May 2012

[Noisy]: Good evening everyone, and welcome to another night with a special guest here at the Noisy Rogue. Tonight we are very surprised to have the CEO of 83 Studios, Surt Chilling. Welcome to the program, Surt.

[Surt]: My pleasure, it’s really great to be able to duck in here.

[Noisy]: Let’s get straight to the question that I’m sure is on everyone’s mind: can the Red Sox get up against the Rays this weekend?

[Sturt]: Um … I dunno, I reckon they’re in with a good chance, for sure.

[Noisy]: Really? Because I’ve heard that their roster is a bit exhausted at this point. Do you reckon it’d be a good bet to slide some money on the Rays?

[Sturt]: I wouldn’t want to speculate on that myself.

[Noisy]: Fair enough. Insider trading and all that. We’ve gotta keep it clean. So anyway, speaking about money, I’ve heard you’re pretty tight at the moment.

[Sturrt]: No, I’m good.

[Noisy]: Really? So if I order some pizzas then you’re good to cover your end?

[Sturrt]: No Problem. How many pizzas are we getting?

[Noisy]: About $1.1 million worth.

[Stuurrt]: Where the fuck am I going to come up with that sort of money?

[Noisy]: That’s a good question, but I thought that a man of your means, and an owner of a major videogame studio, that you would be able to front that kind of cash.

[Stturet]: Well, I wouldn’t call it a major game studio.

[Noisy]: I suppose you have a point. I mean, you didn’t actually release any games, did you.

[Stturueret]: Of course we did! we released “Kingdoms of Amawamar: Reckoning,” and it sold 1.2 million copies! That’s a hell of a lot of units sold, bro!

[Noisy]: Indeed it is. How many do you reckon you needed to sell to break even?

[Stturtul]: About 3.6 million. But that’s not the point; we were off to a flying start.

[Noisy]: Do you think your MMO, Copouterus, will ever see the light of day?

[Strartetural]: Fuck, I hope not: have you seen the screen-shots? But hey, let me just say to everyone out there, it’s been an awesome ride.

[Noisy]: Would you consider it somewhat of a failure to spend the better part of seven years working on an MMO title, to spend millions of dollars of other peoples money, and at the end of it all you have to show for the massive spend is a few screen-shots and a video fly-through?

[Stfuckmestupid]: What are you trying to say?

[Noisy]: I thought I just said it.

[Surt]: What did you say?

[Noisy]: Didn’t I say it? I’m sure I said it.

[Surt]: Voices? Do you hear voices?

[Noisy]: So, what are you going to do now?

[Surt]: I’m thinking of getting into the mobile coffee market. You know, coffee sold from a van, but it’s really cool and stuff and really different from what everyone is doing now. I’m going to do it so right because they’re all doing it all wrong, and I can do it right, because I’m Surt Chilling. It’s going to be a hit for sure.

[Noisy]: Awesome! How long do you reckon it will take to get off the ground?

[Surtt]: Probably about ten years. We have to do it right, you know. I have to get the right people. I need to surround myself with the best in the business.

[Noisy]: All right. Well, say hello to the guys at The Instance from me.

[Surtt]: Who?

I wasn’t really sure when the latest incarnation of Diablo was being released, but I knew that the blogosphere would tell me of its arrival, and sure enough they have. From reading a few posts on various blogs it seems that it has caused various levels of anger, angst, and I-told-you-so syndrome. All very amusing for someone like me sitting on the sidelines.

Because I wouldn’t play Diablo III even if I received a free copy. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the original release of this game. I was living in a dilapidated Queenslander in the tropical wilderness of Cairns, Australia. In between bouts of marlin fishing and crocodile wrestling I would play the latest video games when I could get my hands on them. CIV II was big at the time, I vaguely recall. Anyway, we got a new flatmate; he was much older than us, he looked ancient, to tell the truth, but was probably in his mid forties. His face was weathered by years of hard drinking, loose women, dubious drug-taking, and most probably, video games.

