Greatness Delayed Podcast – Sony Helps This Cast Live Up To Its Name

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Mike and Gus discuss NYCC, some new vidyagames, and a whole bunch of Sony’s latest stumbles.

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Greatness Delayed Podcast – Mobile Mario and Sony Meeting 2016

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Mike and Gus discuss the Super Mario Run announcement, Playstation Meeting 2016, and a few pieces of news.

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Greatness Delayed Podcast – Youtube Drama and Sony Look Silly

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Mike and Gabe talk about the latest Youtube drama, a Sony PS4 Slim and how it’s not being acknowledged despite existence of a review, and more.

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Greatness Delayed Podcast – No Man’s Sky And Stuff

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Mike and Gus talk about Madden ’17, Uno, Absolute Drift, Metal Gear Survive, SFV vs CPU mode, FFXV delay, and of course No Man’s Sky.

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No Man’s Lie?

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Even prior to release, No Man’s Sky had seen its share of controversy.  Sky TV had engaged the developers in a three year legal battle over use of the word ‘Sky’… because fuck if I know.  Hello Games have settled that dispute, although no details have emerged as to how.

Also, less than a month before the game was to hit retail, Dutch company Genicap claimed they own the “Superformula” which No Man’s Sky uses for procedural generation.  According to The New Yorker’s Sean Murray interview/article from 2015:

The problem nagged at him, until he found an equation, published in 2003 by a Belgian plant geneticist named Johan Gielis.Excerpt from The New Yorker’s “World Without End”, 2015

Well, Johan Gielis is the Chief Research Officer at Genicap, allegedly holds the patent for the formula, and did not authorize Hello Games to use it.  That, um, doesn’t sound good for Sean Murray.

But then it happened.  No Man’s Sky was released to the masses, and everything should have been just ducky… but it was less than 24 hours before the internet exploded with rage.

A gamer on Reddit had found a star system that was previously discovered by another user, so he messaged this person to arrange a virtual meet-up.  After lots of searching and even more confusion, they couldn’t find each other.  Even though they were on the same exact spot on the same exact planet, they found themselves alone.

This news spread like wildfire because Mr. Murray had gone on record many times confirming players would be able to see each other in game.  However, Murray had warned that the chance of this happening was very, very slim.

“People keep saying to us, ‘Yeah, but what if I knew where they were?  Would I go there?’  And it’s like, yeah, but they are going to have to stay there for quite a while while you get over there.  And then once you get over there you might land on the same planet and then you will say, ‘I’m on a planet the size of Earth and I am on a mountain.  Where are you?’  Which is, I know, a weird thing and it’s a daunting thing.”

Is there any question in regards to what he’s saying?  He’s saying yes, people can cross paths, but when you take into consideration the size of the universe, as well as the size of any given planet, it’d be like finding a needle in… well, the universe.

And this wasn’t the only time he reinforced the existence of this feature:

Even in this video:

So, does this make Sean Murray a liar?  Some people certainly think so, and to be honest, the evidence IS pretty damning.

Despite the mounting evidence, however, apologists have been coming out in droves.  So, let’s analyze their positions of defense:

“It’s not a multiplayer game!”

I know that, and in fact, most others do, too.  Sean Murray has told us this time and time again.  However, he specifically likens multiplayer to the likes of FPS’s and MMO’s.  Sean and Hello Games have also clarified that even though players will be able to see each other, they won’t be able to pal around and play the game together.  The things you interact with in your world is for you and you alone.  Your paths will cross and that’s it.

So, the fact that this isn’t a traditional multiplayer experience doesn’t negate the idea that these two should have been able to see each other.

To make matters worse, Mr. Murray started to mislead people on Twitter, likely to stave off the sea of doubt beginning to flood his inbox:

“We want people to be aware they are in a shared universe.  We added online features, and some Easter Eggs to create cool moments.”

“Two players finding each other on a stream in the first day – that has blown my mind.”

“We added a ‘scan for other players’ in the Galactic Map to try and encourage this happening.  We wanted it to happen – but the first day?”

Well, no, they didn’t find each other… but these comments were meant to make people believe that they had.  This is not how Mr. Murray should have presented himself to hordes of potential customers who felt they had been lied to for nearly three years.

“The back of the case, as well as the Steam listing, show this as a single player game!”

Package art had actually said otherwise, until they decided to sticker over it:

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So they intended to advertise online play.  Of course, they’ve tried to assure us the printing of the online icon was a mistake, but that reeks of PR nonsense.  Sean Murray advertised being able to see others in the game… and just prior to release, he changes his tune to ‘no multiplayer’, and just out of sheer coincidence a piece of information on the case had to be stickered over?  Come on.  We’re not fucking stupid.

