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    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Introversion’s New Clothes

    There’s been some buzz recently about Brit developer Introversion winning three prizes at the IGF awards. We read about their success on Gillen’s site and tried to comment on it, but he’s installed some new spam filter that’s so effective it’s stopped twats like us from posting. He said he’d put our comment up then fell unconscious into his nightly drug-induced Oblivion haze and forgot, so here it is:

    “What's ironic is that they won an award for a game that needed to be 'fucked with' by publishers. Uplink was a better game that didn't stink of self-indulgence. Defcon looks promising though - be nice if they finish it before releasing it.

    'Being likeable is over-rated.'

    Good quote Gillen - I'll drink to that.”

    First of all, we’ll get the nicey-nicey bit out of the way – we’re genuinely pleased that Introversion has been given some awards, as the guys in the team deserve them for their past achievements. Now for the bit we’re going to be lynched for: Darwinia didn’t deserve those prizes.

    The three awards they won were for technical excellence, innovation in visual art, and the “Grand Prize”. Darwinia isn’t a technically excellent game. It doesn’t run as smoothly as games that look much better, and the gesture system was so ridiculous they virtually admitted it was ludicrous and unnecessary by adding in an alternative system in a patch. There’s no AI there either – Lemmings let you set waypoints, and that was 15 years ago.

    Ironically, the unreliable Eurogamer’s review of Uplink (where a mysteriously unnamed reviewer gave it an undeservedly low score of 7/10) is more appropriate to Darwinia:

    “Sadly graphical glitches, [and] a slightly awkward interface… lets it down somewhat, but it's still well worth a look if you fancy something completely different.”

    We’re not arguing with the “innovation in visual design” award, as its style is original and arresting, but the “Grand Prize”? Really? We’ve played better independently developed games over the last year, and so has everyone else.

    We don’t mean to sit here tearing into Darwinia. Games that are poorly executed and aren’t properly tested are released all the time. What we’re really getting at is we find it ironic that, despite Introversion’s speech at the awards, they were in desperate need of a publisher “fucking up” Darwinia, assuming by “fucking up” they meant “play-testing and ironing out obvious design flaws before release.”

    But why are so many industry names and figures spreading their ejaculate all over Darwinia when it’s not very good? When Uplink was first released, it was ignored by most of the industry.

    Uplink is a classic game, but with the exception of PC Gamer’s early review thanks to Gillen noticing its brilliance, it won no awards, and barely registered on most of the industry’s radar. It was left to the gamers and consumers to discover and support. Now it’s too late to sing the praises of Uplink, the industry has entered into a “guilt” phase of trumpeting Introversion as the saviours of gaming. Projecting the success of Uplink onto the inferior Darwinia, and defending any misguided views with the response that Introversion are British independent developers and therefore “cool,” (so that means any shortcomings in their game is excusable, natch) or it’s been designed for higher beings to understand, the industry has shown itself as being about four years out of touch. Worse, it patronises Introversion and cheapens their success.

    We’re looking forward to seeing Defcon, as Uplink is proof that Introversion can make good games. If it’s bad though, we hope the industry has the guts to judge it objectively and say so.

    22 comments:

    1. Anonymous4:41 pm

      One question - was that actually you that wrote that rr? Because it actually kinda made sense.

      ReplyDelete
    2. Even broken clocks are right twice a day.

      RR.

      ReplyDelete
    3. What if, and actually consider this, the Darwinians were meant to have no pathfinding. They were reliant on you. Their God. They were helpless without you, and only cried out for your love.

      They have plenty of AI. AI that tells them to love their God.

      It's kind of the point of the game, and I've yet to hear of anyone who appreciated this, and did not like the game.

      I thought it was beautiful.

      ReplyDelete
    4. Anonymous1:27 am

      "What if, and actually consider this, the Darwinians were meant to have no pathfinding."

      Well DRIV3R was 'meant' to have unforgiving driving mechancics, and look how that worked out.

      The point is that you can't defend a game based on its design decisions of those decisions aren't to the benefit of the game.

      This is probably one of, if not the most well-argued critisisms of Darwinia. A game which, by the way, inspite of being a veteran gamer and lover of many of the games that Darwinia alluded to, I simply did not enjoy.

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    5. "he’s installed some new spam filter that’s so effective it’s stopped twats like us from posting."

      Try changing your details in your posting details - change your e-mail address. Doesn't even matter if it's not a real one. That appears to have worked for other people.

      Kg

      ReplyDelete
    6. Oh - and I did put your comments up in this thread:
      http://gillen.cream.org/wordpress_html/?p=921

      Just not the top introversion post. In my drug and booze stupour I thought you meant the comments thread where I actually said the "being likeable is over-rated" thing.

