Category Archives: LBoG: Editorials

Why I’m A Little Worried About Red Dead Redemption II

Please note the headline does say “a little worried”. It’s minor, but it’s still something that’s niggling away at the back of my head…

Arthur Morgan Quote

Six weeks, just six more weeks and Red Dead Redemption II will be released. Its been eight years since the previous game and after a year long delay, we will finally be able to play the bloody thing. My palms are sweating in anticipation.

So I’m really damn excited for RDR II. This is easily my most anticipated game of the last ten years if not ever. I’m a huge Rockstar Games fan, they just deliver the most highly polished and beautifully crafted games ever. Interesting characters wrapped up in intriguing and wonderful stories. Game that have me returning year after year. I’ll happily debate with anyone that the first RDR (and I mean Redemption not Revolver) is the finest game Rockstar have made to date and definitely one of the greatest games ever created to boot. This new game has some pretty big cowboy boots to fill. Yeah I’m pumped for the sequel/prequel, but there’s something that I can’t get out of my head, a problem that could be minor and nothing to worry about…or could it be something major? That problem is Leslie Benzies.

Leslie Benzies

For those not in the know, Leslie Benzies was a programmer on the DMA Design game  Space Station Silicon Valley for the Nintendo 64 in 1995. A few years later and DMA Design would make one of the most important games in history with Grand Theft Auto III of which Leslie Benzies was a huge part of as he soon found himself as a producer on the game along with Sam and Dan Houser. Eventually, DMA Design are renamed Rockstar North and the birth of one of the biggest British gaming studios ever began. Benzies along with the Houser brothers became presidents of Rockstar Games. Benzies influence can be seen and felt in games from GTA III right up to GTA V and everything else in between including Rockstar’s finest, Red Dead Redemption on which he worked as producer and designer. He’s a passionate man with a lot of vision…and he no longer works at Rockstar Games.

See, it was in 2014 when Benzies took a break, a sabbatical from Rockstar after a suggestion from Sam and Dan Houser for all his hard work over the years at the company. Only when Leslie Benzies returned a few months later with his batteries recharged ready to work, he found that he didn’t have a job anymore. Now exactly what happened is only truly known by those involved, the Houser brothers, Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive (Rockstar’s parent company) and of course Benzies himself. Though it has been said there was a disagreement about royalties not being paid, something about an unfair dismal and all sort of accusations. Anyway, Benzies ended up filing a lawsuit against Sam and Dan Houser, Rockstar Games and Take-Two. Its a rather messy story and not one I want to dwell on here, but if you really want to get into it then click here. Its all very unpleasant and the lawsuit is still on going today. But my point is that one of the main people behind the success of Rockstar as a company and their games no longer works at Rockstar. Leslie Benzies no longer being part of the company is a worry not just for RDR II but for the company in general from this point onward.

Duo.jpg

RDR II has been in development since the massive success of the previous game eight years ago. So I’m sure that Benzies has been involved with the title in some way before he was ‘removed’, so hopefully his mark is still imprinted in the game somehow. Yet I still can’t help but worry that the whole affair has had an effect on Rockstar Games on the whole. Its been well known that RDR II was delayed…three times leading to a whole year long delay. The postponement itself is no surprise as Rockstar are quite infamous for delaying games, in fact I called the RDR II setback a year ago shortly after the game was initially announced. Yeah Rockstar will suspend games and have done so for over a decade now – but the delays have usually been a handful of weeks, maybe a couple of months. Never a whole year and that twelve month delay has me worried that something is not right behind the scenes at Rockstar.

The whole thing is just leaving a bit if a bad taste in my mouth. I know no one man (or woman) is never bigger than a worldwide famous and respected company such as Rockstar Games – but there is no denying just how integral to the company Leslie Benzies really was. Other development studios have suffered after the leaving of a key member, see Bullfrog after Peter Molyneux (before he became a laughing stock) left in 1997 for proof. Going back to his first job with them (then DMA) in 1995 to his insistence and passion behind developing GTA III and beyond, Benzies was the rock in Rockstar. I have a feeling that the Rockstar titles that we do have wouldn’t have been as great without him. Benzies was a huge piece of Rockstar and now he’s gone, they are missing something…I just hope that something isn’t missing from RDR II and any future Rockstar games from this point onward.

Benzies’ dismissal from Rockstar, the extra long delay of RDR II, the rather unpalatable lawsuit – its all got to add up to something. Could Red Dead Redemption II be the last great Rockstar game?

Horse

I’m sure that RDR II will be an amazing game, it’ll get high praise and mop up all sorts of gaming awards over the next few months. I have no doubt that this is going to be a jaw dropping gaming experience. But still, no Benzies has got to have an impact on anything Rockstar related from this point onward.

Currently Leslie Benzies is working on a new game with the working title of Everywhere. Said to be an open world game like no other, one that will offer freedom not seen in a game of this type before. Oh yeah, he has some ex-Rockstar employees helping out too. So Benzies isn’t the only talent gone from Rockstar…

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Do I Like Shenmue II?