And besides, this argument is missing the point entirely.  This isn’t about whether or not the game is technically multiplayer, or whatever.  It’s about a developer who may have been lying to people for the sake of inflating sales.

Keep in mind that Sony, as their publisher, has a lot of control over what the product messaging should be.  Why is this important?  Well, No Man’s Sky had been cherry picked for hype because Sony’s release schedule – as far as AAA exclusives were concerned – was thin.  I imagine Sony spent a bunch of their money to get this game completed as fast as possible.  But even so, it took three years since its initial reveal to bring it to retail.  This game was also never intended to be sold at full price ($60).  To me, it seems like Sony, who was desperate to get additional exclusives under their belt in 2016, is responsible for driving up the price.

That’s right.  You’re getting a game that was probably meant to be $40, for $60.  Ain’t that great?  So, at the end of the day, Mr. Murray may not have lied just to inflate sales, but to keep Sony happy, too.

“Maybe they were having server issues.”

This could be a valid response.  Players have been experiencing numerous crashes since launch, and some have linked this directly to server issues (turning the internet off seemed to resolve things).  One could also speculate that when push came to shove, explorative discoveries (systems, planets, etc) would prioritize higher than player-to-player ones.  But again, instead of clarifying what may have happened, Sean once again muddied the waters with mixed messaging:

“There are way too many people playing right now.  Maybe some of you can just log out?  Decide amongst yourselves plz.”

“It is a testament to how amazing our network coders are that Discoveries are still working at all.”

But then…

“For instance over night we hit 10 million species discovered in NMS… that’s more than has been discovered on earth.  WHAT IS GOING ON!!!”

So are your problems severe enough to hinder Discoveries, Mr. Murray, or not?

“Well, Mr. Murray did say some pvp stuff might make its way into the game later on…”

And?

They MIGHT incorporate a planet that’s designed after Jurassic Park.  They MIGHT incorporate a planet loaded to the brim with zombies.  They might, they could, they would, they should, blah blah blah.

When you decide to spend $60 on a game, you don’t do it because of what MIGHT appear in the game.  You do it based on what’s going to be there on day 1.  A number of people bought this game because they were led to believe there would be sparks of magic, not unlike Journey, where you’d find another player and have a ‘moment’.  Not because of hype, and not because they were delusional.  No, because SEAN MURRAY told them so.

My Message To The Apologists?  Stand Up For Yourselves!!!

Guys, don’t apologize this away.  You can still appreciate a game while being realistic about the shitty things that come with it.  In this case, when it comes to buying games, consumers have little-to-no protection.  Nobody’s going to bat for us after we’ve been had, so we have to look out for ourselves.

As it is, companies show us very little of their products prior to release, and that’s misleading enough.  But when a developer actually does interviews and sells you on a feature that’s not actually in the game, guess what?  The store isn’t giving you your money back… unless you settle for half in trade at Gamestop.  And that’s only store credit.

You have to decide what’s most important to YOU.  If the game entices you enough despite the controversy, then buy it.  If it doesn’t look to deliver what you wanted, don’t buy it.  If you don’t want to support an alleged liar… don’t buy it.

And I’d like to make one last thing clear before signing off.  I’m not out for blood.  I don’t hate No Man’s Sky.  As a matter of fact, the concept intrigues me enough to pick it up on PC.  I personally don’t care about the reality of this feature.  I never expected I’d run into another person anyway.

But that doesn’t mean Sean Murray’s feet shouldn’t be held to the fire.  They absolutely should be.

I’m going to go into total speculation mode here, and guess that the No Man’s Sky team very much wanted this feature to be a part of the game on day 1.  However, Sony worrying about their lack of exclusives this generation, likely told them to get the core game out of the way and worry about the rest later.  If true, that means Sony’s actually pulling the strings.  Even so, Sean signed the contract.  That makes him liable.  Furthermore, he could be giving straight answers instead of being vague on Twitter (and, at the time of this writing, he’s been offline for about two days).

However, I hope this is all just a misunderstanding.  I hope it really was just a matter of the servers being overloaded… but only time will tell.

Listen Up, Fanboys

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E3 was supposed to be Christmas for gamers.  Sure, the conferences exist mostly to appease investors, but this should have been the one time of year internet hate mongers set their differences aside, treat each other like human beings, and rejoice in a weeklong celebration.  Instead, what I’ve seen is a resurgence of the console wars, and it looks even sillier than it did at the beginning of the generation.

