Avatar for secularsage



  • Registered 3 years ago
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I write. I research. I play games.

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Recent comments

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 2 days ago

    I work in marketing research, and let me tell you - you CANNOT predict the success of a creative property based on focus groups and surveys. People don't know what they want until they have it in front of them, and they rely heavily on social cues. All you can really do is figure out what they'll find objectionable so you can tweak your product to do well.

    My theory on Nier: Automata is that it had three things going for it:
    1) It's a spin-off of a game that's generally regarded as a cult classic
    2) It's developed by PlatinumGames, which has a strong reputation both critically and commercially
    3) It has EXCELLENT art design, and 2B is an android with two giant swords who's blindfolded and dressed in a maid fetish outfit, which makes the game curious and compelling to the more casual player.

    When you add that to the way people talked about the game's high quality and its insane story (and the fact that it came out in a not-so-crowded time of the year), it's easy to see why it did well. It's quite analogous to No More Heroes, which was the right game at the right time with the right art style and mechanics to be a big hit.

    But at the same time, it'll probably never happen again this way for Yoko Taro, just as it's unlikely to ever happen again to Suda51. Their sensibilities are just too off-kilter for a mass audience.

    Posted in Yoko Taro Has Absolutely No Idea Why Nier: Automata Sold So Well

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 2 months ago

    I love Horizon so much, and I'm baffled why more people aren't still talking about it. It's an extremely well-crafted game with a great story, excellent characters, and well-implemented (and robust) mechanics. That's it's gorgeous doesn't hurt, either.

    I know a game's good when I hit the level cap and still want to play it just because it's so much fun. Better yet, there are still places in the game where I'll find some real challenge because I stumbled upon some Ravagers and Behemoths near a Thunderjaw or Stormbird and managed to piss them all off at the same time without planning ahead for the encounter. It's quite a rush to make it through alive, and the game never feels unfair in what it throws at you.

    Can't wait for the DLC, and I hope it's true that Yellowstone is the setting.

    Posted in Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds Gets a Release Date

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 2 months ago

    The nice thing about the Persona games is they can stand alone without the spin-offs.

    The nice thing about the spin-offs is that they can simultaneously feel gratuitous and also feel high in quality because they're built on solid foundations and find interesting "pocket universe" ideas to bring the characters back together.

    I personally have found the extracurricular outings to lack the pathos of the core games because the characters' story arcs are already completed and they're just bouncing off each other. Even so, these are some really strong, well-crafted characters who thrive under the right mechanics, and the presentation elements (stylish graphics, strong voice acting, excellent music, etc.) make all of the spin-off games feel like they're not a cheap knock-off.

    I just hope the button detection is improved in the P3 and P5 dancing games. That was the worst part of P4:DAN; doing well felt like a fluke too much of the time.

    Posted in Does the Persona Series Benefit From all the Spin-offs?

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 3 months ago

    Telltale doesn't get enough credit among gamers for the great titles they produce. The Wolf Among Us is one of the best adventure games I've ever played in terms of the story and presentation, and it's that rare game that actually enhances the IP it's based upon and feels like it deserves to be canon.

    The same is true of Tales From the Borderlands (which was way more fun than the Pre-Sequel), and The Walking Dead games/seasons deserve their stellar reputation. Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People felt like Homestar Runner finally got the game adaptation it deserved. Minecraft: Story Mode is also surprisingly good, and I think Telltale did the world a huge favor by releasing three great seasons of Sam and Max adventures. Heck, even Jurassic Park and Back to the Future, while not the best work Telltale has done, were solid experiences with a lot of love for their IPs.

    I'm a little less enthralled by the Marvel/DC games, primarily because I don't think superheroes are well-suited to the adventure game genre, and the Telltale games haven't persuaded me otherwise. Perhaps fittingly, the best parts of Batman are the parts that involve Bruce Wayne, which makes me wonder if a Lois Lane / Clark Kent / Jimmy Olsen adventure game could finally find an angle for Superman to make it into story-based gaming without feeling like an overpowered punching machine.

    Posted in Nevermind, We Are Getting The Wolf Among Us Season Two in 2018

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 3 months ago

    Since I worked on the retail end of things at the time, I'd also suggest Final Fantasy XI was a contributing factor on the consumer side. There were a lot of people who jumped on the Final Fantasy bandwagon in the PS1 era and who bought every game in the series, but who were entirely uninterested in what XI had to offer. That break in purchase, followed by a really long wait for XII, killed a lot of interest in the series. (It's evidenced by the numbers; XII sold less than half of what X sold a few years earlier.)

    There were plenty of other factors, of course, including a general waning interest in JRPGs, but on the retail end, I remember a lot of folks complaining that they didn't like the direction of XI and XII because they preferred the earlier turn-based style to the MMORPG style. When I'd explain to people all the benefits of XII (the huge world, the great sidequests, the cool party members and the joy of programming a death squad with the Gambit system), they'd often say, "Yeah, but that doesn't sound like Final Fantasy." I had no counterargument for that, because they were right.