So I guess this is a kind of sequel to my I Don’t Like Shenmue article. Quick recap, I didn’t like the game when it was originally released and I still don’t like it now. But I did buy the recent Shenmue re-release (with a few minor tweaks). While I played the first game when it was originally released, I didn’t actually finish it – I just got so damn bored and decided to spend all my time in the arcade playing Space Harrier and Hang On instead. I never bothered with Shenmue II because the first game was so damn tedious, though I heard the sequel was far better. Still, when I recently got my hands on the re-release, I told myself I would finish Shenmue this time around before moving onto the sequel. Well I’ve finally finished the first game (god damn it that was laborious) and now I’ve played the sequel…but do I like it?

Shenmue II Ryo

By and large Shenmue II is pretty much more of the same with some minor refinements, but is that enough to make it an overall better experience? Well right off the bat. You can skip cut scenes and fast forward time to meet a specific deadline, this alone makes this one infinitely better then the previous game, no more needlessly waiting around for hours or days. Straight away I noticed how the world of Shenmue II is much more lively and vibrant over it’s predecessor. There are more people around doing more activities with more buildings to explore. Everything just feels so much more “alive”. The controls are still clunky and getting Ryo to simply turn is cumbersome but they feel a lot smoother though, plus some of the buttons have been switched around which took me a while to adjust to after getting so used to Shemnue’s layout. I have only put in a few hours, maybe 6-8 but in that short time, I’ve found this sequel much more playable and interesting than the first game by far.

Yeah Ryo is still an insufferable bore to play as with zero personality. But thankfully he’s plunged into a version of Hong Kong that’s full of interesting and enjoyable characters coupled with plenty of pleasing locales to explore and play around in/with. Some of the really crappy parts of the original still remain in the sequel, the clunky controls, the boring protagonist, the difficult and sometimes awkward navigation, the annoying look mechanic. But I found the short comings of Shenmue II much easier to forgive over the first game due to how much more interesting and interactive the world is. This sequel just has so much more character and personalty. Personality goes a long way too.

OutRun

Of course being the huge OutRun fan that I am, my first port of call was to the arcade to see one of my favourite games in all its glory. Sega lost the Ferrari licence a while back (that’s why you can’t buy any OutRun games anymore) so I was curious how they would handle this in Shenmue II. Maybe they’ve removed and replaced OutRun with another Sega classic? But to my surprise as I entered the arcade, there in the middle of the floor was a sit-down OutRun cabinet sparking off childhood memories…and you can still play it too. But due to the lack of a Ferrari license, sadly there is no big red Testarossa to drive anymore. Instead the iconic Ferrari has been replaced with a generic, Ferrari-esque red sports car, no Ferrari badge or any whiff of the Italian car manufacturer anywhere. Still, Outrun within Shenmue II is still an absolute joy to play. I’m a happy gamer.

Shenmue II OutRun.jpg

I begrudgingly forced my way through Shenmue and found very little to enjoy along the way – that god damn forklift truck racing and job is still one of the most boring things I’ve ever experienced in a game. Shenmue II is a very different animal, a game I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time with and a game (unlike the first one) I’m in no hurry to reach the end of, one I want to enjoy to its fullest by soaking up everything it has to offer. Do I like Shenmue II? Oh yes, very much so.

Shenmue plays like a broken, unfinished prototype and in may ways, it is. Given the scope of the game’s designer, Yu Suzuki original ideas for Shenmue and how much it was cut or trimmed back – it is a broken, unfinished prototype. I will never understand the praise Shenmue receives, its a terrible game but an average demo at best. It was back when it was originally released and it still is now. Shenmue II is different. Yeah its a little rough around the edges and yes its slow at times but that roughness is enveloped by a really strong and playable game, one that most definitely deserves all the praise, unlike its predecessor.

Shenmue II Ryo Walk.jpg

From the first game to this sequel, I’ve been converted, Shenmue II is wonderful title and in a way, I’m glad I didn’t play the game when it was originally released as now I feel as if I’ve found a long lost treasure, a real hidden gem of a game. Now of you’ll excuse me, I have a date with an OutRun arcade cabinet…oh and apparently I’m supposed to help Ryo find his father’s killer – but there’s always time for OutRun.

I Don’t Like Shenmue

Yes me as an avid gamer and martial arts movie fan does not like one of the most beloved games to feature kung fu – ever.

I’m not saying that I don’t like Shenmue to be “cool” as if disliking something popular is the ‘in’ thing to do. Truth is I’ve never liked it. I admit that at the time, back in the Dreamcast days of 1999 that Shenmue impressed me. It looked amazing with highly detailed characters, the semi-open world you found yourself in was jaw dropping at the time with people going about their daily lives and what not, then there was the basic premise of the game – a kung fu action/adventure/RPG. This was a cocktail I wanted a taste of.