Since when did ‘fan’ become synonymous with gnarling your face and spitting the most putrid bile imaginable?  Like, why is this even a thing?  From where I’m sitting, it seems like all it takes is a difference of opinion.  Forget context, forget reason.  Hell, a number of the attacks I’ve seen on the net are completely unsolicited.

Is this really where we’re at?  We’ve struggled for decades to show the world that gamers aren’t childish… and for what?  To ultimately prove that stereotype is true?

Bravo, ladies and gentlemen.  Bravo.

Now, I’m not blanketing my anger over the entirety of the gaming community, but for those of you that have engaged in pointless cock-measurement contests – and you know who you are – I feel a reminder is needed.

In case you’ve forgotten, we’re on the same team… all of us.  So much time is wasted in Sony vs. Microsoft debates, and there’s so much wrong with this I don’t even know where to begin.

How about the fact that this isn’t a two horse race?  Why do people tend to forget about Nintendo?  I know they haven’t done very well with the Wii-U, but it’s still a great platform to play great games on.  Some people even prefer it.  And let’s not forget about the PC, which plays pretty much all third party games and even has some exclusives that can’t be found on consoles.

I don’t think I’m being too idealistic here, either.  If you want to know how dumb it is to compare consoles, just remember that most of what we play are the third party games.  And you know what the conversation centers around when we talk about them?  The games themselves, right?  When you meet up with friends, you might say, “Have you played the new Doom?  It’s freaking awesome!”  They’ll probably nod their heads and say, “Yeah man.  SO much fun!”  Know what they’re NOT going to say?  “Yeah man, totally!  I’ve been playing it on my PS4, and guess what?!  MY DYNAMIC RESOLUTION BUFFER IS BETTER THAN IT IS ON THAT CRAPPY XBOX!”  These conversations don’t happen.  They just don’t.  And when performance IS discussed, it’s because there’s glaring issues that go wayyyyy beyond hardware capability.

See what I’m saying here?  It’s all about the GAMES.  But, since you console warring trolls – again, you know who you are – can’t help but feed your superiority complex, I have a message I want each ‘side’ to consider:

Xbots – You fools.  You damn fools.  Sony fans have been giving you the business for years.  I imagine you’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to show the world you’re classier, more mature… and yet, the moment you felt victory within reach, you lost your minds.  No, really.  You did.  I don’t think you understand just how stupid you’ve looked since the Scorprio was revealed at E3.  It’s been like watching William Wallace’s army in Braveheart when they mooned their enemies… except instead of the ‘freedom’ battle cry, you’ve been banging on about teraflops.  Who cares about freakin’ teraflops?  I don’t.  And you know what’s funny?  Most of you don’t even know what a teraflop is.  All you’ve been doing is parroting the latest buzzword.  And besides, your victory is imagined anyway.  You’re comparing two consoles that have yet to see the light of day.  If that doesn’t make you feel sheepish, then you have a severe lack of self-awareness, my friends.

Sony Ponies – Yeah, the Xbots are coming off like a bunch of delusional lunatics right now, but to be fair, this is how your fan base has looked throughout the entirety of this generation.  900p or 1080p, 30fps or 60fps… who gives a shit?  You act like hardware performance is the most important thing in the world, but if you really felt that way, you’d buy a PC.  It’s really that simple.  Why compare nickels to quarters when you can get those dolla dolla bills, y’all?  And, I know what you’re going to say, too.  “Not everyone can afford a PC!”  True.  Consoles are less expensive than a PC.  There’s no denying that.  But I see a ton of you excited to drop at least another $400 on the Neo… after having already spent $400 on the OG PS4.  That’s $800 in a single generation… just for hardware.  You could have spent that money up front to get a machine that was capable of Neo-like graphics a while ago.  “But Sony are for the players!”  Nope.  They’re not.  They’re the same as any other major corporation out there.  They’ll smile in your face while they reach for the wallet resting in your back pocket.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gotten a lot of use out of my PS4, but that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with bowing at Yoshida’s feet.