However, he had a laptop. (He also had a 42 foot yacht, and one day he took us out and almost sank the lot of us in a gale). Now a laptop was big in those days. It was a huge deal. And he also had the brand new release of Diablo. There were six of us in that share house, and what we had to do was to wait for every person to finish playing the game in its entirety. Obviously the old dude got to go first, and he played it non stop for a week or so until he beat it, emerging from his darkened cavern of a room blinking warily at the strange sunlight. The rest of us then drew straws, and I drew the short one. So I had to wait for everyone else to finish playing the game before I so much as even got to touch it. We used to sit at our dinner table on our covered corner balcony, and I would place my hands over my ears and start yelling “nada-nada-nada”, whenever they started speaking about the game. Don’t ruin it for me, you fuckers!

Finally it was my turn. The game was mine. I still remember that feeling of booting it up, of starting out in the graveyard, of cautiously making my way into the depths of the crypt below. It consumed me. I neither ate, nor drank, nor went to work. An entire year’s sick leave was eaten up in the space of a week as I played that game to death. When I finally beat it, I too emerged from a room like a drug addict returning to the land of the living.

None of us ever touched the game again. We didn’t need to. It had given to us what it had been designed to do.

I dabbled around with Diablo II back in the day, but somehow it left me feeling flat. Hadn’t I done this before? You can’t relive the same experience again and feel the same emotions. Now Diablo III promises us a real money auction house, and other stuff I am assuming as well. A real money auction house sounds to me like work. Well, I ditch work for these games, not the other way around. So I won’t be tackling Diablo III any time soon. But I hope all of you that do have a lot of fun working … sorry! I meant playing.

It seems that there is an initiative to get newbie bloggers to start blogging in the blogosphere. My immediate reaction is along the lines of, why on earth would people want to do this? Then I remember that human beings have an amazing capacity to want to legitimise their every waking act. Obviously being a person who blogs about videogames is not felt to be high on the legitimisation scale. So they believe that if they pull lots more people into their chosen activity, then by default of weight of numbers their activity, (blogging), will now be somehow more respectable.

The next step along this line is the desire to partake in the imposition of new rules concerning bloggers in an attempt to “raise the bar” and “clean up their act”. Now the true control freaks will rise to the surface much like scum floating on top of your nice pot of fresh chicken stock. Stay tuned for this one.

My way of legitimising my activities is to tell people in the actual real world that I do it. Take for example my new job. I have been there for four months and I had no hesitation when someone mentioned that they play Skyrim, that I have a blog dedicated to videogaming. My reply was roughly along these lines:

“Ohmygodzbottom! I haz a blog all about that and I get so many hits and so many people know me and we should get togetehr and playz all these games just you and me and maybe if you’re lucky I’ll write about you on my blog!!”

On reflection, perhaps there is something to this blogger initiative after all …

My real concern is for the newbie bloggers out there, (poor dear little lost souls). I suppose if they can come to terms with the fact that they are being underhandedly used by other bloggers to make themselves feel better, well hey, whatever floats your boat, kid. If I were going to give advice to newbie bloggers it would be along these lines:

1. If you need encouragement to do something as simple as writing from the comfort of your own home then perhaps you need to rethink this whole blogging thing.
2. The world will have you believe that your voice is special. My cat was considered special after he got his head slammed in the fence gate. Is that the sort of special you mean? Lets be honest, you’re almost certainly way less special than you believe yourself to be.
3. You think you have something to say? Well, if you had something to say you’d be blogging about it wouldn’t you, not requiring artificial stimulation to get you going.
4. Some people will say that your chosen topic has been done to death. Let me tell you that unless your topic is dwarf wrestling, mud-dancing, tightrope-walking, barefoot cream buns playing WoW, then they’re probably right.
5. If you believe that grammar isn’t important but getting your ideas out there is, then I would reply that knowing how to operate a motor vehicle competently isn’t important but getting to Burger King fast right now is as well. Did ya like that grammar there then?
6. You want to hold your best ideas back until you have lots of readers for your blog so those ideas aren’t wasted? Yeah, I can see the logic in that …
7. How do you get comments? Virgin sacrifice, my friends, virgin sacrifice.
8. If you get through all this and blog, chances are you’ll last about 3 posts, then there will be a break of about a month, then you’ll do another post, then there’ll be a break of about 2 months, then you’ll do a post about how you ‘haven’t forgotten us’, and then we will never hear from you again.