Shenmue HD Fight

But when I played the game, it left a very bitter taste in my mouth. It was kind of like seeing a McDonald’s Big Mac in a TV ad, that big fat, juicy burger looking so damn delectable with beautifully and perfectly layered crisp salad sandwiched between that golden brown toasted bun. The sauce just gently peeking out from the sides whilst being lovingly squeezed by those two beautifully tanned burger patties as the cheese gently wilted under the excitement of this orgy of food. Oh man, a Big Mac looks amazing in the ads…then you buy one and get this…

Big Mac

That is the disappointment I felt when I first played Shenmue. It just looked so damn good but when I took my first bite, all I tasted was disappointment. Like the world popular Big Mac, I just do not understand what all the fuss is about when it comes to Shenmue. How can something so bland and tasteless be so damn popular?

Maybe it was just me back then. I mean, people change over time, opinions and views shift and even drastically alter. Things you didn’t like twenty years ago can and sometimes do seem much better further down the line. So when it was announced that Shenmue would be getting a “remaster” (and I use that word in its loosest possible way), it piqued my curiosity. Maybe, just maybe the game is like a fine wine and has actually improved over almost twenty years, maybe if I were to play it today with the “improvements” made to this “remaster” – just maybe I could finally experience and enjoy what it was that impressed so many people back in 1999…maybe? So you know what? I bought the HD update of Shenmue for my Xbox One X.

Shenmue HD Cover

As I awaited the release of the game, everything I disliked about it came flooding back. The incredibly slow pace. The awkward, stiff and clunky controls. The terrible voice acting. The uninspired story. But there was a ray of hope as this update adds new features such as an improved interface, modern controls, scale-able screen resolution along with a few other minor refinements. So yeah, sounds great and as if they’ve addressed some of the awkwardness the original had. So I was looking forward to it.

I guess I’d better get the plot out of the way first. Set in Yokosuka, Japan, 1986, you play as Ryo Hazuki who tries to track down Lan Di, the man who killed his father…well that didn’t take long – neither did my rediscovering my disliking for the game.

I have to applaud Sega for doing this, for bringing back one of the most beloved games ever to a new audience and old fans alike. They’ve done a good job overall. Yeah the game engine is old and looks it too, but the graphical upgrade is great now with a shiny new 1080p resolution over its original 480p, though you can switch back to its original resolution if you wish. Plus the game now plays in 16:9 widescreen, but sadly the cut-scenes play in the original 4:3 format. The draw distance has been increased and the whole game runs very smoothly as you’d expect. For an almost twenty year old game, it looks surprisingly great.

Shenmue HD Ryo Street

But its not without its problems. Shenmue is a painfully slow game and everything seems to take an age to do. As an example: doing something as simple as picking up an item. You start the game in your room which you can explore and examine it in detail. Look at a nearby cabinet (you have to press the look button to do so first) and there’s a lamp that you auto lock onto, then you have to manually move down to the drawers. Watch the animation as you have to open every single drawer in the cabinet, then watch the animation in reverse as you close every single drawer. And then when you find something worth looking at and even picking up, there is this awkward animation as Ryo picks the item up and holds it in his hands where you can then move the item around before pressing a button to add it to your inventory. The whole thing can take a minute or two…just to pick up an item, and you’ll find yourself having to do this countless times though the game too. Let this beginning be the standard to the setting of the pace for the entire game. Everything you do is syrupy slow and cumbersome, its sleep enduing.

Now I’m not picking on Shenmue for having outdated mechanics in this modern age of gaming. One of my favorite games from last gen was Deadly Premonition… I mean I really fucking love Deadly Premonition which in many ways shares a lot of similarities with Shenmue. While they are polar opposites in terms of setting and plot, the games are easily comparable via their mechanics. They are both slow, plodding games with terrible controls. They both feature horrendous voice acting and dated graphics. But Deadly Premonition has something Shenmue lacks, personality and charm. “Isn’t that right Zach?”.

That’s not to say that Shenmue doesn’t have any fun to be found as it does. The main game may be a complete drag but its also full of little distractions to keep you occupied. You can enter shops and take part in a raffle for prizes, collect mini figures based on Sega IPs such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Virtua Fighter, hunt out and collect cassette tapes, you can get a part-time job shifting crates around a warehouse, take part in forklift truck races. And perhaps the best part of Shenmue, you can go into arcades to play games like darts and even the Sega classics Space Harrier and Hang-On just to name a few. In fact as a little confession, back when the game was originally released I never bothered to finish it as I found it so boring – yet I was hooked by all the little mini-games and distractions Shenmue throws at you. Not much has changed just shy of two decades later either.

Just as a quick aside. One of the new features is supposed to be the addition on modern controls. As the original control mechanics are atrocious, having them updated for a more modern age sounded great…but where is the option to change the controls?

Option Screen

See, that’s a pic of the main option screen with the control setting and no modern option at all. Where is the modern control option that’s supposed to be one of the new updates?

