Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The "Gamer Gate" Post

Hey guys. There has been a lot of talk about "Gamer Gate" in the gaming media world as of late. I would like to say a few words on the matter. You may be wondering why its taken me so long to post a statement, and why it's appearing here, instead of on The Escapist. Well, after a whole lot of back-and-forth with Defy Media (The Escapist's parent company), we have been told that we must post a collective "group" statement, rather than personal statements. I respect Defy as a company, and I don't even feel that strongly about Gamer Gate, but forcing us to act as a "collective" rather than an individual really bugged me. Maybe it's because of all my time living in Japan's "collective-focused" society.

That said, here is what I have to say about Gamer Gate:

When I started my career as a journalist, I chose to go into gaming journalism for two reasons. The first, is because I am passionate about (read: obsessed with) video games. The second is because I didn't want to end up writing gossip tabloid stories for some bottom-of-the-barrel mainstream media publication, digging into people's private lives and attacking their character and reputation. But, in the weeks surrounding the "Gamer Gate" controversy, I was ashamed to see so many outlets in the gaming media and community descend into the exact kind of "he-said, she-said" bullshit that I tried to avoid by entering this industry.

I just want to write about video games. I want to write about what people say about video games, and occasionally, I want to write about cool science, tech, and geek culture tidbits. I don't care what these people do in their private lives. I don't care if so and so slept with so and so, and I certainly don't want to write about it. The vitriol from both sides of Gamer Gate made me sick and ashamed, and I vowed to have as little to do with it as possible. This statement will be the first, and last, time I address my views on the controversy.

While sexism, equality, and journalistic ethics in the gaming industry are definitely discussions worth having, Gamer Gate was certainly not the way to go about having them. We, as gamers, should be better than this. I thought we were above this kind of tabloid-newspaper garbage.

-Steven Bogos



PS: Just to end on something a little more lighthearted, here is my League of Legends World Championships Cosplay Gallery!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

VIDEO: Here's a couple of Diablo III Witch Doctor videos

Hey guys,

Been getting pretty big into Diablo III now that Reaper of Souls is out, so here's a couple of quick videos I put together about legendary effects and the Witch Doctor:



Sorry I haven't been updating as much! Be sure to check out all my Escapist news posts!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

REVIEW: The Last of Us (PS3)


The Last of Us has one of the best written plots I ever have experienced in a video game. Period. It is a fantastic human story that is fascinating from start to end, and that fact alone makes it one of the best games of 2013. So, if you came to this review with the question "is The Last of Us worth it?”, then you have your answer - yes, it is most definitely "worth it". You can stop reading right now, and go and buy the game with my guarantee that it will be an incredibly satisfying gaming experience. However, if you'd like a bit more insight into why I believe it's not quite as deserving of all of the gushing love fans have slathered on it, then please, read on.

Essentially, The Last of Us is a perfect example of how a well-written plot can't (completely) carry a mediocre game, and while it does try its best, the actual, you know, game, behind The Last of Us is what drags the rest of it down. And honestly (well, at least to me personally), that's kind of the most important part of a video game.

But let's start with what The Last of Us did well, because overall, the game generally deserves to be applauded. If there is one award that The Last of Us truly deserves, it is the Writer's Guild of America's "best writing in a video game". I laughed. I cried. I screamed in fear. The Last of Us may be a "zombie game", but like The Walking Dead before it, the real story is the human drama - how low, how high, and how downright horrible human beings become when they have their backs pushed up against the wall. Throughout the game, I was delighted to see Joel and Ellie's blossoming relationship, whether it be from the random little quips Ellie will spout while progressing through a level, or her and Joel’s heart-wrenching cutscene performances. All of the supporting cast you’ll meet along the way also does a great job of helping bring Joel and Ellie's story of survival in this beautiful, yet broken world, to a satisfying conclusion.


And boy, is this world beautiful. I was skeptical, having not played a game on last generation consoles in quite some time, that the graphics would be unbearable, but Naughty Dog has done an amazing job of squeezing those last scraps of performance out of the aging PlayStation 3 hardware. The world of The Last of Us, while not really being anything we haven't seen before in games like Half-Life 2, Resident Evil, or even Fallout, is a gorgeous place to explore. I am a sucker for urban decay, and having Joel and Ellie adventure their way through collapsed skyscrapers, abandoned subways, and cities being slowly reclaimed by nature, made me giddy. It's a lot of the little attention-to-detail stuff that Naughty Dog added, such as Ellie reacting graffiti marking the aftermath of some conflict, or the collectible notes left behind by survivors, that really breathe life into the world.