Happy blogging!

So the team at Pathfinder are doing a Kickstarter to drum up investment interest in their MMO project. So for once I am putting my money where my mouth is and I’ve thrown them some cash and helped them with their pledge. Now normally I am a great deal more cynical than this, but I figured that if this does get off the ground then hopefully my actions will assure me getting in with the first wave. Also, if in the future it somehow becomes really big, then I will have some very rare mementos of its humble beginnings, which could become valuable. Or not. But heck, I may as well try.

Their goal is $50,000, but already they have raised $30,000 in barely half a day, and the USA hasn’t even really woken up yet. So I think they’re going to cruise this one in. It just goes to show how much desire there is out there in the community for someone to do a fantasy MMO the way we had always hoped it could be made.

No doubt you’ve all heard the news that plans are afoot to release an MMO version of the Elder Scrolls series. If you’ve been living in an internet-free cave then I’ll just link Bio Break who has a nice list of all the links to the fanfare going on at the moment.

Notwithstanding my own personal thoughts on this news, the really interesting thing for me here is the fact that a new title offered as an MMO is now seen as a negative trait, not a positive one. Go back just a few short years in time and the opposite was the norm – any MMO announcement was greeted with rhapsody bordering on hysteria. So, why the change? It boils down into two distinct reasons. The first is the simply dismal history of MMO production over the last four or five years. Disappointment has followed disillusion, which in turn has been backed up by jaw-dropping awfulness. Whereas in the past an MMO title was the opportunity for both developers and players to experiment with a new subset to video gaming, now we simply receive a churning out of rehashed ideas that were done to death by various expansions of WoW and all its varied clones. New games are released that claim to offer completely new variations on the theme, (group challenges in Rift and voice-overs in SWTOR being merely two examples), and hordes of players scramble to get their slice of the new pie, elbowing each other out of the way, while mindlessly exhorting the fantastic values of the new franchise; pity anyone with the temerity to point out that they might be in for some disappointment. Which invariably they are, as a few months down the track the glossy new title is revealed to be the empty shell of chewed up candy that some of us thought it would be.

So, we are dealing with an extremely poor track record here. In the last three months the games that have taken up most of my gaming moments have been Skyrim and Close Combat III, as I’ve gone back in time to a game that was great then and still is now. You can’t go back in time with an MMO – you’re stuck with what you have right now.

The second reason for the negative reaction to the Elder Scrolls MMO announcement is more social in aspect than the first. It has been brought into stark relief by the fact that many of us have spent a few hundred hours in Skyrim recently. And we’ve had a really nice time … on our own. The thought of having some drooling goober-face interrupt my pleasant wanderings in the snow covered surrounds to challenge me to a lop-sided duel so he can then spit on my corpse for no good reason whatsoever fills me with more horror than the prospect of having to watch the opening ceremony of the coming Olympic Games. Lets be honest here – apart from an extremely small sample size of the general gaming population, there is nobody out there with whom I would want to spend time with in an online environment. The one thing that sites like Facebook have done is demonstrate clearly for those who are able to see that people are vacuous, stupid, dimwitted, gullible morons. And those are just the people that I know. We baulk at the thought of an MMO version of Skyrim because we know that the game will be totally and utterly fucked to high heaven by the vast majority of players with whom we will be forced to associate.

Sure they’ll make some money with this MMO version, and why shouldn’t they? Everyone should be free to make money. Just don’t expect me to help you do it.