Anyway, back on topic. The world created in Shenmue is impressive from just people watching as the residents of Yokosuka go about their daily lives to the little details and fun to be had that will not affect the main game such as feeding and caring for that cute little kitten. The world feels alive, with plenty to see and do. Its not quite on par with the modern open word games of today like Grand Theft Auto V or Assassin’s Creed: Origins for example but the world contained within Shenmue is a nice place to waste some time in regardless and when you think the game is coming up to its twentieth birthday, it shows how ahead of its time it really was.

Shenmue is horrible and has aged worse than Katie Price’s face, not as rough or suffering from so many “updates” though. No I don’t like Shenmue – I didn’t much care for it back in 1999 and I care even less for it now almost two decades later. However…I’m still going to play through it and finish it. As I said before I never did bother completing the game back when it was first released and because of that, I didn’t bother with its sequel, Shenmue II. I’ve heard the sequel is a far, far better game and seeing as the recent re-release comes with both, I may as well give it a go right? But first, I’ll have to suffer the boring mess that is Shenmue. How long it’ll take me to finish Shenmue I have no idea as just as back in 99, I’m getting more enjoyment out of playing classic Sega games in the arcade than the main game – so I’ve bought an almost twenty year old game to play thirty three year old games on my less than one year old, world’s most powerful game console. Ain’t gaming strange?

Can you believe Katie Price is only forty? I thought she was in her mid fifties at least with that face…

Katie Price

Wow I just wrote an article on Shenmue and didn’t mention sailors once.

He’s Back – Part Man, Part Machine, All Sequel

There is a trend going on in Hollywood right now where an older movie franchise is being revitalised with all new sequels that ignore the previous entries in the franchise, the sequels are also bringing back some of the original cast and crew. Later this year, we will see a new Halloween flick that will be a direct sequel to the 1978 original to celebrate the 40th anniversary and ignore all the sequels in the series. This new Halloween will see the return of not only Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode but John Carpenter is also back as producer and will also recreate the iconic music.

Halloween

Then there is Terminator due out next year. Again, ignoring the sequels and this will be the “real” Terminator 3. Of course Arnie is back as the T-800 but the film will also see Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, plus James Cameron is on board as producer. But there is another film getting the same treatment, one of my all time favorite action/sci-fi flicks in fact. Robocop is coming back to the big screen.

As of right now, details are a hard to find but the title seems to be Robocop Returns and will be a direct sequel to the 1987 original. The writers of the original film, Ed Neumeier and Michael Miner have written the sequel but it is being touched up by Justin Rhodes. And for those not in the know, Rhodes is the person who wrote the screenplay for the new Terminator flick that is currently being filmed. Robocop Returns is set to be directed by Neill Blomkamp who’s directing credits include District 9 and Elysium.

Robocop

Nothing has been said about the cast yet, but it would be great to see the likes of Peter Weller and Nancy Allen return as Alex J. Murphy/Robocop and Anne Lewis respectively. Also just to repeat, Robocop Returns screenplay is being written by the same person behind the new Terminator sequel…

Terminator v Robocop

Robocop and Terminator have had a bit of a history in comics and games over the years but never made it to the big screen. Plus shared universes are all the rage right now. Using the same writer for both Robocop Returns and the new Terminator sequels can’t be coincidence can it?

We could be witnessing the build up to one of the most eagerly awaited cyborg battles ever.

My Article About Boobies In Games

Pre-warning, there will be an overuse of breast slang used in this article for comedic purposes.

Now – I’m not one for click-bait articles, I detest that shit. Luring people in with a catchy, eye seducing headline only to be met with an article that really has nothing to do with what was promised. With me, you get what the headline says – I’m writing an article about boobies in games. There is a point to all of this, I’m not just some sad, pathetic, basement dwelling loner desperate to gaze a polygons in the shape of a lovely pair of jubblies. I mean, I’m in a relationship with one of them real life women things – she got some of them lady bumps…and a wazzo pair they are too, so I have access to actual, real life tatas whenever I like. Wait a second, why am I trying to justify myself to you – you’re the one who clicked on an article about computer generated honkers?

Gaming boobs

Anyway, the point I want to make will have to wait until the end. First, a brief history of video game gazangas.

I think my first introduction to video game fun bags was back in 1987. There was this game called Game Over released for the popular microcomputers of the day. Graphically, it was nothing to shout about and most definitely didn’t feature any 8-bit Bristols or if it did then you couldn’t really make them out given the lack of fidelity and the limitations of the graphics back then. I mean, the game looked like this…

Game Over Screen

Phwoah! Hey fellas, look at the pixels on that. Oh no, it wasn’t the actual game where the titillation came from but the artwork for the game. The original game cover and even the initial ads in the gaming press at the time raised more than a few eyebrows back in the day.

Game Over.jpg

Sneaking out from the female’s bra…that’s a nipple right there. Remember this was back in 87 and slapped on the cover of a game that would’ve been on display in a shop…a nipple. Yes there was a slight outrage and the offending starter button was eventually censored – covered up by in-game pictures, company logos and the like. Still even post-censorship, there was still some concern over the areola despite the fact it couldn’t be seen. So another, even more censored version of the artwork was released which replaced the female’s skimpy bra/corset with a much more modest version.