Unfortunately, the beautiful world turns a little bit ugly when we look at the game’s actual gameplay. The Last of Us' gameplay is split into three main segments: exploration, zombie combat, and human combat. The exploration sections were acceptable, as the only real complaint I had is that the solution to almost every "puzzle" is just finding a ladder or plank and boosting Ellie up to a higher location to use it.

The survival horror-style zombie combat is probably the best-designed of the three. Some levels, such as one in an abandoned high school, were truly, nail-bitingly terrifying. The only problem is, as the game progresses into the later stages, the enemies don't seem to get any harder, and once you can figure out that stealth + melee is king, and that it is impossible for your allies to accidentally trigger a zombie, the challenge kind of diminishes.


But even with the reduced challenge, the survival horror segments are still pretty satisfying. The human combat segments, on the other hand, go downhill real fast. At first, the absolutely shocking gunplay controls (who the hell thinks its a good idea to bind reload and fire to the same godamn button?) really frustrated me, but after a while I learned that, just like in the zombie segments, it's much more effective to hide and punch than shoot and flank. It doesn't help that the human AI is shockingly inconsistent. There will be times when I can strangle a dude while his buddy literally two feet away doesn't notice, and times when I barely pop my head out of cover and someone half a mile away sees me.

The human enemies are also generally, really, really dumb. It's so easy to find a cramped space where guns aren't useful, lure one guy there, kill him loudly, and then just punch all his buddies to death when they inevitably come, one by one, to investigate. And when all else fails, you can just pick up a baseball bat and sprint full tilt at rifle-armed-thugs. All they'll do is look at you, and maybe think about shooting you, right up until you knock their blocks off.

Because I barely used my guns, and almost never used the "special" weapons (such as bombs and molotovs) I always had a massive surplus of weaponry, so whenever a "boss" fight came up, I would destroy him with ease.

Furthermore, the game practically showers you with the materials for medkits. After a while, you learn exactly where to look to find their components, so I always had at least two in reserve. There was one time when I had actually ran out of medkits, and was kind of in a bad spot, when all of a sudden Ellie turns around and says "here Joel, I found this for you" and hands me one. Really?


Normally I wouldn't be so harsh on a game's difficulty, but I was playing the game on "hard" - the hardest difficulty available when you start the game. Yes, there is an additional difficulty level ("survivor"), but it is only unlocked after you have finished the main game once - a practice which I absolutely cannot stand. So yeah, If you are somewhat competent at video games, you will breeze through The Last of Us without breaking a sweat.

The best part of this game, by far, is its story, and I found myself “forcing” my way through it’s gameplay segments just to get to the next cutscene, or see the next area. While you may see this as an almighty praise for its writing, it’s also quite a harsh criticism of it’s gameplay. I shouldn't want to avoid the gameplay segments of a video game.


So while The Last of Us is an amazingly well-written written human story, Naughty Dog forgot to  pair it with an equally well-made game. Despite this, it is still a fantastic experience, and if you just want to sit back and enjoy the ride, by breezing through it on easy mode to enjoy the story, you will be satisfied. But if you came here expecting a challenge, you've come to the wrong place.

Verdict: Buy

Saturday, 21 December 2013

REVIEW: Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

The terms "killer app" and "system seller" get thrown around quite loosely these days, however, It's actually quite rare for a single game to single handedly move a substantial number of systems the way Halo did on the Xbox, or Smash Bros. did on the Wii (there are of course exceptions, such as Pokemon on the 3DS). Furthermore, all three next-gen systems have had incredibly lackluster launches, with 90% of the launch selection either being already available on other platforms, or being "ok, I guess" at best. The Wii U has had a year to find it's feet (and some decent games), and I believe Super Mario 3D World is the console's first steps to greatness. That said it is still not quite a "system seller".

Meow!
Super Mario 3D World is the direct sequel to Super Mario 3D Land on the 3DS (a fantastic game in it's own right). Furthermore, it is the first 3D Mario platformer on the Wii U, and the first major Mario title without Godfather Shigeru Miyamoto's direct influence. So even before it had been released, it had some pretty big shoes to fill.

