by something that people find more trustworthy, more human, more up to date, more able to quickly respond to whatever is trending or coming out. That is to say, individuals who review games or talk about games. Pewdiepie, Angry Joe, and a litany of other youtube and on-line personalities have a much stronger connection to their audience. There’s no confusion about the sorts of things they like or dislike, because anyone who follows them will hear about their likes and dislikes 10 times per video they watch. Their biases are fully known entities the majority of the time, and their unwillingness to accept corporate money or stay on the good side of various publishers is something they tend to discuss openly and honestly with their audience.

We don’t know what sort of things Ubisoft or EA or whatever publisher has forbidden a Game News Media brand from saying, writing, or discussing openly. We do know that there are various nefarious back door dealings that go on in order to stay in their good graces and get review copies of games. We also generally know that such things don’t occur with various youtube personalities, or if they do, these personalities often discuss it openly.

When it comes to games news media, we don’t know who we can trust. Which is why youtube personalities and individual game writers who turn themselves into personalities are on the rise (or really, they’ve already won). They can be open and honest and say things that a corporate brand really can’t. Even if someone did speak for a game news media brand, they’d never be trusted in the same way that a person facing a camera and speaking their mind will be.

posted by CommanderHate at 5:02 am  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

What Happened to Commander Hate?

Some of you may know that this website basically vanished around 2010. The main cause of this was that I had moved to China and was working at Ubisoft. Since I let the domain lapse during that time period, something horrible happened.

Some shit-stained scumbag domain squatter grabbed gamerhate.com because it had a decent amount of traffic. Of course, no one else ever wanted it, and I am not the type of person to cave and try to rebuy my own domain back from some fuckwad domain squatter (who probably resides in the 10th circle of Hell below traitors, if you believe in that stuff). So I waited.

I waited patiently, for years…

And now I have returned, ready to continue with honest unpaid reviews of video games and thoughts about the game industry, unbound from corporate interests or outside influence. Are you ready?

posted by CommanderHate at 9:00 pm  

Monday, May 25, 2009

Resident Evil 5
Another Shitty Game

Five years… This took five years to make? I really don’t understand how a game that is basically Resident Evil 4 with a desert theme takes 5 frackin’ years to make. The only game company that can take 5 years to make a game and innovate so little is Blizzard, and Capcom, I’m sorry, but you’re no Blizzard.

How the hell did you spend 5 years making this game and end up making it WORSE? You can only buy new goods at level loads? What the hell is that about? Are my weapons being air-dropped from the sky? Why did you remove the trench-coat guy? The only annoyance was that he only had one line of dialogue for opening and closing his inventory screen. That was it! Otherwise it was fine. Oh wait, I know, you wanted the innovation of team play and you were too frackin’ lazy to program a way for players to interact with menus without disrupting the action… What are you stupid? Put the trenchcoat guy in a corner where there are no zombies…

I also hate your real time inventory management. What the hell is wrong with you? It is NOT FUN to have to deal with a clunky inventory interface when zombies are baring down on you. In fact, it’s the opposite of fun, it’s an incredible annoyance that has no place being in a video game. Which brings me to my major gripe about Capcom’s Resident Evil game design theory.

Making an interface or interaction in the game world difficult and/or shitty on PURPOSE does NOT enhance the “scariness” factor of your game. It enhances the ANNOYANCE factor of your game. Resident Evil 5 is a big annoying piece of crap with none of the innovation or interest that originally grabbed our attention in Resident Evil 4.

Don’t you get it?! Resident Evil 4 was interesting because it took the things that were good from previous Resident Evils (i.e. zombies coming at you, oppressive atmosphere, limited ammo/weapons) and added things that made it BETTER! Being able to properly aim, being able to run away without it feeling like a total piece of shit (though it still wasn’t perfect) and being able to upgrade your weapons. How did you frack this all up in RE5? Allow me to explain.

You added NO INNOVATIONS! Instead you gave us a moronic partner who we now have to micromanage and share assets with, a REAL TIME inventory management system which still sucks and is made all the worse by having to deal with it in real time, and a brightly lit desert world where we shoot Africans instead of Spaniards. Everything else is EXACTLY THE SAME!

Five frackin’ years to make a game worse! Let me know when you want to make RE6, just give me all that money and I’ll get you a team of texture artists to make the game in a snow environment. I’ll use the other 12 million to make a good game.