And while we’re talking about console fanboys being a little too mouthy for their own good, there’s a couple other camps that also need to be addressed:

Nintendo Fans – You are, undoubtedly, the nicest fan base of the bunch… but some of you take your affection for this brand wayyyyy too seriously.  Yes, Nintendo is a great place to play great games that can’t be found elsewhere.  But some of you straight-up pretend that games on other platforms aren’t any fun.  I totally get that we’re inundated with annual franchises and iterative formulas, but I still – and this is coming from someone who loves Nintendo – find plenty of great games to play.  Unfortunately, some of you believe it’s your job to hype the company up, and feed their bottom line by supporting every shitty business decision they’ll ever make.  Folks, on occasion, it’s OK to hold Nintendo’s feet to the fire.  You won’t lose your fan badge.  I promise.  Complaining is the only way to keep major corporations reasonably ‘honest’.  Do you really think having DLC in physical form is a good idea, especially in such short supply?  How about the short charge life on the Wii-U gamepad’s battery?  Have gimmicky controllers ever made any of their games better?  You don’t have to shy away from these issues.  I’ve made my feelings quite clear on Nintendo’s business practices (read here and here), and yet, I still enjoy their games.  I still consider myself a fan.  Crazy, right?

PC Master Race – With a name like ‘master race,’ you’d think some level of ACTUAL superiority would come into play… but oh, the hypocrisy.  You act like gaming on a PC puts you above the squabbles of console fans, yet you actively seek opportunities to fight with them, to let them know how much better your rig is, and likely has been for years.  But at the end of the day, you’re no better than those people, especially since you fight amongst yourselves over which brand of GPU is best.  I see hateful AMD vs. Nvidia arguments far too often, and I’ve only been actively looking in on those conversations since the beginning of 2016.  This year, PC has been my platform of choice, but your community is by far the most negative.  Outside of those pitiful GPU battles, you also come off as spoiled brats who won’t spend more than $5 per game.  Oh, and you try way too hard to justify piracy.  As gamers, we should all want to ensure devs get paid for the games we’re about to enjoy.  I get you want a better deal and all, but even without taking advantage of Ebay-like sites, pricing on PC games have been WAY better than anything I’ve seen in the console market.  There’s zero need to steal stuff.  So, when you cry a game isn’t within your insulting price range, I’ve got zero tears to shed.

Look, at the end of the day, we’re all gamers.  Is it really worth arguing over minor fluctuations in performance?  No.  Of course it isn’t.  For the most part, we’re still playing the same exact games.  There’s only two times off the top of my head where I felt a noticeable difference because of a change in platform:

Dragon Age Origins – Its battle system was designed around a keyboard and mouse, and unfortunately, that means the console iterations had to suffer.  Having played both PC and console versions of Origins, I can tell you that playing on a PC is almost like playing an entirely different game.  I’ll never play this on consoles again.

Diablo III – Oddly enough, Diablo III’s situation is precisely the opposite.  While the mouse and keyboard configuration worked well enough, hacking-and-slashing at a thousand clicks a minute wasn’t very comfortable.  In Blizzard’s quest for more money, however, Diablo III was eventually ported to consoles.  Not content with following in the steps of Dragon Age, Blizzard worked hard on ensuring the game felt nice to play on a controller.  Well, not only does it feel nice, it is, in my opinion, the definitive way to play the game.  Not sure they’ll ever convince me to play the PC version again… unless they patch in controller support at a later date.  Seriously Blizzard, why haven’t you done this yet?!

I’m sure you guys have some other examples where gameplay itself can change from one platform to the next, but point is, these are exceptions to the rule.  So, stop your squabbling.  You’re wasting your time on that ‘mine is better than yours’ crusade.  The cold, hard truth is that each platform comes with its own unique set of flaws.  So, when you make it a point to attack another ‘side’ of the equation… well, you know what they say: “Don’t throw stones in a house of glass.”

My goal today wasn’t to just sit here and sling a bunch of shit talk your way, so please, don’t take it like that.  Instead, I’ve merely attempted to show you all how foolish you look when you behave like children, a look which gamers simply do not need perpetuated by people who aren’t secure in the financial decisions they’ve made.  Game on, everyone… but please, let’s do it quietly, or at the very least, positively.

The Illusion of Choice

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Unless I’m misreading how people feel about the gaming industry’s economic climate, they’re sick to death of microtransactions and DLC. However, instead of rallying against these business models, folks are opening their wallets, and I can’t for the life of me understand why they’re not seeing the forest through the trees. The average consumer should be ashamed of how often they’ve fallen for the carrot-on-a-stick routine… but I guess from their perspective, ignorance is bliss. While that’s okay for some, I’m the kind of guy that would rather be bummed by knowledge than be oblivious to what’s going on. But unfortunately, consumer complacency reigns supreme, and some recent headlines have brought to light a new business model which hopes to further exploit that. And what is it? The illusion of choice.

First, let’s talk about Sony.