    In truth, X was the last great game in the series that was still true to what Final Fantasy got popular for being. XII was a fantastic game and it's great that it's back, but I can't help but wonder if it'd be remembered as a brilliant niche title if it'd been a spinoff instead of a numbered entry.

    As for XIII and its sequels... Square Enix learned the wrong lessons from the dwindling excitement for XII, and that was pretty well-evidenced by the first 40 hours of XIII and the disastrous initial launch of XIV.

    Posted in How Final Fantasy XII's Development Troubles Presaged a Tough Decade for the Series

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 4 months ago

    @photoboy You know, it's interesting; most of what gamers outside Japan know about Mario as a character comes from non-canonical works (like the Super Mario Bros. Super Show and the movie) rather than the games. I don't think any of the Famicom Japanese games even referred to Mario as a plumber (here's the manual for Super Mario Bros in both Japanese and English.), and the idea that Mario came from Brooklyn, while certainly prevalent, isn't ever mentioned in the games (unless it's been tossed in as a joke in one of the RPG-style adventures; I'm not sure).

    In fact, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island seems to imply Mario was born in the Mushroom Kingdom (since he's being delivered by a stork). Most of the later games treat him like he belongs there, and Odyssey seems to support that (since the citizens of New Donk City have more realistic proportions).

    The most persistent idea about Mario is that he's a plumber when the reality is that he seems to be more of a handyman who moonlights in other professions. He's a carpenter in Donkey Kong, fixing pipes in Mario Bros., and appears in many early Famicom/NES games in all sorts of different roles, including as the titular Dr. Mario. Shigeru Miyamoto has explained that Mario's profession really relies on the scenario here, which is supported by the fact that whenever Mario puts on a costume, he gains special powers.

    Posted in The Good and (Maybe) Bad of Super Mario Odyssey

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 4 months ago

    Watching the gameplay demos, I've grown concerned this game will be style over substance. Since New Donk City was revealed, many have made the obvious comparison to Sonic Adventure - a game that took the Sonic series in a new direction, but one that wasn't necessarily loved by all its fans.

    Since limitations have always been a core design philosophy of Mario games (timers, concrete objectives, limited power-ups, and so forth), it'll be interesting to see how removing some of them changes the feel of the game. What I've seen reminds me a lot of Super Mario Sunshine, and while folks are nostalgic for that game now, it was pretty jarring when it came out.

    Posted in The Good and (Maybe) Bad of Super Mario Odyssey

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 4 months ago

    E3 is such a weird event; it's hugely successful (attendance grows every year), but it's less and less important as a showcase for upcoming games and even more of a huge hype-a-thon. When they tried to change the format to be more businesslike, it lost its sparkle, and it only really works with big events and dramatic reveals. It makes sense to turn it into a public-friendly convention down the road rather than a straight-up trade show, and that's what it'll be in a few years.

    I also hope folks are prepared for Beyond Good & Evil 2 to be a game that won't live up to its hype, because that tends to be the pattern with Ubisoft early reveals - they show a concept off and then pressure the development teams to ship games that aren't ready. This one's even worse because there's a decade+ of expectation based on the repurposed name. Don't be surprised if Michel Ancel leaves the project for creative differences.

    Still, while the overarching sentiment is that this wasn't a particularly exciting E3 beyond a handful of games, if you look at the release calendar for the next 365 days, there are some potentially amazing titles on the way. For example, I don't know how people can watch that Spider-Man gameplay and be anything less than excited for it; if the game lives up to the promise of what was shown, it's going to be an incredible experience.

    Posted in The Winners and Losers of E3 2017

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 4 months ago

    It's hard to tell from afar, but based on what's been shown thus far, mine would be:

    Super Mario Odyssey
    Dragonball FighterZ

    As much as I love original IPs, this E3 suggests we've got a sea of sequels, spinoffs and licensed games ahead in 2017-2018, and these three all look pretty sharp.

    Posted in USgamer Community Question: What Is Your Favorite Game of E3 2017?

  • Avatar for secularsage secularsage 4 months ago

    First of all, those who are outraged should channel their energy into coordinating a campaign to lobby Sony and their third party publishing partners. They will be far more effective than those griping on Twitter or Reddit (or the PlayStation Blog, which Sony reps only seem to read comments from for a few hours).

    Secondly, Sony people saying dumb stuff that seems out of touch with reality is as old as the PlayStation brand, and Sony's always been slow to catch up to trends and loathe to change its policies expeditiously. It took most of the PS3 generation for PSN to catch up to Xbox Live, and it's still not as good as it could be, despite years of user complaints. They clearly have a difficult internal environment that keeps their divisions siloed and slow to react.

    But with all that said... I really question how much the most recent desired features (cross-platform play with competitors and backwards compatibility) matter to the average PlayStation gamer. A lot of it just seems like Internet noise to me.

    Posted in PlayStation 4 is Sitting Out On Cross Platform Play, and Players are Confused