The feature that sets this game apart from other Mario games (apart from the cat suit, but we’ll get to that later), is it’s co-op (and sometimes, not so co-op) multiplayer. Yes, it has been done before in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but this is the first time it’s been done in a 3D Mario, and furthermore, it brings back the unique abilities of Peach, Luigi, Toad and Mario from Super Mario Bros. 2. Luigi jumps a bit higher, Peach has her “floaty” jumps, Toad runs faster and Mario is the all-rounder. Even if you’re playing the game in singleplayer, each character feels just unique enough to warrant switching things up from time to time.

The game is best played multiplayer with a group of good friends
But, this game should be played with friends. It is couch co-op at it’s finest. I've always been baffled by most console maker's decision to eschew local multiplayer in favor of online. Online play on any console is always going to be a vastly inferior system to what’s available (for free) on the PC, so why not focus on local multiplayer, something the PC struggles with and fits the console perfectly?

Thankfully, Nintendo is still pushing that agenda, and Super Mario 3D World is very indicative of that. The game is fantastic fun to play with friends, and it works really well. There were very few times where it felt like we were “fighting” the camera, or felt considerably disadvantaged for having multiple players. There’s a nice little competitive element to it too - the player with the most points at the end of each level gets a “crown,” so there is always this mad dash to get the most points. Multiplayer in Super Mario 3D world is a kind of maddening chaos that still somehow feels natural, with a few of the levels in particular even seeming to be designed with multiplayer in mind.

I should take some time to talk about how the game looks, because it is absolutely gorgeous. That 1080p/60fps benchmark that games on the Xbox One and PS4 are struggling to hit? 3D World pulls it off like a boss. The game never once struggled to keep its framerate, despite the fact that it was outputting to both the TV and the gamepad. The cartoony graphics of the Mario universe really pop out at you; characters feel alive, stages feel vast, and the color scheme is a welcome explosion of vibrant yellow and green in the face of the gaming world’s current obsession with brown and gray. When you add a jazzy, upbeat soundtrack that has plenty of catchy, memorable tunes, you’ve got yourself a game that looks and sounds as fun as it plays.

Super Mario 3D World's vibrant colors are a welcome change from modern gaming's obsession with brown and gray.
3D World brings back a lot of old favorite powerups, such as the fire flower and super leaf, as well as bringing in some items from recent Mario games (such as 3D Land’s boomerang suit and New Super Mario Bros.’ mega mushroom). Completely new to the game are the cat suit and the double cherry. The cat suit is the game's "big new item", with many levels, and many, many secrets being designed around it. Basically, it allows you to climb up walls, melee attack enemies, and perform a jump-dive attack. The first two skills are exceptionally useful at finding secrets and defeating enemies, while the third is exceptionally useful at diving you right off the edge of the map. Seriously. I was deathly afraid of using it most of the time because cat-Mario has some kind of death wish that can only be satisfied by leaping into the abyss.

The double cherry creates a “clone” of your character. It appears fairly rarely in the game, and while is a neat new idea, I feel like they didn't take the opportunity to properly explore it. It could have made for some total madness in multiplayer games to have levels just brimming with cherries, generating an insane amount of players on-screen at once.

The double cherry has a lot of missed potential as a power up
The game has the classic Mario difficulty curve, with the first world being complete-able by your grandma, and the final world driving even hardened veterans insane. There is a huge amount of content, with seven standard worlds and three bonus worlds - it’ll take you quite a while to get through it all, and the challenges are surmountable, but satisfying. The only thing that’s a bit lacking is the boss fights, with several of them simply being repeats, and most of them being pretty easy. I beat the final boss, for example, on my very first try.

I also had a small problem with the fifth unlockable character, Rosalina, being made available so far into the game. She is actually a pretty unique character, and is a much more interesting than Toad (sorry, Toad fans!) so it would have been nice to use her in the earlier levels, especially in multiplayer.

The boss fights are not exactly satisfying
Shoe-horned into the game, as seems to always be the case these days, are some social networking features. In this case, Nintendo’s Miiverse network bleeds in, with player’s Miis scattered throughout levels spouting whatever nonsense they last posted in the game’s Miiverse community. I don’t know how it is for English speakers, but for the Japanese version of the game, most of them were just cute pictures made with the game’s unlockable stamps. No real harm done, but it doesn’t really add anything to the game either.