Game Over cesnored.jpg

While Game Over is the one that sticks in my mind for that era, it was still only the artwork and not the game itself that featured digital jiggers. There was another game before it that was a tad more risque – 1986’s  Samantha Fox Strip Poker. For those not in the know, Sam Fox was a topless model doing the rounds in the 80s and she was huge…in more ways than one. Her ample bosom made her a big star and getting her baps out in the newspaper was only the start as she also had a music career…if you could call the stuff she churned out “music”. So of course the fact Sam was so utterly popular meant she had to also have her own game and the kind of game a glamour model would be in was hardly going to be a kid friendly platformer was it? So strip poker it is then that featured actual (badly digitized graphics) nudity if you could beat Sam at cards.

Sam Fox Strip Poker

Oh and before anyone jumps in, yes I’m fully aware that there were more adult games with pixeled-perkies before Samantha Fox Strip Poker from 86. I mean, there was a whole slew of Atari 2600 porn games (one of the many articles in my backlog). But I can’t keep going back in time to get to the point of this article, I need to move forward. So I think I need to mention perhaps the most famous pair of fun-cushions in the history of gaming.

Lara Croft Evo

We were first introduced to Lara Croft with her incredibly pointy and large love apples back in 1996 with the release of the first Tomb Raider game. A franchise that has endured to this day with the all new Shadow of the Tomb Raider set to be released in September this year. As the graphical capabilities of the gaming machines have evolved since 96, so has Lara (and her marshmallows) along with them. Lara became a sexual and cultural icon through the 90s and you would often find her on the cover of the lads mags, in TV ads, on posters and so much more. She may not have been the first, but she was most definitely the biggest female gaming character. As the years have rolled by, her sexuality has been dialed back and her bawagos has grown smaller (and much less pointy) in an attempt to make her less of a sex icon and more of a genuine character.

Lara Croft Then and Now

There have been plenty of gaming sex bombs with big, bountiful bubatoes over the years, but there is one gaming genre in particular where you’ll find the biggest selection of gaming gedoinkers and that would be in the fighting genre. I think you can go back to the original release of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior when we were first introduced to thunder thighs herself, Chun-Li. Her impressive thighs were only matched by her bust size that was shown off by the animators/artists of the game at every opportunity. Her breathing animation showed her heaving airbags as for her jumping celebration when she won a fight! Have you seen what she looks like in Street Fighter V?

Chun Li Street Fighter V

Pick up any fighting game from 1991 onward and I bet the female characters all sport impressive racks and highly sexualised costumes. I’m not saying this is a bad thing at all – in fact this segues nicely into the point I said I wanted to make at the very start of this article. So if I were to say to any gamer to name a fighting game with breasts, there should be one franchise in particular that springs instantly to mind…

Dead or ALive Logo

The Dead or Alive series of games are the undisputed king of video game towel racks. The women in these games have some of the most absurdly amazing mammaries you’ll ever see and its not just the size but the addition of what is lovingly known as “jiggle physics”. Yeah the rolling hills featured in the Dead or Alive franchise are not only plentiful but they have some of the most eye watering movement you’ll see outside of a porn film. The wobbling wabs have become so infamous that they are now considered part of the DNA of the entire franchise. If you seriously need proof of just how overtly sexualised the females are in this series of games, then you just need to check out the Dead or Alive Xtreme spin-offs.

Dead or ALive Xtreme

Anyway, the point I’ve been trying to make comes from the fact that the latest game in the franchise, Dead or Alive 6 is said to be toning down the female sexualisation compared to previous games in the series. Gone are the skimpy and sexy costumes to be replaced with more realistic and practical ensembles. The fan favorite jiggly jugs are also set to be stripped back. The dialing back of the more sexual elements are being replaced with more realistic violence. The fighters will now sweat as they punch and kick each other in the face, bruises and other markings will begin to appear, and there will be the inclusion of realistic blood effects.

So what is my point? Well now I’m writing this, two points have entered my mind. The first is why is sexualisation considered such a taboo but violence is given a free pass? Wobbly watermelons is a big no – but blood and breaking bones gets a big thumbs up. I guess in the context of the type of game Dead or Alive 6 will be, it being a fighting game and all, that yes violence is more acceptable. But its not just the Dead or Alive series that thinks sex is bad but violence is good. If you do a quick interwebs search, you’ll find plenty of stories about sex vs violence in video games and how death, murder, etc pretty much raise no eyebrows yet show a little flesh and all hell breaks loose.

Dead or ALive 6

My second point only just popped into my head as I was writing. Note how its the female sexualisation that is being toned down…what about the males? You’ve seen these fighting games, yeah the women tend to wear little and revealing clothing – but have you seen the guys? Quite often depicted with their guns on full display and pectorals bigger then Kanye West’s ego. Plus they are also often shown to be topless…but that’s okay is it?