      Man! That booze.

      KG

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    7. "What if, and actually consider this, the Darwinians were meant to have no pathfinding. They were reliant on you. Their God. They were helpless without you, and only cried out for your love.

      They have plenty of AI. AI that tells them to love their God."

      Make up your mind John - a cursory glance through the last PCG has you saying "Weak pathfinding... count against the pleasure" when talking about Ground Control 2, the last RTS you reviewed. Are you sure it's not "meant" to have weak AI?

      Gillen: I'll try that when posting on your site. Also, did you realise you'd got your review of The War On Terror totally wrong?

      "Problems seen in the mother game only become worse: for example, the pathfinding. In the smallest of the maps, even the smallest of vehicles refuse to drive across the enormous girder-formed bridge. AI responses are questionable."

      No, no, no. They're relying on you, their God, and are crying out for your love.

      RR.

      ReplyDelete
    8. Rammy, I argued about this one in my EG review of Darwinia. Don't say you were one of the people who were turned off my the 500 word bollocks intro before I got on with reviewing the blasted thing?

      KG

      ReplyDelete
    9. Thank you.

      I also felt Darwinia was extremely over-rated, and just about lost it when I saw that Tribal Trouble had been nominated for but ONE award (and from the looks of this conversation, the one Darwinia was probably least eligible for).

      Wild Tangent's incredibly boring FATE is another game that's seen heaps of attention, mostly undeserved (but it sure looks pretty!).

      I think the industry is going through a phase (guilt, perhaps, as you put it), and foisting attention onto independent efforts as if they were some advanced lifeform compared to what is currently available on the shelves, to rise up against the Evil Conglomerate Publishers that insist on feeding us such trash as F.E.A.R., Splinter Cell 4,021 and Madden 20XX.

      Hopefully it will end soon and we can start reviewing games again instead of the "movement" they supposedly represent.

      ReplyDelete
    10. Tom B1:06 am

      "the unreliable Eurogamer’s review of Uplink (where a mysteriously unnamed reviewer gave it an undeservedly low score of 7/10)"

      The review of Uplink's quite an old one and pre-dates some technology changes on EG, which is why the author name doesn't show up. It was written by John Bye, the site's first editor.

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    11. Lionhead's John Bye? Maybe he could ask Peter Molyneux what he makes of Darwinia, as the concept of the game sounds like one of his promises.

      RR.

      ReplyDelete
    12. Make up your mind John - a cursory glance through the last PCG has you saying "Weak pathfinding... count against the pleasure" when talking about Ground Control 2, the last RTS you reviewed. Are you sure it's not "meant" to have weak AI?

      I keep giving you credit for being able to manage coherent thought. It's a mistake, isn't it?

      Do the units of Ground Control worship you, existing only as the simplest forms of life? Let's have a little think about it... oh, no, they're supposed to be enormously sophisticated manned vehicles. So, no, I'm fairly certain they weren't "meant" to have weak AI. Oh, it's like being in a Mensa meeting!

      If I criticise a game for having a weak story, but defend a game that intends to have no story, is that something else I should make my mind up over? Or would that be equally as moronic a comparison to make?

      Remember those toy cars that would drive until they hit a wall, then turn and drive off in another direction? Would you recognise what they were designed to do, or condemn them for their lack of steering?

      Of course, based on your current display of intellectual rationing, you'd find a comment about a radio controlled car with poor steering, and start shouting "AAAAAHHHHHHHH! AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!" and feel awfully pleased with your brilliant argument.

      Remember the bit where I said "and actually consider this"? I did feel a bit stupid bothering to type it at the time.

      ReplyDelete
    13. None of the units have pathfinding though John. Not even the ones created with the pointless gesture system that are there to obey, not to worship.

      And surely you're not suggesting that bad design decisions can be justified purely by adding in a story that thinly papers over them with a poor excuse? That /would/ be stupid...

      "Oh, it's like being in a Mensa meeting!"

      Like you'd know. You really need to take one of Gillen's pills and learn how to relax a little. And while we're "considering" things, how about considering that, so far, you're the only one who's defended Darwinia?

      ReplyDelete
    14. Anonymous2:06 am

      From now on people should stop reviewing games on their experiences of playing it. What people should do is try and second guess the developers, then base their opinions on whether or not they think a developer meant something to be that way.

      So from now on if a game has shit graphics, you have to ask if it's meant to have shit graphics, and if so, then it is a good thing and the game should not be penalised.

      This is great for developers because if they can't manage to do something, they can get away with just making up an excuse like: "The car's tyres are made of Jello. It's a Jello racer."