I’m in kind of two worlds on my last point, which is also the reason why I don’t believe this game is a “system seller” for the Wii U. Basically, the game does not really take any advantage of the unique capabilities of the system. The gamepad’s screen simply replicates the action on the main screen for player one, and while there is a “touch baddies to make them stop/touch areas to reveal secrets” feature, it feels more like a last-minute addition than something that’s integral to the game (and it’s certainly not integral to the game). On the one hand, I think this is bad because it really does not “sell” the system, but on the other hand, I honestly don't think the game would benefit from it anyway. It may have even been detrimental to "force" more gamepad features into the game.

The catsuit, contrary to the double cherry, is a great new powerup for the Mario universe
Is Super Mario 3D world a fantastic game? Yes. Does it sell the unique features of the Wii U? No. If you already own the system it’s a no-brainer, but I honestly doubt people will be rushing out to buy a Wii U for it. Furthermore, to your average Joe, it only exacerbates the problem of people thinking the Wii U is just an addon for the Wii, rather than a new system. There’s nothing, apart from the improved graphics (which average Joe doesn't really notice anyway), that distinctly sets it apart from say, Super Mario Galaxy.

That said, you probably should rush out and buy a Wii U for this game, because it’s flipping amazing.

The game, unfortunately, does not take good advantage of the Wii U's unique features
Verdict: Buy

Liked the review? Subscribe to my Twitter and my YouTube channel for up-to-date gaming news!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

REVIEW: Battlefield 4 (PC)


I would like to preface this review by stating that I will, at no point, talk about the game's singleplayer campaign, because honestly, who gives a damn? No-one is rushing out to buy Call of Duty or Battlefield for their compelling, human stories. People buy Battlefield for the multiplayer, and the multiplayer alone, so it only seems fair that I review the game based solely on its multiplayer merits.

So here we are, just two years out from the release of Battlefield 3, and less than a year since the last Battlefield 3 DLC. If you're thinking that the game could not have possibly changed much in such a short time you'd be right. The difference between the games is not like the huge jump between Battlfield 2 and Battlefield 3, and more like the incremental upgrade between Bad Company 1 and Bad Company 2. However, this doesn't necessarily mean the game is automatically not worth your money. There is still an enormous amount of new content, engine upgrades, and gameplay modifications here to satisfy the Battlefield fans, while still being welcoming to newcomers of the series. That said, it is also not without its own shortcomings.

Let's start with the game's much touted new feature, the one that practically screams "next-gen" at the top of its lungs. It's called "leveloution" - the ability to use explosives and interact-able objects to physically alter how a map plays. For example, in Flood Zone, you can destroy a levee, which floods the entire map with water, replacing land-based vehicles with boats. In another, Siege of Shanghai, you can bring down an entire skyscraper, making the capture point (previously at the top of the building) much more accessible.
"Leveloution" can be pretty hit-and-miss.
Leveloution is pretty hit-and-miss. In some maps it is fairly easy to pull off just by a single, determined player, and is a really cool testament to the game's physics engine. On other maps, such as Lachang Dam, it requires several people to fire roughly twelve gazillion rocket at an object for a rather unimpressive effect that only barely alters how the map plays. Fortunately, I would say that overall it is more hit than miss, with at least six of the ten maps making good use of the feature. My personal favorites were the aforementioned Flood Zone, and Parcel Storm - a map which as well as having a periodic storm that whips up the seas, making boats and aircraft a more precarious option, also features a massive battleship that dramatically beaches itself on one of the map's islands.

Maps like Parcel Storm and Siege of Shanghai really show off just how beautiful the Frostbite 3 engine is. I played the game on a pretty beefy gaming PC, and it looked absolutely gorgeous. Those of you who played BF3 on a mid-to-high-range gaming PC won't notice too huge of a change, but the difference between BF3 on the 360/PS3 and BF4 on the Xbox One/PS4 is night and day. The big focus this time around is particle effects and physics, which help showcase the game's dynamic maps.
The game has a good range of map diversity.
So (most of) the maps are good, and the game looks great, but how does it actually play? Very similar to BF3, if I'm being honest. Veterans will be able to jump right into the game without skipping a beat, as the core Battlefield infantry vs. vehicles rock-paper-scissors mechanics are still there. The recon class has had a little bit of a mix-up, with the "spec ops" loadout returning from Battlefield 2, allowing him to equip shorter-range rifles along with C4 and motion sensors, while the other classes have simply been given more toys to play with. The classes have more diversity in weapon choice, with everyone being able to equip carbines, shotguns, and the semi-automatic "designated marksman rifles".