I suppose one could argue that its mainly men that would be playing Dead or Alive 6 so it stands to reason that the female sexuality would be toned down over the males due to the player base…I guess no gay males play it then? But here’s an interesting tit-bit – the player base for the Dead or Alive franchise is surprisingly mainly female. There is even a pro-player scene that is dominated by female players. Yes, the overly female sexualised Dead or Alive franchise has more female fans than male.

Dead or ALive 6 Girls

From a personal perspective, I couldn’t care less what they do to the Dead or Alive series. Give the ladies bigger and bouncier meat puppets or don’t. I don’t care as I’m not much of a fan of the fighting genre of games. For me, this genre peaked with Street Fighter II: The World Warrior back in 91 and I never did get into the Dead or Alive franchise at all…I am the wrong sex remember. But the whole idea of violence being fine but sex/nudity not so much in gaming or the fact its seemingly okay to sexualise male characters, but doing the same to female characters is seen as “sleazy” is itself very questionable indeed.

Friday The 13th: The Game Killed By Legal Issue

Due to a rather messy legal battle over rights to the entire franchise – from screenwriter Victor Miller. Any and everything Friday The 13th related has met a gruesome ending.

There hasn’t been a new film in the long running series since the 2009 remake and despite efforts to make more films, they were put on ice due to Miller’s law suit. Now said law suit has claimed another victim, Friday The 13th: The Game will no longer receive any more updates as revealed by publisher Gun Media on Twitter and their official site.

Jason Head Squeeze

We’ve now been forced to accept that the lawsuit makes future content for the game, including alternate play modes, new playable Jasons and Counselors, and new maps, unfeasible now or in the future. Although the listed content types will be affected, we remain committed to launching dedicated servers on our console platforms and providing the continued maintenance and bug fixing important to supporting our fan base.

So what does this mean exactly? There will be no additional content added to Friday the 13th: The Game. This includes “Uber Jason”, The Grendel Map, Jason Kill Packs, Clothing, Emotes and new Counselors.

Its a real shame as the game is a lot of fun to play and all the additions planned sounded great. But from this point on, there will be no more new content. The game will still be playable (so far) with all the current content but we just won’t be getting anything new.

Gun Media have said they will still support the game with bug fixes and server support/maintenance but I have a feeling that just won’t be enough and that Friday the 13th: The Game is pretty much dead from this point onward. Still, if you read this Gun Media, there are other horror franchises that could suit your game mechanics very well indeed…

Mike and Freddy

Since When Did We Become A Community Of Beta Testers?

So I actually started to write this article a couple of months back but it eventually fell into my already massive backlog. Then I read something on that there interwebs that irked me slightly and got me back into finishing this article. That thing that irked me was this…

SoD2 Post

But before I get into my problems with this seemingly innocent post and why I got annoyed by it. Back to the main thrust of this rant and my initial aim of the article. So I wanted to take a look at the past and present in terms of gaming and ask why is it that games these days are released with numerous bugs and glitches then the developers/publishers of said game(s) expect us to report the bugs for them to fix.

The Present

One of the most eagerly awaited games of 2017 was Red Dead Redemption II…of course in true Rockstar fashion – it was delayed…more than once. So now we won’t be getting our hands on the game until October this year instead, that’s a full twelve months of delay from its original “Fall 2017” date. I really have no problem with this is it proves that Rockstar really care about what they are doing and want to give us, the punter a damn good gaming experience by ensuring the game is as polished and perfect as it can be (despite the pre-order shenanigans). Now I’m not suggesting that once Red Dead Redemption II is finally in our hands that it’ll be 100% bug and glitch free (it won’t) but what I am saying is that the game will be polished to a pretty damn high standard.

Red Dead Redemption II Shadows

I suppose my point is that most developers don’t share the same mind set that Rockstar do. Other developers/publishers are more than happy to hastily force out a clearly under-cooked game with bugs and glitches everywhere (I’ll be getting you you Undead Labs/State of Decay 2 soon) then use the ‘safety net’ of the post-launch patch to attempt to fix the problems instead of delaying the game to work on it some more and fix the known issues.

The post-launch patch can become a bit of a joke at times, especially if its a day one patch. You get your hands on the game you’ve been looking forward to the last few months (twelve of them in Red Dead Redemption II‘s case), you thrust it into your console of choice and are hit with an update before you can even install the game. Its day one and needs fixing already?

This isn’t something we have to suffer in other forms of media is it? You don’t go to the cinema, ticket in hand for the big summer blockbuster. Pay a small fortune for some popcorn and a drink that’s 60% ice before settling yourself into a seat complete with a nice sticky floor your footwear adheres to – your eyes transfixed to the big screen. The film begins and as you watch, you notice that some of the effects are not complete or the green screen backgrounds have yet to be applied, etc. After watching the obviously unfinished product, you are not told to come back to the cinema in a few weeks when its finished to view it properly. No, you watch a film that had been completed on a technical level to perfection with faultless CGI…unless you just watched Justice League of course.