      The absolute brilliance of this is that there will now absolutley never be a bad game ever! John Walker sir, you are a genius! An irascible, single-minded and arrogant genius, maybe, but a genius nonetheless.

      ReplyDelete
    15. None of the units have pathfinding though John.

      Er, yes. Isn't that something of a colossal clue?

      Not even the ones created with the pointless gesture system that are there to obey, not to worship.

      Yes, a further clue.

      And surely you're not suggesting that bad design decisions can be justified purely by adding in a story that thinly papers over them with a poor excuse? That /would/ be stupid...

      No, I'm suggesting there's an excellent reason why they have no pathfinding. You have to look after them in every way. It's about relationship, connection. About their need for you, and your desire to help them. It doesn't matter whether you stamp and shout that you want pathfinding - it still doesn't remove the connection its absence creates for those who didn't throw a strop when the genre-less game didn't tick all the boxes in their Eye-Spy Book of Strategy Games.

      And while we're "considering" things, how about considering that, so far, you're the only one who's defended Darwinia?

      Yes, it's me against the army of, er, three. I feel so isolated, so alone. It's so cold here. Won't someone help poor little me, alone in my madness? I'm sat here now, just considering and considering and considering.

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    16. From now on people should stop reviewing games on their experiences of playing it. What people should do is try and second guess the developers, then base their opinions on whether or not they think a developer meant something to be that way.

      Yup, Brave Knight Anonymous #647 - you really got to grips with my argument there.

      Silly old me, reviewing the game that was in front of me, based on its contents, their effectiveness, and my responses to them! What was I thinking?!

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    17. Anonymous1:33 pm

      You win. You've bludgeoned me to virtual death with the sheer cogent force of your argument.

      How can I ever expect to have a valid point in the face of such blind obstinacy? Other people have opinions, but only you are right.

      By the way, I could put in my name but you have no idea who the fuck I am anyway, and I can thankfully say the same about you. I do know you are very easy to wind up though.

      *wind* *wind* *wind*

      Go righteous indignation boy, gooooo!!!!

      ReplyDelete
    18. Anonymous1:34 pm

      I don't think you should try and win a reasoned arguement with John. He believes in God. And if you can stretch credibility that far, defending Darwinia is a breeze.

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    19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    20. "And while we're "considering" things, how about considering that, so far, you're the only one who's defended Darwinia?"

      Everybody else already has in their reviews - I wasn't joking when I said that upthread. (John's over-elaborated the argument, really. In short: It's Cannon Fodder. Darwinia is basically a direct control method game about directly controlling little men. If it had a different mechanism, it'd be a very different "sort" of game. The game darwinia is, is reliant on its bad pathfinding. Clearly, this is because they couldn't program any better pathfinding, but that they realised they couldn't then designed their game around it is what's important. We're not rating designers aims - but rather what designers have achieved. With Darwinia introversion designed a game which was entirely reliant on it having bad pathfinding.)

      Also, we understand that Rammy's doing his own thing, and don't believe we're particularly interested in engaging a debate over it.

      John has the diability of believing in justice and truth and fairness and similar things. At least in things like this, I believe in shrugging.

      It's like Poli (http://deservingonly.blogspot.com/) says at the top of his site, which turns his pure torrents of rage into something rather sadder: "It is life's fairness: everyone gets the videogames they deserve."

      They do. I shrug. People who are hateful on the internet have to live with being the sort of people who are hateful on the internet. It's their aim and it's their punishment. We all get what we deserve.

      And now, Chinese takeaway.

      KG

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    21. The direct control in Cannon Fodder worked because there weren't several hundred extra AI-less cretins to guide around.

      "Everybody else already has [defended Darwinia] in their reviews" - so only the views of published reviewers count, do they?

      "People who are hateful on the internet have to live with being the sort of people who are hateful on the internet. It's their aim and it's their punishment. We all get what we deserve."

      You don't believe in that karma shit, do you? Anyway, better to be what you interpret as "hateful" and be direct than to tap-dance around with silly comments that overshoot subtlety and end up in the realm of absurdity.

      If you're going to try and insult me, at least pay me the courtesy of making sense whilst you're doing it.

      Enjoy your Chinese.

      RR.

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    22. Wasn't really meant as an insult - just about why I can keep a little more distance than John. I don't believe in Karma (violently against it, actually), but I do believe that people are stuck with their personalities.

      (Unless they choose to change 'em, but that way leads existentialism so let's steer clear.)

      If there's someone I meet who I radically disagree with, are angry all the time and so on... well, I can shrug. It's no fun to be angry all the time and just throw spite around.

      Or as I said to a particularly pessemistic mate years ago, I'll rather be me and wrong than you and right.

      Er... this is more towards Poli than you, by the way.

      KG

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