Possibly the biggest change veterans will notice with loadouts is that you can now choose any two gadgets, instead of being "locked in" to a secondary gadget. The engineer, for example, can have both an RPG and a stinger equipped, or the support can pack C4 and claymores.
"Customization" is the key word for Battlefield 4
Also, instead of the personal/squad perks of BF3, each class has a "specialization" they can choose. Each specialization has four "levels" of perks, which unlock gradually as you perform squad actions, such as supplying ammo to squadmates or capturing an objective marked by your squad leader. Everyone has access to the basic offense, defense and stealth specs, but each class also has two of its own unique specs. For example, the assault class has the "combat medic" spec, which increases the effectiveness of his healing abilities. Furthermore, if you entire squad is wiped out, the levels earned for your specialization get reset back to level 1, meaning there is a bigger incentive to work together as a team, and try and survive if you are the last squad member standing, rather than just Rambo-ing everything.

"Customization" is the big word for Battlefield 4, and in addition to the class loadout changes and the plethora of new and confusing weapon attachments you can choose from (what the heck is a "potato grip"?), vehicle customization has received a much-needed overhaul. Gunners for land vehicles now have a separate loadout selection, just like their attack chopper counterparts. Jets have been split into two classes (attack jets and stealth jets) and boats have been completely redesigned to be more than mere transports, complete with their own loadout and unlocks.
The game looks fantastic and plays well.
In order to help deal with the massive influx of new items, DICE has introduced "battlepacks", which are earned at various milestones, and grant three to five random unlocks upon being opened. It's a pretty cool system, but I feel it's missing some kind of trading option, so I can trade with my friends to get the attachments I want for my favorite guns, rather than just hoping to get lucky.

Also new is the "commander mode", which allows one player on each team to be view the game from a birds-eye view, and issue orders, drop supplies, and call in support options such as gunships and cruise missiles. It's a nice little feature, and the fact that it runs on tablets makes it a great little tablet game, but in the end it's just too simple to be more than a temporary distraction. I worry that in the near future the commander population will drastically drop as the playerbase grows weary of it. This is bad, as if one team has a commander and the other team doesn't, it puts the no-commander team at a noticeable disadvantage.
Commander mode is too simple to be anything more than a distraction.
Battlefield 4 is fun to play. It's a good upgrade from Battlefield 3 that fixes a lot of problems players had with the game, and if it wasn't for what I am about to say, I would whole-heatedly recommend it for both veterans of the series, and newcomers looking for a new multiplayer FPS to play on Friday nights.

However. However. The game is absolutely riddled with bugs. Battlelog, which was already a mess in BF3, has not really improved at all for BF4, refusing to connect to games, download updates, or even open at all for seemingly no reason. I was (and still am) unable to get its"battlescreen" feature to work on my tablet. In game, the sound cuts out in certain areas. There are graphical glitches. Weapons sometimes do not behave the way they are supposed to, and then there are the random crashes. When I first started playing, I was lucky to go 15 minutes without a crash. I now crash, on average, every two rounds. It's very obvious that the game was rushed to meet the next-gen console launch, and even now, several weeks after launch, the issues are still very glaring.

Battlefield 4 is a fantastic game, but it's not ready yet. Check back in a month.

Verdict: Don't Buy (yet)

Monday, 23 September 2013

Tokyo Game Show

This is it. I've hit the big time. I literally spent three days in Tokyo playing video games, taking pictures of girls in skimpy outfits, eating delicious pizza, and getting paid for it (well, except for the pizza). This was my first year to attend Tokyo Game Show as press, and it was a really amazing experience.

Two years ago, I attended the show on one of the "open-to-all" public days. It was an... experience to say the least, but the incredibly massive crowds and lackluster games put me off attending it the following year. However, thanks to my gig at the Escapist, this year I scored a press pass, which changed the game considerably.