Superman

So why do we put up with a clearly unfinished product when it comes to gaming? Why are we expected to do the do the job of the quality assurance department that are paid to find and report bugs and glitches? Going back to my film analogy just for a second, they do have test screenings where an unfinished film is shown to a select group of the public to get feedback to help change the film and fix its possible problems. You know what the difference is? These test screenings are FREE and those who get to see the film are not expected to pay for the ‘privilege’ of helping to make the film better. With games, we pay full price for a product that is unfinished…and then asked to help identify and report on the issues, then have to wait while the problems are fixed. Again, we pay to do this. We spend out hard earned cash to do the job of the play-testers and QA department. Is that fair?

Games tend to go through multiple milestones before they’re released.

First Playable is when the game is in its infancy, but still features functional gameplay elements and assets. Its nowhere near a releasable game, but the basics are there and the game is shaping up to what it will eventually become.

Alpha is the next stage and by now, the game contains a lot of the assets that will be in the finished product. Its still very rough but the core gameplay in now in place and things can still be altered, added and even removed. But the coders tend to concentrate on polishing the codebase to ensure the game is stable.

Beta is pretty much the final hurdle. The game is 99% done and this stage is mainly used to work out the bugs and glitches. Some developers will invite the public to take part in Open Beta Testing where they can get direct feedback from the gamers themselves to iron out any last minute issues, kind of like the test screenings films have. But basically, this Beta stage is the final stretch before the game is released and used to iron out small creases.

Code Release is where all the bugs are supposedly fixed after being reported by the QA department and the game is weeks away from release.

Gold Master and that it. The game is ready for release. The final build of the game that is used for the mass production.

Game Designer.jpg

That’s the basics as game development is different for every developer. But that up there is pretty much the industry standard cycle for a game release and as you can see – they go through pretty extensive tests before being sold to the public…so why are games still being released with numerous bugs and glitches? Even more to the point, why are we expected to do the job of the QA department and report on the bugs that should’ve been picked up by the months and sometimes even years of pre-testing?

Post-launch patches are fucking annoying and yet they now seem to be an industry standard. We have now become a community of Beta testers. But there is a flip side to all of this. What if post-launch patches never existed, what if bugs and glitches never were fixed? Here is where I need to travel to the past of gaming…

The Past

Bugs and glitches are not new and have been around pretty much since gaming began. Only back then, they were hardly fixed and we just had to put up with them. I could list a few of the more infamous bugs that any gamer will recognise…and there’s a lot of them.  But I’m just going to highlight a handful of the more notorious ones.

Pac-Man Kill Screen

Yes it’s the infamous Pac-Man Kill Screen. This glitch appears if/when the player gets to level 256 of the arcade classic Pac-Man and its impossible to avoid and came about due to an error in the formula used in the programming, it was never fixed either. You get to level 256 and its game over no matter ho many lives you have left as the right side of the screen is totally glitched out making it impossible to complete. So well known this glitch is that another game was made from its infamy with Pac-Man 256. An endless runner game where you have to try to outrun the glitchy, corrupt graphics. Donkey Kong featured a similar glitch where if the player got the level twenty two, an error in the formula of the programming would only give you seven seconds to beat the level…which was impossible.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is one of my all time favorite games. I love the setting, the music, the characters and most importantly – the gameplay. Best GTA game ever! But this beaut of a game held a game breaking bug. It was during the mission called The Ice Cream Factory where you had to sell errrr , lets call it “ice cream” out of an ice cream truck, simple enough. But the first run copies of the game had a major bug where if you saved your game while on this mission, your save file would become corrupt and you’d find that you could no longer load your game – all of your progress was lost and all you could do was restart the game from the start. Now in fairness, the later releases of the game fixed this bug, but if you had one of the earlier copies? Well you were fucked.

GTA Vice City

Jet Set Willy is a game anyone who owned a home computer in the early/mid 80s would have had a copy of. It helped shape the platforming genre in gaming and was quintessentially British. But it also had numerous bugs and glitches, the most infamous being “The Attic Bug”. For those not in the know, this was a bug so bad it meant the game could not be completed. Publisher, Software Projects actually tried to pass the bug off as being intentional to make the game harder. Eventually they had to fess up after complaints and admit it was a problem so they issued some POKEs to rectify the problems. Don’t know what a POKE is/was? Well they were essentially adjustments to the basic programming which would fix bugs. Yes, we had post launch patches back then too and Jet Set Willy was one of the first examples of what is now a very common practice. Jet Set Willy also had the greatest gaming cover art ever, a bloke throwing up into a toilet after a heavy drinking session while still clutching a bottle of booze…

Jet Set Willy Cover.jpg

So to answer the question of this whole article – since when did we become a community of beta testers? Well the truth is that we have always been a community of beta testers. Games have always had bugs and glitches in them since the dawn of gaming and games have been updated with fixes to the problems for decades now. Of course there are differences between today’s gaming climate to thirty odd years ago.

Gaming is a much more acceptable pastime, back in the 80s, it was always seen as something more underground and niche. Today gaming is a bigger industry than Hollywood movies. More people play games today than they used to, so understandably we gamers have a bigger voice and influence. If a bug was spotted in a game in the early 80s, it would often just be ignored and we couldn’t really communicate our frustration over the bug. But now we have the interwebs where we can tell the people who made the games about a discovered bug instantly and directly.