They’re taking a proactive approach to consumer grumblings. Instead of allowing minor complaints to fester into nasty headlines, they’re finding creative ways to appease their audience. That said, Sony’s peace offerings have been rather inadequate.

PS+ has changed a great deal since the initial launch, but much of the good will it’s garnered comes from a single perk: ‘Free’ AAA games. We’re talking Infamous 2, Bioshock Infinite, Demon’s Souls, Uncharted 3, Shadow of the Colossus, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dead Space 3, and the list goes on.

Have gamers been spoiled? Perhaps, but Sony implemented this strategy to combat the multiplayer paywall known as Xbox Live. But that’s lost on them nowadays. They, too, have shackled multiplayer behind the bars of subscription fees, and those ‘free’ titles have devolved into an eighth generation indie-thon. Not that indie titles are bad, but it’s not what PS+ subscribers have been conditioned to expect.

I don’t think anybody expected Sony to give us retail games in the PS4’s first year. If they did, they were naive and just looking for a reason to bitch. Why would they cannibalize sales just to satisfy a few loose-lipped idiots on the net? But now after two years in this generation, we have yet to see so much as a launch title on the program. Are Killzone and Knack REALLY still selling enough copies to warrant their exclusion from PS+? I doubt it. Hell, even Microsoft – who, by the way, are still losing money per console sold (once taking research, development, and marketing into consideration) – have given Gold subscribers Tomb Raider and Rayman Legends. So, what gives?

This means the value of PS+ is plummeting, regardless of whether consumers care to perceive it that way or not. The promise behind this program, specifically in regards to the Playstation 4, was to strengthen both their servers and quality of ‘free’ content, while enhancing their community-based features.

I’d argue they haven’t done that.

Their servers are weaker than their (direct) competition. The quality of ‘free’ games have gone downhill. Their community-based features are nearly non-existent… unless you count clicking the ‘thumbs up’ button on a game or app a ‘community feature’.

And little by little, people have taken notice. So, Sony have invited PS+ subscribers to collectively vote for one of three indie titles… which is smart. VERY smart. When you give your customers the power of choice, they feel appreciated and shower you with good will. But in the business world, very few – if any – decisions are made with our best interest in mind. This vote was manufactured to extract good will, and more importantly, make people forget the ‘where’s our AAA’ discussion. And unfortunately, if the comments I’ve seen can act as a decent barometer, it worked. People don’t get that this was a diversionary tactic. They’d rather believe Sony are gracious and altruistic.

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The next headline that fits in with this ‘illusion of choice’ theme, is the recently unveiled Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ‘Augment Your Pre-Order’ program.

Pre-order exclusives have plagued this industry for a long time. Publishers have held content for ransom unless you’ve promised to buy their products sight unseen, and when you do, you’re STILL missing out because of retailer specific pre-order exclusives. “Buy it in advance, FROM US, or fuck you.” That’s the gist.

How much worse could it possibly get?

How about Kickstarter-inspired reward tiers based on pre-order numbers? The more people that pre-order, the more content they’ll get! Isn’t that GREAT?!

So, let’s break down why this sucks major donkey dick:

Kickstarter is meant to fund projects that wouldn’t exist without some financial help. But Square Enix and Eidos Montreal aren’t doing this to bring a passion project to life, but to sucker people into a ‘buy before you try’ agreement.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a loyal fan of the franchise, either. If enough people don’t pre-order, these companies are basically going to punish you and say, “Too bad, so sad. You should have told all your friends to pre-order, too.”

Now, pre-order DLC usually consists of cosmetic items, but the third tier for Mankind Divided features an in-game mission.

Last but certainly not least, three of the five tiers force you to choose between one piece of content over another. That means there’s no possible way to acquire all the extra goodies in the ‘Augment Your Pre-Order’ program… unless you feel like buying multiple copies..

Of course, the whole idea of ‘Augment Your Pre-Order’ isn’t meant to make you feel like you’re being raped by the anal splitting cock of a minotaur. No, it’s supposed to make you feel like you’re in control of your own destiny.

Well, whoopy-fuckin’-doo.

All gamers really want is to get a complete game at the complete price. But is there an option for that? Of course there isn’t. And why? Because ‘fuck you’. That’s why.

The ‘choose your own rewards’ mantra, much like ‘vote for your next PS+ game’, is little more than marketing bullshit to make you forget how hard you’re being screwed. I sincerely hope consumers are wise enough to tell Square Enix and Eidos Montreal to shove it up their ass. If that message isn’t delivered loud-and-clear, make no doubt about it: We WILL see more of this. A LOT more.