On the press days, I was free to pursue the games at my leisure. Lines were rarely longer than 20 minutes, and I could use my "press pass powers" to skip them entirely in some cases. Furthermore, there was a fantastic selection of games on display that I actually wanted to play, and I got a bunch of cool freebies just for being press.

Speaking of the games, Titanfall was far-and-away my pick for best in show. It felt smooth, slick, and polished enough to be released tomorrow, and was just a whole lot of fast-paced high-octane fun. Check out my hands-on preview for it here.

Microsoft impressed me overall a lot more than Sony. I was not a fan of the DualShock 4 at all, and none of the game's that Sony was showcasing for the PS4 really caught my eye. Sony hyped up this keynote speech on the first day, then went on to spend an hour talking about Facebook and casual gamers. Yawn.

Other cool games I got to play were Ryse: Son of Rome, Battlefield 4 and Wolfenstien: The New Order. Being a big Battlefield fanboy, I was pumped to get my hands on the latest game, but also being a member of the PC gaming master race meant that I was constantly frustrated by the limited PS4 controller.

I also attended one of the much-dreaded public days, but with some good friends by my side, and a plethora of amazing cosplayers to entertain me, I still had a fantastic time.

So, that was my Tokyo Game Show 2013 experience, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I eagerly await my next opportunity to attend any convention as press, as it really changes the whole experience substantially. Maybe I can squeeze a visit back home for PAX Australia next year...

Here are links to all of my coverage from the show:
Subscribe to my twitter for up-to-date news and blog updates, my youtube channel for gaming videos, and be sure to check out my Escapist profile for daily updates!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Kickstarter - You're Doing it Wrong

In a perfect world, Kickstarter would give traditional-style funding a run for its money, resulting in perfect profits for developers and tailor-made games for the fans. However, ours is far from a perfect world, and Kickstarter has a long way to go before it can be considered a viable alternative in games development. I believe there are three big obstacles standing in the way of that: Big Names, Big Ideas and Big Fans.

Let's start with Big Names: I am talking about big, well-established game creators taking to Kickstarter to fund their projects. Tim Schafer, Keiji Inafune, Richard Garriott - these are all people who have used their "star power" to smash Kickstarter records as their legions of fans lined up to throw money at them. I'm of the opinion that these big names should not be allowed on the service at all. Kickstarter should be a place where up-and-commers, looking to break into the industry with an interesting new idea, can float that idea to everyday schmoes like you and me, who then decide if it's something worth backing.
"[Kickstarter] should not be a place for Keiji Inafune to get easy money for another Mega Man game"
It should not be a place for Keiji Inafune to get easy money for another Mega Man game. Keiji Inafune is Keiji fucking Inafune. His Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter raised over half a million dollars in a single day. It hit its funding goal within a week. And no one should have been surprised by this. Wow, you managed to raise a boatload of money for what is essentially an HD remake of a game that has millions of followers and is widely regarded as a cult classic? Well done. The only thing easier would be raising money for an Ocarina of Time remake. People with as much pull as Inafune should not be on Kickstarter. If Inafune can't find someone outside of Kickstarter to back his Mega Man remake then he's doing it wrong.

(Not Mega Man)
Richard Garriott also raised almost $2 million for his Kickstarter project. Do you know what Richard Garriott does in his spare time? He goes to space. The guy who can afford to go to space and has more money than you or I will ever see in our entire lifetimes needs a Kickstarter to raise funds? You've got to be kidding me.

Tim Schafer's Kickstarter tells a similar story, raising an unreal $3 million for something that’s just a concept. People threw money at Broken Age before it even had a God-damn title. You're telling me you had so little faith in finding someone to invest in a Double Fine adventure game that you had to take it to Kickstarter? Bullshit. If your obscure, action-adventure/RTS hybrid that no-one asked for, Brutal Legend, can find funding through official channels, then the adventure game that fans have been begging for since Grim Fandango sure as hell should be able to.
"People threw money at Broken Age before it even had a God-damn title"
Schafer's story also ties in to our next point perfectly: Big Ideas. Schafer asked for $400,00 for what was basically a gleam in his eye. He got eight times that amount. So what does he do? Humbly accept the money and deliver the most awesome game his fans could ask for? No. The guy says that it's still not enough. I'm sorry, but if three million dollars can't make your game, you should not be shilling that game on Kickstarter. Star Citizen has raised $17 million, and Chris Roberts has the nerve to say he avoided the publisher route because he thought it would be too "niche" of a game. Kickstarter is to kickstart projects, not provide an endless stream of money for you to waste on Big Ideas.
Tim Schafer
Big Ideas also refers to the cautionary tales of failed projects. American McGee's failed OZombie Kickstarter is representative of this, something that the developer actually admits himself - These kinds of Big Idea games are simply too big for Kickstarter. I'm also talking about projects that meet their goals, and then don't deliver on the product. Giving money to a project on Kickstarter is essentially an investment with no return - if the Kickstarter succeeds, you will, at most, get your money back, and if it fails, your money’s lost forever. There's no real incentive for fans to back a project on Kickstarter, especially when the Big Names raising millions more than what they ask for are hogging the spotlight.