Resident Evil 5 – D+

    Pros:
  • Interesting take on oppressive environment.
  • Mostly the same as Resident Evil 4
    • Cons:
  • Shitty inventory management in real time in a horror setting, NO, BAD!
  • Poor storyline (but it’s an RE game).
  • Idiotic partner wastes your ammo, your herbs and bitches constantly.
  • You already played this game and it was more fun the first time.
  • posted by CommanderHate at 7:51 pm  

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Yoink! You’re On This Game Now!
    Indecisive Game Studios

    I couldn’t tell you how many studios do this. In fact, it’s been a relatively rare event within my own career. The normal course of events is that you’re assigned to a project and you stay on that project to completion. This is the first time I’ve ever been yanked off one project to lead another, then 2 months later, yanked back off the project and put on my old one.

    I was only on my first project for 1 month, and it made a lot of sense for me to be on it. I had a lot of experience related to the game and I was gearing up to craft a great RTS. Then they asked me to help them redesign another game that was in trouble. Along with several other designers we met for a couple days and I apparently impressed someone with my design proposals because shortly thereafter I found myself Lead Game Designer on the very same title.

    Let me say, the game was/is a clusterfuck of poorly done junior design work, poorly presented ideas, misdirection and indecisiveness from the publisher and a little bit of self-sabotage. That bad? Yeah, that bad. Programmers were literally hard-coding values so that the game designer wouldn’t tweak the game anymore… THAT bad…

    So I spent 2 months trying to reshape the vision of the game and get it into a workable format for a 9 month cycle of continued development with the goal of releasing shortly thereafter. At the end of those 2 months I was to present the idea to a group at the main publisher and get their approval. At the last second, the trip for the presentation was canceled, another project was canceled, and a new Lead Designer was assigned to the project from that one. I was moved back to my ORIGINAL project and I gave my presentation over video conference to the publisher group which was then approved.

    I’m VERY happy to be back on the first project, it made the most sense for my design background and I can tell you I’ll do much better overall on it. However, it FRACKIN’ SUCKS to have wasted 2 months on that hell hole of a project (doing some inspired design work in order to turn a piece of crap into a high quality product) only to know that every bit of work I did will be tossed into the trash.

    It’s just one of those things. When one designer takes over another designer’s work, no matter how good the work was, it will almost entirely be tossed out. Not because it’s bad (though there can be arguments there), but because it’s difficult to execute a game designer’s vision without that game designer’s presence. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating. I’ve basically spent 2 months doing almost nothing.

    Okay, not entirely true. I learned some valuable lessons on presentations and on the inner-workings of this company. Primarily, that I cannot trust their snap decisions. That their group in charge of giving the okays on products has had a sordid past of steering projects wrong. That being handed a nearly completed game from another company gives everyone extremely unreasonable expectations for the timeline of the release of the product (there’s a reason they couldn’t finish the game!!!). And finally, that if you’re a well-spoken presenter, you can make anything seem like a good idea.

    posted by CommanderHate at 8:46 am  

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Designer Worries

    I was looking at old reviews for the Da Vinci Code game. It’s funny how almost all of them agree that there were some really interesting puzzles and a compelling storyline, the two areas of the game I was 80-90% responsible for. Whereas the combat is universally panned by almost every critic and it was the one thing I was diametrically opposed to having in the game. Pretty much every other game I’ve been involved in has been pretty good (okay, downright spectacular), with the exception of a few projects which I had little to do with up front or was not allowed to stay on to the end of.

    In essence, I can truthfully say that over my career, all of the game design work I’ve done has been of excellent quality and my portions have turned into good gameplay that people enjoyed.

    Despite all that, I can’t help but feel that if I ever get my own project, it’ll somehow not come together right. Perhaps I’m only good at working on a part of something and not the whole…

    Or maybe I’ve got cold feet.

    posted by CommanderHate at 2:47 pm  

    Saturday, February 28, 2009

    Game Theory Versus Making Great Games

    At Ubisoft it has become apparent that there is a French held ideal of putting the theoretical as the pinnacle of game creation. That is to say, you come up with a theory and you try to apply that theory so that all your games fit within that theory. Of course, most of the theories I’ve seen are applied to the game after they have been created instead of used as an underlying principle of how the game should be created. What’s worse, is when they try to force the application of the theory to another game that has nothing to do with the first game.

    Let me give an example…

    Let’s say you made a 2D side scrolling shooter, like Contra (you all know Contra, right?). Contra did very well, so you make a theory that Contra did well due to the number of inputs the player puts into the game. For example, you can shoot in any direction by pressing the D-Pad in that direction, giving you freedom to shoot at any 45 degree angle (up, upright, right, etc). Therefore, it is important for every game to have similar inputs to Contra and you must make a document showcasing how your game demonstrates a similar behavior in order for them to consider it a good game.