Also back then, games were made by very small teams and sometimes by people flying solo as the games were much smaller. Today and games are huge productions with hundreds of people working on them providing rich and textured game worlds. A game would take a few weeks/months to make from scratch in the 80s, today they take years to develop. So spotting a bug back in the 80s was just shrugged off as we were more forgiving of a smaller team working on a game – of course they’re liable to miss and mess up something if you only have one or two pairs of eyes to use. But now with a team of hundreds of people working on a game with a dedicated QA department, surely someone on the team would have spotted and rectified the problems? We just tend to notice bugs and glitches more now than we used to.

Skyrim Bug.jpg

Lastly there is the issue of fixing the games after launch. It was much harder back in the good ole’ days as Jet Set Willy proved with its POKEs as you would have to break into the game-code yourself and manually change/insert the new lines of coding. It was a lot of work and each person would have to re-code the game themselves individually. Most of the time it was more trouble than it was worth, so we just played and put up with the bugs. Modern patches can be rolled out over the interwebs to millions of people around the world instantly, making the process a lot easier and more “acceptable” I guess. Speaking of patches, that leads me nicely into that irking I mentioned at the start…

So yeah, one of my most eagerly awaited games of the year was released a week or two ago. State of Decay 2. I did a quick first impressions where I looked at the first couple of hours of gameplay. I did mention the bugs, but at that stage I had not witnessed anything serious. I played the game over the weekend and did a more in-depth look at the game. I mentioned more of the bugs and glitches but I still didn’t let them get to me, I even said how I hope that Undead Labs will fix the problems…and they did…kind of.

SoD2 Post Edit

The image I used where the official State of Decay 2 Facebook page announced the patch was live was pretty innocent and not something to get annoyed about right? I mean, all they are doing is letting the fans know the patch is out. Except that was not their original announcement at all. Before the editing of that Facebook post, the announcement looked more like this…

SoD2 Original

I will never understand why at first people asked us to fix the game so we went to work and released this big juicy 20Gb of bug-fixed patch and now you guys are complaining over why the patch is 20GB smh.

Now is it just me or does that post not come across as a bit…well “bitchy”? When I first read it, I thought it was a joke, a bit of trolling by a 14 year old with nothing better to do – but no, this was from the official State of Decay 2 Facebook page, so this was put up by someone connected to the game and possibly the development team, a (supposedly) professional.

Well allow me to retort. You were asked to fix the game because it was clearly released unfinished. The bugs I encountered for my first impressions article were not that major, the ones I found when I played it over the weekend stood out more and I found even more bugs and glitches after I played it further and after I had written that second article too. I chose not to go back and edit my article to highlight more and more bugs as I felt it would be unfair on Undead Labs – but with that Facebook post up there that just flat out insults the fans? Well, you just done rattled my cage there.

How the fuck dare you have a go at the very people who are putting money in your pockets. The people who have been loyal to your game over the years, the ones who waited patiently since its announcement and even accepted the delay from last year, who put up with all the bugs, glitches and rough edges of the first game. The ones who believed that they would be getting a better and more polished game with the sequel as the development team should have learned from the previous experience. State of Decay 2 is a good game despite the numerous bugs…but to have the cheek to have a pop at the people who are supporting you is just insane.

You want to know what would’ve been a better response?

The patch for State of Decay 2 is now live. We at Undead Labs would like to thank the fans for their continued support and patience as we fix the bugs.

But no, you chose to insult us instead.

You really want to know why some people complained about a 20gb patch? Because State of Decay 2 as a game in its entirety is a relatively small game, a 20 gb patch would be sizable for a 65gb game – but State of Decay 2 is only 20.31gb. So yeah a 20gb patch for a game that itself is only a shade over 20gb is not so much a patch but more of a complete game overhaul. Its painfully clear that State of Decay 2 was released too early (despite already being delayed) and needed more time to fix the issues. Not only that, you had an open Beta test and invited the general public to take part to highlight problems…and yet the game was still released with dozens of easily noticeable bugs and you moan at the fans?

Then there is that little stinger at the end of the original comment, that “smh” bit. As the often used definition of smh is:

Acronym for ‘shake my head’ or ‘shaking my head.’ Usually used when someone finds something so stupid, no words can do it justice.

You are actually calling the people who paid money to play your game “stupid”? Fucking hell Undead Labs, do you want there to be an State of Decay 3?

But do you know what the icing on the cake is? There are still a lot of bugs and glitches even post 20gb patch. There are people posting screen shots and videos of numerous bugs and glitches on those social medias even AFTER the 20gb patch. Yeah they fixed some of the issues but not all of them, bearing in mind its a 20gb patch for a 20gb game and its still not fixed properly.

Its a damn good job they did edit the original patch announcement post, just imagine what it would be like if someone screen grabbed the original and featured it in an article and then tagged Undead Labs and State of Decay 2 when sharing it on social media?