Well, they didn’t TECHNICALLY go Free-to-Play, so I can’t say I told you so. It looks more like they are going with the Guild Wars model. I can’t say I’m a fan yet – from what I’ve heard the game would sincerely benefit from the massive influx of population that would happen if they ditched all barriers to entry — but I guess I can see the merit in getting what you can from what is hopefully a reasonably large console launch. Console gamers still need to be taught how free-to-play works, so this is arguably a necessary hedge.
I still bet the entry price falls to below $10 by the end of the year.
Jimquisition has something to say about Evolve’s seemingly all-consuming monetization focus. Go ahead and watch, I’ll wait here.
Here’s one example of Turtle Rock saying that Evolve was built to support DLC “more than any game ever before.” Now, I want to be clear: it’s great to hear of a team that had that foresight and that luxury. Building good monetization infrastructure isn’t technically trivial, and adding all of that stuff late in development or even post-ship can often mean you’re jamming something balance-breaking into a game that wasn’t built for it or, in the minds of players even worse, ripping off a piece of the core gameplay and putting it up for sale. So a company thinking ahead about this stuff well before launch, and addressing these issues ahead of time, is good.
And having a game built around the billing model is not crazy. I mean, Magic: the Gathering is built around a billing model of selling packs. Candy Crush was built from the ground up to be free and microtransact. These are both billing-model centric designs, and they work BECAUSE of it. So why is Evolve being forced now to defend themselves for their DLC plans?
As the temperature around GamerGate continues to fade, the various forums and threads about the subject have been cooling. Many people around the industry seem to be warming to the idea that the worst is finally over. KotakuInAction is slowing, GamerGhazi is encouraging discussions of other topics, NeoGAF is looking to let its gamergate thread die without replacement once it hits max length.
Zoe Quinn, on the other hand, reminds us that for some people, it’s not over. Abusive shithead behavior towards her and Anita long precede GG, and there is no real sign that will end in the future. This is probably true of many of the prime targets of GG, including Brianna Wu, Leigh Alexander, Grace Lynn, Mattie Brice, Chloe Sagal and Randi Harper, all of whom can’t pretty much say anything without getting Sea Lioned to oblivion if not worse. And often, its way worse, as in lose-your-faith-in-humanity worse. Zoe’s take reminds us that for a small, select few, it isn’t just about throwing spaghetti on a screen and hoping you don’t piss off 8chan, it’s instead about lawyers and legal dates and leaked legal documents, it’s about trying to explain to cops what the fuck twitter is, and its about having a number with the FBI so your regular contact there can add more shit to an open file.
If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t get offended by the notion of porn, then you’ll likely be as intrigued as I am by PornHub’s annual statistical review, which gives in-depth analysis to the trends of their viewership. The report is here, and is, at least visually, safe for work. The previous year is here. I realize that some may find the topic distasteful but, truth be told, large data analysis like this really IS what gets me all excited. (Seriously, I’d equally love to see this kind of statistical infographic breakdown of the board game database I discussed yesterday. Because I’m a massive data nerd)
It’s also somewhat interesting to see parallels between that entertainment industry, and the gaming industry – which makes sense, to some extent. If you think about it, we’re all competing for the scarce spare time of the public. One clear parallel is that, much like gaming services, PornHub also sees serious declines during major sporting events. Among other interesting tidbits.
538.com is long one of my favorite sites, as it was founded by Nate Silver, who is of course the statistics savant who made a name for himself pretty much nailing the last two presidential elections based on a lot of disparate polling data. Since that time, they’ve left their home on the New York Times and expanded their mandate to pretty much do statistical analysis of anything anywhere there happens to be a large amount of data to examine.
Recently, they gave this treatment to Board Games, utilizing the database housed on BoardGameGeek. Of particular note, they examined the best-ranked board game in the database (Twilight Struggle) and then delved into the list of the worst. The latter list tends to contain a lot of passive aggressive hate for classics like Candyland and.Monopoly, both because these ancient bits of family fare are poorly designed by modern hardcore standards, but also because board game geeks tend to have quite hipster attitudes towards any game you can pick up at Target. Both articles are great reads. Continue reading
The first single-player open world game of the post-Playstation era that I ever loved was Saboteur. I realize that may seem to come a little late, but to be honest, if you’re used to the wide open worlds of MMOs for your entire career, GTA and the like actually seemed kinda … empty. After all, MMOs are massive open world games, but with people saying awful things about your mother. Saboteur, on the other hand, hit a primal chord with me.
On the surface, the game design is simple: it’s a GTA-like, but set in occupied Paris, where you play as an Irish race car driver turned French Underground sympathizer. So you can still steal, rob, and blow stuff up, but most of the time, the innocent victims were Nazis, which nicely solved the whole ‘feeling human empathy for the computer-AI driven cops you are running down’ problem that GTA has. Also, you drove a lot of period race cars, and the car radio played cool, period jazz pieces. Which was awesome.
But what grabbed me was the chance they took on the color palette. You see, when you played the game most of the time, it played out in a very Schindler’s List color palette – black and white, with reds and yellows as splashes.
Well, when Civ:BE failed to grab me, what I reached for instead was a different 4x game that was recommended to me: Endless Legend. This is a Civ-like set in a fantasy universe, similar to a Masters of Magic. And man, does it scratch the Civ itch in ways I find new and different for a Civ-like.
Endless Legend’s fantasy setting means that the game still has emotional resonance, even though the tech trees still have magic and other non-realistic advances. They lean on fantasy tropes quite a bit, but manage to stretch the lore in some new and interesting ways, particularly in the creation of their alternate races, many of which play almost entirely different games due to the nature of their mechanics. The exploration aspect of the game is ramped up – similar to what you see in CBE. Military is both viable (i.e. it doesn’t drag the game too much) and (in many games) somewhat dodgeable if you prefer to turtle and just build a great society.