    So you’re making a new version of Tetris and you’re given a game design document asking you to show the number of inputs for the game to prove how awesome it is. Well, you write the document and you only have 3 basic directional inputs. Move the piece left, right or down. This upsets your bosses who say that you don’t have enough directional inputs in order to compete with Contra and games like it, since they have proven successful, your game will not be successful.

    What?

    Yeah, the French can be weird.

    posted by CommanderHate at 6:36 am  

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Resident Evil 5
    Quick Impressions

    Hey look, it’s Resident Evil 4 but the hot black chick hanging with you is more like the Spanish guy with the gun instead of the helpless little girl.

    Also, fuck the developers for not either getting rid of inventory management by moving it entirely onto set keys, or pausing the game while I deal with it. If the goal was to keep a real life intensity going at all times, you fail. Inventory screens are NOT something you deal with in real life. If you are in a combat situation you have a place for everything important on your person and you can grab it within seconds. You need to switch entirely to quick select with the d-pad.

    Or you need to pause the game when you bring up the inventory screen.

    I know why you did it too you cheap bastards. You don’t want to slow down multiplayer. Well it’s time to buckle down and find a proper solution with the quick select menu.

    Recommendation: Try Metal Gear Solid and see what they did… It’s not quite right, but it’s close to what you need.

    posted by CommanderHate at 7:20 am  

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Is it better to innovate, or imitate in games?

    I’m asking myself this one because it has come up recently in my work.

    When you look at the successful companies in the game world, what you end up seeing are a lot of imitators who just happen to do it the best or at least better than the rest. Blizzard wasn’t the first to make an RTS, but they did it very well, and then they continued to improve on their previous models. No doubt Starcraft II will be a serious improvement over Starcraft I, but will it be an innovative game?

    I think people get stuck on the idea of innovating. Of making something from absolutely nothing. The truth of the matter is, we as humans have been building our knowledge based on old knowledge since we started. To have a truly new thought that has no basis on anything before it is actually quite impossible. Everything we do is based on something that we have already learned or been taught. Even if you could actually come up with something like that, no one would understand it, and no one would pay you to make a game out of it.

    So what it comes down to (for games at least) is how much should you push for innovation over imitation. The truly successful companies don’t innovate much. How different (really now) is Gears of War compared to Doom? If you look at all the things that came between Doom and Gears of War, you’ll see that GoW really is only about 3% innovation. The rest is built upon hundreds of established (and obscure) games.

    When something truly new comes out, almost no one plays it. Where is the game built upon the foundations of the arguably very innovative Facade? I want to do that, but damned if I can find a company willing to let me (or anyone willing to fund me). Most companies shun innovation on a large scale. In fact, most innovations are afterthoughts that come from sudden technological inspirations (Endwar’s voice commands for instance came in during the last few months of production).

    Blizzard in particular has made an empire out of copying the best things from all its competitors and cutting the things that aren’t fun. Practically no innovation comes out of Blizzard, yet they are the number one PC game maker in the world (I think).

    Is it the consumer that doesn’t value innovation? They cry out for something new, but when it comes time to make a purchase will they buy a game based on Facade that they may not understand, or will they buy Starcraft II? My money is on Starcraft II. =P

    Of course, it’s funny how many game companies I’ve been at that don’t understand the very simple Blizzard model. Most companies can’t comprehend how amazing games can come from simply stealing all the good things your competitors have done. Maybe they think that innovation really is the way to get more marketshare, but I know that’s a fallacy. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Innovate too much and the consumer will run away screaming. But take everything they like from other games and package it together, they’ll buy millions of copies. That’s why I’m working on the ultimate version of Solitaire combined with Minesweeper.

    So is it better to innovate or imitate in game design? Well that depends on how much money you want to make… ;D

    posted by CommanderHate at 8:44 am  

    Wednesday, January 14, 2009

    More Shanghai Notes

    I have yet to see a single “squat pot,” anywhere in Shanghai. I was told that all bathrooms would be squat pots here, but that’s not even close to the reality.

    None of the apartments have carpet. Everything I’ve seen has been hardwood or tile floors. I miss my carpet. =P

    The fastest cable modem speed in Shanghai is 2M. I miss my 8M connection in California. =(

    posted by CommanderHate at 5:29 am  
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