Big Pic­ture Mode

Nathan Brown on trust is­sues and the on­line lynch mob

EDGE - - SECTIONS - NATHAN BROWN Nathan Brown is Edge’s games edi­tor, and is in the process of com­ing to terms with the con­cept of by­lines

On the third day of ev­ery month, the same tweet ap­pears in the @ed­geon­line men­tions feed. It’s part of a fan cam­paign call­ing on Sega to give Yu Suzuki the Shen­mue li­cence so he can com­plete the tril­ogy. Re­ly­ing on a four-yearold Famitsu story in which a Sega rep said a new Shen­mue could only hap­pen if a plat­form holder funded its de­vel­op­ment in ex­change for an ex­clu­siv­ity deal, scores of fans take to so­cial me­dia to try to make it hap­pen.

Sega is just about the most risk-averse pub­lisher in the world at the mo­ment, so it’s in no hurry to fin­ish off a tril­ogy whose first two en­tries were so un­prof­itable. Suzuki now says he’s look­ing at us­ing Kick­starter, but a plat­form whose most suc­cess­ful project raised $10.2 mil­lion is not go­ing to fund the game that ex­ists in the minds of Suzuki and his Twit­ter army, and he’d be a fool to try to make it with­out the ap­pro­pri­ate re­sources.

That’s be­cause we’ve seen all too re­cently what hap­pens on so­cial me­dia when a game fails to meet ex­pec­ta­tions. First came Watch

Dogs, whose post-de­lay reap­pear­ance saw it clearly scaled back from its E3 2012 un­veil­ing. Then Dark Souls II shipped on 360 and PS3 with­out the new light­ing sys­tem shown in early me­dia. The ou­trage was sur­pris­ing, huge and largely mis­in­formed. Fo­rum threads ran into hun­dreds of pages, posts typed onto spit­tle-flecked key­boards, based on a sin­gle GIF of (ad­mit­tedly damn­ing) Watch Dogs footage. Side-by-side shots of Dark Souls II com­pared the same scene in the re­tail game to an early demo, but only in the lat­ter was the pro­tag­o­nist hold­ing a torch, which is the most po­tent light source in the game. Am­bi­ent light­ing and tex­ture qual­ity had clearly been cut back, but the tone of the de­bate was coloured by mis­con­cep­tions.

The big­gest prob­lem with talk­ing about games on the In­ter­net is you’re in an enor­mous room that’s teem­ing with people, all of whom are only there to be heard. As such, it’s those who hold the most ex­treme opin­ion, and shout it the loud­est, that stand

Pub­lish­ers need to re­alise that vis­ual and tech­ni­cal stan­dards are as im­por­tant to mar­ket­ing

plans as pre­order bonuses

out. It’s why fo­rums can be so poi­sonous, and click­bait op-eds still ex­ist. So while Team Yu, as Suzuki’s cam­paign­ers call them­selves, are us­ing so­cial me­dia in an at­tempt to ef­fect pos­i­tive change, those up­set by Dark Souls II’s down­grade took to Twit­ter not to ask for an ex­pla­na­tion, but to de­mand one. The hash­tag of choice was #YouLied, which says much about the di­rec­tion the de­bate took. Such is the level of mis­trust that play­ers feel to­wards pub­lish­ers that both Namco Bandai and Ubisoft were ac­cused of hav­ing de­lib­er­ately de­ceived the world by show­ing off a game they knew would never see the light of day.

That’s non­sense, of course. No com­pany in its right mind would sanc­tion the cre­ation of a graph­i­cally in­ten­sive demo it had no in­ten­tion of ship­ping. To do so would mean spend­ing tens of thou­sands of dol­lars on dup­ing your au­di­ence into pre­order­ing a lemon, and for­ever dam­ag­ing your stand­ing.

FromSoft­ware makes fan­tas­tic games, but it is not known for its tech­ni­cal abil­ity. Chances are that a few slid­ers had to be turned down late in the day to avoid Dark

Souls II feel­ing like a 50-hour trudge through Blight­town. Watch Dogs, mean­while, was an­nounced months be­fore PS4 and Xbox One’s specs were fi­nalised. It was a re­al­time demo made pos­si­ble by the same en­gine that pow­ers the fi­nal game. It is a game of many com­plex sys­tems and, as Ubisoft Mon­treal made clear in last month’s cover story, those sys­tems weren’t play­ing well to­gether. Surely it’s far bet­ter to dial down weather ef­fects and the odd bridge tex­ture than it is to start strip­ping out game­play el­e­ments?

Yet the old maxim that ‘game­play is king’ doesn’t ring so true these days. At the start of a gen­er­a­tion, we ex­pect games to vin­di­cate early adopters. But sim­i­larly, the fi­nal games on old hard­ware of­ten wring a gen­er­a­tion’s best-look­ing worlds from it, so per­haps FromSoft­ware re­ally should have done bet­ter.

Both sides need to change, though. Play­ers should un­der­stand that the tar­get demo is the new tar­get ren­der, and that there will never again be some­thing so ob­vi­ously di­vorced from re­lease-day re­al­ity as the Kil­l­zone 2 trailer at E3 2005. Pub­lish­ers need to re­alise that vis­ual and tech­ni­cal stan­dards are as im­por­tant a part of the mar­ket­ing plan as pre­order bonuses. And it’d be great if on­line com­mu­ni­ties took a leaf out of Team Yu’s book, us­ing so­cial me­dia’s di­rect line be­tween them­selves and cre­ators in or­der to change things for the bet­ter. Af­ter all, no one will ben­e­fit if de­vel­op­ers spend the new gen­er­a­tion afraid to reach for the skies.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.