I'm sure a lot of you are reading this and saying, "But Steven, the biggest draw of Kickstarter is that the fans get to help design the game," to which I retort: "I can think of nothing more horrifying than fans having a say in game design."

Big Fans are probably the worst part about Kickstarter. I'm going to put this out there, and I dare you to disagree with me: most people that post anything on the internet are morons. Don't get me wrong; there is are a lot of fantastic gems hiding out there, great ideas from brilliant people, but the overwhelming majority of it is crap. Don't believe me? Go to YouTube, look through the most recent video uploads. Start from the top and watch every video, start to finish, until you find one that's good. I challenge you to find a single entertaining video before you gouge your eyes out with a rusty spoon.
Fan feedback
Do you really want these people having their hand in game design - the immature, moronic, racist, sexist assholes who inhabit the likes of Xbox Live and the YouTube comments section? If you're saying, "But Steven, these people would never donate money on Kickstarter," then I would call you a naive fool. Consider, for example, the nasty snare the Skullgirls IndieGoGo campaign hit thanks to “these people.”

Basically, the Skullgirls crowdfunder promised two "Mystery Characters" that all backers would be able to vote on. So what do you think happened when some backers' favorite characters got voted out? That they took it in stride and decided that though their favorite character was no longer in the race, they would keep supporting the developer and its vision anyway? Maybe in the land of sunshine and rainbows, but in the real world they took their ball and went home, demanding refunds when their characters of choice got knocked out of the vote. It got to the point where PayPal froze all of the campaign's funds due to chargebacks.
"Simply put, fans don't know what the fuck they are talking about"
And these are the people that I am supposed to trust with major decisions about game development? No fucking way. The Xbox One, which admittedly didn't have the greatest PR team, tried to do something drastically different and original, but was met with so much hatred and nerdrage that it has since reverted to the exact same thing as the PS4. Even the Kinect, which is one of the only things left that sets it apart from the competition, is still under intense pressure from "fans" to be removed. If you look at the film industry, you’ll see the same effect. Ben Affleck being cast as Batman was met with a wave of internet QQ, despite this actually being a pretty good choice considering Affleck's prior acting and directing accolades, his great love of comic books, and his physical appearance.
Instant nerdrage, just add Twitter
Henry "I invented the weekend" Ford said it best: "If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said 'a faster horse.'" Simply put, fans don't know what the fuck they are talking about. Yes, listening to fan and player feedback is very important, but being beholden to your fans is a very scary scenario. Call of Duty "fans" sent death threats to developers when they applied minor tweaks to some Black Ops II weapons. Can you imagine a world where such people actually have a hand (however minor) in the development of a video game?

These are the three big problems I have with crowd-funding. I'm sure in time, when Big Name developers stop using it as their personal piggy-bank, Big Ideas make way for Realistic Ideas, and Big Fans learn to stop destroying everything they love, Kickstarter will become a very common alternative path for game development. I don't believe Kickstarter will ever replace traditional publishers, nor do I think it should. It has its place in the games industry, but it is a far cry from the be-all-end-all that people make it out to be. It also somewhat baffles me that we have become such a consumerist society, that people are willing to pay for products that don't even exist yet… perhaps a topic for another post!

Just some food for thought.

-Steven

Author's note: Thanks for reading guys. As always, if you want to tell me I'm a fucking moron please take to the comments section below, any feedback or criticism is welcome.

Subscribe to my twitter for up-to-date news and blog updates, my youtube channel for gaming videos, and be sure to check out my Escapist profile for daily updates!